Words by Aquinas quoted with relish by Lita Cosner:
CMI : Aquinas didn’t need modern science to defend Genesis
by Lita Cosner | This article is from
Creation 42(1):26–27, January 2020
But, she is less "friande de" his Aristotelian philosophy:
While there are parts of Aquinas’s answers that we would not agree with (for instance, where he deviates into Aristotelian philosophy), there is much in Aquinas’s answers that reveals a type of critical thinking about reality and biblical truth that we can embrace and emulate.
If she says "deviate" I wonder, compared to what norm? She already admitted he was not putting Aristotle above the Bible. He was as ready to bash those who did - usually known as Sorbonne Averroists - with argument, as his bishop was bashing them with condemnations* from his chair (ex cathedra, even if it is just ex cathedra Sti Dionysii Areopagite and not ex cathedra Sti Apostoli Petri).
When Aristotle considered the world was eternal, he did so because:
- God is eternal
- the world depends on God
- Aristotle couldn't come up with any way in which God would have any reason to chose to create.
Obviously, St. Thomas has an answer. Here is the objection and its answer:
Objection 6. Further, every mover is either natural or voluntary. But neither begins to move except by some pre-existing movement. For nature always moves in the same manner: hence unless some change precede either in the nature of the mover, or in the movable thing, there cannot arise from the natural mover a movement which was not there before. And the will, without itself being changed, puts off doing what it proposes to do; but this can be only by some imagined change, at least on the part of time. Thus he who wills to make a house tomorrow, and not today, awaits something which will be tomorrow, but is not today; and at least awaits for today to pass, and for tomorrow to come; and this cannot be without change, because time is the measure of movement. Therefore it remains that before every new movement, there was a previous movement; and so the same conclusion follows as before.
Reply to Objection 6. The first agent is a voluntary agent. And although He had the eternal will to produce some effect, yet He did not produce an eternal effect. Nor is it necessary for some change to be presupposed, not even on account of imaginary time. For we must take into consideration the difference between a particular agent, that presupposes something and produces something else, and the universal agent, who produces the whole. The particular agent produces the form, and presupposes the matter; and hence it is necessary that it introduce the form in due proportion into a suitable matter. Hence it is correct to say that it introduces the form into such matter, and not into another, on account of the different kinds of matter. But it is not correct to say so of God Who produces form and matter together: whereas it is correct to say of Him that He produces matter fitting to the form and to the end. Now, a particular agent presupposes time just as it presupposes matter. Hence it is correctly described as acting in time "after" and not in time "before," according to an imaginary succession of time after time. But the universal agent who produces the thing and time also, is not correctly described as acting now, and not before, according to an imaginary succession of time succeeding time, as if time were presupposed to His action; but He must be considered as giving time to His effect as much as and when He willed, and according to what was fitting to demonstrate His power. For the world leads more evidently to the knowledge of the divine creating power, if it was not always, than if it had always been; since everything which was not always manifestly has a cause; whereas this is not so manifest of what always was.
They are both there in this article:
Prima Pars : Question 46. The beginning of the duration of creatures
Article 1. Whether the universe of creatures always existed?
It is noteworthy how the main answer to all objection goes into Aristotle's real intentions:
Nor are Aristotle's reasons (Phys. viii) simply, but relatively, demonstrative—viz. in order to contradict the reasons of some of the ancients who asserted that the world began to exist in some quite impossible manner. This appears in three ways.
Firstly, because, both in Phys. viii and in De Coelo i, text 101, he premises some opinions, as those of Anaxagoras, Empedocles and Plato, and brings forward reasons to refute them.
Secondly, because wherever he speaks of this subject, he quotes the testimony of the ancients, which is not the way of a demonstrator, but of one persuading of what is probable.
Thirdly, because he expressly says (Topic. i, 9), that there are dialectical problems, about which we have nothing to say from reason, as, "whether the world is eternal."
Would to God that some people considered these days as Catholic theologians had the freedom to dispense with Darwin and Galileo like St. Thomas with the mere opinions of Aristotle.
Meanwhile, much more than Darwin on pigeon speciation, much more than Galileo on the pendulum, Aristotle did make major contributions. It is sad that CMI (or Lita Cosner writing on their behalf) is willing to forego all except those maintained by modern science or modern creation science. Probably it has sth to do with Aristotelic metaphysics being part of the definition on Transsubstantiation - at least as far as the distinction substance and accidents goes. But it is a distinction that makes sense. The substance Hans Georg Lundahl was not always the quantity 186.5 cm. My hair and beard being quality blonde with grey was formerly blonde, beard did not exist before a certain age and even my hair didn't. My locus is now in a cyber in Paris, this morning it was outside the porch but under the porch space of a house, 12 years ago I was not in Paris. My tempus began in 1968, or actually nine months earlier in late 1967. It has not ended yet. But I am now enjoying a different part of it. My status is less likely to be confused with Covid than yesterday, when my fever was highish, since I have successfully used blue cheese and strong liquor to tend to my teeth infections. My situs is right now sitting, but was some hour ago standing in a bus and then walking. My actio is writing an answer to Lita Cosner and a half hour ago it was writing one to a French atheist. I wonder whether reading counts as a passio, since it is a sense impression. And my habitus involves a bottle of coffee and some clothes I mended myself in not so modern ways.
To some Protestants, I will not accuse Lita of such base motives, Aristotle is suspect since he condemns, like sodomy, the taking of interest.
To some, since Aristotle believed in the "four elements" he is the guy, his is the philosophy, that St. Paul warns of. This has been a topos since Karl Marx denied St. Paul meant Epicurean philosophy. To Democritus and Epicure, a synonym of "atoms" is "elements".
Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy, and vain deceit; according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ:
And Greek has "stoicheia". But the fact is, St. Paul believes "τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου" exist.
So we also, when we were children, were serving under the elements of the world.
To which Witham:
S. Chrys. understands the exterior ceremonies and precepts of the law of Moses, with an allusion to the first elements or rudiments which children are taught. Wi.
If then you be dead with Christ from the elements of this world, why do you yet decree as though living in the world?
And here also it refers to how matter is ceremonially arranged according to the Jewish law.
St. Paul is concerned with Materialism, not with Aristotelic Hylomorphism or Geocentrism.**
Hans Georg Lundahl
St. Tatiana of Rome
Romae sanctae Tatianae Martyris, quae, sub Alexandro Imperatore, uncis atque pectinibus laniata, bestiis exposita et in ignem missa, sed nil laesa, demum, gladio percussa, migravit in caelum.
* I personally relish the first instance of the genre "syllabus errorum" nearly as much as I do with Aquinas, but to most this predecessor to syllabus errorum by Popes Pius IX and St. Pius X is unknown. In David Piché's book, I obviously did not copy his side by side translation of the original format, but I copied the appendix where he copied a medieval text based on it, namely the one in which English dioceses joined the Paris condemnations and systematised the contents, first all errors about God, then all errors about angels and so on. It is here, with my own footnotes:
EN LENGUA ROMANCE EN ANTIMODERNISM Y DE MIS CAMINACIONES : Index in stephani tempier condempnationes
** There are obviously details in Aristotle where he goes wrong, as not yet a Christian. He lived where and when Christianity was not available. And St. Thomas opposes them.