Motion: The Most Manifest Proof of St. Thomas Aquinas with Preliminaries on Religious Indifference


A) The Argument of St. Thomas from Motion

St. Thomas Aquinas, studying the works of the Greek philosopher Aristotle, concluded from common observation that an object that is in motion (e.g. the planets, a rolling stone) is put in motion by some other object or force. From this, Aquinas believes that ultimately there must have been an Unmoved Mover (God) who first put things in motion. The argument[1] flows this way:

the first and most manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is moved is moved by another, for nothing can be moved except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is moved; whereas a thing moves in as much as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced to potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects.[2] Therefore whatever is moved must be moved by another. If that by which is moved be itself moved, then this also must needs be moved by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover, seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are moved by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is moves by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, moved by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.


B) Applying the Argument from Motion

Full of conviction and assurance, the changes that happened throughout history and more so today like the rapid breakthroughs in scientific and technological world are also very much evident and clear.

But those changes[3], which are potential to be so are moved and/or initiated by something or someone. Just like in the case of Nietzsche and Marx who were primarily set the initiation of the unbecoming phenomenon in this contemporary period. Because changes, which are potential, cannot move themselves they must be moved by something or someone already in actuality. It is now not possible for a certain change to be in potentiality and at the same respect to be in actuality. It is self-destructive or repugnant.

Therefore a certain change before reaching such a state must be moved by another. If that another who moved be itself moved, then it should need another mover. But this cannot go ad infinitum because this would imply that nothing would exist at all or in this case, there would be no change at all. But it is very obvious that there are. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, and this is God.

And finally with the changes and breakthroughs should lead one into humility and reverence. The most eloquent counter-attack to atheist in our days, says Fr. Vincent Miceli, was the lunar liturgy, the prayers of the American astronauts. In awe and reverence – virtues forgotten by atheists – they sum the glory of God as they sail the cold moon. In a voyage of half a million miles through spatial silence they discover God. In that silent, awesome sanctuary they experienced the mighty, ineffable, exquisitely gentle presence of God. They saw Him everywhere – in the blinding brilliance of the sun, the colorful sparkling gem of the earth, the pre-historic ruggedness of the moon, the infernal blackness of the infinite interstellar spatial seas. Indeed, they heard Him in the very thunderous sacred silence of space and in the hushed rhythm of the circling spheres. They celebrated God’s creation of heaven, earth, light, day, night, the seas, lands and all forms of life. And with God they agreed enthusiastically that it was good.[4]



 To top it all, it is presented above the reasons and causes of religious indifference or atheism. There are religious ignorance, materialism (or positivism) and the believers themselves as the root cause of the problem.

There is one reason and cause that the author presented and it is primarily the changes and ultimately to motion in that sense that happened throughout the course of time.

And by getting through the argument of St. Thomas from motion, the author applied the latter to show the demonstrability and necessity of God in today’s spiritual climate. The argument of St. Thomas can be vested and utilized in this present problem.

It is therefore the first argument of St. Thomas Aquinas from motion the best way to explain the existence of a Supreme Being and an eloquent and persuasive counter-argument against the religious indifferent or atheists in general.


[1] The following is a selection from St Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica. St. Thomas Aquinas, Five Ways to Prove that God Exists, from Anton C. Pegis, (ed..) The Basic Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, New York, Doubleday & Co., 1955.

[2] For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved; i.e. that it should move itself.

[3] Whether  in socio-economic, political and religious sides.

[4] V. Miceli S.J., The Gods of Atheism, Arlington House, New York, 1971, p. 452-453.


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