Re: Defense of Theism pt 1

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Tue Jun 21 2005 - 21:02:40 EDT

On 6/21/05, Robert Schneider <> wrote:
> Bob comments:
> While, he argues for *ex nihilo* creation in his treatise *On the
> Eternity of the World*, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that even if the world
> were eternal, it would not rule out God. He argued that, as E. Gilson
> summarized it, "If God *freely* willed the world, it is absolutely
> impossible for us to determine that he *necessarily* willed it in time
> rather than in eternity. The sole basis for our opinion is that God made his
> will known to us by revelation upon which faith is founded. Since reason
> cannot conclude, and *since God has informed us,* *we must believe that
> the world began*, but we cannot demonstrate it, and, strictly speaking, we
> do not *know* it. (*History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages*,
> p. 374). [emphasis mine]
 You misread the Angelic Doctor. He is saying that philosophy does not tell
us whether the Universe is necessarily not eternal, but Scripture does. The
"we do not know it" conclusion in Gilson is nowhere to be found in Acquinas
and is alien to his epistomology. The knowledge of faith and the knowledge
of sense experience were perfectly complementary in his thought. Note the
first line of On the Eternity of the World:
 "Let us assume, in accordance with the Catholic faith, that the world had a
beginning in time."
 If our philosophy is to bound by Scripture, we cannot go everywhere that
philosophy can take us. Thus we must limit the cosmological argument.
Note the following from his Summa (First Part, Q.46, 3)
 The words of Genesis, "In the beginning God created heaven and earth," are
expounded in a threefold sense in order to *exclude three errors*. For *some
said that the world always was*, and that time had no beginning; and to
exclude this the words "In the beginning" are expounded--viz. "of time."
[emphasis mine]

  John Haugh quotes Anglican theologian Keith Ward on the danger of linking
> creation to temporal beginnings:
> "It is irrelevant to a doctrine of creation *ex nihilo* whether the
> universe began or not; that the universe began was usually accepted because
> of a* particular reading of Genesis 1*. The doctrine of creation *ex
> nihilo* simply maintains that there is nothing other than God from which
> the universe is made; and that the universe is other than God and wholly
> dependent upon God for its existence (Ward, "God as a Principle of
> Cosmological Explanation," in *Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature*,
> ed. R. J. Russell, et al., p. 247ff, quoted in Haught, *Science and
> Religion*, p. 111; Ward's whole paper is a good read.).
 Glenn is starting with a particular reading of Genesis, namely the
concordist one. If we are going to attempt to show the God of the Bible, we
must limit ourselves to a Universe that was created in the beginning. I am
not saying that you cannot make a theistic argument with an eternal
Universe, but I am saying you cannot make a Christian one. Glenn stated he
wanted something that was subject to be disproven. I've noted one of those
things. By not taking a stand on the eternality of the Universe were back to
the heads-I-win-tails-you-lose that Glenn rightly is offended by.
Received on Tue Jun 21 21:05:20 2005

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