The doctrine that God is absolutely simple derives from the metaphysical considerations that God is a being whose existence is self-explanatory, absolutely perfect, and pure actuality. Prior to Thomas, the doctrine has its most influential formulations in Augustine and Anselm. According to Thomas, God is his essence and his essence is to exist. If the existence of a thing differs from its essence, this existence must be caused either by some exterior agent or by its essential properties. The latter seems to be impossible for nothing, if caused to exist, can be the sufficient and efficient cause of its own existence. Nothing can be self-caused and thus the latter option is insufficient. Therefore, if existence differs from essence then another being must cause existence. This option is also an insufficient explanation for God’s essence and existence because another being cannot cause God because he is the first efficient cause—the uncaused cause.
Einstein’s GTR [and aspects of STR] has made incredible contributions to natural theology. Given the fixed speed of light, that nothing can travel faster than light, and the billions of light-years separation between the earth and other stars, it follows that the universe is billions of years old. This has created a problem for young-earth creationists. Current estimations for the age of the universe have been set at 13.73±2 billion years old. Young-earth creationists have adopted three main approaches: (1) embrace a fictitious history of the universe in the spirit of Philip Gosse’s 1857 work Omphalos; (2) view the speed of light as having decayed over time; and/or (3) interpret Einstein’s GTR so that during an “ordinary day as measured on earth, billions of years worth of physical processes take place in the distant cosmos.”
I am approaching the world as a realist. (For a background of my epistemology please see: My Evidentialist Epistemology). What I mean by this is that the external reality is how it appears to be to an observer making an epistemic inquiry, the measurements from science accurately depicts reality. This is in contrast to instrumentalism, which suggests that our inquiry of the world, scientifically, do not accurately depict reality but as useful fictions. An instrumentalist is more concerned about data fitting theories and predictions than with an accurate depiction of reality.
For the realist-evidentialist, the ontology of the world determines one’s epistemology. They congruently correspond. It is important to note the order of entailment. Antecedently, reality determines our epistemology. It would be illicit to reverse the term order and as Roy Bhaskar notes, it would be the epistemic fallacy. I am not advocating a naïve realism where reality acts on the human mind without personal inquiry nor am I advocating postmodern anti-realism where one can construct whatever type of reality is desired. I am advocating a form of critical realism.
Lorenzo Valla’s (1406-1457) interrogative (interrogatio) form of inquiry. Valla’s mode of inquiry yield results that are entirely new, giving rise to knowledge that cannot be derived by an inferential process from what was already known. Valla transitioned from not only using this method for historical knowledge but also applied it as “logic for scientific discovery.”
Our usual understanding of possible worlds are simply references to any possible state of affairs. They have no ontic grounding or actuality. It’s a semantic tool. However, there are those who treat possible worlds as actual. (The world actual becomes very fuzzy in modal realism). Philosopher David Lewis is the leading proponent of modal realism (Lewisian modal realism) and he has developed six essential doctrines to understanding modal realism:
- Possible worlds exist–they are just as real as our world
- Possible worlds are the same sort of things as our world–they differ in content, not in kind
- Possible worlds cannot be reduced to something more basic–they are irreducible entities in their own right
- Actuality is indexical. When we distinguish our world from other possible worlds by claiming that it alone is actual, we mean only that it is our world
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The grounding objection asks the question: By what means or grounds does God know what he knows (particularly middle knowledge)?
Suppose I have an argument similar to the grounding argument from the grounding objection claiming that contingent truths are not self-explanatory but must simply exist, from all eternity, as an ungrounded, metaphysical surd. How would I, as a Molinist, respond?
This objection is merely the result of misunderstanding the means by which God knows what he does. God’s knowledge is wholly intuitive and relies on no existent entity and is completely compatible with divine aseity. According to Luis de Molina,
God does not get his knowledge from things, but knows all things in himself and from himself; therefore, the existence of things, whether in time or eternity, contributes nothing to God’s knowing with certainty what is going to be or not to be… For prior to any existence on the part of the objects, God has within himself the means whereby he knows all things fully and perfectly; and this is why the existence of created things contributes no perfection to the cognition he has of them and does not cause any change in that cognition… [And] God does not need the existence of those things in his eternity in order to know them with certainty.read more »
I would consider my epistemic position to be a moderate evidentialist. (This is just a brief outline). There is a sense of deontology to it in that one ought to base their beliefs corresponding to the evidence; however, there is a sense in which one may hold a belief without sufficient evidence and still be rational. The source of truth is the objective prime reality and our knowledge should correspond to the truth of reality. My epistemology yields my theology in the sense of scientific theology. What I know about reality is what I know about God.
Everything that we know is intuitive or experiential. Intuition will be discussed later but the knowledge gained is from sensory apparatus’. The characters read on paper are only the result of photons reflecting off of the paper and the photoreceptors in the eye receiving that information. All knowledge cannot be deemed sensory only since it seems feasible that a person with a sensory handicap or no functioning sensory apparatus’ may still be justified in believing in his own existence by intuition (as well as moral truths). The task of justification, or determining the truth of p, must meet the criteria of an inference to the best explanation (IBE).
Consider the following definition for justification: