The Five Ways of St. Thomas Aquinas Part V: The Fifth Way

universe, milky way, creation, holy presence

universe, milky way, creation, holy presence

The Fifth Way – Argument from Governance or Order

Just as the Third and Fourth Ways build on the first two Ways, the Fifth of the Five Ways builds on everything else. But, again, let’s put this in modern terms.

In St. Thomas’ terms, natural bodies “act for an end.” In modern terms, natural and non-intelligent bodies behave in regular patterns, according to natural laws. There is order in everything.

  • Consider the predictable and systematic rotation of all the planets around the sun. Their movements can be mathematically predicted with accuracy.
  • Oak trees always beget oak trees, and never bananas or giraffes.
  • Dogs always beget dogs, and never cats or peach trees.

This, to me, is one of the reasons to consider the unborn human even at the embryonic stage, as they can only develop into human babies, and not anything else.

Did you know that nature repeatedly reflects the mathematical dimensions of Phi, the Golden Ratio? Similarly, the Fibonacci sequence shows a perfect order found in nature. Examples are the positions of seeds in sunflowers, pinecones, seashells and much, much more. “15 Uncanny Examples of the Golden Ratio Found in Nature illustrates this sign of intelligence in nature beautifully with descriptions and pictures. This natural consistency didn’t happen by chance, and it didn’t create itself. Therefore, there must be an intelligent designer that designed this order.

While natural laws and forces account for these patterns, the real question is “Why should there be any order or regularity in nature?”

These laws of nature cannot account for their own being or necessity, and so, we are forced back onto the God of the first four Ways. In addition to His qualities of pure Actuality, pure Being, pure Necessity, and absolute Perfection, He also has the quality of supreme Intelligence due to His causing things to behave with regularity.

Some Final Thoughts (from Anthony S. Layne)

Strictly speaking, the Five Ways don’t require the universe to have a beginning in time, merely a priority or start point in efficient causality and movement. More to the point, though, the God of the Five Ways is not a “god of the gaps” (that is, a god who exists only to explain what science can’t). Indeed, natural laws and forces require His action in order for them to exist, and He isn’t logically prevented from working through natural processes. Put another way, St. Thomas’ proofs require no miracles—but neither do they remove the possibility of the miraculous. And since the Five Ways rely solely on what one can observe and what is logically necessary, the proofs don’t have to beg the question of Scripture’s reliability.

If you’re up to reading the original as Aquinas wrote it, you can find it at New Advent: Summa Theologiae, Prima Pars, Question 2, Article 3, respondeo (“I answer”).

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1 thought on “The Five Ways of St. Thomas Aquinas Part V: The Fifth Way”

  1. Pingback: SATVRDAY CATHOLICA EDITION | Big Pulpit

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