Absolute Motion: In Him We Live and Move and Have Our Being

God provides an absolute reference point not because He is transcends the universe, looking at it from the “outside” as through at a giant cube, but precisely because He is immanent and omnipresent in the universe.

God, being fully present in every point in space as divine energy, feels each point differently from every other point.

This feeling allows God to number each point in space with a unique coordinate. God then detects motion of any object from point A to point B even if no one else does.

God As Grounding Cause

There are four kinds of causation: physical, teleological, Aristotelian, and divine grounding causation. One way to track them is to observe that:

– a physical cause precedes its effect in time, as a billiard ball is in motion before it makes another ball move by striking it;

– a teleological cause is after its effect in time, as future expected utility causes a man to act;

– the 4 Aristotelian causes are concurrent with their effect — they answer the question “What makes an object exist right now?”; and

– the grounding cause is eternal and comprehends all time.

The term “efficient cause” has been grossly misused. The efficient cause is one of the Aristotelian 4 causes — which include also the material, final, and formal causes — and answers the question “How does this thing work?” It is a completely different animal from physical, teleological, and grounding causes. Therefore God cannot be called “first efficient cause” but is rather, as we will see, the first grounding cause.

Take the dresser in my bedroom. Consider now the entire universe, all that we can observe exists. For all we know at this stage of the argument, the universe is uncaused. But the universe, being simply “dresser + everything else” cannot cause the dresser, for then the dresser would be a (partial) cause of itself which is absurd.

On the other hand, there are numerous secondary causes of the dresser, such as the carpenter who made it, his tools, the tree from which its wood was taken, and so on. Then we ask, what made the carpenter? If it’s some X, Y, Z, we ask what made them. Eventually, since infinite regress is proscribed, we must arrive to some first cause F of the dresser.

(We can’t have infinite regress, because it’s unintelligible.)

Attend to the following crucial next step. F cannot have existed forever as part of the universe that also has existed forever, because then F would have lived for an infinite time somehow without causing X. But in infinite time, all genuine potentialities are sooner or later actualized, and an infinite number of times, too. If F failed to have caused X even once over an infinite time span, then it never really had the power to cause X at all. And then it couldn’t have caused X a finite amount of minutes or years ago, either.

The following situation then is impossible:

Dresser ← Carpenter ← X ← F → into infinite past.

Note that it is the nature of F as a real (as vs. ideal) thing to be causally efficacious, to have causal powers. It is inevitable that at some point F will cause some X. The argument then goes through. One interesting possibility is this: what if F is a rational agent, such as a man who has lived an actually infinite amount of time without ever wanting to cause X but at long last decided to cause X a finite amount of time, say, 5 years, ago? It seems to me, however, that an infinitely old man would have “been everywhere” and “done everything.” If he began to want X 5 years ago, then he would have desired to enjoy X if it were at all useful to him during the prior infinitude of time, as well.

Of course, if F had existed for a finite amount of time, then F itself began to exist. Now everything that begins to exist must have a cause. But F is uncaused and first.

Therefore F cannot be a physical cause prior to X. But neither is it teleological (which would be understood not as “first cause” but as “last end”) or Aristotelian (since we must explain not why X exists now but how it was generated in the first place). It must then be an eternal grounding cause. There is a grounding first cause of the dresser that is itself uncaused.

Our last move is to note that this argument can be applied to each individual object in the universe (however we carve the universe into objects), such as also my bed, desk, TV, and so on. But since the universe is “dresser + bed + … + everything else,” by demonstrating that all things have a first cause, we ipso facto show that the universe as a whole is not, after all, uncaused but also has a first grounding cause which I will call God.

The reasoning regarding the nature of the first cause of the universe is as follows.

If the universe has existed forever, then this cause cannot be physical, since nothing is prior in time to negative infinity (whatever “date” that may be). If the universe came to exist, then time itself came to exist alongside it, and it is senseless to wonder what was “before” it, since the very concepts of “before” and “after” arose together with the universe. Again we conclude that the cause cannot be physical.

Again F is neither teleological nor Aristotelian. Hence it must needs be an eternal grounding cause.

The final question is, “How can we describe this cause?” As stated, the grounding cause is eternal in nature, with “eternity” meaning “simultaneously-whole and perfect possession of interminable life.” One important consequence is that an eternal being cannot die or corrupt (go out of existence). Hence God, having created the universe, still exists now. I think that’s all the information on God that we can squeeze out of this argument. For example, proving the unity of God, specifically that there is only one first grounding cause of all things and the universe is a whole, may require a separate argument.

God As Unmoved Mover

Inertial motion does not seem to require any cause. A thing put in motion persists in motion “by itself.” Hence, it seems that St. Thomas’ First Way of finding out what God is, if anything, is compromised. But not so fast, as we will see.

Is a moving thing always moving toward something? At first glance, this seems preposterous. A rock M careening through space is not moving toward anything; it’s just moving. Having arrived at any arbitrary location, it immediately abandons it and keeps on trucking. It does not seem to care where it is going. It does not plan or arrange its affairs in such a way as to make it more likely to end up in this point as opposed to that one.

However, this conclusion is premature. For it is the case that for any point X on its future trajectory, M is moving toward it. We can verify that by waiting a bit and observing M arrive to X; or by doing some calculations, we can predict that it would be at X in the future.

Anything that is in potency toward Q is actuated in its motion toward Q by something that is fully and 100% at Q. That M is on its way toward X must be ultimately due to something that has already arrived at X, has no interest in leaving X, and finally is wholly in X.

If the general principle is correct, then we may surmise that “the thing which is God” is omnipresent in every point in space (as 1st-level “divine” energy) that has ever been or ever will be visited by any material object. It is, moreover, wholly present in such points, and cannot be pushed out of them. But the latter point entails that God is unmoved and immovable.

The argument will consist of 3 steps. First, all motion is relative; absolute motion is undetectable by any created being. However, consider a 3D Cartesian coordinate system, with 3 billiard balls moving inertially at a constant speed from the origin along the 3 axes. There is no reference frame from whose point of view all 3 balls are stationary. In other words, for all reference frames, there exists detectable motion relative to that frame. In our universe in particular, it is obvious that there prevails a general phenomenon of motion, regardless of the reference frame, and even necessarily so, as part of the essence of space.

This is getting very close to the idea that there is such a thing as absolute motion, however hidden from our apprehension. But, and second, God can perceive absolute motion as explained earlier (i.e., via His spatial omnipresence).

That provides another reason for ascribing essential immovability to God, since otherwise God would be just another object and able to detect only relative (to Him) motion.

Finally, a material object M thereby moving absolutely from a definite point X to point Y, with God keeping an eye on it, has an act — location, and potency — momentum. It is at point X, but is in potentiality toward leaving it at once and moving closer (since motion is unequivocally shown to be discreet by the Zeno’s paradox) to Y, say, by visiting X’ first. Something which is already in actuality in regard to X’ must move M into it.

I’ll call the pure act thereby conceived, i.e., the unmoved mover, God.

Arguments for God from “Justice”

The argument sometimes takes the following form:

Interviewer: But don’t you think there has to be some kind of ultimate justice for human beings? People who do wrong are not always punished in this world, and good is not always rewarded. Don’t these injustices require an afterlife to redress the imbalance: where good is ultimately rewarded and evil punished?

Mills: You’re undeniably correct that there is often grave injustice in this world. But that sad fact argues against, rather than for, God’s existence.

There is no reason to believe that the injustice we perceive in daily life is not typical of how the universe as a whole operates.

For example, suppose that a deliveryman places a large crate of oranges on your doorstep. You open the crate and discover that every single orange you see on top of the box is rotten. Would you then conclude that the remaining oranges on the bottom of the crate must be good?

No. You would conclude that the rotten oranges you see on top are probably quite representative of the shipment as a whole.

Likewise, the injustice we perceive in our world is evidence that we unfortunately live in an unjust world, rather than that justice is waiting “just beyond sight.” (55-6)

Mills’ response, of course, is the same Bertrand Russell gives in his “Why I Am Not a Christian.” I think that Mills was influenced by Russell quite a bit. Regardless, it is certainly false that there is only injustice in the world. There are also justice and just acts; what’s more, we deduce that someone has acted unjustly by comparing his actions with the ideal of justice. Injustice then is the absence of justice, exactly as evil in general is the absence of the good that ought to be there. Thus, not all the oranges on the top of the crate are rotten: some are, but some aren’t; in fact, most aren’t.

Let me propose three arguments for the immortality of the soul and possibly existence of God.

1. Consider a “perfectly unjust man.” As per Plato, he “makes no mistakes in the prosecution of his unjust enterprises, and he escapes detection; … while committing the grossest acts of injustice he has won himself the highest reputation for justice.”

Call him a T-man (for Thrasymachus).

Further, let’s describe a most miserable just man:

We must certainly take away [other people’s perception of his justice]: for if he be thought to be a just man, he will have honors and gifts on the strength of his reputation, so that it will be uncertain whether it is for justice’s sake, or for the sake of the gifts and honors, that he is what he is.

Yes, we must strip him bare of everything but justice, and make his whole case the reverse of the former.

Without being guilty of one unjust act, let him have the worst reputation for injustice, so that his justice may be thoroughly tested…

… in such a situation the just man will be [punished], and at last, after suffering every kind of torture, will be crucified; and thus learn that it is best to resolve, not to be, but to seem, just. …

[The perfectly unjust man], whenever he engages in a contest, whether public or private, he defeats and overreaches his enemies, and by so doing grows rich, and is enabled to benefit his friends and injure his enemies, and to offer sacrifices and dedicate gifts to the gods in magnificent abundance; thus… he is also more likely than the just man to be dearer to the gods.

And therefore they affirm, Socrates, that a better provision is made both by gods and men for the life of the unjust, than for the life of the just. (Republic, 361-2)

Call the latter S-man (for Socrates).

Here’s the argument:

1) All people ought to be ethical and lead holy lives (however understood).
2) Suppose the contrary: there is no afterlife or at least no afterlife with “ultimate justice for human beings.”
3) Then there is no definitive and compelling reason to recommend a just life to a T-man or to comfort an S-man who is tempted to regret his justice.
4) Therefore, there is no all-things-considered duty to be moral.

The contradiction between (4) and (1) now obtained will require Mills to give up either (1) or (2). If he gives up (2), then we have our conclusion.

If he gives up (1), then he must pay a steep price, namely of rejecting the seriousness of ethics and the absoluteness and categorical nature of moral law.

There are indications that Mills would be unwilling to do the latter: he agrees that murder is wrong (55);

he is eager to argue that atheists are at least as moral as theists (47);

he provides personal testimony that many atheists are “dynamic, highly optimistic men and women who enjoy life to the hilt.” (40)

2. The argument from “justice” can be cast as a version of the argument from desire: humans long for cosmic justice, and since no natural desire is futile, this longing must somehow be satisfied, and if not here, then in the next life.

3. Finally, ultimate justice could be not a rational deduction but an article of faith: “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:10)

Enigma of Law and STA’s Fifth Way

Related to my discussion of natural law as explanation, Mills continues:

The true, underlying reason why all objects in the universe attract each other is, to this day, a baffling enigma.

True, Einstein showed that massive objects distort space-time and produce gravitational effects. But why do massive objects distort space-time?

Such questions are still unanswered… (71)

Where Mills confesses ignorance, St. Thomas finds the finger of God:

We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result.

Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer.

Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God. (ST, I, 2, 3)

The phrase “best result” is probably unnecessary, since a billiard ball does not care whether the “result” it obtains is best or somehow suboptimal. It does not rank results or ends from best to worst. Therefore, it is misleading to say that it, as though a human being, “acts for an end,” since it does not choose it.

“Law” is the description of the efficient cause of material objects; it answers the question, “How do things work?” And this description is extremely particular: things work this way and not any other way. Inertial motion occurs in a straight line and not in an ellipse. Proteins fold in their own precise ways and refuse to fold in any other ways.

Now the efficient cause is above the material cause, and as such is an abstraction, an idea, information. Material objects lack an intellect and so cannot contemplate, still less obey, this idea. Hence there must be a mind that directs such objects according to its own ideas of causality.

The “enigma” of natural law thus finds its resolution in the will and intellect of God.

This complements the argument from motion. We discover God both from the phenomenon of motion as such (“first way”) and from the phenomenon of the directedness and specificity of motion (“fifth way”).

In the Beginning, God Created Hell

Victor Stenger argues that if God existed, then there would be “empirical evidence” of this, in particular miracles or “violations of established laws of nature.” (21-2)

Now this is a confusion. Creation was not at all a miracle, if by that we indeed mean a “violation of laws of nature,” since “before” creation when only God existed, there were no laws of nature to violate in the first place. God then is the Author of nature itself; rather than of any miracle that sticks out among the works of nature like a sore thumb.

With that out of the way, let’s speculate how (1) matter, (2) natural laws were created.

Stenger likes the zero-energy universe hypothesis. Very well, let’s develop and interpret it further. The earliest era of our universe is called the Planck epoch. Our author describes it as follows:

… the universe was confined to the smallest possible region of space that can be operationally defined, a Planck sphere that has a radius equal to the Planck length, 1.6 × 10-35 meter.

As expected from the second law, the universe at that time had lower entropy than it has now.

However, that entropy was also as high as it possibly could have been for an object that small, because a sphere of Planck dimensions is equivalent to a black hole. (25)

We’ll discuss entropy in a few moments; for now understand that this primordial chaos, which I will call the Void, had no matter (including “prime” matter), no energy, and was governed by no laws of nature. It occupied the smallest possible space, and no meaning could be attached to time. In contrast with the older and now discarded idea of a “singularity,” the Void was therefore neither hot nor dense.

A black hole, even a tiny one, is a sort of physical (as opposed to spiritual) hell, and in the beginning that’s all that existed. At that time, the now separate 4 fundamental forces — electromagnetic, weak, strong, and gravitational — existed in an undifferentiated unity as a single “superforce.” Of course, this force had nothing to act on, anyway.

Note the following useful point: even if we say that “God” created the Void, nothing can be deduced from this fact about the nature of God, in stark contrast to theology that takes what happened after as the starting point, i.e., beyond the Planck epoch.

Now God has always been omnipresent, including then, and so the Void was bathed in the Light of divine energy. I will propose that this energy was in fact the vacuum zero-point energy. Thus, ZP energy might well be the empirical argument for divine omnipresence.

The interaction between the Void and the Light, via a single quantum fluctuation from an initial state of zero-energy, separated within the Void the positive energy from the negative energy of gravity. It thus differentiated gravity (and it alone), tore it away, from the lawless superforce unity of the Planck epoch. The separation of gravity from the other 3 forces is known as the “grand unification” epoch immediately following the Planck epoch.

Now gravity is designated as “negative” in physics for technical reasons, to comply with the law of conservation of energy. But it has an information-theoretic aspect as well. Thus, positive energy is capacity to do work, such as to build a house. Is negative energy then the capacity to “undo work”? But in order to destroy the house, say, with a wrecking ball or an explosion, energy has to be expended which is also entirely positive. What gives? Well, think about it this way: the universe is expanding, as though in search of “God the Father.” But gravity counteracts this expansion and seeks on the contrary to pull everything back toward the undifferentiated unity of “Earth Mother,” i.e., the Void.

The Light and the Void are not our “positive and negative energy.” The Light is divine while the positive energy is created and natural. The Void during its Planck epoch was perfectly undifferentiated, to the extent that even negative gravity was not a separate force. Again, it was the interaction between them that caused the separation of the two types of energy. The separation created the heat within the initially cold Void.

The positive energy was now available to be converted into rest energy and that, in turn, into mass, such as via the Higgs field, in epochs following grand unification. Therefore, the “prime matter” resorted to by St. Thomas was at first in fact prime energy. The sequence of events then would be: the Void, prime energy, law, law-bound matter.

ZP energy is pure vacuum in its lowest possible but non-zero unexcited state. Thus, if God used His power to effect the separation between + and – energies, then it was done in the most elegant possible way, namely by supplying the least amount of energy needed above true vacuum. Yet it is evidence of God: “the zero-point energy density is assumed to be constant: no matter how much the universe expands it does not become diluted, but instead more zero-point energy is assumed to be created out of nothing.”

So much for matter (material cause). As for law (efficient cause), Stenger argues as follows:

Suppose that whenever you clean your house, you empty the collected rubbish by tossing it out the window into your yard. Eventually, the yard would be filled with rubbish.

However, you can continue doing this with a simple expedient. Just keep buying up the land around your house, and you will always have more room to toss the rubbish.

You are able to maintain localized order — in your house — at the expense of increased disorder in the rest of the universe.

Similarly, parts of the universe can become more orderly as the rubbish, or entropy, produced during the ordering process… is tossed out into the larger, ever-expanding surrounding space.

The total entropy of the universe increases as the universe expands, as required by the second law. However, the maximum possible entropy increases even faster, leaving increasingly more room for order to form. (24)

My objection is that this trick explains how order became possible, i.e., by having maximum possible entropy increase faster than total entropy; but it does not explain how order was generated or became actual. There are two separate problems here: (1) why there is order vs. Void-like chaos in the first place; (2) why this particular order vs. all other possibilities of natural law. Here I’ll discuss only (1).

There is a difference between physical and informational entropy. We have seen how energy was created; but energy entails only the possibility of order not its actuality: if you have energy available for work, then you might be able to impart novel information into the universe, but they are separate concepts: energy can both generate and corrupt.

In short, even with the new land, you still have to clean the house again and again. Is there then some sort of a Maxwell’s demon throwing entropy into the unobservable universe?

Today we have a dozen of elementary particles, a hundred chemical elements, a vast number of remarkable materials, both natural and man-made, biological processes, etc., all working according to incredibly complex laws of nature. On top of those there are law-like algorithms for dealing with all manner of artifacts of civilization: how to make orange juice, how to socialize kittens, how to control quadcopters.

Natural law and order must have been actually imparted upon the end of the grand unification epoch according to God’s design.

Does the Complexity of Natural Law Reveal Anything About God?

I have addressed the following 3 cosmological questions:

1) Why is there something rather than nothing?
2) Why is that something law-bound rather than chaotic?
3) Why is the natural law of this very particular form as opposed to an infinity of other possibilities?

Solving (1) yields that God is an eternal grounding (as opposed to physical, teleological, or Aristotelian) cause of the universe whose main attribute is goodness, as God is the creator of all things.

Solving (2) yields that God is not Himself bound or constricted by any law; He is efficiently free as an aspect of His pure actuality.

God is not pure chaos, because chaos cannot generate order; nor is God pure order as a lifeless frozen snowflake is orderly; nor a combination of the two. With His material simplicity and efficient freedom on the 1st level, God transcends both chaos and order.

Solving (3) gives us that God is intelligent, since it is impossible for a mechanical random world generator to pick a world out of an infinity of possible worlds; but an intelligent being can narrow this range of choices to a finite number by choosing according to a purpose (such as to create a “life-supporting” or the “best possible” world).

To these we may now add fruitfully

4) What are the theological implications of the complexity of the natural law?

I have already distinguished between the concrete physical specified/irreducible complexity of mechanical systems (in particular, of biomolecular machines) and the abstract complexity of natural law, such as the mathematics that models these laws.

It is a fact that natural law taken as a whole is enormously complex. On top of that, there are man-made tools and machines that up the stakes a million-fold. Now these artificial kinds are made possible by the natural kinds. A car or computer is a feat of human engineering, but it is built with the help of the natural laws we have discovered. We may say that even an abstract computer program is reducible to the underlying laws of nature. We can therefore restrict our inquiry exclusively to the latter.

Remember that the hierarchy of Aristotelian causes is: material → efficient → final → formal. Even the efficient cause (the answer to the question “How does the universe work?”) is already an abstraction from the perfectly concrete prime matter and is information as part of the formal cause (the answer to the question “What is the universe?”).

A natural place of information is in the mind in the form of knowledge. Since we know from (3) that God is intelligent and made the choice of which particular natural law to inform the universe with, the complexity of this law implies that God had contemplated at least this complexity, and in fact numerous other possibilities, more or less complex than His final choice, before settling on the world to be created.

The conclusion is inevitable: God is not merely smart, but deviously so.

Efficient Freedom Applies to Both 1st and 2nd Levels of God

I have previously described the two-fold nature of God’s efficient freedom.

Now God’s matter is simple which means in part that it cannot be divided into component parts. To say that God’s 1st level is free is to pose a further question, “Free to do what?”

A particle of abstract prime matter cannot be divided into parts, either. And neither can it, on its own, without being put under some natural law (and hence under some form), be combined with anything else. Such a particle, in other words, is completely inert.

On the other hand, God’s matter is similar to prime matter (or, more practically, an electron) in being indivisible, but is completely unlike prime matter in that it is permitted, of its own essence and ability, to combine with anything in any way whatsoever.

It is therefore perfectly suited to be united with the soul of God which will determine at its pleasure the need for and manner of any such combination.

Of course, divine matter is fully convertible to energy, and I have suggested that vacuum zero-point energy is an aspect of God’s omnipresence and cause of the Big Bang.

This shows incidentally that God on the 1st level is not prime matter, which is why the Church teaches correctly that God did not create us out of Himself but needed to create prime energy / matter separate from Him before embarking on the rest of His work.

This is God’s internal 1st-level freedom. As before, God’s external 2nd-level freedom means a complete absence of obstacles or restrictions on God’s “pursuit” and enjoyment of happiness.

Argument for God from “Nothingness”

Mises writes:

Negation, the notion of the absence or nonexistence of something or of the denial of a proposition, is conceivable to the human mind.

But the notion of an absolute negation of everything, the representation of an absolute nothing, is beyond man’s comprehension.

The Lord, teaches the Bible, created the world out of nothing; but God himself was there from eternity and will be there in eternity, without a beginning and without an end. …

It follows that scientific research will never succeed in providing a full answer to what is called the riddles of the universe.

It can never show how out of an inconceivable nothing emerged all that is and how one day all that exists may again disappear and the “nothing” alone will remain. (Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science, 52-3)

Thus, nothingness is “inconceivable.” And it should be obvious that it is meaningless to talk about “complete nothingness.” Language itself falters. There “is” or “was” nothing? But when we use the verb “to be” we talk about existence. We cannot even say that “nothingness ‘is not’,” because is-not-ness, too, presupposes a non-existent essence, which still must have an ideal existence in somebody’s mind. A unicorn does not exist really, but it can exist ideally as, say, a phantasm, when we imagine it.

Nothingness is obviously a term of some kind, but it does not refer. The absence of both ideal and actual existence is therefore literally inconceivable, because one cannot conceive of something which cannot by definition be not only “out there” but in the mind, as well.

It may be objected that nothingness is indeed inconceivable, but it may still be possible. Start from “∀x” and delete from existence one object after another. At the end you will end up with nothing.

However, ∀x… iterates over actual things. Even if all such things were eliminated, there would still be ideal things, in particular necessary truths and possible worlds.

For example, under nothingness, it would still be true that 2 + 2 = 4; or that possibly, there exists a world just like the (formerly) actual world.

But the natural and proper place of ideal abstract objects is in a mind, being known by it. Now the human minds as real entities are contingent; and in fact we have one by one disappeared them, as per the procedure above. In addition, a human mind does not, by virtue of its mere potential infinity, know all possible worlds.

There must then be an actually infinite mind, call it G-mind, which exists necessarily and which knows and can contemplate all the necessary truths and all possibilities. Thus, such a mind cannot all of a sudden decide to disappear, because then we’d end up with “nothingness” which as we have seen is not at all meaningful.

The G-mind, too, is real, as distinct from its thoughts and propositions expressed by them. But we have banished all the reals. How does the G-mind escape destruction? Only if the subject-mind is numerically identical both to the object-understood (as all truths) and to the thought grasping these truths. In the G-mind, the ideal and the real coalesce. As we must retain all the ideals, the real G-mind is saved from certain doom, as it stays in existence by clinging perfectly tightly to the ideals against our attempts to produce nothingness.

And now, of course, we recognize that being as God.

A Proof of God’s Infinity

One of St. Thomas’ proofs of the infinity of God is this:

Again, an effect cannot transcend its cause. But our intellect can only be from God, Who is the first cause of all things. Our intellect cannot think of anything greater than God. If, then, it can think of something greater than every finite being, it remains that God is not finite.” (SCG, I, 43, [11])

The sense of infinitude he is promoting here is “spiritual greatness,” meaning either completeness of nature and ad intra happiness or ad extra omnipotence.

This is very similar to Descartes’ arguments in Meditations on First Philosophy, e.g.,

It is true that I have the idea of substance in me in virtue of the fact that I am a substance;

but this would not account for my having the idea of an infinite substance, when I am finite, unless this idea proceeded from some substance which really was infinite.

It might seem that the difference is that Descartes wants to prove God’s existence (the idea of God is “the mark of the craftsman stamped on his work”), while St. Thomas is only concerned with His infinity.

But since proving God’s existence is identical to demonstrating which attributes are co-instantiated in the same being, both philosophers are doing essentially the same thing.