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Third in a series of essays on the existence/non-existence
donated by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys.
An alternative view of Edward Feser's
discussion of the Augustinian Proof for
the existence of God,
"Five Proofs of the Existence of God."
The third argument in Edward Feser’s book Five Proofs of The Existence of God 1 may have a sound logical sequence to the argument. I will leave it up to others with a more logical mind then mine to determine that. However, there are still problems with the argument, particularly with the:
- concept of Universals,
- the meaning of "Exist," and
- whether or not any human being can be
unbiased, objective enough to tell the rest of us what Universals Exist in the Intellect of God.
In other words, Feser may prove that God exists, if the logic and the definitions hold. But what good is that, if we mere humans have no objective way to determine what is in the mind of God? And to distinguish that from what is simply in our own minds!
I am thinking here of ideas about
whether or not same-sex sexual activity, abortion access, same sex marriage, etc. are wrong in God’s mind or just
wrong in some human minds.
Everything that humans claim to know is filtered through our own personal experiences:
- what we have learned from parents, teachers, peers, neighbors, etc.,
- what we have learned from books, movies, newspapers, social media, etc.,
- what we have experienced first hand, and
- what we have observed happening to other people.
All of this forms our World View, our opinion about how the world works, how people and societies work, and how we (ourselves)
work. Our World View colors (influences) everything that we think we know and understand.
There are many ways to analyze an argument to determine if it makes sense. I have mentioned two ways in the earlier discussions. Here I suggest you take the argument Feser makes to it’s full and logical extension to see if it still makes sense or if it contradicts itself.
Feser calls this the Augustinian argument. I think it is also connected to Saint Anselm’s argument from perfection. Saint Anselm first put forth the argument for God’s existence based
on his concept of perfection (called the ontological proof) in the year 1078 CE. Anselm described God
as: “that than which nothing greater can be conceived.”
The gist (cliff notes version) of the argument is this: If you can imagine something that is perfect than something even more perfect than what you can imagine must exist, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to imagine something perfect, and that something is God.
Feser argues that abstract ideas such as red, love, triangles exist in the intellect (mind) of God in some sort of master template, or model of red, love, trangle, etc. He calls these master templates
or models "Universals."
Line 15: “So, abstract objects exist not only in contingently existing intellects (my addition here, human minds) but also in at least one necessarily existing intellect.”
Line 18: “So, this interlocking system of ideas exists in at least one necessarily existing intellect.”
When we see something red we compare what we see to this template or model of red in God’s
mind. Either God somehow inserts into our minds a picture of this template/model or we somehow tap into God’s mind to see this template/model in order to compare what we are looking at or experiencing is similar to or identical to this template/model. The only way we can know that something is red is because God has created the abstract idea, the template/model red.
When we experience love we compare what we are feeling to the template/model of love in God’s mind to determine if what we are experiencing is the real thing or raging hormones!
SO! When someone says homosexuality is wrong are they getting this idea from God’s mind or from their own? IF Feser’s argument holds they must be getting the idea from God. But then how do you explain where the contrasting idea that many have that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, that it is a natural condition for some people comes from?
The conclusion to Feser’s argument is in lines 27-29:
- Line 27 “So, there is exactly one necessarily existing intellect, which is purely actual, omniscient, omnipotent, fully good, immutable, immaterial, incorporeal, and eternal.”
- Line 28 “ But for there to be such a thing is just what it is for God to exist.
- Line 29 “So, God exists.”
Now take Feser’s argument out to its full logical extension.
IF the abstract ideas of love, goodness exist in God’s intellect than also the abstract ideas of fear, hate, anger, greed, lies, fake news, bullying, vindictive, selfish, EVIL etc. exist in God’s intellect, otherwise we wouldn’t have any abstract idea of those things, and since people act on those ideas in their heads.
God is therefore responsible for all the bad things that happen in this world. Once again the Theists argument for the existence of God is undermined by the problem of Theodicy:
Why a good God would allow bad things to happen and EVIL to exist.
If God hasn’t created the template/model for these bad ideas than people never could have thought of them
and would never have acted on them!
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
Edward Feser, "Five Proofs of the Existence of God," Ignatius Press (2017). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store Available in the U.S.: in Kindle format for $11.78, and in Paperback for $14.22.
Originally posted: 2018-JUN-04
Author: Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys