Argument 5: God Exists, Because Science!
Written by: Gregory Watson
It seems “the thing” these days is for atheists to pit science against religion (regardless of whether a particular atheist happens to know the first thing about either science or religion!). From ragging on a fictionalised and misunderstood account of the Galileo controversy, to claiming that somehow evolutionary theory is incompatible with biblical faith, to actual scientists like Dr. Richard Dawkins railing against religion, somehow the catch-all phrase “science” seems to trump and negate religious beliefs. I can’t count the amount of internet memes that I’ve seen that try to undermine religious faith, “because, Science!” The irony, of course, is that “science” can’t disprove God, because, well, science!
I’ve mentioned how St. Thomas’ proofs for God take an observable fact about the world, and using inductive reasoning, goes from the effect to the cause. Perhaps this comes as a shock to any atheists reading these articles, but that’s how science works! In fact, that science works at all is itself proof of God’s existence! It is, essentially, St. Thomas’ Fifth Way.
The argument runs thus:
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. (Summa Theologica, I.2.3.Resp.)
In other words, there is order to the world. Things act and react in specific ways under specific circumstances. For example, when potassium comes in contact with water, an explosion results as the potassium unites with the water to form KOH. This reaction generates a substantial amount of heat, which reacts with the hydrogen atoms that are released during the chemical reaction, and the oxygen in the atmosphere. (The formula for this reaction is 2K + 2H2O = 2KOH + H2.) Now, this reaction always happens. It’s a testable, repeatable fact of nature. It’s a scientific fact. Any other particular scientific fact will do to illustrate the first premise of St. Thomas’ argument, whether it be water boiling at 100° Celsius, or metals conducting electricity. The fact that things always act a certain way shows that they are specifically ordered to that end.
Now, the above example of potassium reacting with water is an example of an inanimate object, a thing with no intellect, always acting in a specific way. The potassium does not choose to react with the water, igniting the hydrogen. It cannot decide instead to simply dissolve in the water, or to float upon it lazily. It must react with the water to produce the explosive results. It is ordered to such an end. It is intrinsic to what it means to be potassium that it reacts with water. If there were no water for the potassium to react with, it would still contain this predisposition. But since a relation can only exist where both parts exist, how could a predisposition be present in potassium to react with water, if there is no water present? The only way is if such a relation existed in a mind prior to its existence in reality. In other words, order implies intelligence. Since potassium and water, and the like, don’t have minds, they must have received their order from somewhere else, from a supreme Intelligence.
We cannot simply account this to random, blind chance, because it always occurs. Neither can we simply say, “That’s just the way it is,” because that simply ignores the very interesting fact that it is. No, there is an order to the world—if there wasn’t, we couldn’t have science at all! There are scientific laws, such as laws of chemistry, that govern how things behave in the world. But the question must then be asked, where did these laws come from? A law is itself the result of a mind, of an intelligence.
The intelligence that orders potassium to react with water, must be an infinite intelligence—not simply because of how many other things it has ordered in this vast universe, but because if it were a finite intelligence, such as yours or mine, it would contain potentiality. It would be subject to change. It would itself require a cause and an order. As we’ve seen from the previous arguments, this would involve a greater intelligence to form the limited intelligence, and we return to the problem of an infinite regress, or of a supreme intelligence—that is, to a being that does not possess intelligence, but which is intelligence, an unchanging, all-knowing, ordering intelligence—and this is God.
Before we leave off, let us be perfectly clear about St. Thomas’ Fifth Way. It has often been considered as the same as the modern concept of Intelligent Design—that is, that it looks as though the world was designed in all its intricacy, and design implies a designer. Where the argument from the appearance of design in something like an eye could theoretically be the result of blind chance over millions of years, and thus only lends probability to the existence of God, St. Thomas’ argument from design undercuts the possibility of blind chance and millions of years, for potassium did not evolve to react with water, even if a fish once grew legs and crawled out of the water to escape the explosion resulting from the potassium reaction. The design referred to in the Fifth Way was present from the foundations of the world, inherent in the very existence of the things ordered by it. If it’s true that the creatures of this world are simply the result of millions of years of blind chance evolving through the struggle for survival, this evolutionary process could itself have only been possible because of an ordering in nature towards evolution, that itself was not the result of evolutionary processes, because that would mean again the absurdity of a potentiality causing its own actuality—that is, that the evolutionary process caused the evolutionary process. If such a process exists (and it’s beyond the scope of this article to address that question), it could only exist because an infinite Intelligence designed it into the fabric of the universe.
No matter how you look at it, the fact that we can study the world, predict results, and formulate laws of nature proves that there is a God. Because, science!
Read the full series by Gregory:
- Proving the Existence of God
- Arguments 1-3: Hey Look! Stuff! Where’d It Come From?
- Proving the Existence of God: Argument 4
- Proving the Existence of God: Because Science!
- Proving the Existence of God: Conclusion
If publishing article online please attribute source Serviam Ministries with link to original article.