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  #1  
Old Aug 21, '12, 12:31 pm
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Default Aquinas's Five definitions of God

Hi,

Candide West in this thread,and specifically this post, (http://forums.catholic.com/showpost....&postcount=348) raised an interesting question.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that the Five Ways prove what they intend to prove. Why do we assume all five proofs prove one God? Wouldn't the five proofs actually prove five different "gods", each responsible for some different aspect of the world?

I'll put it another way. We know that the first proof proves that there must be a Prime Mover-a thing that sets everything else in motion.

-The second proof defines God in terms of efficient causality; God is the "First Cause", not the "Prime Mover". So God makes everything else move (like a car rolling) in the first proof, but God causes everything (like a fire lighting) in the second proof. They're closely related, but different. So now we know that God is the Prime Mover and the First Efficient Cause.

-The third proof defines God as the Necessary Being. In this proof it is said that God must cause everything else to exits. So here we learn that God also has the ability to create literally anything not logically contradictory.

-The fourth proof defines God as the Perfect Being. God is the "measuring stick" for all that is "perfect" (things like goodness, knowledge, etc...it's a concept specified more in detail in the rest of the Summa). At any rate, that would mean he is omniscient (maximum knowledge), omnipotent (maximum power), and omnibenevolent (maximum goodness).

-The fifth proof defines God as what I'll refer to as the "Intelligent Director". Basically since things with no intelligence act the same way nearly every time (i.e., a match when struck on the right surface almost always produces a flame), there needs to be something that "directs" them, called God. So we know that God has the power to will things already in existence.

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm

How is it proven that each proof refers to the same being? Why can't each proof refer to different beings, all of which exist?

I'm curious to see the answers. It was never a question I seriously considered.

One striking feature about the five proofs is that every proof is very interrelated. There's a lot of overlap. If you prove God one way many times you're over half way there to proving God in another way. Indeed, sometimes the distinctions in-between the proofs were so subtle that it was heard for me to come up with a specific descriptor for each definition proven.

Still, I'm not sure of the exact steps to get from point A to point E.
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  #2  
Old Aug 21, '12, 3:50 pm
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

How could

Prime Mover-a thing that sets everything else in motion.

efficient causality;

omnipotence

perfection

omnicience

omnibenevolence


"Intelligent Director"

be different Gods, or be present only in different Gods one at a time?

In fact, it's impossible. All these things must be in one God.

For example: first mover requires omnipotence. And so on. We could go down the whole list like that. Let's not.
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Old Aug 21, '12, 3:51 pm
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

ok I'll give a quick response. I don't think from this on its own can you prove that there is only one God. Your responses are very accurate. There is no way from STA's proves that there is only one God you can't do it. But this isn't his entire summa, you must continue reading. This would be like reading descartes and not going getting to I think therefor I am. You would consider him a sceptic.

but lets dive quickly into the summa and begin with God's simplicity. God is simple he has no body he is not a composition of anything. If the 5 proves somehow explained 5 different God's would those good be utterly simple? No 5 can't be the most simple only 1 can. I'm not exactly sure how to explain that God is simple but I'm pretty sure there is a way it just doesn't come to me currently.

another thing God is immutable or unchanging. Now if there were 5 Gods wouldn't you think that they would try to change each-other have their own ideas in mind. Can you think of one polythestic religion where all the Gods agreed with each-other? God must be one if he is to be unchaining.

also omni present can 5 Gods be present everywhere, would you also somehow be in-contact with the 5 Gods. Could 5 Gods be all at one point at the same time I don't think so. Again omnipresence best explains a single God

lastly Aquinas explains why god must be one.

Check out the oneness of God in this link

http://newadvent.org/summa/1.htm

I don't have to time right now to go into detail but maybe this can get us started on a conversation in some way.
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  #4  
Old Aug 21, '12, 4:17 pm
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

If you'll take the time to read this http://love-1s.blogspot.com/2012/08/...onotheism.html, I think it will help explain. I think the thing you are bumping into is the Persons of God. Because there really can only be one God. The blog explains all of that. Hopefully that helps...
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  #5  
Old Aug 21, '12, 4:25 pm
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Anthony View Post
Hi,

Candide West in this thread,and specifically this post, (http://forums.catholic.com/showpost....&postcount=348) raised an interesting question.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that the Five Ways prove what they intend to prove. Why do we assume all five proofs prove one God? Wouldn't the five proofs actually prove five different "gods", each responsible for some different aspect of the world?

I'll put it another way. We know that the first proof proves that there must be a Prime Mover-a thing that sets everything else in motion.

-The second proof defines God in terms of efficient causality; God is the "First Cause", not the "Prime Mover". So God makes everything else move (like a car rolling) in the first proof, but God causes everything (like a fire lighting) in the second proof. They're closely related, but different. So now we know that God is the Prime Mover and the First Efficient Cause.

-The third proof defines God as the Necessary Being. In this proof it is said that God must cause everything else to exits. So here we learn that God also has the ability to create literally anything not logically contradictory.

-The fourth proof defines God as the Perfect Being. God is the "measuring stick" for all that is "perfect" (things like goodness, knowledge, etc...it's a concept specified more in detail in the rest of the Summa). At any rate, that would mean he is omniscient (maximum knowledge), omnipotent (maximum power), and omnibenevolent (maximum goodness).

-The fifth proof defines God as what I'll refer to as the "Intelligent Director". Basically since things with no intelligence act the same way nearly every time (i.e., a match when struck on the right surface almost always produces a flame), there needs to be something that "directs" them, called God. So we know that God has the power to will things already in existence.

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm

How is it proven that each proof refers to the same being? Why can't each proof refer to different beings, all of which exist?

I'm curious to see the answers. It was never a question I seriously considered.

One striking feature about the five proofs is that every proof is very interrelated. There's a lot of overlap. If you prove God one way many times you're over half way there to proving God in another way. Indeed, sometimes the distinctions in-between the proofs were so subtle that it was heard for me to come up with a specific descriptor for each definition proven.

Still, I'm not sure of the exact steps to get from point A to point E.
I admire your perseverence Mark. Thomas answers the question in Book 1, chap 45 of the Summa Contra Gentiles. http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles1.htm#42

But it should also be clear from Part 1 of the Summa Theologica for beginning with Question 3 to the end. He talks simply about God as singular. Also, each of the proofs conclude in a Firs Being of on definition of the other. However, each of these ways can be shown to be identical with eachother, each being simply a different manifestatioin of the One First Being.

Also please note that Thomas does get around to talking about the person of God here http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1029.html
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Old Aug 21, '12, 6:06 pm
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Anthony View Post
Hi,


Let's assume for the sake of argument that the Five Ways prove what they intend to prove. Why do we assume all five proofs prove one God? Wouldn't the five proofs actually prove five different "gods", each responsible for some different aspect of the world?
Considerations of simplicity can probably come into play here and this is probably a good point to apply Occam's razor which tells us (all things being equal) not to multiply explanations beyond necessity. In short, if one being explains those 5 aspects of the proofs, then we should choose the simplest explanation, that there is only one such being, rather than the more complicated explanation that there are 5 such beings.
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Old Aug 21, '12, 8:52 pm
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

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Originally Posted by catholictiger View Post
ok I'll give a quick response. I don't think from this on its own can you prove that there is only one God. Your responses are very accurate. There is no way from STA's proves that there is only one God you can't do it. But this isn't his entire summa, you must continue reading. This would be like reading descartes and not going getting to I think therefor I am. You would consider him a sceptic.

but lets dive quickly into the summa and begin with God's simplicity. God is simple he has no body he is not a composition of anything. If the 5 proves somehow explained 5 different God's would those good be utterly simple? No 5 can't be the most simple only 1 can. I'm not exactly sure how to explain that God is simple but I'm pretty sure there is a way it just doesn't come to me currently.

another thing God is immutable or unchanging. Now if there were 5 Gods wouldn't you think that they would try to change each-other have their own ideas in mind. Can you think of one polythestic religion where all the Gods agreed with each-other? God must be one if he is to be unchaining.

also omni present can 5 Gods be present everywhere, would you also somehow be in-contact with the 5 Gods. Could 5 Gods be all at one point at the same time I don't think so. Again omnipresence best explains a single God

lastly Aquinas explains why god must be one.

Check out the oneness of God in this link

http://newadvent.org/summa/1.htm

I don't have to time right now to go into detail but maybe this can get us started on a conversation in some way.
The problem is I see no specific arguments from Aquinas explaining WHY God must be one. What attributes of the "gods" of the proofs are incompatible with each other (thus forcing us to combine them into the qualities of one God)? Do ALL of them share incompatible qualities?
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  #8  
Old Aug 21, '12, 8:54 pm
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

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Considerations of simplicity can probably come into play here and this is probably a good point to apply Occam's razor which tells us (all things being equal) not to multiply explanations beyond necessity. In short, if one being explains those 5 aspects of the proofs, then we should choose the simplest explanation, that there is only one such being, rather than the more complicated explanation that there are 5 such beings.
This seems to be a problem though; we're supposing that these five proofs PROVE there is one God. But if we're applying Occam's Razor we're applying probability, not proof, right?

There's also some trouble here regarding with Church teaching. Doesn't the Church say that God can be PROVEN through reason alone?
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Old Aug 21, '12, 9:02 pm
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

From how I understand it there can only be one perfect God since if there were multiple perfect Gods not lacking any perfection the other God had then they would essentially all be the same God.
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Old Aug 22, '12, 5:48 am
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

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Originally Posted by Marc Anthony View Post
This seems to be a problem though; we're supposing that these five proofs PROVE there is one God. But if we're applying Occam's Razor we're applying probability, not proof, right?

There's also some trouble here regarding with Church teaching. Doesn't the Church say that God can be PROVEN through reason alone?
Yes, I would agree that Occam's razor would indicate probability not mathematical certainty.

I simply (pun intended?) disagree with your implicit assumption that "proof" equals "mathematical certainty." For this reason, I actually don't even like to use the word proof since it confuses people and implies mathematical certainty, which is something we have for very little. When I look cross a street, I have no mathematical certainty I will not be killed, yet I hardly worry about that having done the best I can to collect good evidence. In history, there is no mathematical certainty for anything; yet, I would be a fool to deny the holocaust simply because there is no mathematical certainty for it. And most historians would consider it as rational to say that we have proof that the holocaust occurred.

And practically speaking, do you really think there is anyone who accepts several arguments for the existence of God and seriously struggles if he should believe in 5, 6, 26 Gods, or one?
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Old Aug 22, '12, 7:01 am
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Anthony View Post
Hi,

Candide West in this thread,and specifically this post, (http://forums.catholic.com/showpost....&postcount=348) raised an interesting question.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that the Five Ways prove what they intend to prove. Why do we assume all five proofs prove one God? Wouldn't the five proofs actually prove five different "gods", each responsible for some different aspect of the world?

I'll put it another way. We know that the first proof proves that there must be a Prime Mover-a thing that sets everything else in motion.

-The second proof defines God in terms of efficient causality; God is the "First Cause", not the "Prime Mover". So God makes everything else move (like a car rolling) in the first proof, but God causes everything (like a fire lighting) in the second proof. They're closely related, but different. So now we know that God is the Prime Mover and the First Efficient Cause.

-The third proof defines God as the Necessary Being. In this proof it is said that God must cause everything else to exits. So here we learn that God also has the ability to create literally anything not logically contradictory.

-The fourth proof defines God as the Perfect Being. God is the "measuring stick" for all that is "perfect" (things like goodness, knowledge, etc...it's a concept specified more in detail in the rest of the Summa). At any rate, that would mean he is omniscient (maximum knowledge), omnipotent (maximum power), and omnibenevolent (maximum goodness).

-The fifth proof defines God as what I'll refer to as the "Intelligent Director". Basically since things with no intelligence act the same way nearly every time (i.e., a match when struck on the right surface almost always produces a flame), there needs to be something that "directs" them, called God. So we know that God has the power to will things already in existence.

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm

How is it proven that each proof refers to the same being? Why can't each proof refer to different beings, all of which exist?

I'm curious to see the answers. It was never a question I seriously considered.

One striking feature about the five proofs is that every proof is very interrelated. There's a lot of overlap. If you prove God one way many times you're over half way there to proving God in another way. Indeed, sometimes the distinctions in-between the proofs were so subtle that it was heard for me to come up with a specific descriptor for each definition proven.

Still, I'm not sure of the exact steps to get from point A to point E.


Well, on one hand, it seems rather simple, the prime move and the first cause could not be two beings co-existing. Why? Go either direction, start from the "First Cause". As Aquinas tells us, "There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself", hence how can the prime move exist if the First Cause did not cause him to exist. But if the First Cause created the prime mover, how can one say the prime mover put all of creation in motion?

Ok, I will admit, the above is the wrong approach to take for us amateurs. A better way is to see how Aquinas answers your question:

Go to question 3 of the Summa, "The Simplicity of God". http://ww.newadvent.org/summa/1003.htm . It follows directly after his existence proof. In many ways, this is better than his proofs of God. These articles tell us what we can know about God through our reason. On these Aquinas explicitly addresses the question you ask in various ways:

1.Is God a body?
2.Is He composed of matter and form?
3.Is there composition of quiddity, essence or nature, and subject in Him?
4.Is He composed of essence and existence?
5.Is He composed of genus and difference?
6.Is He composed of subject and accident?
7.Is He in any way composite, or wholly simple?
8.Does He enter into composition with other things?
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Old Aug 22, '12, 7:21 am
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

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Originally Posted by Marc Anthony View Post
The problem is I see no specific arguments from Aquinas explaining WHY God must be one. What attributes of the "gods" of the proofs are incompatible with each other (thus forcing us to combine them into the qualities of one God)? Do ALL of them share incompatible qualities?
I'll try to explain this quickly I don't have much time today.

First of all I don't think Aquinas' 5 ways prove there is one God. I think all his 5 ways do it there must be some type of entity that is responsible for our existence. In no way does the 5 ways prove the God of Christianity. But when you begin to read further along in the text of the summa you begin to see that God is truly one.

We must start with his simplicity. God is the most simple of beings.

STA goes through this in a few ways and for the sake of our discussion to show that God is one I think we need to go through much of the 3rd question in the first part.

he begins by asking the question does God have a Body?

He disproves that God has a body in 3 ways first someone who has a body must be put into motion God is the unmoved mover so he can't be put into motion by anything. 2nd anything that has a body has potentiality in it and God has no potentiality in himself therefore God can't be a body. Lastly he says that God is the most spectacular of beings, and this being can't have a body.

he then asks is God composed of Matter and form?

I think the simple answer to this is that matter is by definition potential and god has no potential he is pure act. Therefore God has no matter and form.

Lastly in article 3 I'll try and clarify it later if you are confused at all. But existence is the same as his essence. God is simply pure existence.

http://newadvent.org/summa/1003.htm#article2

there is alot more to this I highlighted what I thought was important to the discussion but you should read it all.

now we get to his oneness. Because I'm running short on time I'm just going to quote part of the summa I'll try and explain it later if it confuses you at all.

Quote:
First from His simplicity. For it is manifest that the reason why any singular thing is "this particular thing" is because it cannot be communicated to many: since that whereby Socrates is a man, can be communicated to many; whereas, what makes him this particular man, is only communicable to one. Therefore, if Socrates were a man by what makes him to be this particular man, as there cannot be many Socrates, so there could not in that way be many men. Now this belongs to God alone; for God Himself is His own nature, as was shown above (Question 3, Article 3). Therefore, in the very same way God is God, and He is this God. Impossible is it therefore that many Gods should exist.
the point is God is simple and because God is simple he is one. As shown above.
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Old Aug 22, '12, 7:21 am
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

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Originally Posted by Marc Anthony View Post
Hi,

Candide West in this thread,and specifically this post, (http://forums.catholic.com/showpost....&postcount=348) raised an interesting question.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that the Five Ways prove what they intend to prove. Why do we assume all five proofs prove one God? Wouldn't the five proofs actually prove five different "gods", each responsible for some different aspect of the world?

I'll put it another way. We know that the first proof proves that there must be a Prime Mover-a thing that sets everything else in motion.

-The second proof defines God in terms of efficient causality; God is the "First Cause", not the "Prime Mover". So God makes everything else move (like a car rolling) in the first proof, but God causes everything (like a fire lighting) in the second proof. They're closely related, but different. So now we know that God is the Prime Mover and the First Efficient Cause.

-The third proof defines God as the Necessary Being. In this proof it is said that God must cause everything else to exits. So here we learn that God also has the ability to create literally anything not logically contradictory.

-The fourth proof defines God as the Perfect Being. God is the "measuring stick" for all that is "perfect" (things like goodness, knowledge, etc...it's a concept specified more in detail in the rest of the Summa). At any rate, that would mean he is omniscient (maximum knowledge), omnipotent (maximum power), and omnibenevolent (maximum goodness).

-The fifth proof defines God as what I'll refer to as the "Intelligent Director". Basically since things with no intelligence act the same way nearly every time (i.e., a match when struck on the right surface almost always produces a flame), there needs to be something that "directs" them, called God. So we know that God has the power to will things already in existence.

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm

How is it proven that each proof refers to the same being? Why can't each proof refer to different beings, all of which exist?

I'm curious to see the answers. It was never a question I seriously considered.

One striking feature about the five proofs is that every proof is very interrelated. There's a lot of overlap. If you prove God one way many times you're over half way there to proving God in another way. Indeed, sometimes the distinctions in-between the proofs were so subtle that it was heard for me to come up with a specific descriptor for each definition proven.

Still, I'm not sure of the exact steps to get from point A to point E.
Mark, you let yourself get " suckered. " Candide knows perfectly will that if god exists there can only be one. She is pointing out what she thinks is a weekeness in Thomas' five ways. Just because Thomas didn't stop at each way and draw out the conclusions to suite her fancy does not mean there is an error. Thomas draws out the conclusions later in Part 1 when he is speaking about the nature of God and the Trinity. You will notice he begins his discussion with Question 3, Article 1 by saying God is not a body and he uses the God as the Unmoved Mover to conclude to that. Again he leaves the student to fill in the blanks. You have to remember the Summa was written for students of his day. And many things were said in other places, so you have to look around. He was not writing a book to be sold on the market as today. From there through Question 27 he speaks of God in the Singular.
The conclusion of each of the Five Ways is " ...and this being all call God..." or similar phrasing. What Candide wants you to do is to start with the Unmoved Mover and draw out all his attributes, then move on to the First Uncaused Cause and draw out all his attributes and so on to the Fifth. Then if all the attributes are the same all five ways will be seen to conclude in one God. And this is actually what Thomas did in a round about way in discussing the attributes of God.

But to make it clear go to the Summa Contra Gentiles Book One, chap 42 where Thomas has a nice long discussion proving that there is only one God.

Also don't forget to look at his discussion of the Trinity in Summa Theologica where he explains how God is a Person. This was also one of the points Candide kept pressing.
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Old Aug 22, '12, 9:08 am
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

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Mark, you let yourself get " suckered. " Candide knows perfectly will that if god exists there can only be one. She is pointing out what she thinks is a weekeness in Thomas' five ways. Just because Thomas didn't stop at each way and draw out the conclusions to suite her fancy does not mean there is an error.
Oh, I understand that. I don't think there's actually an error (I'm sure Candide West wasn't the first person in a 1000 years to think of this objection!), I just find the question interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linusthe2nd View Post
Thomas draws out the conclusions later in Part 1 when he is speaking about the nature of God and the Trinity. You will notice he begins his discussion with Question 3, Article 1 by saying God is not a body and he uses the God as the Unmoved Mover to conclude to that. Again he leaves the student to fill in the blanks. You have to remember the Summa was written for students of his day. And many things were said in other places, so you have to look around. He was not writing a book to be sold on the market as today. From there through Question 27 he speaks of God in the Singular.
Right, I understand that. I'm sure St. Thomas believes God to be one, I'm the one who has trouble figuring it out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linusthe2nd View Post
The conclusion of each of the Five Ways is " ...and this being all call God..." or similar phrasing. What Candide wants you to do is to start with the Unmoved Mover and draw out all his attributes, then move on to the First Uncaused Cause and draw out all his attributes and so on to the Fifth. Then if all the attributes are the same all five ways will be seen to conclude in one God. And this is actually what Thomas did in a round about way in discussing the attributes of God.
Yeah, that's where I'm stuck really. It seems as if he uses each argument to eventually come to the same conclusions as the others but it's very "hidden", so to speak.

But to make it clear go to the Summa Contra Gentiles Book One, chap 42 where Thomas has a nice long discussion proving that there is only one God.[/quote]

That would be extremely helpful, thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linusthe2nd View Post
Also don't forget to look at his discussion of the Trinity in Summa Theologica where he explains how God is a Person. This was also one of the points Candide kept pressing.
Good Luck
To be fair to Candide the "Personal God" objection is still considered a serious objection today (I came across it on philosophyexperiments.com, for example), but I think it's unfair to Aquinas if we say he never addressed it.
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Old Aug 22, '12, 9:22 am
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Marc Anthony Marc Anthony is offline
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Default Re: Aquinas's Five definitions of God

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Originally Posted by danserr View Post
Yes, I would agree that Occam's razor would indicate probability not mathematical certainty.

I simply (pun intended?) disagree with your implicit assumption that "proof" equals "mathematical certainty." For this reason, I actually don't even like to use the word proof since it confuses people and implies mathematical certainty, which is something we have for very little. When I look cross a street, I have no mathematical certainty I will not be killed, yet I hardly worry about that having done the best I can to collect good evidence. In history, there is no mathematical certainty for anything; yet, I would be a fool to deny the holocaust simply because there is no mathematical certainty for it. And most historians would consider it as rational to say that we have proof that the holocaust occurred.
Hmmm, interesting. I've always seen the Five Ways regarded as mathematical certainties, given that we accept Aquinas's metaphysics.

Mathematical certainties CAN be denied; I've heard of metaphysical constructs that deny mathematics as a system unto itself and use it merely to describe reality; practically, this means that whenever they say "2+2=4" it's a mistake unless both objects are literally EXACTLY the same (like, down to each atom exactly). Otherwise all you're talking about is approximations. "IF this is really 2 objects and not 2.31 and IF this is 2 objects and not 2.24 THEN it should equal four, but probably does not". Unless we accept math as a system unto itself, this would basically be what we're doing, correct?

I've always learned that it's the same with Aquinas's arguments. If Aquinas's metaphysics are correct, then the proofs are ironclad, much as 2+2=4 is ironclad.

Perhaps a way to solve the problem is to use Saint Anselm's Ontological Argument. In another thread while discussing the argument the point was raised that Aquinas was really only responding to silly reformulations/objections to the argument, not the argument itself. So if the Ontological Argument is true then Aquinas's Five Ways would of course be proving Anselm's "Maximum Being" in a way that is more concrete and practical. PErhaps Aquinas is assuming that we accept the Ontological Argument?
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"But he was undoubtedly a moron to begin with. Illiterate, superstitious, murderous....Look at him, and tell me if you see the progeny of a once-mighty civilization? What do you see?"

"The image of Christ," grated the monsignor, surprised at his own sudden anger. "What did you expect me to see?"
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