Re: Van Till's Ultimate Gap

From: Ted Davis (
Date: Thu Sep 04 2003 - 16:23:51 EDT

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    George's comments on Aquinas are on target. Thomas is sometimes mis-used
    today, when it is claimed that he allowed the eternity of the world. He did
    not. He realized that philosophy (by which he mainly meant natural
    philosophy, ie Aristotelian natural philosophy) held that the world is
    eternal and uncreated, indeed that it *must* be so. (This is highly similar
    IMO to those scientists and, ironically, certain theologians also, who hold
    today that the world must be eternal, that some type of multiverse theory
    has to be true. They hold this of course on a priori grounds, but pretend
    that those grounds are scientific, even when we cannot detect those other

    Thomas' point is precisely as George presented it: philosophically one
    cannot prove that the world was created (ie, that it is not eternal), but
    theologically one can b/c the Scripture tells us as much. This is somewhat
    akin to the "double truth" notion popular in medieval universities (Thomas
    taught theology at Paris), but unlike the adherents of "double truth" Thomas
    resolves this conundrum by allowing theology to trump natural philosophy.
    His willingness even to consider the idea that God might create the world
    from eternity rather than in time stems, IMO, from the intense pressure
    placed on him by the fact that natural philosophy claimed to hold this as a
    matter of actual fact.

    Ironically, it is only in the latter part of the 20th century that there
    has arisen *within science itself* (here I disregard those many scientists
    who believed in divine creation for religious reasons) the view that the
    world is not eternal. I refer of course to the evidence in favor of a
    universe with an age not more than 15-20 billion years. (The age of the
    earth alone, or the solar system, is another matter. I speak only of "the
    whole shebbang.") Christians have always been correct, IMO, to affirm the
    non-eternity of the world from revelation and theology, whether or not
    evidence supports it. Now that the evidence does support it, that's nice
    but not essential.


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