Msgr. Charles Pope recently proposed a reflection on God and human desire, called "Demonstrating God’s Existence Through Desire". I got wind of it from a friend's Facebook page, a committed Catholic and a Ph.D. in philosophy. He likes the argument but is not sure it works. I quote Msgr. Pope:
Consider for a moment that your desire is infinite. Honestly, it is. When was the last time you were perfectly satisfied and needed nothing? Never happened, did it? We are a vast and limitless sea of desire. Yes, if we are honest, our desires are quite limitless, clearly infinite.
But does this not show forth God’s existence and that he wrote his name in your heart? Does it not give clear evidence that you were made for God?
How does this demonstrate the existence of God? Well, consider the following:1. Nothing can give what it does not have (Nihil dat quod non habet). For me to give you $20, I must first have at least $20.
2. Hence that which is finite cannot give what is infinite. That which is limited cannot give something that is unlimited.
3. Our desire is demonstrably infinite, unlimited.
4. But the Material world is finite. It is limited.
5. Thus the Material world did not confer this infinite desire upon us.
6. Hence someone or something infinite must have conferred this infinite desire upon us.
7. That Someone we call, God.
At present there are about two dozen comments on the article at his Facebook and about 30 comments on the original post at Msgr. Pope's blog. My friend's main objection to the argument as one commenter tried to defend it, is that it is circular. The defender wrote: "When you get to the heart of the problem, then you realize that there is only one infinite source. If you don't realize that, then you are not at the heart of the problem yet." My friend replied, "If one can't say what the problem is without citing the solution, then one can't say what the question is without citing the answer. There is no more perfect instance of begging the question."
My own initial thoughts are the following.
Doesn't the order and magnitude of "desiring the good" play a crucial role in St. Thomas's account of free will? As in, isn't his point that, while the will is naturally drawn to will the Good in each case, yet because no one thing is the Summum Bonum, therefore the will is transcendentally underdetermined apart from an intellective 'taste' of God Himself? Even then, after that 'taste', the will is not utterly predetermined from without, since in God there is an infinitude of goods over which the will can 'rove', as it were.
I think an interesting line of analysis would be to consider just what 'desire' entails. Is desire as such inherently insatiable, and therefore inherently ordered to an infinite (inexhaustible) good? In willing a ham sandwich, I will to quell my hunger, but why do I do that? Because, at the same time, I will the good of continuing to live. Why do I do that? Because at the same time I will the fellowship of my family and friends? Why that? Etc. Is it possible to remove a singular mode or case of desire from an entire nexus of desirable reality? If not, then a single act of willing something desirable is actually an act of willing an unbounded amount of unfathomably rich Good Itself.
It's like language: no word is intelligible on its own apart from its connection to the whole of linguistic capacity. And insofar as God may well be the ultimate signifier which keeps language games infinite and vital, then perhaps He is also the infinite object of all willing whatsoever, which keeps desire games infinite and vital. If for St. Thomas in every act of knowing the thinker knows God implicitly (cf. De Lubac's Discovering God), then I think, given the close link between the intellect and the will, that it is a worthwhile extrapolation to explore that in every act of desire the agent wills God implicitly. This line of reasoning is not circular since it begins with an analysis of desire itself that concludes to the infinite as being phenomenologically essential to 'desire' per se.