Appeared in Fall 1993, Vol. XIX, No. 2,3

The question of the demonstration of the existence of God has occupied the thoughts and arguments of many Thomists. All agree that the existence of God can be demonstrated in philosophy. The disagreement turns around the origin of the demonstration. This involves a further argument about the origin of the common understanding of the term “God.” St. Thomas clearly states that God’s existence must be demonstrated from his effects.1 The name of God cannot be defined because His essence and existence are one. As the created intellect cannot comprehend his existence, so it cannot comprehend his essence so as to define it. Since God’s essence cannot be comprehended by a created intellect, he cannot be reduced to a genus. As he cannot be reduced to a genus, he cannot be defined. So to be an object of demonstration or question, there must be some other explanation of the name or term given to God by men than one which would be capable of definition. The signification of the name God and its origin is here taken as the middle term in a demonstration and the explanation of the name cannot be a definition. It must therefore be derived from the effects of God and be a quia not a propter quid demonstration.

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