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De Moor IV:10: Arguments for the Existence of God: Nature (Part 1)

β. Our AUTHOR appeals to the testimony of Nature or of the entire created universe: where it might be permitted to be argued,

1. From the Dependence of all things on the first cause, which we thus demonstrate:

Whatever exists as finite and imperfect, that is either of itself, or from another.

a. Not of itself; neither, a. positively, for, 1. thus it had been a cause producing itself: but to produce presupposes being, to be produced implies not being. 2. If it had produced itself, it would have conferred upon itself omnimodal perfection. Nor, b. negatively, inasmuch as it would have been sufficient for itself for existence, to such an extent that it would have no need of a cause: for what is independent is not able to be of finite perfection.

b. Therefore, from another; again, if this is from another, there must be an ascending to a superior cause. But a succession of such causes is not infinite: for, where anything is at the same time a cause and an effect, there, of what sort is the order in descent, such also is the order in the ascent: but the series of effects is finite, and therefore also the series of causes. New causes arise daily, which is contrary to infinity, which rejects limits and increase. Therefore, there must be a halting in some beginning, which is of itself, and accordingly is not able to be imperfect.

Descartes takes exception in Responsionibus ad primas Objectiones, Meditationibus, page 55, 1. that by such an argument a first cause is not implied, but our ignorance is alleged.

I respond, We do not deny, for that reason, an infinite succession of secondary causes, because it does not follow upon that; but because it involves a contradiction.

Descartes takes exception again in Responsionibus ad primas Objectiones, Meditationibus, page 55, 2. that it is much more evident that there is a God, than that there are any sensible objects.

I respond, Paul thus makes use of a middle point, which is less evident than the very conclusion to be demonstrated, Romans 1:20: compare STAPFER’S[1] Theologicæ polemicæ, tome I, chapter III, section I, § 271-296; REIMARUS’[2] over de voornaamste Waarheden van den natuurlichen Godtsdienst, Essay 1, § 1-9, pages 1-24; GODFRIED ARNOLD MAAS’ Betoog, dat daar uyt, dat ’er nu werkelijk Jet bestaat, het aanwezen volge van een noodzaaklijk, eenwig, en onveranderlijk Wezen, ’t welk van deeze Waereid onderscheiden is.[3]

[1] John Frederick Stapfer (1708-1775) was a Swiss Reformed divine of the first order. He served as a Pastor in the canton in Berne. His Institutiones theologicæ, polemicæ, universæ, ordine scientifico dispositæ ranks among the best elenctic theologies.

[2] Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768) was a German Enlightenment philosopher and Deist. He was an advocate for a pure, natural religion, as opposed to revealed religion; and he stimulated some of the investigation into the historical Jesus.

[3] Gottfried Arnold Maas (1734-c. 1810)

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