When I went to college at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, there was a Catholic church on campus named after St. Thomas Aquinas. I wanted to know just why this particular saint was chosen. I decided to read up on him and I found that this man was an eloquent writer. It’s fitting that a college campus would name a church after him, as his most well-known writing, the Summa Theologica, has a scholarly feel to it.
St. Thomas Aquinas was born in 1225 to a wealthy family. Yet like many saints born from a wealthy family, he would eventually disparage his station and gave it all up for God. He wanted to learn as much about God as possible, after having learned about the philosophy of Aristotle in Naples. His studies led him to become a monk and later to his writings.
St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica was written in a question/answer format and dealt with many topics that are still explored today. My personal favorite is the Five Proofs for God’s Existence, which I will illustrate below.
- The Argument from Motion
Every movement cannot occur on its own. It needs a force to act upon it. However, in order for all movement to occur, a force that does not require movement must exist. That force is what Aquinas dubbed the “prime mover”, which is God.
2. The Argument from Efficient Causes
Nothing exists prior to itself. In other words, an effect cannot exist without a cause. Every cause has an effect, and that effect becomes a cause for the next effect in sequence, like a chain reaction. For the theory of cause and effect to be feasible, there must be a cause that existed without a cause. God is that “uncaused cause.”
3. The Argument from Possibility and Necessity
This argument ties directly into the second argument. Every finite being can only exist within a specific time and place. However, a finite being implies that there are beings that are infinite. That infinite being is God, who exists outside of time.