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Five Proofs of the Existence of God Paperback – August 18, 2017
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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"A watershed book. Feser has completely severed the intellectual legs upon which modern atheism had hoped to stand."
-- Matthew Levering, James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary
"A powerful and important book. The concluding chapter, where Feser replies to possible objections to his arguments, is a gem; it alone is worth the price of this excellent work."
--Stephen T. Davis, Russell K. Pitzer Professor of Philosophy, Claremont McKenna College
"Edward Feser is widely recognized as a top scholar in the history of philosophy in general, and in Thomistic and Aristotelian philosophy in particular. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in natural theology. I happily and highly recommend it."
-- J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Biola University
"Refutes with devastating effect the standard objections to theistic proofs, from David Hume to the New Atheists."
--Robert C. Koons, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin
"Yet another fine book by Edward Feser. He replies to (literally) all of the objections and shows convincingly how the most popular objections (the kind one hears in Introduction to Philosophy courses) are very often completely beside the point and, even when they're not, are 'staggeringly feeble and overrated'."
--Alfred J. Freddoso, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
About the Author
Edward Feser, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California. Called by National Review "one of the best contemporary writers on philosophy," he is the author of The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, Aquinas, Scholastic Metaphysics, By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed, and many other books and articles.
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God, such as being all-good, all powerful, one, and omniscient. This is an outstanding book and deserves a wide readership.
Note that the Five Proofs are not the same as Thomas Aquinas’s Five Proofs, though one of them is. The proofs were chosen for being powerful arguments. This book gives an argument for God’s existence based on the fact that abstract ideas exist, and since they can only exist ultimately in the mind of God, then God must exist. Very few books present that argument, which adds greatly to Five Proofs.
The problem of universals is covered clearly, with Realism shown to be the correct understanding, and Nominalism and Conceptualism being false. It is rare to find the problem of universals presented so clearly, and the resolution of the problem so convincingly demonstrated.
Another of the five arguments is the argument from the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which is also not often cited among arguments for God’s existence. Basically, the Principle of Sufficient Reason states that there is a good explanation for everything that happens in the universe, whether we can discover that reason or not. The argument is that everything needs a good reason for its existence, and the universe needs a good reason for its existence, and God is the only reasonable explanation for the universe and its many aspects. For example, a rational God explains why the laws of physics are rational and why humans have reason.
The Principle of Proportionate Causality is also explained, which states that a cause cannot give what it doesn’t have. Mindless matter doesn’t have the ability to think, so a merely material universe can’t be the cause of rational minds in humans, but a rational God can give rationality to humans.
Edward Feser also includes a good argument refuting David Hume’s supposed claim that miracles are violations of the laws of nature. His metaphor that miracles are like God playing a score (i.e. keeping nature going) then suddenly improving (i.e. performing miracles) is striking and poetic.
Feser also relates how the precepts of natural theology can help us decide which religions are not true. Since natural theology demonstrates that God is rational, one, good, a person, and all-powerful, any religion that posits pantheism, or doesn’t have a God can’t be true.
The last chapter refutes several of the arguments given by the New Atheists and shows that they are wrong. The author also includes a section refuting the “divine hiddenness” argument and does a good job. He probably should have stressed more that, if God truly revealed himself, many people would be intimidated into worshipping God; after all, one doesn’t rob a bank when there are 20 police cars outside it, and should God reveal himself unambiguously in all his power and omniscience, it would coerce many into worshipping God. Perhaps God doesn’t reveal himself more clearly because he wants those who follows who love Him rather than fear Him.
If wisdom is more precious that rubies, then this book is worth at least seven rubies. Anyone who loves wisdom, God and the truth should buy and read this book.
The Aristotelian proof argues from the actualization of potentials to something fully actual. The neo-Platonic proof argues from composite things to something simple and non-composite. The Rationalist proof argues from things that do not explain themselves to something that contains within itself its own sufficient reason for existence. The Thomistic proof argues from things whose essence is not identical to their existence to something whose essence must be identical to its existence. The Augustinian proof argues from the existence of eternal truths to an eternal mind that contains these truths.
Feser devotes a chapter on the divine attributes and how the proofs entail them. He also devotes a chapter to objections of various kinds.
Why did I give five stars? Even though I don't find the arguments compelling, I recommend the book. It's well-written, well-structured, and covers arguments and topics that generally don't get a lot of airtime in the modern God debate. The only possible fault of this book is that although Feser utilizes Scholastic metaphysics to undergird the proofs, he generally doesn't provide reasons to think those metaphysics are true. I don't know if this should be counted as a fault though, because Feser has another book entitled 𝘚𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘤 𝘔𝘦𝘵𝘢𝘱𝘩𝘺𝘴𝘪𝘤𝘴 which presumably (I haven't read it) provides reasons to accept the metaphysical framework that undergirds the proofs. As it is, 𝘍𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘰𝘧𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘌𝘹𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘎𝘰𝘥 is a concise book, and a thorough explication of Scholastic metaphysics would turn it into a slog, so I don't fault Feser for leaving that job to his other book.
This is NOT a book about Aquinas' Five Ways, nor is it merely a summary of other thinkers' arguments. Although these proofs have been around for centuries, the particular expression of them in this book is unique to Feser.