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Thomas Aquinas Part 1

NWRatCon

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I spent a good deal of time and effort parsing Aquinas in my past. Like Descartes, he provided a lot of thought-provoking fodder, but was ultimately unpersuasive on the "big question".
 

RAMOSS

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I assume you meant “test of time”. I can’t, however, assume what you meant by that. Do you agree with Aquinas’ five arguments? 1&2 seem sound. 3-5 a bit more challenging.
1 & 2 are horrible bad too.
 

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"knowing that natural beings could not have intelligence without it being granted to them it by God"


I've watch a few youtube videos about the nature of consciousness. Science still can't explain it. It's fascinating stuff.


.
fascinating it is!
 

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The way Thomas’s “proofs” were taught me in theology class was that he was providing five ways a believer could explain his belief in God, that they were not intended to be proofs.
 

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I think I’ll go ahead and respond to this (highlighted) now. Maybe I understood your argument, maybe I didn’t.

Why is intelligence the eventual outcome of evolution? Evolution is a mindless force. What evolved could have been just as easily unintelligent. I’m unaware of any scientific evidence that draws the conclusion you have here.
  1. What is intelligence? Science is probably still in its infancy as to fully understanding intelligence. Is it hereditary or environmentally derived? AI is growing in possibility. But it requires an initial programming from an intelligence such as a homo sapien. With its arrival we may have to rethink our views on intelligence. Which brings me to my next question.
  2. Why is homo sapiens the top of the pyramid? Seeing as how evolution is mindless, you seem to be suggesting that it had a purpose. Us being the end result. That assumes evolution is finished. We don’t know that and thus to draw that conclusion is untenable. I’m going to go out on a limb here and rephrase your point.
Evolution gave rise to intelligence. Therefore intelligence proves evolution.

I look forward to your responses.
You omitted the phrase “at this point” as regards humans being the top of the evolution pyramid, which pretty much negates the paragraph about evolution.
And, no, intelligence does not prove evolution. The theory of evolution is based on a mountain of EVIDENCE that shows that it is the manner in which life in this planet has come to its present form.
 

watsup

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The way Thomas’s “proofs” were taught me in theology class was that he was providing five ways a believer could explain his belief in God, that they were not intended to be proofs.
Aquinas was an expert at double-talk and sophistry such the “reasoning” as regards his claims about angels.
 

watsup

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I appreciate your response. I didn’t see it earlier and was working on responding to your answer to Tosca (which I’ll hold off on for now).

I confess that it’s been ages since I’ve participated in discussions of this nature so pardon my missteps if I misunderstand your position. Over the course of those years I learned more about the arguments for and against the existence of a god from my atheist friends than from believers. Perhaps it’s because atheists are more open to questioning beliefs. I don’t mean to broad brush believers, however. I’ve learned a lot from many of them as well. Anyways, I’m straying afar off the path.

Reading your response here I can’t help thinking how much faith you have. Science has indeed brought us far in discovering the nature of many things. But it has its limitations. You admit that we don’t know the cause of the cause (or even if there is one - touching upon one of Aquinas arguments) for our existence but believe that science “will keep trying to find out”. Whereas that is true, it’s implication that they will discover the how is driven by faith. They may never come to a solid and undebatable answer. Perhaps, this might be one reason why there are scientists that are believers in a god. They (those that are believers) know they lack satisfactory answers for our existence in science. And some of those scientists are neither atheists nor theists. There’s another choice - agnosticism. They just don’t have enough information to say one way or another.

Now I know I probably didn’t touch upon the points you wish I had but allow me to warm up to it. One thing with regards to what you said to Tosca was about Aquinas fifth way argument. I wasn’t sure if what you spoke about accurately reflected his argument. Am I mistaken?
Science is not driven by faith at all. Scientists know what they know, and they know what they don’t know. Neither requires faith as normally understood as referencing belief in God, which is faith based on NO objective, reality-based evidence, as opposed to science which makes no claims unless there is some sort of evidence to back them up, Totally different.
There may indeed be a definition of faith that may apply to science, but keep in mind that definitions are normally quite precise, and to compare a definition of faith as applies to belief in God to one that may apply to science is called conflation, i.e,, mixing definitions to confuse rather than to gain understanding.
 

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The way Thomas’s “proofs” were taught me in theology class was that he was providing five ways a believer could explain his belief in God, that they were not intended to be proofs.
That is what one always claims when the proof falls. ;) It has been a very, very long time since I've deigned to read Aquinas, so I'm going from very old impressions, I admit. I'll confess, too, that I don't intend to make up for that neglect.
 

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That is what one always claims when the proof falls. ;) It has been a very, very long time since I've deigned to read Aquinas, so I'm going from very old impressions, I admit. I'll confess, too, that I don't intend to make up for that neglect.
Don’t understand. Either Thomas billed them as proofs or not. If he was acting from the point of view of a believer, surrounded by a culture of belief, I assume the explanation as taught me makes sense. He was not doing battle with non-believers, tho to be fair, perhaps doubters.
 

NWRatCon

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Since it was written in Latin, what we non-Latin-readers have to rely on are translations. Some refer to them as proofs, others as arguments. I think it's also important to note that at his time of writing, there were not clear distinctions between science, philosophy, and theology, except in how one addressed the subject. So, it could be seen differently by a theologian and by a logician. Nonetheless, his tome was intended to be persuasive (as I recall he even addressed it to "gentiles", or maybe that was another work). I didn't find it so. As someone else noted, ultimately, from a logical standpoint, the arguments were circular. But, again, this is from sketchy memories. I was never a seminarian, although I did attend a denominational college as an undergraduate.
 

OscarLevant

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Thomas Aquinas was a Christian “apologist” who spent much of his life trying to reconcile faith with reason. Below is a quick rehash of his arguments for God. As I have said before , they are both complex and yet quite simplistic at the same time. Complex because theologians and others have spent literally centuries trying to resolve them. Simplistic because when properly parsed they become, for the most part, circular reasoning that a smart child could unravel.
So the question is: have they stood the rest of time:

“Saint Thomas Aquinas believed that the existence of God could be proven in five ways, mainly by: 1) observing movement in the world as proof of God, the "Immovable Mover"; 2) observing cause and effect and identifying God as the cause of everything; 3) concluding that the impermanent nature of beings proves the existence of a necessary being, God, who originates only from within himself; 4) noticing varying levels of human perfection and determining that a supreme, perfect being must therefore exist; and 5) knowing that natural beings could not have intelligence without it being granted to them it by God. Subsequent to defending people's ability to naturally perceive proof of God, Thomas also tackled the challenge of protecting God's image as an all-powerful being.”

Aquinas favored heretics to be put to death.

That's all I need to know.
 

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Well, let’s take #5 as an example: knowing that natural beings could not have intelligence without it being granted to them by God.
This is basically a nice little tautology which, when examined, makes the following two statements: God granted intelligence to humans; and therefore intelligence in humans proves that there is a God.
It’s circular in that it depends only on itself for “proof” rather than on any outside evidence. Thomas Aquinas and subsequent apologists have, of course, spent a lot of time and effort and words in expanding the explanation, but it all comes down to the basic circular argument in the end.
All of the other points are basically the same in structure, two statements saying the same in reverse.
What science has now shown is that intelligence is the eventual outcome of evolution in the “top of the pyramid” fauna at this point, namely Homo sapiens.
Well, doesn’t your scientific evidence, more precise your specific use of it here, commit the same circular fallacy?

Your scientific evidence doesn’t necessarily remove God from the equation. To remove God from the equation as a cause of intelligence by means of evolution as the causefor intelligence requires the assumption no God/god was a cause for the evolutionary process. To assert intelligence “is the outcome of evolution” for a theistic evolutionist is a no brainer. God, as the father and cause of evolution, initiated an evolutionary process resulting in intelligence.
 

watsup

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Well, doesn’t your scientific evidence, more precise your specific use of it here, commit the same circular fallacy?

Your scientific evidence doesn’t necessarily remove God from the equation. To remove God from the equation as a cause of intelligence by means of evolution as the causefor intelligence requires the assumption no God/god was a cause for the evolutionary process. To assert intelligence “is the outcome of evolution” for a theistic evolutionist is a no brainer. God, as the father and cause of evolution, initiated an evolutionary process resulting in intelligence.
First of all, the human brain “proves” nothing as regards evolution. But the science of evolution is certainly not circular. It is quite linear in that the most primitive life forms are found in the relatively oldest strata of Earth, with increasing complexity of life throughout the eons of the geological record. As such, the human brain is considered by biologists (and medical science) as yet another organ, just like the liver or lung, and as such is indeed the product of evolution.
Anyone can insert God into evolution if they so desire, given that this is a “free country”, but that then moves it out of strictly the realm of science and into theological philosophy, which is why the courts have ruled that it cannot be taught in a scientific classroom in the public schools,
 

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On 2 July 1951, Mary Reeser, a 67-year-old woman, was found burned to death in her house after her landlady realised that the house's doorknob was unusually warm. The landlady notified the police, and upon entering the home, they found Reeser's remains completely burned into ash, with only one leg remaining. The chair she was sitting in was also destroyed. During the investigation, detectives found that Reeser's temperature was around 3,500 °F (1,930 °C; 2,200 K), which puzzled the investigators, as almost everything else in the room in which Reeser was found remained intact.
(Wikipedia)
Now, following Aquinas' logic (proof #2 and somewhat #1), this is obviously proof of God's existence. Similarly, there are hundreds of examples of hay bales bursting into flames in farmer's fields or barns, lumber yards igniting spontaneously, and even city dumps becoming infernos without outside intervention. What we don't know, or don't completely understand, is God's purpose in causing these events.
“Saint Thomas Aquinas believed that the existence of God could be proven in five ways, mainly by: 1) observing movement in the world as proof of God, the "Immovable Mover"; 2) observing cause and effect and identifying God as the cause of everything; 3) concluding that the impermanent nature of beings proves the existence of a necessary being, God, who originates only from within himself; 4) noticing varying levels of human perfection and determining that a supreme, perfect being must therefore exist; and 5) knowing that natural beings could not have intelligence without it being granted to them it by God. Subsequent to defending people's ability to naturally perceive proof of God, Thomas also tackled the challenge of protecting God's image as an all-powerful being.”
What we have been able to determine, given our native (God-given?) intelligence, is how these events occur. We determined that Mary Reeser was stoned, and a smoker. We have learned that the fat content of a human body is sufficient to sustain a fire for hours through the "wicking effect". Similarly, we have learned that organic materials can, through decomposition, reach sufficient temperatures to reach ignition.

In Aquinas' time (and still for some) these events would be described as "miracles." Aquinas believed that the very existence of cause and effect proved the existence of God - the motivating force. But, does that conclusion logically follow? Our understanding of randomness, of chance, and of evolution militate against that conclusion. Why this conclusion is logically identified as circular is apparent: How does one reach the conclusion? By positing (assuming) the existence of (a) God. The Greeks referred to that as "deus ex machina". It appears Aquinas skipped that lesson in his studies.
 

grip

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Why do atheists assume that an omniscient being has nothing to do with science? It's his system with the laws of physics. It's humanity that's ignorant.
 

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Why do atheists assume that an omniscient being has nothing to do with science? It's his system with the laws of physics. It's humanity that's ignorant.
Why do you think that all atheists think something that they don't? Science is not how the world works, it is a way for man to study the physical working of the universe. Science does not use omniscient beings in any explanations because science has observed none.
 

grip

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Why do you think that all atheists think something that they don't? Science is not how the world works, it is a way for man to study the physical working of the universe. Science does not use omniscient beings in any explanations because science has observed none.
How would science recognize an omniscient being? If science doesn't explain how the world works, then what does?
 

devildavid

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How would science recognize an omniscient being? If science doesn't explain how the world works, then what does?
Through observation. Science tries to explain how the physical world functions. It does so based on what can be observed and tested. How would anyone observe an omniscient being? How would it be tested? How do you test for omniscience? How do you show it exists other than as a concept?
 

grip

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Through observation. Science tries to explain how the physical world functions. It does so based on what can be observed and tested. How would anyone observe an omniscient being? How would it be tested? How do you test for omniscience? How do you show it exists other than as a concept?
I think I'm going to faint, we actually agree for once.

That's my whole point, how do you recognize an omnipotent being without being aware of what that means? Is it possible that the universe is part of one, big living-entity? There's no direct evidence that the universe is conscious, other than through us, but maybe we're not sophisticated enough yet to recognize it, at least not thru science.

To say, it's not possible is a claim to know everything. To say, you see no proof but honestly don't know is open-minded.
 

watsup

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I think I'm going to faint, we actually agree for once.

That's my whole point, how do you recognize an omnipotent being without being aware of what that means? Is it possible that the universe is part of one, big living-entity? There's no direct evidence that the universe is conscious, other than through us, but maybe we're not sophisticated enough yet to recognize it, at least not thru science.

To say, it's not possible is a claim to know everything. To say, you see no proof but honestly don't know is open-minded.
Open-minded to science fiction, *YAWN*
 

devildavid

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I think I'm going to faint, we actually agree for once.

That's my whole point, how do you recognize an omnipotent being without being aware of what that means? Is it possible that the universe is part of one, big living-entity? There's no direct evidence that the universe is conscious, other than through us, but maybe we're not sophisticated enough yet to recognize it, at least not thru science.

To say, it's not possible is a claim to know everything. To say, you see no proof but honestly don't know is open-minded.
You have missed my point. Making up the concept of an omniscient being does not mean one is even possible. Some things are just make believe.
 

grip

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Open-minded to science fiction, *YAWN*
Philosophers often perform extreme feats of mental gymnastics, to ramble on, without ever reaching a definite conclusion. If it takes you too long to get to a point, you lose people's attention and interest. Especially if you keep using convoluted made-up terms to explain simple concepts. It's merely an act of egoism. The greatest thinkers are succinct and clear about their reasoning.

Do you know what they call a scientist without an imagination? An idiotic computer. :LOL:
 
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