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G D His Existence And His Nature -Rev. R. Garigou-Lagrange, O.P.

 

We are not here concerned with movements or changes which happen in the world, but with efficient causes upon which depend such permanent beings as plants, animals, and men. In other words, this proof does not start precisely from the principle of motion or from becoming, but from being, which is the terminus of becoming, and leads us to admit the existence of a first efficient cause, which is necessary not only for the production of all things, but also for their preservation in existence.

To understand this demonstration fully, consult the Summa of St. Thomas, Ia, q. 104, a. 1 and 2.

 

In the world there are efficient causes which are essentially subordinated to one another, e. g., all those cosmic influences, such as the chemical action in the air, atmospheric pressure, solar heat, etc., which are necessary not only for the production, but also for the preservation of plants and animals. Thus the ancient philosophers used to say that "man and the sun cooperate in the generation of man," for the sun is necessary both for the production and the preservation of vegetable and animal life on this earth of ours.

Now, these efficient causes, which are thus subordinated to one another, presuppose a first cause which is not caused. On the one hand, it is impossible for a being to cause itself, for in that case it would exist before it actually did exist; on the other hand, it is impossible to proceed ad infinitum in a series of essentially subordinated causes, as we have seen above (first proof).

Hence, there exists, above the caused efficient causes, a first cause which is not caused, which has being from itself, not from another. This first cause must, therefore, be Being itself (a point which will be more clearly understood at the close of the next proof) and may justly be called God.

Ia, q. 3, a. 4.

 

 








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