Aquinas Fifth Way of proving the existence of God Question: Briefly summarize Aquinas' Fifth Way of proving the existence of God. What counter-argument does Hume cite in answer to this argument from Design? What is John Hick's answer to Hume's argument from Evil? Is he right? Thomas Aquinas theorized five different logical arguments to prove the existence of God utilizing scientific hypotheses and basic assumptions of nature. In the fifth of his famous "Five Ways", Aquinas sets forth the assumption that all natural bodies move toward an end.
Since bodies are constantly moving in the best way possible to achieve that end, the path must be designed. God, of course, is the ultimate designer of the universe. The natural hypothesis that follows is that God created the universe, including the human race, for a purpose or to achieve an end, and thus the universe and all life moves toward that end constantly and in the best manner possible. Later philosophers who studied Aquinas' fifth way realized that this theorem is plagued with a problem, the problem of evil. In David Hume's Design, through the art of conversation and Socratic debate, the two main characters in his essay set forth and decipher the problems of evil and how it may disprove Aquinas' fifth way among countless other theories of creation by a omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent God. Hume explains that if God created the universe to achieve an end, and if the path toward that end is the best manner to that end, then how does one explain the existence of evils in the universe such as natural disasters, pain, disappointment, anger, sickness and despair.
Hume uses the two characters in his essay to display the human point of view regarding the problem of evil, so that he can theorize using actual human experience, feelings, and sensations rather than logical assumptions and scientific hypotheses regarding a universe outside and beyond our own human existence. The essay suggests that the human experience is usually, for the most part, an unhappy one. Hume believes that all humans experience pain, sickness, anguish, nervousness, fear, sadness, embarrassment in some point during their lives. The "good" feelings humans experience in life, such as joy, love, excitement and pleasure are often few and far between and always less enduring than the "evil" feelings. For example, I may have a nice week filled with many "good" experiences but if I am the victim of a violent attack in one hour of that week, the feelings and repercussions of my human experience from that one evil experience will greatly outweigh any good experiences and might cause unhappiness for an endless amount of time.
Further, even if we do experience great ecstasy and pleasure, it is often a fleeting moment until out muscles relax or until our hunger is nourished or the like. Even the greatest men in history with unbelievable riches and power have small amounts of happiness compared to the pain it took to achieve such riches and power, Hume explains. A modern day example of such a man might be President William J. Clinton. President Clinton is arguably the most powerful man in the modern world with a large home, bank account, an extensive education, a closely knit family and countless friends and colleagues. On the other hand, to gain these things he has been the center of sexual scandal subject to embarrassing public scrutinies into his personal affairs. Further, he himself has inflicted much disappointment, pain and suffering on his loved ones.
One would guess he is not a happy man. Hume summarizes that if God is omniscient than He knows everything and so He surely knows about the existence of human suffering and pain. Further, if God is omnipotent, then He has the power to end human misery and suffering. Lastly, if God is also benevolent, than how could He know about our pain, be able to stop it, and choose not to do so? How could He let young infants die in fires, allow men to become paralyzed and women to be raped and sodomized?
If God is all of these things, would not He create a universe where there was no evil? John Hicks responded to Hume and the problem of evil by trying to imagine a world without evil. If no evil could occur the attempt to do evil would always be unsuccessful. In such a world all laws of science, logic and nature would have to be flexible to allow for the disappearance of evil.
For example, a man drives in a car with a hostage off of a building. In a world without evil, the car and the people would land undamaged. Further, the reckless act itself would never have a bad outcome. Hicks also pointed out that the very "good" things in our lives would either not exist or be less intense without the existence of evil.
For example, without a devastating earthquake, there can be no charity, neighborly help, sympathy, endurance, courage and kindness. Without pain there can be no bravery or strength of heart. In short, the evils in our lives are effectively soul making events which create our character, our hearts, our passions and our souls. In a world without suffering, what would challenge the human spirit to rise to these levels of soul making? When I try to sum up my opinion as to the existence of God and the problem of evil, my mind keeps wandering to one example of human life, Christopher Reeves. He is a man who was blessed with looks, career success as an actor and celebrity, and a happy marriage.
One day he becomes paralyzed from the neck down losing everything even the capacity to breath. If God sees this and can change his condition, why doesn't He? Has is made Reeves a better man or enriched his soul as Hicks would say? Surely Reeves' life is filled with unhappiness and suffering.
Does one have to be aware that they are in the process of soul making? And is soul making supposed to be good for the individual, for the world at large or just for God? If I could answer these questions, there would be no need for the study of philosophy, as they have no correct answer. I do believe in God, but I do not know why except for a feeling inside which may be inborn or the result of my environment.
David Hume's philosophies are based upon trusting one's feelings as is evidenced by his reliance on poets instead of scientists. I think I will also go with my feelings on this issue. God does exist but humans may never have the capacity to understand the Hows and Whys.