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III.2 The Existence and Divine Attributes of the Supreme Being

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On the Origin
of Motion

Experience of the world reveals things in motion. Everything that is moved must be moved by another. The present state of the universe, therefore, must be the result of preceding causes. These causes may be traced back to an original movement when motion first appeared. Reason rightly inquires about its cause.

The claim that the universe came into being without a cause is a failure of reason. Suppose that the present state of the universe came into being from an infinite chain of successive movements. This leads to a contradiction: motion cannot traverse an infinite series. If there were an infinite chain, we would see not see any motion right now. But we do see motion right now; therefore, there must have been an original cause of motion in the universe. This is God.

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God as the
Unmoved Mover

The first movement could not have had a cause that was itself moved, for if it did, then the cause of that movement would also have had a cause—and the chain of movements would proceed to infinity. But we have just seen that an infinite chain is impossible. The first motion, therefore, must have originated immediately. Also, whatever caused the first motion must have been radically different from all of the following causes. Because that cause did not itself undergo any motion (otherwise we would again face an infinite regress), the philosophers of old called it the Unmoved Mover.

The theory that ours is just one universe of many, all of which are unknown to us except our own, is an untestable hypothesis. As such, it does not deserve the respect of any serious student of science.

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Universal Order
to the Good

Nature tends toward the good. This is evident to observation. Thus gravity draws material particles together to form planets. Elements on some planets allow the appearance of life. Life shows increasing complexity over time. Plants have the power of nutrition; animals have sensory powers; and humans possess the powers of reason, will, and judgment. The natural world show a definite pattern of progress over time.

Just as the mind can know, by philosophical inquiry, that the Unmoved Mover is the Cause of the Universe, so it can know that God is its Final Cause. Whatever acts for the sake of the good acts under the direction of intelligence. But everything in nature seeks the good; therefore, everything in nature moves under the influence of the Divine Governance.

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American Deist © 2012‒2013 Edward J. Furton
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