Posts tagged ‘thomas aquinas’

September 8th, 2013

What Does it Mean to Live the “Good Life”?—Counterpoints with PZ Myers

by Max Andrews

Summa TheologicaAtheist biologist PZ Myers recently shared his thoughts on how an atheist is to live the good life. He constructed his opinions as counterpoints to many Christian disciplines and virtues. In the end, the happy atheist is the one who is free from religion, whose ethics are framed around societal responsibilities. Sure, helping and loving one another is good but Myers lacks a purpose or end goal for the good life.

Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas are the leading thinkers when it comes to answering the question, “What is the good life?”  Both Aristotle and Thomas agreed that the good life is fulfilling one’s purpose in life but Thomas was the one who grounded the good life in divine love and purpose.

One of the common misconceptions of Christianity is that the goal of human life is happiness.  The chief end of man is to love and know God—fulfilling God’s purposes for each individual. Man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring humanity to it’s intended purpose and end.

August 1st, 2013

Transcript and Thoughts on My Debate with Justin Schieber

by Max Andrews

Over the last month or two I’ve been working on a written/audio debate with Justin Schieber of Reasonable Doubts. The topic of the debate was “Does the Christian God Exist?” I imagine the debate may have been released earlier had it not been for my delayed responses due to health issues and moving out of our house and preparing to embark on our move to Scotland. I have apologized to Mr. Schieber concerning this and I extend apologies to the readers and listeners.

I was actually expecting much stronger arguments from Mr. Schieber. Two arguments were off topic and the other one was a far metaphysical and modal stretch. You’ll be able to read his arguments in full but here are my thoughts :

July 8th, 2013

Q&A 29: Why Do You Believe in God in the Absence of Good Arguments?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Why do you believe in God when the Genesis creation account and the bible have been discredited? Why do you believe when there are no good arguments that don’t have some sort of counter argument? There is not one irrefutable proof or argument for God whether it be from archeology, history, textually,  philosophy, theology, prophecy, science, mind, miracles and the supernatural. Not one. How can it be true if nothing stands up to critical thinking? Why believe?

April 30th, 2013

Q&A 20: Does God Know Infinite Sets and Can God Learn Anything?

by Max Andrews



I have a question regarding God being all-knowing in light of the impossibility of an actual infinite set.
I assume the following premises:
·         God knows all true propositions of past, present and future.
·         God does not learn anything but has always known everything. If He was to learn something that would imply there was something He did not know, which would mean He is not all-knowing.
·         It is impossible to contain or hold an infinite set because such an action would imply that it is finite instead of infinite.
Are these three premises valid? If they are, does it follow that the number of events in the future are finite? If so, how does that cohere with the belief that we will be in relation with God for all eternity?

Bill Clute

April 28th, 2013

The Eudaimonistic Ethic

by Max Andrews

Aristotle’s ethic was eudaimonistic, which was later developed by Thomas Aquinas.  Evil is the negation of good and requires no ontological grounding and it is the case that everyone always acts according to what they believe is good.  Thomas’ meta-ethic was that being and goodness are the same in reference but differ only in sense.  He follows Aristotle in making the connection between goodness and desirability.   “The formula of the good consists in this, that something is desirable, and so the Philosopher [Aristotle] says that the good is what all desire.”[1]  Although all things desire goodness, not all things capable of pursuing goodness and pleasure with understanding understand what really is good; it is possible for creatures with intellect and will to desire an apparent good as a real one.[2]  Thomas states that something is desirable in two ways, either because it is good or because it appears good.  Of these, the first is what is good, for an apparent good does not move by itself but insofar as it has some appearance of good; but the good moves by itself.[3] Desirability and pleasure is an essential aspect of goodness.  The perfection of anything is goodness and perfection is attained in actuality, “As regards nature the good of anything is its actuality and perfection.”[4] 

April 5th, 2013

An Abductive Thomistic Cosmological Argument

by Max Andrews

The following argument is an abductive Thomistic cosmological argument from contingency, which I presented at my recent Ratio Christi debate.

  1. There are contingent constituents to the universe.
  2. Given the contingent constituents of the universe, the existence of the universe (U) is very, very unlikely under the hypothesis that these constituents are themselves uncaused or self-caused (~Cu): that is, P(U|~Cu & k) ≪ 1.
  3. Given the contingent constituents of the universe, the existence of the universe is not unlikely under the hypothesis of a first uncaused cause (Cu): that is, ~P(U|Cu & k) ≪ 1.
  4. Therefore, U strongly supports Cu over ~Cu.

The constituents of the universe include galaxies, planets, stars, cars, humans, leptons, bosons, and other particles. For the constituents of the universe to be uncaused that would mean it is metaphysically necessary. For something to be metaphysically necessary that means that it could not have failed to exist—it exists in every possible world.

For something to be self-caused it must be simultaneously antecedent to itself to produce itself as its own effect. But this contradictory. This would be akin to the ultimate bootstrapping trick.

April 3rd, 2013

Liberty University Debate Video

by Max Andrews

A debate between Max Andrews from Liberty University and Dan Linford from Virginia Tech on the topic “Does God Exist?”

Filmed on the campus of Liberty University, March 28, 2013.

Sponsored by the Liberty University chapter of Ratio Christi, the Phi Sigma Tau Honor Society, and the Philosophy Department of Liberty University.

February 5th, 2013

The Thomistic Doctrine of Creatio Continuans

by Max Andrews

Traditionally, there are two models for how God preserves the existence of the universe.  The first is creatio originans (originating creation), which suggests that there has been one initial act of creation and God conserves that reality through a temporal duration.  Consider the following definition.

D1. God conserves e if and only if God acts upon e to bring about e’s enduring from t until some t* > t through every subinterval of the interval t –> t*.[1]

Thomas Aquinas de-temporalizes creatio ex nihilo.[2]  Thus, Thomas is not very concerned with divine conservation as described above since he does not offer a tensed version of creation nor does he differentiate between conservation and creation.[3]  Thomas’ model of creatio continuans (continual creation) can therefore be depicted as:

D2. God continuously creates x = def. x is a persistent thing, and, for all t, if x exists at t, then at t God creates x.[4]

Thomas certainly seems to make a commitment to creatio continuans given his doctrine of simplicity (since timeless follows).  However, Thomas tries to have the best of both doctrines by suggesting that God acts within creation and creation was within time yet, in turn, adopt a model of timelessness.  Thomas argues that the creation of things was in the beginning of time.  For Genesis 1 to include, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” suggests that beginning connotes time.[5]

February 1st, 2013

The Less-Than-Best Problem and Modal Realism

by Max Andrews

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz developed a similar idea to Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of variety, which is known as the principle of plenitude.  He argues that there must be diversity in that which changes.[1]  This change and diversity is what produces the specification and variety of simple substances.  This diversity must involve a multitude in the unity or in the simple.  For, since all natural change is produced by degrees, something changes and something remains.  As a result, there must be a plurality of properties and relations.[2]  The principle of plenitude entails absolutely every way that a world could be is a way that some world is and absolutely every way that a part of a world could be is a way that some part of some world is.[3]

The principle of plenitude has been used to argue against modal realism.  The principle is supposed to ensure that there are no gaps in logical space.  There is some real concrete universe for every way a world could be.  This entails that there may be a plurality of worlds that are on balance more bad than good.  Theistic modal realism entails that each possible world is a real concrete universe that a perfect being has actualized.  In the Leibnizian tradition, the principle entails at least some of the worlds are so bad that no perfect being could actualize them.[4]  Hence, Leibniz committed to this world being the best of all possible worlds.[5]  This is called the less-than-best problem.

January 29th, 2013

The Doctrine of Variety and the Multiverse

by Max Andrews

Thomas Aquinas believed that there was an appropriated assimilation or likeness to God found in creatures and creation.  Some likeness must be found between an effect and its cause.  It is in the nature of any agent to do something like itself.  Thus, God also gives to creatures and creation all their perfections; and thereby he has with all creatures a likeness.[1]

Additionally, the cause of variety and the multitude of things in creation find their cause in God.  Thomas contrasts himself with early Greek philosophers such as Democritus and the other atomists who argued that the distinction of things come from chance according to the movement of matter.  Thomas follows Anaxagoras in attributing the multitude to matter and to the agent involved.  Thomas identifies this agency as God since he is the creator of matter and thus the efficient cause behind the existence of the matter.  Additionally, the universality of things and the perfection of the universe must precede forth from the intention of the first agent—God.[2]  Thomas states that the distinction and variety reflects the divine goodness.

For he brought things into being in order that his goodness might be communicated to creatures, and be represented by them; and because his goodness could not be adequately represented by one creature alone, he produced many and diverse creatures, that what was wanting to one in the representation of the divine goodness might be supplied by another.  For goodness, which in God is simple and uniform, in creatures is manifold and divided and hence the whole universe together participates in the divine goodness more perfectly, and represents it better than any single creature whatever.[3]