Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Final causation

Why does the movement of natural bodies, like the planets,
give us reason to know that God exists?

Today, my sixth formers were all convinced by St Thomas' fifth 'way'. Just to remind you:

Quinta via sumitur ex gubernatione rerum. Videmus enim quod aliqua quae cognitione carent, scilicet corpora naturalia, operantur propter finem, quod apparet ex hoc quod semper aut frequentius eodem modo operantur, ut consequantur id quod est optimum; unde patet quod non a casu, sed ex intentione perveniunt ad finem. Ea autem quae non habent cognitionem, non tendunt in finem nisi directa ab aliquo cognoscente et intelligente, sicut sagitta a sagittante. Ergo est aliquid intelligens, a quo omnes res naturales ordinantur ad finem, et hoc dicimus Deum.

The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

1 comment:

Felix Randal said...

Nice one! I teach a short-course GCSE where we cover some 'proofs' for the existence of God. My kids didn't like the biological design argument (probably because I don't either!) but they were apparently convinced by the Aquinas' cosmological arguments :)

Keep up the good work on the blog, and I hope we can share educational ideas. You may be interested to know that the Catholic Union is considering organising a conference on the theme of Catholic education...