Often when discussing with Atheists the reason that it is clear that God must be, though we do not know what God is, I will tell them that there is a four part “demonstration,” or rather indication, that something of the sort must be so, and is. I tell them that they do not have the patience for even this, and so might return to the traditional “proofs.” Proofs and demonstration are an odd way of speaking in this matter, since as we think from Aristotle we have learned that first principles are not demonstrated, as though they were a conclusion drawn from other premises, but are rather “seen.” This, then, is an ascending argument showing that it cannot be thought either that modern science has looked everywhere and refuted the existence of “gods,” nor that God is not.
Beginning from artificial beings: My chair is made of wood. Smash the chair. I still have all the wood. But no chair. The question is: What is the shape of the chair made of?
The shape of course has more to do with it being a chair than does the wood. Language gets a-hold of a class characteristic, of a kind of furniture as are tables and lamps. It is odd that the form of things is less durable than the “matter,” while the production of chairs can be repeated endlessly using the same form, but different matter. What makes it a chair is also related to geometry, the perpendicular, and the fact of weight and gravity. And we are mostly all familiar with the account from the physics of Aristotle regarding the 4 causes. The purpose of course guides the form, and a four legged chair must be better than a three legged stool for various purposes. But this, while so for artificial things made by man, does not seem at all so for the shape of rocks or even rivers and horizons and clouds. The shapes of these seem more accidental.
Purpose and the distinct form of objects beyond the accidental seem to enter, it our ontic presentation rising from the origins, only with the advent of Life. Life is very strange, and it it is difficult to say what is the difference between living and non-living matter. But with life, we get a sharp distinction between subject and object, and the subordination of part to whole. Purpose also enters nature here, as ferns seek sunlight, and reproducing beings seek to continue. Solid, liquid and gas (earth, air and water) are mixed with fire (energy) to produce an ongoing reaction similar to an internal combustion engine- and though these cars imitate living beings as do all artifacts, and even here imitate the generation of power and motion of the animals, it is also clear that these lack purposes or their own, and are not living beings. This though they can have something like a “health,” as the mechanic knows, and there is an art of tending this allegorical “health” of the auto- if one’s purpose is to drive and not to junk it.
It is with animate life that self motion enters into our ascent. Plants would find a great advantage in being able to move themselves into the sunlight, though nature has yet to produce this variation. Very few plants can move at all- the Venus fly trap, and a few others. The generation of moss is very interesting, as these have a stage where the spore is able to swim to a place where the plant then roots. Slime molds- which can apparently crawl up telephone poles- are another window into the very revealing roots of self motion in nature. The amoeba is another such window. Assuming the subordination of part and whole which entered nature with the plants, self motion doers not violate the “laws of thermodynamics,” when, say, our dog suddenly gets up and brings us the ball to play- though for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction,” etc. Self motion is based upon contraction and then extension of a part out from the whole.
Purpose in nature has been rejected, of course, with the Lamarkian theory of the origins of the species in nature, in favor of accidental variation and changing kinds. We note that our “science,” though, simply assumes the kinds, then reasons about material and efficient causes regarding these, without attempting to understand, say, what make the ball Galileo rolls one thing, when he is demonstrating that objects fall at the same rate regardless of their weight (32’/sc/sc, accelerating). Our science similarly assumes the demarcation of biology and physics, with living and non-living matter, without being able to say what the difference is, and we see that Life would have to be considered a fifth being, not explainable in therms of earth, air water and fire, any more than the difference between a tree and the rest of the cosmos, or that of part and whole within a cell, is going to be explainable in terms of causes efficient and material. Hence, we cannot make life- rather, it comes only from the original spark, all living things on earth apparently having descended literally from a single source, so that all life is literally “akin.”
We say this: As there is a “ground” of the shape of the chair in the eternal truths of geometry, “within” which the chair occurs- for the truth of the Pythagorean theorem looks like it has not come to be to pass away, but is true always and of every triangle, whether it is ever even drawn- AS there is such an eternal ground in geometry for every artificial being, so there is a ground in the intelligible for life and self motion. Hierarchies of part and whole were always possible, as is known for a certainty, since these have come to be, and life itself was always possible in the nature of things, even if judging empirically from the view of what we say about 13 Billion years ago. Was the Pythagorean theorem true in “40 Billion B.C.?” But we say it is the same eternal ground that is revealed by the manifestation of life as that revealed by planets and crystals, configurations of molecules and rivers, and the triangle known to exist between the centers of any three objects. Hence God too is called “The living One,” and “cause of life,” eternal and the cause of the intelligibility of things. To say this cause of life is itself “alive” is strange, though it must be that and more, as the ground is geometrical, without a single mistake, though it is this and more. The ground is “one,” yet the forms themselves even of living things rise and fall and change, something as the glass is one on which the moisture freezes fractally to form the shapes that look like leaves.
Life, self motion, and then there is man. As there is an eternal ground of self motion and life and artificial objects, so we say there is an eternal ground of man, and as life is different from the non-living, and self-motion from merely vegetating, so man is dimension-ally different from the animal upon which human life has supervened, much as motion has supervened upon the plant and life itself upon the matter and energy it must be said to use (-for clearly the matter has no purpose in using us!). This we say again occurs without violating any of the supposed laws of physics or biology by which one might think hierarchy and purpose impossible- for here it is, revealing too that this was always possible in being. Wonder, reason, language, “conscience,” music, love, compassion, justice, all enter uniquely with the human, as we note, it is only humans who purse science, literature, etc.
Our psychiatry attempts to reduce the human dimension to the non-human. It is not that they get hold of absolutely nothing by this, but it is rather as trying to understand a sphere from its shadow in 2 dimensions, which will likely appear in the shape of a football. When viewed from within the two dimensional plane, this may also appear as a single line.
What the human soul reveals about being is dimension-ally more than what life reveals about the intelligible ground of being. We are each said to be “persons,” with our own names, and family names too imitate the kinds of beings, genetically same and different, as all things are both the same and different. So too, as we say He is the Living One, so we also say He is a person, or that our being persons is one way in which the soul or man is said to be an “image of God.” He has said to Moses: “I am.” But this saying- like the use of the word for being as a noun- is found independently in both the Greek and Hebrew writings (Plato, Republic 501b-c, etc). In both it is the cause of the laws. That two directions should arrive at the same is the confirmation of coherence- not certain knowledge, such as that hypothetical knowledge of what must follow. In the allegory of the cave, the one ascending turns from the images seen in water to the beings, and then from man and the other things, turns to see the Most High reflected. One allegory given in the divided line (Republic, Book VI) is that the Good is to the intellect as the sun is to the eye- with rays from a single source casting its light on the visible things. Socrates turned from the attempt to study nature directly, as done by the natural philosophers, and as we say is done erroneously by both those who talk of “Being” and those who talk of attributes based upon assumptions. Socrates turns to the what is questions of the human things, through man ascending to the highest principles. We say the imago Dei is even the true offspring, of which the “child of the good” is said to be the “fraudulent offspring.” That the Good is “beyond being” is the famous highest Socratic or Platonic formulation, not as personal as the Thinking Thought of Aristotle, but perhaps beyond the difference between the “personal” and “impersonal.”
That “Nous” or intellect is begotten in man or of man is also common between the New Testament and Socratic philosophy. It is this we say is an image of God, and from this one can see that the Christ is, or may just, be possible. What amazes us is that his words- love your enemies, etc. are unique, simple high true, and indeed the bread of life, things one gets the impression Socrates was too moderate or did not have the authority to teach. This again is a point of coherence. And again, we say that knowledge of the sort involved in wisdom is in the soul of each, as if from prior to our mortal origins. As the wing implies that there is earth and sky- evolving by chance in 3 or 5 different places in natural history- though the wheel, never, so we say God has formed, by the nature of things, as by his very hands, the capacities of the human soul that reveal by ascent the truth of the things of heaven. Science has no more explanation, let alone refutation, of these indications, nor can it even be consistently thought that nothing beyond the intelligible is Most High.