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How did Occam prove God?

Answer requested by
Hans-Georg Lundahl

Graeme Day
Studied Information Science
Sat, 10.II.2024
Occam ( or Ockham) didn’t prove God, he basically stated that God is merely a matter of faith, thus subjective, not objective.

Since ‘faith’ is belief in something you cannot prove to be real, God is a figment of people’s imagination.

He was pretty much correct there.

I a)

Hans-Georg Lundahl
“he basically stated that God is merely a matter of faith, thus subjective, not objective.”

In what work?

In what book, chapter of the work?

I didn’t ask for your uninformed opinion, I asked a Medieval Scholastics expert on his knowledge.

If Occam had stated what you just stated, he’d have been burned on a stake instead of being a highly successful friar in the Franciscan order.

EVERY scholastic had his proof of God’s existence. And pretty early on in his work.

I know that St. Bonavantura’s proof is closer to Kalaam than that of St. Thomas’ Prima Via is. So, what was that of Occam?

L.D. 11.II.2024

Graeme Day
The meaning of ‘faith’ has changed over the centuries,.

In Occam’s time it was a virtue, a spiritual connection to god.

Today it is a vice, a clinging to something that is subjective only.

So I’m using ‘faith’ in today’s terms, which means believing in something that cannot be shown to be true, thus delusional.

Who knows, maybe Occam had his doubts so used terminology that was accepted as virtuous at the time, but in his mind he started seeing his belief as a vice.

I know of some high priests and pastors who became atheist before the retired from their churches, never admitting their atheism to their congregation, but to a few, such as myself, they admitted it in private.

One told me that the moment he retired, he shot home, destroyed his Bible and finally felt free for the first time in his life after preaching nonsense for 45 years. I helped him incinerate his Bible, they are really hard to burn, no wonder they survive burning buildings.

He live for 6 years a very happy man, though members of his parish still invited him for tea and biscuits as he walked past their homes, but never knew his secret.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I was not asking you how you viewed Occam’s faith.

I was not asking you how you viewed Occam’s Razor in relation to proofs of God.

I was informing you, you had lots of things wrong about the Middle Ages.

I had previously asked you, if you happened to know a piece of text written by William of Occam, a very standard piece of text to expect from a theologian.

Like the version of St. Thomas Aquinas here:

I answer that, The existence of God can be proved in five ways.

The first and more 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 in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from 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. 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. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion 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 put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be 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.

The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, 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, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence — which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.

The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. 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.

The existence of God (Prima Pars, Q. 2) [Art. 3]

So, how does the corresponding piece of text go in the corresponding part of the writings of William of Occam?

Mo 12.II.2024

Graeme Day
Yes, very long winded but essentially BS.
Typical Theological Nonsense from Occam, showing he was never really that intelligent (arguments from Ignorance and Incredulity Fallacies.)
Intelligence / wisdom = Rational Critical Thinking Skills.
But again much of our modern knowledge didn’t exist in Occam’s era, so his fallacies were quite acceptable in his time, but today they are merely Fallacious.

Theology is the study of Make-Believe.
I’m a theologian of Lord Of The Rings.
Firstly there is infinite regression, the cause of our universe may have started an infinite number of quantum events prior to the actual Expansion (bang).
The Prime-Mover concept is a fallacy of ignorance.
Picking a prime mover is like picking where an infinite piece of string or a circle begins or ends or where ape becomes man in evolution, it is impossible.

So since infinite regression is not only possible, it is normal, this knocks out his claims 1 & 2.
Also in nature there is no sign of an efficient cause, nor is nature guided by any necessary cause.
And since there never was “nothing” destroys claim 3.
Evolution doesn’t work that way.

Claim 4 suffers the same fate as Anselm’s Ontological Argument, it is a Special Pleading Fallacy.
Nothing can be greater than we can conceive and be shown to actually exist. It is simply a mind game.

Claim 5 is already self-debunking, Occam doesn’t understand how intelligence in creatures and us Hominids evolved. We were never granted intelligence, it is a product of brain development through evolution.
We are essentially still apes.

All Occam’s claims for god are nothing more than the fallacies of the Teleological, Ontological, Cosmological and Argument from Morality.
All don’t go anywhere near proving god.
They are just bad arguments.

Again, the only intelligent concept that arose from Occam was his “razor”, nothing else.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
You missed that above was not a quote from Occam, but from St. Thomas Aquinas?

I was asking for Occam’s apparently non-extant parallel.

I b)

L.D. 11.II.2024

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I am sorry, I think I owe you an apology after seeing this:

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Occam, Theology).

While they still are not stating what the exact book and chapter is, they probably had one.

Really did not know that Occam was the first Fideist, I thought that was Calvin.


My bad.

Mo 12.II.2024

Graeme Day
Thanks, apology accepted, ;D


How did Occam prove God?

Robert Buhrman
Going to Atheist Heaven.
Fri, 9.II.2024
There's no Occam. There was a William of Ockham who had a philosophy about plausibility. For short: if two ideas provide a solution to a problem, then the simplest is the most plausible.

That's Occam's Razor.

William lived in the 14th century, a time when people were either deeply religious or killed as heretics. It's called the Dark Ages for a reason, eh? So if any problem had a complex (semi)scientific answer or simply ‘it's god’, then god wins all the time, because it's a simple solution for the ignorant and the simple of mind. Furthetmore, it doesn't make any decision made by this tool true in any way, it helps with making a decision, not with providing proof.

We know much more of the world now. We discovered things. We know that the razor isn't an absolute correct tool for decision making. It's more of a gimmick and has absolutely zero scientific value, nor can it be used to prove anything.

Sat 10.II.2024

Hans-Georg Lundahl
“There's no Occam. There was a William of Ockham”

The exact same person I meant, yes.

“a time when people were either deeply religious or killed as heretics.”

You fail Medieval History Forever (the TV-Trope is mollified to “Artistic Licence Medieval History”, but that’s the kind of things they used to be named a decade ago).

In fact, the phrase “deeply religious” doesn’t mean anything. It is imprecise about what religion and also about what type of “deepness” you attach to it. But if anything, it was a few deeply religious people who stepped out of their way to brave a bonfire by heresy. The actual rules for burning people involved the criteria of:

  • valid baptism
  • voluntary defection from the Catholic faith.

It had to be expressed somehow too. Only God reads thoughts, so secret heresy was not punished or punishable. But once you had verbally or in gesture or choice of company somehow come close to expressing heresy, you had better be prepared to show:

  • you were actually a Jew, Muslim or unbaptised Pagan
  • you only held perfectly Catholic opinions on the matter
  • or you were not very well instructed in the faith (an option not available to William of, obviously), in that case, be prepared for a crash course in Roman Catholic theology.

“It's called the Dark Ages for a reason, eh?”

Yes, by ignorant people, for the reason of their ignorance being coupled with hateful prejudice, like the one you show. Warhammer is not a legitimate source for the condition of peasants under a knight or the condition of an Inquisition court’s suspects. Neither is Voltaire, who hardly knew the history of his own century.

Thank you for providing at least an opinion that Occam used his razor in the proving (William of, obviously). It would have been more valuable from someone more knowledgeable, though.


How did Occam prove God?

Hilmar Zonneveld
Skeptical about any god or gods.
Fri, 9.II.2024
He didn’t.

Occam is most famous for “Occam’s razor”, which basically says that, among two or more hypotheses, the simpler one is more likely to be true. And believers sometimes use this to “prove” a god, by claiming that - for some reason that is never clearly explained - the god hypothesis is supposed to be simpler, and therefore, according to Occam’s razor, more likely.

For more details on “Occam’s razor”, I suggest you look it up on the Rational Wiki.

III a)

Fri 9.II.2024

Al Klein
Not even. Occam said “Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem” ("Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity").

Hilmar Zonneveld
Yeah; well … I tried to keep it simple.

I guess what Occam meant is, don’t add more assumptions than necessary.

Sat 10.II.2024

Al Klein

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Actually, it’s more about layers of reality (in the case of his proof for nominalism this involves refusing to add universals to individual instances).

III b)

Sat 10.II.2024

Hans-Georg Lundahl
“He didn’t.”

It so happens, this is totally implausible.

A scholastic making his theological overview routinely did.

If he was so advanced as to have an opinion on the nature of universals (i e that they don’t have one, see my answer to Al Klein), he certainly made a proof of God as well.

I hate it when ignorant pseudo-know-it-alls reduce so and so from the past to a single quote, or concept.

St. Thomas Aquinas is more than Tertia Via.
St. Augustine is more than “it sometimes happen, when those outside inquire about the faith …”
William of Occam is more than Occam’s Razor. This is the exact reason why I posed the question in the first place.

Hilmar Zonneveld
My apologies. Yes, you are right, Occam is more than “Occam’s Razor”. But since believers often use Occam’s Razor as a purported “proof” of a god or gods, I thought that was what the question referred to.

Think of this as a misunderstanding.

So, please go ahead and explain what his purported “proof” of the gods was.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I actually was not posing a rhetorical question, but a genuine one.

Hilmar Zonneveld

Well, back to the actual question then. Sorry, I am not aware of Mr. Occam’s specific arguments for a god or gods. On the other hand, I don’t think that anybody has ever proven a god or gods so far.

If anybody had ever actually proven the existence of the gods, you would think that believers would be aware of it, and that they would actually present that proof, instead of the fallacious crap they try to pass off as “proof”.

L.D. 11.II.2024

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Thank you very much, for admitting you did not know his specific arguments for the Theistic God, any more than for His identity with the Christian God.

“you would think that believers would be aware of it,”

Have you heard of school compulsion and what philosophies the teachers usually have?

Were you aware that Swedish schools, from the late 60’s to 1989, fall of the wall, end of East Germany, had an exchange programme with the University of Rostock in precisely East Germany, where Dialectic Materialism was the state religion?


Vincent McCarthy
Former Veterinary Technician. (1988–2013)
Fri 9.II.2024
He didn’t.

Have read the books of several dozen of various religions.
Fri 9.II.2024
Occam didn't prove Zeus, or any other gods.

A Mr
Knows Romanian
Sat 10.II.2024
He didn’t

Answer requested by
Hans-Georg Lundahl

Lucy Miller
grew up Catholic but better now
Fri 9.II.2024
He didn’t. He gave no objective, scientifically verfiable EVIDENCE.


How did Occam prove God?

Marley Carter
Former Theology Teacher, Retired. at Catholic Schools (1980–1990)
Fri 9.II.2024
He had a razor, but proof of God has come from everyone from Duns Scotus to Aquinas to Roger Penrose.

L.D. 11.II.2024

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Thank you, could you ask your Theology professor about other parts of William’s writings than the famous razor?


How did Occam prove God?

Bengt Holm
Studied Statistics (academic discipline) at University of Gothenburg (Graduated 1989)
Fri 9.II.2024
Non est ponenda pluralitas sine necessitate.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I think that was the razor.

I asked about his proof for God.


How did Occam prove God?

Jeffrey Werbock
musician, lecturer, documentary film maker
Regarding your question about the existence of God, here’s what physics has to offer us on this subject: The fundamental principle of physics known as conservation of energy informs us that energy cannot be created (nor destroyed), and as everything in the universe consists only of energy in various forms, the universe cannot be a creation. According to physics, there can be no legitimate role for a creator deity in this universe.

Adding comments disabled

What cowardice!
Not just intellectual cowardice, wanting to preach Science Belief / a k a Atheism, without fearing any kind of backfire in the way of argument.

But also social cowardice, pretending to interpret me, pretending I asked a question about the existence of God, when I asked a question about a Medieval text, or at least a Medieval writer. I think much of my situation can be explained by people with this kind of social cowardice presuming to interpret me to the rest of the world.


How did Occam prove God?

Kalex M
Fri 9.II.2024
i can proove it with math


Fri 9.II.2024

Hilmar Zonneveld
I don’t think you can … but I challenge you to try it. It will be fun to see you try.


Mo 12.II.2024

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I was actually not specifically asking if YOU could prove God, I was asking of Occam had attempted it, and if so, what he used as argument.

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