Converging and Convincing Proof of God: From Fragile Life to Eternal Life in God
nothing comes from nothing, then it means that we are nothing. It leads us into the sloughs of despond, where we find the likes of Camus. It makes us wallow in the mud of absurdity, where we find the likes of Sartre. It is to fall into the trap of Macbeth, and cry out that life is but a "walking shadow," a "tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Ultimately, this leads to despair:
So be beginning, be beginning to despair.
O there 's none; no no no there 's none:
Be beginning to despair, to despair,
Despair, despair, despair, despair.
All this experience is summarized by St. Thomas, who is bold and courageous, and refuses to entrap himself in the nothing comes from nothing error, thus:
"But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence-which is absurd."
Yes it is absurd. So we must avoid the nothing comes from nothing trap. Life is something, however tenuous and fragile, and this means that this something must come from something. The more reasonable and the more human question is to care about the question, and is to ask: "Is there something behind this life that was possible not to have been and is possible not to be. Is there something "yonder,"?
Yonder.-What high as that! We follow, now we follow.-Yonder, yes yonder, yonder,
And we go from one contingent life, yonder to another, yonder to another, yonder, yonder, yonder. And yet we cannot simply go yonder to infinity. An infinity of lives, each of which is possible not to have been or not to be, even if all chained together never get above and beyond their contingency.
The only explanation is that there be a necessary being, a Life that is impossible for it not to have been, and impossible for it not to be. And this necessary Life, this necessary Being, is what reason knows as God.
In the words of St. Thomas, the proof is rounded out this way:
"Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God."
Reason tells us that there must be a necessary Being, a necessary Life, and that it is the Source of our contingent life. And this allows us entry into the threshold of faith: Did this God, this necessary Being, reveal himself to us in any way?
Faith is the escape hatch out from our fleeting, fragile lives, which ushers us into the very life of God.
St. Alcuin, the theologian and librarian and tutor of Charlemagne, wrote in his poem "O My Cell," some thoughts on life's fragility, on contingent being, and compared it to God's solidity, for God does not have being, but is Being:
Nothing remains forever, nothing is truly immutable.
Shady night obscures the sacred day,
And suddenly frigid winter casts off the beautiful flowers,
And a harsher wind disturbs the placid sea.
The sacred youth that used to chase deer in the meadows
Now reclines tired, older on a staff.
Poor us, why do we love you a fugitive, o world?
You flee from us always, everywhere rushing.
You who flee, may you flee; let us always love Christ.
Always may the love of God hold our hearts.
May that holy One defend His servants from their dire enemy,
Taking our hearts, His own, to heaven.
Whom with our whole heart let us equally praise and love.
That holy One is our glory, life, and welfare.
Yes. Faith in Christ takes us out of this contingent life, and promises us a share in that necessary Life, that uncontingent and full Life, the Life which is God Himself.
"I have come that you may have life," said Jesus, "and have it to the full." (Cf. John 10:10). The life that Jesus was talking about, and which he promised us, was not the fragile life, but the abundant life, the participation in the eternal life of God. "Now this is eternal life," Jesus prayed to His Father, "that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (John 17:3).
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: illative sense, God, natural theology, proofs of God, Five Proofs, contingency, fragility, St. Thomas Aquinas, Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.
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