The Nature of Grace

Discussion in 'Theology' started by Thomas, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

    Sep 25, 2003
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    Summa Theologiae, Part I/II, Q109, Article 1.

    Whether without grace man can know any truth?

    Objection 1. It would seem that without grace man can know no truth. For, on 1 Corinthians 12:3: "No man can say, the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost," a gloss says: "Every truth, by whomsoever spoken is from the Holy Ghost." Now the Holy Ghost dwells in us by grace. Therefore we cannot know truth without grace.

    Objection 2.
    Further, Augustine says (Solil. i, 6) that "the most certain sciences are like things lit up by the sun so as to be seen. Now God Himself is He Whom sheds the light. And reason is in the mind as sight is in the eye. And the eyes of the mind are the senses of the soul." Now the bodily senses, however pure, cannot see any visible object, without the sun's light. Therefore the human mind, however perfect, cannot, by reasoning, know any truth without Divine light: and this pertains to the aid of grace.

    Objection 3
    . Further, the human mind can only understand truth by thinking, as is clear from Augustine (De Trin. xiv, 7). But the Apostle says (2 Corinthians 3:5): "Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God." Therefore man cannot, of himself, know truth without the help of grace.

    On the contrary, Augustine says (Retract. i, 4): "I do not approve having said in the prayer, O God, Who dost wish the sinless alone to know the truth; for it may be answered that many who are not sinless know many truths." Now man is cleansed from sin by grace, according to Psalm 50:12: "Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a right spirit within my bowels." Therefore without grace man of himself can know truth.

    I answer that, To know truth is a use or act of intellectual light, since, according to the Apostle (Ephesians 5:13): "All that is made manifest is light." Now every use implies movement, taking movement broadly, so as to call thinking and willing movements, as is clear from the Philosopher (De Anima iii, 4). Now in corporeal things we see that for movement there is required not merely the form which is the principle of the movement or action, but there is also required the motion of the first mover. Now the first mover in the order of corporeal things is the heavenly body. Hence no matter how perfectly fire has heat, it would not bring about alteration, except by the motion of the heavenly body. But it is clear that as all corporeal movements are reduced to the motion of the heavenly body as to the first corporeal mover, so all movements, both corporeal and spiritual, are reduced to the simple First Mover, Who is God. And hence no matter how perfect a corporeal or spiritual nature is supposed to be, it cannot proceed to its act unless it be moved by God; but this motion is according to the plan of His providence, and not by necessity of nature, as the motion of the heavenly body. Now not only is every motion from God as from the First Mover, but all formal perfection is from Him as from the First Act. And thus the act of the intellect or of any created being whatsoever depends upon God in two ways: first, inasmuch as it is from Him that it has the form whereby it acts; secondly, inasmuch as it is moved by Him to act.

    Now every form bestowed on created things by God has power for a determined act, which it can bring about in proportion to its own proper endowment; and beyond which it is powerless, except by a superadded form, as water can only heat when heated by the fire. And thus the human understanding has a form, viz. intelligible light, which of itself is sufficient for knowing certain intelligible things, viz. those we can come to know through the senses. Higher intelligible things of the human intellect cannot know, unless it be perfected by a stronger light, viz. the light of faith or prophecy which is called the "light of grace," inasmuch as it is added to nature.

    Hence we must say that for the knowledge of any truth whatsoever man needs Divine help, that the intellect may be moved by God to its act. But he does not need a new light added to his natural light, in order to know the truth in all things, but only in some that surpass his natural knowledge. And yet at times God miraculously instructs some by His grace in things that can be known by natural reason, even as He sometimes brings about miraculously what nature can do.

    Reply to Objection 1.
    Every truth by whomsoever spoken is from the Holy Ghost as bestowing the natural light, and moving us to understand and speak the truth, but not as dwelling in us by sanctifying grace, or as bestowing any habitual gift superadded to nature. For this only takes place with regard to certain truths that are known and spoken, and especially in regard to such as pertain to faith, of which the Apostle speaks.

    Reply to Objection 2.
    The material sun sheds its light outside us; but the intelligible Sun, Who is God, shines within us. Hence the natural light bestowed upon the soul is God's enlightenment, whereby we are enlightened to see what pertains to natural knowledge; and for this there is required no further knowledge, but only for such things as surpass natural knowledge.

    Reply to Objection 3. We always need God's help for every thought, inasmuch as He moves the understanding to act; for actually to understand anything is to think, as is clear from Augustine (De Trin. xiv, 7).
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

    Oct 17, 2005
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    Namaste Thomas....

    Do you have thoughts on what you've posted?

    I'm wondering why the question is worded differently...

    Question 109. The necessity of grace

    1. Without grace, can man know anything?

    Why would it go from any-thing to any truth?
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

    Sep 25, 2003
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    I think the reasoning is flawless...

    You mean why link grace to the Divine Connection? Because Christianity is about the flow from above to below. I know you think the flow comes from within, from the soul, but that is just one's personal psychism.

    The Grace of God comes from 'above' to the 'within': "You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world" John 8:23.

    I know you think we're all entitled to everything God is just because we're us, but not everyone sees it that way.

    Because the principle is the same, and Aquinas chases the principle to its ontological source, the Will of God.

    "... human understanding ... is sufficient for knowing certain intelligible things, viz. those we can come to know through the senses."

    "Higher intelligible things" ... such as God, Christ, angels ... "the human intellect cannot know, unless it be perfected by a stronger light, viz. the light of faith or prophecy which is called the "light of grace," inasmuch as it is added to nature."
    (emphasis mine).

    We fundamentally disagree on this point: You argue that everything the Divine is, is ours by virtue of our existence. I argue that it is offered to us by grace, and that we have to work for it.

    God bless

  4. salishan

    salishan freesoul

    Oct 15, 2011
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    exquisite creature

    i like the concept of grace
    ( it doesn't contradict my theology )

    but as a concept
    it is pretty freakin' merky
    don't u think ?

    how does grace work ?

    is this the same as saying
    how does Gyd work (thru us) ?

    what are the moral/spiritual mechanisms at work here ?

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    ( clue
    i would look at how life-changing decisions are made )
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

    Sep 25, 2003
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    How does time work? How does love work?

    Faith. Hope. Caritas.

    God bless

  6. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

    Jul 20, 2007
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    Thomas, you wrote:

    Question: So, for you, what is something inherent to human nature?
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

    Oct 17, 2005
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    My Grace allegory....

    You are standing next to a huge a wrecking ball size pendulum and with our actions or thoughts we push this pendulum in motion swinging away from us....

    Now with little things the pendulum comes back and knocks us around (we are not punished for our sins but by them) but with big things we send that pendulum flying, and it doesn't always come back from the area we pushed it, it could come swinging back from any direction, at any time.

    Grace is the result of other work we've done in course and/or G!d's benevolence....the pendulum is coming back.....but we've moved from the spot we were, we are no longer on the same path that is in a collision grace we've moved on....
  8. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

    Jul 20, 2007
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    Do you develop your grace allegories while watching Ninja Warrior?

  9. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

    Oct 17, 2005
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    lol...No cable....haven't seen Ninja warrior in a long time.... Do they have something like that now?

    No it was simply an old vision.... and at various times my wrecking ball was like one that tore down a building and at others the actual impact woudn't hurt you, but the inertia it had and the distance it tossed you would cause the landing to be painful...

    ie you get tossed into situations where you don't know how you got there but tend to ask 'Why me G!d?'
  10. salishan

    salishan freesoul

    Oct 15, 2011
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    exquisite creature

    in the ancient world
    (reinforced by Classical scholars)
    "grace" is frequently characterized
    (via analogy) as "light"

    any "analog" reality (reality reasoned-out by metaphors)
    is inevitably a tricky proposition
    (associative reasoning is circular , it has a dream-logic to it)

    the Greeks may have invented the alternative to this
    propositional-logic (a definitive , non-circular logic)
    but philosophy/theology does not seriously begin employing this sounder logic
    till after 1600ce

    & i know , Thomas
    u seem to distrust any ideas which originate after 1600ce

    but this is the modern world we are talking about
    & the modern world is "digital" (not "analog")

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    in modern , digital terms
    1. is either hardwired into the universe , or
    2. is a Gyd-devised software

    if the material-universe is constructed with faulty hardware
    (corrupt or evil , "Kingdom of Man" hardware)
    the only way to change the material-universe "for the better"
    is to get brand-new hardware , a new (this time) "celestial" universe

    Paul of Tarsus (of whom i am profoundly fond) believed this
    he opted for this linear "new universe" solution
    that "grace" means the arrival of a "new kingdom"
    (that grace is hardwired into the "Kingdom of Gyd")

    i (personally) am more disposed to the "software" option
    (i.e.) same universe , but new vision of human-purpose within it

    this is where "grace" is meaningful (as a real-world concept) to me
    to see old-things anew , see them with new programming

    what had once
    (when looked-at in linear terms) seemed too difficult to overcome , too great an obstacle
    (with newer , more user-friendly programming) seems simple & manageable
    eminently doable
    same universe (same hardware) but full of new (unexploited) possibilities

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    Gyd is nonlinear action , which changes things
    (or more grammatically & existentially correct)
    Gyd does

    & just as
    Gyd is not (& is never) a Being
    so too
    "grace" is not (& is never) an "is"

    grace does not exist as a "thing"
    neither as a concrete nor as an abstract thing
    (not a halo nor a descending-dove nor a beam-of-light-from-the-sky)

    no , Thomas
    grace does something
    (does something not metaphorical) does something definitive

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    Gyd's (nonlinear) software for changing lives

  11. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

    Sep 25, 2003
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    Hi Salishan —

    That is why the commentary of tradition is invaluable for unlocking the meaning of the analogy.

    Well, I'm not sure which school of logic you're referring to, but so 'sounder' is a debatable point.

    Only the philosophy of relativism. There are many ideas in physics, philosophy, psychology, biology, astronomy ... that I delight in.

    I would say it's neither, that's just a construct. I'd say it is, as it always was, organic.

    Who's terms are those? Seems a very narrow view, to me.

    Or you could fix it, without having to throw the whole thing away? The 'problem' of man, within this limited analogy, I would describe as a 'software' problem. The cure is metanoia, a change of heart, not a heart-transplant, and that can be achieved without replacing the software (which would require a new person) ... so I think thw analogy doesn't really suit?

    What's your evidence for that? I find it hard to accept, as the idea of linear time is relatively new. In Paul's time, it was seen as cyclic.

    And according to his own words (notably Romans and Corinthians), Paul believed in a recapitulation of the old universe (a software upgrade, if you must), not a new one. Paul's recapitulation theology underpins all theologies of salvation.

    Grace, by the way, is nothing other than Love, the Immanent presence of God, something the ancients knew well, and which is not dependent upon philosophies of logic. (As some logical propositions present the Deity as capricious, as cruel, as absent, indeed, as non-existing!)

    God bless,

  12. salishan

    salishan freesoul

    Oct 15, 2011
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    Thomas Aquinas
    exquisite creature

    i admire the facility with which u can argue
    the pros & cons of any question
    & make a reasonable case for each position

    but it leaves me a little confused as to
    what stance u ultimately rest upon

    i assume u conclude that there is
    lesser & greater "Light" at play , here

    1. that the lesser Light of Reason can see
    only lesser (less-than-Divine , secular) things
    2. that the greater Light of Faith (which points to Ultimate Things) can apprehend
    the great things of human existence (the Divine)

    1. each of us are born with Reason , but
    2. each of us comes to Faith (intimates the Ultimate Things) only thru GRACE

    ... this close enough to u'r position , T.A. ?
    ... am i in the right ballpark ?

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    having lived 7.5 centuries ago , T.A.
    u can be forgiven u'r use of the metaphor "Light"

    today we would talk (instead) about
    "neurons" & neural pathways in the brain (neural networks)

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    1. knowledge
    2. belief

    when u place electrodes on a person's head
    there is a section of the brain at the top of the human head
    (near where the Frontal & Parietal lobes meet)
    which "lights-up" on the scientist's viewing screen
    when this human subject reports that he or she is thinking about what
    they "know" (their knowledge , their Light of Reason)

    but this same section of the brain (these exact same neural networks)
    "light-up" when the human subject is thinking about what
    he or she "believes" (their Light of Faith)

    the human brain utilizes the same neural pathways
    T.A. , for both u'r Lesser & u'r Greater "light"

    now , i'm no gambler
    but i would bet my whole bank-account (i am so sure)
    that if these human subjects were to report on GRACE
    the section of the brain that "lights-up" would
    not be this section at the top of their head

    "Reason" & "Faith" are actually not all that different from each other
    (similar species engaged in the same neural-feed activity) but , T.A.
    (to my way of seeing) "GRACE" is a different bird entirely

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    there is another kind of human biological activity , T.A.
    which scientists today can track on a screen

    hormonal (& other chemical) releases from glands

    but these do not "light-up" the screen in specific places
    no , T.A.
    they usually "darken" the screen
    darken the screen at the site of the organs where the glandular-release originates from , &
    (further) they "darken" the screen wherever this glandular-release migrates (in the body) to

    darken the screen in those places in the body & brain
    which are specifically targeted by the glandular release
    in order to initiate new (or changed) activity specific to those places

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    to me , T.A.
    u'r "Reason" & "Faith" have zero to do with religion
    they are entirely about neural activity in the human brain
    (subjective , binary) neurophysiological activity
    which is entirely secular in its real-world applications (honest communication)

    both "knowledge" & "belief" pursue truth
    because "truth" is a brace against culture & the ideologies it spawns
    a brace against communal "delusion" (or what u call "sin" , T.A.)

    but to locate "truth" , neither Reason nor Faith is sufficient
    (nor the ability to argue both sides of any question , though that's a start)
    "truth" requires evidence
    & not just whimsical factoids , but definitive evidence
    evidence which is consistent & verifiable

    religion is another bird entirely
    religion is not (& never has been) about "truth" , T.A.
    i'm sorry to tell u

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    religion is about meaning

    about the dark movements on the viewing screen
    about glands

    to me , this is what GRACE is
    a glandular release of a very specific kind

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    a glandular release which produces empathy
    a. empathy with a fellow creature
    b. empathy with the whole physical ecosystem u are part of

    the meaning underlying religion , that dark movement on the screen
    consists of this twin-empathy
    a. (genuine) morality
    b. (genuine) spirituality

    (& everything else supposedly "religious" , T.A.
    is not religion , is merely the battlement-walls of Ego)

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    glandular empathy , T.A.
    this is GRACE

    & this grace is egoless
    it is glandular , it is the way Gyd works

  13. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

    Sep 25, 2003
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    Hi Salishan —

    Yes. But I think that widens out the discussion. The 'light of faith' is reasoned faith, and as such is after the fact, for as the Apostle says "Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not" (Hebrews 11:1 — an excellent discourse, by the way).


    Why forgive? It's an excellent metaphor, common to all religiously-oriented traditions. It's as viable today as it ever was.

    But that is subsequent to the light, of both both reason and faith. Thinking builds those networks. You're talking about the brain, I'm talking about the mind. Studying the brain won't tell you about the content of the mind. That's like trying to figure out the text of a book by looking at the keyboard on which it was written.

    Yes. They known what they believe.

    OK. But that still has not approached what the light is.

    Why not? You think no-one knows GRACE?

    Well Grace in the Christian tradition is super-natural — it's source is the Divine, it is the Presence of the Divine.

    There has been a lot of research into religious experience, and one strand, in Catholic teaching, considers the relationship between mystical excess and psychological states, such as trances, epilepsy, with a cogent argument suggesting that such excesses can trigger these effects. Ezekiel is an example of such, and so is St Paul.

    Man today, so conditioned to be a materialist consumer, looks to bliss as the effect of mystical excess — the reward for having achieved the state, or the reward of the Indwelling Presence of God — yet the mystics themselves speak against such excesses, or rather, the excess is not the state, but a side-effect of the process in the soul that effects the body. The effect can be most unsettling, often spoken of as a 'Dark Night' or 'Blinding Light' — that is the 'Greater Light', as as we hold it, it is supra-luminary.

    It does seem to me you're talking about the effect, not the cause?

    What is the Gospel but an 'honest communication'? It is the Word of Truth.

    You seem to be treating 'truth' as a human construct? If not then what you're saying is self-evident, surely? "The truth is out there", as the saying goes. Something true does not need to be observed, to be true.

    Well that depends on what you think are "whimsical factoids".

    For some, the experience of the world is evidence enough:
    I know a man who understood when looking at a rose through a window. Another who saw the truth when looking at the Rose Windows at Chartres Cathedral. In both cases reason and faith worked in harmony, but Grace was prior to both, and was the source of faith and understanding.

    It all depends on whether one thinks the Knowledge of God is a "whimsical factoid".

    But if you think the Christian has never experienced the fruits of his or her faith, you are wrong.

    And if you think empirically demonstrable experience is the infallible proof of everything, I think you're wrong there, too.

    And I'm sorry to tell you that you are gravely mistaken.

    Everything is about meaning. Sacred or secular.

    Give me any God-induced non-miraculous effect — such as bliss — and I bet it can be reproduced in the lab. Miracles, of course, can't. So scientism chooses not to believe in something it can't possess.

    Science, on the other hand, has declared that we are obliged to act on faith and with sound reason because we do not know — science operates by faith in seeking the proof it requires to say something is true.

    The very quest for knowledge is, before all else, an act of faith.

    I dispute that. The same glandular release can be triggered to the same effect chemically. Listen to drug users banging on about how drugs 'expanded their consciousness' — it's hokum. It might cause one to question, but then the saints had the reason and the wit about them to question without the recourse to drugs. It's nothing to brag about — it just shows how far we are from where we ought to be.

    So what's wrong with ego? That reminds me of a story:
    Absolutely every thought we have passes across those battlements.

    Asceticism, spiritual discipline, is the necessary training to man our own battlements, rather than have them manned against us but what we would rather neither be nor have. It's uncomfortable, so frowned on today.

    No, that's glandular empathy, and you don't need grace to attain that.

    Is not Grace the Ego of God?

    If God worked through the body, then God has a huge problem as the problem is with the mind, which is superior to the body.

    Grace is immanently present to the person through the soul. If it were sensible to the body, we'd have found a way to commodotise and market it by now ...

    God bless,

  14. salishan

    salishan freesoul

    Oct 15, 2011
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    Thomas Aquinas
    exquisite creature

    Copernicus (like Columbus before him) is a bit of a shyster
    a shameless self-promoter who borrows one great-big idea
    (which has been floating around for awhile) & makes the idea his own
    even though the math does not support his particular version of the idea

    (just as Portuguese mariners know that the world is round
    but also know that China is 4 times farther away than Columbus calculates it)
    Copernicus (similarly) asserts that the planets circle the sun (true enough) , but also
    that the planets do so in perfect circular orbits (even though the evidence is more elliptical)

    science will have to wait for Kepler (the first genuine scientist of the night sky)
    to follow the evidence where the evidence (actually) leads

    Copernicus believes that Gyd (as "builder of the universe") would not dirty his hands
    with anything but the perfection of pure-circles for his planets to orbit the sun

    Copernicus is wrong , Gyd does not work this way

    Copernicus's sin (the trap that he has fallen into) , T.A.
    the idealist fallacy

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    T.A. , u base u'r physics of movement upon Aristotle (who u call "the Philosopher")
    a physics which will be demolished by Isaac Newton 4.5 centuries after u'r day

    u'r deductive reasoning (via negativa) regarding the nature of Gyd
    a. Gyd is simple
    b. Gyd is perfect
    c. Gyd is infinite
    d. Gyd is immutable
    e. Gyd is one
    are propositions all deduced-down from Aristotle's (now debunked) idea of "first mover"
    an idea which u idealize as the divine (& original) "First Mover" (Gyd)

    starting from a false proposition , T.A.
    a person can deduce anything

    doing so is surrendering to the "idealist fallacy"
    Gyd is probably not simple/perfect/infinite/immutable/one

    Gyd does not work this way

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    T.A. , there are
    2 things i consider evil
    (not vilely evil , but evil nevertheless)

    1. is culture
    2. is instincts

    how a person (genuinely) experiences the world & behaves in it
    tell me , is this ... ?
    1. based upon "nurture" (culturally-imposed learning) ? , or
    2. based upon "nature" (genetically-driven instincts) ?

    most 21st century analysts as well as plain-folk would answer , "a mix"
    but , T.A.
    i would say "no , just the opposite"

    (& this is also where u find freedom)

    it comes with the ability to
    1. turn-off nurture
    2. turn-off nature

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    culture & its gurus (parents/teachers/leaders) educate u (as a child)
    into the culture's ideological value-system

    what u call "Mind" , T.A.
    is actually a cultural-map which the child internalizes

    this map appears hard & real & objective , but
    it is (in fact) pure delusion , T.A.
    (it ignores or rationalizes-away all facts which do not fit the map)

    those (however) who can turn-off nurture
    (who take an excursion off the beaten path)
    are able to see facts which are otherwise (culturally) ignored

    to do so , is to step outside of culture (outside of the learned mindset)
    & this is called curiosity

    & curiosity is the core of secular reality
    curiosity, not culture
    is the core of "truth" , the core of a true reality

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    instincts , focusing upon one singular instinct
    will unite groups , &
    those with the most urgent instincts are often the group's leaders

    but "surrendering to nature" (giving-in to any particular genetic impulse)
    yields inevitable conflict with those driven by other instinctual drives
    (because "survival of the fittest" is clearly the First Mover of biological life , T.A.
    "survival of the fittest" should thus be named the "meaning of life" , right ?
    ... NO ! ! )

    instincts exist , are (volatile) facts of biological survival
    but they have no "meaning" (they are just proclivities , arbitrary drives)

    those persons most graced with self-restraint , the ability to turn-off these innate drives
    (best able to step outside their-own genetic instincts)
    are the persons most able to locate meaningful reality

    & self-restraint is the gate to religious reality
    self-restraint , not instincts
    is the gate to "meaning" , the gate to a meaningful reality

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    curiosity & self-restraint lead to reality
    1. curiosity (excursion off the beaten path) leads to evidence (relative-truth)
    2. self-restraint (grace) leads to providence (ultimate-meaning , Gyd)

    to me , T.A. (regarding u'r metaphysic)
    1. Mind (internalized culture) leads to delusion & bigotry
    2. First Mover (corporeal instincts) leads to barbarity & desolation

    by idealizing Aristotle , T.A.
    u rationalize evil (which is the ultimate consequence of u'r "idealist fallacy")

    it is only when u turn off each that u will find
    1. true , &
    2. meaningful

  15. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

    Sep 25, 2003
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    Hi Salishan —
    OK. But a relatively small and understandable error (by no means a sin) considering. It certainly doesn't deserve to hurt his reputation any. Just goes to show what happens when you try to mix science and philosophy.

    Copernicus' error, if that's what it is, is forgetting his Scripture: Nothing in nature is perfect (cf Luke 18:19). But I don't think science condemns him for that.

    Oh, I don't think so, and I don't think Newton thought that, either. Certainly, physics refined the notion, but the over-arching principle of the First Mover remains, even today.

    Debunked? Absolutely not, that idea has not been disproved. Ignored by some, but not disproved. In fact, in many ways it's been reinforced, surely? Everything moves for a reason, and that is it has been acted upon.

    Scientism (as opposed to science) simply excludes any reference to that which it cannot measure, which is intellectually deficient as an argument.

    Metaphysics asks the question: why is there anything at all?, and some systems posit God. Scientism can argue that we don't know, therefore we can't say, but that is not a proof, just the admission that the axioms one is working by do not apply in this case.

    Scientism's sin (pride) is in assuming that it's own self-declared axioms of the limitations of knowledge, which I regard as the imposition of a false horizon, is fundamentally anti-science, illogical, irrational and unreasonable. The argument that the only the empirical exists is undone by the simple fact there is no empirical method of determining that as a fact.

    And I think your proposition is false.

    Well God necessarily is simple/perfect/infinite/immutable/one, by the definition of the Abrahamic and Western Philosophical Traditions.

    You have to accept that definition before you can prove it invalid. Saying it's a fallacy is not a proof.

    Yes, that's proven, is it not? The nature/nurture debate does not resolve to 'either/or' but 'and/and', as I understand it.

    Well, that's for you to prove.

    I rather think that's what you're doing. Your 'map' as I see it it ignores the rational and reasonable argument that the human mind is not 'simple/perfect/infinite/immutable/one'. You're just assuming — according to a contemporary cultural education — that God does not exist, but you have not proved that God does not exist.
  16. salishan

    salishan freesoul

    Oct 15, 2011
    Likes Received:

    Thomas Aquinas
    exquisite creature

    Aristotle makes some biological observations/speculations that
    19th century biologists confirm
    so u'r "Philosopher" has a good eye , is not merely an adventurous speculative-thinker

    however i am aware of no physicist since Isaac Newton's day who has gotten
    productive use from Aristotle's observations/speculations in this particular arena
    modern-physics , (despite what some apologists would like to believe)

    i'll admit that First-Mover & First-Cause & First-Act have a nice ring to them
    ("can't get a cart rolling until somebody gives it a push")
    particularly since the ancient world fetishizes "stasis" as "the norm"
    (which only a few wiseacre Greeks see-fit to contest) , but T.A.
    with u'r critical methods , u should have known better
    (Aristotle really isn't into "perfection" to the degree that u are)

    modern physics sees "stasis" (stability) as more the exception than the rule
    modern physics does not see simple/single "causes" , but
    sees the physical universe as a (very complicated) self-propelling engine

    put over-simplistically
    the "god" of modern physics (the First Cause , if u will) is the Big Bang
    the First Act , where "gravity" separates from the "electronuclear" force
    (producing a crazy-soup of subatomic particles)
    & everything-after-that is the result of the expanding/cooling universe
    (sort of)

    following the Bang ...
    Second Act: is a "Grand Unification Epoch" of relative stability (for a fraction of a picosecond)
    until a critical-mass is achieved
    & the strong-force separates from the electronuclear force
    Third Act: is an "Electroweak Epoch" of relative stability (for most of a picosecond)
    until a critical-mass is achieved
    & the weak-force separates from the electromagnetic force
    Fourth Act: is a "Quark Epoch" of relative stability (for a microsecond)
    until a critical-mass is achieved
    & quarks become confined within hadrons
    Fifth Act: is a "Hadron Epoch" of relative stability (for one second)
    until a critical-mass is achieved
    & neutrinos cease to interact with other particles
    Sixth Act: is a "Lepton Epoch" of relative stability (for a few minutes)
    until a critical-mass is achieved
    & lepton & anti-lepton pairs annihilate
    Seventh Act: is a "Photon Epoch" of relative stability (for 379,000 years)
    until a critical-mass is achieved
    & hydrogen & helium nuclei capture electrons to form stable atoms
    Eighth Act: is a "Dark Ages" of relative stability (for 100,000,000 years)
    until a critical-mass is achieved
    & the first stars begin to shine

    (our sun & Earth come along about 9.1 billion years after the Big Bang
    & Earth has clear-cut geo/biological epochs/"Acts" , of its own
    none of which are all too "perfect")

    at each stage
    the universe appears stable (in "stasis") , like it could go-on "forever" (just "as is")
    but as the universe cools & expands & cooks its elements , something eventually happens
    & there is no going back
    ("being" & "eternity" seem very palpable , but ultimately are illusions
    T.A. , Gyd does not work this way)

    even Yahweh in Genesis 1-3 finds his work "good" (not "perfect")
    T.A. , u should have taken note

  17. salishan

    salishan freesoul

    Oct 15, 2011
    Likes Received:

    exquisite creature

    to the current generation of neo-Darwinians , a human organism exists for just one reason
    to serve the Selfish Gene (inside of it) , to help this gene survive & multiply

    to these scientists , the genome is a form that names itself "perfect"
    then seeks to prevail ("survival of the fittest") over all other forms

    the Selfish Gene is
    1. perfect in itself (to itself) (ousia)
    2. exists only to further itself (arche)
    3. & is satisfied with nothing short of (surviving) "forever" (apeiron "to infinity")

    Thomas , this genome
    is the darkside of u'r concept of "being"
    it is where ideals of perfection lead

    "survival of the fittest" being the ideal algorithm
    the First Cause of human action (raw instinct)

    there is no personal meaning for the organism , just a vile proclivity
    (a "greater" will , stronger than the individual organism) , just naked tooth-&-claw
    a will-to-power aimed solely to serve First Cause (its god) , to serve survival of the "perfect form"

    (this is where ontological idealism leads , ultimately
    Thomas , if u turn baldly self-honest in u'r introspections)

    First Cause leads to something entirely-other than Gyd

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    the organism bows to the gene

    "ego" is the organism's behavioral shadow cast-up from the genome
    the Selfish Gene is the perfected "form" which the organism tries to mimic

    ego serves the ends (only) of the Selfish Gene
    (the ends only of this First Cause , only of this primal-instinct/false-deity
    providing no independent meaning to the individual organism itself)

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    only with a religious sense , only with instinctual self-restraint
    can u step out from under the shadow of the Selfish Gene

    step-out-of ego , away from the specter of First Cause (repudiating naked survival)
    this is how u produce meaning (shutting-down the "greater" will , canceling "power")

    (think of Jesus the Galilean
    it is by repudiating naked survival that u find grace)

  18. salishan

    salishan freesoul

    Oct 15, 2011
    Likes Received:

    exquisite creature

    like u'r beloved Aquinas (whom i genuinely admire)
    i am trying to "place before my reader" a consistent theory
    of human existence & divine involvement therein
    a. humans , being of the same substance but intrinsically distinct from animals &
    b. Gyd , being neither any kind of "First Cause" (whatsoever) nor as any kind of boundless abstraction
    (Gyd not reducible to a physics big bang First Cause nor a biological survival of the fittest First Cause)
    (Gyd not amplified all-the-way-to Infinite Mind)​

    & Thomas , i wish u would have some respect for the scope of my endeavor
    by trying to rephrase the whole of my argument (as Aquinas would have done)
    rather than tear-into-these-arguments cold , cold & piecemeal

    i am making the case that
    1. the "secular" is real (& is relatively definable , but only as truth)
    2. the "religious" is real (& is relatively definable , but only as meaning)

    y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    truth is relative

    a reporter brings to his newspaper's editor the story of a hit&run accident
    with one witness describing a dark small car driven by a Caucasian driver wearing a dark jacket
    & the editor won't run the story , telling the reporter to find a corroborating witness to this accident
    (the implication being that a single witness might be perceptually-challenged or intentionally-lying)

    the reporter locates a second witness who saw
    "a white-guy in an army-green jacket driving a maroon compact car"
    & now the editor will publish the story

    why ?
    because the initial evidence has been verified
    (yes , both witnesses ... could be lying or could be half-blind
    but the odds of this being the case are greatly diminished)
    this (now) constitutes "truth" by journalistic standards

    the report in the newspaper in not absolutely true
    but is relatively true
    (within the standards of "good journalism")

    there is a testing-procedure which is rigorously followed , an ethics involved here
    (just as there is in the scientific community & amongst historians & also in jurisprudence)
    evidence produces only a relative truth , but one held to high standards

    & this is what raises these professions above the average-mind , above the culture-at-large
    Thomas , they do not surrender to what u call "the fantasia of the mind"
    (but neither is it expected of them to nail-down absolute or perfect truth)

    these professions ask their members to step
    outside of commonly held presumptions about reality
    outside of bigotry , outside of cultural-meanings (outside of ideological "values")
    (& these members do so , likely only half-successfully when doing their best
    but it is only in these moments when they do their task , beyond acculturated givens
    that u can talk about what they have uncovered ... as being "truth")

    truth is relative (& subjective , but ethically so)
    where any talk of "absolute truth" is
    (in real-world terms) the height of idealist self-deception

    the secular world is built upon this real-world (procedure-bound) sense of truth
    & not the "ideal truth" that one culture would like to impose on all other cultures
    (not the "ideological" truth/self-deception of this culture's "fantasia of mind")

    in the "good existence" (as defined by the secular world)
    individuals need to internalize (testing-)procedures which
    (relatively speaking) turn-off this or that bit of ideological-learned fantasia
    (turnoff this or that "meme") which is implanted (spreading like a virus) within the culture
    in which the individual lives (thus being implanted within her or his self , as consequence)

    accomplishing this internalization
    (i.e.) sidelining bias & other presuppositions (even in a small way) is
    (well , should be)
    Ethics 101

    x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y x y

    meaning breaks-free of origins

    this is where religion pertains
    in u'r & my existence (in everyone's existence) , Thomas
    meaning necessitates change (something happening , a turn of events)

    otherwise there is only blind fate , First Cause spinning-out-its-thread
    (endless inertia)
    "ontology" , "teleology"

    (e.g. Jesus on the cross was not a First Cause in human existence , but
    a radical overturning of a long established pattern of human existence
    ... should u choose to argue anything else , it will inevitably yield the most convoluted of ratiocinations)

    yes , Thomas
    the Pre-Socratic Greek thinkers are one of the glories of Western Civilization

    the English language got most of its abstract concepts from Latinate words (via Greece) , concepts
    not (by & large) derived from the solider & cruder Angle-Saxon nouns & verbs
    ... but had English not had Latin & French to rely upon for abstract thought
    it would have had to re-employ concrete Angle-Saxon root-words twisted toward new ends

    this is what the Pre-Socratic Greeks began to do (with their archaic language)
    with such (then) everyday-world concrete-words like apeiron
    (a- meaning "without" & -peiron meaning "border" , like the edge of a planted field)
    (becoming suddenly a label for some abstract-concept at the frontier of Greek consciousness)

    in the cognitive-development of children (according to developmental psychologists)
    children only gain this ability to handle abstract concepts at age 11 or 12
    (age 11-15 is designated as the cognitive-period of "formal operations")
    but before the Pre-Socratics , no human on this planet thought via "formal operations"

    thinking abstractly (thinking via ideas rather than picturing physical things)
    vastly accelerates calculations of all kinds , becomes an efficient shorthand
    in personal & group problem-solving , but (cognitively) by age 15
    this mental abstraction-of-reality begins to cause as many problems as it solves

    an abstract-concept (ultimately) becomes rootless , a metaphor which
    can mean anything or mean everything , to those who use it

    an abstraction (in the end) becomes (practically) meaningless
    (pretending as it does to the stature of an underlying reality which preexists creation)
    so in today's world , an abstraction is only useful if it is (rigorously) definitive
    or happens to be pragmatic (not a timeless universal but an agent of change)

    all (genuinely) pragmatic behavior is religious behavior
    (whether the perpetrator at the time realizes it or not)
    because meaning is being created out of meaninglessness

    the mindlessness of the "Big Bang" or of "Survival of the Fittest" (i.e. of apeiron)
    has been purposefully (gracefully) redirected

  19. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

    Sep 25, 2003
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    The Greeks made many errors — their idea of optics, for example, suggests that the world is seen by a ray from the eye — but I'm not talking biology here.

    OK ... but then Aquinas and you and I are discussing a different arena, in which Aristotle is still an Authority.

    Look at Paul Ricoeur, one of the greatest minds of recent times. His trilogy, "Time and Narrative" is founded on a discussion of Aristotle and Augustine respectively.

    Some modern physics ... others see the universe in entirely Platonic terms (check out the latest issue of New Scientist).

    In the same issue, the notion of 'progress' is also questioned.

    I would suggest that's scientism, not science ... modern physics accepts we are at the very start of a long, long journey ... we know nowhere near enough for you to be making such statements.

    We see the Big Bang, in itself, as an effect ... you're looking as empirical effect as a cause, which it is of that subsequent to it, but we look to what is prior ... not in time, of course, as time and space as products of the Bang, , Well, I see the 'Big Bang' as the First Effect.

    God bless

  20. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

    Sep 25, 2003
    Likes Received:
    But that's a limited notion, according to the latest scientific thinking. As well as 'selfish', there is also something 'open to the outside' and 'co-operative' hard-wired — nature works more by co-operation than by conflict.

    The purely selfish gene would have killed itself off, much like a virus destroying its host, or like modern western culture destroying its host.

    God bless,


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