Re: Van Till's Ultimate Gap

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Thu Sep 04 2003 - 17:41:43 EDT

  • Next message: Terry M. Gray: "Re: Van Till's Ultimate Gap"

    >From: "Ted Davis" <>

    > 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.

    Please read carefully what I said:

    > Even Aquinas was
    > willing to withhold theological objection to the existence of a world
    > eternally dependent on God for its being.

    I fully realize that Aquinas ultimately rejected the eternality of the
    world. He did so, as I recall, on BIBLICAL grounds, not by THEOLOGICAL
    argument alone. His primary concern, if my memory serves me correctly, was
    to maintain that the world's existence was radically dependent on God's
    effective will, whether that be eternally or for a finite duration. For
    BIBLICAL reasons, however, he felt warranted in rejecting the eternal

    > 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.

    I am making a distinction between a theological argument and an appeal to
    the biblical text. I think that's a reasonable distinction. Furthermore, I
    believe Aquinas was more concerned with the God/world RELATIONSHIP (the
    world is a creation whose existence is radically dependent on the Creator)
    than with matters of temporality vs eternality.

    > 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. ....
    > 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.

    Arguing from the biblical text to the conclusion that the universe must have
    had a beginning in time has always struck me as a bit thin. Similarly, a
    number of OT biblical scholars have said that the idea of creation ex nihilo
    might well be consistent with the text, but only thinly warranted by the
    text at best.

    Howard Van Till

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Thu Sep 04 2003 - 17:48:43 EDT