"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:18-20, ESV)

The Apostle Paul here says that those who ignore God, who fail to worship him or give him thanks are without excuse because the Universe shows there is a Creator God with certain attributes, namely, that he is eternal and has a divine nature.

My question is, in what way(s) does the existence of the Universe plainly demonstrate the existence and nature of God? Preferably, in your answer say what "eternal power" means, and show how the Universe demonstrates the eternal power of God?

My question seeks answers mainly from a Trinitarian perspective. (If you answer from other perspectives please indicate this in your answer. Thanks.)

  • 1
    I think Paul is sort of making the same argument that intelligent design proponents make nowadays (e.g. like in here)
    – user50422
    Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 17:49
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    @Spirit Realm Investigator - the arguments of the proponents of intelligent design are not given in that link, just an opportunity to buy books or read through what looks like heavy-duty scientific material. Here is a link to an article on intelligent design that explains things from a Christian (trinitarian) perspective and can be easily understood: gotquestions.org/intelligent-design.html
    – Lesley
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 16:22
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    Something doesn't come from nothing is the crux of it. Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 1:09

14 Answers 14


St. Paul is evidently musing on themes in the book of Wisdom in Chapter 1 and beyond:

Wisdom 13:1-9 But all men are vain, in whom there is not the knowledge of God: and who by these good things that are seen, could not understand him that is, neither by attending to the works have acknowledged who was the workman: 2 But have imagined either the fire, or the wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the great water, or the sun and moon, to be the gods that rule the world. 3 With whose beauty, if they, being delighted, took them to be gods: let them know how much the Lord of them is more beautiful than they: for the first author of beauty made all those things. 4 Or if they admired their power and their effects, let them understand by them, that he that made them, is mightier than they: 5 For by the greatness of the beauty, and of creation, the creator of them may be seen, so as to be known thereby. 6 But yet as to these they are less to be blamed. For they perhaps err, seeking God, and desirous to find him. 7 For being conversant among his works, they search: and they are persuaded that the things are good which are seen. 8 But then again they are not to be pardoned. 9 For if they were able to know so much as to make a judgment of the world: how did they not more easily find out the Lord thereof?

The logic is this: in recognizing objective beauty in something (to the extent, especially, of worshipping it), one of necessity must recognize the mind behind it, since beauty is only appreciable in a mind, and thus only authorable by it. Hence, for as long they do so and refuse to worship the Author of such beauty, they sin: "for the first author of beauty made them all."

And if the author of beauty itself is greater, by definition, than the sum of all his creations, then "his eternal power" is evident, because it is far beyond - literally - anything we can conceive or imagine, and obviously lives with him, and so eternally.

The overall point is that all goes back to God, no matter what it is, good or bad; if you worship the good things He made, you are offending and robbing Him; if you worship the bad things, you are doing him a double offense and a double robbery.

  • I like this answer, which our 'delete books' associates cannot arrive at since Wisdom is one of the books they cut out of the canon. Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 4:53
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    @KorvinStarmast The book "Wisdom" is not needed to arrive at the point of this excellent answer. Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 18:16

One way to think about this is:

Within the "all that there is" of the universe cause and effect is supremely evident and unavoidably universal. If it were not so we would have no way to predictably interact with our environment. It makes no sense to exempt "all that there is" from the influence of cause and effect.

In other words, if cause and effect reigns supreme within "all that there is" while the totality of "all that there is" itself is uncaused we are left asking, "What has caused "cause and effect"?

If "cause and effect" are byproducts of existence then "all that there is" has no cause and is, itself, the uncaused cause. This leads to pantheism and all manner of paganism and nature worship (including humanism and atheism):

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. - Romans 1:21-23

If "all that there is" is an effect then what has caused it? And even beyond that, what has caused the cause? Some have supposed an eternal regression of causes with no need for a first, uncaused cause. This seems to require an "all that there is" that is less than inclusive for the cause cannot be part of it's effect.

In other words, if "all that there is" had a cause, that cause must be something other than "all that there is" and if that cause is actually an effect which had a cause (as eternal regressionists propose) we now must suppose something other than cause and effect which caused the cause of "all that there is". Since we cannot possibly even imagine what that would be it is useless to imagine beyond it. Eternal regressionism is foolishness:

... they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools...

What the Scripture declares is "In the beginning God..." and "The heavens are recounting the honour of God, And the work of His hands The expanse is declaring." No effort is made to prove to mankind (merely a part of "all that there is") that God exists: The effect itself is proof of the cause.

That God (first cause) exists is self evident in "all that there is":

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. - Romans 1:19-20

Who or what God is (God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ) is the subject of the revelation beyond that which "is plain to them". 

He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. - John 3:31-33

  • The apostle Paul would not likely have any trouble following your argument and its logic. Plus 1. However, an unreached people group, such as the Huaroani were in the 1950s, when missionaries were murdered in their attempt to reach them, would not likely follow your argument and logic. I'd LIKE TO THINK the Huaroani who killed the five missionaries felt SOME guilt for what they did (and one of the murderers came to faith in Christ eventually), but a people group that savage (they were also known as the "Auca," meaning savage) were operating on a less exalted level, intellectually, than Paul. Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 17:18
  • Before you accuse me of racism, rest assured I believe the Auca had redeeming qualities, such as love of family, loyalty to fellow tribesmen, and sufficient smarts to fend for and provide for themselves without Western influence, Nevertheless, they, like myriad "civilized" Westerners, are dead in sin. The Auca may have killed neighboring tribesmen, but we Americans stormed the Capitol building. Both people groups, Americans and Auca, have intellectual capabilities, but both alike have darkened hearts and futile thinking (Rom 1:21). Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 17:32
  • While what Paul wrote in Romans 1 rings true in a civilized milieu and culture, it does not ring quite so true in primitive cultures. Oh, both cultures have their gods. Primitive cultures may have their animism, but Americans have their materialism, and both groups worship at their respective altars. I'll stop here. Sorry for being so long-winded. I still think your answer is a good one. Don Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 17:38
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    @rhetorician No need to apologize. Another way of putting it is, "Well, the earth and sky exist so somebody has to have made it." Unfortunately we in the west are too "educated" to respond to common sense at that level. Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 0:49
  • True that, Mike. True that. Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 2:17

Imagine if the Universe had always existed. Of course, that would mean there is an infinite amount of time in the past. That would mean that no matter how much time you spent trying you would never be able to "get on the ladder of time" in order to reach the current time because there is always an infinite amount of time to traverse before you can "get on the ladder".

In fact, it would not be possible to reach any moment of time. If you believe the first material event was a Big Bang, consider this, you cannot reach the moment in time in which the Big Bang happened if you need to traverse an eternity of time to reach it...you will be always approaching the moment but never actually reaching.

[So a Big Bang cannot explain how the Universe began, because a Big Bang does not, and logically cannot, explain how it overcame the problem of a previous eternity of time, the Theory of a Big Bang fails to explain how eternal time was traversed.]

But you know you are in the current moment in time. Seeing as we are in the present time that obviously means that the Universe has not always existed.

If the material Universe in its totality has not always existed that means there was once absolutely nothing. But from nothing you always get nothing. Which means there must have been Someone, immaterial, who made the Universe ex nihilo.

If this Someone were bound or limited by Time, if this Someone were inside Time, then precisely the same conundrum would exist as existed in the first paragraph: there would always be an infinite amount of time to happen before this Someone were able to make the Universe, and so there would be a waiting forever before the act of creation. It follows that this Someone, God of course, is outside of time, He is not limited or bound inside Time at all: on the contrary, Time is subject to Him.

Perhaps this is what the Apostle means by “eternal power”. God has, and must have, a power which is not subject to the limits of Time, He is outside of Time altogether.

And by “divine nature” I suppose the Apostle might be meaning God’s ability to create a Universe ex nihilo.

For more on this kind of answer you might like Joshua Rasmussen’s series of videos on Youtube starting with https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPK8MDk3hh0. I haven’t read any of his books. Or you might like to get a copy of “Scaling the Secular City – A Defense of Christianity” by J.P. Moreland; or Youtube videos or "Reasonable Faith" by William Lane Craig.


In summary then God's "eternal power" probably refers to his power which is not subject to the limitations of being inside Time, and his "divine nature" may be here referring to his ability to create (the whole universe) ex nihilo, i.e. out of absolutely nothing.

And because these truths of God can be arrived at either 1. by some kind of logical deduction - the one given here or some other - or else 2. by some kind of intuitive thought such as "There must be a God, else how did we and all this Universe get here?" then they are without excuse who do not seek God to submit to and worship Him.

  • I won't dispute the argument. I do wonder if we have evidence that was what St. Paul was thinking of.
    – Maverick
    Commented Sep 17, 2023 at 20:30
  • @Maverick - Me too. If not exactly right, I'm thinking it must be something similar. Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 11:23
  • "Big Bang does not, and logically cannot, explain how it overcame the problem of a previous eternity of time" It actually does, since the Big Bang Theory states that there was no time before the Big Bang - time came into existence along with it.
    – nick012000
    Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 11:51
  • @nick012000 - No it does not. Let's say the Big Bang happened 13.5 billion years ago... how do you explain it did not happen 15, 30, 50 billion years ago or more. Big Bang Theory does not and cannot explain that. Why is the time after the BB not longer? Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 14:55
  • "how do you explain it did not happen 15, 30, 50 billion years ago or more" Because that's the amount of time the scientists who made the theory derived from their measurements and calculations?
    – nick012000
    Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 20:59

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963 Irish literary scholar) challenged the opinion of people like H.G. Wells who, in "Outline of History" said that Jesus had made no claim to divinity. Lewis demolished that view and quoted from Free Churchman John Duncan (1796-1870) the 'trilemma' argument; "Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable.”

This relates to your question because the person of Jesus of Nazareth once walked this earth, his historicity not being in doubt by any serious scholar, and what Jesus said demands every person's attention. He claimed to have been in existence before the patriarch Abraham lived; he claimed to have God as his Father and to be the Son of God; he claimed to be the one who would judge all humanity at the last day - the day of Resurrection and Judgment, where he would cause all the dead to arise in resurrection bodies to stand before him. Jesus believed in Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, and everything the Hebrew scriptures stated. No atheist has a leg to stand on given the recorded statements and history of Jesus Christ. They must discount him as either never having existed, or of being a liar, or of being a lunatic. The 'trilemma'. Which only leaves the conclusion that he is divine and, as his apostle John wrote, was in the beginning with God, and was God, and made everything that was made, including the universe (also logically proving he could not have been made himself), and that he became flesh and walked among the people who testified to him as the Son of God (John 1:1-14). This argument relates to the one who brought the universe into existence. His coming to earth, as man, cannot be discounted.

There's another point Lewis made, about the universe.

"If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning." Christian Reflections C.S. Lewis, pp110-123 (Collins, December 1988 edition)

Those who do not worship God due to thinking no God exists, need to face up to this question - Could there theoretically be an infinite God before the existence of the universe and the fabric of time?

Space-time is vital for our universe to begin to exist. The Big Bang proposes just that, but cannot explain what happened to cause time to start so that space could expand. It cannot explain what happened the infinitesimal split-second before the Big Bang. Those who will always rule any God out of the equation, then have to suggest theories about a previous material universe coming to an end in a massively heavy tiny particle which suddenly expanded (the Big Bang theory then kicking in). That is why the Big Bang theory met with intense resistance at first, scientists preferring to stick to their Steady State theory. The only way around the problem of time having to exist in order to have a moving, expanding universe is to have Big Bangs ad infinitum. Postponing the problem does not solve it, however.

This means that if there is something, or Someone existing outside of time and space, then that could be the explanation. Atheists need to at least examine the possibility. As God is said to be Spirit, and to exist in eternity (i.e. time-less-ness or, 'Time, Jim, but not as we know it' or, no time before and after universal time) then that is a possibility that cannot be ruled out by anyone with an open mind. Only if your mind is closed to such an infinitely powerful and timeless Being would you say there's no 'before the fabric of time'.

This God has communicated with humans over the centuries, revealing something of His awesome, infinite Being; millions have experience the reality of this timeless God. God has provided evidence in three distinct ways; his material universe with intelligent life in it, his written word, and sending his only-begotten Son into this world. This means that, not only atheists, but those who believe there is a God but who refuse to worship him, are without excuse, as stated in Romans 1:18-20.


OP (emphasis mine) "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:18-20, ESV)

Man can certainly rearrange and modify, but there is nothing man can create originally. Only God creates the things that have been made.

So, to answer the OP, unless one can convincingly argue that the universe simply popped into existence, which you can't, then there is a Creator. Therefore, one is without excuse.

  • Well, if the universe, our lives are just a very vivid 'dream' than the universe doesn't need to pop into existence. It's just an 'illusion' of our soul. Then you would rather need to answer who is God and why he requires worship. So it's not as simple as whether arguing whether the universe popped into existence but rather whether God is personal or just some kind of energy or collective consciousness as other religions would argue.
    – Grasper
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 14:28
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    @Grasper it seems to me that your view that the universe is perhaps an illusion of our soul or our collective consciousness would simply shift the focus from Creator to created without answering the OP question. IOW, where did you come from? You popped into existence?
    – SLM
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 16:42

Merely establishing the existence of a creator is a weak argument that we as his creatures thereby incur an obligation, which if not met, accrues us guilt. This is a key part of the "without excuse" that we seek to prove.

"Existence" implies a static relationship between us and the universe, but this universe surrounds us with a dynamic relationship. Andrew-Shanks' answer start us off in the right direction: the relation between time and eternity. Time is the key, because time is integral to communication. Communication is a timed sequence of symbols sent by a sender to a receiver that makes referrence to a shared context.

We live in not just any universe, but one constructed to facilitate communication between God and humankind. Natural relationships and processes are not information free, they are information rich. When Jesus told parables, he exploited some of these relationships to convey his meaning. In Job 38 and 39, God cited natural processes and His care for His animals as indicative of His love for all that He had made. Likewise, He connected certain terrible forces like lightning, floods and hail as pointing to His power in judgment. Thus by God's own words, the natural world demonstrates the love of a creator personally involved who also executes judgment. Thus innocence and guilt are concepts that can be inferred from the natural world.

None of the examples cited by God in His speech are beyond the experience of most people. Correctly interpreting that evidence may not be guaranteed or easy, but God's speech explicitly says that such conclusions can be so derived. If the creator says so, it must be possible. The information and logic is there to be found.

Our fight for survival can seem all-consuming, but God has even thought of that. In Job 37, Elihu speaks of a sort of sabbath: when the storm hits, all the animals have to hide to keep safe. During that time, nobody can work. Everyone is forced to stop and consider what is happening around them.

What parts of "without excuse" do we have?

  • God's personal love and care, for which we should be grateful
  • God's personal wrath and judgment, of which we should be fearful
  • Mandated times for reflection, preventing us from always being distracted and missing what is being said

However, that is not the only form of communication God employs!

  • People are part of the natural world, so we are responsible for what we learn from others
  • God speaks on occasion through dreams and visions
  • God speaks through miracles and angels

If you say that these last few aren't part of the Universe because they are supernatural, it is because of nature that these last few are able to communicate to us. Once we have become accustomed to the typical functioning of the natural world, the supernatural can be recognized and appreciated for what it is. The natural world tells us when the God who is beyond nature is speaking.

  • +1 for an interesting approach. Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 9:36

Here's a possible answer Paul could have had in mind, and one that his audience (educated?) would have readily understood: Our belief in God is innate.

This is a Non-Trinitarian purely historical answer, but perhaps of some interest. Paul appears to have had some kind of classical education, including training in rhetoric. Some direct evidence for this, according to Bruce Winter in his Philo and Paul Among the Sophists, is Paul's "use of rhetorical terms and allusions in 1 Corinthians 2.1-5" (158).

If we do treat Paul as a classically trained rheotrician, we can bring to bear that context when interpreting this passage. It was commonplace among Hellenistic philosophers that belief in God/gods was innate, a product of nature. The Stoics and Epicureans for instance believed as much (about gods). The following passage from Cicero's "On The Nature of Gods" is representative.

You see, then, that what constitutes the foundation of this inquiry is excellently well laid, for since the belief in question was determined by no ordinance, or custom, or law, and since a steadfast unanimity continues to prevail amongst all men without exception, it must be understood that the gods exist. For we have ideas of them implanted, or rather innate, within us, and as that upon which the nature of all men is agreed must needs be true, their existence must be acknowledged. Since their existence is pretty universally admitted not only among philosophers but also among those who are not philosophers, let us own that the following fact is also generally allowed, namely, that we possess a “preconception,” to use my former word, or “previous notion” of the gods (new designations that have to be employed when the objects of designation are new, just as Epicurus himself applied the term πρόληψις to what no one had described by that name before)—we possess, I say, a preconception which makes us think of them as blessed and immortal. For nature that gave us the idea of gods as such, has also engraved in our minds the conviction that they are blessed and eternal...

This is the sort of intellectual commonplace someone like Paul could have appealed to. Indeed, to an audience who believed the idea of God/gods to be innate, God would "have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made" as Paul says. Naturally, for Paul, God and not nature (or gods) was the source of this innateness. But even an educated pagan contemporary of Paul's could latch on to the punchline of your passage.


It is self-evident that life, the universe, and everything, did not arise by random chance. Indeed, the more we learn of science, the more self evident this becomes, to the point that those who would deny the Creator have to (and are taught to) make a conscious effort to do so.

If one does not choose a priori to deny the evidence of a Creator, that evidence is pervasive and overwhelming. Thus, the "eternal power and divine nature" is that power and nature which suffices as the Cause of Creation. Moreover, I believe classic thinkers would ascribe to Creation the testimony of God's "gentler" attributes (care, love, mercy) in the way Creation provides for its Creatures, supplying their needs and increasing their ability to survive by allowing for adaptation.

(Apologies to Douglas Adams 🙂.)


HOW does the existence of the Universe make those who do not worship God to be "without excuse" as St. Paul puts it?**

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. - Romans 1:18-20

Ultimate no argument or theory is going to be acceptable to everyone. There will always be those who refuse to believe on matter what arguments are put before them.

To even try at a general base of understanding here we have to try to gain a foothold on the level in natural theology. St. Paul would have had a basic understanding of this argument in his days.

A theist believes there is a God, an atheist believes there is no God, an agnostic is unsure if there is a God or not. So where do we go?

A cosmological argument, in natural theology, is an argument which claims that the existence of God can be inferred from facts concerning causation, explanation, change, motion, contingency, dependency, or finitude with respect to the universe or some totality of objects. A cosmological argument can also sometimes be referred to as an argument from universal causation, an argument from first cause, the causal argument, or prime mover argument. Whichever term is employed, there are two basic variants of the argument, each with subtle yet important distinctions: in esse (essentiality), and in fieri (becoming).

The basic premises of all of these arguments involve the concept of causation. The conclusion of these arguments is that there exists a first cause (for whichever group of things it is being argued has a cause), subsequently deemed to be God. The history of this argument goes back to Aristotle or earlier, was developed in Neoplatonism and early Christianity and later in medieval Islamic theology during the 9th to 12th centuries, and was re-introduced to medieval Christian theology in the 13th century by Thomas Aquinas. The cosmological argument is closely related to the principle of sufficient reason as addressed by Gottfried Leibniz and Samuel Clarke, itself a modern exposition of the claim that "nothing comes from nothing" attributed to Parmenides.

Plato (c. 427–347 BC) and Aristotle (c. 384–322 BC) both posited first cause arguments, though each had certain notable caveats.[7] In The Laws (Book X), Plato posited that all movement in the world and the Cosmos was "imparted motion". This required a "self-originated motion" to set it in motion and to maintain it. In Timaeus, Plato posited a "demiurge" of supreme wisdom and intelligence as the creator of the Cosmos.

Aristotle argued against the idea of a first cause, often confused with the idea of a "prime mover" or "unmoved mover" (πρῶτον κινοῦν ἀκίνητον or primus motor) in his Physics and Metaphysics.[8] Aristotle argued in favor of the idea of several unmoved movers, one powering each celestial sphere, which he believed lived beyond the sphere of the fixed stars, and explained why motion in the universe (which he believed was eternal) had continued for an infinite period of time. Aristotle argued the atomist's assertion of a non-eternal universe would require a first uncaused cause – in his terminology, an efficient first cause – an idea he considered a nonsensical flaw in the reasoning of the atomists.

Like Plato, Aristotle believed in an eternal cosmos with no beginning and no end (which in turn follows Parmenides' famous statement that "nothing comes from nothing"). In what he called "first philosophy" or metaphysics, Aristotle did intend a theological correspondence between the prime mover and deity (presumably Zeus); functionally, however, he provided an explanation for the apparent motion of the "fixed stars" (now understood as the daily rotation of the Earth). According to his theses, immaterial unmoved movers are eternal unchangeable beings that constantly think about thinking, but being immaterial, they are incapable of interacting with the cosmos and have no knowledge of what transpires therein. From an "aspiration or desire", the celestial spheres, imitate that purely intellectual activity as best they can, by uniform circular motion. The unmoved movers inspiring the planetary spheres are no different in kind from the prime mover, they merely suffer a dependency of relation to the prime mover. Correspondingly, the motions of the planets are subordinate to the motion inspired by the prime mover in the sphere of fixed stars. Aristotle's natural theology admitted no creation or capriciousness from the immortal pantheon, but maintained a defense against dangerous charges of impiety.

Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225–1274) adapted and enhanced the argument he found in his reading of Aristotle, Avicenna, and Maimonides to form one of the most influential versions of the cosmological argument. His conception of First Cause was the idea that the Universe must be caused by something that is itself uncaused, which he claimed is that which we call God:

The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

Importantly, Aquinas' Five Ways, given the second question of his Summa Theologica, are not the entirety of Aquinas' demonstration that the Christian God exists. The Five Ways form only the beginning of Aquinas' Treatise on the Divine Nature.

Argument from contingency

In the scholastic era, Aquinas formulated the "argument from contingency", following Aristotle in claiming that there must be something to explain why the Universe exists. Since the Universe could, under different circumstances, conceivably not exist (contingency), its existence must have a cause – not merely another contingent thing, but something that exists by necessity (something that must exist in order for anything else to exist). In other words, even if the Universe has always existed, it still owes its existence to an uncaused cause, Aquinas further said: "... and this we understand to be God."

Aquinas's argument from contingency allows for the possibility of a Universe that has no beginning in time. It is a form of argument from universal causation. Aquinas observed that, in nature, there were things with contingent existences. Since it is possible for such things not to exist, there must be some time at which these things did not in fact exist. Thus, according to Aquinas, there must have been a time when nothing existed. If this is so, there would exist nothing that could bring anything into existence. Contingent beings, therefore, are insufficient to account for the existence of contingent beings: there must exist a necessary being whose non-existence is an impossibility, and from which the existence of all contingent beings is ultimately derived. - Cosmological argument

The first cause reasoning is based around cause and effect. The idea is that everything that exists has something that caused it, there is nothing in our world that came from nothing. St. Thomas has strong reasons to defend the theory on a natural level. As in any reasoning or theory on this level not everyone will accept the first cause reasoning.

The first cause argument is based around cause and effect. The idea is that everything that exists has something that caused it, there is nothing in our world that came from nothing. - St. Thomas The first cause argument


There are many good answers, and I'd like to add St. Thomas Aquinas's natural theology to the mix, but the best answer is if we can find one from St. Paul himself. And we do. St. Paul goes on to speak of specifically how people are without excuse in the coming chapters. Jews by knowing the Law, sure, but even the virtuous pagans, who know what's right and still don't do it.

Romans 2:14, 15

14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

C S Lewis, mentioned in another answer, echoes this in the beginning of Mere Christianity. We know right from wrong; we argue about it; we make excuses, which shows we know it exists. He says that if God wanted to communicate His reality to us, He'd have to send us a message—and this, Lewis says, is that message.


Since scientific atheists claim to know so much about the universe then the question is justify the existence of life on planet earth only, the scientist would start by reasoning on the lines of the distance of the earth from the sun which create the suitable conditions required for life to exist. But there are other stars in the galaxy with planets around them, why do planets around those stars which are at a suitable distant from their parent star do not have life? The most probably answer he or she will give is they do not know. But this is proof that there is a designer who was powerful enough to decide to create and establish life on earth and he clearly tells of this marvelous act through his servant Moses in the Genesis stories of creation where God said Let there be light. There are forces above us, invisible forces that know better than us. We do not know what lies in other galaxies but God knows the universe from where it starts to where it ends. I choose to trust God who chose to reveal himself through multiple servants who are faithful and trust worthy. The testimony of two or more people is true. The Bible contains more than 1000 witnesses that the God of Abraham is real. No one is with excuse for faithlessness and unbelief

Indeed you have heard that there are aliens, those who even went to the moon went there with the flag that they come in peace thinking that aliens could exist on the moon. Life cannot exist outside God. It is easier to find lies than truth, easier to find whats wrong than whats right because the earth is under the power of the evil one.

Jesus himself said that

I an the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me

Life, even aliens life cannot exist unless God wills it


For a completely different approach to this question, I would like to quote from a book that deals with God's provisions to humanity, starting with creation, the gift of life, and his abundance of life-giving supplies in Eden. I shall try to bring in God's eternal power, and answer from a trinitarian perspective.

God has given a three-fold witness to his being the divine, eternally powerful creator, and hence his right to the worship of his sentient creatures in the material creation itself. This witness is so great, that even non-sentient creation points in silent witness to God as such. The three-fold witness that humanity has been given begins with (and now I start to quote):

1. That Which is Within - That which may be known of God is manifest in them, Romans 1:19.

The very fact of one's conscious existence testifies [witnesses]. The fact of one's inner awareness of one's own self and one's inner awareness, through senses, of that which is beyond self. That one has a being and that it is possible to communicate with another, That a being has made one, in order to communicate with one... But he is not far from any one of us.

Our senses themselves are beyond description in their wonderful design. Before even considering the way in which the senses work is the fact of the very existence of the sense itself. That a sense can communicate to one's spiritual being within... The very essence of human nature - that it is a spiritual existence that has a material presence in substantial creation - is breathtaking.

Spirits are just that - spirits. Animal life is mere bios life. But man is a spirit - a living soul, psuche - and also a material manifestation. The God breathed soul exists in conjunction with a God given material manifestation. And this is freely given. Words fail me. Just fail me completely.

One's very inner being calls out as witness to the glory, the splendour, the magnificence, the unbounding generosity of He who made me. And why - o why ? - would such a created being ever wish; ever try; ever attempt - to contradict this witness that is within? What word shall one attach to such an action?

2. The Creation Without - This wondrous inner being, through breathtaking senses, can perceive that which is without. Can feel, within... can be intimate with what is made in the material sphere. Thus, the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, Romans 1:20.

And what is without is, above all, a matter of life. Life abounds in the created material sphere... The variety of life is too vast even to attempt to convey. It must be experienced, not catalogued... [which] witnesses - in abundance - to the goodness, the absolute, unquestionable goodness of the One who expressed himself in it all.

Why would one ever be moved to contradict the abundance of combined witness of all that lives and moves? Why do we need a word to describe such an action? What word are we given?

3. The Revelation in Word - In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every matter be established. And here is a third.... the very revelation of Himself who expressed himself in one's inner parts and what one observes by communicated, natural sense. He speaks...

Six and sixty testify to all mankind in volumes of Spirit inspired, God breathed scripture, preserved in Providence down through the ages. Why should any man ever do anything that contradicts such abundant revelation and faithful testimony? Why need we a way to describe such a thing ? What word expresses such a deed?

'Amartia. The contradiction of witness." Light and Life, Nigel Johnstone, p. 52-55, Belmont http://www.belmontpublications.co.uk

The author then goes on to explain how the righteousness of God was publicly demonstrated at Golgotha. And how denial of the three-fold witness of the Son of God is anti witness. It is a-martus. It is amartia. It is sin

"Before the law was laid down at Sinai; before it was, in detail, written on two tables of stone as as testimony; before it was carried as a testimony through the wilderness and into Canaan by the hosts of Israel; before all this, sin was in the world. Because man had contradicted all the witness that God had given as to what God was and as to what man was and as to how a created being should live in a human manifestation.

What more could God have done for man ?

And what worse could man have done to God ?

This is sin. Nothing could be worse than sin.

To act in contradiction of a true witness.

Most especially, when that true witness is God almighty himself." (Ibid. p. 57)

As Adam hid amongst the created trees after he chose to disobey his life-giver - hiding in that which is of nature - trying to hide from the God against whom he had sinned - so ever since do those who deny the witness of God. Especially of those who deny that their life-giver even exists (let alone his created life all around and in them). They even try to use the witness of creation to deny the existence of the Creator!

Those who take life without praising the life-giver, let alone worshipping him, are denying him his rightful due. Of all such who effectively call God a liar, the truth remains: "His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."


Most readers stop at vs 20, as does the OP. But the period at the end of this verse is artificial. The verse is actually the first half of a new sentence, not a conclusion to what has gone before:

So they are without excuse, 21for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 While claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.

Reading this, the answer is rather simple: Paul not criticizing people for their ignorance but for their idolatry. He is not ending a sentence by declaring "So, (I have proved that) they are without excuse." The word translated as "so" is transitional and does not imply that the previous sentence logically proves what follows. The reason why they are "without excuse" is that they worship idols, not that they are ignorant of God's existence.

As mentioned, the subject here is idolatry and why it is inexcusable. Coming from a rabbinical/pharisaic background, Paul was familiar with idea that the Noahide commandments apply to everyone. One of those commandments forbids idolatry, and God would be unjust if He did not provide a clear basis to follow that ordinance. Whether vss. 18-20 prove that everyone knows God exists is questionable, but Paul does not in fact claim this if the passage is read as I suggest.

Conclusion: The phase "so they are without excuse" begins a new thought and does not necessarily imply that the previous sentence has been proven. Paul presumed (perhaps based on the Noahide tradition) that everyone knows God exists. What is "without excuse" was not ignorance of God's existence but idolatry.


"How beautiful is the bright, clear sky above us! What a glorious sight it is!" (Sirach 43:1)

How high is the sky? Definition of 'sky' is: the region of the atmosphere and outer space seen from the earth. The sky just proves that God is eternal because nobody knows the measurement of the universe! There are mysteries that no one can comprehend since we are just one of His creations (Sirach 43:32-33). A creature cannot be greater than the Creator, and so no one can fully measure God's greatness.

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