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 Post subject: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 5:49 pm 
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I am listening to a podcast by an evangelical who stated the thread title rather boldly, and without explanation.

That isn't true, is it? I always thought that he believed that the universe was created a finite number of years ago, but that EVEN IF the universe were eternal, it cannot be the cause of itself, because there has to be an 'unmoved mover' that sustains it, and hence an eternal universe would not disprove special creation.

Tell me if I am wrong here

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Last edited by Doom on Sat Aug 18, 2018 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 6:08 pm 
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St. Thomas believed that the universe could not be proved by reason alone to have a beginning in time. But he believed that it did.

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1046.htm#article2

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 6:47 pm 
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But he also taught that when it comes to proving the existence of God, it doesn't actually matter whether or not the universe is eternal, because even if the universe is eternal, God is still the cause of the universe because the universe cannot be the cause of itself. Right? I mean that was the main point, wasn't it?

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:21 pm 
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Right.

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:38 pm 
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Was it a sermon or something? Do you have a link? I'd love to hear that. I teach an apologetics class to undergraduate students we discuss this in some detail. It'd be nice to be able to play a real example of someone making this mistake.

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:07 pm 
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Who is this Thoms of whom you speak? :D

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:08 pm 
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I know people with that surname.

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 10:45 pm 
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Jack3 wrote:
Who is this Thoms of whom you speak? :D


i believe he's a 2nd cousin of aretha fraklin :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:27 pm 
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theJack wrote:
Was it a sermon or something? Do you have a link? I'd love to hear that. I teach an apologetics class to undergraduate students we discuss this in some detail. It'd be nice to be able to play a real example of someone making this mistake.


It was a guest on Nick Peter's 'Deeper Waters' podcast, the context of the discussion is that they were discussing the Big Bang Theory and cosmology, he made the point that even though some atheists today like to make the asinine claim that Christians are opposed to the theory, it was actually developed by a Jesuit priest, and that when it was made, it was the atheists who objected to it because they wanted to believe that the universe is eternal and therefore no God or gods are necessary to explain it, it was then that he made the statement and said that even if the universe is eternal, it doesn't mean that God doesn't 't exist because even if eternal, there still needs to be an 'unmoved mover' to explain why the universe exists at all.

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:40 pm 
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Doom wrote:
But he also taught that when it comes to proving the existence of God, it doesn't actually matter whether or not the universe is eternal, because even if the universe is eternal, God is still the cause of the universe because the universe cannot be the cause of itself. Right? I mean that was the main point, wasn't it?

If the universe cannot be the cause of itself, can the same not be said about God, that God cannot be the cause of himself?


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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:43 pm 
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He isn't.

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:56 pm 
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If the universe has to have a cause, and if the cause is God, then does God not also have to have a cause?

If you can say that God does not have a cause, why can't it be said that the universe does not have a cause?


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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:03 pm 
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When we use the word 'God' in the west, we are referring to a being which--if there is such a thing--is among other things absolutely necessary. That is, God, if God exists, could not possibly fail to exist. He's not caused at all, because it's impossible for him not to be there. The question, when we ask about God's existence, isn't "is He necessary," it's "does he exist at all"?

The universe could be absolutely necessary in just that way. But it sure doesn't appear to be absolutely necessary (and indeed current science appears to tell us that it began to exist a few billion years back, and hence isn't necessary, since if it came into existence, it at one point failed to exist and hence isn't absolutely necessary).

Anyone is free to contend that the universe is absolutely necessary and hence doesn't need a cause--but then that creates a burden of proof for that person, in showing reason to think the universe is absolutely necessary.

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:21 pm 
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Denise Dee wrote:
If the universe has to have a cause, and if the cause is God, then does God not also have to have a cause?

If you can say that God does not have a cause, why can't it be said that the universe does not have a cause?


God is logically necessary, the universe is not.

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:57 pm 
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We can approach this from two directions:

One, given above (I, however, disagree with gherkin about something, even if I don't know what), comes down to this. It's possible to imagine that the universe didn't exist. We wouldn't be around, of course, but we can imagine it. On the other hand, once we understand that God is Being with a capital-B, that God's essence is to exist, we can see that God can't not exist. That's what they mean by "logically necessary." (Oh, I disagree with Doom too, just because.)

The other is this: The universe is a very complex thing--not really a "thing" at all, but a bunch of different "things". 25 known kinds of subatomic particles in unimaginably large quantities with unimaginably large amounts of space around them; 19 physical constants that no one has succeeded in explaining in any unified way. Or, if you're into the latest evidence-free musings of theoretical physicists, then the universe is a bunch of "branes" flopping around in strange multidimensional spaces occasionally running into each other.

Does that sound like the sort of "thing" that can just exist, with no explanation? Or does it make more sense to think that the "thing" that exists with no explanation is something very simple (as in not having a bunch of parts, which doesn't mean it's easy to understand)? And only God fits that bill.

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:14 pm 
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And, of course, if God is not 'simple' in the sense that he has no properties which are in any meaningful sense of the word, distinct from himself, then it follows that God must be contingent, and hence, requires a cause beyond himself, so the question 'who made God?' is a valid question.

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:06 pm 
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Divine simplicity :cloud9: :cloud9: :cloud9:

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Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, "that all may be one. . . as we are one" (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself. ~ Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes 24.3


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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:09 am 
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Given the importance of divine simplicity, it surprises me that there are so many evangelical and Orthodox Christians who reject it, including such luminaries as Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig.

When I was an undergraduate, William Lane Craig visited our campus and gave an address, and one of the points he stressed was that we don't need to explain 'who created God?' because God is a logically necessary being. At the time, I didn't even know what divine simplicity was, let alone that Craig rejected it, but if I had, I surely would have pointed out that the claim that God is logically necessary is only valid under the assumption of divine simplicity, without divine simplicity, God is contingent, and therefore, needs a creator. This is a very simple and fundamental point, I don't understand how someone as smart as William Lane Craig or Alvin Plantinga could fail to understand this basic point.

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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:23 am 
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He simply asserts that a complex necessary being cannot fail to exist. Strictly, he can make the claim. The problem he'll have is when the non-theist asks why the material universe can't also be necessary even as it's complex. That's one of the reasons Craig is so insistent on defending an A theory of time. If he allows his critics to posit a B theory, then they can appeal to some mysterious necessity, even though the universe is complex, because change, generation, and degeneration are all something of illusions. On a B theory, it's the total 4D (or, I guess, 11D is some models) that exists necessarily. Another problem with his view is that it denies God's sovereignty over some aspects of reality (i.e., those properties of which He is composed) and requires a redefinition of aseity. Those are both facts he accepts and he does, then, redefine sovereignty and aseity, the former so that it relates to the created world only, and the latter so that it refers only to all that He is (including His component parts), since on His view, not only does God exist necessarily, but He is so constituted necessarily. But even there, more qualifications are necessary, since He argues that God is mutable, especially with respect to tensed facts; so there is a sense in which God is dependent on creation and could have then be constituted differently. But he doesn't feel that's a problem, since he thinks he can appeal to essential attributes rather than accidental ones.

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Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, "that all may be one. . . as we are one" (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself. ~ Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes 24.3


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 Post subject: Re: "Thoms Aquinas believed that the universe is eternal"
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:10 am 
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Also, his favorite argument for the existence of God, the Kalam cosmological argument, directly contradicts the basic principles of Aristotelean and Thomistic metaphysics, which he surely knows.


And the fact that Craig completely rejects Aristotelian categories is why he never cites the classic 'five ways' to prove the existence of God, he never cites them, because he actually rejects all of them.

I often wonder if all the evangelical and other Christians who cite Craig and praise him, are aware that he is really sitting out there on a limb, holding some very extreme positions that are rejected by the vast majority of working theistic philosophers today. He represents his own theological school a 'Craigism' that probably won't last even a single generation after his death.

Alvin Plantinga I understand a little more. Plantinga belongs to a school of thought, Reformed epistemology, which derives directly from the Reformed tradition in theology. This tradition has historically been hostile to the thought of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, so he rejects Aristotle because that is what his tradition does. Even though I think it is wrong, I think that Reformed theology is an intellectually respectable tradition, the only Protestant system that even comes close to rivaling the depth and maturity of Catholicism, it something that has to be taken seriously on its own terms, it's not something that can just be dismissed.

Plantinga is following a tradition, and I respect that. Craig just seems to be making it all up accepting no tradition at all. I don't really respect that.

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