Does God Exist?
by Charles Scaliger
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Whatever their sectarian inclinations, the Founding Fathers (with the possible exception of Thomas Paine) would have agreed with Jefferson’s first assumption, namely, that there exists a Supreme Being from whom all rights, and the natural laws they are predicated on, originate.
Freedom and limited government as unquestioned goods depend ultimately on the notion that God is real, and that freedom and natural rights are gifts from Him to His children, to be safeguarded by properly constituted government. But is the existence of God, an almighty cosmic lawgiver, anything more than unprovable dogma, an article of personal faith lying outside the realm of reason?
The caricatures of Christianity offered up by its enemies notwithstanding, Christian theology has always sought to ground itself in reason. Proving the existence of God has been a fruitful exercise since the days of early Christian thinkers such as Augustine of Hippo, who sought to prove the existence of God by showing, via the inherent perfection of numbers and mathematical proofs, that man could not possibly be the highest being.
Perhaps the best-known and most influential proofs of the existence of God were served up by that quintessential thinker of the high Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas. With characteristic concision Aquinas laid out his Quinque Viae or “Five Ways” by which the existence of God could be proven. These ways are the unmoved mover, the first cause, the argument from contingency, the argument from degree, and the teleological argument or argument from design.