St. Thomas Aquinas’ fourth proof for the existence of God has always struck me as his weakest. The fourth way of the Quinque Via states that we see various degrees of perfection in created beings. These perfections must have a highest exemplar from which they gain all their perfections, and this highest exemplar with every perfection must be God. However, the argument already assumes the existence of God: because we know that God is the greatest thing which can be thought, he must also be the highest exemplar of every perfection we find in creatures. But, one cannot reason for the existence of God from such an argument. You’re free to dispute this point if you like.
To use an example from Gokukoku no Brynhildr, Valkyria cannot reason from the beauty of the sunset, the tender kindness of Kuroneko, or the courageous rescue by Chisato to the infinitely beautiful, infinitely loving, and saving God. Part of the reason Valkyria cannot reason thus lies in her being trapped in a world of evil: Vingulf’s laboratory which experiments on and tortures human beings until they expire or displease their superiors. The belief that human beings hold intrinsic value stands as a moot point. Chisato even frankly admits that all lives are not equal.
This causes a big problem for Valkyria. Valkyria’s experience of goodness seems limited to Chisato and Kuroneko for the most part. She loves Kuroneko because Kuroneko’s almost an exact clone of her, and she looks at Chisato as her god. Instead of a God who calls every creature good and created human beings as the very image of himself, Valkyria believes in Chisato, who sees everyone and everything as either useless or potentially useless–except for his dead sister anyway. Valkyria believes Chisato can do no wrong and follows him blindly.
Her obedience even extends to killing Kuroneko, her other self. She does attempt several times to dissuade Chisato from demanding Kuroneko’s death; but, when push comes to shove, she’s willing even to kill her twin for Chisato’s sake. Thus, her limited perception of the good constricts to a solitary and morally corrupt individual. Though, Kuroneko escapes death, Kuroneko might as well be an infidel with a fatwa on her head at that point.
However, a pivotal moment occurs when Chisato dies while saving Valkyria one more time. (The spark of divine goodness reignited in him at the end.) Valkyria decides to annihilate the entire city and everyone in it at that point. In her mind, the present situation is none other than Nietzsche’s proclamation on the theological state of the world–though with a slight twist: “God is dead…And you have killed him!” Valkyria believes that Chisato was the sole good in her life. Without him, she wants to destroy the entire worthless world. Fortunately, Kuroneko defeats her, which leads to one of the most perplexing scenes in the manga.
Upon her death, Valkyria sees Chisato one more time and pronounces his name before disappearing. Are we to understand this as Valkyria’s salvation at the end? (Elfen Lied, Okamoto’s prior manga, is patently Christian, and the same ethos is present in Gokukoku no Brynhildr, though more hidden.) One wonders if it is really Chisato she sees–having been granted salvation though doing the greatest good one friend can do for another–or is it in fact Jesus Christ? When we think of the genus savior, Jesus Christ stands at the pinnacle. But, the only example of salvation Valkyria knew was of Chisato; hence, at the brink of eternal damnation, she could only recognize the Savior, who desires to rescue all souls from eternal death, as Chisato. In light of the ultimate Goodness, the last movement of her soul is toward repentance for her evils–which must appear truly detestable in the full light of God–and toward love of God. Thus, she is saved.
Would this movement of soul would be enough for salvation? Love of the good which God placed in Chisato and which Valkyria could only recognize as Chisato? As a Catholic, even if this were enough, I cannot but believe that her crimes would keep Valkyria in purgatory until the end of the world. Though, the abyss of ignorance Valkyria has concerning God and goodness might indeed be invincible enough for Valkyria to escape the full penalty for her crimes. May we all be so excused from our sins!