Degree

The below item is part of my "Conversations" series.

An atheist helping his atheist brother prepare for a debate

Sebastian: I know you said I should be familiar with as many arguments as possible because we don’t know what he’ll bring up, but some of these are just — I hate to say insane, but they’re insane.

Tom: For example.

Sebastian: Aquinas’ argument from degree.

Tom: Which one is that?

Sebastian: I’m not sure I can even sum it up. I’ll read it: “Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But ‘more’ and ‘less’ are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.”

Tom: Easy. If he brings that up, just say it’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard.

Sebastian: I can’t do that; it’s rude and would make me look stupid.

Tom: Seriously then, if the “maximum” of something is the source of that something, then all matter must have come from the most material thing possible. The most material thing possible couldn’t be supernatural, by definition, so obviously the material world was made by a material being.

Sebastian: I — that’s — uh, that almost made sense. Awesome. Have you ever run into an argument for the existence of God that you had trouble answering?

Tom: Someone once asked me how God could possibly not exist, since God was so powerful that there was no power strong enough to stop Him from existing.

Sebastian: What did you say?

Tom: I said that an omnipotent God was powerful enough to stop himself from existing.

Sebastian: That’s twelve kinds of awesome. I am so unworthy. Want to do this debate for me?

Tom: Sorry. I am the maximum of awesome to which all awesome must be compared. You’ll just have to deal with that.

 


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Posted on February 28, 2014 at 5:16 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Conversations

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