5. Summa Contra Gentiles By Thomas Aquinas Summary Book 1 Chapters 10-12

Last post.

I’m smoking a bit of Cornell & Diehll’s 2020 Sun Bear and reading Aquinas.  Sun Bear is toasty, nutty AND grassy with Virginas. .  Thomas is brilliant.  They are a good pairing.

Chapter 10


Of the opinion of those who say it cannot be demonstrated that there is a God, since this is self-evident.


Self evident things make themselves evident once the hearer understands the terms.  Once you know what a whole is and what a part is, it is self-evident that the whole is greater than the parts.

1.  Some hold that God is self-evident in this way. They claim the word “God” signifies a thing greater than we can understand and since we already have that in mind, that, plus the reality of God surpasses comprehension.

2.  Additionally, it’s possible to think of a thing that is impossible to think non-existent.  This thing would have to be greater than anything thought to not exist.    This would run contrary to the term “God” and remains proof that God’s existence is self evident.

3. Some propositions self predicate.  “Man is Man”, or “man is an animal.”   “God is” is one of these self predicates.  This is self-evident.

4.  AND things that are naturally known are self-evident and are shown as such through research and experience.   God becomes naturally known because man’s desire is for God.  This is evidence of God’s Existence.

5.  Lastly, that which let’s all things be known must exist.  God being the divine light showing all things, God must be.

This is evidence enough for many.

Chapter 11


Refutation of the foregoing opinion and solution of the aforesaid arguments

The arguments from Chapter 10 arise from those accustomed to hearing and calling the name from childhood.  This custom carried on since childhood is held firmly as self evident.

What is really self-evident and what is self-evident to us are different.  God’s essence is his existence.  (He needs to show his work here.  He covers this in the big Summa, hopefully he’ll get to the metaphysics of God later in SCG.). But, since we cannot comprehend God, we cannot comprehend that which is greater than the parts, so the whole of God is unknown to us.

It doesn’t follow that by knowing the meaning of the word “God” that God is known.   1.  The meaning isn’t known to all, even among those who grant that there is a God.   2.  Just saying that “God” is than which nothing greater can be thought doesn’t mean that that object of thought exists in reality.

Additionally, this argument does not guarantee that God exists outside of the mind.   Also, there is no proof that there is something that is larger than that which can be conceived.

It is also rubbish to think that there is no God but there is something greater than God.  The possibility of thinking God doesn’t exist has nothing to do with God and everything to do with the weakness of the mind, which is only able to see his results and not him.

This takes care of the 4th argument.  Man seeks God in nature as he seeks happiness, which is an effect or likeness of God, and not actually God.  God as such is not known naturally to man and must be found through reason and revelation.

Lastly, the argument in number 5 is in error.  If it were self evident, knowing God would be prior to knowing all other things, not the other way around.  Instead, all knowledge is in us by his outpouring.

Chapter 12

Of the opinion of those who say that the existence of God cannot be proved and that it is held by faith alone


Some say it is impossible to prove that God exists by reason.  This is because so many make terrible arguments for the existence of God.

It is also because some philosophers who show that in God essence and existence are the same.  (Again, he’s going to have to show his work for me.)   They think that the answer to the question “What is he?” Is the same as the answer to the question “Is he?”  This error leads one to answer that God is existence.

AND if one follows Aristotle, believing things are that signified by it’s definition, as in argument 1 in chapter 10, you still can’t prove God’s existence.

AND if you follow Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics and rely on sense data, you can’t prove God’s existence because he transcends senses.

Not true.  1.  We can see the explicit relationship between God the cause and his effects.  2.  The hierarchy of sciences show us that there must be areas of investigation HIGHER than the sensible as Aristotle has shown in 4 of Metaphysics.  3.  The efforts of philosophers who work to prove the existence of God show us the way.  (Aristotle in Physics book 8, I think.)  4.  The Apostolic truth that tells us God is clearly seen through things made.

Do not believe that in God essence and existence are the same.   God would have to have an existence subsisting in himself.  This would live us ignorant of what God is, just like we are ignorant of his essence.   The fact that we can form the arguments of reason shows we are not ignorant of what God is, disproving that his existence subsists in himself.

(PAY ATTENTION.)  When we make arguments for the existence of God, it is not necessary that the divine essence or quiddity (the “whatness” of God be used in the middle term of our proof.  Instead we’ll place his EFFECTS in the middle term as one does when using a posteriori reasoning.  All names for God are taken from his effects or his relationship to his effects anyway.  (This fixes the problems with those folks who are confusing the essence and existence.)

God’s effects are sensible objects.  This makes our sense data applicable for these arguments.

I’m reading about 35 chapters per month. It’ll take about two years.  Join me.  You can start a the beginning by going back to post number one here.  1. Summa Contra Gentiles by Thomas Aquinas, a summary

2 thoughts on “5. Summa Contra Gentiles By Thomas Aquinas Summary Book 1 Chapters 10-12”

  1. Pingback: 6. Summa Contra Gentiles By Thomas Aquinas Summary Book 1 Chapter 13 – ScottHambrick.com

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