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”).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *