What Does St. Thomas claim “All call God” in his Five ways?

What is this being that St. Thomas so confidently claims “all call God”?

In the First way, St. Thomas proves the existence of a first mover that is being moved by no other mover. Focus for a moment on the force of saying “moved by no mover”. Neither can this being be moved in any way, for then it would not be first. Consider that when I move, I certainly move myself, but I am also being moved by many things: by what I lack, by my bones and sinews and flesh, by injury, by anyone who is more powerful than I am, etc. St. Thomas proves that there is some being which cannot be moved in any of these ways. But this requires that such a being lack nothing, have no body, can suffer no defect, and admits of no being more powerful than himself. But such a being all would call God: what else could we call him?

Similar considerations apply to the second way, where St. Thomas seeks to prove the existence of a first uncaused cause. Note carefully that a cause is a positive principle upon which something really depends for its existence. And so when St. Thomas proves there is a certain first uncaused cause, he is showing there is some being who only gives existence, and receives existence from no other. But this is to say nothing other than this being has the source of its existence within itself. To speak of a first uncaused cause it to speak of a being who could say, in real truth, “I AM WHO AM” (i.e. I am my own existence).

Similar considerations apply to the third way, which makes explicit reference to the second way. We might add here that the third way is invaluable because it explicitly distinguishes between between a necessary being with a cause, and a necessary being without a cause. This distinction assures us that we will not confuse certain everlasting necessary, and fundamental beings (energy, atoms, consciousness) with the absolutely first necessary being that exists over all (God alone).

In order to understand the fourth way, we need to carefully observe what St. Thomas means when he says that the “maximum in any order”. St. Thomas picks a perfect example of this, sc. “Fire”. Consider cooking noodles on a gas range. The noodles are hot. Why so? They are not necessarily hot, for they can be cold as well. We might say similar things about the water in the pot, and the pot that is on the fire. None are hot by nature, but rather all are hot by another. Not so with fire, and this is why fire is the ultimate cause of all the heat. This is only an example, of course, a more complete metaphysical explanation of why being by participation is being caused by being itself would take another page or so to explain. Suffice it to say for now that the “maximum” that St. Thomas speaks of is that which has the quality in question by nature. We can call this being “Being itself” or “truth itself” or “Goodness and Beauty Itself”, or any other unlimited perfection (Again, we must come to the proof knowing the difference between limited and unlimited perfections).

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