Why God exists

GOD EXISTS BECAUSE GOD IS LIFE

                                             

                                         ” I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14)

We are caught up in the simple but precise argument that if there was nothing to begin with how could there be anything at all? And the core of our argument is that the existence of God is “an imperative of metaphysical reasoning,” or even of simple logic.

Wilhelmsen states that “the metaphysics of being is simultaneously the Philosophy of God.” Such a statement finds correlation in the Bible, where God is revealed to Moses as I AM (Exodus 3: 14 ). And Jesus says –  rather amazingly –  that he is “the life” (John 14:6 ). In other words, God is that very beginning, or that very unbeginning, the absence of which there would simply be nothing.

The “Supreme mystery,” then, is the mystery of a Being whose very essence is to exist. The philosopher says that God exists simply in virtue of Himself, so that God is the pure act of existing. “God affirms himself as the absolute act of being in its pure actuality” (Etienne Gilson).

Father Garrigou-Lagrange, a great scholar of St. Thomas Aquinas, explains that:

“God is the eternally subsisting being. God, then, is not only pure spirit, He is being itself subsisting immaterial at the summit of all things and transcending any limits imposed by either space or matter or a finite spiritual essence. Now, because God is the self-subsisting being, the infinite ocean of spiritual being, unlimited, unmaterialized, He is distinguished  from every material  or spiritual creature. The divine essence is existence itself, it alone of necessity exits. No creature is self-existent; none can say: I am being, truth, life, etc. Jesus alone among men said: “I am the truth and the life,” which was the equivalent to saying, “I am God” (Providence, 70-71).

Another scholar, quoting Jacques Maritain, says that “the act of existing is the key to St. Thomas’s philosophy, and it [being] is something super-intelligible which is revealed in the judgment I make that something exists. ‘This is why, at the root of metaphysical knowledge, St. Thomas places the intellectual intuition of that mysterious reality disguised under the most commonplace and commonly used word in the language, the word to be…that victorious thrust by which it [being] triumphs over nothingness.'” Our affirmation or intuition of being, then, leads us to “the affirmation of Being Itself, God” (Wilhelmsen).

The Incarnation is the revelation that Jesus is LIFE! One day Jesus revealed his glory to the apostle Thomas, saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the father but through me” (John 14:6). As the Pulpit Commentary explains, “I am the Life [means that Jesus is] the life eternal, the Possessor, Author, Captain, Giver, and Prince of life.”

On another occasion Jesus encountered a grieving woman, Martha, whose brother Lazarus had died, and Jesus said to her (before raising Lazarus back to life): I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). This profound pronouncement of Jesus demonstrates that he “possesses the absolute sovereignty over life and death” that is “the sole prerogative” of God (ICSB).

CONCLUSION: God is life, or, as the Bible says, God has LIFE in himself (John 5:26). “God is the ultimate Possessor of life per se” (Pulpit Commentary). This is a great mystery, but it is a mystery confirmed by Scripture and human intelligence, and St. Paul warns that our minds are darkened if they don’t rise to a knowledge of God (Romans 1: 19-22; ICSB). So, we return to the ultimate philosophical question, Why is there something rather than nothing?, and we must conclude that nothing can produce nothing! And it is only because God IS (that is, because God is ETERNAL LIFE, the eternally subsisting Being) that we hold on to life day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. Our present “to-be-ness” is completely dependent on Him who IS I AM. And in this light we can come to see in a more penetrating way that God has the power – as the eternal custodian of life –  to raise up our mortal bodies on the last day (John 6:40). 

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

References: The Paradoxical Structure of Existence by Frederic D. Wilhemsen; Providence by Father Garrigou-Lagrange; Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics under the title, “Principle of Causality” beginning at page 120; The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy by Etienne Gilson; Existence and the Existent by Jacques Maritan; and Ignatius Catholic Study Bible.

Image: Moses and the Burning Bush, circa 1450-1475, attributed to Dieric Bouts, Public Domain, U.S.A.

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IN THE BEGINNING (A SHORT REFLECTION ON GENESIS 1:1)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)

REFLECTION:

– the Bible starts with the presupposition of God’s existence

– it is not really a beginning, but an “unbeginning,” since God as God has never not existed

– if there was nothing to begin with then there would still be nothing (nothing from nothing leaves nothing)

– nothing is incapable of producing something

– so there clearly was something to begin with or there would still be nothing

– what is it that has been there from the very beginning – from all eternity?

– could unthinking, inert matter be eternal, “running amok” even to the “creation” of the universe and human beings (see postscript)?

– it would appear that inert matter was radically incapable of producing itself – or being the cause of everything else – since it lacked any ability to think and design

– it seems logical that something far greater than inert matter would be needed at the very beginning

– inert matter did not flower into organic life until late in the history of the universe

– the Bible says that God has life in Himself (John 5:26)

– Only God makes sense as the Eternal Unbeginning of everything else since by His Eternal Attributes He has the POWER and KNOWLEDGE to bring forth the unbelievably immense and complex universe we live in.

CONCLUSION: It is beyond all peradventure that something cannot be derived from nothing, so that there has to be an eternal cause or principle of all other things that has always existed. Only God can meet this job description, and in the person of Jesus Christ he manifests his complete dominion over the physical universe, even to the point of rising from the dead.

“In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1).

Tom

P.S.  Michael Corey, in discussing the possibility whether our “wondrous universe could have evolved by blind chance” quotes the distinguished University of Montreal psychiatrist Karl Stern as  labeling such a view of the universe as “crazy.” He further quotes Stern as saying: “And I do not at all mean crazy in the sense of a slangy invective but rather in the technical meaning of psychotic. Indeed such a view has much in common with certain aspects of schizophrenic thinking” (God and the New Cosmology, p.220). Stern is basically maintaining that it is flat out irrational to believe the universe came about by chance or accident.

REFERENCES: Father Faber talks about God’s unbegiining life. I am relying on the article in the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics under the title, “Principle of Causality” beginning at page 120. I do believe the argument is irrefutable.

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TWO ONE SENTENCE ARGUMENTS POINTING CLEARLY TO THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

“Only to sit and think of God, Oh what a joy it is! To think the thought, to breathe the Name. Earth has no higher bliss.” (Frederick W. Faber)

Introduction: Here are two short but powerful arguments pointing clearly to the existence of God. The goal here is to utilize rational thinking (human reason) in support of faith. “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart the desire to know the truth — in a word, to know himself — so that by knowing and loving God, men and women can come to the fullness of the truth about themselves” (Saint Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Fides et Ratio).

Argument # 1

       If there was nothing to begin with then there would be nothing at all.

EXPLANATION: If there was nothing to begin with…then there would be nothing at all. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing. But since there is something – and here we are discussing it! – there was something to begin with! Without something to begin with there would be nothing at all. God was not created because He has never not been. He is that uncreated Something to begin with. He Is the Alpha and the Omega. God is the necessary Something to begin with, without which there would be nothing at all.

Argument # 2

      The greater does not come from the lesser.

EXPLANATION: The key point here is that inert, unthinking, inorganic matter has never had the capacity to create itself, and then a universe. Organic matter, the matter of biological life, shows up on the scene late on the time-line, apparently favoring planet earth, and out of this life comes the life of rational creatures, human beings. Matter, therefore, starting off as inert and inorganic, is not a sufficient cause for its own existence. In shortinert matter started off radically incapable of bringing itself into existence without a higher cause.

CONCLUSION: It is impossible for God not to exist. Otherwise, there would be nothing.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Sources: For argument # 1, see p. 121 of the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (on causality). For argument # 2, see p. 3 of Providence by Father Garrigou-LaGrange wherein he says: “…it will be well to point out one general proof [of God’s existence] that virtually contains them all…The greater does not come from the less, the more perfect does not come from the less perfect, since the latter is incapable of producing this effect” (see also p. 176 of Aquinas’ Proofs for God’s Existence by Dennis Bonnette).

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