Re: [asa] Re: On the Barr-West exchange and ID/TE

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Wed Nov 18 2009 - 03:57:14 EST

Richard, you wrote:

>Yeah, those wiley Protestant TEs like St. John of Damascus, the last of the Greek Fathers, who said in the De Fide Orthodoxa that God could not be demonstrated to exist because we can only know what God's essense does not consist of. How do I know this? Because Thomas quotes him while arguing for the Quinque Viae in the Summa Theologica.

Yes, Thomas quotes the Damascene, but then refutes his opinion in Repl. Obj. 2 -- which you fail to mention, thus introducing confusion regarding what Aquinas taught, and regarding the point I was making.

And what difference would it make if some of the Church Fathers held a proto-Barthian opinion? That still wouldn't change the fact that the current Catholic position is more in line with that of Aquinas, and that many modern Protestants, including some of the TEs here, are adamantly opposed to the current Catholic position.

You also wrote:

>I used the word teleology for the "how" cause and the word purpose for the "why" cause since there really aren't good English words to express this distinction.

It would be more helpful if you learned the usage of "teleology" in standard philosophical and theological usage than made up your own definition. There's enough confusion about the concept without non-philosophers "winging it" with ad hoc definitions. You could start with the relevant articles in the 8-Volume Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and then move to discussions found in academic works on Aristotle and and on Scholasticism, and then to discussions found in scholarly works on the abandonment of teleology in early modern science.

You also wrote:

>Acquinas' fifth way doesn't really tell much about God and as such Michael Behe is being a good Catholic when he, like the Angelic Doctor, also demurs when making a teleological argument. Acquinas noted that these arguments were "preambles to articles of faith" and that "Nevertheless, there is nothing to prevent a man, who cannot grasp a proof, accepting, as a matter of faith, something which in itself is capable of being scientifically known and demonstrated."

Aside from the misspelling of "Aquinas", the main problem here is that your quotation shows the opposite of what you appear to want it to show; i.e., while it grants that one *can* come to know of God's existence purely on the grounds of faith, it grants this only in the context of the acknowledgment that, for those who can grasp a proof, God's existence is "capable of being scientifically known and demonstrated". Of course, Aquinas here means something different by 'science" than we do, but my point about the difference between certain Protestants and mainstream Catholicism remains. Allowing for the changed circumstances of the modern world, ID-type arguments could be included among an update of Aquinas's "ways", whereas they are anathema to Barthians and other fideists.

You also wrote:

>Finally, I need to let people in on the inside joke. Terry and I have been going toe to toe since we met in the same small church. He's a presuppositionalist and I am an evidentialist. Since Cameron accused me of being anti-Thomistic I declared defeat in our long "battle".

Good to hear that you have a sense of humour. Humour is lacking in these discussions. Probably the grave threat of YEC casts such gloom over the site that no one feels like laughing.

You also wrote:

>It's not surprising though since Terry is very influential. Before I met him I was YEC/OEC and he convinced me to join the ASA too.

Wow! Another ASA listmember with a YEC past! This place seems to be crawling with them. That may account for the uncompromising, take-no-prisoners attitude toward YEC, or anything that is (however unjustly and incorrectly) identified with any aspect of YEC. But reactivity against one's past is a bad context in which to seek truth. Anger clouds reason. One must be at peace with one's past before the intellectual calm necessary for theoretical reflection can be established.


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Received on Wed Nov 18 03:58:25 2009

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