Saturday, March 3, 2012

Aquinas' Second Way



Aquinas' Five Ways to demonstrate the existence of God are the epitome of meticulous logical demonstration of God's existence. Aquinas presents them in considerable detail in Summa Theologica and Summa Contra Gentiles, and discusses their implications extensively. They have never been refuted. They are each very strong arguments, and most contemporary philosophers (and many ancient ones as well) who attempt to refute them construct straw-arguments. There is much misunderstanding about what Aquinas actually argued, which often leads to faux-claims to have refuted one or another of the Ways.

The first three Ways are variations on the cosmological argument, which is, loosely speaking, a series of related arguments for God's existence based on the need for a First Cause of one sort or another. They differ in important ways, and approach the need for First Cause in different ways-- the Prime Mover of change (First Way), the First Efficient Cause (Second Way) and Necessary Existence (Third Way). I've posted on the First Way, and I'll work my way through each in time.

The Second Way, like the First Way, depends on the impossibility of infinite regress in an series of essentially ordered causes. Some definitions and observations are helpful:

1) A "series of causes" obviously means a series of things that cause each other in sequence. There are two broad categories of causal series as understood by classical philosophers. One is an accidentally ordered series, which means a series in which each prior cause need not continue to exist for the series to continue. A classical example is a series of fathers begetting sons who beget sons etc. Grandpa may have passed away, but his line continues. This is not the kind of causal series to which Aquinas refers.

The second kind of casual series is an essentially ordered series, in which each cause must continue to exist for the series to continue. The hammer-nail series is an essentially ordered series, in that each cause (the neuron firing, the nerve conducting, the muscle contracting, the hand moving the hammer, etc) must exist for the series to work. If the nerve is cut or the muscle paralyzed or the hammer slips out of the hand, the series stops, unlike the accidental series, in which prior causes (grandpa) can cease to exist and the series continues to work fine.

Aquinas refers only to essentially ordered series in the Second Way.

2) Causation in an essential series does not necessarily imply temporal progression. Causes are understood to be more or less simultaneous with effects. Thus, causes here and now in an essentially ordered series are give rise to effects here and now. This is of vital importance to the Second Way, because Aquinas demonstrates that God is necessary to cause the existence of things at every moment, and the argument has nothing to do with a beginning in time. The Second Way, like the First and Third Ways, have nothing to do with the Big Bang. It works just as well for an eternal universe as it does for one that is finite in the past. In case I wasn't clear (for you atheists), I'll reiterate:

Aquinas' Second Way has nothing to do with the Big Bang. 


Therefore, attempts to refute it by claiming that quantum mechanics reveals that something can be created from nothing demonstrate not only abject stupidity about quantum mechanics (a quantum vacuum isn't "nothing"), but demonstrates abject stupidity about Aquinas' argument, which depends not at all on a temporal beginning of existence. Atheists beware.

3) Efficient cause refers to one of the Four Causes of Aristotle which are necessary to explain why something is the way it is (the other three are material, formal, and final). The efficient cause is sometimes called the moving cause or agent cause. The efficient cause is the thing that makes the cause happen. The efficient cause of a sculpture is the sculptor wielding his tools. The efficient cause of a window broken by a falling tree is the tree.

The Second Way proceeds as such:

1) There exist in the world an order of efficient causes. Some things give rise to other things. This is self-evident, as Aquinas says, revealed by the senses.

2) Some of these causes and effects are arranged in essential series (see above)

3) Nothing can cause itself. This is self-evident, of course, but some (Hume) have challenged it, asserting that we can just as easily take the universe itself as brute fact as we can accept God as First Cause. This argument fails, in Aquinas' analysis, because in order to "cause itself" an agent must contain the explanation for its own existence. To use Thomist terminology, an agent's essence (what it is) must contain its existence (that it is). Such an agent could not possibly not exist. But the universe is comprised of things that go in and out of existence on a regular basis, so neither the universe itself nor any of its members can be the First Cause.

4) In a series of efficient causes, the first cause gives rise to the intermediate causes which give rise to ultimate causes, etc. Without a first cause, there can be no intermediate or ultimate causes.

5) If the series of efficient causes were to go to infinite regress, there would be no first cause, which means there could be no intermediate and ultimate causes.

6) But intermediate and ultimate causes exist-- we observe them-- so infinite regress in a series of essentially ordered efficient causes is not possible, and there must be a First Cause.

7) That is God.

Note that Aquinas does not say that "everything has a cause", and thus the Second Way is immune to the idiotic "what caused God" retort (sorry, Richard Dawkins). Aquinas asserts that everything that begins to exist has a cause other than itself. Aquinas argues that everything that is a composite of distinct essence and existence (what it is as distinct from that it is) has a cause. An Agent in Whom essence is existence is prior to the chain of causation, because He (the Agent) contains the explanation for His own existence. In a sense, He is existence itself, and has no need for-- actually, cannot have-- a cause.

Existence Himself cannot have a cause (because any cause of existence would have to exist prior to existence). He can only be a cause.

Aside from the easily refutable Humean assertion that the universe itself is the First Cause noted above,  Kant's objection is sometimes raised: the chain of causation to God extends beyond the phenomenal to the noumenal-- to the realm inaccessible to the human mind, and beyond what logic can demonstrate.

Kant's argument is perhaps the most cogent attempt to refute Aquinas, but it fails, utterly, for three reasons:

1) It depends on Kant's concept of noumenal, which is controversial.

2) There are many non-sensible things that exist (numbers, logical propositions, transcendentals such as truth, etc) that exist and can be understood using logic. Logical relations such as Aquinas uses in the Second Way can extend beyond the phenomenal.

3) If Kant's assertion that causation in the universe is ultimately beyond logical analysis, then the Principle of Sufficient Reason is demolished. The PSR is the principle that everything in the universe that exists has a reason for its existence. Nature is logical, so to speak. But if PSR is invalid, which it must be if Kant is right that efficient casual chains cannot extend to the noumenal, then all science and logic is destroyed. If the whole universe can exist without Cause, then anything in it can exist without Cause. Occam's razor prefers "mammals happened without cause" to "mammals evolved". Planets just popped into existence; human beings just are, without need to invoke evolution.

Rejection of First Cause in Aquinas' Second Way is rejection of all science and logic.

A perceptive reader might ask: how does Aquinas' Second Way differ from his First Way?

The Second Way (First Cause) differs from the First Way (Prime Mover) in that the First Way demonstrates that God is necessary for change in nature, whereas the Second Way demonstrates that God is necessary for all contingent things to exist at all.

They both demonstrate God's existence.

I'll post on the Third Way soon.

   

35 comments:

  1. Michael,

    Utter bullshit, as usual.

    Before the Universe, there existed (still exists) the Multiverse. The Multiverse is the cause of the Universe.

    The Multiverse falls out of physics and mathematics. It's not an artificial construct designed to deny the existence of a supernatural god, let alone your god ('God' if you like).

    You can equate 'god' with the Multiverse, but it doesn't advance your delusion that there's a personal god, who listens to prayers, takes an intense personal interest in humans and gets very angry with the misuse of certain private bodily parts.

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    1. ...there existed (still exists) the Multiverse.

      Of course, this is as evident as Darwinian evolution and AGW. I'm sure you are 100% confident of that!

      What other imaginative stories do you have in your fairy-tales book?

      As they say, you can bring an ass to the river but you can't force it to drink!

      Delete
    2. ... the misuse of certain private bodily parts.

      You must be referring to your brain...

      Delete
    3. Pepe,

      Wrong again as usual. I'm 100% certain that the Multiverse, Darwinian evolution and AGW are good scientific theories. I'm not 100% certain that they are right (no sensible person can ever be 100% certain), unlike you, who are 100% certain that 'God' exists.

      Delete
    4. ...who are 100% certain that 'God' exists.

      God is not a scientific theory.

      Contrary to you, I am not afflicted by the disease called scientism. I rather use pure logic instead.

      I see that you still refuse to drink the water!

      Delete
    5. You crack me up, Bach.
      Your stuck in regression trap. I guess the singularity did not get you there (a naturalistic explanation for ex-nihilo) so you HAVE to think of another source....
      Multi-verse eh? So what?

      Well here's something to think about while you try to figure out how the MV came about:

      "In my Father's house are many mansions" -The Son.

      For centuries Christians (and most major faiths) have wondered about other worlds and/or planes of existence (worlds? dimensions? Universes? All of the above?), and for centuries our minds have accepted them in one form or another.
      Further, your response to Pépé is just plain wrong.
      Pépé's certainty is not based on empirical deduction of material properties, yours is.
      Pépé's EXISTENCE is the basis of his certainty. He has come to metaphysical terms with BEING.
      It is foundational. He believes in God, I suspect, (as do I) in just the same way we all believe in mental abstracts like mathematics or language ITSELF. In the same way you have faith in the laws of physics and your own reality, the Theist or Deist believes in a God and/or the super (above outside of normal) nature. You muddle with an individual equation, while we accept the WHOLE discipline, and subject it to various interpretations.
      Quantum theory and MV etc do NOTHING to repel those ideas. In fact, they would REINFORCE the metaphysics if proven via scientific methods. The beautifully simple fact is: They are not NEEDED, nothing is: Unless there is PURPOSE and FUNCTION.
      Infinite or finite, no difference.

      As for Darwin etc, someone else mentioned Percival Lowell a while back. He was a good scientist too. And just like Darwin and Galileo he was very mistaken in some very important ways - SCIENTIFICALLY.
      Does this mean we take certain things for granted? Sure. You do too.
      You just don't want to admit WHY you do or even that there is a methodology that applies a form of reason to these principles.
      This is not a lack of reason on our parts, it is a failure of the imagination on your own part. You seek to invalidate the very foundations of the form of reasoning you love so much, and you are incapable of seeing it.
      Try Aristotle on for size. You may find his reasoning a little easier to accept - a middle ground.
      You really should. You're not a stupid man, and you're missing a lot of the most interesting implications of the 'science' you love so much.

      Delete
    6. PS Pépé,
      Love the 'Frankish' (OLD French still lives on in Quebec) versions/translations of your sayings.
      Awesome. I say that honestly. They are as rich as middle English.
      In modern English we say horse, but ass is more realistic. You CAN get a horse to drink as they are very cooperative animals. An ass is often very stubborn.
      Sadly much is lost in the reductionist 'efficiency' of modern speech.
      Your sayings are like a breath of fresh air.
      Cheers, mate.

      Delete
    7. This little convo and article have inspired a unscheduled blog and cross post at the Faustian.
      If you have time, have a look.
      http://daily-faustian.blogspot.com/2012/03/to-be.html

      Delete
    8. Pépé,
      After reading my post... I came to realize I was, in a sense, speaking FOR you. Sorry, mate.
      I did not mean to come off that way.
      Your ideas are your own, and I should not have lumped you in with mine.
      Even though I suspect you may well agree, I had no right to speak for you.
      Apologies, friend.

      Delete
    9. crusadeRex,

      No need for apologies, we are on the same side, you are better at expressing in English what I think in French. Cheers!

      Delete
    10. CrusadeRex,

      Wrong again, as usual.

      All science is provisional and accepted until such time as its either shown to be incorrect or incomplete, and then it's discarded or modified.

      Darwin's theory of evolution is still largely accepted as correct, but it has been heavily modified and extended by additional knowledge such as genetics.

      Percival Lowell was a mathematician, businessman, diplomat and author. He was an amateur astronomer towards the end of his life, obsessed with the idea of civilization on Mars and wanting to 'see' an extensive network of canals. Astronomers of his time were skeptical, preferring to accept what they could see through their telescopes rather than believing what he claimed to have seen through his. This is one of the reasons why photography took off in astronomy. One good photographic plate was more convincing than a thousand drawings.

      You crack me up. 'in my father's house are many mansions' (John 14:2) indicates the Multiverse? You need to crack open a book on cosmology instead of reading books on long dead philosophers and theologians who didn't have a clue, sucking their ideas out of their thumbs, instead of looking for empirical evidence.

      This Universe didn't start as a singularity. What makes you think it did? The Multiverse is a perfectly respectable theory, not designed to deny supernatural deities, but a natural extension of physics and mathematics.

      As Pepe stated, 'God' isn't a scientific theory. You just make it up as you go along.

      Delete
    11. The Multiverse is a perfectly respectable theory...

      Like Darwinian evolution and AGW! Of course these theories are perfectly respectable, as long as you don't have to account for the facts. As they say, don't confuse the issue with facts!

      If this is how you really view things, bachfried, I have a bridge in London or a tower in Paris up for sale.

      I suggest these might me a good way of investing your 3 million. You should know by now that all I want is for you to be happy.

      Just imagine! A famous bridge or a celebrated tower in your backyard! You will even eclipse the fame of Darwin.

      Hope to hear from you (or your account manager) soon...

      Delete
    12. Pepe,

      Whereas you just ignore the facts!

      ID is a hypothesis looking for a theory. Denying AGW by insisting that the 8.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide humans are dumping into the atmosphere is dwarfed by the approximately 180 billion tonnes natural processes are putting into the atmosphere, while ignoring the 180 billion tonnes natural processes are taking out of the atmosphere, so that atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing largely due to humans, is just IDIOTIC.

      Delete
    13. Bach,
      "Wrong again, as usual."
      Yes you are. But don't let stop you from having a good old fashioned hissy fit.

      "All science is provisional and accepted until such time as its either shown to be incorrect or incomplete, and then it's discarded or modified."
      Really?
      Then modify your obsolete garbage, please.


      "Darwin's theory of evolution is still largely accepted as correct, but it has been heavily modified and extended by additional knowledge such as genetics."
      It was DESTROYED by genetics, and we both know it. Natural selection just does not cut the butter.

      "Percival Lowell was a mathematician, businessman, diplomat and author.....drawings."
      Is that what passes for a concession?
      You can keep it.

      "You crack me up. 'in my father's house are many mansions' (John 14:2) indicates the Multiverse? "
      It is but a single example from dozens upon dozens of the understanding that there is more than one plane of existence.

      "ou need to crack open a book on cosmology instead of reading books on long dead philosophers and theologians who didn't have a clue, sucking their ideas out of their thumbs, instead of looking for empirical evidence."
      You need to get your head out of your ass.
      I have read PLENTY of modern works on cosmology over years. Including Hawking and Sagan. What is your point? As usual, I suppose: Old bad - New good. What a good little consumer you are!

      "This Universe didn't start as a singularity. What makes you think it did? The Multiverse is a perfectly respectable theory, not designed to deny supernatural deities, but a natural extension of physics and mathematics."
      Singularity? That is not my argument. It is your last one.
      The MV theory itself was not designed to support your ABG (Anything But God) position, sure.
      But it is a vehicle by which people like you take flight from your own paradoxes.
      Not my problem. Yours.
      My own concept of origins does not rely mere theory.

      "As Pepe [sic] stated, 'God' isn't a scientific theory."
      No shit?! I thought I just wrote a response along those lines? I did.
      Put on your glasses.
      BTW Nice to see you agree with Pépé, and not insult him for a change.

      "You just make it up as you go along."
      Class. Real class.
      Actually I did not write the Bible, the Vedas, the Koran, the Pyramid texts, the Popul Voh, or any such work. The here-after, hell(s), and the platonic third realm are not my own concepts, although I embrace some of them as fascinating ideas.
      But I know what you mean: That I am a liar or a fantasist.
      Funny thing about flak like that, it is ALWAYS heaviest over the target.
      Glad I made you think.
      Shame you don't have the stones to admit it.

      Delete
    14. @Pépé

      "I suggest these might me a good way of investing your 3 million. You should know by now that all I want is for you to be happy."
      LMAO.
      Classic!

      Delete
    15. "Utter bullshit, as usual."

      True. And not only that, circular bullshit. "I assume that things must have a magical cause, therefore magical causes exist."

      Aquinas is many things, but convincing he is not.

      Delete
  2. Thank you for this beautiful and clear explanation of the thought of Thomas Aquinas, Dr. Egnor.

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    1. I second that!
      Good stuff, Mike.
      PS LOVED 'Last Superstition'. Great book.

      Delete
  3. I recommend the article on Evolution News & Views about human uniqueness. This is easy to explain using Aquinas five ways. As for a Darwinian explanation these guys would be better off explaining the squaring of the circle!

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    1. LOL Pépé!
      It would, no doubt, prove a healthier mental exercise!

      Delete
    2. Pepe,

      SETI makes the assumption that any extraterrestrial intelligence is like humans.

      Perhaps that's the problem. Humans have spent a lot of time LISTENING but hardly any time TALKING, except on two occasions, one sending a powerful radio ignal towards a cluster of very young stars around 25,000 light years away, and another within the last few years.

      If ET is like us, we're relying on picking up low energy non directional radio and television signals from the short period between developing radio and moving to cable.

      There have been proposals of setting up a METI program (the M stands for messaging).

      This would cost around a billion dollars to set up and several hundred million dollars a year to run, and would involve sending powerful directional radio signals at promising stars and waiting for a reply to be received by SETI. If a target star is 25 light years away, an answer would take at least 50 years to arrive, assuming that someone is listening of course.

      SETI is optimistic about an extraterrestrial intelligence having a METI, but at least a signal could arrive tomorrow.

      Anyone going into a METI program knows in advance that he's not going to know whether it's a success or not because that person is going to be dead before any potential reply could possibly be received.

      Delete
    3. bachfiend,

      In the present state of our knowledge, the SETI program is not scientifically and financially justifiable. One problem is the enormous distances between stars: if ET lives in proxima centaury and wants to converse with us, the conversation may be a long one with more than four years between each intervention. What we need is the Star-Trek technology of sub-space communication!

      But the main problem is life itself. Materialists refuse to see this as a problem because of their philosophy where they assume that life happens spontaneously and is common in the universe. But modern biology teaches us that before matter and energy, it is information which is the basis of the living.

      Since information can only come from intelligence, that this intelligence is God, given also that the existence of God as been clearly demonstrated by Aquinas, it is always possible for God to have created other intelligent beings beside humans in the universe. But in view of the foregoing and with the certainty that God made man in His image, I think it is very likely that we are alone in this vast universe.

      I know that this conclusion is not acceptable to materialists but it is full of meaning for Christians.

      Delete
    4. The existence of intelligent life on other worlds is not, as Pépé notes, a deal maker or breaker for a Christian...or most faiths for that matter.

      The possibility is not denied, but nor is the possibility that intelligent life on is confined, at least within practicality,to within our world. Personally, I would not be shocked either way.

      I see it this way: God created a vast cosmos and it seems to my human mind a waste of space if there is no-one or nothing else. That may just be my human instinct to spread out, but I cannot escape that feeling.
      Does that mean SETI is worthwhile? Maybe a shoestring version run on donations, but not to the level of diminishing needed public resources.
      A more practical idea would be some sort of monitoring system for near earth objects (we have some capacity already).
      If ET, Mr Spock, or someone a little less friendly decides to show up, we would see them coming and have a chance at a response.
      Also, and more realistically such a system may give us warning of any sort of natural hazards (or space junk) we may encounter.
      Do I think we are alone in this universe? No, probably not.
      I just think we are (all, any potential ET included) probably isolated to a such a great degree that meaningful interaction would be near impossible. I might add we are isolated with purpose.
      What is that purpose?
      Only God knows.
      Maybe to stop us from contaminating each other's programming/function? Maybe in order to make us reach out that far as some sort of test? Maybe to force us to look inward for answers instead of to others?
      Only the Author of life could answer that... and that is IF there is even anyone/anything there.

      Delete
  4. 1) There exist in the world an order of efficient causes. Some things give rise to other things. This is self-evident, as Aquinas says, revealed by the senses.

    So right at number one we have problem “self-evident, as revealed by the senses.” The senses of Thomas Aquinas. If Aquinas where familiar with the observations of our time and the theories spawned by those observations he may very well have come to a different conclusion. The anthropic principle and multiverse concept mesh together in a very compelling way. Like many people, Aquinas may very well agree that the more you think about the multiverse the more it seems inevitable.

    I have a prediction. As far as I know it’s an original idea. I predict that within 50 years, the current ID crowd embraces the multiverse, and argue that we live in the small (but infinite) subset of universes with an omnipotent God. I believe that proponents of God will find this is the best argument they could ever have.

    -KW

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    1. KW,
      Don't be silly.
      We (creationists - theist and deist alike) have been embracing the idea of multiple realities and subsets of reality for centuries.
      It is NOT a new idea.
      Christ himself speaks of it, in our faith.
      Wake up, for goodness sake.
      Shake off the blindness, and see that while you may disagree with us, you cannot dictate our past.
      Your 'prediction' is at least 4000 years LATE. So is the 'science', for that matter.
      It is a welcome ADDITION, not a replacement to the corpus of human experience.

      Delete
    2. So you think people 4000 years ago could have an intelligent conversation about the multiverse, and I’m being silly.

      If I where to tell the flat-earthers who wrote the bible about the anthropic principle and the different classes of multiverses as well as their scientific rational, it would blow their empty minds. I would become a great teacher, with a cult following, and disciples. I would be the first and only prophet whose predictions all come true. Aquinas would venerate my name as he leaves a sustainable Earth for his Mars vacation.

      -KW

      Delete
    3. @KW,

      "So you think people 4000 years ago could have an intelligent conversation about the multiverse, and I’m being silly."
      Yes and yes.
      You are nothing more than they were. You are a human being just like them. Just as locked into your paradigm as any other era, and perhaps even more so than most.
      The truth is, your Apple computer and your ability to shop at walmart do not make you an ubermensch. Sorry.
      In fact why not apply your theory of natural selection? In that case you are considerably LESS than what they were, genetically speaking.

      "If I where to tell the flat-earthers who wrote the bible..."
      Flat Earthers? Do you suppose they did not know what a mountain or valley was?
      I think you may be confusing medieval cartographers with ancient metaphysics and science. Ever heard of Eratosthenes? Guess not.

      "...about the anthropic principle and the different classes of multiverses as well as their scientific rational, it would blow their empty minds."
      Where to begin? The anthropic principle, I guess.
      Do you know what PRAYER is, KW? Meditation?
      Obviously not.

      The MV theory?
      How do you explain the various ideas on hell or heaven or a third realm without multiple planes of existence? You don't. Universe is just the modern parlance. Just out of curiosity (I am reminded of a certain cat) what exactly do you think the 'classes' of MV are and HOW ON EARTH do you know?
      Finally, blowing an empty mind? You have a gift for using contradictory statements.

      Consider:
      These 'Empty minds' were contemporaneous with those that built the pyramids, ziggurats, the Temple of Solomon, the Parthenon etc?
      Yeah....okay.
      You may want to leave your mum's basement once in a while.
      In fact why not do us all a favour take a trip to Giza (that's in Egypt) and tell the locals about your feelings toward their current beliefs and their ancestors 'empty minds'? Just try not to lose your head over it all.

      "I would become a great teacher, with a cult following, and disciples. "
      No. You would probably get beat up by 'jocks' (the bull jumping type?) just like you did in this era. Maybe they would stuff you in an amphora instead of a locker?

      "I would be the first and only prophet whose predictions all come true."
      Can I have some of what you've been smoking? Please? It's been a LONG week.

      "Aquinas would venerate my name as he leaves a sustainable Earth for his Mars vacation."
      Pretty please?
      Reads like your already beyond the orbit of Mars.
      You are certainly transmitting from Uranus.

      Delete
  5. Michael said: "Note that Aquinas does not say that "everything has a cause", and thus the Second Way is immune to the idiotic "what caused God" retort (sorry, Richard Dawkins)."

    In philosophical circles, this is known as the "it just IS, so THERE" argument.

    Aquinas was a brilliant fellow, but he lived before the discoveries of the nature of the universe, before the discovery that natural processes can design and build complexity, and before the realization that the Bible is just a really popular book of all-too-human creation.

    Quoting Aquinas on cosmology today is a relevant as quoting Ovid on auto mechanics.

    But if you're the type who can't be ethical without the belief in an invisible policeman always watching you, then you must cling to apologetics like Aquinas to support your reality-denial habit.

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    1. Typo correction: "Quoting Aquinas on cosmology today is as relevant as quoting Ovid on auto mechanics.

      Delete
    2. Hey, my mechanic is named Ovide and he is very knowledgeable: my Lada performs better than a Toyota!

      Delete
    3. RickK,
      "In philosophical circles, this is known as the "it just IS, so THERE" argument."
      It is known as the 'Prime Mover' argument to any student of that discipline.


      "Aquinas was a brilliant fellow, but he lived before the discoveries of the nature of the universe,"
      Given. He was brilliant, and we also live in such a time.

      "before the discovery that natural processes can design and build complexity, "
      You mean nature only started doing that in the late Victorian? Come on now, RickK.
      Man has been gazing at the stars and cataloguing nature since the advent of written script. The difference between cultures and various levels of technology (and the dependancy on said) influence the interps of those observations.
      In this light we in our era seem to view everything as mechanistic and by means of profitability.
      Our advances have been overshadowed with such thinking, and I see that as an impediment to meaningful REAL progress in the sciences that matter most.
      Besides and above all that, Aquinas did not base his arguments on complexity. You're thinking of Paley. Another Victorian (post 'enlightenment') and mechanistic thinker, just like Darwin - but with slightly more common sense.

      "and before the realization that the Bible is just a really popular book of all-too-human creation."
      The Bible is indeed written by the hands of men, but it is not 'just' a book, regardless of how you feel about the truth of it's message.
      Say that to any historian I have ever had the pleasure of working with or reading, and they would fall down laughing.

      "Quoting Aquinas on cosmology today is a relevant as quoting Ovid on auto mechanics."
      How does studying medieval metaphysics in connection to modern cosmology compare with Roman Eroticism and Auto Mechanics? I fail to see the connection or contrast, RickK.
      Ovid is still steamy stuff, and Aquinas is still very relevant in the questions of being. They will both be studied long after we are both dead.
      I will concede this much: Neither of them drove or repaired a motor car.

      Delete
    4. Crus,

      The Prime Mover argument, whether it is Aquinas's or William Lane Craig's, makes two overwhelming leaps: (1) that the only thing that can be eternal is "God", and (2) that whatever that eternal thing carrying the "God" label somehow equates to the interventionist deity of ancient Israelite mythology.

      Those are the points in the argument where the "It just IS, so THERE" argument leaves the school playground and enters philosophical discussion.

      --------

      You said: "You mean nature only started doing that in the late Victorian? Come on now, RickK. "

      That's beneath you. I'd come to expect a little less "intentional misunderstanding" from you. Do you think you somehow score points with nonsense like that?

      --------

      As for the discoveries of the nature of the heavens and the power of natural processes to design, my meaning was clear regardless of how you try to bury it under more misdirection. Aquinas lived at a time where the only possible explanation for life was magic. Our knowledge has grown since then, at least among people who choose to learn.

      As for the truth of the Bible's message - that's a complete muddle. As I said in an earlier post, whether you believe God is good or evil, kind or malevolent, wise or petty - whether you believe Jesus kind or vengeful, gay or straight, divine or mundane - whether you believe genocide, infanticide, and polygamy are good or bad - you can find support in the Bible.

      That's why, until relatively recently, the Church ruthlessly defended a monopoly on the text of the Bible - because its message is unfit for the general public and must be properly "interpreted" by the priests.

      I'm quite confident that Aquinas, were he alive today, would dismiss people like you and Michael as hopelessly mired in mythology, and would go seek the company of Stephen Hawking, Brian Cox, Stephen Pinker and Richard Dawkins.

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    5. RickK,

      "Those are the points in the argument where the "It just IS, so THERE" argument leaves the school playground and enters philosophical discussion."
      It is an undeniable fact that we exist. That is the only 'just so' element. The rest is taken from that point. God's (the Prime mover) existence is simply a logical progression.



      "That's beneath you."
      Thank you for saying so. The whole subject is actually.
      So? Come on up!

      "I'd come to expect a little less "intentional misunderstanding" from you."
      And I from you. Hence the rhetorical response.
      We both know naturalism did not begin with the enlightenment. The OBSESSION with it is modern, but the recognition of it is as old as man.
      I simply correct your assertion that this is some sort of new idea. It is not.

      "Do you think you somehow score points with nonsense like that?"
      No, it was intended to make you think on that point. It worked.

      "As for the discoveries of the nature of the heavens and the power of natural processes to design, my meaning was clear regardless of how you try to bury it under more misdirection."
      Misdirection? Redirection. I have simply cut the loop from your logic. I am not burying anything. I am digging it up.

      "Aquinas lived at a time where the only possible explanation for life was magic. Our knowledge has grown since then, at least among people who choose to learn."
      Magic? You misunderstand Aquinas. If you mean the only obvious reason for life was PURPOSE, then I agree. We also live in such a time. Life will ALWAYS be in such a time, whether those living recognize their purpose(s) or not.

      "As for the truth of the Bible's message - that's a complete muddle."
      Perhaps you mistake my meaning for truth? More likely I was not specific enough.
      Allow me to clarify: I mean the truths within the 'myths' of the OT, and the truths of Christ's teachings. I would agree that the interpretations are manifold.

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    6. CNTD

      "That's why, until relatively recently, the Church ruthlessly defended a monopoly on the text of the Bible - because its message is unfit for the general public and must be properly "interpreted" by the priests."
      You're almost there. The PEOPLE are the problem, not the work. The ideas, history, and lessons of any seminal non fiction work can be manipulated for evil uses. Even FICTION is made the slave of ideology (and pathology).
      The medieval solution to this was to create an elite that would interpret the Bible for the masses, so that Christ's teachings were disseminated without the various selective interps of various leaders and kings. It worked to a degree, but obviously many of the elite that were chosen were just a s corruptible as the people. The situation eventually corrected itself, if with much strife.

      "I'm quite confident that Aquinas, were he alive today, would dismiss people like you and Michael as hopelessly mired in mythology, and would go seek the company of Stephen Hawking, Brian Cox, Stephen Pinker and Richard Dawkins."
      This is simply the arrogance so typical of your movement speaking. Also why lump me in with Craig?
      Further, Hawking does NOT belong in with that group. I may disagree with him, but he is at least a man of worth. His cosmology/metaphysics, although mired in naturalism, is at least well thought out.
      The other men you mention are not even good academics, in the traditional sense.
      They are popular polemical writers at best and wannabe social engineers at worst; a product of a society based on consumerism and mass produced low quality trash. They are simply apologists for a modern dogma of 'me'.
      Aquinas was a man of faith. His faith gave him the light - the inspiration - for his work.
      He was a man of metaphysics, not positivist materialism. This dressed up Nihilism is not the way for people like Aquinas.
      He may have been very different indeed, and may have found the 'landscape' fascinating and may well have been a friend and counsel to Prof Hawking - but these other men. No way. They are just too selfish and illogical.

      PS. I think I have found a subject we can all agree on! The 'prove you're not a robot thing" is BS.

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