Friday, October 4, 2013

Why Is There Anything At All? It’s Simple


Note: The following article is cross-posted over at First Things.

I thank John Leslie and Robert Lawrence Kuhn for their gracious and substantive response to my recent comments on their fine anthology The Mystery of Existence: Why Is There Anything At All?  In the course of my earlier remarks, I put forward a “friendly criticism” to the effect that John and Robert had paid insufficient attention in their book to the tradition of classical theism, which has its philosophical roots in Aristotelian and Neo-Platonic thought and whose many illustrious representatives include Augustine, Anselm, Avicenna, Maimonides, and Aquinas.  Though there are selections from some of these writers, they are very brief, and the bulk of the theological selections in the book are from recent writers of what has sometimes been called a “theistic personalist” or “neo-theist” bent.  John and Robert have offered a lively defense of their approach.  In what follows I’d like to respond, pressing the case for the primacy of the classical theistic tradition.
 
Classical theism, divine simplicity, and ultimate explanation

One of the points John and Robert make in their defense is an appeal to the very specific aim of their volume:

Our book’s limited mission is to build appreciation for the most baffling of all enigmas: Why is there something rather than nothing? In its shadow, all the big questions – Does God exist?  Why the universe? Life after death? – are eclipsed…

The Mystery of Existence is not about the clash between classical and modern/personal forms of theism ("theistic personalism"), a distinction that is anyway not directly on point in explicating Nothing (our limited mission again), since in either case, classical or modern/personal, God can be in some sense necessary.

End quote.  Now, while our editors are of course the best experts on their mission for the volume, I would respectfully disagree with them about the relevance of classical theism to that mission.  For the philosophical dispute between classical and modern forms of theism is, I would argue, exactly on point.  And when we understand why, we will also see that the question whether God exists is in no way eclipsed by the question why there is something rather than nothing -- on the contrary, the existence of God, as classical theism understands God, is (so the classical theist would argue) the only possible answer in principle to that question.  Let me explain.

Both classical theism on the one hand and “theistic personalism” or “neo-theism” on the other have their strictly theological aspects.  There is, for instance, a longstanding dispute over which of these views better comports with what we find said about God in the Bible.  I would certainly agree with John and Robert that such disputes are tangential to the aims of their volume.

However, both views also have a purely philosophical side, and their purely philosophical differences make a world of difference to the question of whether theism offers us any insight into the question of why anything exists at all.  For you might say that classical theism in its philosophical aspect just is the development of the implications of there being an ultimate explanation of why anything exists at all.  Theistic personalism or neo-theism, by contrast, is motivated by a different set of concerns, and touches on the question of ultimate explanation only in a secondary way.

At the core of classical theism is the notion of divine simplicity -- the idea that God is non-composite or without parts.  This is a doctrine having its philosophical roots in Plato and Aristotle and defended by pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim thinkers as diverse as Philo of Alexandria, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius, Plotinus, Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Maimonides, Avicenna, Averroes, Aquinas, and Scotus.  The doctrine is the de fide teaching of the Catholic Church and is endorsed by many Protestant theologians.  The point of all this name-dropping is to emphasize how absolutely central the doctrine of divine simplicity is to the mainstream Western tradition in philosophical theology.  And why is it so central?

The reason is that for the classical theist, whatever else we mean by “God,” we certainly mean by that label to name the ultimate source, cause, or explanation of things.  Properly to understand classical theism, the hostile atheist reader might even find it useful to put the word “God” out of his mind for the moment -- given all the irrelevant associations the word might lead him to read into the present discussion -- and just think instead of “the ultimate source of things.”  The classical theist maintains that whatever is in any way composed of parts cannot be the ultimate source of things.  For wherever we have a composite thing, a thing made up of parts, we have something that requires a cause of its own, a cause which accounts for how the parts get together.

This is obviously true of the ordinary things of our experience.  For example, a given chair exists only because there is something (a carpenter, or a machine) that assembled the legs, seat, etc. into a chair.  And the chair continues to exist only insofar as certain combining factors -- such as the tackiness of glue or friction between screw threads -- continue to operate.  The point applies also to things whose composition is less crudely mechanical.  A water molecule depends for its existence on the oxygen and hydrogen atoms that make it up together with the principles of covalent bonding. 

But it is true at deeper metaphysical levels as well.  Any changeable thing, the Aristotelian argues, must be composed of actuality and potentiality.  For example, an ice cube melts because it has a potential to take on a liquid form that is actualized by the heat in the surrounding air.  In any contingent thing, the Thomist argues, its essence is distinct from its existence.  That is why a tree (say) can come into existence and go out of existence, since what it is to be a tree -- a tree’s essence or nature -- by itself entails nothing one way or the other about whether it exists.  Whether it is, you might say, is distinct from what it is.  Actuality and potentiality, existence and essence are thus components of any thing that has both -- even if they are metaphysical components rather than material components -- and their composition entails that such a thing depends on a cause, on something that actualizes its potentials, that imparts existence to its essence. 

So, whatever the ultimate source, cause, or explanation of things is -- again, refrain from calling it “God” if you want -- it cannot be made up of material components, or actuality and potentiality, or existence and essence.  Nor can it be composed of any other metaphysical parts -- genus and difference, substance and properties, or what have you.  It cannot be an instance of a genus, for then it will require some aspect or other that differentiates it from other instances of that genus, and that entails having metaphysical parts.  It cannot instantiate properties since that would, again, require some differentiating feature that sets it apart from other instances of those properties, which again entails having metaphysical parts.

Naturally, if it is the ultimate source, cause or explanation of things it is actual or existent -- it could hardly cause or explain anything otherwise -- but it is not a compound of actuality and potentiality as other things are, nor a compound of existence and essence.  It would have to be, always and “already” as it were, pure actuality rather than something that has or could have any potential in need of actualization.  It would have to be, not “an” existent thing among other existent things, but pure being or existence itself.  Anything less would require a cause or source of its own and thus not be the ultimate cause or source.

Note that on the classical theist view of ultimate explanation, there are no inexplicable “brute facts.”  Things that require causes require them because they have potentials that need to be actualized and parts that need to be combined.  To say of a thing that it has parts and yet lacks any cause which accounts for their combination, or has potentiality yet lacks any cause which actualized that potentiality, would be to make of it a “brute fact.”  But that is precisely what the classical theist does not say about the ultimate cause of things.  It says instead that, since it is purely actual (and thus devoid of potentials that could be actualized) and absolutely simple (and thus devoid of parts that could be combined), it not only need not have a cause but could not in principle have had one.  It, and it alone, has its source of intelligibility in itself rather than in some external cause. 

So, whatever else we say about the ultimate cause, source, or explanation of things -- and whether or not we want to call it “God,” whether or not we want to identify it with the God of the Bible specifically, and whether or not we think it has any religious implications in the first place -- we are going to have to regard it as absolutely simple or non-composite, as pure actuality devoid of potentiality, and as being itself rather than something that merely instantiates being.  We are also going to have to regard it as immutable and uncaused, because only what has potentiality capable of being actualized, or parts capable of being combined, can be caused or undergo change, and the source or cause of all things must be devoid of potentiality or parts. 

Now, whatever one thinks of this set of ideas -- and obviously there are various questions and objections that might be raised -- it is surely not “eclipsed” by the question of why something exists rather than nothing, and it is surely “on point”!  For what the classical theist claims to be doing is elucidating what any possible answer to that question must involve.  And as I have emphasized, this approach to that question is the dominant one in the history of Western thought.  What could be more relevant to the mission of The Mystery of Existence?

Theistic personalism versus classical theism

“Theistic personalism” or “neo-theism” -- I borrow the labels from Brian Davies and Norman Geisler, respectively -- is a very different story.  This relatively recent movement in philosophy of religion and theology -- represented by a diverse set of thinkers such as the analytic philosophers Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne, process philosophers and theologians like Charles Hartshorne, and advocates of “open theism” like Clark Pinnock and William Hasker -- is primarily motivated, not by questions of ultimate explanation, but by theological and philosophical objections to certain key aspects of the classical theistic conception of God.  Indeed, theistic personalism is defined perhaps above all by its rejection of precisely that notion that the classical theist regards as essential to ultimate explanation -- the idea of divine simplicity. 

Whereas the classical theist’s philosophical analysis of the idea of God typically begins by thinking of Him as the ultimate cause of things, the theistic personalist begins instead by conceiving of God as a certain kind of “person.”  Hence Alvin Plantinga characterizes theism as “the thought that there is such a person as God: a personal agent who has created the world and is all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good” (Where the Conflict Really Lies, p. ix).  According to Richard Swinburne, “that God is a person, yet one without a body, seems the most elementary claim of theism” (The Coherence of Theism, p. 99).  One of the main objections theistic personalists often raise against the idea of divine simplicity is that it makes God out to be too abstract, and is irreconcilable with the idea that God is a person. 

Now classical theists, in general, by no means regard God as impersonal.  They typically argue that when the notion of the ultimate cause of all things is fully developed, it can be seen that there is a sense in which we must attribute to this cause intellect and will.  But the meaning of these terms as applied to God must be very carefully unpacked, and anthropomorphism avoided.  And it is definitely a mistake from the classical theist point of view to start with the idea that God is, like us, an instance of the kind or genus “person,” who instantiates some of the same properties that other persons do, but has them to a higher degree and lacks some of the other properties (such as corporeality).  Yet that seems to be the approach that the theistic personalist or neo-theist is at least implicitly committed to.

There are various objections that can be raised against this approach, but the most relevant one for present purposes is that insofar as theistic personalism implies that God has parts, or that he is one instance among others of a kind, or that like those others he instantiates properties, etc., it makes theism simply unsuitable as a candidate for ultimate explanation.  For (as the classical theist sees things, anyway) it makes of God something essentially creaturely -- something which, like other composites, requires a cause of his own.  Or if he doesn’t have one, he will simply be a brute fact and thus not an ultimate explanation at all -- something which, like other things, is composite, but which merely happens inexplicably nevertheless not to have been caused.  This opens theism up to New Atheist-style objections to the effect that God is a metaphysical fifth wheel -- something which at best seems dubiously preferable to taking the universe as the ultimate brute fact, and at worst seems ruled out by Ockham’s razor.

The question of whether a deity of the theistic personalist sort exists or not therefore does seem “eclipsed” by the question of why anything exists at all, and “not directly on point.”  And that was precisely my point in offering my friendly criticism of John and Robert’s choice of selections for The Mystery of Existence.  Given the book’s mission, it would, I argue, have been more appropriate to emphasize classical theist writers and give theistic personalist or neo-theist writers secondary consideration.  But (as I have complained) the reverse course was followed.

An objection to divine simplicity

John and Robert offer a second defense of their choice of emphasis in the book by raising an objection to classical theism and its core notion of divine simplicity:

[C]lassical theism really is puzzling…

Aquinas sees God’s properties as all of them ultimately identical. God’s goodness just is God’s power, for example, and that just is God’s knowledge, which in turn just is God’s existence; for God’s essence simply is to exist..

Aquinas may make some of this easier to accept through stressing that we speak of God “only analogically”.  But doesn’t that itself say that we’ve little idea of what we’re talking about, and that discussing it for many pages wouldn’t alter this unalterable fact? Theistic readers of The Mystery of Existence may feel relieved when the “personal theist” Timothy O’Connor tells them that while he, too, sees God’s goodness, power, and knowledge as intimately linked, he finds it “very hard to be sure” what Aquinas’s doctrine “is supposed to come to”.

Again, those readers may welcome Richard Swinburne’s description of God as “a spirit, a non-embodied person”…  [T]o Richard, the claim that the divine properties are identical to each other and to God depends on the somewhat arbitrary way “one divides up the properties of a thing (how many properties one says that some thing has) – and that applies to all things, not only to God. And it remains extremely puzzling how a property can be the same as a substance in which it inheres…”

End quote.  The first thing to say in response is that it cannot be emphasized too greatly that divine simplicity is not merely Aquinas’s doctrine.  It is by no means the eccentric teaching of a single thinker or two.  Rather, it is the common heritage of the entire mainstream Western tradition in theology and philosophy of religion, endorsed by the major pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim thinkers referred to above and incorporated into the official theology of Roman Catholicism.  The thinkers in question may disagree over certain details, but they all affirm that divine simplicity itself is non-negotiable.

Second, the reason it is non-negotiable is, as I have emphasized, its essential connection to the very idea of an ultimate cause, source, or explanation of things.  The classical theist holds that nothing could be an ultimate explanation or cause unless it is absolutely simple or non-composite. 

So, the stakes couldn’t be higher.  To reject divine simplicity is not merely to disagree with a particular philosopher or two.  It is to reject the entire mainstream tradition in philosophical theology, and implicitly to deny the very possibility of ultimate explanation.  Or, again, so the classical theist would argue.  No doubt theistic personalists would disagree, but -- especially given that theirs is, historically speaking, by far the minority position -- an anthology like The Mystery of Existence should give a sense of the importance of the dispute between the two views.

A third point is that objections to divine simplicity of the sort raised by John and Robert in any event either miss the point or beg the question.  Yes, the doctrine of divine simplicity is difficult to understand, but no more so than any other theory that requires us radically to abstract from the conditions of everyday material reality and apply concepts in novel and even seemingly paradoxical ways -- as, of course, many philosophical and scientific theories do.  (Wave-particle duality, anyone?  Time as a fourth dimension, anyone?)

Hence, yes, if we carve up the conceptual territory the way the theistic personalist does, then of course divine simplicity will seem odd or even incoherent.  So, suppose we took God to be one instance among others of the kind or genus “person,” who thus instantiates the same properties we do -- power, knowledge, goodness, etc. -- just to a higher degree.  Since what we call “power,” “knowledge,” “goodness,” etc. in us are obviously different properties, and all of these properties are also in turn different from the substances in which they inhere, then it would follow that they are different properties in God and different also from the substance in which they inhere in his case.  And so if we went on to say that God’s goodness, power, knowledge, etc. are all identical, this would, naturally, seem unintelligible. 

But of course, that is simply not what Aquinas and other classical theists are saying.  For instance, Aquinas does not start out by attributing power, knowledge, goodness, etc. to God in just the same sense that theistic personalists do, and then out of the blue tack on some strange stuff about simplicity and analogy.  Rather, he starts by arguing for a cause of the world that is absolutely simple, pure actuality, etc. (Summa theologiae I, qq. 2-3), then argues that what we predicate of this cause cannot, for that very reason, be exactly what we predicate of the things of our experience, but only analogues of what we predicate of those things (Summa theologiae I, q. 4).  Hence when we say that God has power and knowledge (for example) we don’t mean that He instantiates the properties having power and having knowledge, just as we do.  We mean that there is something in Him that is analogous to what we call “power” and “knowledge” in us, but that whatever this amounts to, it does not amount to his “having” just the same thing we do, or instantiating “properties,” or being a substance in which various distinct attributes inhere, etc. 

Compare wave-particle duality.  A physicist familiar with Aquinas’s theory of the analogous use of language might find it useful to say that quantum theory tells us that there is something in quantum phenomena that is analogous to what we call “particles” and analogous to what we call “waves” -- but that it can only be analogous and not precisely the same as what we ordinarily call “particles” and “waves,” because being a particle in the usual sense excludes being wave-like, and vice versa.  Aquinas is saying something comparable to that.  He is saying that the arguments of philosophical theology show that there is a cause of all things that is absolutely simple, pure actuality, etc., and that (as he goes on to argue in the rest of Part I of the Summa) there is also something analogous to power, knowledge, goodness, etc. in this cause, but that precisely because the cause is simple, pure actuality, etc. what we are attributing to the cause is only analogous to, and not exactly the same thing as, what we attribute to ourselves.

Hence there is nothing any more suspect about Aquinas’s procedure than there is in quantum theory.  And if quantum theory is acceptable despite being notoriously difficult to interpret, why should we expect a line of argument that deals with an even more fundamental question than quantum theory does -- the question of why anything exists at all -- to yield conclusions that are any less difficult to wrap our minds around?  On the contrary, we should expect that the ultimate cause of all things will be extremely difficult for us to understand, rather than being -- as the deity of theistic personalism is -- essentially “one of us” (as the Joan Osborne song puts it). 

Platonism and possibility

Let me make some brief remarks about John’s own preferred view of these matters, which is a kind of Platonism.  John and Robert suggest that Aquinas’s view might be in the same ballpark as Plato’s notion of the Form of the Good, which can also be thought of as simple in the relevant sense.  I would say that that is exactly correct -- Aquinas is presenting a view which in its details is certainly importantly different from Plato’s, but is still in the same broad classical tradition.  The view sketched out by John and Robert at the end of their piece is essentially representative of the Neo-Platonic branch of a larger tradition of which Aquinas represents the Aristotelian branch (albeit with some Neo-Platonic influences).  So, the dispute between John and me is really a kind of family squabble.  And regarding the contents of The Mystery of Existence, I suppose the point is that I wish John and Robert had included more selections from the members of our philosophical family!

(By the way, when I characterized John’s brand of Platonism as “distinctive” and “somewhat eccentric” -- and those words were not meant to be pejorative, but merely descriptive! -- what I meant is this.  John has sometimes described his position as entailing that “creative value” is the source of all things, and that the universe exists because of its “ethical requiredness.”  I think that in substance what he is defending is essentially the sort of view one finds in Plato and Plotinus, but that the language in which he expresses it is arguably too modern and potentially misleading.  At least since Hume, “value” connotes for most philosophers something that depends on someone who does the valuing, and thus seems essentially subjective or mind-dependent.  And the “ethical,” for most modern philosophers, essentially connotes a property of the actions of rational creatures like us.  Hence a position like John’s is -- quite mistakenly, but understandably -- bound to seem very strange and even unintelligible to most contemporary philosophers.  More traditional Platonic expressions like “the Form of the Good” or even just “the Good,” while hardly common in contemporary philosophy, are in my view preferable since they better convey the objectivity or mind-independence of what John is talking about.)

Finally, I want to respond to one last objection raised by John and Robert:

Here’s something that puzzled us.  While Ed notes rightly “how could anything actually exist unless it were in some sense a possibility?”, why does he seem to make God an exception to this rule?  Even if God, instead of being a Person or a Being in a fairly straightforward sense, “just is Subsistent Being Itself”, doesn’t it remain true that God exists?  And if so, why does Ed write that all possibilities “pre-exist as ideas in the divine intellect”?  For what about the possibility of God’s own existence?  How could this possibility itself depend on the fact that God existed so as to be able to think about it?

End quote.  This objection seems to presuppose that I take the realm of abstract possibilities to be the fundamental level of reality.  The idea would be that everything that actually exists, including God, is in a sense dependent on a metaphysically more fundamental set of facts about what possibly could exist in the first place.  And in that case, it would make no sense to say that possibilities depend on God.

But that is not my view.  I would say that possibilities couldn’t be the most fundamental level of reality, precisely because they are mere possibilities rather than actualities.  Indeed, what is most fundamental can only be what is pure actuality in the sense described above.  And what is pure actuality exists necessarily rather than in a merely possible way, precisely because it has no potentialities that could either be actualized or fail to be actualized.  True, this ultimate cause is also “possible” in the trivial sense that, being existent, it can hardly be impossible.  But its possibility follows from its actuality rather than being a precondition of its actuality.  All other things that exist are mixtures of actuality and potentiality and of essence and existence, which is why their possibility precedes their actuality.  And their possibility is grounded in their ultimate cause -- the purely actual, absolutely simple divine source of all.

Obviously the metaphysical waters here are deep and I have hardly answered every question that might be raised about classical theism, even in this already-too-long article.  But these are depths that need to be plumbed if we are fully to explore the question of why anything at all exists rather than nothing.  Hence my wish that more readings from the classical philosophical tradition had been included in The Mystery of Existence.  But as we have seen, John and Robert are not entirely unsympathetic to that tradition, and insofar as they have seriously grappled with its central concerns, they are its loyal sons.  For their important contribution to the current debate, we are in their debt.

763 comments:

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Jeremy Taylor said...

I'm puzzled by theistic personalism. Surely, by demoting God to what seems little more than an Angelic being, much of the very substance and meaning of theism is gone? I'd never really come across it before reading about it on your blog, Dr. Feser, although I'd come across the similar (and similarly, to me obviously, flawed Open Theism) I can't but think it is a very ephemeral viewpoint, which will not be around long.

Am I mischaracterising this new theism? It seems just very hard for me to take it seriously as I understand it.

Also, I was rather perplexed that a Platonist, as one of these editors apparently is, would seem to agree with the aspersions cast on Aquinas' views on Divine Simplicity. After all, the sort of unity in multiplicity inherit in the notion of Divine Simplicity is fundamental to the Platonic perspective.

Robert said...

The way you use the words essence and existence confuses me.

When we say that something exists, for instance that a particular tree exists, isn't this really saying that there is an arrangement of energy that just is this particualar tree?

If someone comes along and chops down the tree and uses it for firewood, hasn't the arrangement of energy that was previously arranged as a tree now simply been rearranged into, among other possibilities, heat and ash?

Does anything we experience actually come into, or go out of existence in any sense other than as the arrangement of energy, which itself neither comes into nor goes out of existence, (perhaps quantum events could counter this), and is essence therefore an instance of the particular arrangement of energy itself?

If so, doesn't this:

That is why a tree (say) can come into existence and go out of existence, since what it is to be a tree -- a tree’s essence or nature -- by itself entails nothing one way or the other about whether it exists.

actually mean:

That is why the particular arrangement of energy of a tree (say) can come into existence and go out of existence, since what it is to be a tree -- a particular arrangement of energy -- by itself entails entirely whether it exists.

Anonymous said...

When we say that something exists, for instance that a particular tree exists, isn't this really saying that there is an arrangement of energy that just is this particualar tree?

No.

Any other questions?

Brandon said...

Robert,

It's difficult to know what you mean by 'arrangement of energy', particularly given that energy is the ability of a system to displace bodies across a distance, but in any case it is clear that talking about existence and essence is not "really saying" something about energy at all, even if it were true that we experience nothing except as 'arrangements of energy', because the latter is a further truth, beyond existence, that is discovered by inquiry, and therefore cannot be what we were "really saying" in the first place, but something we've discovered in addition to learning that it exists.

Robert said...

@Brandon

It's difficult to know what you mean by 'arrangement of energy', particularly given that energy is the ability of a system to displace bodies across a distance, but in any case it is clear that talking about existence and essence is not "really saying" something about energy at all, even if it were true that we experience nothing except as 'arrangements of energy', because the latter is a further truth, beyond existence, that is discovered by inquiry, and therefore cannot be what we were "really saying" in the first place, but something we've discovered in addition to learning that it exists.

Thanks for the response though I am not sure I understand what you are trying to say.

Replace the word energy with matter, as matter is energy.

The point is that it is not clear that talking about existence and essence is not really just saying something about the arrangement of matter/energy at all.

That is precisely the question I am asking.

Brandon said...

Actually, matter is not energy, but it wouldn't change anything in the argument: that things are made of matter can only be an additional discovery beyond having learned that they exist. It is in fact quite clear that they are not "really just saying" the same thing; there is no sense in which either manner of talking is just the same as the other.

Robert said...

@Brandon
Actually, matter is not energy, but it wouldn't change anything in the argument: that things are made of matter can only be an additional discovery beyond having learned that they exist. It is in fact quite clear that they are not "really just saying" the same thing; there is no sense in which either manner of talking is just the same as the other.

E = MC^2, yes it is.

I am not sure why you continue to refer to discovery or learned as anything other than inescapable semantic issues when discussing things.

Let's try it this way.

What do you mean by the words existence and essence?

Brandon said...

The 'm' in E=mc^2 stands for 'mass', not matter; mass and energy are two distinct ways material objects can be measured, and the equation provides a conversion formula for the two kinds of measurement. There are plenty of properties of material objects that are measured neither by energy nor by mass.

You're the one who keeps putting your question in semantic terms: you started with claims that two kinds of "talk" were "really just saying the same thing" and now are asking about what I "mean" by "the words". Your question is entirely about semantics; if you want to ask about something non-semantic, you need to stop asking purely semantic questions.

Robert said...

@Brandon

I know what the 'm' stands for...

Are you going to answer the question?

What do you mean by the words existence and essence?

Robert said...

@Brandon

btw

“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”


― Albert Einstein

Brandon said...

If you knew what the 'm' was for, you wouldn't have cited the formula as if it were a claim about matter being energy.

The question is irrelevant; practically nobody uses the words 'existence' and 'essence' as if they were really just the same as using words about 'energy' or 'matter'. If you ask someone who knows nothing about physics whether a dog exists, they can do so without any consideration of matter or energy whatsoever. Even physicists don't use the two kinds of words as if they were "really just saying the same thing". You simply don't need definitions of two groups of words to tell that they are not ways of saying the same thing.

It is additionally irrelevant in that your question is not about my use of the words but about Ed's, which I assumed we were both still talking about. Or have you switched questions? And you just scolded me for talking about purely semantic issues and then reiterated a question that can only be answered by inescapably semantic issues. Are you conceding that my points about discovery and learning are relevant, or are you just ignoring them? There are several ways to define the word 'essence' as Ed is using it; e.g., it is substance insofar as it can be conceived as one and defined, or it is what things are, considered precisely as what they are; and 'existence' is then that which is to essence as act to potency in composite things. Nothing about energy or matter or arrangements, as you can see; something can be essentially material, or could essentially have energy, perhaps, but that is clearly not what the two kinds of 'talk' say, nor at all what the words 'really say'.

Brandon said...

Yes, Robert. That's not what the formula means, though; nor is Einstein's colloquial presentation anything more than a picturesque figurative way of talking about it, which Einstein was famous for doing; nor is it difficult to find physicists who deny that the formula means any such thing.

Brandon said...

Actually, I'm not sure I should have conceded even as much as I did on the Einstein quote. Where does Einstein say this?

Witten said...

Robert. Matter isn't energy. Energy isn't a thing made of stuff, it is a thing that systems have. E=MC^2 is an equation giving the amount of mass-energy that a object has. Objects also have motion-energy. Photons and other mass-less particles (which maybe is what you mean by energy) have only motion-energy, but they're still stuff.

Your Einstein quote is out of date, in general physicists talk about things being made up out of quantum fields and their particles, both of which have energy, but neither are *just* energy. If you had said that particular tree is an arrangement of fields and particles that would IMO totally correct.

Although admittedly it was pretty clear what your were trying to get at.

Now as to what A-T people mean when they talk about essence and existence, I can't help you. Although I have a suspicion that they are systems of dividing up the world and don't rigorously conform to any real features.

Robert said...

@Brandon

Again, I am just trying to make sense of the way the words essence and existence as being used.

When Ed said:

That is why a tree (say) can come into existence and go out of existence

Here the word existence can only refer to the arrangement of matter. If not, what is the word referring to? If so, how is the word existence distinct from the word essence?

since what it is to be a tree -- a tree’s essence or nature -- by itself entails nothing one way or the other about whether it exists.

And here the issue is that, on the contrary, the arrangement of matter, if that is in fact what the word essence refers to is very relevant to whether this tree exists.

If not, what does the word essence refer to?

Robert said...

@Witten

Fair enough.

Yes, I am really trying to get at what is meant by the use of the words existence and essence.

Brandon said...

Robert,

But then I don't understand why you dismissed my point about discovery and learning; if you can know the fact that X exists while it is still in doubt whether it is a fact that X is matter, i.e., if X's being matter is something that has to be learned beyond X's existing, that in and of itself establishes that the words "exists" and "is matter" are not really saying the same thing.

The word 'existence' in the first part you quote quite clearly does not 'only refer to the arrangement of matter'; setting aside the fact that Ed would deny that trees are reducible to arrangements of matter, it's a fact about trees, not about existence, that trees are even material at all. (If Berkeley were right, trees wouldn't be essentially material, but they would still exist.) Your question is like saying, "When we say 'The quantum computer is now a possibility', 'possibility' can only possibly mean an arrangement of matter, because what else could it refer to?" The computer is an arrangement of matter; but it is absurd to conclude from this that 'possibiliy' is an arrangement of matter. It's switching from the computer to what is being attributed to it, which are obviously not the same.

What you seem to be assuming is that Ed in talking about essence or existence is committed to saying that everything that exists is an arrangement of matter. But it's quite obvious that Ed would deny that. So why are we bringing this assumption in at all if the point is to understand what Ed means by the words?

Robert said...

@Brandon

But then I don't understand why you dismissed my point about discovery and learning; if you can know the fact that X exists while it is still in doubt whether it is a fact that X is matter, i.e., if X's being matter is something that has to be learned beyond X's existing, that in and of itself establishes that the words "exists" and "is matter" are not really saying the same thing.


I am not sure that this is relevant, though I do not believe that I ever said that the words existence and matter were saying the same thing.


The word 'existence' in the first part you quote quite clearly does not 'only refer to the arrangement of matter'; setting aside the fact that Ed would deny that trees are reducible to arrangements of matter, it's a fact about trees, not about existence, that trees are even material at all. (If Berkeley were right, trees wouldn't be essentially material, but they would still exist.) Your question is like saying, "When we say 'The quantum computer is now a possibility', 'possibility' can only possibly mean an arrangement of matter, because what else could it refer to?" The computer is an arrangement of matter; but it is absurd to conclude from this that 'possibiliy' is an arrangement of matter. It's switching from the computer to what is being attributed to it, which are obviously not the same.


I am not sure how you got that from what I wrote. Where did I equate possibility with with an arrangement of matter?

To the earlier point, what does the word existence refer to? That is the question? It obviously cannot be referring to the matter itself, as matter is not really something that can come into and go out of existence. The only other possibility I can gather from what he says is that the particular essence is what comes into and goes out of existence.


What you seem to be assuming is that Ed in talking about essence or existence is committed to saying that everything that exists is an arrangement of matter. But it's quite obvious that Ed would deny that. So why are we bringing this assumption in at all if the point is to understand what Ed means by the words?


Good point.

By the word essence then, does Ed mean something like a soul, (a vegetative soul in the case of the tree)?

Brandon said...

I am not sure that this is relevant, though I do not believe that I ever said that the words existence and matter were saying the same thing.

Anything can be substituted for them. You keep saying that talking about existence is really saying the same thing as talking about arrangements of matter (or energy) or what have you. You've said it multiple times. But it is not true, and it is easy to see that people don't, in fact, say the same things by the two ways of talking, and we see this (among other places) in learning and discovery.

I am not sure how you got that from what I wrote. Where did I equate possibility with with an arrangement of matter?

You didn't. It was an example of equally invalid reasoning.

Ed explicitly says what goes in and out of existence in his example: the tree. Surely it's not so very mysterious what is meant when someone says, "Trees can begin to exist and can cease existing"?

By essence Ed means, as I noted above, a substance insofar as it is capable of being considered as one and defined. This is clearly distinct from the actual existence of the substance; and it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with matter or energy. On the soul question, souls are not essences, but simply whatever it is that makes something a living thing rather than a nonliving thing.

Ty said...

I noticed your review and some further discussion on your blog about the question of why there is something rather than nothing. You noted a lot of the recent interest in and literature on the topic. In case you don't know, I have a new edited volume on the question too:

Goldschmidt, T. (Ed.) 'The Puzzle of Existence: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?' (Routledge, 2013).

I hope this self-promotion isn't rude, and I understand if you'll delete this comment. But you and your readers might be interested in the volume. Here's the TOC: www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415624657/

As you will see, Leslie and O'Connor (also mentioned in your exchange) are contributors. Among many others, covering diverse views.

I'm afraid there still isn't the kind of debate about divine simplicity you discuss on your blog. But I hope you and your readers might find the volume of interest in any case.

Ty said...

Whoa, another Ty? How bizarre. I'm not him :P

Brandon said...

Thinking about this, perhaps there's another way to put the matter.

Above, Witten said of Thomistic accounts of existence and essence, " Although I have a suspicion that they are systems of dividing up the world and don't rigorously conform to any real features." There are two older ways of saying exactly the same thing: one could say that the accounts only give an artificial classification rather than a natural classification, or one could say that the accounts only provide nominal definitions, definitions of words or labels, rather than real definitions, definitions of things. Things are capable of having definitions that "rigorously conform to real features"; these things insofar as they are capable of this are essences. But it's clear that this is a distinct issue entirely from whether the things exist: in principle, dodos are capable of real definition even though we can make perfect sense of saying that they don't exist. Their essence and their existence is not the same, nor does their essence necessarily imply that they exist.

Likewise, trees, being real objects, are capable of real definition or natural classification; thus there is an essence which is captured by such definitions or classifications. But we know that trees begin to exist and stop existing, so we know that the essence here, trees insofar as they are capable of having a real definition or insofar as they are capable of having a place in a natural classification, does not guarantee that they exist. If they had an essence that did guarantee their existence, they couldn't go in and out of existence; they would necessarily exist.

Which is what Ed says:

That is why a tree (say) can come into existence and go out of existence since what it is to be a tree -- a tree’s essence or nature -- by itself entails nothing one way or the other about whether it exists.

Matthew said...

Right, I wrote this out in response to Robert's original question. I know I'm butting in, but this is partially for my own understanding and fellow Thomists can feel free to correct me!

Robert,

I think it’s best to begin with the basic A-T terminology if we’re going to get anywhere.

First, let’s talk about the notion of a Form- Form is like the multiply-instantiable patterns or structures we find in things. They can be substantial (characterising the particular structure or pattern that unifies a thing-in-itself and metaphysically marks it off from every other kind of thing) or accidental- denoting mere traits that exist in things-in-themselves.

“Matter" in Thomism (toss out the physical understanding for the moment) is the principle of individuation as opposed to the multiply-instantiable pattern which is what is understood by "Form." A principle of individuation is what enables there to be multiple instances of the same pattern. In order to be a principle of individuation for Forms, a principle can't itself be a Form, i.e., it cannot itself be a pattern. An individuated thing cannot be accounted for merely in terms of some set of essential and accidental traits or Forms. Since the Form of an individuated thing is just what needs to be individuated for the individual thing to exist, and its accidental traits contribute to its individuation it only accidentally- it could persist as the individual thing it is even if all its accidental traits changed- what individuates is rather the potential-to-receive-Forms. As this potential, apart from being joined to some Form or other, does not itself have a nature, and in itself has no actuality (being mere potentiality), it cannot exist “in its own right,” but only insofar as joined to a Form in some substance or other.

The "essence" of something is its "quiddity"- the "what-it-is-to-be" of the thing, which we signify in language by giving things definitions. “What-it-is-to-be” a thing is subtly different from a Form. What it is to be a tree, for instance, is to be a certain Form joined to Matter- the essence of a tree contains both its formal and material aspects.

Just as matter is potential relative to Form or Essence, Essence is potential relative to Existence. Existence is the principle of actuality of a thing relative to the potentiality constituted by the essence of a thing. Essence is distinct from a thing’s actuality since it is not sufficient in itself for its being. This is why we can grasp a thing’s essence (i.e., understand it) without that thing actually popping into existence, form, matter and all- those things are only potential insofar as they exist in the essence, which needs to be actualized by the particular kind of existence that thing has.

To go back to your original question, then: “Mass-Energy” as physics understands it is a combination of all these principles. Insofar as it characteristically exhibits some pattern of order and exists in individual instances, it is a combination of Matter and Form. Insofar as it has such a nature, it has an Essence, and insofar as it is actual, it has Existence. As a combination of all these principles, it is metaphysically dependent upon these constituents, and hence cannot be the ultimate explanation- its existence is in turn explained by the conjunction of its metaphysical constituents.

Things can come into and go out of being insofar as their essences cease to be joined to acts of existence- for instance, when a particular parcel of matter with Substantial Form A loses Form A and gains Substantial Form B instead, the substance constituted by Substantial Form A and the matter that is now informed by Form B has truly ceased to exist, and a new substance has truly begun to exist. When the tree has been chopped into firewood and burned, the *tree* has ceased to exist, even if its base matter has taken on new forms (i.e., ash, smoke, etc). (cont’d)

Matthew said...


(continued from earlier)
If your question about things "really" coming into being is a question of whether things come into being ex nihilo, i.e., without being the actualization of some potential, the answer would be that yes, they have to. Potency as such has no existence apart from actuality, but the reverse isn't true- there could be actuality without any potency at all. Anything which is composed of act and potency- everything composed of essence and existence- is causally posterior to potency, hence cannot be the ultimate cause of potency as such. The ultimate cause must thus be pure actuality, hence immaterial (as matter is a kind of potency).

Scott said...

"Goldschmidt, T. (Ed.) 'The Puzzle of Existence: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?' (Routledge, 2013)."

That one's actually been on my Amazon wish list for a while. It looks excellent but there's a bit of a price issue.

Timotheos said...

I most congratulate you Dr. Feser on such a great rejoinder!

I think you answered their objections clearly and respectfully, and then some.

Timotheos said...

Oops, change 'most' to 'must'

Anonymous said...

It is a well written article but at the end of the day it is NOT convincing. Classical Theism requires a 100% commitment to simplicity, pure Act, and convertibility. It is an all or nothing proposition. Unfortunately Classical theism fails in all three propositions.

First God is composed of three persons. Christ was and is a person and He definitely had parts after the incarnation. So if Christ is 100% man and 100% God, the Father is 100% God, and the Holy Spirit is 100% God then it stands to reason God is composed of at least three parts. That is simple logic. Thus the whole discussion on simplicity is basically meaningless philosophical gibberish that creates more confusion than clarity. Classical theism is only useful for sophists and people who are more in love with metaphysics than a healthy understanding of their Bible.

Feser is incorrect in stating that open theism leads to atheism. That is his canard without basis and I claim the exact opposite. If we know God is a person it is our responsibility to know Him. If God is some abstract Simple being, I have no idea what is expected of me or how to know him. Everything seems arbitrary and my only recourse is that good works will hopefully save me. Simple churches are dark and austere places and lead to Mother Theresa's dark night of the soul. As a born again Christian I have no dark night of the soul and the Holy Spirit (a person) helps us avoid those dark nights. Even Paul praised God while in prison, so he must not have had a dark night of the soul either.


Finally, the ONLY LOGICAL conclusion of simplicity is Islam. And if you study Islamic philosophy you will find that simplicity was one of the major motivators of that religion. Study the Islamic philosophers, who also inspired Aquinas. Thus Feser is trying to have his cake and eat it to. He wants both Simplicity and the Trinity and this is a logical contradiction.

Lancelot Killjoy said...

So when you say that X is 100% Y, you mean to say that X is a part of Y? That is odd usage indeed.

Scott said...

"It is a well written article but at the end of the day it is NOT convincing."

And yet you've provided no arguments against it—just a few assertions that it's incompatible with your own understanding of Christianity's special revelation.

All that shows is that one or the other must be false. And unless you can find an actual flaw in the arguments for divine simplicity (which you haven't even attempted to do), the conclusion should be that it's your understanding of special revelation that's false.

Anonymous said...

I always appreciate your metaphysical insights. And it is for these that I think this is one of your better posts, not for the critique of Existence, although I appreciated your explanation of " theistic personalists," something I was ignorant of. .

Linus

Anonymous said...

Milton Munitz' book, "The Mystery of Existence," answered these questions many years ago.

There is nothing new being said here.

Anonymous said...

@Scott,

I gave an argument. The Trinity is my counterexample to Simplicity.

My counterexample to God being Pure ACT is the Incarnation. Chirst before 0 AD was a God without a body. After the incarnation Christ had a body. This shows that God CANNOT be pure ACT.

A-T is filled with endless holes and that is why it is USELESS as a metaphysical framework. Tertullian the man who defined the Trinity in the late 2nd century, stated ":what does Athens have to do whith Jerusalem?" Absolutely nothing. Jerusalem predated Athens by one thousand years.

The Catholic church went astray with A-T and this is why it bankrupt to its very core. Feser naively thinks that Thomism is making a comeback, but this pure wishful thinking. Going from 1 Thomist to 2 Thomists represents a 100% increase, but this pales next to the army of philosophers who think it useless.

Bottomline: I have given you a counter example to Simplicity, i.e. the Trnity, I have given you a counterexample to PURE ACT, i.e. the incarnation. Further counterexamle is that the OT Jews understood God univocally not analogically and thus rejected convertibility. Thus A-T is a bankrupt metaphysics leading MANY away from a PROPER understanding of God. A-T is deception, sophistry at its very core. Notice what the Bible has to say about philosophy:

"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." (Colossian 2:8)

It appears that many have been taken captive by the deceit of A-T.

Anonymous said...

"My counterexample to God being Pure ACT is the Incarnation. Chirst before 0 AD was a God without a body. After the incarnation Christ had a body. This shows that God CANNOT be pure ACT"

So Christ was A god? So you're a polytheist then?

Eric

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but if you're referring to Christ as A god, then I don't think I can take any commentary you provide regarding the Trinity seriously. You seem to have a mormonesque view on the matter.

Eric

Anonymous said...

@Eric,

No I am not a polytheist. The incarnation caused the Godhead to change state.
Before the incarnation, God had no body, but after the incarnation, a part of the Godhead had a body. Thus the Godhead had a state change and a change of Nature. Thus the concept of God being unchanging or immutable has just been refuted.

Anonymous said...

@Eric,

Christ is 100% man and 100% God
The Holy Spirit is 100% God
God the father is also 100% God

Thus the Godhead consists of 3 persons.

So unless you can understand this, we can't take anything you say seriously.

Anonymous said...

My experience is that many Catholics struggle with a belief in God. So they come to a site like Feser's hoping it will build their faith. Unfortunately, the god of the philosophers is NOT the God of the Bible. The ONLY way to come to a knowledge of the God of creation is through the work of the Holy Spirit, which can ONLY be found in a church that is anointed by God and does not mix philosophy with Bible hermeneutics. Athens and Rome have NOTHING to do with Jerusalem. The unfortunate fact is that the god of the philosophers is a dead god, who cannot save you from your trespasses. Thus Aristotle, Plato, have met the same fate as your favorite atheist.

Scott said...

"I gave an argument. The Trinity is my counterexample to Simplicity."

That's not an argument that the doctrine of divine simplicity is false; it's only an illustration that your own understanding of the Trinity is incompatible with it.

Anonymous said...

"Christ is 100% man and 100% God
The Holy Spirit is 100% God
God the father is also 100% God

Thus the Godhead consists of 3 persons.

So unless you can understand this, we can't take anything you say seriously"

Oh, I grasp it as much as my human understanding allows. Which is why I don't refer to Christ as A god. The Father isn't A god. The Son isn't A god.
The Holy Spirit isn't A god.

You're the one who felt the need to put that little "a" just before the big "God" in your earlier post. You wrote "Chirst before 0 AD was a God without a body."

It reminds me of the New World Translation of the Gospel of John.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was (a) God. "

At least they throw a parenthesis on there. Lol

Eric

Bones said...

Anon,

You do realize that in the very act of trying to persuade us, you are doing philosophy (albeit quite poorly), don't you?

Anonymous said...

Another problem with A-T is the entire concept on hylomorphism.

An academic article by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy refuting hylomorphism.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-psychology/suppl1.html

So I challenge the Feser disciples to refute this article. I doubt Eric or Scott even understand it.

Scott said...

"So I challenge the Feser disciples to refute this article. I doubt Eric or Scott even understand it."

Actually it's pretty clear that you don't understand it, as its author doesn't present it as a "refutation" of hylomorphism at all but only as a worry with which it has to deal. At any rate it doesn't seem to me especially hard to deal with.

The concern here is as follows: it seems that, according to Aristotle, a human body is both necessarily and contingently "enformed" by its soul. The bronze of a statue remains bronze even after it has lost the form of the statue, and Aristotle says all matter works the same way. But he also says that a human (or other living) body is really no longer a body after its soul is gone; we just call it that, more or less for convenience.

So far as I can see, this worry rests on a basic misunderstanding of hylomorphism. The human body doesn't exist qua human body after the soul has left, but that doesn't mean its flesh and so forth fail to exist. And it's the flesh, not its existence qua body, that is analogous to the bronze of the statue.

dguller said...

Anonymous:

I actually agree with you that divine simplicity is inconsistent with the Trinity, and for two reasons.

First, according to divine simplicity, the divine essence is Subsistent Being Itself (i.e. ipsum esse subsistens), and anything other than the divine essence could not be Subsistent Being Itself, and thus must be a creature that is dependent upon Subsistent Being Itself.

Either the divine persons of the Trinity are identical to the divine essence, or they are not identical to the divine essence. If they are identical to the divine essence, then they cannot differ from the divine essence in any way. The problem is that the divine essence does not involve real distinction in any kind, whereas the divine persons involve real distinction of some kind. Therefore, the divine persons do, in fact, differ from the divine essence in some way, which means that the divine persons cannot be identical to the divine essence. And if the divine persons are not identical to the divine essence, then they are other than the divine essence, and thus other than Subsistent Being Itself. And since anything other than Subsistent Being Itself is a creature, then the divine persons are creatures, which contradicts the doctrine of the Trinity. Therefore, if divine simplicity is true, then the Trinity is false, and vice versa.

Second, according to the divine simplicity, God cannot admit of any accidents, because that would involve composition. However, quantity is an accident, and thus no quantities can be predicated of God. But the doctrine of the Trinity necessarily requires that the number three be predicated of God, i.e. God is three divine persons. Therefore, either divine simplicity is false, and thus the number three can be predicated of God, or divine simplicity is true, and thus the number three cannot be predicated of God. Either way, divine simplicity and the Trinity cannot be simultaneously true.

Anonymous said...

Anon wrote

"Another problem with A-T is the entire concept on hylomorphism.

An academic article by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy refuting hylomorphism.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-psychology/suppl1.html

So I challenge the Feser disciples to refute this article. I doubt Eric or Scott even understand it."

Haven't you already declared philosophy to be bankrupt? I think I even remember you throwing a bit of scripture out on the matter. Now, you bring up an article from the Stanford Encyclopedia of WHAT? Thats right everybody, the Stanford Encyclopedia of PHILOSOPHY. This is a joke right?

Perhaps we'd be willing to discuss the points in the article if your string of posts didn't basically state, and I'm paraphrasing here, "You Thomists are a bunch of idiots, who don't understand the Trinity. Catholics are dead inside and suck balls! Oh, philosophy sucks, and I have an article from this philosophy encyclopedia to prove it."

Eric







Ty said...

Dguller:

"It is not sufficiently noted that Aquinas always characterizes the doctrine of simplicity as the claim that there is no *composition* in God. Composition, however, tends to be a technical term for Aquinas; it means a union of two things as *potential to actual*. That this is in fact what he means in this context is clear from the way he goes about discussing simplicity. It has become common to claim that Aquinas's doctrine of simplicity conflicts with the doctrine of the Trinity; but this is an artifact, I think, of not properly characterizing Aquinas's doctrine of simplicity. I think a failure to recognize the essential point about composition is a major factor in this. For the only alternatives to Aquinas on this is to say either 1) that the Trinity is an aggregate; or 2) that the Persons are related to each other in some way as actual to potential. (1) contradicts the unity of the Persons. (2) contradicts the equality of the persons. So the alternatives to Aquinas violate the doctrine of the Trinity. Aquinas's does not, because the doctrine of the Trinity *does not require us to say that there is a union according to potential and actual in God.* This, of course, leaves many other questions (could it possibly be otherwise?), but the claims of Aquinas's problem here are massively exaggerated."

Brandon at his "Siris" blog, emphasis mine.

Does this help?

Anonymous said...

Further problems with A-T. Biblically speaking man is a three part being composed of body, soul, and spirit. The soul is actually the result of the interaction of the spirit with the body. Thus the entire concept of soul in A-T is absolutely incongruent with the biblical understanding of the soul.

The reality is that A-T inevitably leads to a blind fatalism, which is exactly what Islam is. In fact, Catholics believe that Muslims worship the same god as the them. (see Catechism #841).
This is ONLY natural since A-T has exalted philosophy above theology.
Any person moderately versed in Scripture and theology will see that the God of the Bible is totally different than the God of Islam, but Catholics have been so blinded by scholastic and Jesuit sophistry to recognize this. Even Peter Kreeft is too blind to see this.

My experience is that Catholics are always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.( 2 Timothy 3:7)


Edward Feser said...

Anonymous,

Central casting just called. You're needed for an audition for the new Hollywood adaptation of the Jack Chick comics. It's gonna be a blockbuster of Avengers-level proportions, and I think you've got the part in the bag!

dguller said...

Ty:

I don't think Brandon's points make a difference to my argument. My argument is based upon the fact that composite entities are combinations of essence and existence, and that God cannot be such a composite entity, but rather is such that the divine essence is Being Itself. Once you grant this premise, then the rest of the argument seems to follow, because it is then simply a question of whether the divine persons are identical to the divine essence, or not. If the former, then there is a contradiction, and if the latter, then there is a contradiction. Either way, you have to give up a central Christian doctrine.

dguller said...

Ty:

Oh, and thanks for the kind comments on the previous thread.

Ty said...



Ty:

I don't think Brandon's points make a difference to my argument. My argument is based upon the fact that composite entities are combinations of essence and existence, and that God cannot be such a composite entity, but rather is such that the divine essence is Being Itself. Once you grant this premise, then the rest of the argument seems to follow, because it is then simply a question of whether the divine persons are identical to the divine essence, or not. If the former, then there is a contradiction, and if the latter, then there is a contradiction. Either way, you have to give up a central Christian doctrine."


mmmm, I think we need a more metaphysically rigorous account of identity. What does "is" *mean* when we say that "The Father/Son/Holy Spirit" is God, and what does it mean when we say that "The Father is not the Son", and so on. I see what you mean though

Ty said...

The Church doesn't phrase it "The Father/Son/Holy Spirit is the Divine Essence". It says "The Father/Son/Holy Spirit each fully possess the Divine Nature". I've never heard it worded the first way, and though I don't really *see* any way the two expressions differ, there might be a linguistic hint for us to chew on.

Ty said...

From another blog:
"(TR) It is not the case that the persons of the Trinity are proper parts, either metaphysical or physical.

For the persons of the Trinity all share fully in the divine essence; the Father is fully God, just as the Son is fully God, just as the Holy Spirit is fully God. To suppose the persons are proper parts of God would mean there is something G which is fully God, and that each person of the Trinity does not fully share in the essence of G (since, after all, G essentially has as proper parts each of the persons of the Trinity, whereas the same does not hold for each of the individual persons). Hence, the persons of the Trinity cannot be understood to be proper parts of God in any sense; hence, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity cannot contradict the minimal doctrine of divine simplicity.

This seems to show that the Church's teaching here is consistent; it is a separate matter whether Aquinas's teaching which includes the doctrine that God's essence = his existence, as well as that God is pure actuality, can be made consistent with the Trinity."

Perhaps this solves half of the problem?

dguller said...

Ty:

mmmm, I think we need a more metaphysically rigorous account of identity. What does "is" *mean* when we say that "The Father/Son/Holy Spirit" is God, and what does it mean when we say that "The Father is not the Son", and so on. I see what you mean though

What I mean is the “is” of total identity. In other words, X is Y iff X is totally identical to Y iff X does not differ from Y in any way.

For the persons of the Trinity all share fully in the divine essence; the Father is fully God, just as the Son is fully God, just as the Holy Spirit is fully God. To suppose the persons are proper parts of God would mean there is something G which is fully God, and that each person of the Trinity does not fully share in the essence of G (since, after all, G essentially has as proper parts each of the persons of the Trinity, whereas the same does not hold for each of the individual persons). Hence, the persons of the Trinity cannot be understood to be proper parts of God in any sense; hence, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity cannot contradict the minimal doctrine of divine simplicity.

To say that each divine person fully shares the divine essence must be clarified. What does “share fully” mean here? I think it means that each divine person has the entirety of the divine essence, without any residual leftovers. And whatever has the entirety of the divine essence is necessarily God. So, the divine essence is fully actualized in each divine person. And yet the divine persons are really distinct from one another, which means that there is something else in the divine persons other than the divine essence that explains the real distinction between them.

Say that you have three divine persons, P1, P2, and P3, a single divine essence E, and then something else that explains the real distinction between P1, P2 and P3, which you can call X. So, you have something like the following:

(1) P1 = E + X1
(2) P2 = E + X2
(3) P3 = E + X3

For example, the Son (= P1) fully has E plus the additional factor of being begotten (= X1), whereas the Father (= P2) fully has E plus the additional factor of being unbegotten (= X2).

Give that, we have a problem, because Aquinas has written that “Everything which is not the divine essence is a creature” (ST Ia, Q28, A2). And that makes sense, because the divine essence E is Being Itself, and anything other than Being itself depends upon Being for its existence, and thus is a creature.

The next thing to ask is whether X1 (or X2, or X3) is identical to E.

If X1 is identical to E, then they cannot differ in any way, which is a problem, because then you have no basis to differentiate between P1, P2 or P3. They all become the same divine person, which would falsify the Trinity, because the truth of the Trinity demands that the divine persons be really distinct. Therefore, X1 cannot be identical to E, and thus must be different from E.

However, if X1 is different from E, then X1 is a creature, since anything that is not-E is a creature, and then P1 is a combination of a creature and Being Itself, which is impossible, because then the divine persons cannot be pure act, but rather are combinations of act and potency.

So, you have the following logically exclusive propositions:

(1) X1 is identical to E
(2) X1 is not identical to E

Neither (1) nor (2) can be true, which is a logical contradiction, because (1) = not-(2) (and vice versa).

Scott said...

@Jack Chick:

"Further problems with A-T."

They're not "further" unless you've already established some prior problem with A-T, and you haven't. Or did you overlook my reply to your previous troll?

Brandon said...

So, you have the following logically exclusive propositions:

(1) X1 is identical to E
(2) X1 is not identical to E

Neither (1) nor (2) can be true, which is a logical contradiction, because (1) = not-(2) (and vice versa).


(1) and (2) are only logically exclusive in nonmodal contexts; one of the most fundamental features of modal logic is that ordinary identity relations -- which are typically defined in purely extensional terms -- do not work well when there is relevant modal information, because it is simply not precisely defined enough. And this happens even in very ordinary and (relatively) uninteresting modal contexts; Mary Ann Evans is identical to George Eliot types of contexts. It seems quite obvious that the Trinity would introduce a modal context.

An additional problem is that identity is not the relevant relation between anything else and its essence, so why it is suddenly insisted upon here is quite unclear.

Brandon said...

because it is simply not precisely defined enough

Sorry, that should be 'because they are' -- the subject is ordinary identity relations, which, being typically defined in purely extensional terms, are not precise enough to handle the introduction of intensional differences.

dguller said...

Brandon:

Can you elaborate, please?

Jinzang said...

Seems a good time to remind folks of the story of Augustine's encounter with a child.

http://www.frtommylane.com/stories/God/Trinity/saint_augustine.htm

Brandon said...

Dguller,

On what in particular? That intensional contexts mess with identity is a pretty well-known thing. If Mary Ann Evans is identical to George Eliot, this attribution of identity presupposes that we are holding all modalities constant. If we change modalities -- to take just a very simple case, from one doxastic context to another -- then many of the typical properties of identity (e.g., substitutivity, indiscernibility) fail. For instance, with doxastic contexts again, it can be the case that Mary Ann Evans is believed by many to be a woman and George Eliot is believed by many to be a man, and this means that the two are discernible despite the fact that identity seems to require indiscernibility. Much more sophisticated cases can be found, with all sorts of different other modalities, but the upshot is that you can only apply identity if you are presupposing no intensional or modal differences. But the Trinity seems to introduce intensional or modal differences -- the Church Fathers are quite explicit in characterizing it in modal or intensional terms, for instance. And thus it is not

(1) P1 = E + X1
(2) P2 = E + X2
(3) P3 = E + X3

but

(1) P1 = E qua X1
(2) P2 = E qua X2
(3) P3 = E qua X3

And the reduplications would obviously mess with any argument that depended on identity.

If you were asking about the relation between something and its essence, nothing we know directly is in a relation of total identity with its essence. One could say that this is because the relation is one of composition, which wouldn't apply to God, but there are many, many relations other than total identity, so its use here would still have to be justified. Simplicity won't do it, because simplicity isn't logical identity but noncomposition.

Brandon said...

with doxastic contexts again, it can be the case that Mary Ann Evans is believed by many to be a woman and George Eliot is believed by many to be a man

A more lucid example might be 'Mary Ann Evans is believed by most people to be a woman' and 'George Eliot is believed by most people to be a man'.

Anonymous said...

@ Feser. Thanks for the good laugh. I really enjoyed the Jack Chick casting call barb.

Further problems with A-T. A-T as presented by most modern scholars is an exercise in inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning is MUCH weaker than deductive reasoning. "While the conclusion of a deductive argument is supposed to be certain, the truth of an inductive argument is supposed to be probable, based upon the evidence given," (Essentials of Logic, Copi and Cohen). So in reality much of A-T falls into the class of probable but NOT certain conclusions. The Bible on the other hand falls into the category of DEDUCTIVE reasoning. Thus the Bible is MUCH more reliable than any inductive argument presented by A-T.

As a result A-T is ONLY in a position to make a whipping boy out of the village atheist. Thus Feser in his typical bombastic and polemic style enjoys pummeling the Atheist of the week.

In contrast, the deductive reasoning of Bible theology and hermeneutics can pummel A-T morning, noon, and night. The only weapon that A-T has in its fight against Bible theology is biblical illiteracy and lack of deductive reasoning. In reality this means A-T reasoning is much more like the village atheist than they realize.

Eric and Scott inquired about my philosophical framework. My philosophy is very simple bring the biggest weapon you have into an intellectual fight. The deductive power of the Bible is like bringing a machine gun, while the A-T apologist brings his knife, and the atheist brings is pea-shooter to the fight. So Feser and his disciples amuse themselves by making sport of the atheist, while the Bible scholar makes sport of both the A-T apologists and the village atheist.
Even Aquinas stated: “Everything that I have written seems like straw to me compared to those things that I have seen and have been revealed to me.” Clearly, he must have had some powerful revelation to make such a statement. The Bible is God’s revelation to man and in that light A-T is STRAW compared to the Bible.
Thus you can study the STRAW of A-T or the MEAT of God’s Word.

Bottomline: Are you man enough to study God’s Word or are you pansy playing in the sandbox of A-T?

Anonymous said...

"Even Aquinas stated: “Everything that I have written seems like straw to me compared to those things that I have seen and have been revealed to me.” Clearly, he must have had some powerful revelation to make such a statement."

It's also said that God spoke to Aquinas informing him how well he'd written about him. A bit of Aquinas lore I'm sure you reject.

Truth be told, your posts aren't worth responding to any further. You make both theological and philosophical assertions. When challenged to explain your position on either, you ignore the challenge and move to another assertion. If you're making a sincere attempt to get people's attention around here, that's about the worst way to go about it.

Eric

Ty(ron G) said...

Oh! I see there's another 'Ty' commenting here.

Scott, thank you for your interest in the edited volume. I'm afraid it's only available in hardcover for now. I hope it will be made available in paperback some time. But it was only published a few months ago.

Scott said...

@Ty(ron G):

"Scott, thank you for your interest in the edited volume. I'm afraid it's only available in hardcover for now. I hope it will be made available in paperback some time."

Thanks, I'll keep an eye out for it. And congrats on publication. It looks like an excellent collection.

dguller said...

Brandon:

I still don’t understand.

First, where in my argument does it necessarily appeal to modal concepts? Certainly, doxastic factors aren’t relevant at all.

Second, are you sure that the Church Fathers characterize the Trinity according to necessary and sufficient conditions, i.e. an intensional definition? I doubt that something as mysterious as the Trinity could ever be given necessary and sufficient conditions, which would put it under the purview of human rationality, and thus not be a mystery at all.

Third, saying that P1 = E qua X1 does not help, I think. The question remains where X1 originates. It cannot originate in E, because then E could not be pure act. Thus, it must originate elsewhere, i.e. not-E, but again, anything that is not-E is a creature, and thus X1 originates in a creature, which means that prior to creation, X1 could not exist, which is absurd from a Trinitarian framework.

Fourth, if “identity is not the relevant relation between anything else and its essence”, then doesn’t that also compromise divine simplicity, which basically says that divine attributes are all identical in reality, i.e. have the exact same referent, and only seem to be different from our limited and finite perspectives? It seems that identity is precisely a core part of understanding divine simplicity, and thus I am unsure why you object to its inclusion in a discussion that involves divine simplicity.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

Sorry for an off-topic comment, but can someone - ideally, Professor Feser himself - please spell out the best way of showing the instrumentality of all the (secondary) causes ordered per se discussed in the First Way?
It seems that I have a predicament, as I seem to be missing something that used to be rather obvious.
It's a torture!..

From Russia with love!

P.S.
I've thoroughly enjoyed both "Aquinas" and "TLS" and have recently ordered "Aristotle on Method and Metaphysics" and "Philosophy of Mind". I take this opportunity to thank Prof. Feser for all the wonderful thomistic insights. That, and restoring my sanity and common sense.

Scott said...

@Georgi:

In a per se series, the causes are instrumental by definition. This post may help.

Scott said...

@Georgi:

There has also been some recent discussion of the subject in the comments in this thread.

Brandon said...

First, where in my argument does it necessarily appeal to modal concepts? Certainly, doxastic factors aren’t relevant at all.

It doesn't. Hence its failure when applied to intensional contexts: most arguments relying heavily on identity fail in contexts involving intensional differences.

On the intensional definition point, we aren't dealing with intensional definition; intensional definitions depend on intensions, but we aren't dealing with definitions here, just intensional distinctions.

Third, saying that P1 = E qua X1 does not help, I think. The question remains where X1 originates. It cannot originate in E, because then E could not be pure act. Thus, it must originate elsewhere, i.e. not-E, but again, anything that is not-E is a creature, and thus X1 originates in a creature, which means that prior to creation, X1 could not exist, which is absurd from a Trinitarian framework.

I don't quite know what you mean by 'originates'. If you simply mean logical dependence of some sort, then of course the reduplication can 'originate' in E.

Fourth, if “identity is not the relevant relation between anything else and its essence”, then doesn’t that also compromise divine simplicity, which basically says that divine attributes are all identical in reality, i.e. have the exact same referent, and only seem to be different from our limited and finite perspectives? It seems that identity is precisely a core part of understanding divine simplicity, and thus I am unsure why you object to its inclusion in a discussion that involves divine simplicity.

No, and this is quite fundamentally important: the doctrine of divine simplicity does not say "divine attributes are all identical in reality". Divine simplicity does not involve any appeal to identity at all. You do find some analytic philosophers trying to stuff it in, but this is because they haven't grasped the fact that the Latin word identitas just means sameness of some kind (in fact, its usual, although not exclusive, meaning is sameness in kind). And even there, that divine attributes, assuming certain things about them, exhibit identitas is a consequence, not the foundation of divine simplicity, which is noncomposition.

It should be noted incidentally, that while identity in the strict sense does apply sameness of referent, the latter implication is not true. Sameness of referent can exist without identity (one of the ways it can exist is in intensional contexts).

Glenn said...

Anonymous,

The Bible on the other hand falls into the category of DEDUCTIVE reasoning.

Bottomline: Are you man enough to study God’s Word or are you pansy playing in the sandbox of A-T?

What does the savvy application of your hermeneutical skills enable you to deduce from Matthew 5:39?

Brandon said...

I'm just not having luck with final revisions here. The last paragraph should read:

It should be noted, incidentally, that while identity in the strict sense does apply sameness of referent, the reverse implication is not true. Sameness of referent can exist without identity (one of the ways it can exist is in intensional contexts).

Will Dunkirk said...

First I must say that I highly enjoyed this article Professor Feser :) I love your writing style and how you make philosophical difficulties so clear and intelligible for the layman.

But as for this:

"as the deity of theistic personalism is -- essentially “one of us” (as the Joan Osborne song puts it). "

This I find, however, to be extremely alarming. Thinking of God as some disembodied, but super-intelligent and powerful man -with things like intelligence, personality or power being literally attributes of him- is a non-starter.

Anonymous said...

...and that's of course Feser's point.

Daniel Smith said...

And it is definitely a mistake [...] to start with the idea that God is, like us, an instance of the kind or genus “person,” who instantiates some of the same properties that other persons do, but has them to a higher degree and lacks some of the other properties (such as corporeality). [...] or that he is one instance among others of a kind, or that like those others he instantiates properties, etc.,

I'm no expert on theistic personalism (TP) so I can't say for sure, but my Protestant background suggests that this is a slight mischaracterization. I doubt for instance that TP "starts with" that premise.

I would think that TP is based, in part, on Genesis 1:26-27:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, [...]” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

TP then, would be a 'top-down' system as opposed to a 'bottom-up' one. The argument would proceed from the fact that we are made in God's image - not the other way around. So it's unlikely that any proponent of TP would characterize it in the way stated above. They would probably argue instead that - since we are created in God's image - we are something like him, that we share some qualities and characteristics.

Also, the impression given of TP above is that the genus "person" is somehow equivalent to the genus "human" and that God is "like humans only better". But I doubt sincerely that any TP advocate would ever say that man and God are of the same genus. If that's the case, TP doesn't anthropomorphize God any more than it deifies man.

Anonymous said...

@Eric,

My goal is to show the phase space of knowledge (adopting a physics term in this context) that you may not have considered.

I have given two counterexamples to the ideas of simplicity and God being pure Act, namely the Trinity and the Incarnation. Another person on this blog agreed with me and provided a good explanation.

I ask the Feser disciples to use their sophistry to refute these two counterexamples. but they cannot. So Eric man up.

In reality,to have any productive dialog with the people on this blog would require a person to be well versed in theology, hermeneutics, philosophy, and mathematics(Hilbert spaces, Cantor set, and measure theory), and ontological arguments.

A-T does not explicitly address ontological arguments, which is also one of its fundamental weaknesses.


Thus Eric, I claim the ball is in your court and you need to man up if you want to refute my assertions. Otherwise I think it best to be silent. The Bible says in Proverbs that the fool appears wise when he does not speak.

I have been on these type of blogs before and I have found that most people are more interested in defending their sin than coming to a real relationship with Christ. Usually if they are men, they probably have an unhealthy attachment to alcohol, cigars, or other unhealthy vice.

Bottomline: If people are interested in knowing God then I can help, but if people are more interested in A-T onanism than they are better left in their deception. Christ is the God of the living, not of dead pagan philosophers or institutions of have created a syncretic mess of pagan philosophy, pagan practices, superstitions, forged decretals.

Scott said...

@Daniel Smith:

"I doubt sincerely that any TP advocate would ever say that man and God are of the same genus."

I don't have any trouble finding statements from theistic personalists that God is a person. (Plantinga, for example: "God is a person without a body." Or Swinburne: "God is a person.") Now I suppose this language might be analogical, but on the face of it it seems to mean, or at least to entail/imply, that God and humans both belong to the genus person.

Scott said...

@Daniel Smith:

Appropriately enough, you can hear Swinburne make the point here. The first thirty seconds or so will confirm that Ed's characterization is pretty much spot on.

dguller said...

Brandon:

It doesn't. Hence its failure when applied to intensional contexts: most arguments relying heavily on identity fail in contexts involving intensional differences.

Then you have to demonstrate that a discussion about the compatibility between divine simplicity and the Trinity is necessarily an intensional context.

On the intensional definition point, we aren't dealing with intensional definition; intensional definitions depend on intensions, but we aren't dealing with definitions here, just intensional distinctions.

Just so we are an on the same page, what do you mean by an “intensional”? Do you mean sense as opposed to referent? Do you mean connotation as opposed to denotation? Do you mean something else?

No, and this is quite fundamentally important: the doctrine of divine simplicity does not say "divine attributes are all identical in reality". Divine simplicity does not involve any appeal to identity at all. You do find some analytic philosophers trying to stuff it in, but this is because they haven't grasped the fact that the Latin word identitas just means sameness of some kind (in fact, its usual, although not exclusive, meaning is sameness in kind). And even there, that divine attributes, assuming certain things about them, exhibit identitas is a consequence, not the foundation of divine simplicity, which is noncomposition.

Fine. Identity of divine attributes follows from non-composition of God. But so what? If there is a kind of identity that is a logical consequence of divine simplicity, then you cannot say that identity is necessarily inappropriate in discussions of divine simplicity. Remember that you wrote that “simplicity isn't logical identity but noncomposition”, but if non-composition necessarily implies logical identity, then one can falsify non-composition by falsifying logical identity.

It should be noted, incidentally, that while identity in the strict sense does apply sameness of referent, the reverse implication is not true. Sameness of referent can exist without identity (one of the ways it can exist is in intensional contexts).

I think that it would be more appropriate to say that one kind of identity can exist without other kinds of identity being present. After all, if X and Y have the same referent R, then you cannot also deny the presence of identity, because X and Y have identical referents. Sure, that does not mean that X and Y are identical in every way, because they surely differ in terms of our conceptions of them, i.e. have different senses.

Anonymous said...

"My goal is to show the phase space of knowledge (adopting a physics term in this context) that you may not have considered."

Fair enough, but it seems pretty clear you feel the posters here have no "space of knowledge" that is worth considering. That's fine by me.


"I have given two counterexamples to the ideas of simplicity and God being pure Act, namely the Trinity and the Incarnation. Another person on this blog agreed with me and provided a good explanation."

Would you consider an position that wasn't your own? I doubt you would. I could be wrong, but I think the poster you find agreeing with you is an atheist who denies the Trinity altogether. Have fun explaining to him with your fideistic prowess why he should accept it. I doubt you'll try though.

"In reality,to have any productive dialog with the people on this blog would require a person to be well versed in theology, hermeneutics, philosophy, and mathematics(Hilbert spaces, Cantor set, and measure theory), and ontological arguments."

Agreed, and many of the individuals that post here are versed in some, if not all of those areas. I don't see why that matters to you though. You've already made it clear you think philosophy is useless. So based off the requirements, you should dismiss yourself from the discussion.

"Thus Eric, I claim the ball is in your court and you need to man up if you want to refute my assertions. Otherwise I think it best to be silent. The Bible says in Proverbs that the fool appears wise when he does not speak."

Nah, I'm going to let you play ball by yourself. That's all you really want to do anyway.

"I have been on these type of blogs before and I have found that most people are more interested in defending their sin than coming to a real relationship with Christ. Usually if they are men, they probably have an unhealthy attachment to alcohol, cigars, or other unhealthy vice."

I have absolutely no idea where this came from. I'm quite certain you haven't seen anyone here defending alcohol (alcoholism), cigars, or "unhealthy vices".

"Bottomline: If people are interested in knowing God then I can help, but if people are more interested in A-T onanism than they are better left in their deception. Christ is the God of the living, not of dead pagan philosophers or institutions of have created a syncretic mess of pagan philosophy, pagan practices, superstitions, forged decretals."

I don't know much, but I know a pompous ass when I see one. Your posts have in no way, shape, or form given the impression that you could lead me to a better relationship with Christ. Oh, and shouldn't you have said Christ is A god of the living? That's what you said earlier. Remember?

"Chirst before 0 AD was a God without a body."

No wonder the concept of divine simplicity eludes you. You think Christ is just A god. You're a polytheist.

Eric





Brandon said...

Then you have to demonstrate that a discussion about the compatibility between divine simplicity and the Trinity is necessarily an intensional context.

No, I just have to point out that the doctrine of Trinity is usually explicated in intensional terms. Which it is, as I've pointed out. Further, failure of extensional properties of logical identity is one of the standard tests of whether we are dealing with an intensional context; the next question is whether we are dealing with a coherent one, which is a much harder question.

Just so we are an on the same page, what do you mean by an “intensional”?

I mean intensional in the standard sense: as opposed to extensional (as I already explicitly pointed out) and in the sense in which another name for modal logic is intensional logic.

Fine. Identity of divine attributes follows from non-composition of
God. But so what?


Are you even reading what I'm saying? -- I've already had to repeat, in this response alone, several things I've pointed out explicitly before: (1) the reason why intensions are relevant; (2) that intensional is opposed to extensional and linked to modal logic; and now (3) that identitas, the Latin word, follows from simplicity, which I had just in the previous sentences distinguished from identity in our usual sense. It's a false cognate.

Remember that you wrote that “simplicity isn't logical identity but noncomposition”, but if non-composition necessarily implies logical identity, then one can falsify non-composition by falsifying logical identity.

You could if it did, but it doesn't. In modal logics logical identity has a very restricted scope, because it cannot handle intensional differences, and modal logics are logics of intensional implications and differences. Where intensional differences are relevant, all the major properties of logical identity can fail: indiscernibility always, substitutivity often, sometimes transitivity, sometimes symmetry. And again, this is not some super-secret fact, but a very well-known one. But noncompositional unity and compositional unity are both capable of operating in modal or intensional contexts -- such contexts are their natural home, in fact.

I think that it would be more appropriate to say that one kind of identity can exist without other kinds of identity being present. After all, if X and Y have the same referent R, then you cannot also deny the presence of identity, because X and Y have identical referents.

There's an obvious problem here, which is that you are assuming again that there is no intensional context to worry about: if X and Y have the same referent R, it only follows that they have identical referents if there is no relevant intensional difference. There are lots of examples that show that it can fail, e.g., personal identity: 'Brandon' used of me yesterday and today have the same referent. However, the sameness of the reference is not logical identity: Brandon yesterday and Brandon today are not indiscernible and not perfectly intersubstitutable. Personal identity is thus a kind of sameness of reference that is not identity in the strict sense (and it could not, for instance, be plugged into your argument without breaking it). The reason is that difference in time is a modal or intensional difference that is relevant. And there are endlessly many others. You can only get identity, in the proper sense, from sameness of reference if you have guaranteed that there are no relevant intensional differences.

Anonymous said...

@Eric

I claim that A-T has been shown empirically and philosophically not be an effective method for getting someone to Christ.

Fideism and presuppositional apologetics are much better approaches for leading someone to Christ. Why? John closes his gospel by saying "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:31)

Even Jesus answered, "I am the WAY and the TRUTH and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6). Jesus NEVER said that we could come to the knowledge of God through classical theism ( which had been around for 400 years), or the Natural Law( around for over 500 years), or philosophy. Jesus is the ONLY way to come to the knowledge of God. A-T is NOT the way. Notice the progression, if we have not found the way, we will not have found TRUTH. Without truth there is NO life.

So I stand by my claim, because I have both empirical and theoretical data that tells me the same. A-T discussions will never help any sincere atheist come to a knowledge of the truth.

To the sincere atheist I give you the words of St. Paul the apostle:
"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8)

A-T is built on empty deceit according to the human tradition of Aristotle, Aquinas and Muslim philosophers.

Anonymous said...

@Anon...

I presuppose you're wrong about A-T.

Eric

dguller said...

Brandon:

No, I just have to point out that the doctrine of Trinity is usually explicated in intensional terms. Which it is, as I've pointed out.

Can you support this claim?

Further, failure of extensional properties of logical identity is one of the standard tests of whether we are dealing with an intensional context; the next question is whether we are dealing with a coherent one, which is a much harder question.

Help me out here. Say you have the following propositions:

(1) X is P
(2) Y is Q
(3) X is identical to Y

Say furthermore that the final result is that (1), (2) and (3) are logically contradictory. It seems that you are claiming that what we should infer is not that we must reject (1), (2) or (3), but rather that we must infer that the context of the three propositions is an intensional one. Is that true? Or perhaps you mean that it might be an intensional context, but not necessarily one?

I mean intensional in the standard sense: as opposed to extensional (as I already explicitly pointed out) and in the sense in which another name for modal logic is intensional logic.

Again, help me out here. It seems that when you say that a discussion involving the Trinity must be within an intensional context, what you mean is that it must necessarily utilize modal logic. But, my understanding of modal logic, which is extremely limited, is that it applies when one uses propositions involving necessity, possibility, temporality, normativity, or psychological states. So, again, I think that you would have to show that any discussion of the Trinity would have to appeal to one of those modalities, which you haven’t yet done.

Are you even reading what I'm saying? -- I've already had to repeat, in this response alone, several things I've pointed out explicitly before: (1) the reason why intensions are relevant; (2) that intensional is opposed to extensional and linked to modal logic; and now (3) that identitas, the Latin word, follows from simplicity, which I had just in the previous sentences distinguished from identity in our usual sense. It's a false cognate.

But you haven’t demonstrated (1) that intensions are relevant to this particular discussion, (2) that therefore, modal logic must be applied in this discussion, and that (3) if the kind of identity (or identitas) that follows from simplicity is false, then simplicity is false. So, the simplest thing for you to do is to demonstrate that all discussions of the Trinity that involve logical inferences must involve intensional and modal logic.

But noncompositional unity and compositional unity are both capable of operating in modal or intensional contexts -- such contexts are their natural home, in fact.

Again, could you demonstrate this?

dguller said...

There are lots of examples that show that it can fail, e.g., personal identity: 'Brandon' used of me yesterday and today have the same referent. However, the sameness of the reference is not logical identity: Brandon yesterday and Brandon today are not indiscernible and not perfectly intersubstitutable. Personal identity is thus a kind of sameness of reference that is not identity in the strict sense (and it could not, for instance, be plugged into your argument without breaking it). The reason is that difference in time is a modal or intensional difference that is relevant. And there are endlessly many others. You can only get identity, in the proper sense, from sameness of reference if you have guaranteed that there are no relevant intensional differences.

Or, perhaps another way to look at it is that Brandon yesterday and Brandon today are different spatio-temporal parts of the spatio-temporal entity known as Brandon. So, they have the same referent in terms of belonging to the same whole, but differ in terms of being different parts of that whole.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I just don’t see how any of this is relevant. Either E is totally identical to X, or E is not totally identical to X. If E differs in any way from X, then E is not totally identical to X, and vice versa. That should remain true whether in an intensional or extensional context. Sure, in an intensional context, perhaps nothing would be totally identical to anything else, according to my definition of “totally identical”, but so what? That doesn’t help your position at all. Say that you are correct, it would follow that E is not totally identical to X, which means that X is a creature, because anything other than Being Itself is a creature that depends upon Being Itself, and thus the divine persons could not exist before creation.

Anonymous said...

@Eric

You have already admitted that you don't know very much, so it is doubtful that you have the intellectual horsepower to even assess if I am wrong about A-T. You probably don't even know what presuppositional apologetics is.

As I have said before a worthy adversary would have to be knowledgeable about theology, philosophy, mathematics, apologetics, and ontological arguments.

You have only proven that you are an intellectual troglodyte.

Anonymous said...

Err folks - could I possibly request that you dial it back, just slightly?

Scott said...

"Err folks - could I possibly request that you dial it back, just slightly?"

Done—on my part, anyway.

The Deuce said...

Eric:

Your posts have in no way, shape, or form given the impression that you could lead me to a better relationship with Christ.

Well, see, that's just cause you don't already agree with him, and as such it makes no sense to you (using the corrupt thing we call "logic") that engaging in vicious and pompous windbaggery would lead people to Christ. If you already agreed with him, then you'd realize that he's right. #themagicofpresuppositionalism

Mr. Green said...

Anonymous: I have been on these type of blogs before and I have found that most people are more interested in defending their sin than coming to a real relationship with Christ. Usually if they are men, they probably have an unhealthy attachment to alcohol, cigars, or other unhealthy vice.

Well, this is certainly one of the more entertaining trolls we've had in a while.


The Phase Space of Knowledge!
A Play in One Act


The Players:
Edward G. Robinson as Ed
Dean Martin as Eric
Sidney Greenstreet as Glenn
J. Jonah Jameson as Mr. Green
Thurston Howell III as Scott
and
Peter Sellers as the anonymous Coward


Anonymous Coward: [with hairshirt and crazy look in his eyes] Repent! Repent!! Forsake your brawling, bawdy vices of thought and contemplation!!!

Scott: [puffing on Cuban cigar] Good Lawd! How did he get in here? Somebody call security!

Eric: [downing martinis in a single gulp] Are you telling me this cat's for real? I need a refill!

Mr. Green: [not bothering to remove the cigar from his mouth while pounding his fist on the table] This guy's a menace! I won't rest until he's run out of town!

A. Cow.: Give up your straw! It's all straw! Or I'll huff and I'll puff...!!

Glenn: [pouring himself some more wine] Harrmph! You can't build bricks without straw, by gad!

Ed: [one cigar in the corner of his mouth, one in his hand, a whiskey in his other hand, and jazz playing in the background] Listen, see? We're gonna rub dis guy out, see? 100% cement overshoes + 100% river water = 100% problem solved. It's simple (logic), see?!?

Brandon said...

Or, perhaps another way to look at it is that Brandon yesterday and Brandon today are different spatio-temporal parts of the spatio-temporal entity known as Brandon. So, they have the same referent in terms of belonging to the same whole, but differ in terms of being different parts of that whole.

And sameness of reference in this sense is also not logical identity because it also violates indiscernibility.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I just don’t see how any of this is relevant. Either E is totally identical to X, or E is not totally identical to X. If E differs in any way from X, then E is not totally identical to X, and vice versa. That should remain true whether in an intensional or extensional context.

No, precisely the point it doesn't remain true in intensional contexts, because 'total identity' requires indiscernibility, and your argument as far as I can see relied on it to get the two identity statements to be logically exclusive and contradictories, can only be had in intensional contexts when you have guaranteed that there are no relevant intensional differences.

Sure, in an intensional context, perhaps nothing would be totally identical to anything else, according to my definition of “totally identical”, but so what? That doesn’t help your position at all. Say that you are correct, it would follow that E is not totally identical to X, which means that X is a creature, because anything other than Being Itself is a creature that depends upon Being Itself, and thus the divine persons could not exist before creation.

This doesn't even remotely make any sense whatsoever. 'Total identity' is not the only sameness relation -- it's easy to construct sameness relations that do not require indiscernibility or perfect intersubstitutability (you just constructed one yourself for personal identity using the part-whole relation, off the top of your head!). To get X as something other than E requires something much, much stronger than rejecting logical identity which, as I have pointed out repeatedly, has limited value for talking about sameness in intensional contexts, which typically allow indiscernibility violations.

And this is obvious if you stop to think about it: if nothing were totally identical to anything else (which is stronger than my claim, incidentally), then when we say that A is the same as B, we would never naturally mean that they are totally identical, so saying that A is other than B would never naturally be understood by anyone as mere violation of total identity. It would make your argument even worse: instead of simply running afoul of the logical problems created by modal contexts, which anyone could do, you would be trying to run on argument entirely by equivocating on what people mean by the 'same'. That would be a much worse logical error than what you're actually doing.

George said...

@ Everybody
Many Catholics and Atheists think that Jesus was all about love and said nothing harsh. Well Jesus called the religious leaders a “brood of Vipers”. He was also very harsh to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) and the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:22-28). Would his harshness NOT steer them away from him? NO it did not. It actually had the opposite effect.
The reason people don’t believe in God is very simple. It has NOTHING to do with reason and everything to do with WILL. I frequently ask, if I could prove to you that God exists, would you be willing to change your lifestyle? That means repenting for you sins and changing your lifestyle. The usual response is no or not sure. This tells me that people don’t have a reason problem in knowing God, but a faith problem. A faith problem is MUCH easier to solve than a reason problem. Faith can be increased by reading the Gospel of John 3 times. I have led many to Christ by using this principle, and the hardest atheists crumble after reading the Gospel of John three times. Christianity is a revelatory religion. God ONLY reveals himself to those who are WILLING to repent for their sins. Believing in God is the objective in A-T, but the Bible’s objective is different. The Bible requires a changed life through a personal relationship with God. This can ONLY be done through a knowledge of God that comes by God revealing Himself in a supernatural way to the sinner.

In reality TRUE Christianity is VERY logical. As I have said before, it requires a good knowledge of DEDUCTIVE logic. The real issue is that people are not well versed with deductive logic and are biblically illiterate. They then make false assertions about the Bible. This biblically illiteracy is seen in many Catholics, Protestants, and Atheists.
One of the problems with inductive reasoning is that there is always the possibility of new data or evidence that invalidates previous conclusions. This is why A-T does not bring thing to closure, it always leaves a person lacking, because a person is always searching for more data. The Bible on the other hand is the verbal plenary inspired Word of God. The word plenary means complete. Therefore, It is complete and does not leave an honest seeker lacking.

Brandon said...

Sorry, I completely misread on one of dguller's sentences in the part starting with 'Anyway, the bottom line' (and misrevised it into gibberish, anyway, sigh) so ignore that paragraph of response. The response to what he actually said should be:

'Either E is totally identical to X, or E is not totally identical to X' is true in purely extensional contexts, or when there are no relevant intensional differences so that they can be ignored; but it's a category mistake to apply it outside such contexts -- there are simply no criteria for doing so, so it is, as far as I can see, undefined. It's like insisting that either N is divisible by everything or it is not divisible by everything, even when someone brings up 0; the person insisting on disjunction is simply not being sufficiently specific about how the claim is supposed to relate to the criteria for talking about divisibility. I suppose one could simply take the Not disjunct, taking it as what's called an infinite or indefinite claim, but that's not very informative, and it won't get you very far.

Tony said...

I claim that A-T has been shown empirically and philosophically not be an effective method for getting someone to Christ.

Well, Anon, then you lose the argument, because A-T has been shown empirically to get AT LEAST ONE person to take seriously the Bible and Christian teaching, and thus to come to believe. I know of specific individuals who are believing Christians because they first ran into A-T philosophy, and from there eventually turned to the Bible and Christianity.

The fact that A-T philosophy cannot get you salvific faith on it own only proves that it is not a COMPLETE model of salvation, it does nothing to prove that it cannot be a part of the pathway God uses to bring a person to salvation. Anything connected to the truth can be part of such a pathway, because all truth is connected to Jesus who is the Truth.

Scott said...

@George:

"One of the problems with inductive reasoning is that there is always the possibility of new data or evidence that invalidates previous conclusions. This is why A-T does not bring thing to closure, it always leaves a person lacking, because a person is always searching for more data."

So tomorrow something might come into being without a cause, or something might be found to be and not to be at the same time and in the same respect, and so we can never be certain that Aquinas's metaphysical demonstrations are sound?

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@Scott

Thanks so much!
After reading the relevant passages of Fr. Joyce's book I saw the circularity (?) involved in positing multiple 'per accidens' chains to account for the reduction of potency to act.
It's just that I lent my copy of "TLS" to an atheist friend - getting books from the US takes time, you know - and for some reason I find the exposition of the argument in "TLS" to be somewhat more persuasive, not quite sure why, though.

@anonymous fideist/presuppositionalist (?)
@George

Here's some empirical data: A-T has first made me aware of God's existence, and then led me to Christ.
Perhaps there's something wrong with me, but I don't really believe
the Bible to be self-evidently divinely inspired. Quoting St. Augustine:‘I would not believe in the Gospels were it not for the authority of the Catholic Church’. At any rate, leaving my Catholic sympathies aside, I think one needs a good reason to treat something as divinely inspired/revealed. Were I not convinced of God's existence, I reckon I would read the Bible in a very different way.
To quote another saint, ‘Beware the man of a single book'. And yes, I'm well aware that the Bible is actually more of a library. But written word is indeed powerful, and that power does not necessarily come from the Almighty.
Think of all the people so impressed with contemporary pop-atheist tracts they think the very idea of there being a God is ridiculous. Yes, ignorance of philosophy plays a part, but doesn't that necessitate good philosophy? 'Sola passio' is a terrible guiding principle.
What you're advocating is private revelation en masse. I urge you not to tempt the Lord, although His ways are indeed mysterious, I'm positive that's not it.

George said...

@Tony,

I agree truth cannot contradict truth, but if your friends are Catholics than they are NOT authentic Christians. Catholicism is a counterfeit Christianity built on a deliberately corrupted Latin Vulgate that promoted the pagan errors of sacramental theology, veneration of saints, and pagan ministerial priesthood. Even Cardinal Newman admitted that 75% of Catholic dogma is of pagan origin. So Catholicism is a mixture of 75% paganism and 25%Christianity. These are waters I would not drink from.

@Scott
Aquinas was correct about a few things, but wrong on a bunch more. The Summa is composed of hundreds of pages of syllogisms. Most would laugh at the primitive logic used by Aquinas in trying to make his point. Furthermore, apologetic arguments about causes can be done independently of A-T. For example the Kalaam cosmological argument is independent of A-T and also addresses causes. Protestants all use teleological and natural law arguments. Thus A-T does not have the corner on ALL apologetic arguments. Unlike A-T, Protestants like to invoke arguments that involve apologetic arguments about time (beginnings and ends)that A-T cannot do. Also A-T cannot discuss ontological arguments. Thus A-T is not as profound of a metaphysical framework as some Thomists like to believe.

The greatest truths are in the Bible. A person truly interested in truth would SEEK to understand the Bible as much as possible. My experience most people give lip service to truth. They would rather live in spiritual bondage and misery than freedom, victory, abundant life, and TRUTH.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

One ought to back up such a strong claim.
That would prove difficult, though, as you seem to be ill-informed.
Unless you have proof of St. Hieronymus' foul intent, that ridiculous claim is dismissed, surely you don't expect us to buy into a sheer conspiracy theory?.. How odd that Christian East retained the very concepts you describe as pagan, given that the Eastern Church had access to the original of the Gospel.
Catholic priesthood is sacrificial. And, say, Old Testament-religion had it. I hope you're not about to say that God commanded His people to, urm, go pagan? Our Lord obviously didn't share your opinion.

And would you be so kind as to present the exact quote of the blessed cardinal?

Scott said...

@Georgi (and anyone else who may be interested):

I think very highly of Joyce's Principles of Natural Theology and recommend it without reservation. That link is to a reprint available through Amazon (which I have and for which I can vouch), but it's also available online along with lots of other good stuff.

George said...

@Georgy,

I lived in Russia for one year and I can say that the Russian Orthodox church is more corrupt than the Roman Catholic Church. The Tzars controlled the Orthodox for 500 years and placed many exiled family memmbers as monks and priests. The Orthodox church is more interested in politics than in its core mandate of preaching the Gospel of Jesus to a lost and dying world.

All people make private interpretations every day. You have to make a private interpretation if the RCC is a better church than an Orthodox or Protestant church. You have to make a private interpretation if you should trust A-T. Fact Orthodox reject A-T, scholasticism, and the Papacy. Thus only a fool refuses to make private interpretations. Christ preached to individuals and repeatedly commanded people to make private interpretations.

The Latin Vulgate corruption is a long discussion. The short answer is that Jerome had a good translation, but over the centuries this version became more and more corrupt. By the time of Aquinas the Latin Vulgate had been completely corrupted even relative to the version produced by Jerome. Erasmus, a Catholic, and Luther pointed out these corruptions and this is why new Bibles were produced during the Reformation by both Protestants and Catholic.

The ONLY genuine manuscripts are the Textus Receptus and Septuagint which were written in Greek. The Masoretic text is a 10th century Hebriew corruption of the Old Testament Hebrew, by Jews who wanted to remove Messianic references from the Old Testament.

Thus it is important to be properly equipped and understand ALL the issues. Unfortunately, the Devil has been busy ensnaring people with schemes for 1000's of years and produced a lot of corruption and pagan philosophy in the process.

I personally will ONLY use a Bible built upon the Textus Receptus which is the Luther Bible or any modern Bible.

The Russian Bible written in an Old Slavonic is a poor translation of the Textus Receptus and this is why I would recommend reading the Gospel of John three times. If you do this, God will speak to you and than you can determine if you want to give up your sins and becomae an authentic Christian.

Glenn said...

George,

1. I would recommend reading the Gospel of John three times. If you do this, God will speak to you and than [sic] you can determine if you want to give up your sins[.]

Are we to take it that you have repented of your earlier insistence that, "God ONLY reveals himself to those who are WILLING to repent for their sins"?

2. Christ preached to individuals and repeatedly commanded people to make private interpretations.

If you believe this, then -- and so as not to be thought of as being hypocritical -- it behooves you to recognize that:

a) not everyone will agree with you (since, per Christ's command, others will have their own private interpretations);

b) your private interpretations are not binding on others (for the reason that Christ commanded that they should make their own private interpretations); and,

c) any attempt on your part to obtrude (your private interpretations) upon others is tantamount to precluding or subverting their efforts to abide by the command of Christ (that they are to make their own private interpretations).

3. I have read John more than three times, and, though I do find it somewhat embarrassing to acknowledge this, I have consistently failed to notice therein where it says, "Whoever does what is true according to George, comes to the light."

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

I lived in Russia for one year and I can say that the Russian Orthodox church is more corrupt than the Roman Catholic Church.

That may be fine and dandy (though it's not: I think the Orthodox ARE in fact wrong, and caesaropapism is probably the chief reason, being the principal cause of the break with Rome etc., including the systematic neglect of divine comission; generalizations of this sort will get you absolutely nowhere), but that's irrelevant. I'm a former atheist converting to Catholicism. At any rate, were I Orthodox I would still be able to recognise your comment for what it is: a red herring.
You have to make a private interpretation if the RCC is a better church than an Orthodox or Protestant church. You have to make a private interpretation if you should trust A-T. <...> Fact Orthodox reject A-T, scholasticism, and the Papacy. Thus only a fool refuses to make private interpretations.

Urm, no surprise there. Of course it's about choice. But the will follows upon the intellect, as St. Thomas would be happy to inform you. Choices are supposed to be rational. It's a basic demand of intellectual honesty. Three things need to be considered: philosophy, history and (therefore) Church Tradition (including the Bible). These are sufficient to preclude me becoming Protestant. Here's a Cardinal Newman quote: 'To be steeped in history is to cease being Protestant'. The early Church (the one built up by the Apostles) was Catholic in it's theology and government. That’s what makes the Catholic Church ‘a better Church’. What’s even more certain is that it wasn’t Protestant. Or Georgian, and I mean neither the country in the Caucases nor the US state (it was also quite dissimilar to religion being practiced in Britain under the Hannoverians). You get what I mean.
The reason I'm not Eastern Orthodox is really simple: the unhistoric, unscriptural, incoherent and ultimately unworkable ecclesiology of the East. Their rejection of the Papacy made the secular domination of the Eastern Church even worse. My rejection of the Orthodox position aside, yes, modern Orthodoxy does reject scholasticism and A-T and in fact almost embraces the fideism you are promoting, though Orthodox apologists do sometimes rely on the Five Ways in practice. I tend to think that the sort of fideism/voluntarism you support is one of the reasons the reconversion of Russia is largely superflous and ineffective: you can't really fight naturalism and materialism with that, especially in a culture where materialism still reigns, although most people are, it seems, largely unaware of it's yoke. It's in the air, I suppose. That's why I'm inclined to believe the revival of A-T is not just a matter of convenience or, say, pastoral care, but of necessity.
But I did not in fact refer to the Eastern schismatics. Pre-schism Eastern Church did have all the sacraments and basically the same theology, so does mainstream Orthodoxy nowadays (Palamism is a post-schism development and is not officialy endorsed). The belief in the sacraments is universal, it's even accepted by Oriental Orthodoxy. The same seven sacraments. But guess what: they never used the Vulgate. In fact, sacramentology is not based on any particular translation. The doctrine is, as I said, universal.
Funnily enough, the Textus Receptus is based on the Byzantine (that is, Greek, Eastern) text-type. The one used by the Eastern Church.
The reason the Council of Trent specified the list is precisely because it came under attack during the Protestant Revolt, like christological and trinitarian matters before. That's how Councils work: typically, they address the heresies of the day. I concede that some translations spread back then erroneous, that is precisely why the revised Vulgate was made mandatory. I also believe the assertion that the only (!) genuine text of the Bible is a version produced in XVI century to be preposterously arrogant and without foundation.

*continued*

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

*continued*

Thus it is important to be properly equipped and understand ALL the issues. Unfortunately, the Devil has been busy ensnaring people with schemes for 1000's of years and produced a lot of corruption and pagan philosophy in the process.

I wonder what exactly is ‘pagan philosophy’. It reads like a line produced by a Jehovah’s Witness. Is calculus, say, pagan? Physics? Astronomy? Jurisprudence and law, perhaps? What makes A-T pagan, especially since the adoption of A-T entails that monotheism is the only live option? Because Aristotle was a Hellene? This line of reasoning will make one conclude that Greek language is pagan and so is, by the way, Latin, English and every other language, including Hebrew. In fact, the Gospel of John you recommend reading begins with a sentence containing the word λόγος, a term first introduced into philosophy by Heraclitus, if I recall correctly. And you can’t really utilise The Kalām cosmological argument: it’s so Muslim!..
I suppose I’m a pagan, too, as the closest thing I had to an epiphany ocurred when I noticed that the name of God – ‘I Am Who I Am’ – fits perfectly with the thomistic notion of God as subsistent being, pure actuality, almost a triviality for the Schoolmen and their successors. Not to mention my conviction that the Resurrection makes so much sense under any other system. If that indeed makes me pagan in your book, I’m going to have to paraphrase Professor Feser paraphrasing *someone*: I’ve read St. Thomas, and he’s a hero of mine. And you, sir, are no St. Thomas. I can’t really get my head around your rejection of A-T. By the way, metaphysical demonstrations St. Thomas employs are deductive. From first principles and obvious facts. What’s so inductive about that?..

The Russian Bible written in an Old Slavonic is a poor translation of the Textus Receptus and this is why I would recommend reading the Gospel of John three times. If you do this, God will speak to you and than you can determine if you want to give up your sins and becomae an authentic Christian.

And who is an authentic Christian? I suppose you’ve already made your private judgement. I prefer to trust the Church Christ built upon Peter the Apostle, not George-I’ve-met-on-the-Internet. Guess it’s not as private, and I’m therefore a fool.

P.S.
I acknowledge that some of the points can be disputed by some, though I believe I avoided any factual errors.
Sorry for a continued off-topic discussion, but it rather fits the blog description.
If you are, perchance, reading this, I humbly implore your clemency towards us, Professor Feser.
And sorry for my English.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

*Not to mention my conviction that the Resurrection doesn't make so much sense under any other system.*

My general attitude towards A-T is somewhat analogous (there it is again) to that of the Apostles in a Gospel verse: 'Lord, to whom would we go?'
What else is there?

dguller said...

Brandon:

And sameness of reference in this sense is also not logical identity because it also violates indiscernibility.

Fair enough. So, what if I reconstrued my argument in terms of identical referents rather than logical identity? What if my question was instead whether E and X have the same referent? How would that impact the soundness of my argument?

To get X as something other than E requires something much, much stronger than rejecting logical identity which, as I have pointed out repeatedly, has limited value for talking about sameness in intensional contexts, which typically allow indiscernibility violations.

I think that I didn’t present myself properly, and that might be behind some of this confusion (and the rest of the confusion is probably just due to my ignorance). When I asked if E and X are totally identical, I was talking about what “E” and “X” are referring to. It would be like asking if the Morning Star and the Evening Star refer to the exact same thing. It would be like asking if divine power and divine goodness refer to the exact same thing. So, I think that it is a given that a common referent R can present itself to the human mind in different ways, S1 and S2. My question is whether S1 (= E) and S2 (= X) have the same R, and not about how R presents itself in different ways to the human mind. So, if this question is meaningful and appropriate in this context, then either E and X have the same referent R (i.e. E -> R and X -> R), or E and X have different referents (i.e. E -> R1 and X -> R2, and R1 is not R2).

If the former, then the further question is whether R involves real distinction of some kind (as per the Trinity) or whether R does not involve real distinction of any kind (as per divine simplicity). R cannot involve both on pain of logical contradiction, unless R itself was a composite entity in which the contradictory properties could be separated into different parts. If R involves real distinction of some kind, then the Trinity is true about R, but divine simplicity is simply a projection of the human mind upon R, but not something about R itself. If R involves no real distinction of any kind, then divine simplicity is true about R, but the Trinity is simply a projection of the human mind upon R, and not something about R itself. Either way, you cannot simultaneously affirm the Trinity and divine simplicity upon R, and thus the former must be rejected.

If the latter, then it follows that R1 is Being Itself and R2 is a creature, which means that X did not exist prior to creation, which means that the divine persons, which depend upon X for their real distinction, could not exist prior to creation, which is absurd, and thus the latter must be rejected, as well.

And so we are in a bind.

And note that none of this affects my second argument against the compatibility of the Trinity and divine simplicity that is based upon the impossibility of predicated numbers of God, because numbers are quantities, and quantities are accidents, and there are no accidents in God.

Any thoughts?

George said...

@ Georgy,

Aquinas was a bad psychologist and did not understand the full depravity of man after the fall. In reality, Aquinas got it backward, and that is part of the reason I reject Thomism. Biblically the intellect follows the will. Aquinas believed that our intellects had not so been corrupted by the fall that we could not reason. My experience especially with atheists is that they are totally closed to reason. Thus empirical data shows that atheists have a will problem NOT an intellect problem, which confirms the biblical data.

Reasons I reject the Papacy is a matter of causality. If I can prove that Peter was NEVER in Rome than the whole claim to Peterine succession crumbles and Catholicism is exposed as a fraud. Before I list 11 reasons why Peter was never in Rome, remember that the Bible is a record from the first century church. It is the OLDEST record of the church. Thus it greater weight in historical matters regarding the early church than any other book, especially books written many hundreds of years later.

Actually do to blog limits I can only list three:

Why Peter Never in Rome

1. Paul specifically told the Gentile Romans that he had been chosen to be their Apostle, not Peter. “I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable” (Rom. 15:16). Paul had the direct charge from Christ in this matter. He even further relates in Romans 15:18 that it was Christ who had chosen him “to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed.”
2. We are told by Paul himself that it was he -- not Peter –who was going to officially found the Roman Church. “I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established” (Rom. 1:11). The Church at Rome had not been established officially even by 55 AD. However, Catholics would have us believe that Peter had done this some ten years before during the reign of Claudius.
3. At the end of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans he greets no fewer than 28 different individuals, but never mentions Peter, because he was not there.!

4. Furthermore there were many legends regarding Peter. Some ancient sources such as the Acts of Peter, written in the late second century claim are the first to claim that Peter was crucified in Jerusalem. Source: Catholic Encyclopedia:(http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11744a.htm)

Origin of Peter being in Rome

Most of the sources sighted where translated from Greek into Latin. The further problem is that many people falsely assumed that Babylon was a code word for Rome. The Bible never uses Rome as a code word for Babylon. The Bible refers to Jerusalem as the whore of Babylon in the book of Revelation. Thus when one is familiar with the Bible one begins to see that Babylon could never refer to Rome. When the Greek texts where translated into Latin the word Babylon was translated as Rome. This is how the tradition of Peter spread from Babylon to Rome.

George said...

Georgy,

Yes, I don't think you or most of the other people on this blog are authentic Christians. You have created a counterfeit Christianity that rest on a foundation of philosophy instead of a born-again relationship with Christ.

The Orthodox went off the rails in the 5th century with their apophatic theology. Catholics went off the rails with their overemphasis on saints, relics, hagiography, and scholasticism.

Bottomline: I am also a student of history, philosophy, Bible, Catholicism, Orthodox, Coptic,math, physics, and science and that is why I reject A-T. Other theological frameworks exist that much more logical.

So, if you are like most Russians and want to get into an intellectual battle, I am more than properly equipped.

Anonymous said...

@George

Do you have any thoughts of your own on the matter or do you copy and paste all your posts and pretend they're your own thoughts?


http://excatholic.baptist.org/2013/02/ten-proofs-peter-was-never-rome/


Remember the arrogant guy with the ponytail in the bar scene in Good Will Hunting? Yeah, that's you.

Eric

George said...

@Eric,

I am not familiar with that link. My information comes from a book published over 100 years ago that is in the public domain. But your link was most helpful and thanks for helping me out.

My dad who has two PhDs would say it is better to be a smart ass than a dumbass. You accuse me of the former and you have admitted to the latter.

Anonymous said...

But your link was most helpful and thanks for helping me out.

His link shows a copy and paste job on your part. Well done. ;)

Anonymous said...

@dgueller
I realize I'm butting in and you may already realize this, but the problem with the three persons of the trinity actually referring to diverse referents is the same as that of theistic personalism. Either there is a necessarilly existent being that these referents all derive their existence from, or they are brute facts.
-Porphyry

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

You, sir, are simply rude.
That's no way to act for an 'authentic Christian'. Is this an ad hominem? Not quite sure, I'm positive about the bits where you basically deny us all good-will, implicitly damned us all, though.

I don't think you actually do deny the Papacy, as it would seem you've crowned yourself Pope. You authenticate Bibles, condemn heresies, determine the discipline of the faithful. Your charism exceeds that of Pontiffs, though, as you presume to read the hearts/souls of men. You even appear to be in a line of succession, just as Peter was given the keys of the Kindgom, your father was granted the two PhDs that make him (and you) infallible in matters of intellectual honesty.

Not being you (the real Pope, that is), we counterfeit Christians have to rely on reason and philosophy(which is all pagan, unless you say otherwise), urm, so as to reason with people, because to trust (that's what the word 'faith' means) Christ and His Church you need to know be, well, reasonable. Moreover, we are commanded to know the truth, and (I have this funny notion) that is the business of philosophy. Hence the 'preambula fidei'.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

To start at the end, since it would appear the point is supposed to precipitate absolute horror in us false Christians: the matter of Peter writing from Babylon.
Pray tell, as a student of history, where was ancient Babylon located? In Mesopotamia, correct, being, to put it mildly, not at it's apex, a small town. Morever, it was a part of Parhian Empire, the Sassanids. Not Rome. And here's a twist.
1 Peter 1:1
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.
The Apostle then implores the aforementioned to 'show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor (or king, basileus, βασιλεύς).' (1 Peter 2:17)
Since Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia were provinces of Rome, not of Parthia. Either St. Peter was not residing in literal Babylon, or he's an Iranian irridentist. What a discovery!
Contrary to the universal belief of the early Church (including written works by Eusibeus, another Catholic conspirator, you clearly know better than to trust early Christian testimony), ignoring the obvious parallels between Rome and Babylon of captivity (enormous Pagan city with Jews living there, Revelation verses applying just as well to Rome), the complete silence of Eastern and Oriental Churches on the subject (imagine the gain of pushing a claim for the See of the Successor of Peter, given what the Bible clearly says of his charism), the Prince of the Apostles never was on Rome.
Sheesh. Groundbreaking.

Anonymous said...

@George
"I am not familiar with that link. My information comes from a book published over 100 years ago that is in the public domain."

What book if you don't mind me asking?


"My dad who has two PhDs would say it is better to be a smart ass than a dumbass. You accuse me of the former and you have admitted to the latter."

Well, hooray for daddy! I do apologize if you thought I was accusing you of being a smart ass. I meant to point out the fact that you're dishonest. Maybe I am a dumbass, but I'm an honest one. Which counts for something.

Eric



Brandon said...

Dguller,

Fair enough. So, what if I reconstrued my argument in terms of identical referents rather than logical identity? What if my question was instead whether E and X have the same referent? How would that impact the soundness of my argument?

The problem would at least be less obvious, but I think we'd still run into it. There are lots of different ways to gloss 'sameness', and we'd have to be very careful. Is 'this person, Mary Ann Evans' the same or different referent from 'this person, George Eliot'? It depends on whether we are dealing with a situation in which it just matters that they are the same human being or whether it's one that matters that they are the same human being with the same pen name.

We see this in another analogy. Airlines have passengers; and they are constantly referring to them. But the same passenger may under unusual circumstances be different people (airlines usually try to eliminate this, but it happens), and the same person may be several different passengers. When airlines refer to people they only do so qua passengers, and doing so in that way means that one referent can be two people -- the mode of reference is not precise enough to distinguish them in that case -- or, much more often, that different referents are the same person over and over again -- the mode of reference is treating them all as distinct.

We could put the point another way. When using predicate logic, we tend to be rather sloppy about what universe of discourse we are in -- Frege talks as if we're talking about all possible referents, and these are just basic things predicats can apply to. But in another logical system, like an algebraic system, it really matters a lot what universe of discourse you're in -- what even counts as referent will depend on whether you are reasoning in (say) the universe of passengers or the universe of people. A referent, after all, is just what you can refer to, and what you are referring to is going to be different depending on whether we're talking about passengers or people to begin with.

The difficulty with the Trinity -- and it's another reason why we have to go modal -- is that the Church Fathers are very clear that there are at least two distinct logical universes of discourse for talking about the Trinity: the universe of Divine Persons and the universe of Divine Substances/Beings (the latter logical universe, of course, has only one real member). Comparing universes of discourse, however, requires modal logic.

I have to head home right now, but I promise to get back to you on your clarified argument. Just looking it over, it looks a lot better -- real distinction is I think a stronger grounds than trying to pull it directly from questions about identity. As a first point, however, real distinction can only violate simplicity if things distinguished by a real distinction can only be one by aggregation or composition. But it's not at all obvious that this is the case.

Aquinas himself considers your numerical argument. He denies that the numerical terms are taken in a quantitative sense; they simply indicate distinction or lack thereof. Where do you think his response goes wrong?

Gerald said...

@ Eric,

I had the entire link but the blog reduced me to 4000 characters and then it was deleted. The link you sent is quoting the same source.

@Georgy

You should be bothered that the evidence against Peter being in Rome is overwhelming. I am using the Bible as my primary source. Also the description that Peter was crucified upside down in Jerusalem should also give you serious concern.


Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia are all in modern Turkey. There is a huge difference between the Roman Empire and Rome. History records a large first century Jewish populations in Turkey and Persia. Peter spoke to them.
Furthermore it should bother you that Peter writes the following: "She [the church] who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark." Who is this Babylon, it is the church in Mesopotamia because this land bordered first century Turkey. Thus Peter wrote his first epistle from Mesopotamia (Babylon) and NOT Rome.


Bottomline: I have found Catholics to be as as bad at reasoning as atheist. In my mind a Catholic is only slightly more knowledgeable than an atheist.

Furthermore, if some atheist or Catholic wants to saber rattle, I will fight back. My Norwegian blood takes no prisoners. As a Russian you should appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

@Gerald (George?)
"I had the entire link but the blog reduced me to 4000 characters and then it was deleted. The link you sent is quoting the same source."

I asked what book. For a guy who seems more than able to inform us on the age of the book (over 100 years), I'm surprised it's name escapes you.

Eric

Anonymous said...

Oh, and the link I provided doesn't cite a source. It does say "written on February 15, 2013 by rothomas". Then again, maybe rothomas is as comfortable plagiarizing others as you are.

Eric

Ty said...

Brandon,

I'm sure a modal understanding of the Trinity doesn't necessitate Modalism or Sabellianism. I'm not sure where we draw the line.

Baptisms in the name of "the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier" are invalid partly because they define each divine Person as a mode of God, or "God when he is doing x." This makes mincemeat of Trinitarianism by making the difference between Father and Son equivalent to that between Jack Black and Nacho Libre.

George said...

@Eric

See the book: The History of the Papacy by Riddle.

Scott said...

@George:

Just point us to the passage, why don't you? Here are links to Volume 1 and Volume 2.

Brandon said...

My question is whether S1 (= E) and S2 (= X) have the same R, and not about how R presents itself in different ways to the human mind. So, if this question is meaningful and appropriate in this context, then either E and X have the same referent R (i.e. E -> R and X -> R), or E and X have different referents (i.e. E -> R1 and X -> R2, and R1 is not R2).

If we think of it as E qua X (or S1 qua S2), then the answer we seem to get is Yes or No, depending. We see this sort of thing even with the Evening Star and the Morning Star: this star qua Evening Star and this star qua Morning Star are the same referent insofar as it's a star and distinct referents insofar as we are considering the star as Evening Star or as Morning Star -- after all, it's being the Evening Star in the morning, and it's not being the Morning Star in the evening, so it's perfectly intelligible to take star-qua-Morning-Star and star-qua-Evening-Star as the referents here. Thus there would be no particular fact of the matter about whether there was one referent or not -- or to be more exact, the fact of the matter would change from situation to situation.

I wonder actually if you might be trying to get more out of reference than is possible: that is, that you want to give 'referent' an ontological character as identifying some basic kind of real thing. This is not-unreasonable view, and is arguably widely assumed. But one can equally hold that referents have no particular ontological status in themselves, so that, for instance, something can be a referent under one description and not a referent under another -- indeed, while Fregean approaches to logic suggest the former, the old-style Boolean approaches suggest the latter, because of the way they used universe of discourse. (As I noted above.) This would get into a pretty complicated discussion pretty quickly, but I think it's worth at least noting the possible divergence in interpretation here.

So this and the real distinction point I mentioned before are the things that seem to me to be at issue. Obviously I think these problems are ultimately insuperable, but I think it's also quite clear that you have lot more room to argue your case here than on the ground of identity.

Brandon said...

Hi, Ty,

The 'modal' in modal logic is distinct from the 'modal' in modalism, although perhaps not wholly so. It is at least very much broader. And, it is worth keeping in mind, it directly applies to the descriptions we use rather than to the Trinity as such.

I haven't thought through the details but I think one can say that modalism requires the relevant modal logic (for description of the Trinity) to be doxastic, how we believe God to be, or in some other way an extrinsic denomination; so that, as you say, it's the difference between Jack Black and Nacho Libre. But the modal logic for orthodox Trinitarian descriptions has to be stronger than that.

But it is worth keeping in mind that anti-Trinitarian arguments that could be refuted or are problematic even assuming modalism are a fortiori going to be ineffective against orthodox Trinitiarianism, so it's worth at least considering modalism as a first hurdle any argument against the Trinity would have to handle even to be taken seriously.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@Gerald (?), also George

Okay, come to think of it, perhaps you are invincibly ignorant.

You just don't get it, do you?..

Who is this Babylon, it is the church in Mesopotamia because this land bordered first century Turkey. Thus Peter wrote his first epistle from Mesopotamia (Babylon) and NOT Rome.

A non sequitur?.. These were Roman provinces. Why on Earth would Peter be asking Christians living under Roman rule to honour the Roman Emperor (basileus, βασιλεύς), being (supposedly) a Persian subject? Or is he a Sassanid expantionist, urging them to obey a Persian ruler?.. All that's absurd.

Please do keep in mind that besides this ridiculous attempt to place St. Peter in actual Mesopotamian Babylon, there's nothing at all suggesting this hypothesis. Nada. Zilch. The bishop(s) of Mesopotamia never claimed Petrine succession. Nor is this supposed connection mentioned anywhere at all. Sheer conjecture. The Orthodox sometimes propose Antioch as the See of Peter (which itself is silly, as Peter left that city, another bishop being installed)to argue in favour of primacy of honour. Never Babylon, back then a small city under Persian rule. Not only is it a novelty, it’s plain silly.
But Rome was in a sense a 'Babylon' of the past, of captivity, a population of a million, a capital of a pagan empire that occupied Jewish lands, her troops carrying out the execution of Our Saviour and her rulers actually persecuting Christians.

On the other hand, St. Clement of Rome mentions Peter in Rome. So do Irenaeus, Dionysius of Corinth and Tertullian. I suppose these Church Fathers are in error, because their writings are mostly Catholic (with the notable exception of late Tertullian). I guess - at least -the 2nd century is when the Church went wrong, according to you, because afterwards - it is clearly evident - Peter being the bishop of Rome was a universally accepted belief. To counter all that with a reference to an apocryphal source? Seriously? I'm not at all perturbed.

Moreover, the Bible doesn't actually say Peter was never in Rome. There's nothing in Rom 1:11-12 – ‘For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to the end that you may be established, that is, that I with you may be encouraged in you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine’ - that suggests St. Paul is about to found the Church in Rome. In fact, it would seem that he's addressing Christians, that is, the flock of the Roman Church. Actually, Rom 15:20 "...yes, making it my aim to preach the Good News, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build on another’s foundation ." What's up with St. Peter and foundations, eh?.. There already was a church in Rome, which had a huge Jewish population that turned Christian (even being exiled by the Emperor, a fact relayed in the Acts). And it would seem that St. Paul is more interested in getting to Spain anyway.

A question out of idle curiosity: what exactly is wrong with A-T tradition? Surely there’s something wrong with it, and you can easily demonstrate it, given your superior expertise in varies fields: history, philosophy, Bible, Catholicism, Orthodox, Coptic, math, physics, and science?.. Other than it being supposedly ineffective (me being the black swan to haunt your induction) and ‘pagan’.

P.S. For some reason, I just have to post this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2OcbeGqbpU



Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

Is it me or the book you cited actually affirms (pages 11-13)not just St. Peter's presense in Rome, but him appointing bishops and suffering martyrdom?..

I guess you have no reason for rejecting the Papacy, after all.
Are we to welcome you to Counterfeit Christianity?..

Anonymous said...

"Is it me or the book you cited actually affirms (pages 11-13)not just St. Peter's presense in Rome, but him appointing bishops and suffering martyrdom?.."

Yeah, I saw that too. I'm done beating up on old George though. It wasn't fun to begin with. Now it's so easy, I just feel guilty. I think I'm going to bow out and wallow in my alcohol, cigars, various unhealthy vices, and pagan prayers. Ahhhhhhh, to be Catholic.

Eric

Step2 said...

So Catholicism is a mixture of 75% paganism and 25%Christianity. These are waters I would not drink from.

The waters you drink from have a peculiar color. If you are lucky it may only be Kool-Aid.

Bottomline: When you are CAPITALIZING a bunch of WORDS for emphasis it makes you look totally CRAZY.

Jeremy Taylor said...

George is a fool, but the Orthodox do not just sometimes claim Peter was bishop of Antioch. The Antiochene Church always asserts this, and it is reasonably well supported by historians.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@Jeremy Tailor

Thank you for correcting me, I suppose my statement needs a clarification.
What I meant was that the fact of St. Peter founding the See of Antioch and being her bishop is used by some Orthodox to undermine the Catholic claim to Petrine (and therefore Papal) succession and the primacy of the Roman See, to support the favoured doctrine of mere primacy of honour.
However, I don't think it works. I actually believe all of the Apostle founded numerous local churches and sees, probably serving as their first bishops. What we do know, though, is that St. Peter served as bishop of Rome and died there. Eusebius writes of St. Peter founding the Church of Antioch, then leaving the city for Rome, where he was her Bishop. To my knowledge, St. Peter never resigned from the position of, well, Peter.


George said...

@ Eric and Georgi

I did not give you the correct reference for my source. Touche', The 11 reasons can be found at this site. http://www.remnantofgod.org/pope1.htm#11,

My second source for refuting Petrine supremacy is titled: "Was the Apostle Peter ever at Rome? by Mason Gallagher." That book addresses further issues regarding the church fathers and alleged claims of Peter being in Rome. It is extremely rigorous and addresses all your questions. It is a total ball buster and I challenge the dilettantes on this site to refute it. Four of the 11 points can be found on page 236 and following.

Further reasons for rejecting Apostolic succession can be found at the following link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_succession#Objections_to_the_transmission_of_grace_theory
This link says, "Protestants have objected that this theory is not explicitly found in Scripture[32] and the New Testament uses 'bishop' and 'presbyter' as alternative names for the same office.[32] Furthermore, it is not clearly found in the writings of the Fathers before Augustine in the fourth century and attempts to read it back as implicit in earlier writers[33] are flawed because it is possible to show that significant changes occurred.

Therefore the doctrine of Petrine succession is a 4th century invention and that is why it is not found in Mesopotamia.

Bottomline: To be properly steeped in history is to cease being Catholic. One sees that the Middle Ages was a period where the Orthodox and Catholics invented much novel doctrine. This can all be attributed to Constantine making Christianity a state religion. This state religion became a Christianized paganism and that is why the forging of documents (Donation of Constantine, and many others) became quite a trade. Even the church historian Eusebius was not immune to forgery.

The book "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" states that: "Eusebius indirectly confesses that he had included stories that would do credit to the glory of Christianity and he had suppressed all that could tend to discredit Christianity.The carefulness of the historian has exposed his own character of censorship" (Eusebius and the Christian Martyrs, Chapter 16, pg. 197).





George said...

@Georgy,

You asked me why I reject A-T and I have explained this before, Qquoting myself:

A-T as presented by most modern scholars is an exercise in inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning is MUCH weaker than deductive reasoning. "While the conclusion of a deductive argument is supposed to be certain, the truth of an inductive argument is supposed to be probable, based upon the evidence given," (Essentials of Logic, Copi and Cohen). So in reality much of A-T falls into the class of probable but NOT certain conclusions. The Bible on the other hand falls into the category of DEDUCTIVE reasoning. Thus the Bible is MUCH more reliable than any inductive argument presented by A-T.

As a result A-T is ONLY in a position to make a whipping boy out of the village atheist. Thus Feser in his typical bombastic and polemic style enjoys pummeling the Atheist of the week.

In contrast, the deductive reasoning of Bible theology and hermeneutics can pummel A-T morning, noon, and night. The only weapon that A-T has in its fight against Bible theology is biblical illiteracy and lack of deductive reasoning. In reality this means A-T reasoning is much more like the village atheist than they realize.

Even Aquinas stated: “Everything that I have written seems like straw to me compared to those things that I have seen and have been revealed to me.” Clearly, he must have had some powerful revelation to make such a statement. The Bible is God’s revelation to man and in that light A-T is STRAW compared to the Bible.
Thus you can study the STRAW of A-T or the MEAT of God’s Word.

George said...

@ Everyone
Further reasons I am not Catholic. Most of the sources I am quoting come directly from Catholic sources.

List of Known Fabricated Documents by Catholics
Below is a list of known forgeries by the Catholic Church. The amazing thing is that the Catholic Church even admits that it has created new forgeries over the last 500 years.
• 2nd Century: Epistle of Barnabas, (Catholic Encyclopedia, II, 299-300.) In Codex Sinaiticus (4th Century)
• 2nd Century: Shepherd of Hermas, (Catholic Ency., VII, 268-270). Sinaiticus -- Mid Ages -- penance.
• 2nd Century: Didache (Catholic Encyclopedia, IV, 779) “embodies” Apostolic Constitutions.
• 3rd Century: Didaskalia Apostolorum (Cath. Ency., IV, 781-2) “earliest attempt -- Corpus Juris.”
• 4th Century: Apostles Creed (Cath. Ency., I, 629, 630) “unhistorical” “legend” “ex Cathedra” Cath. Ency., I, 632.
• 4th Century: Liberian Catalogue (Cath. Ency., IX, 224,) ends with Liberius.
• 4th Century: Clementine Recognitions -- 20 books (Cath. Ency., IV, 14, 39-41, 44.) Summa 7 times, “forms” (Cath. Ency., IV, 42.)
• 4th Century: Clementine Liturgies (Cath. Dict. , 522.)
• 4th Century: Apostolic Church Ordinaces (Cath. Ency., I, 635).
• 4th Century: Egyptian Church Ordinances (Cath. Ency., I, 636.)
• 5th Century: Acts of the Martyrs -- 12 Books (Dictionary, 9; ) Lives of Saints, 64 volumes. (Question Box, 122) (Lives of Saints began Acts of Martyrs)
• 5th Century: Apostolic Cannons (85 Cannons) (Dictionary,, 41-42; Cath. Ency., III, 280.
• 5th Century: Apostolic Constitutions -- “embodies” Didache (Cath. Ency., IV, 779; I, 571. Cath. Dict., 43.)
• 5th Century: Dionysius the Aeropagite (Cath. Dict., 402; Cath. Ency., V, 13-17; Dog. Theology, II, 279.)
• 5th Century: Antiochene Liturgy (Cath. Ency., I, 572.)
• 5th Century: Canons of Hippolytus (Cath. Ency., VII, 361-2; XI, 307, 622, on penance I, 636.)
• 6th Century: Symmachian Forgeries (Cath. Ency., XIV, 378.)
• 7th Century: Augustine -- three forged. (Cath. Ency. II, 79; I, 629; XI, 623.)
• 8th Century: Liber Pontificalis “took over” Liberian -- Catalogue -- used Clementine Recog. (Cath. Ency., IX, 225) reforged.
• 9th Century: Donation of Constantine (Cath. Ency., VII, 539; Short History, 82, Cath. Dict., 165, De Montor, I, 73.)
• 9th Century: False Decretals of Isadore (Cath. Ency., V, 773)
• 10th Century: Deed of Gift To Sylvester II (Cath. Dict. , 338, 339; XIV, 371)
• 12th Century: Apoc. Acts of Apostles; Acts of Peter and Paul (Cath. Ency., I, 610-13.)
• 13th Century: Prayer of Manasses -- quoted from Latin Bible by St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa, Third Part, Third Number, 87.)
• 14th Century: Bonaventure’s writings -- several works forgeries (Cath. Ency., II, 654.) 2000 variants in Volume I (10 volumes).
• 14th Century: Forged Decree of the Council of Vienna 13 (Disciplinary Decrees of General Council, 429.
• 14th Century: Works of Duns Scotus (Cath. Ency., V, 195).
• 14th Century: Works of Thomas (Cath. Encly., XIV, 666; Outline of Dog. Theology, II, 564.)
• 15th Century: Alan DeRupe -- Rosary a forgery -- St. Dominic (Devotion of Holy Rosary, 52. Cath. Ency., XIII, 186; Catholic Facts, 86.)
• 16th Century: Clement VIII & St. Bellarmine’s Lie In Preface To Vulgate Bible (Cath. Ency., II, 411, 412, popess Joan -- falsifying history.)
• 18th Century: Irenaeus (Pfaff) (Cath. Ency., VIII, 131.)
• 19th Century: Leo XIII approves DeRupe’s forgery (Cath. Ency., XIII, 186, Catholic Facts, 86.)
• 20th Century: Liguori -- Glories of Mary (new addition a forgery!!)
• 20th Century: Assumption of the Virgin -- based on Dionysus, a forgery. (Cath. Ency. , I, 608.)
Source: (http://www.acts1711.com/forgery.htm April 3, 2012)


George said...

@Georgy

Fact is that God is UNCHANGING. He demanded that the Jews be people of the Book. God has never repealed this command. Thus Christians are to be people of the book. Furthermore Jews interpreted Scripture using the historical-grammatical hermeneutic, which means using the law of invariance that the NT must also be interpreted using the historical-grammatical hermeneutic. But nitwit Catholics have historically interpreted scripture using the 4 senses of Scripture which was a novel invention of Philo a Hellenistic Jew of the first century. His heresy affected the Alexandrian church and thus Bible intepretation becaome corrupted by the second century. Study the difference in interpretation between the Antioch and Alexandrian schools.

Bottomline: Only a fool would be an atheist or a Catholic. Catholics have built their faith on four faulty foundations: A-T metaphysics, forged documents, faulty hermeneutics, and revisionist history. Protestants build their foundation on Scripture and a historical consistent hermeneutic that can be traced back to Old Testament Ezra. It is the same hermeneutic that Jesus used when quoting scripture. Again this is well documented, and to discuss is beyond the scope of a combox.

So again I claim to be steeped in history is to be Protestant. Cardinal Newman, who was buried in the grave of his male lover was an effeminate heretic. In my journey to authentic Christianity and Protestant Christianity, I had to journey through the sewage of atheism, existentialism, communism, A-T, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, to finally arrive at the TRUTH. That truth can ONLY be found in the Bible, because the Bible is the verbal plenary word of God.

Anonymous said...

Bottomline: I'm infallible

George

Matthew Kennel said...

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe George has passed into troll territory. Nonetheless - and in hopes that I won't feed the troll - I offer one small argument in favor of tradition and Scripture being inseparable.

That argument? The text of Scripture itself. As anyone with a smattering of Biblical knowledge knows, ancient Hebrew writing had no vowels. It wasn't until hundreds of years after Christ that the vowels were added to the text. So how did the ancient Jews know the correct vowels and thus the correct words to put in the biblical text? It was passed down orally from generation to generation. In other words, it's not only the canon of Scripture that's based on Tradition, and Tradition isn't only something that started in the New Testament. It is the very text of the Old Testament itself that has never existed apart from Tradition. Tradition and Scripture thus form a living whole, which certainly may be distinguished from one another, but never divorced from one another.

George said...

@Matthew Kennel.

Let me school you. You are correct the ancient Hebrew had no vowels. However, you also forgot the important fact that the Septuagint was written in Greek, which had vowels. The Septuagint was completed around 130 BC. Jesus and apostles made over 66% of their OT citations directly from the Septuagint. Thus the apostles and Jesus considered the Septuagint canonical.

Thus your argument of tradition is utter nonsense.

Matthew Kennel said...

@George

I'm not sure if the Septuagint is the route you want to go, since it contained all the Deuterocanonical books which Protestants reject.

But your argument still doesn't work because the Septuagint was BASED ON the Hebrew, which, as I have stated, had no vowels. So, if anything, the existence of the Septuagint pays tribute to the accuracy of the oral tradition in passing down the correct Hebrew text.

Also, I don't know what version of Protestantism you hold to, but when I was Protestant, we held that it was the autographs of Scripture that were inspired, and the autographs were in Hebrew (and, of course, at least partially in Aramaic). It would be a strange Protestantism which held that the Septuagint itself was inspired and yet rejected a number of books from the Septuagint.

Joe K. said...

@George

I know I'm coming late to the party here, but I did my graduate studies in this topic (at a Protestant university), and I'm interested.

Aren't you just pushing the problem back a couple hundred years? How did the Septuagint come to be without tradition? Was it based on NOT-tradition somehow? I assume you'd argue it was based on some other scripture, like original Old Testament writings (which we don't really have, aside from some stuff from the Dead Sea Scrolls (uncanonical?)). But going back to the original point that was made, assuming the lack of vowels made a difference, how did they turn that Hebrew scripture into the Greek without some level of tradition?

George said...

@Matthew Kennel

Your original statement was that the vowels were added several hundred years after Christ. My point is that the Septuagint was quoted by Christ and the apostles.

Yes, I agree that the original writing of the prophets are what is inspired. But the fact that the Septuagint is used so extensively in the NT makes it an inspired translation of the original manuscripts. The other fact is that the Jews, who were the authorized keepers, interpreters, and collators of Scripture never considered the apocrypha canonical.
Fact is Jerome, the man who gave you the Latin Vulgate, did NOT think the apocrypha was canonical either. He is the one who coined the term apocrypha, which means "statements or claims that are of dubious authenticity" (see Websters on line). So tell me a high school religious teacher how could God's word be of dubious authenticity. Thus the word apocrypha is SELF-REFUTING!

As I have said before, people are NOT open to reason. They are motivated by their fallen will and fallen reason. Most people cannot reason themselves out of a paper bag, and that is why they fall into believing one lie after another.

Anonymous said...

Bottomline: I'm infallible

"You are George, and on this George I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18).

George

George said...

@ Joe K.

To answer your question is beyond the scope of a combox. There are several ways this could be done that don't require tradition.

First there is the legend:
"King Ptolemy once gathered 72 Elders. He placed them in 72 chambers, each of them in a separate one, without revealing to them why they were summoned. He entered each one's room and said: "Write for me the Torah of Moshe, your teacher." God put it in the heart of each one to translate identically as all the others did."[13]( source: wikipedia Septuagint), which probably has some truth to it.

Second: God inspired the prophets, He could have also inspired the translators.

Third: Jews had Levitical priests whose responsibilty was to maintain the temple and the Scriptures. Thus early vowels may have been included as a type of footnote. WE live in an historical blackhole where we don't know which documents have been lost.

Fourth: The pre-Masoretic Jews added vowels and they were NO longer the authorized interpreters of Scripture. Thus I reject their claim to authenticity or tradition after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.

Fifth: Our knowledge of the Bible is higher than any time since the 3rd century. The ability to use advanced statistical techniques, deductive reasoning, archaeology, read translations such as the Old Latin, Old Syriac, and Alexandrian texts insure that we have Bibles that are accurate to over 99.5% to the original manuscripts. Since the Bible repeats major doctrines over and over it is safe to say that every doctrine can be derived 100% correctly from the Bible.

Jews were never allowed to develop a doctrine that could NOT be explicitly derived from Scripture. Since God is invariant, Christians cannot form any doctrine that cannot be explicitly derived from scripture. The Trinity, a word not in the Bible, can explicitly be derived from scripture therefore it is a valid doctrine.

However, the papacy, sacraments, Marian dogmas, and many others can NOT be derived from Scripture therefore they are corrupt.

As I have said before, I only consider the Septuagint (non-apocryphal) and Textus Receptus instances of the authentic manuscripts handed down by the church. Any church that adds apocrypha is by definition apostate and unqualified to be an authentic church or custodian of Scripture.

Therefore Catholics have NOTHING to stand on. They have created a false Christianity. I give a simple example. If I were creating a false $20 bill, I would make sure that I had a picture of Andrew Jackson on it, otherwise I would be a fool. Catholics falsely assume because they believe in the resurrection of Christ that they must be Christian. Obviously the Resurrection is a necessary condition, but it is NOT a sufficient condition for being a Christian. Similarly a picture of Andrew Jackson is a necessary condition for a $20 bill, but it is not sufficient.

Muhammad said...


Peace to you all.

This is a brilliant post by Edward Feser.

In the comment section, someone stated that Divine Simplicity is deeply grounded in Islam.

This is a true comment.

The Qur'an is emphatic that God cannot be anthropomorphized and that He is the source of all existence and it is explicitly stated in the Qur'an that He cannot be described other than by perfect attributes.

However, there was an incorrect comment saying that Islam is fatalistic.

Muslims believe that God has told us all mankind in the Qur'an that

"Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing.

Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful."

(Man, verses 2-3)

There are numerous verses like this in the Qur'an.

So, the Qur'an is clearly not fatalistic.

It is true that according to the Qur'an, God has foreknowledge but foreknowledge does not have any impact on what people do.

Please note that the "We" is the Royal We and not suggestive of any multiplicity of Gods or multiplicity of persons within God.

Peace.

Matthew Kennel said...

@George,

Regarding your last point - fallen men not being able to reason themselves out of a paper bag and me being fallen. The statement is true enough. I am a sinner, and I am not perfect by any means. However, I accept the whole canonical Scriptures, including the Deuterocanonical books, because they are the Word of God. I base this on the authority of Jesus Christ and his Apostles. As St. Augustine says, "I myself would not believe the Gospels, did not the authority of the Catholic Church lead me to do so."

You have yet to answer the charge - made by me and by other readers of this blog - that the Septuagint itself was based on the Hebrew text as passed down by oral tradition. Thus, the fact that Christ and his Apostles quoted the Septuagint, which was based on the oral tradition, is an implicit endorsement by them of the oral tradition on which that translation is based. In other words, you still have not yet addressed my original argument.

Now to the meat of your new points: You'll notice that I did not call the books apocryphal, because I don't think that the books are apocryphal.

What do you mean by saying that "the Jews" rejected the deuterocanonical books? Which Jews? And, if they did truly reject them, why did they include them in the Septuagint, which you have just told me was inspired? If, as you say, the Septuagint is inspired, and the Septuagint was translated by the Jews, would it not be reasonable to say that the Septuagint is an expression of Jewish belief about the Bible, and - thus - that the Septuagint's inclusion of the deuterocanonical books argues strongly against your conclusion that "the Jews" en bloc the deuterocanonical books? At most, we might say that some Jews rejected the deuterocanonicals and some Jews accepted them. Jewish opinion was split on this. It also won't do to cite the opinion of the so-called Council of Jamnia (if there was such a thing) about this matter. This is because the Council of Jamnia met after Christ and also rejected Christian writings as being apocryphal. In other words, the Jews rejected the Septuagint because the Septuagint, including the Deuterocanonical books, was being used by Christians to support Christianity.

Also, even if Jerome rejected the Deuterocanonicals, the Church accepted them, as is evinced by their wide use since Apostolic times. You can find them quoted as Scripture by Christians from the earliest times (for example, http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=24423.20;wap2 and also http://www.ewtn.com/library/answers/deuteros.htm) The opinion of one man is worth precious little next to the reception of the whole of Scripture by Holy Mother Church.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@ George
I'm getting a bit tired.

I did not give you the correct reference for my source. Touche', The 11 reasons can be found at this site. http://www.remnantofgod.org/pope1.htm#11

I'm now convinced you're simply dishonest. You can't even admit you didn't read it. Ah.
Okay, if we're doing links, here you go: http://www.catholic-legate.com/Apologetics/ThePapacy/Dialogues/DebunkingProofsAgainstPeterInRome.aspx

My second source for refuting Petrine supremacy is titled: "Was the Apostle Peter ever at Rome? by Mason Gallagher." That book addresses further issues regarding the church fathers and alleged claims of Peter being in Rome. It is extremely rigorous and addresses all your questions. It is a total ball buster and I challenge the dilettantes on this site to refute it. Four of the 11 points can be found on page 236 and following.

Provide an exact quote, would you?
Or just give the argument - surely, you're more than capable of that.

Further reasons for rejecting Apostolic succession can be found at the following link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_succession#Objections_to_the_transmission_of_grace_theory
This link says, "Protestants have objected that this theory is not explicitly found in Scripture[32] and the New Testament uses 'bishop' and 'presbyter' as alternative names for the same office.[32] Furthermore, it is not clearly found in the writings of the Fathers before Augustine in the fourth century and attempts to read it back as implicit in earlier writers[33] are flawed because it is possible to show that significant changes occurred.


Even if it were so, you can keep Sola Scriptura (remind me, is it in the Bible?..) to yourself. I wonder what "not clearly found" is supposed to mean. Then again, it's not true.
We're doing links, so: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/apostolic-succession
I'm pretty sure St. Augustine is not the first name on the list.

Therefore the doctrine of Petrine succession is a 4th century invention and that is why it is not found in Mesopotamia.
This is just silly. The problem is, nothing concerning St. Peter is found in Mesopotamia. Nothing at all. This whole argument is based on one word, taken out of context. And yet you persist.

And sure, go ahead. Quote some more blunt assertions by Gibbon, an unbiased historian if there ever was one. And please quote Eusebius.
Is there an end to your conspiracy theories?..

You do sound like a Jehovah's Witness, after all.

George said...

@Matthew Kennel

I answered most of your objections in the previous post to Joe K.

Let me add the following: Ephesians 2:20 says that the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ as the chief cornerstone.

So let us analyze this for a moment. NONE of the books in the apocrypha were written by a PROPHET. If a book is NOT written by a prophet or apostle (or his scribe) it is NOT canonical and not part of the foundation of the church.

Also observe that the church is NOT built on the papacy or ministerial priesthood. Furthermore the Septuagint translates the word synagogue as "ekklesia" or assembly. The NT Greek word for church was also ekklesia. Since the Bible is written by Jews we understand that the model for the New Testament church was the SYNAGOGUE and NOT the temple. The Catholic mass pattern after the temple and this is one of the HUGE errors of the Catholic church.

Also, the Jews were forbidden to offer sacrifice in the synagogue, only in the temple. Thus the re-presentation of the Eucharist sacrifice would be an abomination to a first century Jew, and would MAKE no sense to the apostles either.

So the TRUE church is the assembly of born again believers. The word church come from the Greek kurios, which means guardian. This is why Catholics look at the church as an institution, which is NOT biblical and Protestants look at the church as the collection of like minded believers, i.e an assembly.

Thus Catholics are assured liquidation and final damnation because they have preached a false gospel and worship a counterfeit christ and mixed pagan metaphysics with the pure milk of the Bible.

Matthew Kennel said...

@George - I see that you finally did deal with the charge that the Septuagint is based on tradition. I will leave it to readers to see whether they think your reasons are sufficient. For myself, I do not believe that the translators of the Septuagint were really 72 men who sat down in different rooms and wrote the same thing. Or, if they were, this is not something to be found in the Bible itself, and thus not something to be believed.

I leave you with only one question. You say that you believe that the Septuagint is the inspired Word of God (that the translators were inspired). Now, you know as well as I do that the Septuagint included the entire canon of Scripture, including the deuterocanonical books. Yet you say that you reject the deuterocanonical books. What verse in the part of the Bible that you accept can possibly justify this decision by you to reject the deuterocanonical books, which are, after all, a part of the Septuagint which you just claimed was inspired?

I believe I have adequately made what points I can, and will leave it to readers to adjudicate between George and myself.

Anonymous said...

Bottomline: I'm infallible

To quote my main man Buddha

"Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely on yourselves, and do not rely on external help. Hold fast to the truth as a lamp. Seek salvation alone in the truth. Look not for assistance to any one besides yourselves."

George

Glenn said...

George,

I had to journey through... atheism, existentialism, communism, A-T, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, to finally arrive at the TRUTH.

The stages you had to go through can be numbered:

1. Atheism
2. Existentialism
3. A-T
4. Catholicism
5. Eastern Orthodoxy
6. TRUTH

A series of questions now suggests itself:

1. What was it about you that made it necessary for you to go through these stages?

2. To come at it from a slightly different angle: since not everyone has to go through all those stages, why did you have to through all of them?

3. Why did you not start out at the TRUTH? You could have saved yourself a whole lot of heartache and trouble had you done that -- you would have been at the TRUTH from the get-go, and not had to go through any of the preceding five stages. But you did not do that. Why not?

4. Having not started out at the TRUTH, why did you not start out with Eastern Orthodoxy? You could have saved yourself a whole lot of heartache and trouble had you done that -- you would have been only one stage away from the TRUTH, and not had to go through any of the preceding four stages. But you did not do that. Why not?

5. Having not started out with Eastern Orthodoxy, why did you not start out with Catholicism? You could have saved yourself a whole lot of heartache and trouble had you done that -- you would have been only two stages away from the TRUTH, and not had to go through any of the preceding three stages. But you did not do that. Why not?

6. Having not started out with Catholicism, why did you not start out with A-T? You could have saved yourself a whole lot of heartache and trouble had you done that -- you would have been only three stages away from the TRUTH, and not had to go through either of the two preceding stages. But you did not do that. Why not?

7. Having not started out with A-T, why did you not start out with Existentialism? You could have saved yourself a whole lot of heartache and trouble had you done that -- you would have been only four stages away from the TRUTH, and not had to go through the preceding stage. But you did not do that. Why not?

8. Having not started out with Existentialism, why did you start out with Atheism? You could have saved yourself a whole lot of heartache and trouble had you started out with, say, Agnosticism instead. But you did not do that? Why not?

These are just some of the questions suggested by your painstakingly slow progression in arriving at the TRUTH. There are still other questions which suggest themselves. For example,

9. What makes you think others necessarily are as much of a slowpoke as you have been?

10. Why is it that, though it was necessary for you to go through various stages before arriving at the TRUTH, you seem to feel it isn't likewise necessary for others?

11. What makes you think you can succeed with others where others failed with you, i.e., what makes you think you can fast-forward others to an arrival at the TRUTH, when the attempts by so many others to fast-forward you to it were, for quite some time, met with rebuffs, rejections, closed eyes, clogged ears and a seemingly intractable obdurateness?

12. While it is understandable that you might experience a kind of sadness that others have yet to arrive at the TRUTH, would it not likewise be understandable that should you also experience a kind of joy, gladness or appreciation that many others have, by having started out closer to the TRUTH than you were able to, less heartache and trouble ahead of them than you had had?

Lastly,

13. Important as it is, isn't there something more important than arriving at the TRUTH?

14. Indeed, isn't arriving at the TRUTH actually a preface to, i.e., the beginning of, a more important journey?

George said...

@ Everyone

Catholics love to talk about Tradition. I ask one simple question:

Name one tradition that Jesus or the apostle or the prophets spoke that is NOT recorded in the Bible?

If NOT, Tradition rises to level no higher than the tradition of fallible men.

Matthew Kennel said...

@George

It's really ironic that you should quote Eph 2:20 against me, and then try to argue that the Church is based on the Synagogue and not the Temple, since St. Paul says - directly after the verse you quoted St. Paul describes the kind of building that is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets - "the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord." (Eph 2:21) Sorry to say, but the Church as God's Temple is a huge theme in the New Testament. This is because the Church is the mystical body of Christ, and the body of Christ is the Temple par excellence of the New Testament.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@ George

Yes, please, quote yourself some more. After all, you're the real Pope. At least we agree on the necessity of the Magisterium.

Are you quite certain you're aware what deduction and induction are?.. You're yet to show how metaphysical demonstrations St. Thomas uses are to be considered examples of inductive reasoning.

While you're at it, try to prove to us the Bible is divinely inspired, that Sola Scriptura is the way, etc. I have to confess, I still have my doubts about you being the Vicar of Christ, so try to avoid making de fide statements. That authority of yours is in the doubt, you see. The Scripture isn't explicit about George-I've-met-on-the-Internet.

I think that kind of fideism is the reason atheism is so wide-spread. I'm begininng to think that in some ways it is the efficient (not sufficient) of unbelief. The arrogance!..

As Eric pointed out earlier, the story you quote from mentions God praising Aquinas for all the saint wrote. Ever heard of analogy?.. It's a pagan concept, though, so sorry.

Matthew Kennel said...

@George

I can think of several things that the New Testament speaks about that aren't mentioned in the Protestant Old Testament

1) Jude 1:9 speaks of an argument between Michael and Satan about the Body of Moses. Not only is this not in the Protestant Old Testament, it's not in our Old Testament either.

2) Heb 11:35 speaks of people who received their dead back by resurrection, and of people who underwent torture in hope of a better life: this is a clear reference to 2 Maccabees 7

3) Jesus celebrated the Feast of the Dedication, which is our modern day Hanukkah, a feast based on a miracle not recorded in the Protestant Old Testament but definitely recorded in the Catholic Old Testament

4) St. Paul, in 2 Thess 2:15, speaks of traditions passed down by word of mouth or by letter - what traditions is he talking about that are passed down by word of mouth?

5) Then there's the matter of the canon itself, which is not recorded anywhere in Scripture.

So there's five :-)

Glenn said...

Name one tradition that Jesus or the apostle or the prophets spoke that is NOT recorded in the Bible?

If NOT, Tradition rises to level no higher than the tradition of fallible men.


Oops.

@Georgy,

You asked me why I reject A-T and I have explained this before, Qquoting myself:

...The Bible on the other hand falls into the category of DEDUCTIVE reasoning.


Summary & Conclusion

"Deductive or synthetic Bible study gathers propositions from Scripture and arranges them as premises in formal arguments which reason toward necessary doctrinal conclusions which may not otherwise have been stated in the Bible."

Anonymous said...

Bottomline: I'm infallible

My dad has 2 PhDs

George

George said...

@ Glenn

To explain my journey would require a book. But the short version is that my academic training is mathematical physics and theology. My nature has always abhorred intellectual bullshit. My experience is that most people DON'T have a clue what they believe and that is why they are worthless guides. Math and physics teach the concept of rederiviation, and thus my modus operandi is to rederive EVERYTHING possible from first principles. Thus I am employing "reason" and logic to expose the BS that is promulgated by the masses, be they either Protestant, Catholic, JW, Mormon, Thomist, or atheist.

Obviously the journey could have been shorter if I had better mentors, hence I was forced out of necessity to do the heavy lifting myself.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@ George

Oh, come on. This list is ridiculous.
For example: the Didache is authentic. No reason to think it's a forgery.
I don't think I need to go further.
Yes, there were forgeries. Does Catholic teaching depend on them? No.

Then again, this list is a good lie, therefore it's partially true: it features, say, the Donation of Constantine, which is in fact a forgery, a fact discovered by a Catholic priest. Anyway, it was only used to reaffirm the Donation of Pepin. It's about the Papal States. Not Catholic dogma. The fact is, Constantine did in fact endow the Church with, say, the future Lateran Basilica.

Again, a list? On the Internet? Just like that? Give me a break.

Geo said...

@ George

You demonstrate typical Catholic inability to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

The word temple is better translated tabernacle. A tabernacle is the dwelling place of God. God dwells with His born again believers not the sacramental counterfeits.

The Jewish temple was destroyed in 70 AD. As a result the entire sacrificial system was destroyed once and for all.

George said...


You demonstrate typical Catholic inability to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

@ Matthew Kennel


The word temple is better translated tabernacle. A tabernacle is the dwelling place of God. God dwells with His born again believers not the sacramental counterfeits.

The Jewish temple was destroyed in 70 AD. As a result the entire sacrificial system was destroyed once and for all.

- Too many people responding cann't keep up!

Anonymous said...

"Obviously the journey could have been shorter if I had better mentors, hence I was forced out of necessity to do the heavy lifting myself."

Bottomline: I'm infallible

I, Pope George, am the only man alive capable of utilizing logic.

George

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@ George

To be properly steeped in history is to cease being Catholic. One sees that the Middle Ages was a period where the Orthodox and Catholics invented much novel doctrine. This can all be attributed to Constantine making Christianity a state religion.

Well, perhaps, though I'm of a different opinion What is not just a matter of opinion is that Constantine did not make Christianity a state religion. And he most certainly did not live in the Middle Ages. Quite a stretch there, eh?

But nitwit Catholics have historically interpreted scripture using the 4 senses of Scripture which was a novel invention of Philo a Hellenistic Jew of the first century.

Yes, Hellenisitic Jews, like all people except authentic Christians who received direct divine revealation like you, lack reason.

So again I claim to be steeped in history is to be Protestant. Cardinal Newman, who was buried in the grave of his male lover was an effeminate heretic.

I suppose calumnating a dead man is your idea of masculinity. And Christianity.

What a joke.

George said...

@ Matthew Kennel

Clearly the apocrypha is NOT completely wrong. The question is it canonical? I am fully aware of allusions to the Maccabees.

Below is a link to a multitude of reasons why the apocrypha is not inspired.

http://www.bible.ca/catholic-apocrypha.htm

Enjoy the reading.

Anonymous said...

Bottomline: I'm infallible.

To deny my revealed truth is to condemn oneself to hell. I ,with a little help from Christ, judge Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and all others.

George

George said...

@Georgy

The reason the Didache is listed as a forgery is that there is NO evidence that it was teaching from the 12 Apostles. Was it a first century book, but many doubt it was written by the apostles.

The Didache COMMANDS that the baptizer and the baptizee fast 1 or 2 days before baptism. Tell me if this is the teaching and TRADITION of the Apostles, why NO Catholic is fasting 1 or 2 days before his or her baptism?

Thus Catholics refute themselves and show that it is NOT binding upon the church. If it is NOT binding it must be a forgery.

Glenn said...

George,

1. My nature has always abhorred intellectual bullshit.

Interesting. You strew it about so well, and with so little indication of hesitation, no one would've thought you abhor it.

2. So which is it:

a) "Math and physics teach the concept of rederiviation, and thus my modus operandi is to rederive EVERYTHING possible from first principles"; or,

b) "The ONLY way to come to a knowledge of the God of creation is through the work of the Holy Spirit, which can ONLY be found in a church that is anointed by God and does not mix philosophy with Bible hermeneutics"?

3.1 Obviously the journey could have been shorter if I had better mentors

Obviously.

3.2 I was forced out of necessity to do the heavy lifting myself.

Sounds like you need to read John 15:5 another three times.

George said...

@ Georgy, and others

You are tired. Look this blog is infested with village Catholics and village atheists. People that have been so deceived by drinking the kool-aid of A-T and Catholicism.

Just FYI, no JEW could appeal to invincible ignorance. The Bible makes no plea to invincible ignorance. Truth is knowable and can be found, but most people rather drink their alcohol and watch Dancing with the Stars then search for truth. Thus SLOTH is the greatest hindrance to finding truth.

Joe K. said...

@George

"To answer your question is beyond the scope of a combox. There are several ways this could be done that don't require tradition."

I don't really think so? It was a simple question. It's a problem with the argument itself, not with specific facts.

"First there is the legend:
"King Ptolemy once gathered 72 Elders. He placed them in 72 chambers, each of them in a separate one, without revealing to them why they were summoned. He entered each one's room and said: "Write for me the Torah of Moshe, your teacher." God put it in the heart of each one to translate identically as all the others did."[13]( source: wikipedia Septuagint), which probably has some truth to it."

I have no idea how you could possibly know this even happened. And if it did happen, is it mentioned, at all, in the New Testament? This sounds an awful lot like "tradition" to me.

"Second: God inspired the prophets, He could have also inspired the translators."

You'd think if the translators were inspired, the New Testament itself might mention this? This is even less verifiable.

"Third: Jews had Levitical priests whose responsibilty was to maintain the temple and the Scriptures. Thus early vowels may have been included as a type of footnote. WE live in an historical blackhole where we don't know which documents have been lost."

I daresay this is exactly tradition: men with authority, granted by God, determining what is valid and what is not.

"Fourth: The pre-Masoretic Jews added vowels and they were NO longer the authorized interpreters of Scripture. Thus I reject their claim to authenticity or tradition after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD."

Why were they no longer this...? I find this point confusing. Is this mentioned in the New Testament somewhere, that their documents were less valid than the LXX?

"Fifth: Our knowledge of the Bible is higher than any time since the 3rd century. The ability to use advanced statistical techniques, deductive reasoning, archaeology, read translations such as the Old Latin, Old Syriac, and Alexandrian texts insure that we have Bibles that are accurate to over 99.5% to the original manuscripts. Since the Bible repeats major doctrines over and over it is safe to say that every doctrine can be derived 100% correctly from the Bible."

This is the only argument that comes close to answering the question. But then it just pushes the question back more. How would you verify the validity of extra-Biblical sources? How can you honestly use extra-Biblical sources to justify the validity of the Bible itself? What if those sources were wrong and the Bible copied them? How would you have any idea using just the Bible itself?

These are not convincing answers at all, and I feel like they completely miss the point.

George said...

@ Georgy

Cardinal Newman was an effeminate male. This is well documented. Look what Paul writes:

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. ( 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

That seems pretty clear to me. Therefore if transubstantiation is NOT true, then Catholics practice idolatry every Sunday and they WILL not inherit the kingdom of God.

Also effeminate men even if they are celibate will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God.

Since I speak fluent German, I have heard Ratzinger speak and his spoken German is totally effeminate. So don't be so sure that he will inherit the kingdom of God either.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

The reason the Didache is listed as a forgery is that there is NO evidence that it was teaching from the 12 Apostles. Was it a first century book, but many doubt it was written by the apostles.

Hardly makes it a forgery, does it?
Note the 'of' in the name, instead of 'written now by all the Twelve'. At any rate, it's a document. A very early document. Containing distinctively Catholic teaching.

The Didache COMMANDS that the baptizer and the baptizee fast 1 or 2 days before baptism. Tell me if this is the teaching and TRADITION of the Apostles, why NO Catholic is fasting 1 or 2 days before his or her baptism?

That's a joke, right? You really can't tell a disciplinary measure from dogma? I suppose there was some point in going to law school, after all.

Thus Catholics refute themselves and show that it is NOT binding upon the church. If it is NOT binding it must be a forgery.

A glorious non sequitur, as should now be evident.

George said...

@ Joe K.

Your really asking a question in the field of epistemology. That is truly beyond the scope of combox.

My short answer is that you are trying to tackle the problem using a posteriori knowledge. I claim that it is impossible to defend a posteriori arguments rigorously. This discussion of epistemology leads to something called Goedel's Incompleteness theorem (see wikipedia). This can then be applied to the study of religion.

This all leads to the following dilemma that reason cannot be trusted as much as A-T advocates claim. This is why at some point God must speak divine revelation to the Believer. I became a born-again Christian because God spoke to me personally. It was a divine revelation. Most Protestant and Catholic seminaries are sewers of doubt and unbelief. You probably attended one that preached the gospel of doubt and unbelief.

If you want to talk about incompleteness theorems, Cantor Sets, and measure theory then we can talk about the NECESSITY of fideism and presuppositional apologetics in leading someone to a SAVING knowledge of Christ.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

Regarding invincible ignorance.
Luke 12:48 "Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more"
Then again, I suppose, logic is not in the Bible, and neither are most legal concepts, including culpability as such. God being just, though, is. Then again, given your staunch fideism, you have no problem biting the second horn of Euthyphro dilemma.

The Church does say it's absolutely necessary to be a Catholic for salvation, objectively. Subjectively, though, we just don't know, what we do know, though, that is God is just, being goodness itself.

I guess I'm being pagan again.

George said...

@ Georgy

The problem is how does one understand if something is prescriptive of descriptive in the Didache or the Bible. This requires a knowledge of the science of hermeneutics. As a lawyer you should be somewhat familiar with this concept.

Furthermore, many scholars think the Didache is a first century forgery. Peter and Paul never ONCE mention that person must fast before being baptized. If you read the book of Acts carefully then you see they believed, repented, and were baptized. All this within the same day, less than 24 hours. Thus there is no way they could have done this they required at a minimum 24 hours. Thus I question your legal and hermeneutical skills.

Look up the forgeries listed. You are a lawyer it is your responsibility to prove me wrong on each point. I play with a full deck and I have not one but multitudes of objects to Catholicism.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

A short follow-up: compared to you, the Church is really modest. She only recognizes saints, and never consigns individual people to hell.

Now for your obscene and ludicrous statement about Bl. Cardinal Newman and Benedict XVI. You've got some gall. Now I'm positive you're not even Christian. You believe that God punishes people for something that is: 1) not a sin, that is, an act; 2) not a consequence of an act. And keep in mind that no one needs to consider your pathetic slander.

George said...

@ Georgy

Invincible ignorance is considered a logical fallacy.

See http://www.freewebs.com/thinkingstraight/Fallacies.htm#Invincible Ignorance

or

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invincible_ignorance_fallacy

George said...

@ Georgy,

You accuse me of not being Christian because I make judgments. Then you do the same thing and accuse me of not being Christian.

Are you not being judgmental yourself. Thus you have walked into your own logical contradiction.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@ George

The problem is how does one understand if something is prescriptive of descriptive in the Didache or the Bible. This requires a knowledge of the science of hermeneutics. As a lawyer you should be somewhat familiar with this concept.

That's not it. A disciplinary norm can be both. Doesn't make it dogma.
Were you actually familiar with Catholic teaching and, say, the writing of St. Thomas, you'd clearly see that.

Furthermore, many scholars think the Didache is a first century forgery. Peter and Paul never ONCE mention that person must fast before being baptized. If you read the book of Acts carefully then you see they believed, repented, and were baptized. All this within the same day, less than 24 hours. Thus there is no way they could have done this they required at a minimum 24 hours. Thus I question your legal and hermeneutical skills.

Well, I question your reasoning, and if these scholars cite the same reason for rejecting the Didache, theirs as well. Disciplinary measures can be discharged from, not made universal, Luke could've omitted that, etc.

Look up the forgeries listed. You are a lawyer it is your responsibility to prove me wrong on each point. I play with a full deck and I have not one but multitudes of objects to Catholicism.

Speechless. You're making bold posotive statements, apparently, with no good reason, as the example of the Didache proves. Shifting the burden of proof much?

George said...

@ Georgy,

You claim the church is modest. Let us look at this form a very practical standpoint.

FACT: Pope Francis when he was archbishop in Argentina BLESSED homosexual unions. Now consider this. A married Catholic man who uses birth control with his married wife is in MORTAL SIN.

Mortal Sin means YOU GO STRAIGHT to HELL. The Catholic church DOES JUDGE and it does it all the time.

Thus using Catholic logic is more blessed to be in a homosexual union than to be married using a condom with your wife. This is UTTER insanity. That is why you would have to be INSANE to be Catholic.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

Ah, the absurdity.

Please do read the wikipedia article you cite. Then check what you've stated. Perhaps God will reveal something to you while you're at it.

I'm certain you're not a Christian because you seem to believe in an unjust God. Perhaps the term 'Christian' includes those who beliebe in a positively evil God, away with all that pagan A-T nonsense.
Now, I have no idea where you'll end up. What I am, sure, though, is that your eternal destiny depends on your choices (to accept God's grace, to spurn Him, etc.)
I refuse to usurp God's right to be the judge of that.

Where's the contradiction?..

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@ Georgy


FACT: Pope Francis when he was archbishop in Argentina BLESSED homosexual unions. Now consider this. A married Catholic man who uses birth control with his married wife is in MORTAL SIN.

Okay, that's simply a lie. Then again, were he to do that, would change nothing, really.

Mortal Sin means YOU GO STRAIGHT to HELL. The Catholic church DOES JUDGE and it does it all the time.

Objectively, yes. Subjectively, we can't be absolutely certain it was in fact a mortal sin (full knowledge, deliberate and complete consent, etc.)

Thus using Catholic logic is more blessed to be in a homosexual union than to be married using a condom with your wife. This is UTTER insanity. That is why you would have to be INSANE to be Catholic.

You betray your ignorance of basic concepts, such as sin (being an act), sacrament of marriage, chastity, etc.
I reckon your journey through Catholicism was a short one. A night train, perhaps?..

George said...

@ Everybody

Catholics like to invoke Tradition as being equal to Scripture. But the Orthodox also invoke tradition. Whose tradition is one to believe. They claim that tradition shows that Peter was ONLY one of many bishops. Catholic obviously have a different tradition. So who are you to believe?

Catholics claim that they gave us the Bible. Orthodox also make this claim. If this is true, why do they not have the same number of books in their respective Bibles? In fact the Orthodox have one more Psalm that the Roman Catholics. What is a person to do?

George said...

@Georgy,

Most married Catholic men know they are in mortal sin when they use a condom with their wives. Thus invincible ignorance is NOT an option. Seriously how difficult is it to understand this concept?

George said...

@ Everyone

FACT: It is better to be an atheist than mortal sin practicing Catholic. Honestly, if I were Catholic I would want to keep people invincibly ignorant or atheistic, because I know that 90% of Catholics practice birth control. Thus using Catholic logic it is better to be a dumbass so one can avoid culpability.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

I'm specifying the exact cases where the doctrine applies.
Objectively, the men you refer to are in fact in the state of mortal sin.

Interesting. You claim invincible ignorance is not an option.
I guess I was wrong about you.
You must be God.

The problem with the Orthodox is that the Church of the East did in fact recognise Petrine and thus Papal Primacy, but then withdrew that recognition, entering schism.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@ George

Oh, come now, George, that's insane troll logic.

FACT: It is better to be an atheist than mortal sin practicing Catholic. Honestly, if I were Catholic I would want to keep people invincibly ignorant or atheistic, because I know that 90% of Catholics practice birth control. Thus using Catholic logic it is better to be a dumbass so one can avoid culpability.

First off, objectively, sin is sin, and therefore should be shunned. Morever, we don't know when invincnible ignorance applies. And extrapolating it, as some do, is imprudent, at the very least.

And again, Luke 12:48 Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more"
God is just.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

*I'm not specifying the exact cases when the doctrine applies

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

Ah, finally.
Bottomline: read up, you vain and angry troll

@All Catholics reading this
When going through the daily routine of vice (alchohol, tobacco, metaphysics), please consider saying a most pagan Rosary to our Goddess Mary, mentioning our good friend George in your vile intentions.

@everyone else

Terribly sorry for all this.
You know us Russians!..

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

*the Eastern Church, not the Church of the East.

Pardon.

Anonymous said...

I think we're losing sight of what's important. George was dishonest in his "Peter was never in Rome". He knows it and we know it. It's obvious it was a cut and paste job from a website. He later insisted it was from a book that was 100+ years of age. After asking for the books title, he pointed us to the book "The History of the Papacy". It was then called to his attention that the book's author did in fact believe Peter was in Rome. Finally, he listed the website he had actually cut and pasted from then went on to pretend it'd slipped his mind earlier. He's a dishonest guy. It's that simple. If he was so willing to lie earlier, it's safe to assume he has no problem doing it again (As he's continued to demonstrate). Ignore him and let him go back to posting on carm or some blog where he can discuss with those of like mind the genius that is Pope Cornelius Van Til.

Eric

George said...

@ Georgy,

The Euthypthro dilemma is ONLY a dilemma for Catholics and Greek pagan philosophers.

Again I refer to the Old Testament, which preceded Greek thought.

Jewish thought[edit]
This notion predates both Christianity and the Greek philosophers, appearing first in the eighth-century BC Hebrew prophets, Amos, Hosea, Micah and Isaiah. (Amos lived some three centuries before Socrates and two before Thales.) "Their message," writes British scholar Norman H. Snaith, "is recognized by all as marking a considerable advance on all previous ideas",[90] not least in its "special consideration for the poor and down-trodden".[91] As Snaith observes, tsedeq, the Hebrew word for righteousness, "actually stands for the establishment of God's will in the land". This includes justice, but goes beyond it, "because God's will is wider than justice. He has a particular regard for the helpless ones on earth".[92] Tsedeq "is the norm by which all must be judged" and it "depends entirely upon the Nature of God".[93]
Hebrew has very few abstract nouns, and they are mostly late. What the Greeks thought of as ideas or abstractions, the Hebrews thought of as activities.[94] In contrast to the Greek dikaiosune (justice) of the philosophers, tsedeq is not an idea abstracted from this world of affairs. As Snaith writes:
Tsedeq is something that happens here, and can be seen, and recognized, and known. It follows, therefore, that when the Hebrew thought of tsedeq (righteousness), he did not think of Righteousness in general, or of Righteousness as an Idea. On the contrary, he thought of a particular righteous act, an action, concrete, capable of exact description, fixed in time and space.... If the word had anything like a general meaning for him, then it was as it was represented by a whole series of events, the sum-total of a number of particular happenings.[93]
The Hebrew stance on what came to be called the problem of universals, as on much else, was very different from that of Plato and precluded anything like the Euthyphro dilemma.[95] This has not changed. In 2005, Jonathan Sacks wrote, "In Judaism, the Euthyphro dilemma does not exist."[96] Jewish philosophers Avi Sagi and Daniel Statman criticized the Euthyphro dilemma as "misleading" because "it is not exhaustive": it leaves out a third option, namely that God "acts only out of His nature".[97]- Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma#Jewish_thought

Constantly Catholics reveal that they are NOT very good at reasoning. Their limited repertoire of knowledge and ideas means they cannot think outside the box.

Bottomline: If you are not a superior intellect you will inevitably be a Catholic or an Atheist. Either of which will leave you dead in your trespasses.

Otherwise, I recommend an appeal to pre-suppositional apologetics for it is the ONLY way a Catholic or an Atheist will come to a knowledge of the Living God and not the counterfeit christ of A-T.

George said...

@ Everybody

Just for the record the Orthodox include 1 Esdras 3,4 Maccabees, and Psalm 151 as additional bits in their Bibles. Maybe the Orthodox gave us the Bible and Catholics are only reading sloppy seconds. Furthermore the Ethiopian Orthodox have a few more books that both the Orthodox and Catholics.

Basically for a Catholic reason only includes those things that he can defend. If he can't defend it must not be subject to reason. So how did CAtholics make such a mess and become the TRUE fathers of modernity? Very simple.

A-T exalted aposteriori knowledge above apriori knowledge (the Bible). Aposteriori knowledge has become the de rigueur of modern society and it was first exalted by Aquinas. This is why he knew what he wrote was Straw and did not want to work on the Summa before his untimely death. The sins of Thomas lead to modernity and atheism. Atheism was virtually non-existent in the ancient world and is still non-existent in culture that are predominated by apriori knowledge.

This is why the Catholic church is useless in fighting the culture wars and will slowly spin into irrelevancy over the coming century. Using A-T, an aposteriori epistemology, to fight modernity is like trying to use a fly swatter to take down a jumbo jet.

Only apriori Bible truth can win the culture wars. It defeated Hellenism in the first several centuries and it can do it again.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

Okay, that's it.
The depths of your dishonesty and depravity are now manifest.

Gotcha.

You have no idea what A-T is all about.
There's no Euthypthro dilemma for thomists.

it leaves out a third option, namely that God "acts only out of His nature'

To quote our favourite saint:
[A]ll that is in things created by God, whether it be contingent or necessary, is subject to the eternal law: while things pertaining to the Divine Nature or Essence are not subject to the eternal law, but are the eternal law itself” (ST I-II.93.4).

Please pay homage to a man whose blog you plague:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.ru/2010/10/god-obligation-and-euthyphro-dilemma.html

In fact, were you at least interested in truth, you could've read the wikipedia article you quoted from.

It's time for you to think (and read) outside the terrible box you've put yourself in - that of yourself.

George said...

@Georgy,

No problem. I will admit when I am wrong. I did not know that Catholics had the Euthypthro dilemma figured out. I thought it was only Protestants. So I do appreciate that piece of knowledge.

I claim I am teachable if you give me a convincing argument, which you have.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

Not to say that your ignorance really amazes me, but you do realise that both Catholics and Orthodox recognise we used to constitute the same Church? One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, the one mentioned in the Creed. Schism notwithstanding, both Catholics and Orthodox will tell you that this Church produced the Bible. The differences between the Church and the East are significant, but not that great. And any question about the canon of the Bible can be settled as it once was: by authority.

Spare me your prophecies and clueless conjecture.

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

No problem. I will admit when I am wrong. I did not know that Catholics had the Euthypthro dilemma figured out. I thought it was only Protestants. So I do appreciate that piece of knowledge.

You do realise St. Thomas lived in a time when there were no Protestants around, centuries before the Revolt? Again, the arrogance!..

Now, I believe you have a somewhat warped view of both A-T and Catholicism.
You keep saying A-T depends crucially on 'induction', 'an aposteriori epistemology', etc. All of this betrays a somewhat modern outlook.
For that reason, I suggest reading Professor Feser's wonderful book, 'The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism'*.
I do realise you're not an atheist, but I take it you do enjoy polemics, 'TLS's both very informative and spicy (yes, indeed, Catholics are decadent). Then again, you can always read 'Aquinas**' by the same author.

* http://www.amazon.com/Last-Superstition-Refutation-New-Atheism/dp/1587314517/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1220297568&sr=1-2
** http://www.amazon.com/Aquinas-Beginners-Guide-Edward-Feser/dp/1851686908/ref=pd_sim_b_1

Георгий Манчхашвили said...

@George

Now, I'm going to presuppose (!) that you're a person of good-will, and that your misuderstandings of A-T and Catholicism are the result of 'mal'/disinformation, caricatures presented to you, e.g., not your fault.

If the East-West Schism is really that big an obstacle for you, I would be quite happy to refer you to the problems with the Orthodox position and salient points of Catholic defense.

Pax Domini sit semper tecum

The Deuce said...

George's repeated claim that A-T is based in "inductive reasoning" is especially revealing about how little he understands it. As anyone even slightly familiar with it will know, one of the biggest differences between A-T arguments for God's existence vs ones with more modernist assumptions is that the A-T arguments are deductions from a few simple (and logically inescapable) observations.

Matthew Kennel said...

George said...
"The word temple is better translated tabernacle. A tabernacle is the dwelling place of God. God dwells with His born again believers not the sacramental counterfeits.

The Jewish temple was destroyed in 70 AD. As a result the entire sacrificial system was destroyed once and for all."

@George

Even granting that you are right about the correct translation of the word naos, it still wouldn't help your case, since the wilderness tabernacle was a place of sacrifice.

But, at any rate, you are not correct. Eph 2:20 in context talks about foundations, a cornerstone, and a building, all of which would be manifest nonsense if talking about the wilderness tabernacle. Furthermore, Strong's talks about the meaning of naos and defines it, not in relation to the wilderness tabernacle, but in relation to the Temple and to heathen temples.

Edward Feser said...

Guys,

I've been too preoccupied with personal matters in the last couple of days to pay much attention to the combox, but it's pretty clear that the thread has gotten way off-topic and turned into a troll-feeding exercise. It's probably too late to salvage this thread at this point, but any comments in this vein in future posts will be deleted.

George, kindly go back to your Bible shack. Everyone else, no more troll-feeding please.

Tap said...

gosh i was enjoying dguller and Brandon's exchange, i hope that is allowed because that is still sorta on topic

Jeremy Taylor said...

I do not know if this discussion is allowed (I have no desire to respond to George in anyway) but this statement that "The problem with the Orthodox is that the Church of the East did in fact recognise Petrine and thus Papal Primacy, but then withdrew that recognition, entering schism" is not true. Or at least it is not true in a non-controverial and unproblematic way.

The Orthodox recognised the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, and continue to do so in theory, whilst claiming he is currently in error and heresy. However, this simply does not amount to the kind of powers and status that the Papacy came to claim towards the end of the first millenium and, especially, in the Post-Hildebrand era.

As far as I can see, the ecclesiastical organisation of the Orthodox Churches is closer to that of the early Church and that of much of the first millenium, even in the West. I have no problem with the Roman Church organising itself as it does, but its claims that we must all obey the authority claimed by the contemporary Papacy seem to me without foundation.

Edward Feser said...

Tap,

dguller and Brandon are always allowed pretty much to talk about whatever they want to around here as far as I'm concerned.

Jeremy,

I don't mind if that discussion continues either. As I said, this comment thread has pretty much gone off track entirely anyway. I just wanted to warn George and anyone still inclined to take him seriously that I won't let future threads get sidetracked by him.

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