The stars

In the beginning of Aquinas’s Summa Contra Gentiles he writes :

**Of course, among natural causes, the highest and farthest removed from our knowledge are the powers of the celestial bodies. That these are known to the spirits under discussion, in accord with what is proper to their nature, is evident from earlier explanations. Therefore, since all lower bodies are controlled through the powers and motions of the higher bodies, these spirits are far more able than any astronomer to foretell future winds and storms, changing conditions of the atmosphere, and other such things which occur in the changing of lower bodies as a result of the motion of the higher bodies. Also, though celestial bodies can make no impression directly on the intellectual part of the soul, as we showed above, a good many men follow the impulse of their bodily passions and tendencies, on which we have shown that the celestial bodies do have an influence. In fact, it is only possible for wise men, of whom the number is small, to resist this kind of passion by using their reason. **

Pius XI once said in an encyclical that Aquinas taught “infallibly”, materially that is. So why does the Church now condemn those who believe in the power of the stars to influence life.

Aquinas gives a description of a hierarchy of beings. Celestial beings are things that control higher level of things. That is proper to their nature. For example, lightning does not control the growth of potatoes. That is not proper to it’s nature. But potatoes do use what is proper to potatoes from lightning (could be rain). If we draw a conclusion that a star can control life then we have to conclude that God is not all omnipotent and lacks what the stars control (something like pantheism). I am assuming you are not talking about gravity or other natural forces within matter like what binds nuclei together. God is the one who is everywhere keeping things together in His providence.

We might also use Aquinas’s first cause concept in that there has to be something first which is higher for lower level things to grow and present themselves.

There are others who are much more knowledgeable about Aquinas that could fill in my gaps.

Well he says that God made the stars to influence “bodily passions and tendencies” which few can control. If that is the case, and Piux XI backs him, then what is wrong with following people who say they can read the stars. Doesn’t it seem like the Church is contradicting itself? I am so frustrated that the Church seldom uses its infallible authority:(

I think it makes sense to me if he was talking about celestial bodies like angels and demons that influence us. Do you have that understanding also ??

I though the same at first, but he calls them natural causes. Angels are supernatural. And notice the way in which he speaks on astronomers. Yep he really thought the stars influence the way we feel inside.

Maybe he noticed strange things under a full moon ?? :):slight_smile:

Thomas Aquinas, though a saint and a genius, was not infallible. A comment by a pope saying Thomas was “infallible” does not necessarily make it so.

That’s true, but Pius XI can be cited in support of these theories of the stars via Aquinas. What if someone says that stars grant hapiness when you pick a certain flower. It sounds magical and might come to be thru placebo. But the Church speaks out know against superstitions. But what if those superstitions are true? How can we know for sure what to think of these questions

Interesting. Makes one wonder if Aquinas was alive today, which of his teachings he would toss based on today’s science :hmmm:

Prius XI seems to have a few odd statements to his credit. Add to that one the following:

  • a view against coeducation of children;
  • he is alleged to have made some prescriptive statements about the coverage of dresses necessary for them to be considered “decent”.

Funny, because wasn’t he a proponent of hybrid cars? :hmmm:

Here is what Pope Pius wrote:

  1. He [Aquinas] also composed a substantial moral theology, capable of directing all human acts in accordance with the supernatural last end of man. And as he is, as We have said, the perfect theologian, so he gives infallible rules and precepts of life not only for individuals, but also for civil and domestic society which is the object also of moral science, both economic and politic. STUDIORUM DUCEM.

No one can seriously interpret this to mean that everything Aquinas taught is infallible. Pius was well aware that Aquinas made mistakes, including errors in his theology.

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