Is there an undisputed argument for the existence of God as, for instance, Avicenna's and Mulla Sadra's metaphysical argument, which state that "existence is ontologically prior to essence"?

Some of his statements need proof:

1) Complexity of existence; according to me, a thing is complex as long as you don't understand it.

2) In a sense, essence of contingents Mulla Sadra describes, nothingness can also be attributed as the existence of nothingness.

3) It requires faith to accept the necessity of Him and the properties He gave to the contingent. That God is devoid of essence requires faith to accept His existence in the first place.

4) How can you imagine a contingent without its dyads or vice versa?

  • I will always dispute everything. So there is NO undisputed proof. But there is god. He does NOT mind you don't see him :)
    – Asphir Dom
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 13:06
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    This question appears to be off-topic because nothing is indisputable even though maybe some things should not be disputed. Ergo, the question is gibberish.
    – virmaior
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 7:11
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    (1) is wrong because complexity doesn't have to do with understandability. Something is complex just in case it has parts. (2) is wrong because neither existence nor non-existence is part of the essence of a contingent thing. If existence were part of x's essence, x wouldn't be contingent. And if non-existence were part of x's essence, x wouldn't exist at all, which by hypothesis it does. I don't understand (3) or (4) at all.
    – user5172
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 14:08
  • @ Shane, these are his arguments not mine. More importantly I tried to demonstrate his weaker arguments and that is what you did.
    – Tom Lynd
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 5:00
  • Metaphysical intricacies aside, any argument involving God is suspect because: philosophy.stackexchange.com/a/56730/33787
    – christo183
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 3:23

2 Answers 2


Hopefully the following will give you some food for thought. In brief, and somewhat loosely, for the greeks essence preceded existence, but the romans turned it around :-

n.b. eidos = form or essence

In Greek thought energeia means “standing in the work,” where “work” means that which stands fully in its “end.” But in turn the “fully-ended or fulfilled” [das “Vollendete”] does not mean “the concluded,” any more than telos means “conclusion.” Rather, in Greek thought telos and ergon are defined by eidos; they name the manner and mode in which something stands “finally and finitely” [“endlich”] in its appearance. ...

Aristotle says this in his own way in a sentence we take from the treatise that deals explicitly with entelecheia (Meta. , 8, 1049 b 5): fanerin oti proteron energeia dynameis estis: “Manifestly standing-in-the-work is prior to appropriateness for....” In this sentence Aristotle’s thinking and pari passu Greek thinking, reaches its peak. But if we translate it in the usual way, it reads: “Clearly actuality is prior to potentiality.” Energeia, standing-in-the-work in the sense of presencing into the appearance, was translated by the Romans as actus, and so with one blow the Greek world was toppled. From actus, agere (to effect) came actualitas, “actuality.” "Dynamis became potentia, the ability and potential that something has. Thus the assertion, “Clearly actuality is prior to potentiality” seems to be evidently in error, for the contrary is more plausible. Surely in order for something to be “actual” and to be able to be “actual,” it must first be possible. Thus, potentiality is prior to actuality. But if we reason this way, we are not thinking either with Aristotle or with the Greeks in general. Certainly dynamis also means “ability” and it can be used as the word for “power,” but when Aristotle employs dynamis as the opposite concept to entelecheia and energeia, he uses the word (as he did analogously with xathgoria and ousia) as a thoughtful name for an essential basic concept in which beingness, ousia, is thought.

M. Heidegger: On The Essence and Concept of Physis in Aristotle's Physics, pages 26-27

Note, the Roman Catholics have for God, Actus Purus.


You seem to be confused about what it means to "precede" something. I changed the "quote" to one from the SEP, which substitutes some terms. You should check out that entry:

The origins of this doctrine lie in Avicenna's account of radical contingency that considers the distinction between Necessary and contingent to lie in the simplicity of existence of the Necessary producing the complexity of the existence and essence of the contingent, where the contingent is an existent to whom accidents pertain bundled in what is known as their ‘essence’. Contingents are conceptually dyads of existence (the fact that they are) and essence (bundles of properties that define what they are, Mulla Sadra 2001-5, I: 289-92). Since God bestows existence upon contingents, or rather because causally contingents derive their existence from their principle, existence is ontologically prior to essence.

Your question was "Since quiddity is the essence of a being, by which two existing things are distinguished, how can it actually precede existence"? The answer is: It doesn't, you got confused by terms. It's the other way around: Existence (ontologically) precedes essence. That is because its contingent existence is dependent on the derivation from god.

Existence must be ontologically prior not only because of the absurdity of an existence before existence, but also because God is devoid of essence, and his causal link to the world can only be existential if one wishes to avoid the contamination of the divine nature with essences that are composites of different and multiple properties and features. Mulla Sadra uses this doctrine as part of his own ontological proof for the existence of God known as the Proof of the Veracious (burhan al-siddiqin). The monism of the doctrine is expressed in the phrase basit al-haqiqa kull al-ashya’ (‘The simple reality is all things’, a doctrine predicated on the Neoplatonic notion of the simple One): God, the One is simple and pure Being and thus as such is the totality of existence.

  • @TomLynd But why do I need to proof them? It's not my argument, it's Mulla Sadra's, and the "proof", or rather the arguments for it, are given in the article I linked.
    – iphigenie
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 9:00
  • @ iphigenie, Is this proof undisputed?
    – Tom Lynd
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 9:06
  • In stating "Since quiddity is the essence of a being ..." are you referring to existential beings, e.g. human beings, or extant beings like objects and tools? Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 11:43
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    I didn't write that, the asker did! It's a quote, hence the quotation marks...
    – iphigenie
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 16:06
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    @ChrisDegnen I'm obviously not. I explained that the answer was based on a misunderstanding, and I provided links and quotes for further reading.
    – iphigenie
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 17:45

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