Dr. Kostelecky - Philosophy 249 - 17

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University of Alberta
Matthew Kostelecky

PHILOSOPHY 249 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS Do you think the Universe has always existed or not? Aristotle thought that the Universe had always been and always will be. Because: FROM NOTHING COMES NOTHING That seems very logical. This is exactly what Jews, Muslims, and Christians unitedly disagree with. They interpret Genesis One as suggesting a creation ex nihilo. If you are a 13th century thinker, you believe that the universe has not always bee▯. The world, to them, was not perpetual. Aquinas got in trouble because he didn't believe this was provable by natural reason but only by faith. All, including Aquinas, thought the Universe was new. But the question is not 'has the world always been?' (they all think that it has NOT always been) but the question is 'can natural reason prove that the world has always bee▯.' FIVE PROOFS OF GOD FIRSTWAY: in order for their to be motion there must be something first which is itself not moved. the common conception is that we have a motion of days and god is behind them all pushing from the back. this cannot be what Aquinas thinks though because he does not think that natural reason can prove that the world has always been. Aquinas does not say that all things need a cause, he says all things in motion need to be moved, and god moves but is not moved and is not caused. There is a notion of causality in Aquinas that does not function by reasoning back to a first moment in tim▯ or any other linear causality, instead what we have here as a better analogy than this vulgar railroad analogy but an analogy where God makes the rules of existence: GOD SETS UP CAUSALITYAS SUCH, OUT OF NOTHING GOD SETS UP MOTION AS SUCH, OUT OF NOTHING THE VERY POTENTIALITYTHAT GETS INSTANCIATED IN VARIOUS ACTUALITIES ARE ALL BEHAVING ACCORDING TO CERTAIN LAWS: THIS IS GOD. causality cannot cause itself. god is full actuality and full potentiality at the same time. his essence is his being. no potentiality at all in god. he is fully actual. God cannot be definitively proven as 'the first cause in tim▯' in Aquinas because he would be criticizing himself when a few pages later he asserts that the-world-has-a-beginning can't be known by natural reason but only faith. He believes there is a beginning in time, but he doesn't think natural reason demonstrates that so this model of understanding his first proof of God as God being the first mover from the first moment in time is incorrect, because he doesn't think that is rationally provable. Creation ex nihilo is a faith claim for Aquinas. Let's look at Bertrand Russell's disagreement: if a daughter has a mother, and that mother has a mother, and that mother has a mother, etc. Does that mean there is a mother-of-humanity? response: different orders of explanation ie evolution, but there is a different layer of explanation: the rules that allow mother's t
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