If this is merely theoretical, how to have faith in it?

If you saw my last few posts, you will be familiar with this line of thought…working my way towards belief in it…
I love the idea God is the infinite source of all existing things. It means that, whatever we love (in my case art, fictional monsters, film and literature) have their fulfillment in seeing the Lord.
But, as someone replied when I asked if it was part of Curch teaching; “I don’t know if it’s been “officially” taught, but certainly according to mainstream theology God is infinite goodness.”
I have researched Aquinas and Boethus. I am also familiar with Plato’s the Forms (which is where the idea came from in the first place). But, though I long to believe it, it doesn’t make any credible sense to me.
There is nothing Biblical (well, there is when it comes to ‘nature’ and ‘the World’ reflecting God- but not ‘idea’, and since my longing came through Tolkien and Dr Who, it is fiction that I wish to see fufilled). There is no scientific reason to suppose there is an infinitude of any existing quality. Even if one starts with the basis that God is perfect, does He have everything to an infinite degree of perfection (as a Christian friend of mine, who does not like platonist views, said: “Is the Leaning Tower of Pisa infinite structure?”). Even from a philosophical viewpoint, why assume all goods are like the ‘sunbeams’ of God and experiencing God is to experience their zenith of perfection- I’m an artist (just graduated)…my attributes as a human are not the same as those of my art! One might then argue that ‘well, your art says something about your personality’, but, firstly, that is an entirely different thing to platonist ideas…but one also might point out, if God is perfect, He can presumably create anything unrestrained by having a personality that dictates His ‘output’. And even if it does ‘say something’ about Him…infinitely? (I assume we don’t use hyperbole there).

I am willing to research this to the ends of the Earth… I really want to believe platonist views of God) but I feel partially swayed by an intelligent Christian, scientist, friend of mine who disagrees with it…and also the fact that, even the likes of the magnificent Peter Kreeft, seem to be in the same boat as I am: wanting to believe that all reflects an infinite perfecion in God- but with no greater argument than ‘its traditional to think so’ or, but ‘great men thought thus’. Hardly knock-down arguments!

And even if I could prove thus, I would want to know if all things reflect. As I have bored people silly about on this site, I have a passion for fictional monsters I’d want to be fulfilled. But how could I ever know for sure that all things reflect when only some might, here and there- how can I dismiss that possibility? There’s seemingly no logic to ‘work out’ and I’m just left with ‘go with whatever belief makes me happiest.’ Being a (quite often) pessimist about such things, I’d lay a bet its all not as I hope it is. I’m not trying to do God down (simply trying to learn what god we’re meant to believe in…my baby steps).

He never said He was infinite perfection and the perfected version of all things at that.

So why do you want to answer your Christian questions with a largely pagan philosophy?

Plato and Aristotle philosophic schools of though helped the early Christians explain their theology to a largely pagan world.
I would suggest that you need to learn all about both views since our current theological understanding cannot be fully placed within one single school of thought.
It looks like you have the need to reinvent the wheel, good luck with your quest.


And how can one research God and prove God. That’s not how we find God.

God is not a theory, or an abstract 'infinite goodness" but a living human person. We find God when we find Jesus. We find Jesus in prayer and the sacraments, in serving others, and in stillness and silence.

Jesus is God. Go find Jesus and your questions will be answered.

-Tim-

God is infinitely greater than all of His creation. He certainly is “infinite perfection”. But when you says that He is also “the perfected version of all things” it is confusing. God both transcends and is present in all His creation - but it its imperative to understand that he is distinct from His creation. So while God knows the proper perfections of all His creations - He Himself is not those perfections because He is distinct from His creation.

Hmm!? God is three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Are you saying they are all a living human person?

We can, also, find God without finding Jesus. Though Christ is the fulfillment of God’s revelation, and only through him can we know God to the full extent he revealed himself, Catholic doctrine, as common sense, dictates that God can be known through the light of human reason. To believe in Christ and his Church it is required supernatural faith, not just natural faith.
The mysteries of God are, by they’re very nature, supra rational. That means that, they are not irrational, but go beyond human reasoning. We can understand something of them, but never to their fullness. Even to accept them we need the gift of faith form God himself.

Where does faith enter into all of this? Eventually you are going to have to deal with that, because that is the only way really to encounter God. Try prayer. A little faith can remove those mountains you have placed between you and God. Faith the size of a mustard seed. Pray for it.

I’m not being snotty here. Too many people get caught up in the intellectual battle and miss the forest for the trees.

Where does faith enter into all of this? Eventually you are going to have to deal with that, because that is the only way really to encounter God. Try prayer. A little faith can remove those mountains you have placed between you and God. Faith the size of a mustard seed. Pray for it.

I’m not being snotty here. Too many people get caught up in the intellectual battle and miss the forest for the trees.

Originally by Thomas Jennings
I love the idea God is the infinite source of all existing things. It means that, whatever we love (in my case art, fictional monsters, film and literature) have their fulfillment in seeing the Lord.

The very first passages of St. John’ gospel explain this.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.
Jn. 1;1-3

“In the beginning” are the first words of Genesis indicating creation of everything.

“The Word was with God” meaning from the beginning when creation took place.

“The Word was God” meaning what it says. And further on it says "and the Word was made flesh’ meaning that the Word was God who became flesh thru Mary.

“All things” meaning everything that was ever created.

“came to be through him” meaning all things were patterned after him, and were in some way an image of him and therefore reflect him in some way. Similar to a painting that reflects the painter in some way since it is his own thought put down on canvas.

“without him nothing came to be” meaning…reemphasizes the truth in a negative way to leave no doubt all came to be through him in his image in some way.

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.

Hi, I’m a Protestant too. I hope I am understanding you well, you are trying to find faith through philosophical thought,…and although there is a door there, a more solid
way, which I think is faster, is by going through what the Bible says about faith.

Bible quote, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Words of God.” Inside the Bible,
which is Holy Scripture, God has made a deposit of Himself. A spiritual gold mine, if you will. Reading it, is like panning in a river for gold.

Although the Bible was written down by men, it says about itself that God inspired the words. Philosophy doesn’t have that claim, so you are better off reading the bible, to gain faith. You could start with the gospel of John, pray to the Father in Jesus’ Name, and ask for help to understand it. Go slowly, try to keep your thoughts on what you are reading and if your mind drifts, start the chapter again.

When Jesus left the earth, He told us He was sending someone else in his place, to help, guide and support us. He is the Holy Spirit, whom the bible calls comforter, helper, …
He is the one who will lead you to faith. Ask Him outright directly for help.


To reply more to your philosophical ideas and questions,…
nature itself the Bible says, is a statement about God. The beauty of nature, the intricateness, the design, speaks of a designer, not random haphazard chance.

Look at the beauty of the body, it is designed, crafted, everything works and has a purpose, and works together, it is not haphazard, and look at the ‘ends’ as in,
each one of us has a body with all the same things inside, doing the same things,…no one has a random extra ‘thing’ that does something else that others do not have.

Regarding does everything in the earth reflect God and his qualities, monsters that you draw or create? no.
The earth, the bible says, is in a fallen state. Even nature is fallen from the Glory of God.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they fell from the glory of God which they were crowned with, and so did all of nature, read in Genesis.

Animals did not eat each other, did you know that? The bible says they were non meat eaters. Many other things fell.

Right now, on the earth, there is Almighty God, and there is a small g, god of this ‘world and its systems’ at work on the earth. This small g god is named Lucifer, a rebel who is not a friend of mankind, but who steals, kills and destroys with regards to us.
He and 1/3 of what used to be the angels of God, are set against God and us, and they try to hurt God through bothering us.

Lucifer is not God’s equal, he is a created being, although used to be a top arch angel.

He does not have rights on the earth, but stole them originally from Adam when the fall occurred, Jesus came to buy back our rights, and through Jesus, we can win against
Lucifer on the earth.

Good material for your drawings, huh?

All of the above is contained in the bible. I can picture you creating a comic book, or
wall art depicting all of this. It could be part of your journey to faith, however,
this is not anyone’s imagination, this is real, spiritual reality. The Bible is truth.

Start with John and Genesis. Ask for ‘illumination’,…from the Holy Spirit directly.

I don’t know if it is sound to refer to the Trinity as “they”, because the Trinity, although composed of three Persons, is singular, not plural. True, only the Second Person of the Trinity assumed human flesh, but when you meet Christ you encounter the fullness of the Godhead, not just 1/3 of it as you make it seem.

Thomas,

Hebrews 11:6 …for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

What do you suppose He means by “open the door?

If you can just open that door you can sit at the supper table with the Almighty.

More precisely, God is Goodness Itself. This follows from understanding that God is Being Itself (in other words, God’s nature is to exist and He exists unconditionally). Goodness is really just being when viewed from the aspect of desirability. Something is good for you because it makes your nature more perfect. God is fullness of being. Therefore He is that which is fully desirable.

Aquinas doesn’t make sense, or Plato’s Theory of Forms doesn’t make sense? If it is the former, then, if you haven’t already, I would suggest reading this introduction to Aquinas’ thinking: Aquinas. There is a lot to learn from St. Thomas Aquinas.

If Plato’s Theory of Forms is what is troubling you, then I would say that your worry is warranted, since there are difficulties with his theory, although I would say you are on the right track by investigating it. Aquinas was much more sympathetic to Aristotle’s metaphysics, and eventually Aquinas’ approach to theology and philosophy was preferred by the Catholic Church in Aeterni Patris I believe (I know you are a Protestant so what the Catholic Church teaches on the matter may not interest you much).

The problem with Plato’s forms is that they seem to have independent existence in some Third Realm as pure forms, and matter imperfectly approximates them. This thinking has given rise to a lot of Gnostic-like heresies that teach that the material order is inherently evil and the spiritual, formal world is what is good. Aristotle’s approach was different. Forms are real, but they do not exist apart from the matter they instantiate. Consider an object O. Under Plato’s theory, the form of O is a thing in its own right that somehow combines with matter to give you O. Under Aristotle’s theory, the form of O is an aspect of what it means for O to be a thing at all. This is a moderate realist’s approach to forms and universals.

Well everything that exists only exists ultimately because God wills it to exist. Since it exists in some way, it participates in God’s being and hence is a finite reflection of His goodness. I believe that in one of his letters St. Paul remarks that in God we live, move, and have our being, or something like that.

The realities He does create are unlike Him, since we cannot speak positively about how God is because we have no conception of what Being Itself is like. We can only speak negatively (God is not like this) or analogously. For instance, when we say that God is all-powerful, we are not using the word “powerful” in a univocal sense, but rather in an analogous sense. Something analogous to what we understand as “power” exists in God’s nature. Likewise for the other attributes typically predicated of God. So creation ultimately points to God in someway, but to say that it exhibits qualities of God in the same sense would be wrong. Also, God cannot create something radically unlike Himself because such a thing would be non-being. So asking why God cannot create non-existence is logically incoherent.

Continued…

I would think that Dr. Kreeft would have given more of an argument than that. His condensed, annotated summary of the Summa Theologiae is a very good resource for one interested in Aquinas’ writings. Edward Feser, the author of the Aquinas book linked to above, is also a good resource. He maintains a blog as well that I have found very useful.

One thing I forgot to mention about Aristotle’s theory of forms is that forms can exist apart from the matter they instantiate when abstracted by an intellect. When you recognize the form of a dog, that very same form that is an aspect of Snoopy exists in your intellect (although it assumes the matter of your intellect). The reason ultimately why any forms exist anywhere in created reality (independent of our minds abstracting them) is because they exist in God’s intellect. The forms are almost like a way that God contemplates manifesting His goodness. Some forms are possible, but are nevertheless uninstantiated, which is why we can have conceptions of them even though they don’t exist (like a pegasus or something like that). Prof. Feser discusses this to some degree here.

There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact it is quite admirable. I know some of the other well-meaning posters have told you that you need to have faith and you need to know God personally. That is all true, yes, but some of us need to understand how it all makes sense, myself included. I would argue that this is quite necessary to your relationship with God. After all, how can you love Him if you know next to nothing about Him? I would encourage you to keep up your search! :thumbsup:

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