Thomas Aquinas, On the Existence of God
Edited by: Donald Abel
Fifty Readings in Philosophy Fourth Edition
Critique of Thomas Aquinas
First Article. Is the Existence of God Self-Evident?
Aquinas says, “I proceed in this way to the first article: It seems that the existence of God is self-evident.
Objection 1. Things, of which we possess knowledge by nature, are said to be self-evident to us, as is manifest in the case of first principles. But, as the Greek theologian, Damascene says: All are by nature endowed with knowledge of God’s existence. “Therefore, the existence of God is self-evident.” Object 2. Things that we know as soon as we know terms are said to be self-evident, and the Philosopher in Posterior Analytics attributes this to the first principles of demonstration, when one knows what a whole is, and what a part is, one immediately knows that every whole is greater than one of its parts. But when one understands what the term “God” means, one immediately grasps that God exists, for the term “God” means that than which nothing greater can be signified. What exists in fact as well as in the intellect, however, is greater than what exists in the intellect alone. And so, since God exists in the intellect as soon as we understand the term “God,” it also follows that God exists in fact. Therefore, the existence of God is self-evident. (This is the ontological argument first formulated by Anselm).
Objection 3. The existence of truth is self-evident because one who denies the existence of truth admits its existence: If there is indeed no truth, it is true that truth does not exist; if, on the other hand, something is true, it is necessary that truth exists. But God is truth itself, as John says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Therefore, the existence of God is self-evident.
On the contrary, no one can think the opposite of what is self-evident, as the...