God, the beauty of the world is Your beauty; your mind is the source of its grandeur as you shaped it to your liking, imposing upon it your order, which harmonizes the many elements that compose it, the cold with the fiery hot, the dry with the wet, lest any fly off on its on and unbalance the equipoise of creation. (III, ix, pg 84)
Boethius next tackles the complex question of God’s existence by providing two arguments, the first of which pertains to the imperfections in the world, while the other discusses the ordered nature of the universe.
The Existence of Imperfection Humans never truly encounter “perfection”. If, through some advanced technology, we were able to create a perfectly straight line, we would be viewing an image of perfection and not perfection itself; however, the fact that we are able to recognize imperfection in our world implies that there must be some ultimate perfection against which we are comparing everything to. Plainly put, “anything that is imperfect is imperfect because it is lacking in some way and falls short of perfection” (III,10, pg 86). The existence of imperfection presupposes the existence of perfection. We can identify imperfection only because we possess the knowledge that there is a full, perfect version of this thing. Not only must there be perfection then, but there also must be an ultimate perfection, to which all else is imperfect in juxtaposition. Anything that is lacking in perfection is thus inferior to something else that is more perfect and so on, until the ultimate perfection is reached. The ultimate perfection, compared to which all else is deficient in our world, is God, and it is because we recognize the presence of Him that we are able to identify imperfections as imperfect.
Nature is Ordered. Boethius proceeds to justify his argument that God must, in fact, exist by identifying Him as the being or force that is responsible for creating and maintaining the world. He suggests that the world, rife with natural tensions and differing parts, would not have been able to come together, and remain together, without a being or force that was able to unify it all. Boethius states, “This world would never have coalesced into one form out of such diverse and antagonistic parts had there not been one who could unify such diversity” (III, xii, pg 79). The extremely fixed order of nature, with its many systems that often oppose each other yet are somehow able to coexist, could not subsist unless there were some being who was able to regulate everything. Without some sort of glue to hold the universe together, the diverse elements of nature would tear each other apart, and creation would not be able to remain in such an orderly motion. Yet, we continually witness the seasons come with regularity, snowy winters are tempered by heated summers, and the earth continues to rotate on its axis. The extreme regularity and orderly coexistence of natural elements, which are inherently in opposition with each other, are proof that there must be some powerful force or being that is able to maintain them. This being is called “God”.
We think that both of these arguments are particularly strong because they depict God’s existence in a different manner from what most people are used to. Boethius’ approach appeals to human experience because it is obvious that humans live in an imperfect world filled with tension, yet somehow it continues to function in an orderly fashion. For Boethius, it is actually the existence of problems and tension in the world that point to the existence as opposed to the absence of God. While it is easy to look for what is lacking in the world and use that as an argument against the existence of God, this line of reasoning forces us to look around and see that too many things in this world are imperfect and conflicting to coexist as they do without outside forces. This groundbreaking viewpoint challenges everything humans are accustomed to believe. Boethius’ approach is both refreshing and brings an age-old argument into a new and exciting light. Thanks to Boethius, we humans are forced to question the universe around us.
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