INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM OF GOD’S EXISTENCE
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The possible existence of a super-natural being has drawn the attention of philosophers, beginning from the ancient Greek times to this contemporary time. For centuries, philosophers have been reflecting upon the source of the world, the primary element of all things, but still no account of the source of the world has received a consensus acceptance. Hence, it is still an issue.
The argument of God’s existence involves primarily the disciplines of Epistemology (The nature and scope of Knowledge, Ontology (study of the nature of value), since concepts of good and perfection are connected to notions of God.
The Western tradition of philosophical thought and discussion of the existence of God began with Plato and Aristotle who developed arguments that are cosmological in nature. The argument that came after were those proposed by St Anselm, who formulated the first Ontological argument, Descartes, who said that the existence of a benevolent God was logically necessary for the evidence of the senses to be meaningful, Immanuel Kant who argued that the existence of God can be deduced from the existence of good, and then St. Thomas Aquinas, who presented an improvement of the Cosmological argument of Plato and Aristotle.
St. Thomas Aquinas was a Catholic theologian and philosopher, who wrote about topics far beyond the traditional scope of Catholic theology. St. Thomas Aquinas presented five logical proofs to defend the existence of God; the proof from motion, causation of existence, contingent and necessary being, degrees of perfection and design.
These logical and Cosmological proofs asserts that every being that exists or ever did exist is either a dependent being or a self-existent being, but not every being can be a dependent being, so there exists a self-existent being.
With this insight into the background of the study of God’s existence, I would then proceed to state the problem of God’s existence.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The problem of God’s existence is a very complex one. This is due to the fact that the Universe could not have come from nothing and as such, there must have been an origin of the Universe. But then, admitting that God created the Universe and also created Himself would be invalid because it would mean that God would first have to be in existence, to be able to create Himself. But then, what is the origin of the Universe? Is there any super-natural being responsible for the Universe? What then is the origin of this super natural being? If this super natural being is all-good and all powerful, how come there is evil in the Universe?
No consensus could be reached among the early philosophers regarding the existence of God. Most philosophers rejected the idea of God’s existence because there was no logical proof to defend it. Those who believed in God’s existence especially the Christian philosophers then set out to propound proofs in its defence.
Our interest in this research is to, through a critical evaluation of St. Thomas Aquinas proofs, proffer a lasting solution to the age long debate on the existence of God, to show the relevance of St. Thomas Aquinas proofs of God’s existence in contemporary times, to evaluate criticisms that have been raised against the possible existence of a super-natural being, and to show justifiability or non-justifiability of these criticisms.
1.3 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This work does not intend to exhaust every aspect of St. Thomas Aquinas Philosophy, which in fact is not possible because of its diversity.
The intention of the researcher of this work is focused on an aspect of St. Thomas Aquinas metaphysics and epistemology; the problem of God’s existence. Since other philosophers have tried in some ways to solve this problem, I shall delve into the areas of these other philosophers to have a more detailed study.
Thus, the scope of this work, although majorly centered on St. Thomas Aquinas, but will also comprise of the thought of other philosophers which also influenced the view of St. Thomas Aquinas on the existence of God.
1.4 THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this work is to make an exposition of the proofs offered by St. Thomas Aquinas in defence of God’s existence.
From the implication and consequence of the erroneous views held by some philosophers about the existence of a super-natural being, this study attracts importance because it is centered on the various proofs offered in defence of the existence of the super-natural being.
This thesis also aims at providing a material for any serious research work among University students to enable them express their thought in academic piece, and to guide the immediate and future students in their essays and to stimulate further research in the area of Metaphysics and Epistemology.
The study aims to show the validity of the proofs offered by St. Thomas Aquinas in solution to the problem of God’s existence.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study lies in the demonstration that far from being a myth, God exists and is very relevant to our daily life. St. Thomas Aquinas was able to enlighten us on the existence of God by offering Cosmological proofs in His defence.
In the Aristotelian sense, a work becomes scientific because of its methodology. The methods show the pattern in which something is done. It therefore becomes imperative that a researcher of this nature must adopt certain methods against which our conclusions can be validated.
The methodology of this work is expository, analytical and critical. To this effect, this work is divided into five chapters.
Chapter one deals with the general introduction under which the background, problem, scope, purpose, significance of the study and the related literature are stated.
In chapter two, I delved into the areas of other philosophers like Aristotle’s. Augustine, St. Anselm, Rene Descartes, Bishop Berkeley who also formulated proofs in defence of God’s existence.
Chapter three takes up an exposition of St. Thomas Aquinas solution to the problem of God’s existence. We started with his biography, before going further to analyze his proofs.
Chapter four examines how successful Thomas Aquinas proofs have been, in form of a critique. I employed the critical method for a thorough analysis of his cosmological proofs.
Lastly, chapter five includes my personal reflection and conclusion to both the problem of God’s existence and St. Thomas Aquinas solution to it.
1.7 LITERATURE REVIEW
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