Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Notes For Classes on Natural Theology

Class 1: Natural Theology: (September 13, 2013)

Prime Note: When we work from sensible experience and conceptual knowing, we are dealing with God as an Object. Hence, we can know that He exists, and certain perfections that must be His as Supreme Being (Creator).  However, we will not know Who He is in His inner Life, until He tells us in His Son, Jesus Christ.

St. Anselm: Anselm of Canterbury, also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the Church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. Called the founder of scholasticism, he is famous as the originator of the ontological argument for the existence of God. Born into the House of Candia, he entered the Benedictine order at the Abbey of Bec at the age of 27, where he became abbot in 1079.
Father of Scholasticism: His “Ontological Argument” for the existence of God: “something than which nothing greater can be thought.” Robert Sokolowski[1] must be read here to appreciate Anselm. In its depth, the Being of God as believed by Christians, is Being, but so different that if the world were not “to be,” God would not be less; and that the world is, God is not “more.” That is, the Being Whom we believe in is distinct from the being of the world. This is never the case of the pagan philosophers.
      The gods of the pagans is always “within” the world that we sense, even if they are consider pure thinking spirit as Aristotle or Plato. If you did not have (experience) the sensible world, you would not have a pagan god. But the God of Judeo-Christian faith “exists” even if the world did not exist since He is Creator.
      Christianity is the experience of the self-experiencing the world. And one experiences the self in the act of faith by going out of self to receive the Word of God within you. You say “Yes!” and the Word, the Person of Christ as Revelation of the Father, begins to become you. Recall: Lk. 9, 18: “And it came to pass as he was praying in private, that his disciples also were with him, and he asked them, saying, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ And they answered and said, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elias…’ But who do you say that I am?’ ‘Simon Peter answered and said, ‘The Christ of God.’” And then, “for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but my Father in heaven. And I say to thee, thou are Peter…[as I am “cornerstone” (Acts, 4, 11)]. Simon, by praying became the revelation in himself and was able to say: “You are the Christ, the Son…” (whom only the Father could know).
      Sokolowski says that “The God of Christian faith is such that reason cannot deny his existence. By establishing this security of faith before reason, Anselm opens the door to the reason exploration of faith that took place in scholastic theology; he lets loose the distinctions and principles that permitted the emergence of universities as institutions specific to the Christian world; and he provides the setting of the divine and the desirable within which reason has exercised itself during the thousand years now drawing to a close.
            “Anselm begins something new. Before him reason was used within faith, but it was not turned toward faith.”[2] Judeo-Christian faith is a “new” experience of being. This is the topic of the two epistemological horizons described by Wojtyla (John Paul II) that are complementary kinds of experience and ways of knowing: conceptual (objective), and consciousness (subjective).   

OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD’S EXISTENCE: comes to us through the light of natural reason and the enlightening of revelation (grace).
a)    Natural knowledge of God’s existence: God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason, through created things@ [Vat I, Dogmatic Constitution, Dei Filius, Denzinger 1784[3]].  The dogma of God’s knowability by the natural light of reason has a solid basis in specific texts of Sacred Scripture, especially: Wisdom 13, 7; Romans 1, 19‑21; Romans 2, 14‑16 and Acts 14, 16; 17, 26‑30.  These texts of Scripture speak of our knowledge of God’s existence as being: mediate (through created things); natural (acquired through the use reason alone); universal (accessible to every human being); certain (for created things inevitably lead to their Creator) and easily accessible (reasons alone suffices to see this truth).
b)    God’s existence can be rationally proved: The thinking of the 1st Vatican Council was that God’s existence can be demonstrated, however it only defined that his existence can be know with certainty.  Nevertheless, the ordinary Magisterium of subsequent Popes taught that such a demonstration is possible, e.g., the Antimodernist Oath in Sacrorum Antistitum [Dz 2145] prescribed by St. Pius X (1910) explicitly uses the word demonstrated in referring to God’s existence as manifested in the existence of the things that have been made; Pius XI enc. Studiorum ducem (1924); Pius XII enc. Humani generis (1950); the 2nd Vatican Council repeats in many passages that a knowledge of God can be had through his creation; in the teachings of Paul VI there are many  references to man’s natural knowledge of God, esp., his address to the VI International Thomist Congress (1965) and his general audience of Nov. 28, 1968.
c)     God’s existence proved: among the philosophical proofs of God’s existence, St. Thomas’ distillation of these proofs in his five ways is, perhaps, the very best.  St. Thomas proofs are outlined in S Th  I, q2, a3.  Several metaphysical keys are necessary for their proper understanding: 1st key -being (“esse”); 2nd key -causality; 3rd key -participation.
The first key in understanding these five ways is found in grasping what the multiplicity of things existing in the world bear witness to, viz., an absolutely fundamental distinction between their nature [what they are] and their act of existing [“esse:” the energy or actualizing perfection making them to be].  This fundamental distinction, at the same time, requires the existence of a supreme existent whose nature is to be existing, and is, therefore, the source of this actualizing perfection in each and every other existent (whose natures are distinct from Cnot identified withC their acts of existing).  It is this Supreme Existent who bestows existence on all the things of our experience.  This is God.

S. Th. 1, 2, 3.

I answer that, The existence of God can be proved in five ways.

   The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is
   certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are
   in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for
   nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards
   which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act.
   For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from
   potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality
   to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that
   which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot,
   to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not
   possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and
   potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For
   what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it
   is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in
   the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and
   moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in
   motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in
   motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in
   motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to
   infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and,
   consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only
   inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff
   moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is
   necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and
   this everyone understands to be God.

   The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world
   of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no
   case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found
   to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to
   itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible
   to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in
   order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the
   intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the
   intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause
   is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among
   efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate
   cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity,
   there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an
   ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is
   plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient
   cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

   The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus.
   We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since
   they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they
   are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always
   to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not.
   Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there
   could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now
   there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist
   only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at
   one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for
   anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in
   existence---which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely
   possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is
   necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by
   another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary
   things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been
   already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but
   postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own
   necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in
   others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.

   The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among
   beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the
   like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things,
   according as they resemble in their different ways something which is
   the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more
   nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something
   which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently,
   something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest
   in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the
   maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which
   is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there
   must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being,
   goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

   The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that
   things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end,
   and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the
   same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not
   fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever
   lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by
   some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is
   shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists
   by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we
   call God.

Finality = Intelligent design.

Aristotle: “Parts of Animals:” Material “life” is characterized by self-motion [born, grows, develops, comes to maturity, and, finally, through a reverse process, dies]. “The living being then recognizes itself in this thing that changes, and as all change is motion, the order of the living is the order of motion. More precisely, it is that order of all which has in itself the principle of its own change. In abstract terms one says that the living being is endowed with spontaneity, not only in its reactions, but a fortiori in its operations and its actions. To do so, there must be heterogeneity of parts, some moving, others moved.
                    “That the living being moves itself entails as a consequence that it is composed of heterogeneous parts. Indeed, to move oneself consists in having in oneself the cause of one’s movement. The living being is at the same time cause and effect, but it cannot be the one and the other in the same way. Aristotle expressly contradicts the Platonist notion which make of life a simple source of motion, as if one single and identical thing could be motive force and thing moved at the same time and in the same way. It suffices to see an animal move about to ascertain that the parts which move take their point of departure from the fixed and the immobile. All living operations, all the growth of plants or animals, involve and require the differentiation of certain parts capable of acting ne on another Heterogeneity of parts is required for the very possibility of that causality operating on itself which characterizes the growth of living beings.”[4]
   And then, order. Aristotle assigns a cause of the order because if not we have order without a cause. Here he is accused of na├»ve anthropomorphism. Aristotle understands man to be part of nature, and since we have some notion of how we function, we can get an insight as to how nature functions. “Fortified by his principle, Aristotle proceeds in a methodical manner from man to nature in his exploration of reality” (Gilson, op. cit. 4-5). Therefore, Aristotle has recourse to art. He asks “How does man fabricate objects made up of such parts?” Art imitates nature; it must be then that nature proceeds in a manner analogous to that of art.
                    “That which comes first in the operation of art is the presence in the mind of the artist of a certain image or notion of the object to be produced. From that point of departure the artist begins by choosing material adopted to the structure of the future work. These would be… heterogeneous parts: canvas, colors, and so on necessary to produce the particular picture which the cause of which is the idea of the future picture already present to the mind of the painter. If the picture to be painted is such-and-such, then the constituent elements must necessarily be such-and-such.”[5]

                    Now, Aristotle’s “god” was a “Form” that was immaterial, a pure intelligence contemplating itself, but in  no sense, the cause or Creator of “being.” Hence, his analysis of  the self-motion of animals – the  organisms (unities) – which could not be explained in their heterogeneity except by the presence of an intelligence proxied by a formal cause that was the in-house “cause” of the unity of the irreducibly different kinds of parts, left him without an  ultimate explanation of the cause of the order since he had no Creating/Mind cause of the forms.
                    Gilson comments: “What is it then that the modern biologist wishes to say by declaring that it is scientific to exclude final causality from the explanation of organized living beings?”[6] He says that the problem is the hegemony of reductive empiricism whereby reality is dumbed down to mechanism. “The pure mechanist in biology is a man whose entire activity has as its end the discovery of the ‘how’ of the vital operations in plants and animals. Looking for nothing else, he sees nothing else, and since he cannot integrate other things in his research, he denies their existence. This is why he sincerely denies the existence, however, evident, of final causality.”[7]
                That costs him something… Let us at least note at present that it is difficult to speak of the function of an organ or of a tissue without dangerously brushing against the idea of a natural teleology. To say of a machine or a mechanical accessory that they function, or that they ‘run,’ implies the notion that they function as they ought to function and as it had been foreseen that they would function. If a machine or any apparatus whatsoever does not fulfill the function for which it has been built, it is simply thrown away. The same is true in biology, and particularly in medicine… Let us hold, then, for the present, to the position of the problem as defined by Aristotle. To think that the perfectly regular order of the stars is the result of chance appear to him to be ridiculous….” Gilson concludes that “(those) who deny natural teleology have still found nothing to explain in another way the facts which they propose to make reasonable, so they content themselves to deny it.”[8]
            Concerning the Perfection of God: 1, 4, 1: The key to Thomistic metaphysics: “Esse”
Reply to Objection 3: Existence [esse] is the most perfect of all things, for it is compared to all things as that by which they are made actual; for nothing has actuality except so far as it exists. Hence existence [esse] is that which actuates all things, even their forms. Therefore it is not compared to other things as the receiver is to the received; but rather as the received to the receiver. When therefore I speak of the existence of man, or horse, or anything else, existence [esse] is considered a formal principle, and as something received; and not as that which exists.
            The Thomistic esse is  not “facticity,” but the dynamic thrust over nothingness.
Jacques Maritain: “(A)t the root of metaphysical knowledge, St. Thomas places the intellectual intuition of  that mysterious reality disguised under the most commonplace and commonly used word in the language, the word to be; a reality revealed to us as the circumscribable subject of a science which the gods begrudge us when we release, in the values that appertain to it, the act of existing which is  exercised by the humblest thing – that victorious thrust by which it triumphs over nothingness. “[9]
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Notes:
The 5 ways have a structure: the sensible empirical reality of local motion, causality, necessary or contingent being, degrees of perfection and finality (purpose – intelligent design).
The structure:
·        The fact is not sufficient reason for its existence
·        To go to an infinite series in search of a cause means no cause
·        Therefore, there must be a first supreme cause of motion, finite causality, contingent being, degrees of perfection and order. This Supreme Cause we understand to be God.

The unique dimension of St. Thomas’s metaphysics, and the conclusion of each of the 5 ways is the motion from finite esse to Infinite Esse: Esse Subsistens.

The act of existing is the cause that makes a thing differ from nothing.  The act of existing, therefore, is in some way set apart from the thing itself.  The thing [existent] is itself, but has its act of existing.  We rightly conclude that a thing and its act of existing are not entirely the same.  The thing may have real being [be existing apart from mine or anyone else’s mind], lose that way of being, and still retain or acquire cognitional existence [be given existence in someone’s mind].  The thing, then, is not exactly the same as either its real existence or its cognitional existence.  The thing remains the same [in its essence or nature] as it loses one way of being and acquires the other way of existing.


Whatever there is in a thing outside its nature belongs to it accidentally.  Since existence [a thing’s act of existing] lies outside the natures of sensible things, it will accrue to them only in accidental fashion.  Here we are using accidental in a very wide sense.  Existence is clearly not an Aristotelian category, for it is not a supreme genus.  It is not an accident in the narrow sense.  All categorical accidents presuppose the substantial nature in which they inhere.  But without its existence, that nature would be nothing.  The nature of a sensible thing cannot be imagined as already there in priority to its being and receiving its being as it receives color or hardness or quantity or other categorical [otherwise known as predicamental] accidents.  Rather, it has to presuppose its existence “its act of existing” somewhat as it itself [the nature] is presupposed by its predicamental accidents.  Existence is clearly not an accident in the predicamental sense.
Could existence be a property that flows necessarily from the nature though it is not part of the nature?  The difficulty here lies in the priority of existence to sensible nature.  If a thing were conceived in priority to its existing, it would be conceived as nothing.  How then could it make itself exist?  It would just not be there to cause its own existence.  A property follows upon a nature in the order of formal causality, as the equality of its angles to two right angles follows upon the nature of a Euclidean triangle.  The nature is presupposed as already there, as existing, and the property is regarded as flowing from it.  But if existing were regarded as a property of the nature, there would be nothing there from which such existing could flow!  It is a question of making that basic nature be, when it is not already there as existing.  Making something be, when it did not exist before, is technically called efficient causality.
The second key in following St. Thomas’ five ways is the notion of causality.  This notion consists in a relationship between an actualizing agent which brings about or actualizes a perfection in another existent.  Analyzing our experience, we see that every actualizing agent or cause also requires a prior actualizing.  Every cause who requires prior actualizing, is a cause needing a cause of its very causality.  Clearly there must be some cause, fully actualized, who is the Cause of all causality in every potential cause.  St. Thomas, following a long standing tradition, calls this cause, the First Uncaused Cause.  This is God.
The combined accidentality and priority of existence raise the question of the real dependence of the thing’s existing on something else.  What is accidental is dependent upon something.  It is not there just in its own right. By its very nature it is dependent upon a substance.  However, if existing is prior to natural substance, this indicates that the basic dependence of the existential act [the act of existing] is not upon the subject it actuates.  It may inhere in that subject, in the sense of actuating it.  Nevertheless, it is accepted as prior to it.  The substance upon which the act of existing depends is not the substance that it makes to be or to exist.  It is prior to the substance in which it is found, is presupposed by that substance.  It must depend upon another substance.  This means that a sensible thing=s existence is dependent upon some other thing.  It is made to be by something else.  To give existence to something else is to cause it through efficient causality.  Accordingly, everything whose existing is other than its nature is produced by an efficient cause that is other than itself.  This statement is the causal proposition.  It means that every finite thing or action, whether determined or free, has to have a cause of its existing or its coming to be.
For any series of efficiently caused causes there is a first cause.  This cause has no efficient cause prior to itself.  Accordingly it has no cause of its existing whatsoever.  It is an uncaused cause.  Its existing [or act of existing] is not prior to its nature, but simultaneous or coincident with it.  It existence is not in any way accidental to its nature but is of its nature and in its nature.  Its very nature is to be.  The first cause, consequently, is not contained within the series of caused causes.  It is wholly outside that series.  Existence or the act of existing, as a nature, Aabsorbs@ everything else into itself.  Other things have existence, but no one of them is existence.  Their existence is not explicitly included in their nature.  The first efficient cause, on the other hand, does include existence in its nature explicitly.  This means that its whole nature is existing.  Hence, the substance that exists is Being.  He is therefore called Subsistent Being.


The third key is the notion of participation.  This notion is intimately related to the fourth way of showing God=s existence.  Quite simply it means that what some existents have in a partial or limited way, one Existent has in full or limitless way.  To have a perfection in but a partial way is to participate in the Supreme Perfection.  This Supreme Perfection is, of course, God.  The participation of the act of existing means merely that the one nature “the Act of Existing” makes all other things be, through efficient causality.  It is a causality that may be immediate or mediate.  That is exactly what is demonstrated in the process of reasoning that led to the first efficient cause.  To call it participation adds nothing more to its notion.  The introduction of the term, however, occasions a warning against understanding the communication of existing in the sense of a common nature that would be shared by all its existents in the manner of formal causality.
The terminus of the ways: the conclusion of the five ways contains implicitly all that natural reason, without the help of faith can know of the divinity.  The ways show God as first Unmoved Mover, First Uncaused Cause, Necessary Being, Supreme Being, and the Intelligence that ordains and directs all things towards their ends, e.g., the Unmoved Mover lets us know God as Pure Act without any passive potency and, hence, as the Pure Act of Being including all perfections within himself.
The teaching on the divine essence contained in the ways (STh I, q2,a3).  The first way starts from the experience of movement.  The second way begins with the experience of causality.  The third way starts from the experience of generation and corruption.  However, the third way mainly demonstrates that God is his own act of being: he is Ipsum Esse Subsistens.  The fourth way has as its starting point the grades of perfection in creatures.  Basing itself on this fact and the doctrine of participation, it shows the way to God as Causa totius esse.  The fifth way takes it starting point from the evident finality or rational intent found in existents devoid of intelligence.  Hence, we are led to the Supreme Intelligence or Governor of the world.  This is God. 
In St. Thomas own words:
 The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion.  It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion.  Now whatever is moved is moved by another, for nothing can be moved except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is moved; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality.  But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes.  Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects.  For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold.  It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e., that it should move itself.  Therefore, whatever is moved must be moved by another. If that by which it is moved be itself moved, then this also must needs be moved by another, and that by another again.  But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover, seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are moved by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is moved by the hand.  Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, moved by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.
In the Summa Theologiae, Thomas begins with the proof based on motion, calling it the more manifest way because motion and change are immediately evident to the senses. This is the only proof for God’s existence found in Aristotle.  For St. Thomas, motion and change are seen as a process of becoming more actual,’ moving from potency to act. Since it is not yet what it is about to become, the changing being cannot be the cause of its own change. A thing cannot give to itself something that it does not have. The key concept is that nothing can be brought from potency to act except by something that is in act. God is arrived at as the first cause of actuality.  Some Thomists have interpreted this proof in terms of the most fundamental act in reality: the act of being (esse).  They see the proof as saying that a being cannot cause itself to be (which would mean placing itself in act); any being must receive its existence from a being that is its existence, namely God [Ipsum Esse Subsistens].

MOST IMPORTANT ERRORS REGARDING GOD’S EXISTENCE AND KNOWABILITY THROUGH THE POWER OF NATURAL REASON ALONE

a)     Atheism [cf. GS #19-21]. 

Remark of Ratzinger (2000):  “(Metz) tells us: the true problem of our times is the ‘Crisis of God,’ the absence of God, disguised by an empty religiosity. Theology must go back to being truly theo-logy, speaking about and with God.
     “Metz is right: the ‘unum necessarium’ to man is God. Everything changes, whether God exists or not. Unfortunately – we Christians also often live as if God did not exist… We live according to the slogan: God does not exist, and if He exists, He does not belong.
     “Therefore, evangelization must, first of all, speak about God, proclaim the one true God: the Creator – the Sanctifier – the Judge.
     “Here we too must keep the practical aspect in mind. God cannot be made known with words alone. One does not really know a person if one knows about this person second handedly. To proclaim God is to introduce to the relation with God: top teach how to pray. Prayer is faith in action. And only experiencing life with God does the evidence of His existence appear.”

N.B. “The essential problem of our times, for Europe and for the world, is that although the fallacy of  the communist economy has been recognized – so much so that former communists have unhesitatingly become  economic liberals – the moral and religious question that it used to address has been almost totally repressed. The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man’s original uncertainties about God, himself, and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is till our problem today. Left untreated, it could lead to the self –destruction of the Euro pean conscience, which we must begin to consider as a real danger – above and beyond the decline predicted by Spengler.”[10]
Point: Capitalism and Marxism are both ideologies that have reduced the person/son of God to an individual object
GS#19:  The root reason for human dignity lies in man's call to communion with God. From the very circumstance of his origin man is already invited to converse with God. For man would not exist were he not created by Gods love and constantly preserved by it; and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to His Creator. Still, many of our contemporaries have never recognized this intimate and vital link with God, or have explicitly rejected it. Thus atheism must be accounted among the most serious problems of this age, and is deserving of closer examination…. (T)aken as a whole, atheism is not a spontaneous development but stems from a variety of causes, including a critical reaction against religious beliefs, and in some places against the Christian religion in particular. Hence believers can have more than a little to do with the birth of atheism. To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion.
20…. Those who profess atheism of this sort maintain that it gives man freedom to be an end unto himself, the sole artisan and creator of his own history. They claim that this freedom cannot be reconciled with the affirmation of a Lord Who is author and purpose of all things, or at least that this freedom makes such an affirmation altogether superfluous. Favoring this doctrine can be the sense of power which modern technical progress generates in man.
Not to be overlooked among the forms of modern atheism is that which anticipates the liberation of man especially through his economic and social emancipation [Capitalism (as ideology) provokes individualism].
22. The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come,(20) namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown.
“He Who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15),(21) is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled,(22) by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice(23) and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin(24).”
b)       Agnosticism: denies that we can have any knowledge beyond our sense experience.  Consequently, God is an unknowable entity.  St. Pius X condemned this position Cin his condemnation of the ModernistsC in his encyclical Pascendi (Dz 2072-2102).
·         Benedict XVI: Assisi 2011 – Benedict XVI: “In addition to the two phenomena of religion and anti-religion, a further basic orientation is found in the growing world of agnosticism: people to whom the gift of faith has not been given, but who are nevertheless on the lookout for truth, searching for God. Such people do not simply assert: “There is no God”. They suffer from his absence and yet are inwardly making their way towards him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness. They are “pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace”. They ask questions of both sides. They take away from militant atheists the false certainty by which these claim to know that there is no God and they invite them to leave polemics aside and to become seekers who do not give up hope in the existence of truth and in the possibility and necessity of living by it. But they also challenge the followers of religions not to consider God as their own property, as if he belonged to them, in such a way that they feel vindicated in using force against others. These people are seeking the truth, they are seeking the true God, whose image is frequently concealed in the religions because of the ways in which they are often practised. Their inability to find God is partly the responsibility of believers with a limited or even falsified image of God. So all their struggling and questioning is in part an appeal to believers to purify their faith, so that God, the true God, becomes accessible. Therefore I have consciously invited delegates of this third group to our meeting in Assisi, which does not simply bring together representatives of religious institutions. Rather it is a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of taking a decisive stand for human dignity and a case of common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force. Finally I would like to assure you that the Catholic Church will not let up in her fight against violence, in her commitment for peace in the world. We are animated by the common desire to be “pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace”. They ask questions of both sides. They take away from militant atheists the false certainty by which these claim to know that there is no God and they invite them to leave polemics aside and to become seekers who do not give up hope in the existence of truth and in the possibility and necessity of living by it. But they also challenge the followers of religions not to consider God as their own property, as if he belonged to them, in such a way that they feel vindicated in using force against others. These people are seeking the truth, they are seeking the true God, whose image is frequently concealed in the religions because of the ways in which they are often practised. Their inability to find God is partly the responsibility of believers with a limited or even falsified image of God. So all their struggling and questioning is in part an appeal to believers to purify their faith, so that God, the true God, becomes accessible. Therefore I have consciously invited delegates of this third group to our meeting in Assisi, which does not simply bring together representatives of religious institutions. Rather it is a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of taking a decisive stand for human dignity and a case of common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force. Finally I would like to assure you that the Catholic Church will not let up in her fight against violence, in her commitment for peace in the world. We are animated by the common desire to be “pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace” (Pope's Address in Assisi Thursday, October 27, 2011 )

c)  Fideism and traditionalism: affirmations of the absolute necessity of a primitive revelation given by God to the human race, not only to acquire truths of the supernatural order, but also to know truths of the philosophical, moral and religious order (e.g., the existence of God, the spirituality and immortality of the human soul, the existence of an obligatory moral law, etc.)  Its exponents claim that this revelation has been handed down from generation to generation of human beings.  Hence, the universal consensus of humanity is what establishes certain truth in these areas of human life.  The weakness of this theory is altogether obvious!

[Fideism: philosophical term meaning a system of philosophy or an attitude of mind, which, denying the power of unaided human reason to reach certitude, affirms that the fundamental act of human knowledgeconsists in an act of faith, and the supreme criterion of certitude is authority- Fideism has divers degrees and takes divers forms, according to the field of truth to which it is extended, and the various elements which are affirmed as constituting the authority. For somefideists, human reason cannot of itself reach certitude in regard to any truth whatever; for others, it cannot reach certitude in regard to the fundamental truths of metaphysics, morality, and religion, while some maintain that we can give a firm supernatural assent to revelation on motives of credibility that are merely probable].




d)  Ontologism: This mistaken theory claims that God is the immediate object of knowledge of the human mind.  Everything we know, we know through our knowledge of the Divine Essence.  The Aontological argument@ [proving God=s existence by arguing from the concept of God in our minds] is succinctly answered by St. Thomas, AFor the thing and the notion expressed by the name have to be posited in the same way.  From the fact that what is expressed by the name >God= is conceived by the mind, it does not follow that God exists except in the intellect.@[CG I, 11]  St. Thomas recognizes that the argument in St. Anselm proceeds from the supposition that God really exists, and on that supposition shows that he cannot be thought of as non-existent. 
e)  Secularized theology or [the death of God theology]: this phenomenon proclaims a new adult, mature Christianity.  The god of primitive Christianity is dead.  Basically, this Godless theology proclaims a Christianity of man.  Man, come of age, is his own god.  Man must now remake God in his [Man’s] own image and likeness.  Marxism still plays a great role in shaping such unchristian  Christianity; modern materialism is, undoubtedly, yet a stronger force for such secularized theology.

The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result.  Hence it is plain that they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly.  Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.
This way for proving God’s existence is found in a similar form in the Summa Contra Gentiles. It is also found in the Commentary on John, where it is the first way presented and is called by St Thomas the Amost effective@ way for proving God’s existence.
If the ways of St. Thomas are scientifically conclusive, how can anyone reject them?  Some people reject them out of ignorance (viz. they simply don’t understand them or their philosophical training is inadequate or faulty.  A final motive for rejecting them is the decisive role of freedom.  Through his free will a person directs his whole self, intellect included.
As Professor Jaki has shown, the rise of modern science depended on an intellectual climate of trust in a Creator who bestows order on the created world. Yet many scientists have refused to accept God.  Therefore, accepting God’s existence is clearly not simply an intellectual problem. Rather, moral virtues of humility and good-will are needed.
Other classical arguments demonstrating God’s existence: the psychological argument, the argument based on supernatural facts.





[1] R. Sokolowski, “The God of Faith and Reason” UNDP (1982).
[2] Ibid 5-6.
[3] THE VATICAN COUNCIL 1869-1870, Ecumenical XX (on Faith and the Church), SESSION III (April 24, 1870):
Dogmatic Constitution concerning the Catholic Faith *

Chap.2. Revelation 

1785 “The fact of positive supernatural revelation] .The same Holy Mother Church holds and teaches thatGod, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certitude by the natural light of human reason from created things; "for the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" [ Rom 1:20]; nevertheless, it has pleased His wisdom and goodness to reveal Himself and the eternal decrees of His will to the human race in another and supernatural way, as the Apostle says: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, in these days hath spoken to us by His Son" [ Heb.1:1 f; can. 1.
 
[4] Etienne Gilson, “From Aristotle To Darwin and Back Again,” UNDP (1984) 3.
[5] Ibid 7.
[6] Ibid 10.
[7] Ibid 11.
[8] Ibid 15.
[9] J. Maritain, “Existence and The Existent,” Image (1956) 28-29.
[10] J. Ratzinger, Marcello Pera, “Without Roots,” Basic Books (2006) 73-74.

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