Choice and the God of the Five Ways

The God of the Five Ways can only be seen as ruling out free choice in a way that would rule out any agency. If God’s causality in the specification of every action rules out the agency* of choice it rules out the agency of throwing, biting, jumping, running, growing or whatever. The problem with this is that the Five Ways presuppose the reality of all these sorts of motions or changes, modes of agency, kinds of generation, etc as first premises, and so if some corollary to the argument rules out free choice then the whole argument for the existence of God eats its own tail, like this:

1.) Changes, agency, generation, (CAG) etc are real and not merely apparent.

2.) If CAG are real, God is real and not merely apparent.

3.) If God is real, there is no choice, agency, generation, etc.

4.) Therefore, CAG are not real but merely apparent.

A Thomist can either accept that choice and predestination are compatible or deny that there is any proof for the existence of God at all,** but he can’t prove the existence of God and then use it as a presupposition in an argument that choices are not real. God and choice – or any creaturely agency – stand or fall together.


*This is true by definition of the Second Way, which starts from the reality of agent causes in sensation, but it is necessarily true of all the Five Ways in one way or another. To deny that fire burns, for example, denies the letter of the First Way.

**To take this second option, however, undercuts the whole edifice of Thomism, and so would be the end of anything deserving the name.

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