The Third Way we can know that God exists!
Updated: Jul 20
The Third Way we can know that God is real!
© 2021 Patrick C. Marks, All rights reserved
The following is a preview from the FAQ section of my new book…
The Bible teaches that what can be known about what God is like can be seen by what has been made. Romans 1:19 explains that how things exist, how things work and how things must have been made are an obvious clue to who God is and what He must be like. In the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas summed up five logical ways everyone can see what God is like based on how things exist in the present. Each of his “Five Ways” are simple but obvious facts anyone can understand and each of these Five Ways show why the Bible’s teaching in Romans 1:19 is true.
Aquinas’s Third Way explains that if ever there was a time when there was nothing, then nothing would exist now, because nothing cannot make anything. This is true because nothing is nothing – no time, no space, no matter, no energy, no laws of nature – nothing! But most scientists today look at the evidence in the universe and believe everything exploded into existence in a Big Bang at some time in the past and before the Big Bang there was – nothing!
So, the question is: is it possible that at first there was nothing and then there was an explosion of energy in a Big Bang that eventually became everything the way some scientists believe? After all, if the universe began with an explosion of energy – energy is “something.” But the most demonstrated laws in science are the laws of thermodynamics. These laws describe how there is no new energy being created in the universe now and all energy is gradually burning out. This means that energy is not eternal. So, how can the universe really come from nothing?
In answer to this question, Aquinas points out that there are things existing right now that do not have to exist – things such as scorpions or meteors or sea urchins. In fact, it is possible to think of a universe without scorpions or meteors or sea urchins. But why can we imagine a universe that would still be a universe if things like scorpions or meteors or sea urchins did not exist?
Well, Aquinas said that is because all these things are only “possible” creatures. What he means is this: at one time, creatures like the scorpion did not exist - but they do now. That means that at some point in the past they started to exist! Whatever starts to exist must be a dependent creature - philosophers call this “contingent being.” This means they are dependent on something else to have made them because they started to exist at some point in the past. A scientist may argue that a scorpion must have come from a scorpion-like insect over a long period of time. But even if this were true, and there is a good deal of evidence to say this is not true, where did this scorpion-like ancestor come from? The answer is: another creature that existed before it. And so on…each of these creatures is dependent on a creature that existed before it.
Of course, nothing cannot make anything because it is nothing, so if something like a scorpion, or even a scorpion-like ancestor of scorpions, exists right now then it must have started to exist at some point - it could not have come from nothing, since “no-thing” cannot produce or create “some-thing.” That means that things like scorpions, which started to exist at some point in the past, owe existence to something that was there first!
But whatever is dependent for its existence could also, possibly, not exist. Another way of thinking about a dependent or contingent being is that it is a “possible” being. Think of it this way: It is very possible that this universe could exist without scorpions, so it is possible that scorpions could not exist, and the universe would still exist. Now, since there are “possible beings” such as scorpions in existence in the universe today, this leads to a big question: Is everything in the universe only a possible being? Is everything contingent or dependent on something else to exist?
If you say “yes” – that means all the beings in the universe today are only “possible” beings. If this is true, then it is possible there could have been a time when nothing existed. Why is this true? Because if everything is only possible, it is possible everything could disappear. In fact, there is a lot of evidence from science that everything in the universe can be traced back to a starting point. But what came before this starting point? Many scientists today say “nothing” came before the Big Bang or they try to avoid this evidence because they know it could not have really been “nothing” - because nothing cannot do anything. But - what came before the universe existed could not be only another “possible” thing either (something such as another universe) because any “possible” thing, even a multiple set of other “universes,” needs something or someone else to make it!
So - what came before our universe must have been something that cannot NOT exist or else that “something” would only be a possible thing itself. In other words, there must be something, or someone, that simply exists because it exists. It exists forever. It is a necessary existence that cannot be any other way. Only a necessary Being who created dependent beings can explain how our universe came into being from “nothing” as so much evidence from science today suggests.
And…this is exactly what the Bible teaches.
The Bible says in Exodus 3:14 that God describes Himself as, “I Am that I Am.” In other words, God simply exists because He exists. He is who He is and cannot be anything else. He exists in a necessary way that cannot be any other way. He has no beginning, and He has no ending. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” and Isaiah 43:13b says “I am God. Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?” The God of the Bible is eternal and does not owe His existence to anyone or anything else. He is described in the Bible as infinite and all-powerful. He is the Creator of all dependent beings and this is exactly what is necessary to explain how possible beings, that is, beings that started to exist at some point, could exist at all.
In the end, we can imagine a universe without scorpions, or even people – but no one can demonstrate how our universe could have been, at one point, a universe where nothing existed because if it had, then nothing would exist now or ever could exist at all. There must therefore be something that has always existed since “no-thing” cannot DO any “thing.”
“The Third Way says nothing cannot produce, so God has always existed we must deduce.”
If everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. If this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing; therefore, not all beings are merely possible. There must exist something the existence of which is necessary.
Thomas Aquinas said,
“If everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing…therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary.” 
 Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 13.