jeudi 22 novembre 2012

Is Peter Kreeft proving God as St Thomas Aquinas did?

A quote:

Look at the steady state theory. The Universe is there, it always was there, it always will be there, it is the sum total of all things, there is nothing else.

In that case there is no beginning. There has already been an infinite amount of time in the universe. So, what?

Well, from that beginning point some philosophers argue that you couldn't have reached today if there is an infinite time, because you couldn't go through infinite amount of moments of time and actually reach today if there is an infinite time, because you can't go through an infinite amount of moments of time, and actually reach today if you have to go through an infinite amount of days or hours or whatever in the past.

I don't think that works, it is the fallacy of Achilles and the Tortoise, by Zeno, the ancient Greek philosopher.

But Aquinas doesn't use that version, he uses another version. He says:

If there has already been an infinite amount of time, then there is enough time for every possibility to have become actualised.

Now, if there is no God, every other being than God can not be. There is no being that has to be necessarily. Everything can cease to be, everything can die.

If there is enough time for everything to die, why is anything still alive?

If in infinite time every potentiality is actualised, then at some time everything in the universe will cease to be. And once nothing exists, nothing can start up again, so how come we are [still] here?

Source: The Thomist Cosmological Argument (Peter Kreeft)

Modern Atheism has actually dealt with it in a way. Not by saying that there is no necessary being, but by calling atoms or smaller particles or energy that necessary being.

It is a shame for them that atheists don't say that when confronted with the argument. But refuting that is not saying atheists don't deal with it. It is stating how atheism cannot deal with it properly. That is the difference between logical dialectics and rhetoric.

Atheism as believed by Science Believers is actually not denying any argument of the five totally.

  • It is identifying "first unmoved mover" (1) with energy (kinetic and other).
  • It is identifying "necessary existant" (3) with (older) particles or (newer) with quanta of energy,
  • Preservation (2 minus what 1 already states) of movement neither changing speed nor direction is regarded as quite as much a preservation as preservation in unchanged stillness. Attributed to matter and to energy.
  • Wisdom of rule (4) is attributed to every failed state of system already having failed. Those are the various atheistic theories of evolution.
  • Best thing (5) is considered an illusion or as by-product of biological evolution, and therefore as relative.

To give us Thomistic Theist Philosophy, it is no longer enough to quote the five ways. One must also show how conclusion of five ways cannot be for instance, anything composed.

And a probably-so theoretical fault underlying this belief system is Newton's first or second law meaning that preservation in movement needs no cause beyond preservation of moving object and absense of forces changing the movement.

That is also not something observed directly on earth. One can thus hardly say it is based on experience. We throw a stone, and it continues flying through the air a while, then it falls to the ground. Newtonians say that is due to gravitation of earth. Of course things do tend to fall to the ground. But is the downward bend of the stone's orbit entirely due to gravitation or is it due to a weakening of the initial momentum of the throw?

That could be tested, actually. Measure impact of two projectiles thrown same force on same weight (can be arranged by machinery), one on a target set high up at beginning of orbit, one on a target further away and lower. Will the low and far target have to measure less of an impact than the high and close one - or more?

I think it has been done. I think you have greater chances of surviving a bullet or arrow hit if it comes from afar. Of course a Newtonian may answer: "yes, agreed that not only is the projectile lower due to gravitation, it is also less forcefull, BUT that is accounted for by friction."

His explanation of the case agrees with the data, but is obviously not the only one that does so.

Of course, he could say his explanation can be tested by the fact that bullets loose their force easier in water than in air and easier in solid objects (like that Bible in a breast pocket that saved a man's life: afterwards he started reading it and became a Christian). And the Aristotelian or semi-Aristotelian might agree that higher friction makes projectiles loose force earlier, but say that this is not the only cause, the prime one being that motion is an imposed thing which cannot remain for very long on its own in an object.

And that is why St Thomas Aquinas - unlike Peter Kreeft earlier in this video - makes locomotion, i e change in place, the most obvious example of change, the most obvious thing requiring a first mover.

Newtonianism essentially makes "inertia plus forces" the first mover.

Materialism goes one further and makes all other change an epiphenomenon of locomotion. Even chemical change is essentially locomotion of electrons to it.

Now, that is not the usual answer of an atheist when confronted with St Thomas Aquinas. His reaction is: "Aquinas is philosophy, not science. In philosophy he has been answered by Hume and Kant. Therefore I answer this Christian appealing to philosophy by an appeal to Hume and Kant. Obviously Hume and Kant are as much later than Aquinas as Tycho Brahe is later than Ptolemy. Ergo as much trustworthier." And if the Christian does not agree that later means trustworthier within each discipline, then he thinks the Christian an oddball.

Now, he could have done what my analysis does for him, say: "I agree there must be a first mover. We no longer call it God, we call it energy. Prove it is not impersonal as we believe, will you?"

If Peter Kreeft had taken the road of using all the five ways, he could have answered: "we see things obeying a wise overall design. Therefore there is a designer wiser than us who has also the power to impose his design - by fiat on inanimate objects or by obedience of angels - on the whole universe."

And the Newtonian and Materialist atheist happens also to be a Heliocentric-Acentric Einsteinian as well as an Evolutionist. He thinks that the designs that do not work have all and sundry been eliminated not by choice of a designer, but by failure of every design other than the one we now enjoy.

And of course he would not agree that the Universe is only the sum of everything that can exist and cannot exist as well: he will call everything that can not exist, such as solid objects and life and conscience, an epiphenomenon of what he considers ultimately necessary existence. If what Mendeleian Chemists use the word atom for is composable, no doubt the Demokritean atoms are even smaller than that. Particles. Quanta. Whatever. Or he resorts to Heraklitean panta rhei materialism: it is all an epiphenomenon to the flow of energy. So his answer is: while everything we see can as well not exist, it consists of smaller things which can only exist. When the things we see cease to exist, that only means the smaller things rearrange.

NOW Peter Kreeft might agree that proving theism indeed goes by the five ways, but has to include a refutation of the atheist's way of dealing with the five ways. Their real way, when doing their science or science based speculation, not the phony way of appealing to Kant or Hume, which is actually just a way of telling Kreeft and company: "get out of the way, I want to discuss with people who have something to say."

These do include Christian Creationists. Kent Hovind is currently in prison. You might contribute to his defense fund, if you like. When he was out, I do not find atheist refutations of him from that period. But now he is in, a certain thunderf00t is making so much fun of him, and refuting so short clips from him, that I think he was on spot.

Creation vs. Evolution : thunderf00t ... did you actually say that? (part 1)

Creation vs. Evolution : thunderf00t, did you really say that? (part 2)

Now, when St Thomas aquinas proves God to be personal, he first of all proves that God is not composed. Something which creationists will make a case of.

"Who created God?"

"Since God is not composed of anything at all, but is his own being, he needs no creator."

Quoted from memory from a creationist site.

Now, how does St Thomas Aquinas set about proving that God is simple?

First he deals with God not being - as such - a body. And here he uses at the very first an argument where Materialist Newtonism would disagree:

First, because no body is in motion unless it be put in motion, as is evident from induction. Now it has been already proved (2, 3), that God is the First Mover, and is Himself unmoved. Therefore it is clear that God is not a body.

"Protest, your honour! A body in order to move does not need to be continually set in motion."

Sungenis gives an explanation where the turning of the universe around a central no-mass location or same location occupied by earth can go on and on and on for billions of years.

On its own. Without having, for each moment of its movement, a first mover.

You may perhaps now see, why a thoroughgoing Thomist should not try to accept everything presented as modern science, even if it has centuries of unanimous acceptation in the scientific community.

You may also see why now more than ever it is necessary to insist that cognitive events - thinking or realising - cannot be epiphenomena to locomotive ones in bodies.

Now, there are some reasons why St Thomas Aquinas did not take the C. S. Lewis proof.

First of all, it is a composite proof, where first part leads to a junction where Averroism is a clear option. He knew very well how to refute Averroism, but he may not have wanted to bring it up first.

Second of all, the thing is so obvious he might not have considered it needed saying.

Third, he was not dealing with people who actually seriously said that events such as knowing or loving can have sunbjects such as purely bodily objects. The closest you came to Atheism among serious options back then was Averroism, which admitted there was a mind with known truth of eternal validity, only denying that these other lesser minds that we have exist also.

Now, proving God is neither impossible nor even very difficult. The problem is some people make it more difficult than it need be by accepting too much of the modern scientific options. Some of them are refutable as purported facts. Others are at least refutable as purportedly known facts.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
La Clairière, Paris
St Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

PS: St Bonaventura's version which Kreeft said was Achilles and the Turtle fallacy, is not so. Reaching a part that equals zero by smaller and smaller divisions is mathematically impossible. Reducing serial things like time or numbers to a start like 1 is not so. You cannot have whole numbers lesser than one. Zero is not a number. "Minus one" is not a number. You can say that "plus/minus zero" and "minus one" are valid as relative numbers - I prefer to call them numeric relations - but these repose on numbers. "How many more or less than ..." requires a related object of "how many". Which is where you do not come lower than one.

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