We are faced with three questions regarding the existence of God:
- Can it be said that God’s existence is self-evident?
- Can the existence of God be proven?
- Does God exist?
Can We Say God’s Presence Is Obvious?
Here’s how we start thinking about the first question:
1. The existence of God is self-evident. It is obvious if a “thing” is innate in man, as is the case with the first principles of proof (kavaid-i awwwin). John of Damascus, “Knowledge of the existence of God is innate in all humans.” says. From this we conclude that the existence of God is self-evident.
2. In addition, as the thinker (Aristotle’s) said in his Metaphysics book for the first principles of proof, as long as the statements about an object are known, if the object itself is known, the existence of that object is obvious. Thus, from the moment we distinguish the difference between the whole and the part, we understand that the whole of any “thing” is greater than a part of that whole. When we understand what the expression “God” refers to, the existence of God is also understood at once. The expression “God” indicates that there is no being greater than (God) himself, and that He is much greater in reality than man perceives (perceive) only through understanding. Accordingly, God exists in man’s understanding from the moment the expression (God) is grasped. From this it follows that God also exists in reality. Therefore, the existence of God is self-evident.
3. On the other hand, the existence of truth is self-evident. As long as we can say that any “thing” in the universe is true, since the truth itself will exist, and whoever denies the existence of truth, if the truth did not exist, then the absence of truth would indicate a truth, so that person will accept that even the absence of truth will also indicate the existence of truth. At John 14:6 he states God’s word as “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” That is, God is the truth itself. Therefore, the existence of God is self-evident.
On the other hand, as the thinker (Aristotle’s) explains in his book Metaphysics when he deals with the first principles of proof, no one can realize the opposite of the obvious. However, as God said at Psalm 53:1, “’The fool says there is no God in him.’ People have been corrupted, disgust has taken over, there is no one who does good.” That is, the human mind can grasp the opposite of the statement that God exists, and it follows that the existence of God is not self-evident.
To that I will answer: There are two ways a “thing” can be obvious. A “thing” may be self-evident in itself, but not obvious to human understanding. Or it may be self-evident, both in itself and in the face of human understanding. For us to say that a proposition is self-evident, the meaning of the subject must include the predicate. For example, the proposition “all humans are animals” is obvious because the meaning of the phrase “(all) human(s)” includes the word “animal(s)”. Accordingly, if the predicate and subject of a proposition are understood by everyone, the sentence in question is self-evident. Your issue; It is obvious that it is related to the “first principles of proof”, which includes general phenomena such as existence, non-existence, whole, part, similar, which are understood by everyone. But if the predicate and the subject of a proposition are not perceived by some people, the proposition is not obvious to those who cannot comprehend it. Nevertheless, the proposition in question will be self-evident, independently of the persons. Indeed, Boethius says: “Sometimes, some common concepts of the mind can be clearly understood only by the wise. For example, if a ‘thing’ is formless, it does not exist in space.” Following this quotation, we can say that the predicate and the subject of the proposition “God exists” are the same, and that this proposition is “self-evident”. As we will show in point four of the third question, the existence of God is He Himself. However, since we do not know what God is for now, He is not self-evident to us, but His self-evidence is demonstrated to the universe through His works, of which we know much, while nature knows less.
Regarding the first issue, we can say the following; Knowledge of the existence of God is inherent in us humans in a general and somewhat mixed form. Because God is the pure source of happiness for man; Man, by nature, desires pure happiness and is conscious of what he desires. But we do not have absolute knowledge that God exists. Suppose someone comes to your door and we already know that it is Peter. Even if the incoming person is really Peter, this does not constitute absolute knowledge. Many think that material wealth is the most perfect beauty a person can have and establishes his pure happiness, while others think that the most perfect beauty a person can have is their desires. For the rest, the most perfect beauty a person can have is completely different from these.
As for the second issue; Since some people think that God is formed in a body, when a person hears the expression “God”, they may not be able to understand that this expression means “there is no being higher than him”. But from one’s full grasp of the meaning of the expression in question, we can deduce that only knowledge of His existence exists in the human understanding, and not the meaning that the expression God is inherent in “things”. In the light of the information we have, it is not possible to say that God exists in reality unless everyone accepts that there is no higher being than Him in reality. Because this issue is not accepted by those who assume that God does not exist.
Finally, if we touch on the third issue, it is obvious that the truth exists in the general sense, but the existence of the first truth is not obvious to us humans.
Can God’s Existence Be Proven?
So we move on to the second item:
1. The existence of God seems unprovable. The condition for a person to have knowledge of the existence of God is to have faith. However, there is no proof in matters based on faith. As explained in the Hebrews section of the Bible, faith is about the physically invisible, while the human mind can only reach the knowledge of an object through proof. Consequently, the existence of God cannot be proven.
2. On the other hand, we make use of the essence of what is proved at the time of proof. But as John of Damascus said, we humans can only know what God is not, not what he is. From this it follows that the existence of God cannot be proven.
3. On the other hand, the only way to prove the existence of God is to examine His works. However, since God is infinite and his works are finite, and the size of the works he creates is not proportional to God himself, we conclude that the existence of God cannot be proved in this way either.
On the other hand, the Apostle says in Romans: “God’s invisible qualities—his infinite power and his Godliness—are clearly seen, understood by what he has done since the world was created.” Since the first thing that is realized about anything is its existence, this is possible only if the existence of God can be proven through “manufactured things”.
I answer this question as follows: We can prove the existence of God in two different ways. The first of these is the method of proof by reason, which we also refer to as proof by grounding. In this type of proof, an idea is put forward on what was the first thing to appear in the universe. The second is called the method of proof by means of influence or “proof by appearance”. In this type of proof, the question of what comes first for people is discussed. Since an effect is more specific than the cause that produced it, we arrive at knowledge of a cause through the effect of that cause. We can show that any cause we have has an effect, even if we know better what the effect is. For an effect always depends on a cause, and a cause exists only when it produces an effect. This is how we can prove the existence of God.
Regarding the first question, we can say the following: The existence of God and similarly “things” that can be known through natural reason are not conditions of faith, as the first chapter of Romans put forward, but they constitute the grounds for these conditions. While faith is based on the precondition that there is natural knowledge, perfection is based on the existence of what can be perfected. However, there is no logical explanation why an object that is in itself demonstrable and knowable should not be accepted in faith by the person who cannot understand its proof.
As for the second question; When a cause is proved by its effect, we have to use the effect instead of the definition of the cause in proving the existence of the cause. This is especially true in matters of God. In order to prove that anything exists, we have to accept the use of the meaning of the name instead of the essence as a means of proof, since the question of what a “thing” is, then brings the question of whether that “thing” exists. Since the names ascribed to God come from His works (results), we can use the name “God” as a means by which we demonstrate God’s presence through His works (results).
Third and last, results that are out of proportion to their causes do not give us a perfect account of their causes. Yet perfect knowledge of cause can be clearly demonstrated through any effect, whether the cause exists or not. In this way, although we cannot know every aspect of God’s essence through his works; We can prove God’s existence through His works.
Does God Exist?
So we move on to the third item:
1. It seems that there is no God. If we have two opposite statements and one of them goes to infinity, the other statement will be completely out of context. Since the name “God” means that He is “eternal good,” if God existed, there would be no evil in the world; However, we can say that there is evil in the world. From this it follows that God does not exist.
2. On the other hand, what can be explained by relatively few rules is not the result of a larger number of rules. Assuming that God does not exist, we can explain all the objects and events we witness in the world with other rules by basing everything found in nature as a rule on nature itself, and this process plays a useful role in terms of human mind and will. It is therefore unnecessary to assume that God exists.
On the other hand, at Exodus 3:14, God himself says: “I am I am.”
This is how I answer this question: The existence of God can be proved in five different ways. The first of these, namely the “movement argument” (or motion argument), is the most explanatory among these five arguments. It is certain that some “things” in this world are moved, and this is in accordance with sense experience. Since nothing can be moved unless it has the potential to move within it, “everything” that moves is moved by another “thing”, whereas the motivating is actual. Acting is actually a transition from potentiality to actuality, and a “thing” can be passed from potential to actual only by means of another actual “thing”. Thus, actual-hot fire “moves” (or moves) and modifies potentially-hot wood by making it actual-hot. It is not possible for a “thing” to be both potential and actual in the same direction; however, this “thing” can be both potential and actual in different ways. An actual-hot “thing” can never be potentially-hot at the same time, but is always potentially-cold. This means that no “thing” can be both moved and mover (motivator) in the same direction and in the same way, or can move itself. If there is a “thing” that moves, there is another “thing” that moves it. So, if the “thing” that moves is moved by itself, there must be another “thing” that moves it; then, this other “thing” that moves must also be moved by another “thing”. However, this sequence cannot continue indefinitely, as there will be no “initiator” and there will be no other agitator other than this first provocateur. Because the secondary propulsion cannot move unless they are moved by a “prime mover”. For example, a stick cannot move without a hand that moves it. Based on all of this, we have to take the “first mover”, which is not moved by anything, as our fulcrum, and all humanity understands that what is meant by this “first mover” is God.
In the second way we use to prove the existence of God, we make use of the nature of causative cause. Investigations show us that there is a series of causal causes in plausible “things”, but we find that no “thing” has its own causal cause. It is impossible for a “thing” to have its own active cause, because it is not possible for a “thing” to have occurred/existed before it. However, it is impossible for a series of causative causes to be infinite—regardless of whether the intermediate causes are single or multiple—since each series of the first causative cause will be the cause of an intermediate (or intermediate) cause, and an intermediate cause will be the cause of the final cause. But if we could list an infinite number of causal causes backwards, there would be no primary cause. As a result, we would have no final cause and no intermediate cause. But this is clearly wrong, so we are obligated to assume that there was a primary cause that initiated the movement. Humanity calls this first active cause God.
In the third way, we make use of the nature of possibility and necessity. Some “things” either already exist or they do not exist because their existence begins and ends. So these “things” either exist or they don’t exist. It is impossible for these “things” to always exist because there is at least one period of time when the “thing” that may not exist has not existed. Based on this, if there was a time when everything “everything” disappeared, nothing would exist this time either. If what we said was true; Nothing would exist, since a non-existent “thing” could not come into existence without the means of another already existing “thing”. If nothing existed, it would be impossible for anything to come into existence, and nothing would exist. But this inference is clearly wrong, and so little of the whole of existence is made possible. “Something in things” constitutes a necessity for their existence. If a “thing” is necessary, it has acquired its necessity from somewhere other than itself, otherwise it cannot be said to be necessary. But, as we have proved, with “necessary things” whose necessity is based on a cause, we cannot go any further along the path of this reasoning to infinity than we do by causal causes. We therefore assume that there is a “thing” whose necessity is in itself, which owes its necessity to nothing else, but which is the cause of the necessity of all the rest. People call this necessary “thing” God.
In the fourth way, we make use of the degrees of good, right, moral and similar qualities. Things are characterized by the adjectives few and many, for these qualities converge to a maximum degree at different stages. As something gets closer to the temperature of the hottest, it gets hotter. Therefore, we speak of “something” that is truest, best, and most moral. As Aristotle says in the fourth chapter of the second book of Metaphysics; This “thing” we mentioned in the previous sentence is the highest of beings, since the one with the maximum truth will be the highest of beings. The cause of all that a genus contains is that which dominates the nature of any genus in all its aspects (it is the “thing” which dominates). Thus, fire, the most perfect state of the hottest, is the reason for the existence of all hot things, as it is said in the same passage. In other words, there is something else that is the common cause of everything in existence and all their goodness and perfection. This is what we call God.
In the fifth way we benefit from the management of things. Just as in natural bodies, we see that the actions of “things” that have no knowledge serve a purpose. The fact that “things” almost always act in the same way and for maximum benefit clearly demonstrates this, but it also shows that “things” are designed in this way, rather than acquiring this purpose by chance. ‘Things’, which by their design do not have any purpose, tend to have a purpose only through another ‘thing’ that knows and comprehends what that purpose is, like an arrow from an archer’s bow. Therefore, there is an intelligent being who directs everything in nature to its end. This is what we call God.
First, let’s answer the question raised in St. Augustine’s Enchiridion: “Because God is supremely good, he does not allow any evil to be found in his works; Couldn’t God, who is omnipotent and infinitely good, bring good out of evil? God’s eternal goodness brings out the good in evil, allowing evil to exist in the world.
Secondly; The operation of nature is based on moving towards a goal predetermined by God. Therefore, everything attributed to nature must first be based on the first cause of existence, namely God. Similarly, whatever the aim may be, the aim in question must be based on a cause greater than the human mind or will, for man is inclined to change and stray from the right path. All that is prone to change and perversion must rely, as we have shown, on an unchanging and intrinsically necessary first rule.