The Argument from Degree

Many critics cite the presence of bad people in the church as a reason to reject the existence of God. After all, if God really exists, why would He permit less than perfect examples of His church? One of the good arguments to use is that known as the Argument from Degree. The fact that we have an understanding of greater or lesser goodness, nobility, morality, etc., actually points to the existence of God.

Thomas Aquinas used this argument, and in his form looked like this:


1. There exist greater and lesser degrees of goodness, truth, nobility, etc.
2. Greater or lesser are terms speaking of things as they approach in various ways the greatest. For example, as hot advances toward the greatest heat.
3. There exists, therefore, something that is the greatest goodness, truth, nobility, etc.
4. What is the greatest of any of these is the cause of its own kind. For example, fire, the greatest heat, is the cause of all that is hot.
5. Therefore, there exists an absolute (or greatest) goodness, truth, nobility, etc.

We could also apply this to being and consciousness:

1. There exists greater and lesser beings and consciousness.
2. Greater or lesser are terms that speak of things as they approach in various ways the greatest. For example, as humans advance in knowledge of a thing toward the greatest knowledge of a thing.
3.There exists, therefore, something that is the greatest being and consciousness.
4. What is the greatest of this kind is the cause of that kind. For example, the parents are the cause of the sperm and the egg being brought together in an act of procreation.
5. Therefore, there exists an absolute (or greatest) being and consciousness.

Dr. Robert Schihl, one of the founders of Regent University, proposed the following form:

1. Objects have properties to greater of lesser extent.
2. If an object has a property to a lesser extent, then there exists some other object that has the property to the maximum possible degree.
3. So there is an entity that has all the properties to the maximum possible degree.
4. Hence, God exists.

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