The Amazing Atheist vs. Aquinas: The Second Way

Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Lately, we’ve been looking at the, ahem, “work”, of a YouTuber who calls himself The Amazing Atheist. What we’ve found amazing so far is his inability to grasp Thomistic arguments and think that he’s refuted them. Last night, we looked at how he did in dealing with the first way. Tonight, we’re going to look at the second way.

What does he say about this one?

#1-Some events cause other events.

Then says “That argument is exactly the same as your motion argument. I’m not refuting the same argument twice.”

Actually, refuting it the first time would be nice, but anyone watching right now his video should just be ready to realize that even if they don’t know Aquinas, that he surely at least would not put forward two different arguments not knowing that they were the same argument.

So what did the angelic doctor say?

The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

The first argument is about motion. This argument is about a specific kind of motion which revolves around bringing things into existence. How are things brought into existence? There are similarities to be sure, but to simply say that they are the same argument is to show a profound ignorance.

What is an efficient cause? For a refresher of what we discussed Wednesday, the efficient cause is that which brings something into being. Aquinas at the start says that for something to cause itself is nonsense. Why? It would have to exist in order to bring itself into existence. Only that which has actuality is in capable in any sense of acting.

There are a number of instrumental causes that can be used to get to the final effects that we see today, that is, our existence. Aquinas does not care if it is one or many. For Aquinas, the evolutionary debate today would be a non-question. Aquinas would just say “If God did it fiat, fine. If He didn’t, then evolution was the instrument that He used.”

In other words, the evolutionists can freely win the battle for evolution and still lose the war.

This also gets us into the existence/essence distinction. Let us take the idea of a unicorn. The unicorn only exists as far as we know in our minds. However, were the idea to become actualized in the extramental world, we would see the existence of a real unicorn.

For each of us, we have a human nature that is actualized and the distinction of that nature is made known by the matter that we possess. For angels, there is no differentiation by matter, so Gabriel is the essence of Gabriel and that is actualized by adding existence. (Of course, existence is added to our essence as well)

What about God? Well he doesn’t need a cause seeing as He is uncaused. He is existence by nature. This is a point we will look at again tomorrow in discussing the third way. There is no existence that needs to be added to essence for Him. In God, they are one and the same.

Keep in mind that when God is the efficient cause for the existence of other things, it says nothing about the temporality of those things. There could have been an everlasting past still. First cause does not mean first chronologically necessary but first fundamentally.

TAA doesn’t have much to say today, which is probably good on his part. Fortunately, we do, and we will say more tomorrow on the third way.