Monday, November 26, 2018

Opening the thread

It’s the latest open thread.  This is the time to get your off-topic comments off your chest, and to give your threadjacking impulses free rein.  From iPhones to I, Claudius, from D-list celebs to Eugene Debs, from the A-theory to Blossom Dearie – discuss whatever you like, within reason.  Just keep it civil, classy, and troll-free.

I should perhaps clarify for some readers that these open threads are not “Ask Ed anything” posts.  Sorry, I just don’t have time to respond to most questions.  Think of them instead as “Ask each other anything” posts.
Previous open threads are linked to here.


  1. I think that Georgism is an excellent economic system that coheres quite nicely with Natural Law and the Christian tradition. What do you think about it?

    1. As a trained economist, I have my reservations. Of course, I haven't read H George yet, though I intend to.


    3. Could you give me the cliff notes ideas of that book you recommended me?

    4. It better fully address David Friedman's latest edition of The Machinery of Freedom to get any traction these days.

    5. I do have that book, but it's a book that argues for anarcho-capitalism. I'm talking about Georgism and Thomistic Natural Law. I'm saying that they are compatible.

  2. Can you have a successful deductive argument with premises supported by inductive arguments? The way I understand it, the strength of a deductive argument comes from the absolute certainty of its conclusion. So, if the premises are true, the conclusion is true with 100% certainty. As is shown in the following syllogism:

    1. All wholes are bigger than its parts
    2. This thing is a whole
    3. Therefore, this thing is bigger than its parts.

    Because the truth of the conclusion follows with absolute certainty, deductive arguments are considered the “gold standard.”

    In contrast, a good inductive argument can never be true with 100% certainty even in principle. As is indicated in the following stock example:

    1. The sun has rose every single day since I was born.
    2. Therefore, the sun will rise tomorrow.

    Even if the premise (1) is true, it does It follow that the conclusion is true with 100% certainty. Though it may be true with some high level of certainty.

    The issue I have noticed is that many Christian apologist claim to be making deductive arguments for certain truths of faith, but support for their premises turn on mere inductive arguments. But how can a conclusion from a deductive argument be a 100% certain, when at least one of its premises can never be known to be truth with absolute certainty? For example, consider the Kalam Cosmological argument:

    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
    2. The universe began to exist
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

    Here, premise (1) appears to be support by a deductive arguments of its own based on the metaphysical principle that “nothing can come from nothing.” Thus, premise one appears capable of being known with certainty. Premise (2), on the contrary, appears to only be supported by inductive arguments such as what modern scientist tell us about the beginning of the universe and the Big Bang theory. But, inductive arguments can never render truth with a 100% certainty. Since it cannot render truth with a 100% certainty (as a sound deductive argument is supposed to do), I am confused as to how this argument can be passed off as a sound deductive argument. Am I missing something?

    1. No I think you're exactly right. Deduction is only certain if the premises can be known to be certainly true. Moreover, as we know, the effect is always contained in the cause. So if any one of the premises of an argument is not necessarily true, neither can the conclusion be necessarily true. Hence the Kalam argument is not a demonstration in the strict sense, but only probably true.

      But I am interested in other people's more qualified takes.

    2. As I understand it, in a deductive argument, the conclusion has the truth value of the premises that are put into it. Thus premises that are 100% true will give a conclusion that is 100% true. Correspondingly, if one of the premises is false, then the conclusion will also be false.

      If you use uncertain conclusions from an inductive argument in a deductive one, then, the conclusion of the deductive argument will have the same uncertainty as the premise from the inductive argument.

      The soundness of the argument doesn't have anything to do with the truth value of the premises that go into it, but rather whether or not the conclusion is logically entailed by the premises. The Kalam Cosmological argument as you've stated it is a sound deductive argument: the conclusion logically follows from the two premises. The question is simply whether those premises happen to be true.


    3. Premise (2), on the contrary, appears to only be supported by inductive arguments such as what modern scientist tell us about the beginning of the universe and the Big Bang theory.

      Not necessarily; I've seen people argue for this premise based on deductive arguments (e.g., for the impossibility of an actual infinite, or the impossibility of completing an infinite chain of causal events, etc.). So I'd say it depends on which author you're reading, rather than the argument per se.

    4. Jb, in your last paragraph, do you mean "validity of the argument"? I thought a valid deductive argument is one in which the conclusion is logically entailed by its premises, and a sound deductive argument is one in which the conclusion is logically entailed by the premises, and the premises are true.

    5. If I remember correctly, Aristotle referred to these deductive premises as "archai" or "first things." These were premises based on enough inductive evidence (such as "All humans are mortal") that deductive arguments could be based on them. However, that does not mean that they are 100% certain, and so we have the distinction between an argument that is valid (logically valid, but the premises are not necessarily true) and one that is "sound" (both valid and having true premises).

    6. enough inductive evidence (such as "All humans are mortal")

      Craig, I think you are introducing "inductive" in two different senses with this.

      According to A-T philosophy, when we derive the definition of a being (or grasp the essential nature of a thing) we are using what from the beginning appears as an "inductive" process - we experience one example, and then another, and then another... But eventually, the mind (the active intellect) leaps past the concreteness and particulars in the instances and grasps (in virtue of a concept as a universal) the nature, which is not individual but common to all instances. This conceptualization / apprehension of a universal is not what moderns mean by "induction" at all.

      So when Aristotle (or Plato) uses the expression "all men are mortal" they are referring to something in the nature (or, more precisely, a property stemming from the nature) of man as such: a universal. Something that belongs to man in virtue of his definition, not in virtue of repeated observations confirming it. They are not stating a conclusion of an inductive argument along the lines of "everyone who has lived so far has been mortal..."

    7. You're right; I was being a bit lazy. But the "first things" general apprehension IS based first of all on the inductive process. After a while, it is accepted as part of the nature of a thing. So I think we're saying the same thing, except you are saying it better. :)

    8. The goal of induction is the definitions and postulates that are the basis for deduction. The definitions and postulates ensure that valid deductive arguments are conditionally true. The primary argument for accepting the definitions and postulates is the induction. A secondary argument is the observation of deductive conclusions.

    9. In you stated that “The Kalam Cosmological argument as you've stated it is a sound deductive argument: the conclusion logically follows from the two premises. The question is simply whether those premises happen to be true.”

      This is where my confusion arises, Jb. I am not sure how to determine whether those premise happen to be true with 100% certainty. The way I understand it there are only two ways to determine whether those premises are true: (1) through deduction or (2) induction. But inductive arguments can never lend us 100% certainty. So we are forced to stick with deduction to arrive at certain conclusions. Is there a third option?

      Thank you guys for your thoughts on this. I appreciate it.

    10. This is where the principle of sufficient reason comes in. It tells us which inductive premises are reasonable and worth believing as fact.

    11. Is the Kalam cosmological argument not an inference to the best explanation? And is an inference to the best explanation not an inductive argument Type? Just saying

    12. Jason: Others have covered the bases, but I will point out that I think this is why Aquinas and Aristotle avoided the notion that the universe must have had a beginning. Despite not believing so, and believing there were strong enough arguments for the idea that the universe had a beginning, they decided to concede the idea that the universe had always existed, and as such removed any degree of induction from the cosmological argument.

  3. Are there any Catholics here that can point me to a discussion of the nature of Rites, and their relationship to Uses?

    Concretely, what is the nature of the difference between the Byzantine Rite and the Roman Rite? Is it merely conceptual, or is it real?

    Ultimately, I want to apply the answers to the nature of the Novus Ordo, or the Rite of Paul VI. If it is really the Roman Rite just radically altered, then it actually replaced the older Missals before it, just like any new edition of the Missal replaced the prior edition.

    If, on the other hand, it is not actually the Roman Rite, then it has no business existing. The very nature of Catholicism is to gratefully receive what has been handed down, the most important objects of which (other than the doctrines of Christ) are the received Rites of the Church by which she effects the sacraments. It is one of the worst forms of pride to think the liturgy is ultimately subject to one's control; to one's tastes and particular expressions.

    The answer to this question will help determine much of the nature of the problems in the Church's life, and also make clearer what we are to do about it.

    1. My understanding is that uses are distinct realizations of a Rite. There used to be quite a bit of difference between the uses of the various cities and the religious orders; the Council of Trent suppressed those that could not be shown to be older than 200 years.

      Many of the historical uses are frequently referred to as 'rites', but my understanding is that this is a misnomer. There were genuine Western rites other than the Roman, but they now survive only in a handful of locations. (The Ambrosian in Milan, the Mozarabic in Toledo, and so on.)

    2. Hi Gareth, thanks for reply. I'm aware of all of this.

      I don't suppose you have anything that would tell me what a Rite of Mass actually is, concretely speaking? What it is that allows us to designate the Byzantine and Latin Rites as totally distinct rituals?

      That will help us determine what the nature of the Mass of 1969 really is, and whether we have an obligations towards it.

    3. Primus, I have had exactly the same question as you. And having asked it for 20 years, I doubt at this point that there is any definitive answer. My strong suspicion is that each of the "rites" grew by slow aggregation of elements by piecemeal, were confirmed via custom, and that similarly the distinction between rites also grew mainly by mere recognition of differing customs in different Churches (say, the Churches of different patriarchates, primarily). And just as there is no essential character by which one apostolic see became a patriarchate versus another one that did not, there is no essential character by which a "use" and a "rite" differ, it is more a matter of (a) customary reference, and (b) mere recognition of similarity and historical reliance rather than any "nature".

      Paul VI did us an (apparently unending) dis-service by (a) refusing to require the liturgical commission to strictly follow the Council on the reform; (b) strictly adhering to a reasonable sense of the terms "rite" and "use" and require sensible application of them; and (c) refusing to acknowledge, for his last 9 years, that the initial implementation (Missale Romanum) of the Novus Ordo was ambiguous and could use definitive and authoritarian rule-making regarding the older Missal and its use.

      It is my sense that Benedict XVI, in his Summorum Pontificum, essentially (but only implicitly) accepted the position of the SSPX supporters in the thesis that the use of the old Missal had never been (properly) abrogated, obrogated, or derogated. I know good priests (not in SSPX) who also seem to have that opinion. His attempt to square the circle without saying, explicitly, that Paul VI royally screwed up, was to designate the older mass the "Extraordinary Form" versus the Novus Ordo being the "Ordinary Form" but this is clearly a merely ad-hoc rule that harbors no specific theological meaning, so far as I have ever heard. He just made it up for the sake of having a distinction that asserted nothing specific about "use" or "rite" or whatever.

    4. Tony,

      That's all very interesting, but also saddening. If a Rite is no more than a difference in custom, then it seems all 24 Churches would be have their own rite, owing to the fact that they each have their own customs in saying Mass. I don't see how that conclusion really squares with how the rites are classed. There seems to be more to the story - I just wish I could find out what.

      Yes, exactly; Benedict XVI's solution was to simply ignore the problem. Now that I think of it, it seems he really wasn't concerned with restoring the tradition of the Church, after all. He simply wanted to end the complaining on the side of the traditionalists.

      As long as the ambiguity remains, I don't think we'll ever see the Roman Use restored to its full and proper place within the Latin Church. Please God, a future Pope will be brave enough to address this urgent issue.

    5. The different rites are usually distinguished by the language used in the Mass and liturgy, and the cannon used in the Mass. I'm sure there's a lot more to it, and the question of the new mass is indeed one of the critical problems (it is a watered down version of the Mass deemphasizing the Catholic elements to appeal to those who don't have the Faith). A traditional priest could probably explain it all since their whole life revolves around these questions.

  4. For something more relevant, what is the theological note of the teaching of limbo of the infants? Even if it is not infallible, it certainly seems to be at least a common opinion; from which a Catholic may not dissent without sufficient reason.

    1. De fide.
      source: Ott, Ludwig: Grundriss der katholischen Dogmatik; Bonn (11) 2010, p. 178.

    2. Limbo of the infants is certainly not de fide. At best it is theologically certain or a teaching proximate to the faith.

      More likely than that it is theologically probable in the modern day but during Medieval times it was the more common consensus of theologians.

    3. Tom,

      How can the same idea have a varying theological note, according to the time it is proposed in? My understanding is that a note is fixed even as the meaning of the proposition to which it is attached is.

      As I said above, if it is common teaching (the evidence of the Fathers and Doctors seems to indicate yes) then it is binding under pain of sin to assent to it, unless one has grave and sufficient reason not to. So the question then is, do those who advocate against limbo have sufficient reason not to affirm it?

      My suspicion is they don't, at least in the majority of cases.

    4. Ludwig Ott says it is "de fide", and he is a reliable source. He also gives proofs from Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition that attest to the existence of the limbus infantorum. Whether the teaching really is "de fide" or "sententia communis", I don't know. But if Ott boldly claims it to be "de fide", I see no reason to oppose.

    5. @deus: yes, a theological note can change over time. For example, something that was a common opinion can later become dogma. If you look at manuals pre 1950, you’ll see the Assumption listed as less than “de fide”. Similarly, what is common or probable theological opinion can change as theology changes.

      The Fathers actually do not all teach limbo. Augustine would be one such example. So the theological consensus changes with time. I see no reason to characterize doubting limbo as “sinful” per se, as there are respectable theologians and saints who doubt it, or at least affirm that some unbaptized babies are saved.

      @randolph. Ott claims limbo of the fathers is de fide. He explicitly allows for the possibility of infants who die without baptism being saved extra sacramentally.

  5. Is it metaphysically possible for anything contingent to be omnipotent, to be able to combine essence and existence and thus create anything ex nihilo?

    One consideration in favor of such an idea seems to be that contingent beings that are infinite in at least some respect are in fact metaphysically possible. Infinite extension, infinite duration and infinite quantity are possible traits that could be instantiated. Finitely sized objects being able to produce infinite results, or having infinite composition, or qualitative infinities such as infinite beauty, force and density also seem possible.

    Cantor has also shown that there are infinitely many infinities each greater than the last, and all constructible infinities together constitute a Proper Class. There are even cardinal properties such as Indescribable, Supercompact, Vopenka etc. that are even greater than all of that. So it may be possible for created things to be, say, Supercompact, or at least greater than the infinity of natural numbers.

    When it comes to creating something ex nihilo and combining it's essence and existence together, it is commonly said that this requires infinite and unlimited power which belongs to God alone. But if contingent objects can be truly infinite in the above respects I listed, can they also be infinite when it comes to power?

    It is said that Augustine believed that God was above the concept of infinity, since infinity was merely one idea among other ideas in the Divine Mind, and since created infinities could exist. Cantor himself also believed that God was above every other mathematical infinity - that He was an Absolute that could not be augmented at all. If God is greater than infinity, and combining essence and existence requires only infinite power to be done, can contingent and composite beings have that power too?

    (Also, any potential contingent being that DID indeed have the power of omnipotence and could combine essence and existence would still require a cause outside of itself to sustain it's own existence, given the incoherence of self-causation and the obvious compositeness of the omnipotent contingent being in question.)

    So is such a thing actually possible, or am I way off metaphysically with this?

  6. Is it metaphysically possible for there to be contingent & concrete beings that are immaterial, but aren't personal?

    That is, does immateriality in a being necessarily entail personality / rationality, or can there be immaterial things or objects that can act on the world, yet aren't personal angelic beings?

    Or are all immaterial beings necessarily personal / angelic in nature?

    1. All immaterial beings are personal intellects. The reason is that something can only be a physical object, an abstraction, an idea, or a mind. Physical objects are obviously not immaterial. Abstractions are causally inert (the number 12 does not cause the eggs in a carton to exist). Ideas presuppose minds and are therefore not subsistent. That just leaves minds. The only other thing I could think of is a Platonic form. I am not sure if those could not exist in principle. I would have to think on it some more.

    2. I am talking about immaterial contingent things, which means they aren't eternally existing ideas, but are rather concrete particular beings.

      And why exactly can all things be reduced to these? Why is it the case that all contingently existing immaterial beings have to be personal? One argument I can think of is that, since physicality and materiality require being composed of form and matter, and immateriality leaves out the matter, all we would have is pure form. And impersonal forms would be problematic because we know that this is directly related to personality. But why can't there be an immaterial contingent and particular form that isn't personal? Does being purely formal really necessarily entail being intellectual and thus personal? Are persons really the only possible pure forms?

    3. There are certain rationalist positions that hold that there are nonpersonal/unintelligent immaterial substances -- perhaps the most famous is Catharine Trotter Cockburn's view that space is such a thing (which she argues on the basis of the chain of being).

      The usual Thomist position here, while strong, is in some ways uninteresting, because immateriality of form just is the essential element in the Thomistic account of knowledge, so if you have purely immaterial substance you have something subsisting as active knowing. As Aquinas says somewhere, if the form of a box could somehow subsist of itself independently of matter, it would know itself. The investigation of other possible arguments, or supplementary confirmations, seems to be an underexplored area.

    4. @Brandon,

      Interesting. So one could use the chain of being argument, and maybe even the principle of plenitude, to argue that a non-personal immaterial being is actually possible.

      May I also ask one more question to you, directly regarding another comment I posted here: Is it in any way metaphysically possible for there to be a contingent or even physical object that is actually omnipotent, and can literally create something ex nihilo by combining essence and existence?

      After all, if it is possible for material objects to be infinite in size, or infinite in temporal duration, or have infinite effects such as releasing infinite heat, or have an infinity intensity (i.e. density, energy, even beauty), then maybe they could also have infinite power?

      If being omnipotent / combining essence and existence, which properly belongs to God, requires infinite power, could there be a contingent creature that could do that? Such a thing would still depend upon God for it's existence since it's still contingent and composed of essence and existence, but it would be omnipotent nonetheless.

    5. Yes, you could probably do something fairly easily with some form of principle of plenitude. Cockburn's argument uses a much weaker principle (she is adapting Locke's argument for the existence of angels), with the result that the conclusion is quite weak; if you wanted a very robust conclusion (very certain, or one where we could get a very precise idea about what was involved in unintelligent immaterial substance) you'd probably need something like plenitude.

      On the omnipotence, there would be a number of things to consider, but on first assessment, I would say there are possibly two issues.

      (1) In this kind of context, it's usually taken to be the case that the possibility of other material infinites is derivative. So, for instance, Aquinas thinks that it is possible for material things to be infinite in duration if God sustains them as such. If we are talking about powers, though, then a power derivative from another power is an instrumental power. So the question would boil down to: Can omnipotence use a creature as an instrument in creation ex nihilo? Aquians's answer to that question is that it can't, because for an instrument to be involved it would still have to be using its own proper power, and the proper action of material objects is interacting with material objects. Other scholastics discuss the question, but I'd have to go back and look to be sure of getting any of them right. Suarez I know has a good discussion. I don't remember details, but Freddoso has a close summary of his discussion online, which I think you'd find very interesting.

      (2) On some accounts of omnipotence, infinite power is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition of omnipotence. On such a view, that a creature does not have infinite power would establish that they cannot create ex nihilo, but it would not necessarily follow that a creature with infinite power could create ex nihilo. (Usually the added condition is something like 'not requiring mediation'. This is distinct, of course, from what was considered in the question above, which is about whether something that God can do without mediation is something that it would be possible for creatures to mediate. I don't know that it would make a direct difference. It's often hard to prove that something can be immediate, so even if it doesn't make a direct difference, an immediacy condition might gum up the works.)

    6. @Brandon,

      1) Has anyone ever tried to use the principle of plenitude to argue in favor of non-personal immaterial beings?

      2) While temporal infinity may be more directly dependent upon God's conserving action, qualities such as infinite size and infinite effects do not require this.

      3) My main concern is about contingent things truly having omnipotence / combining essence and existence.

      I wasn't asking about whether or not they could have strictly derivative omnipotence from God, but whether or not they could truly have omnipotence by themselves, just as a rock by itself truly does have the power of breaking glass windows, without having to directly derive it from God.

      I brought up the point that omnipotent contingent beings would still require an external existential cause to keep them in being in order to differentiate them from God, and to point out how even if we grant the possibility of omnipotence to composite beings, they would still require an external cause for existence because of their status as contingent.

      Just as a rock that truly does have the power to break windows still requires God to keep it in existence at every moment, so too a being that truly can combine essence and existence still requires God to keep it in existence at every moment.

    7. (1) As far as I know, no.

      (2) On what grounds would anyone hold this?

      (3) Contingent things can't truly have omnipotence because being contingent their existence, and therefore their power, depends on something else. It's not as if power is a thing that floats free from existence.

    8. @Brandon,

      2) I may have worded things wrongly. What I meant to say is that, while temporal infinity may depend upon God in a more direct way than other things, different infinite attributes depend upon God in the same way all other attributes do.

      In other words, there is nothing about infinity as a derived attribute that makes it different from all other attributes. All attributes depend on God for their existence; infinity is just one among many.

      3) I think I included this in my statement of how omnipotent contingent things would still depend on God for their existence.

      The main idea behind all of this is that a thing could be omnipotent and yet still depend upon God for it's existence. In other words, it could have a type of "dependent omnipotence" basically.

      Just as a rock truly has the power to break windows even though it's power and existence depend on God, so too there may be a contingent thing that has the power of omnipotence, even though it also depends on God for existence.

      In other words, being omnipotent doesn't entail being ontologically independent. Or rather, something can be truly omnipotent but also depend on something else for it's continued existence and therefore it's continued possession of the power of omnipotence.

    9. (2) I confess I don't see any asymmetry between time and the other cases here.

      (3) But if the 'omnipotence' is dependent, then it can be taken away, and thus there is a limit to it, and thus it is not omnipotence. Omnipotence is usually taken to entail ontological independence, because very dependence is a limit in power.

    10. @Brandon,

      2) Infinite size, beauty, and producing infinite effects (i.e. releasing infinite heat) belong more properly to a thing than it's duration.

      Qualities such as redness, weight, size and producing effects belong directly to things and it just so happens these properties can be infinite as well.

      3) The omnipotence in question here is not absolutely unlimited. It would be wrong to define it as something that cannot be taken away, because it belongs to a contingent being.

      To be more precise, the "dependent omnipotence" includes being able to combine essence and existence to create ex nihilo, as well as actualise potentials in a direct and absolute way (pick up a rock omnipotently such that nothing else can hinder the action).

      What I am thinking of here is that having the power to create ex nihilo and still being contingent do not contradict each other, but both could be be true.

      Here is an analogy: A human being might have the natural ability to make other things fly into the air, without having the ability to make himself fly. His ability to make other things fly in no way makes his personal inability to fly a metaphysically impossible limitation.

    11. I don't understand your argument in (2), since it seems to assume the asymmetry it is supposed to explain. Most people, particularly in the context of discussing creation, do in fact take it to be the case that if something created is infinite in size, etc., that it would have to be made so by being created as such. It could not have had it by ordinary accumulation.

      On (3), my point is that everything you are saying implies that you are not considering omnipotence at all; 'omnipotence with limitations' is an oxymoron, because 'omnipotence' indicates a power without limitations.

    12. 2) Ahh! That's what I was getting at! I just misunderstood the language unfortunately!

      I completely agree with the statement that an infinite thing would have it's qualities only when directly created by God, since it can't accumulate them.

      If that's what you were trying to tell me, then I agree!

      3) If calling it omnipotence is problematic because omnipotence usually requires complete ontological independence, then we could call it something else. Then what I'm suggesting would be something like nigh-omnipotence or multi-potence.

      Or rather, to make things more specific, it would be the power to create / combine essence and existence even though the thing that has it is itself composite.

      It would also include the power to, say, actualise non-existential potentials but in an absolute way (say, lifting a box but omnipotently such that nothing can stop the action from being fulfilled).

      And the question then is: Are such a things possible for contingent beings in some way at all? Can a composite being truly have the ability to combine the essence and existence of other things, even though it is itself dependent on God for existence?

    13. Omnipotence is usually considered a precondition for creation ex nihilo, so the answer would usually be No, to both questions. Anything beyond that would need a much more precise specification of the alleged power.

    14. @Brandon,

      Then I guess I have to reformulate my question.

      The main problem here seems to be the idea that omnipotence entails strict ontological independence.

      However, there are some examples that may illustrate a type of quasi-omnipotence useful for my argument; wish-granting objects in fiction say.

      If it is conceptually possible for any desired result to follow a certain pattern (i.e. anything one wishes for may come true, at least in fiction), especially if a contingent object is imbued with such power directly without causing immediate contradiction, then such a quasi-omnipotence may perhaps be possible or is at least worth investigating to some degree.

      Again, I'm aware that omnipotence usually defined needs to be ontologically independent from anything. But the power I'm trying to propose is basically specifically not defined as such.

      It would be the power to actualise any result (i.e. in numerous fiction there is the example of a Deus Ex Machina that can do anything) or at least combine essence and existence while itself being contingent.

      I hope this clarifies things some more.

    15. @Brandon,

      I think I recognised what my claim amounts to here.

      After reading Freddoso's summary, and his notes in an article that cites Suarez's Disputations, I think that what I am trying to propose is this:

      That a created and contingent being could have a principal (truly possessed and not strictly instrumental) creative power that is restricted to any creatable object other than itself, and that it's omnipotent power still depends on God's concurring existential action - like all other contingent powers do.

      Such a qualification would remove the absurdity of a being having the power to cause it's own existence, and the power the being would have is therefore not absolutely infinite but limited.

      It's power would have a limited range, even though that limited range is very wide and the only exception would be that it couldn't be it's own cause, and that, like all other powers that a contingent creature could have, it is dependent on God's existential concurrence of the being in question at every moment.

      The above qualified considerations show that the being in question would not be absolutely infinite since it is composite and dependent on God's conserving action, and it's omnipotence would technically have a limited range - being able to create anything other than itself - thereby being a limited creative power (though a very wide one).

      I hope this elucidates things.

  7. I would like to discuss this particular line of argumentation in support of abortion.

    I don't find particular arguments for abortion based on experience of pain very plausible. But a much plausible argument for it which I have a hard time countering is that fetus is not medically and scientifically "alive" So abortion can't be a case of killing it , so it can't be impermissible. The argument for this claim is that medically accepted definition of death is " the permanent loss of "capacity" for consciousness and all brainstem functions" this "brain death" is supposed to be " be the universal legal and medical measure accepted across the globe". So fetus doesn't have these it can't technically die. Its not on so you can't turn it off.

    Check out the argument and citations in the link.

    1. The claim that a foetus "is not medically and scientifically 'alive'" is, as far as I can tell, false. Scientifically, plants, sperms, and many other things with no brains, are considered to be alive, so having a brain is clearly not part of the scientific definition of life. From a medical perspective, people in permanent vegetative states are considered alive as well.

    2. Yes, I find many ambiguities in the above argument. (Consider the word capacity, can't foetus also be said to have capacity for it in some sense as it can develop it?)

      But maybe the point of the argument is that having working brain is accepted criteria for human life and human person hood so Foetus can't be said to be a living human? What then?

      (Can anything about person hood even be inferred based on what makes person dead?)

      And in a vegetative state brain isn't completely damaged so I guess that wouldn't count.

    3. But maybe the point of the argument is that having working brain is accepted criteria for human life and human person hood so Foetus can't be said to be a living human? What then?

      That is a question-begging approach.

      At least within Catholicism, the solid response is that the fetus (a) has the very same human nature as the adult which eventually will have that brain and think; and (b) is the very same individual being ("substance" in A-T terms) as the later adult. Given these, there can be no doubt that the fetus is both alive and "has a capacity" for thinking that will eventually be fulfilled.

    4. The AT position would group the fetus in with the natural kind of rational animal. And belonging to this kind, having its natural potencies, etc. it is morally valuable. If we are to say personhood is something that is bestowed on that which has a brain, then wouldn't rats, pigs, pigeons, etc. all fall into this category? Would we classify them as persons by virtue of having a brain? If the one retorts by emphasizing that it has to specifically be a human brain, then they are invoking a sort of AT natural kind. It isn't the brain specifically which renders personhood, it's belonging to the the human species which does.

      The reason why we associate the loss of brainstem function with death is that it marks the end of organic unity. The organism can no longer naturally fulfill the various potencies which demarcates its kind. While the fetus, on the other hand, is developing its natural capacities and has, within it, all the natural potencies an adult human has. A loose analogy would be the distinction between a dead tree with withering fruits and dying branches vs a sapling. Obviously the sapling is alive, and to group it into the same category as the former would be a mistake.

      Now there may be one final objection from the abortion proponent. Perhaps it's the specific active use of a human brain for distinctively human functions like rational thinking, which renders personhood onto an organism. This would exclude both animals and the fetus. But this might prove too much. Unless the abortion proponent is fond of infanticide, I would suspect he wouldn't fully endorse the implications of this view.

    5. Someone is dead when they, as a living substance, go out of existence. A living substance is by definition living, so you couldn't both affirm a living substance is still there and say it is also dead.

      Brain death is quite arbitrary I think. I believe it is grounded in a foundation that has things backwards. It takes the accidents as determining the substance rather than the substance determining the accidents. Or it deems a substance to be merely a composition of accidents.

    6. Also lets take a look at this particular argument above,

      "Consider this simple fact: Theoretically, I can remove the heart from an adult human being, and for just as long as I keep blood flowing through the body, that person will remain being a living person because their brain is still working naturally. You cannot do the reverse of this experiment."

      But can't I do just that for every part? It seems I can also theoretically replace brain with something else performing same functions.

    7. @ Billy,

      It takes the accidents as determining the substance rather than the substance determining the accidents. Or it deems a substance to be merely a composition of accidents.

      Yes, I think this seems to be main line of thought here as that guy says in comment

      " Brain is not the full human organism, but without a bilaterally synchronised brain you don’t have a human organism."

      So the thought here is before before brain all that is there is just aggregate of cells not a composite human being.

    8. The AT proponent would argue that we can't consider an aggregate of cells just an aggregate of cells if it has the natural potential to grow and flourish into a rational animal. Just in the same sense that you can't call a newborn a squirming ball of flesh with basic abjmal desires because--despite it being at the same cognitive level as a cow--it has the natural potential to flourish as a rational animal.

  8. And although this isn't "ask Ed anything" post but still I would like to make request here for future. One aspect of thomistic philosophy on which surprisingly Ed has written nothing about ( I think) is the Doctrine of Double effect, I would really like to see you tackle issues related to it sometime.

  9. "Can you have a successful deductive argument with premises supported by inductive arguments?"

    Is your question itself asking for a deductive argument or an inductive argument to answer it?

    If your requesting an inductive argument to decide that question, then it's never going to end. If you're requesting a deductive argument to decide this question, then you're already assuming that the answer is no.

  10. Sorry, that last should be: ". . . then you're already assuming that the answer is yes.

  11. @Red

    There are several ways to approach this:

    1) Why from a rational atheist standpoint is this an issue? If it's a matter of scientific consensus, then take a vote and move on. If it's not merely a consensus issue, then it becomes a question of why life itself is important enough to raise moral-ethical concerns in the first place, especially since he thinks dirt is just as much life as anything else.

    But the best way to argue against abortion is on the basis of minimizing moral/ethical risk. No idea why pro-lifers don't latch onto that.

    But I don't consider that guy's thinking to be worth pedantically going through one of my Man-With-No-Name routines. (Shows fingers and says: "*Fou

    My basic stance on abortion is basically the same as my rule for buying clothes: when in doubt, don't.

    Most all rationalistic atheists, like academic philosophers generally, are mainly interested in just running rhetorical interference to keep people from noticing:

    1) their vagueness about key terms,

    2) fatal self-reference errors in their unargued universals, and

    3) a lack of metatheoretic justification of background standards and principles.

    On a threadjacking, self-aggrandizing note, see my ultra-neo-Feserian essay for a few dozen reasons for thinking the above claim is true.

    [Ed: If a certain thing took place in the last few days . . . thanks for that. Otherwise, it's my usual operator error in understanding.

    Ed, O'Floinn, DNW, Thursday, et al: Where did Crude and everybody from The Olden Times go? Does anyone know? Our old friend Great Scott (as I now call that preeminent Christian gentleman of interlocutory decorum) must be uncharacteristically laughing his head off from above. Still miss that guy terribly. R.I.P.]

  12. My Chromebook keyboard, like that shallow trifling atheist's blog ads, make me want to kill something:

    (Manco holds fingers up and says, "Four coffins.")

  13. @JoeD

    Hey Joe. The great Christian genius Shad Helmstetter said "Every problem contains within itself the key to its own solution."

    Here's the way to hand-crank an answer. It is in fact a way of constructing a validity checker or theorem prover in a.i.

    1. Put all your key terms in Column A of a spreadsheet.

    2. Gather the respective definitions of those terms and put the key terms of those definitions in the same row as the terms in Column A:

    R1C1: infinite, R1C2: quality, R1C3 indefinitely large, and so on.

    3) Compare the keywords' respective definitional dependencies by identifying common terms in the definitions.

    4) Map those definitional dependencies to the claimed inferential relations between the statements made up of those defined terms.

    5) Plug the entire hierarchy of dependent meaning/inference relations into some kind of automated theorem prover or validity checker, and you're almost done.

    6) Well, 2 more steps. This step focuses on the contradictions flagged in the combination of definitional dependencies. There is a technique for doing this, and it just amounts to drilling down into the problematic combinations of key terms so that you either find a more neutral term that doesn't result in an error flag, or else do a definitional fork into separate new terms for the two or more definitions that when combined, returned the original errors.

    7) To make sure the issue is complete given the current statement set, label each statement in the spreadsheet as either "Assumed Premise" or "Derived from [previous statement number]).

    Do this to the Nth degree until the program says:

    "Verified Conclusion #1: God exists.
    Verified Conclusion #2: Jesus saved you.
    Verified Conclusion #3: You should believe in Jesus now, per combined premises: John 6:29*, Luke 13:3, . . . [see more]."

    But don't take my word for it. Try it using
    *Probably the most ignored verse in the history of Christianity.

  14. Somewhat related to the previous blog post, I have a question about something that's been on my mind for a while now. Is it okay for a woman to assume a dominant role in a romantic relationship, while the male plays a more submissive role, that has typically been seen as feminine? Would this be against the moral law? They stay "identify" with their biological sex, I'm just talking about their behavior here.

    1. Depends a lot on what you mean by "dominant role" in the details. For instance: in western countries, it used to be considered "normal" for men to ask women out on a date, and pay for the date. And to be the one to ask the woman for her hand in marriage, not the other way around. I don't find anything horrendous or definitively unnatural if a woman were to ask a man out on a date or pay for it.

      On the other hand, the old common practice was related to the natural law, in a way that served it without being mandated by it. In a family, by nature the husband is the head (chief authority) of the family and not the wife. Given that, it is fitting that society have customs by which men instantiate and illustrate their role of taking lead of the family and its principal relationship. And it is at least potentially damaging in pre-marital relationships for a woman to take such steps as to undermine or cast into doubt that upon a future marriage, the man will be the authority of the new family, even though (as yet) they are not that combined entity because they are not yet married.

      Hence the courting relationship has a delicate balance, wherein the man must respect that he (so far) has no authority over the woman and must respect her independence both ontologically and affectively, but he also must prepare for the possibility (but only the possibility) of her future willingly surrender of that sovereignty in favor of marital unity and non-independence.

      That said, it is natural that in each marriage a husband will be better at some things, and a wife at others, and that within these domains, the one should be willing to give way to the other for the most part. This is not "unnatural" even if, say, the woman happens to be physically stronger than the man and the domain happens to be some physical action typically left to men.

    2. Olmy

      No, I don't think it is okay for a woman to assume the dominant role in a romantic relationship. But I don't think it is okay for a man to assume the dominant role in a romantic relationship relationship either.
      A romantic relationship is about love, and IMO, the parners are equal. That does not mean there are no roles that a woman can play better than a man or vice-versa, but dominance is a completely outdated idea.

  15. What would be a Thomist perspective on effective altruism and the drowning child thought experiment?

    1. The first thing Thomas would do is ask why you are drowning a child to conduct an experiment!!?! That sounds just about like Peter Singer's moral height.

      Does it make a difference, I ask, that there are other people walking past the pond who would equally be able to rescue the child but are not doing so? No, the students reply, the fact that others are not doing what they ought to do is no reason why I should not do what I ought to do.

      Maybe one of the persons near the pond is a parent of the child, and maybe they are "walking past" in order to get a better vantage point from which to reach the child more quickly. While you shouldn't simply assume that one of these other people will save the child, nor should you simply assume none of them will, either: you can ASK, you know! You can point out the child's danger, and ask if anyone is capable of helping. You can mention your hydrophobia, and goad someone into helping who might not otherwise. You can ask someone to go to class for you and take notes and then explain to the professor what happened. You could PAY someone to rescue the child. It's NOT A BINARY SOLUTION SET.

      [W]ould it make any difference if the child were far away, in another country perhaps, but similarly in danger of death, and equally within your means to save, at no great cost – and absolutely no danger – to yourself? Virtually all agree that distance and nationality make no moral difference to the situation.

      The second is that Thomas makes a very clear distinction that applies: we have different obligations to those who are near us than to those who are far. And he means this "near" in far more ways than merely physical distance: he includes social and other natural relationship differences as well: parents and children owe obligations to each other that they do not owe to strangers. Neighbors owe things to each other that we do not owe to those living far away. So a Thomist would note that all those students who said "distance and nationality make no difference" are morally retarded and not to be trusted with pennies, much less dollars.

  16. Who else is exited about Mary L Hirschfeld's Aquinas and the Market?

    1. Hey Karl

      I read the abstract after my previous comment, and not only do I think it's a much needed attempt to inject and justify the moral dimension of trade, it also holds out the project of elaborating precisely why "there's more to life than making money", and what that must mean.

      Many of us believe that, but a well-developed justification of that claim seems to still be on its way. Maybe, with the publication of her book, it has arrived.

      But analogous to that is the similar need for pro-life advocates to fully address Sydney Hook's 1987 letter to the editor of the New York Times (In those days, there was actually a newspaper by that name.), "Life at Any Price Is a Bargain With Infamy" essay, one of who's points was that "Those who say that life is worth living at any cost have already written an epitaph of infamy, for there is no cause and no person they will not betray to stay alive."

      However, by analogy to his famous quote about democracy:

      "In contrast to non-theistic views, theism can face and live with the truth about itself."

      I believe that last imaginary quote is true, but certainly not because of traditional arguments.

      Not yet anyway.

      But at least no one can say to me:

      "You don't even threadjack, Bro."

  17. Hard Science Fiction is Awesome!

    Hard Science Fiction setting ideas.

    No FTL, all starships are relativistic lighthuggers.
    No Paragravity, starships have spinning sections for gravity.
    Also Nanotech is used to deal with the effects of Zero G
    and effect DNA repair for radiation damage.
    No humanoid aliens, if any.
    Pseudo FTL, in far future settings, Stargates, Wormholes or
    Krasnikov tubes are build for quasi-FTL. They must still be towed
    to other star systems STL.
    Far Future from the year 3000 to 135,000 years in the future.
    Extra dimensional horror.

    Religions in the far future, how will religions with a formal leader
    cope with lightspeed communication limits? Being 500 light years from Sol
    & being Catholic means you only know who the Pope was 500 years
    ago(assuming there is no stargate connection yet)?

    Note, one could substitute "Mormon Prophet" or "Dali Lama" for "Pope"
    in the above example because all centralized religions with a central authority
    figure would have their adherents cut off from their leaders if any of them go
    to settle other star systems. This could lead to conflict if the interstellar religious
    and the Earth bound ones diverge & direct connection is re-established centuries
    later with stargates.

    (example: Patriarch of the Polaris System Catholic Episcopal Church: "You mean you still haven't
    allowed female Priests?"
    Earth Roman Catholic Pope : "Female what now? Didn't you people take Pope St John Paul II's
    writings & decrees with you into the void? He was rather clear. Anyway you have to get rid of them.
    Also take these copies of the acts of the councils of Vatican V and Trent IV back with you."
    Patriarch : "Yeh this is all going to be a headache.")

    Planetary civilizations in the Galaxy are human, transhuman, posthuman, mutant,
    animal-human hybrids and or Cyborg human hybrid machines & technology ranges
    from primitive-tech, low-tech, high-tech, ultra-tech and clark-tech. Economies are
    hypercapitalist or Post-scarcity.

    Aliens are either rare or non-existent. If existent they are totally alien.
    Also "things" might exist in others dimensions that may at best be indifferent or
    at worst a threat.

    There how is that for off topic??:D

  18. Scientists from the Rockefeller University (NY) claim to have found out that all humans currently living go back to a single pair of humans - if this is true, wouldn't that finally prove the Biblical genesis story? How credible are those claims?

    1. If I understand the claims correctly, their actual claim is that humans (and most other modern species) emerged from a population bottleneck between 100000 and 200000 years ago; since they were looking at mitochondrial DNA, which is matrilineal, they determined this by estimating that all human beings today would have a common maternal ancestor perhaps around 200000 years ago. I don't know what the quality of their work was (mDNA is in some ways tricky to work with), but the main claim (the loose dating of human speciation) has some puzzles, since there is fossil evidence of human beings older than that. So what is new in it seems difficult to interpret in light of other evidence and what is clear in it seems to tell us only what we already knew. It's not particularly a surprise that all human beings, if one species, would have a common female ancestor somewhere, even if she was not the first human being in the tree, given how genealogy works and how mitochondrial DNA; the surprising claim seems (as far as I can tell) to have been the dating.

      So at first assessment, I don't think it has much relevance.

    2. I think that that is around when modern humans arose. There were humans before that but not the modern version.

    3. Thanks for the reply, Brandon! I am quite interested in this subject, as I have already read Prof. Feser's take on human evolution, Adam and Eve, and the Biblical Genesis story.


    How can you claim that teaching of the magisterium is definitive, and what constitutes the magisterium, given the criticisms above?

    1. Why are you a white supremacist pet and Quisling?

    2. Well, given that the rag you cited is run by a bunch of heretics, and is anything but "Catholic", or truthful for that matter, your question lacks a certain weight or consequence. More like a clashing of cymbals.

    3. Tony, I don't think that's a fair enough reply. Heretics they may be, but Yves Congar has written a full book on the role of the self-criticism within the Church - . Richard seems to be clutching at straws in many places, but the questions still stand. I mean, for the one who seeks, these seem to be legitimate questions, and they need answering.

    4. To be honest, I'm not sure what the problem is meant to be here -- yes, one can argue (and it's an argument I'm sympathetic to myself, TBH) that the Church would be in a better state if the Pope took a more hands-off role, but what does that have to do with anything? The Church can't err in its magisterial teaching, but it doesn't follow that the Church will always present that teaching in the most helpful way.

    5. Here are a few problems;

      (1) What constitutes the magisterium (ordinary and extraordinary), and how is it established?

      The people over at the website would show outright skepticism to works by Denzinger because they don't think it is clear at all, as to what makes up the magisterium.

      (2) Are there statements which are authoritative, but isn't an exercise of papal ordinary/extra-ordinary magisterium?

      Herein lies the rub, certain statements require firm assent, which if not met, risk the threat of schism.

      (3) Which parts of the faith and tradition are essential elements which cannot be abandoned, and which parts aren't? How are they determined?

      I've have no love for liberalism, however, these are important questions that need to be answered.

    6. AKG, seek help.

    7. How do you even know it's the same Dennis that you're obsessed with?

    8. Dennis, like the article you cited, relying on people like Yves Congar is no way to get ahead in understanding the truth. Congar was part of the problem, not part of the solution. The fact that he wrote a book about it helps not in the least. Donum Veritatis is where the inquirer should turn, not Congar.

      The concept of "dissent" implied by the article is a prime example - it is misleading at best, if not outright false. Any attempt to formulate "magisteriums" (plural) in the Church, which could be said to be in opposition, is a flawed formulation, just as any attempt to formulate a notion of the teaching role of the Church as (even potentially) in opposition to Scripture is a failed notion. For one thing, when the pastors operate under "their magisterium" to say something theological, they are ALSO operating as theologians as well as pastors, so AT BEST all one can observe is a dispute between some parts of the theological arena and other parts. Likewise, if someone were to propose a situation where the teaching of the magisterium of the pastors was in opposition to "the magisterium of the people", then again since the pastors are themselves PART OF "the people" all he would be noting is a dispute between different parts of whole body of the people. In reality, separating out the different "magisteriums" this way is unfruitful. Donum Veritatis is fruitful.

      The whole line of thinking, with built-in assumptions and perspectives, proposed by the neo-modernists of Congar's stripe are dead weight we should stop lugging around as if they amounted to helpful insights. Whatever was true in their comments came from other sources that are more sound and reliable, whatever was fresh and original to them was garbage to be discarded.

    9. Tony, it is not even an attempt to formulate magisterium's (plural) that is their primary concern, but rather the distinction between authoritative pronouncements and statements which exercise papal magisterium. Merely noting dispute between the magisterium isn't what is being done, sure, they note it, but it is the traditionalists (I included) that deem certain teachings heretical, i.e., women cannot be ordained as priests. The issue at hand isn't about whether the distinctions between authoritative teaching and papal magisterium exists, and if so, how do we route it out. Out of the 3 questions posed above, Donum Veritatis answers at best only one. As you do know, there are tons of commentaries on it, and itself is open to interpretation. Here's an example; consider the issue of the ordaining of female priests, would you say that there is a dispute within the Magisterium?

      In Ordinatio sacerdotalis, the Pope stated that there was no authority in the Church to ordain women, and this was definitively held by the church. Cardinal Ratzinger later confirmed in his response that this statement was not made ex-cathedra, but that it was definitive. He further states that although the act was done in virtue of ordinary Magisterium. Now, my point is that sure, these people seem to be heretics, but accusing someone of heresy isn't a light accusation. So let me ask you this, do you have any resource by which the dissidents/heretics of today in the Church are dealt with? Or works that actually answer my questions above and expand on the encyclicals and etc.? Thanks.

  20. Can anyone enlighten me as to how the causality of prayer works.

    1. Ummm, I'll give it a shot:

      You ask God for His action on something. Your asking well falls in ripely with His eternal design to grant your request, and so from all eternity He plans the event outcome in accordance with your request. Note that your asking appropriately was always a feature of His design to bring about that outcome - without that feature, He would not have so designed that outcome.

      Does that help?

    2. kind of, it just seems that there are so many conditions or hoops to jump through (perfect humility, confidence etc) and THEN it has to be in accord with his will.

      It seems to contradict the promises made in the gospels about asking and receiving, If I'm honest I'm sliding towards deism because I don't see my petitions being granted.

    3. Fortunately, those prior conditions / hoops are not absolutes. God does not demand perfect humility, perfect confidence, etc. He takes the person where they are now, and where He intends to take them in his providential plan, and works accordingly: if a person has been a more-or-less atheist, but has been investigating and seeking and is honestly trying to be open to the evidence, God will deal with a prayer like "Oh God, if there even is a God, let me see with greater clarity what there is to be seen in the evidence" more generously than, the exact same prayer uttered by a life-long Catholic who has begun to doubt his faith because he (willingly) has fallen in with heretics and atheists of bad will.

      I have had scads and scads of my requests not granted, and (in addition to my assuming that at least some of them were not requested in good faith and humility), on advice from a spiritual advisor, I try to look at the cases of requests not granted as "God looks on your capability of doing His will as not needing the support of these material and temporal boosts, and so you should rest confident that not having them granted is all in line with His plan for saving you." paraphrased, of course. It's not comfortable, but it is comforting, at least on one level.

      He also works with different people differently, and NOT merely on account of higher holiness. Some people he just plain works with more-or-less observable helps to faith (small things, but still quite discernible to one with faith), and others with only-behind-the-scenes help that cannot be directly discerned, (or, only at the distance of 20 or 30 years working of subsequent results), neither person being obviously holier or not holier than the other. I have seen this repeatedly, and it fits with spiritual directors' advice: God simply does not work quite the same way in everyone's lives.

    4. what about the guy who lost his wife and unborn child at the hands of a drunk driver and prayed for the surgeon to be able to save them?

  21. "...give your threadjacking impulses free reign"

    Rein, in the sense meant here, is spelled without a G.

  22. I had been Googling for an Aquinas quote for a paper when I came across this:

    What do you guys think, are any of these criticisms at least interesting, or do they all pretty much miss the mark completely? As for me, there were a couple of things which seemed like misrepresentations after just a quick reading.

  23. Dr Kelley Ross also noticed the problem with the idea of pure act. He said it creates a kind of conflict between the conception of the Bible and the conception of Aristotle

    1. Well, I don't agree that the problem is actual. Like I said, the criticisms in the article I linked to struck me as problematic even after just a quick reading. And Dr. Feser has addressed the apparent issue you mention various times in the past, I believe. But I was interested to see what else can be said about this article. For example, in criticism of it, I'd say that the article seems to basically miss this point entirely, which Dr. Feser makes in his book on Aquinas:

      "Aquinas’s next move is to argue that
      anything having these key features can be seen on analysis necessarily to possess
      also the other attributes commonly ascribed to God. He follows Pseudo-
      Dionysius in taking a threefold approach to knowledge of God’s attributes (ST
      I.13.8): the way of causality (via causalitatis), whereby we move from
      knowledge of the world to knowledge of God as cause of the world; the way of
      negation (via negativa), whereby we deny of God any characteristic
      incompatible with his being the first cause and thus Pure Act; and the way of
      eminence (via eminentia), whereby we conclude, by applying the principle of
      proportionate causality described in chapter 2, that God can be said to possess in
      an eminent way certain features we attribute to things in the world. As this
      indicates, while it is sometimes claimed that Aquinas agreed with thinkers like
      Moses Maimonides that our knowledge of God is purely negative, knowledge of
      what God is not rather than what he is, this was not in fact his view; indeed, he
      explicitly repudiates it (ST I.13.2). The via negativa obviously gives us only
      negative knowledge of God, but the via causalitatis and the via eminentia give
      us some positive knowledge too."

    2. And by saying that the criticisms in the article seem "problematic," I of course mean problematic as in "flawed," not as in "effective against the Thomist."

  24. What is the relation between logic and metaphysics? Alexandru Buium wrote that logic presupposes metaphysics. Garrigou also. Is there a book where this is explained rigorously?
    Modern logic has immensely outgrown medieval logic which the scholastics worked with. Could it provide new insights or pose challenges to thomism? Is there a Thomist who seriously engaged with modern logic? Peter Geach?

    1. The rationally necessary is necessarily the existentially real, because any argument for any view about the relation between reason and the real is an attempt to prove the rational necessity of that view itself as itself necessarily true about the real.

      But that fact itself, the argument that justifies it, and the assumptions of the entire analysis itself, are transcendent---necessarily beyond the issues they supervise, the environment in which they are cross-examined, and the first-order theories they adjudicate with necessary immunity from any possible bias (because they are also the principles by which any kind of bias itself must be recognized in the first place).

      Long story short: The mind of God is not just metaphysical. It's meta everything, even including itself when it's the object being analyzed.

      So we have to plug into the Logos, General Reason, even in analyzing the Logos itself including whether or not it even exists.

      This is why rationalistic atheism necessarily treats Reason as a Mind-God, which it is.

  25. Old question: anyone name any groundbreaking work on the Principle of Sufficient Reason done since Pruss' book and his work with Gale? I am familiar with that former's necessary being book btw.

    And when I saw 'groundbreaking' take that as 'Not involving the Hume-Edwards objection' or anyone called 'Maitzen'.

    1. I don't know whether you would consider it ground-breaking, since it is a development of ideas people had proposed without much development before, but much of the serious work on the subject after the period you indicate has been on the relation between the PSR and the impossibility of a conjunction of all contingent truths -- as discussed, for instance, in Christopher M. P. Tomaszewski's "The Principle of Sufficient Reason Defended: There Is No Conjunction of All Contingent Truths" [Philosophia 2016] and Samuel Levey's "The Paradox of Sufficient Reason" [Philosophical Review Recent Issues 2016].

    2. And when I saw 'groundbreaking' take that as 'Not involving the Hume-Edwards objection' or anyone called 'Maitzen'.

      LOL, If you didn't say this already I would have mentioned exactly that.

      Other than that I would second what Brandon said but can Cosmological argument be even run without Conjunction of All Contingent Truths or something like that? this also seems to be related to Maitzen's criticism.

      Other notable work I've seen on PSR,

      Ghislain Guigon in his "A Universe of Explanations" argues that accepting PSR doesn't imply that there is some truth which explains everything, an Omni-explainer

      Fatema Amijee in "REASON UNBOUND: A NEO-RATIONALIST MANIFESTO" defends "secular PSR" as it is stated.

      And Kris McDaniel criticizes grounding based PSR.

  26. Hi, Dr. Feser

    In the end, Christianity's truth relies on History and on History alone : on whether we can trust the Gospels or not, on whether we can trust the traditions according to which (at least) Peter, Paul, and James (the Brother of Jesus) were martyred, etc.

    Although I wish the Gospels were reliable documents rather than embellishment (or even outright propaganda) and although I also wish the traditions according to which the martyrdom of the Apostles were true, since indeed, that would (almost) prove Christianity was right after all... I seriously doubt that that's the case.

    This matter is of course of extreme importance : Christianity rests on the Gospels and on the Apostles...

    ...However, I do not believe you've ever written any post on that particular topic.

    Do you intend to do so at any point?

    Thank you in advance for your time.

    In case God exists, may God bless you all.

    1. I believe that Feser is going to be writing a book on this subject, but I am not sure how soon. The Catholic Church calls such arguments motives of credibility for faith, and usually involves objective evidence relating to the fulfillment of prophecies and miracles. Because these things allegedly occurred in the past, the job of making a case for the truth of these events requires more of the work of a historian rather than a philosopher.

    2. Also, some elements of Christianity are not subject to historical verification: that there is one all-powerful, but transcendent God, is provable by metaphysics. So out go the religions that claim some other sort of God, and pushed forward are the religions that claim a single transcendent God. Similarly, it is provable that God is good only, so out go the religions that have a God that has or does evil things, or is an admixture of good and evil.

      The historian thus needs the philosopher to tell him what kind of God to be analyzing history for. But yes, ultimately the claim for Christianity relies on claims of a historical nature as well as on other theses.

  27. I have a question, Parmenides famously denied change was possible because something couldn't arise from nothing, Aristotle famously replied by saying it did not involve something coming from nothing but rather potential being made actual

    Now this is a good answer and explains it all, but I have one question, what if someone were to define change as things going out of existence I.e: Nothing coming from something, the reverse of Parmenides

    I do realise several rebuttals to this claim, if made about all change, such a change in our minds (like going through the steps of an argument) or local motion, which cannot be explained in terms of things going out of existence, but what if one kind of change (namely: things ceasing to exist) could be explained in such a way? If so, that'd be bad news for the Unmoved Mover argument for the Unmoved Mover wouldn't be incapable of *any* change but just from all change except going out of being

    I do realise there probably is some dead error there, and I'd like you help me find it

    Also, I made this argument for the reality of essences, wanna know what you all think

    If there any are no essences, all things about a thing (all it's properties, also it's being) are accidental, but that way, we could eliminate all of them and still be coherently referring to the same thing, which is absurd

    Now, one could try skip it by saying that accidents can be changed as opposed to eliminated (I.e I can have this or that height, but I have to have *some* height) to this I reply that rather than make essences unecessary, it confirms them! For if a thing could have this or that electric charge, whether positive or negative, but it had to have *some* electric charge, that would tell us that this thing has electricity as an *essential* property, right?

    I want to know your thoughts

    1. Parmenides: So that's the argument against change. What do you think now?

      Frank Stone: Dude. I thought you just told me that nothing changes. But I'll overlook that in a charitable spirit of immutability. So even though this is going to make you change from worrying to not worrying, no my mind has not changed because of your little argument. Happy now?

  28. To the change question above I add: How has the aristotelian-thomist tradition analysed the fact of things or attributes going "out" of being, as it were, corruption? Things going from actual back into potential? (For ex:if the coffee is actually hot now and later it is cold, has the hotness now gone back to being potential?)

    1. I am no expert, but my immediate thoughts are that this relies on a distinction between substance and accidents, and the question whether accidents have substances. This would mean: does coldness have a substance of coldness which would corrupt, and in the same sense would have the potentiality of being cold again? I would say that accidents do not have substances, so coffee not longer being hot does not mean that hotness has lost its substance of hotness, and thus being corrupted; the coffee, however, loses its accident of hotness, but retains its potentiality of becoming hot again - the potentiality itself did not die, since it is not a physical being, but an attribute.
      Please correct me if I got this wrong.

    2. I think you did get me, but if something going from potential to actual (I.e the potential hotness of the coffee becoming actual) does it then go back from actual to potencial? (Once it becomes cold)

  29. Hello Dr. Feser,

    How do we know that "physical stuff", i.e. matter or physical substance, has the possibility of failing to exist? That is to say, how doe we know that matter is contingent? I am having a rough time seeing why matter is contingent rather than necessary (as conservation laws make me hesitate to claim that it is possible that physical stuff can fail to exist//is possibly absent from reality). Many people appeal to hylomorphism here, and state that matter is just pure potentially hen considered apart from form. I have two thoughts on this: first, could you provide//direct me to arguments for/against hylomorphism? For, this answer to the contingency question presupposes hylomorphism. Second, what is wrong with supposing that, for reality's most basic elements (quarks or strings, for example), their matter and form are necessarily conjoined and cannot be separated, meaning such things cannot fail to exist?

    Lastly, why does "being composite" entail that the composite thing requires a concurrent, sustaining cause? Suppose we have some entity, X. Suppose, further, that X has metaphysical parts A, B, and C. But, crucially, let us suppose that each of A, B, and C are all necessarily instantiated in reality (i.e. they cannot fail to exist), and that the relations among them are necessarily instantiated in reality. By hypothesis, X *just is* the conjunction of A, B, and C + the relations among them. But X necessarily exists, since its parts are necessary as well. What sense is there, then, to be made of requiring a sustaining cause of X? I am having a hard time seeing what is incoherent/problematic about the X scenario.

    Thank you for your time and energy. You are a philosopher for whom I have tremendous admiration!

  30. Some thing that has been in my mind for a while is Bertrand Russel critic of Aquinas. he says that Aquinas does not have the “philosophical spirit” of the ones like Aristotle and Plato, and therefore he should not be treated as being in the same philosophical level of them. Aquinas, for Russel, is not trying to find truth, he just is trying to justify the beliefs he has a priori. He “already” knows the truth on the catholic faith, and therefore is not rational nor profound is his quest for truth.

    You can find this critic easily just by googling “Russel, Aquinas, Critic”(or any combination of these words) here is a useful link for a discussion on the topic in a catholic forum:

    The biggest problem with that is not that Aquinas may have been irrational, if Russel is right of course, but that, since truth ought to be pursued, Catholics should abondon their religion until they get to the end of their philosophical reasoning. This can take years or even an intire life, and , needless to say, to view that apostasy is rational and ought to be done in some cases is not all that orthodox.

    William Lane Craig gave his thoughts on this, he said that this is a good argument to the fact that to not believe in the special action of the Holy Spirit, of this immediate experience as he some times says, would require the person a commitment to this idea that is contrary to the Bible.

    In the discussion I have the link to, lots of people propose that Aquinas was acting like an scientist who tries to prove his hythesis, but this is problematic because of two reasons:
    1-The scientist is rationally free to choose his hypotesis, so apostasy would be a rational possible choice;
    2-It is a crazy idea to die or dedicate one life intirely for a hypothesis, so if some one was put in a “martyr sittuation” apostasy would be rational, and in the case of Aquinas he should stop being a monk for a time, and them, after righting the summa, get back and say “Hey guys, now it’s rational for me to be a Catholic”

    I have been thinking about this for a while so I will probrably yet expose more about my own thougths on the topic, but I want to know yours.


    1. This reads like a classic case of the genetic fallacy. Aquinas' motivations have no impact on the truth value of the arguments.

    2. I know that, and the way Russel puts it really looks like a case of the genetic fallacy. But is it the case that Aquinas would have been more rational if he had decided to become a catholic after he develop his arguments??

      That seems problematic, since it would make it irrational to be a catholic in that situation.

      I pointed to the critic to make this deeper point, that even William Lane Craig, who is not a Thomist, have addressed.

    3. Can you please point us to the text where WLC make the referenced statement so we can read the comments in their broader context?

    4. I will try to find it, but just to make it clear, William Lane Craig comments are not on Aquinas sittuation specifically. He is just arguing in a more general way that if we do not say that that the Holy Spirit give is this immediate experience that proves the veracity of the basic claims of Christianity, we will have to agree that apostasy is rational in some cases, which seems obviously problematic

    5. I think you're missing the unique power and sweep of the Catholic philosophy at that time, which sadly is no longer virtually identical with Thomism. But that's another story.

      It's this: That, for example, at the level of epistemology all the way through to the existence of God, Catholicism was truly universal without qualification. And whether you're a Christian or an atheist, the Catholic doesn't even blink, because they've been fighting that battle for centuries, while the rest of Christianity is totally eat up with a cross between the Invisible Gardner Beyondananda Blik-Faith and what is essentially indistinguishable from Great Pumpkin Theology.

      And the let's-play-like-Aquinas-never-existed syndrome of modern Catholic realpolitik, philosophically speaking, combined with the post-Wesleyan reason-as-the-Devil oscillationism---bouncing off the walls for 300 years between Blik-Faith and fallacy-mongering apologetics, has resulted in the financially-driven dumbing down of the entire Christian world.

      So Catholicism is karmically paying the price now for leaving it's only possible chance for survival--Thomism (well, neo-Thomism to be precise)--in the lurch,and the rest of the Christian world, which clearly has multiple personality disorder and reasons like a drunk on meth.

      This is why Thomism, in the last 50 years or so at least, has expanded far beyond Catholic-Thomist scholarship even to include a few agnostics and even atheists (note Feser's past reports on secular scholars revisiting things like essentialism, for example), as well as the notorious independent non-Protestant Christian neo-Thomist philosophers such as Norm Geisler and Stuart Hackett. Or Quasi-Neos as I call them. lol

      Even William Lane Craig was apparently a neo-Thomist decades ago. In 1970 he even joked with me through Hackett during a phone conversation with yours truly, saying to Hackett:

      "Ask him if he's memorized Aquinas yet."

      But the problem facing Christianity generally are the same as those for academic philosophy and science: You either own up to the legitimacy and lingering fundamental problems of the questions of your own children, or your children are just going to roll their eyes at your pretensions of intellectual (or any other) authority, smoke a joint, blow you off > shelve you > ghost you.

      The really strange thing about the current situation is that if both rationalistic atheists and neo-rationalist theists don't mount an immediate all-out attack on both postmodernist/Oprahist anti-intellectualism and the Posivist Supremacy Doctrines of scientism, theism is headed for Zero within a couple of decades.

    6. machinephilosophy, Man... What a great reply!

      I really agree with you that when Christianity as whole denied its own basic (Thomism) back in the times of William of Oakham, it made a kind of “intelectual suicide” for that reason I like to think of myself as what I call a
      ANeoTheist (please don’t confuse it with New Atheist or Neo Atheist, it’s the most opposite position you can conceive of).

      And I think you made a great point in the very beginning of your post where you talk about the philosophical power of the Catholic Church.

      But I think my question is still not answered, what i was getting at is this:
      1-The position that there are some actual cases or possible cases where it is rational to abandon Catholicism is problematic;
      2-There are such cases;
      3-Conclusion: we have a paradox.

      1 and 3 are easy to accept, the debate is more on 2.

      Is there any case where apostasy is rational?

      This is such a general question that even Feser touched a little on it in the TLS when he says that non intellectual Catholics can trust theologians the way people trust scientists in their claims.

      William Lane Craig also did so, when he said in a podcast episode that Christians who do not belive that the Holy Spirit gives us a direct and immediate, objective (even is personal) proof of the existence of God face such paradox (Feser seems to fall in such category of Christians)

      To support 2 I could give two exemples of such situations, one would be what I have already said:
      A person who born catholic and would take some time if he wanted to meet the burden of proof of his belief (arguments for God and for Christianity) would he have been irrational being a catholic until he finishes his intellectual reasoning?

      A second would be the one that William Lane Craig gave, a person who was born a Christian in a communist dictatorship and only have as means to study the faith arguments that try to debunk theist arguments, would such person be rational to abandon the faith?

      I think this is enough to present my question, it really is a complex and relevant topic that should be addressed more often, I gave here two different positions, Feser’s and William Lane Craig’s, but it may be much more options avaible.

      So... Any thoughts???

    7. Thomist Guy

      Thank you for your kind and quality comments.

      I'm not a Catholic, although I went to Catholic mass for 2 years in military school because the priest let us smoke cigs before and after Mass. So historically, that's where my being a fellow traveler of the Catholics began.

      Too bad the Catholics didn't really capitalize on being socially liberal (in the non-political sense of grace), especially since merit/demerit moral legalism is both impossible and will drive one crazy---the Devil being precisely in the (infinite) details one can take that to.

      But frankly, Bro, I don't get into any of that because my solidarity with Catholicism is ultimately grounded in the fact that we've got scientism, atheism, boink-and-booze agnosticism/skepticism, and hyper-anti-intellectualism to decisively counter, otherwise we're not going to even have the freedom to discuss these issues much longer.

      And I'm not a church type---although I still go to Mass and gladly pay a voluntary cover---but dude 100+ U.S. Christian churches closing per week? Sheesh

      Christians better pull their freakin head out and go to emergency procedures. The Christian apologetics crowd hasn't done squat against the new atheism, and the opposition to Ed is clear evidence to me of what is a much bigger threat: countering all the lyin-ass non-believers bathing in the fact that hardly any influencers on the theistic side of things understand squat about self-impacting universals or supervisory analytic standards of thought.

      But here's the bottom line, my good man:

      Whether it's theistic philosophers, academic philosophers in general, politicians, or religious leaders:

      When logically foundational or just lingering questions are ignored or dismissed day-in/day-out, you can be sure that there's pervasive corruption of all types going on---not just the now-obvious ignorance and intellectual cowardice of, for example, the philosophers and religious leaders.

      And I'm not just talking about the sexual thing in the priesthood either. That in fact is just the tip of the cultural iceberg. It's going on everywhere and the concentration on the priesthood in Catholicism is and has been predominantly due to the clear fact that the media hates the Catholic Church.

      My advice to Catholics is to hammer the priesthood with philosophical questions---and read every one of Ed's books 7 times aloud.

      Like I'm doing. lol

      Don't laugh. I got Pentecostals reading Ed now, especially after I told them about what happened to Aquinas near the end of his life. They're stoked.

  31. What do you think of Brian Whitworth's virtual reality conjecture?
    Do you think this affects Christianity?

    1. Sorry man, I'm still back at whether his virtual reality theory is self-affecting.

      But hey, if Brian Whitworth can be immune from his own conjecture theory in sublime conjecture-immune supervisory analysis, I don't see why Christianity can't do the same thing.

      I've always carried a flag for self-immune theory-adjudication equality, you know.


  32. Can anyone point me to any books/articles, etc. that elaborate on the Thomist account of brain damage/mental retardation, and so forth?

    Maybe I'm an idiot or something but I STILL can't understand this. Let's talk about say, the extremes of Isaac Newton and 'Charley' at the beginning of Flowers for Algernon. What accounts for their difference? Is it a material difference? If so, how can that be given the Thomist claim that the intellect is an immaterial power? I understand that on the Aristotelian account the intellect depends on qualia to abstract universals from particulars. Okay. Is the claim that qualia are being affected somehow? I'm baffled. I'm beginning Thomists don't have a response to this.

    1. Isn't disability (in the medical sense) just imperfection (or privatio boni), without saying anything about the nature of humans as rational animals? So I reckon it would be a material difference, not a metaphysical one, brought about by Original Sin. The Thomistic account of the human intellect has not been constructed by using statistics for how an ideal human should be - and then abstracting universals from it (we observe that most humans have [color] eyes - thus being a human means having [color] eyes; Dr. Feser gives the example of the ability of speaking; while speech belongs to the nature of humans, it is not the nature of humans itself; using the intellect belongs to the nature of humans, but it is not the nature of humans itself).
      What accounts for humans' different intellectual/cognitive abilities is, as I think, more a question for natural science than for ontology.

    2. 'So I reckon it would be a material difference, not a metaphysical one, brought about by Original Sin.'

      It sounds like you're saying we have to resort to Christian theology to explain it. I find that kinda disappointing, if that's the case.

      It does strike me that someone who suffers from an intellectual defect has the basic capacity in at least some cases to abstract universals from particulars, which is how he's able to have a language at all. For some reason the 'proper accidents' of more complex reasoning are being impeded.

      The reason I brought up Charley in'Flowers for Algernon' was as a thought experiment. If you've read the story, you'll recall that 'Charley' is mentally retarded with an IQ of 68. He undergoes an experiment involving brain surgery where he gradually grows in intelligence until he becomes a genius. It's only temporary, and he declines back to where he was. I'm just wondering how a Thomist would make sense of this.

    3. No, I am not saying that. Physical deficiencies can be explained by science, and I don't think any Thomist would deny this. The question how sickness came into this world is, apart from the theology of Original Sin, not a question a Thomist - or any theologian - could answer.
      While Catholic theology is pure truth, it is on a different epistemological level than natural science (theology doesn't concern itself with medical questions, as urologists don't concern themselves with the issue of the Corredemptrix-title of the BMV).
      All humans do have the basic capacities of humanity (such as language etc.), but they might not have developped those abilities, which doesn't give information about the metaphysical reality of their humanity.
      I myself have struggled with this question - if a human is supposed to have a will, an intellect, the ability of speech, and so on - doesn't that mean that people with spina bifida aren't actual human in a Thomist view? But I understood that we mustn't confuse actual material abilites with metaphysical qualities (the human soul always has certain qualities, whether they are actually exhibited or not).
      So, for a Thomist, this book would make perfectly sense. Whether it also does for a neurologist, is a different question.

  33. The simple answer is that the first instance of willful self-contradiction skewed the entire created world, precisely because of universal causality. And the dominoes in our vicinity of that causal sequence are just now falling on us.

    So God says:

    "Yo. Let's not forget I created this whole system.

    Yeah, I tinker with the world on occasion, but hey, I'm sustaining it at every moment (which is a job in itself), it's still the ultimate bad-ass sports car of possible universes, and it's got a momentum I'm not about to do a general hack on because then you couldn't even recognize the defections from the moral ideal (I'm the moral ideal, in case you didn't notice), much less transcend your own defects from from that ideal machine, which I notice you aren't too upset about. But just relax. Your not an idiot but on your way to genius if you follow this rabbit hole.

    So if you want to play the blues, you got to pay the dues. Which in this matter is understanding that the same necessary conditions for the possibility of developing rational moral selves, when has always been my purpose, are the same conditions that both ripple effect willful defections from my fine-ass being, and---wait for it---enable you to detect that certain things are just as wrong as common insinuations about bitcoin, blockchain, prediction markets, and even Chegg, which are in fact the Holy Spirit on the move to correct a few of those things you're concerned about. The Holy Spirit has Me-Level Root Access just like . . . well---ME, but he just can't sit still. We've never liked roommates, which is one reason why the three of us in a sense do our own thing. (Jesus is laughing too hard at both of us right now to be able to say anything.)

    So until the Second Coming (ahem), just do this. Find the most mind-halting essay or book on the subject, read it aloud three times (upload the mp3s to your cloud drive, (angels will take care of hand-crankin it over to me---call me a Luddite but I *hate* getting on the computer), and then contact me through Ed's blog in a future open thread about three weeks from now.

    Uh, Yes, I'll still be here. I'll still be everywhere. lol (sighs, rolls eyes)"

  34. What's wrong with the penal substitution theory of the atonement? What are some better theories?

    1. (A) Nothing. (B) There are no better theories.

    2. I think a lot of the problems people have with this theory come from the way it's usually phrased -- talk about how "the wrath of God was satisfied" (as the popular hymn puts it) makes God sound a bit like an abusive bully, who's going to work out his anger by beating somebody up, and he doesn't really care whom. But I don't think this is necessarily a problem with the theory per se, since it's easy enough to rephrase it in a way that avoids these implications. (E.g.: God is perfectly just, and hence cannot fail to punish sin. Since we are baptised into the body of Christ, however, Jesus can pay the penalty for us.)

      As for what's wrong with it, TBH my biggest problem is that (as far as I'm aware) none of the Church Fathers seem to have defended it. Given the importance of the consensus Patrum in determining what is or isn't orthodoxy, I think this does raise quite a big issue which I haven't seen any defenders of PS consider.

  35. That particular point made by Russell in his A History of Western Philosophy is not an assertion that Aquinas' conclusions were false. Russell thought that some of them were false, but at this point in the book, his complaint is a different one. Russell is just saying that he does not think Aquinas manifested the philosophical mentality as Russell saw it manifested in Socrates and others, who professed only to follow the argument where it led. Aquinas' conclusions were in large part fixed before he began to formulate arguments. So Russell didn't think Aquinas' mentality was properly philosophical, as he understood it. That is all. Whether Aquinas' conclusions were false or not is a different question.

    1. Bertrand Russell sad something similar, that Acquinas was not really a philosopher because he was more interested in supporting the policies of the Catholic church than he was in pursuing reason wherever it leads.

  36. Does anyone here know whether or not Dr Feser agrees with the A-theory of time or with the B-theory? I've tried scanning his blog posts and have read several of his books, but I haven't yet found a clear answer. He does call himself a presentist, which *seems* to suggest an A-theory, but I'd appreciate some feedback.

    1. Because I like to believe I am right, I also like to think that Feser thinks the same thing I do about it. But that's just wishful thinking, as far as I can tell Feser has been very cagey about holding a specific position.

      My position is that more likely than not, both positions are flawed, but that B is more flawed than A. I guess I am a bit of a presentist also. I doubt that human beings can make a real go at a B theory until human beings can generate a language that has verb forms that do not harbor tense. I also doubt that we can do that either, but I'll grant that my intuition about it is far from solid. I am far less cautious about my preceding thesis: every time I read an attempt to describe B-theory, I can't help but notice that the description is flawed in not being able to speak about the outside-of-the-stream aspect in a coherent way, because the sentences utilize tense.

      My reductio for some sort of presentism: the present is actual, and if it is not actual in any manner distinct from the past or the future, then our perceptions of the present as actual IN A DISTINCT WAY are in effect erroneous phenomena. Who can then say where the correction lies. Can we expect to locate a corrective to something so fundamental to our observation? What would be the scientific (experimental) substantiation of such a thing?

    2. Feser is a presentist. He says that commenting on the Kalam Argument.

    3. the present is actual, and if it is not actual in any manner distinct from the past or the future, then our perceptions of the present as actual IN A DISTINCT WAY are in effect erroneous phenomena. Who can then say where the correction lies. Can we expect to locate a corrective to something so fundamental to our observation? What would be the scientific (experimental) substantiation of such a thing?

      Well you need to explicate the sense of actual you are using, actual as in actual world?

    4. That's just it: I am unable to explicate it precisely, only that there is some valid sense in which the present is actual that is not applicable to the past or future. Oh, sure, I can give some intuitive attempts to say more than "different" but I don't have a solid poin of reference on this. Maybe I would if I worked at it some, but then I my forte is not original thinking, but in fine-tuning others' advances.

  37. I waited for an open thread to ask the following questions for Dr. Feser. Please feel free to answer with a link.

    a) We all know that you prefer Thomist philosophy to the modern philosophy based on nominalism.

    But, after rejecting modern philosophy, do you find that Thomism has any problem/unresolved question/opportunity for improvement? It is a perfect philosophy or there is room for future Thomists to improve it? If so, what are the lines of research for the future?

    b) Related to that, don't you have the impression that one of the reasons for the rejection of Thomism in the Middle Ages is that most philosophers don't have the intelligence of the Angelic Doctor and they are not capable to discuss and improve his complex system so they choose more simple alternatives?

    b) What do you think about the Donald J Keefe philosophy, which seems a correction of Thomism?

  38. 1) Why is the prime mover purely actual? Why could it not have some potencies that are not actualized?

    2) Why is the prime mover intelligent?

    1. 1) I had my problem with this too. I could understand why the 'prime mover' couldn't have a potency for existence, but not why it couldn't change. From what I've seen others say, the reason the prime mover can't change seems to collapse into the argument for divine simplicity.

      2) I've seen two arguments for this. First, the principle of proportionate causation says that every effect is in the cause in some way. So all the 'forms' preexist in the prime mover. But to have a form immaterially (so the Thomist would say) is just for it to BE an intellect. Closely related to this argument is the Fifth Way. If we accept final causation in nature, the question gets asked: how can things 'point to'a cause that doesn't yet exist? The Fifth Way says that the final cause preexists in the divine intellect something like the 'form' of a novel preexists in the author's mind before he actualizes it materially.

    2. ad 1) The Unmoved Mover does not have potentiality because that would require something to actualize it, which means that some force exists outside of the Unmoved Mover, making him not the ultimate ending point, and continuing the regressus ad infinitum (the Unmoved Mover is necessary to stop that regress, he is not a link in a chain, but the very start of everything else - who or what that Mover is, we don't know philosophically, which is why Thomas says that we call him "God"; the rest is theology).

      Both of your questions are answered by Dr. Feser in his introduction to Aquinas ("Aquinas").

    3. 1) Why is the prime mover purely actual? Why could it not have some potencies that are not actualized?

      Feser address this point in his work Aquinas for Beginners. Specifically, Feser states:

      “Consider how the series we have been describing would have to continue beyond the point at which we left it, with the hand’s potentiality for motion actualized by the arm, the arm’s potentiality for motion actualized by the flexing of certain muscles, the muscles’ potentiality for flexing actualized by the firing of certain motor neurons, and so on and so forth, all simultaneously. All of this depends in turn on the overall state of the nervous system, which depends on its molecular structure, which depends on the atomic basis of that molecular structure, which depends on electromagnetism, gravitation, the weak and strong forces, and so on and so forth, all simultaneously, all here and now. That the molecules composing the nervous system constitute a nervous system specifically amounts to their having a certain potency which is here and now actualized, that the atoms composing the molecules constitute just those molecules amounts to their having a certain potency which is simultaneously actualized, and so on. To account for the reduction of potency to act in the case of the operations or activities of the hand, the muscles, and so on, we are led ultimately to appeal to the reduction of potency to act vis-à-vis the existence or being of ever deeper and more general features of reality; for “it is evident that anything whatever operates so far as it is a being” (QDA 19). But the only way to stop this regress and arrive at a first member of the series is with something whose very existence, and not merely its operations or activities, need not be actualized by anything else. This would just be something which, since it simply exists without being made to exist by anything, or is actual without being actualized, is pure act, with no admixture of potentiality whatsoever. For suppose it had some potency relevant to its existence (its existence being what is relevant to its status as the end of the regress as we have continued it). Then either some other thing actualizes that potency, in which case we haven’t really stopped the regress after all, contrary to hypothesis; or some already actual part of it actualizes the potency, in which case that already actual part would itself be both pure act and, properly speaking, the true first mover. Now, having no potency to actualize, such a being could not possibly change or move. Thus we have reached a first mover that is not only unmoved, but unmovable.”

    4. I think you are trying to say that it may be the case that the existence of the First Mover is purely actual, but that maybe some other thing in it isn’t. Like if the Purely Actual Actualizer was, like most things, a composite of essence and existence, so that, even if Its existence is purely actual, maybe its accidents aren’t.

      The problem with this is that the First Mover is not like that. He just is Existence Itself, his essence is his existence, he just is that, so that if his existence is purely actual and he just is his existence, there cannot be in Him any other thing or accident which is potential, since there is not in him any other thing together with its existence to begin with.

      That which is a composite of essence and existence have only the potential to exist, and therefore to change, that which have have its existence united to its essence just is its own existence, so that:
      1-Its existence is purely actual(being part of its essence
      2-His essence just is his own existence
      3-Conclusion: there is not in Him any thing potential or not actual, He just is Existence Itself.

      I hope this have helped.


    For all the mathematicians and physicians on here: what should one make of such propositions? How do you think their veracity would impact theistic/Α-Τ metaphysics?

    1. Hi Kalimere

      Looks like they're unargued propositions.

      But I could be wrong. If you could point out just one single argument that occurs in that essay in support of, say, any of the propositions in the first half-dozen paragraphs, that will help us all to get on the path to realizing their impact on theistic/A-T metaphysics.

    2. I will get to it, hopefully within the next few days.

      On a more grave note, who mistakes 'physicians' for 'physicists'? Me, apparently. Good grief.

      Also, what is with the abuse of the concept of 'illusion' in naturalist, anti-metaphysics talk these days? Ι know it supposedly aims to come off as earth-shattering and disconcerting and all, but honestly it's like their all reading off a set manual. Queue: "-So, how do explain X that has perplexed thinkers for millennia? -'Τwas but a ruse!"

  40. How can Thomistic philosophy be squared with the theory of evolution, most specifically macro-evolution and universal common ancestry?

    Thomism explicitly recognises plants are more perfect than elements and compounds, animals are more perfect than plants, man is more perfect than animals, and angels as the most perfect in the created order.

    If one believes that bacteria eventually evolved to give rise to multi-celled organisms, then animals, then man, where exactly did the perfection come from?

    The principle of proportionate causality entails that the effect must, in some way, reside in its cause. An effect cannot be more perfect than its cause. So if one species gives rise to a more perfect species, where exactly is it getting this perfection from?

    Some answer that angels or God provided the perfection, but then it isn't evolution is it. It isn't one species giving rise to another species, but is actually special creation.

    This leads to a further problem since creation is, from a biblical point of view, not a continuous process that is still happening today. God clearly completed creation, and rested. We are now in the era of providence, not creation.

    Just some thoughts.

    1. Billy, Water has properties/perfections not found in either hydrogen or oxygen. When the two combine a new pattern emerges (bipolarity)that is the source of the new properties. The same thing can happen with living things.

    2. philosopher Owen Flannagan claimed that a person cannot be a Catholic and believe in evolution. This seems to be a common opinion. Perhaps we should clarify this issue.

    3. Strictly speaking, it's not the organism alone that gives rise to a new organism, it's the organism plus its environment. I'd have to do some more thinking on whether this is enough to explain the perfection question, though.

    4. Galius,

      Of course, there are all sorts of causes, but unless one of those causes has the perfection in some way, it violates the PPC for any of these causes to generate the perfection in their effect.


      Your counter-example either just pushes the problem back or it proves too much (or it isn't a counter-example). Either we now have to explain how water gets its perfection without any of its causes (oxygen, hydrogen, the forces that combined them, etc) having the perfection. Or they have the perfection in some way, which is absurd.

      I'd still ask: where is the perfection coming from?

      Some would also argue that elements and compounds are distinctly different to living substances, though I will need to explain that one later.

    5. Lamont,

      Aquinas considers the idea of putrefaction, or living substances being generated out of dead matter. According to you, the living substance should be possible purely from dead matter, but Aquinas did not agree. He argued that there had to be something more perfect to get involved. He pointed to the celestial bodies to play a role, and even then he didn't think it would produce perfect substances, but only imperfect ones. He argued that only from seed can a perfect substance be naturally generated.

      Obviously the idea of putrefaction is not taken seriously anymore, and our scientific knowledge has shown celestial bodies to be nothing significantly different from the terrestrial, so I don't know how the perfection is being generated.

      Appealing to God or angels hardly makes this evolution.

    6. Thomism explicitly recognises plants are more perfect than elements and compounds, animals are more perfect than plants, man is more perfect than animals, and angels as the most perfect in the created order.

      If one believes that bacteria eventually evolved to give rise to multi-celled organisms, then animals, then man, where exactly did the perfection come from?

      Having thought about it, I'm not sure that appealing to divine intervention is necessarily that problematic. Thomas held, after all, that individual human souls and angels are directly created by God, so that solve that issue. As for plants and animals, this is just a random hypothesis, but maybe God intervened to bestow the appropriate vegetative/sensible soul when the previous organism got complex enough to receive it. Then either the new plant/animal is able to create other plant/animal souls (since it already has such a soul itself, and hence this wouldn't violate the PPC), or else God intervenes to create vegetative/sensible souls whenever a new plant or animal comes into being, just as he creates new rational souls whenever a new human comes into being (I'm aware that this isn't what St. Thomas thought happens, but I don't think the possibility is difficult for Thomism as an overall system).

    7. " Thomas held, after all, that individual human souls and angels are directly created by God, so that solve that issue."

      That is necessary though.

      "As for plants and animals, this is just a random hypothesis, but maybe God intervened to bestow the appropriate vegetative/sensible soul when the previous organism got complex enough to receive it."

      If so, it would be disingenuous to call it evolution. That would ultimately be special creation, not evolution. Also, why couldn't this just be said about every single event at every moment? I believe Al-Ghazali believed this. It seems like a god of the gaps argument to get God directly involved when our science conflicts with the metaphysics. We should adjust our science to our metaphysics, not our metaphysics to our science, since the science rests on the metaphysics and not the other way around.

  41. Isn't it because most scientists seem to think that evolution was a random process, and that randomness, by definition, goes against the idea of an intelligent Creator that constantly decides everything?

    1. It's important to distinguish between the observed phenomena and the explanations proposed to account for said phenomena. Evolution as a phenomenon has been observed (e.g., with the development of antibacterial-resistant diseases), and hence isn't reasonably open to question, but the idea that evolution is explained by a random process is just an explanation, and may or may not be true.

      As a matter of fact, there are reasons to think that it isn't true. For example, if new species evolved as a result of the gradual aggregation of genetic mutations, we should expect the fossil record to show a more-or-less continuous rate of gradual change. Instead, what we see is long periods of virtual stasis punctuated by brief bursts of transformation.

    2. Apparently they stopped thinking that long ago. Like Ed said, read Rosenberg's Atheists Guide. Rosenberg's very explicit about that sheer pervasive universal randomness stuff being false. I've read it aloud on bitchute and am half way through the second reading. Totally agree with Ed here. Read Rosenberg and Coyne about 7 times each. Then you can clean their clocks in your sleep.

      Atheism's over. Theism and Thomistic metaphysics are going to revolutionize everything including a.i. The atheists are doing their part without realizing it, by necessarily treating reason as The God of Thought, which outright proves the recalcitrant necessary truth of the reality of Logos, the image of God, Augustine's Eternal Truths, the Convertibles, etc.

      I for one appreciate the atheists having done a lot of the heavy lifting and grunt work for theism, especially since you just can't get good rationalistic meta-theists these days.

  42. (That was actually a reply to @Jonathan Lewis and @DrYogami, it just wasn't published in the right spot).

  43. Thank you, man.

    If you'll order up Joseph M. Boyle's 1969 doctoral dissertation at Georgetown U (under the great Germain Grisez), they'll send it to you in 8 1/2 x 11 loose leaf with a note to just keep the thing. Then go to office depot and have it 2-sided copy, and have both spiral bound for a buck each. Now you're ready to read what is practically a new station of the cross.

    Because in that document you will see how self-referential analysis is a Type of Christ.

    That's right. With all that money, Manco did his homework, so that when Colonel Douglas Mortimer's self-referential shoulder-stocked 10-inch Buntline Special gets shot out of his hands, and his anti-positivist/scientistic sidearm is missing from its holster ("Very careless of you, old man."), he's well prepared to save Colonel Mortimer's causal-evidential ass one more time.

    Using a T9L version of the Boyle SR69. developed straight out of its own specs (which only Boyle himself had noticed and elaborated but seem to see the implications of), Manco outfitted the T9L with the common operational assumptions of the opposition itself.

    That way, the argument for the ultimacy, adequacy, universality, and efficacy of self-referential analysis would be impenetrable to accusations of assuming what is in question, because they were the opposition's own assumptions used as attempts to rain on the self-referential parade.

    But here's the clincher: What Boyle didn't realize---John 16:13 system hacker though he surely was---is that his own development of this reverse-energy redirection technique as a non-question-begging defense of self-referential refutation was itself the key component to proving Thomistic metaphysics and the existence of God with metatheoretic finality.

    That key was made manifest by the Holy Spirit, during the same three of four years that Boyle was writing his dissertation and "Not My People" Bro Kai Nielsen was writing his 113-page world-changing Ethics Without God (see the key statement on page 22).

    But just between me and you, I think the Holy Spirit has a thing for bling: I happen to know for a fact that Kai Nielsen---like his mentor Flew---just might yield to the metatheoretic onto-existential imperative sometime in the next few months, or maybe the next few weeks, or maybe, dare I say: even in the next few days. Word, dude. Full stop here:

    Kai Nielsen may come to believe in God because his independent prior standards moral argument for atheism is not just a deductive discovery-phase mistake in logic: It's a theistic Trojan Horse.

    And then one by one, Harris, Dawkins, et. al. will at least beccome believers in God.

    And if they don't, the stones--the a.i.-programmed semiconductors mined from them---will cry out the same thing.

    See, the Holy Spirit's a lot more than just Blockchain hovering over those slo-mo prediction market developers.

    People will try to dismiss all this a merely the psychological effect of those jittery bubbles on my All-In-One Windwos 10 machine. But that's a lie of the Devil. For I have done what the Lord commanded---which was to disable the touch-screen driver in the Device Manager. And lo, the machine and I were both healed in that same moment.

    And to think that people wonder why the pentecostals like me so much.

  44. Pope Francis says he doesn't want Gays in the Priesthood.


    1. Son of Ya'Kov,

      I'll admit I get carried away by the narrative, the media narrative really, that Pope Francis is basically an Episcopalian. But I wish when he said something right, we'd show him at least as much kindness as we do "consternation" when he says something silly. On the farm, you've got to show an animal ten kindnesses before you can scold it. People are a kind of animal too. I'm sure parents will tell you kindness and support should be doled out in at least equal measure to criticism and discipline. When Pope Francis says something right, and it gets through the media censorship, we really should make a good fuss about it. I am,


    2. Well said and the true Francis haters (& they exist) response to this has been that it's a ruse or part of some secret meta-plan to make the Catholic Church teach gay marriage.

      But the Pope deserves kudos for this.

    3. IMHO, PF is a Godsend to the Church. A lot of the accusations against him can be shown to be false by seeing what he has in fact said. A few are downright falsehoods spread by Evangelical Fundamentalists.

      Someone has made the suggestion that the...lack of charity, let us call it, that comes his way, is a re-action to the lionising of JP2. STM there is a lot in that. JP2 & B16 are both off-limits to most of his critics, for some reason, and people’s memories seem not to go back before the election of JP2; so PF cops the flak.

      Even though he is following his recent predecessors. The rejection of “proselytism”, for which PF has been *severely* criticised, has been made by Paul VI, JP2, & B16. But it is useless to point out such similarities to his critics.

      The Unforgivable Sin committed by PF, is his failure to be JP2 or B16. To them, all is forgiven (except by sedevacantists) - but even PF’s most unambiguously Catholic acts, like his institution of a new Marian feast, count for nothing as far as his harsher Catholic critics are concerned.

    4. It's a very odd situation. We're seeing Jesus crucified on the hammer and sickle but also praying to St. Michael. I am,


  45. @Son of Ya'Kov

    Gays in the priesthood would send the (wrong) message that homosexuality isn't sinful while it clearly frustrates the final cause of genitalia, wouldn't it?

    Is it your take on the issue or am I mistaken?

    1. Technically I believe an unchaste Priesthood sends the wrong message. A chaste Priesthood by definition sends the correct message. Sure in a few special cases you might have a chaste & celibate priest who is faithful to his vows but whose "butter is spread on the wrong side of the bun". That is he is gayer than Liberace in terms of his temptations and proclivities. If the person has self control and isn't the sort who spent their lives indulging those passions. He could be a priest. He would just be very clean and know how to decorate. The Christmas pageants would look amazing!
      OTOH the Priesthood is an all male environment and putting a man attracted to other men in it (even if he starts out with the best intentions) is likely a very bad idea. Also when the American Church tried this experiment they didn't weed out the activists who wanted to change the Church from within nor the perverts. Which leads me to point out that Pederasts like to pass themselves off as "normal gays" and not creeps who like boys. Those slip in too and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should such people be made Priests.
      Additionally celibacy is the act of giving up via a vow to God the sex you may have lawfully as a sacrifice. Gay Catholics are called to be chaste and not have the gay sex even if they don't become clergy or religious. So gay men aren't giving anything up per say they are not suppose to have in the first place.

      Thus even if you have a few small exceptions. For the most part we shouldn't allow gay men to be ordained.

      The Pope seems to think so too. Which is lovely.

    2. @ Son of Ya'Kov

      Enlightening points! I'm quite conservative myself on that issue, btw, so I agreed with you and the Holy Father from the get-go. I was just interested in why we agreed. Not disappointed.

    3. “Thus even if you have a few small exceptions. For the most part we shouldn't allow gay men to be ordained.

      The Pope seems to think so too. Which is lovely.”

      1. Hell will pass away before his critics give PF any credit for saying what he did.

      2. It seems - odd - to say the least, to allow SSA people into the CC, while excluding them from the priesthood & religious life. Because it seems very inconsistent. Why should they be tolerated in the CC, if they are not tolerable in those two vocations ? The CC at large should not be treated as a dumping-ground for those judged to be “disordered”. To do that, is an insult to the CC. It seems to betray a clericalist double standard :(

    4. James C,

      It is simple. Nobody has a right to be a Priest nor do they have a right to join the religious life(thought you could found one for chaste gays I suppose). However before God everybody is objectively obligated to become Catholic and remain Catholic. That includes the gays.
      Of course that is not absolute. In special cases Men whose tendencies are made known and show they have a strong sense of self control could be exceptions that prove the rule.

      Anyway so the Church doesn't think it prudent to choose SSA people for the priesthood? God Almighty didn't make Scottish people the chosen people. He choose the Jews. Do we Scots have a right to complain (that we will complain about something...anything is a given)? No because God can choose who he wants.

      OTOH are you sure not allowing gays to be ordained is clericalism? That one might think they need to be clerics or they aren't worth the same as the rest of us stikes me as clericalism.
      Also note Women, gay or straight, can never be clergy by God's will. So does that mean women are less then men? Tell that to the Blessed Mary Ever Virgin Queen of the Universe!

    5. It seems - odd - to say the least, to allow SSA people into the CC, while excluding them from the priesthood & religious life.

      Not at all. Priests are called not only to (a) handle the official acts of the priesthood (i.e. to offer sacrifice for us), and (b) to give us the sacraments, they are also called to (c) be to us an outstanding example of holiness, (d) to be an image of Christ himself, and (e) to prophetically call us toward the eschatalogical future we have waiting for us if we will be united with God. For (c), he must not only BE chaste, he must be SEEN to be chaste (along with the other virtues). For (d), he must not only be chaste as to a station that permits marriage, but chaste as to being unmarried, as was Christ, in order to image the bridegroom whose bride is the Church. For (e), he must be unmarried, for in the next life there is no giving or receiving of marriage.

      And in being suited to (d), he must also be "unblemished". This is the image of the priesthood signaled by the Paschal Lamb, which was required to be unblemished. Thus even some men who are morally whole (i.e. not given to acts of a certain vice) can be excluded from the priesthood: under Canon Law, a man who has killed another man, (even licitly and morally, such as (i) a soldier, a policeman, or a civilian in self-defense, or a state executioner) is not allowed to receive the priesthood. Such a one is less able to be an image of Christ, who in his earthly life never killed, but rather called men to life. In a similar way, a man who is marred by SSA is an unfitting one to be made by Orders into an image of Christ, for he is less able to represent the bridegroom who ministers to his bride the Church.

    6. I think the key to this whole thing is the answer to the question, "What is homosexuality?" Or same-sex attraction? I guess it's some kind of "mental illness".

      I have another sort of mental illness, and I think, ultimately, it makes me ill-equipped for many things, including the priesthood.

      And nevermind avoiding temptation. A poor gay fellow in a seminary? With authority over a seminary? It's just too easy to fall off a curb. I am,


  46. This comment has been removed by the author.


    This confuses the hell out of me, I think he is proposing a kind of dynamic monism or something, supposedly this is what the experiments of quantum mechanics "really" show, read the article, the series if you can, and I await for your critiques either from a scientific or philosophical point

  48. Thought of sharing this here as I came across it today

  49. You mean... a New Atheist, of all people, actually *reading* about Classical Theism and then *changing* his mind about God? I'm so confused. This miracle will take some time for me to accept.

    1. It happened a few years ago to that well-known female blogger who was an aggressive new atheist. I forget her name, but she said it was because of the moral argument. I believe she became a Catholic.

      If I could debate Dawkins or Harris, I think I could persuade them that God exists---but I'd demand an open MRI monitoring of both of our brains, just to give it some additional excitement.

      Have fun.

  50. From an historical POV, the Crucifixion is nothing more than the crucifixion of some random Jew. It is the POV of faith, and not anything inherent in the historical actualities that make up the event called “the Crucifixion”, that sees in this event something that has significance as a saving act of God.

    By parity of reasoning, evolution is a random and meaningless process if one looks at the actualities that make it up.

    It has significance as a process that is presided over by Divine Providence, but only if one looks at it in the light of faith. That is a perfectly legitimate approach - yet it is not proper to the sciences which are needed for studying the data of the process called evolution, and is not epistemologically or methodologically necessary for the study of those data.

    History purely as history, and the other sciences too, are of no transcendent significance.

    There is no salvation within history. Salvation comes, not from historical or prehistorical events purely as such, but solely from the Transcendent yet Immanent God Who graciously works “within” history. Christ Crucified saves, not *because* He was crucified, human, Jewish or 1st-century (though He was & is all these), but because He is a Divine Person Who has graciously “assumed” these historical details & limitations.

    Nothing created is inherently gracious or transcendent. Certain creatures have a (God-given) capacity to be made partakers in God’s Transcendence. This is entirely a grace of God, & is not due to them as the created entities they are.

    That is my solution so far, anyway: that God alone is the sole Source of all value, significance, meaning, & teleology in creatures.

    1. The only problem is the it seems that you just begged the question against the Thomist. You claimed that creation does not have any transcendence if not given from “outside”, like the transcendence has to be imposed to a meaningless creation, for the Thomist, creation just is the limited imitation of God so that it does not need to have value or transcendence imposed to it, but it just is a limited imitation to That Which Is Perfect Transcendencebor Value, look for the doctrine of transcendentals.

      While partly true that evolution and history do not, by themselves, give us any kind of transcendence or value (I would make a small exception for the transcendence part when anylizing the historical evidence for the Resurrection, even if maybe not for the Crucifixion) and that to interpret the data of those disciplines in a transcendent or value way we need to appeal to something outside them, that does not mean that Revelation will always be the source of it (even though I would agree it would sometimes be). We can found in philosophy grounds interpret those other disciplines in such a way.

      So if your argument was that because those disciplines do not talk about value and transcendence, those things have to be imposed from outside creation is just wrong from the Thomist perspective and to insist otherwise (without an argument of course) is to beg the question.

  51. It seems - odd - to say the least, to allow SSA people into the CC, while excluding them from the priesthood & religious life.

    This makes no sense. The Church not only allows every kind of person in, it believes every person should be it. But it sure as shootin' doesn't believe every kind of person should be in the priesthood and religious life. Vocations offices very carefully screen a lot of different kinds of people so as to prevent them from entering priesthood and religious life, without any suggestion that the excluded types don't belong in the Church itself.

  52. I meant to say "it believes every person should be *in* it"

  53. Presentism and Relativity.

    Here is the simple solution. The Present is local so enough of this "universal reference frame mishigoss".

    Your welcome.

  54. Choice quote.

    "If a consequence of relativity is that the present can only be defined from a local perspective, it does not follow that the present (or its respective past or future) is unreal. On the contrary, observational, perspective-dependent reality is the only kind of reality that deserves to be called physical, if physics is taken to be an empirical science."