Friday, December 8, 2017

Answering "Lemon Lee" on Aquinas

"I always asked it expecting there to be an answer."

Lee Lemon or Atheist Lee on how she was asking questions about God and the Bible back when she was a Christian (other video).

I still do.

But, what is more, I had exactly the same attitude when asking questions about Big Bang or Evolution or Mind from Matter or Origin of Language in an Evolutionary perspective.

I don't do that any more. The reason I don't do that is that, back when I started believing in the Bible, I was getting to brickwalls when it came to these things often labelled "science".

Now, we'll see Lemon Lee doing some similar things when she is answering the five ways of St Thomas.

Video here commented on
Atheist Lee, "What about the proofs of Aquinas?"
Lee Lemon | added 11th Dec. 2012

0:36 These five are proofs of God.

While each ends with a (partial) definition of God corresponding to what he has just proved, Aquinas definitely does set up to prove God here.

Citing St Thomas
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.

Summa Theologica, Part I, Q 2, A3

1:02 Unknown to Aquinas, things can interact?

When Aquinas proves the unmoved mover, he is beginning with lots of panoramas of the interaction.

OK, a pen falls to the ground alone. But how many other things can a pen do alone?

How many directions are involved in falling to the ground? As I count, one.

A flame of fire can move in exactly one opposite direction, up.

If things as simple as being made of heavy or light matter were just moving themselves in those directions, and this from all eternity (while St Thomas doesn't actually use the Kalam of "beginning", he is of course aware that only without a beginning could a universe function in any way without God, so he concentrates in how even then the universe needs a God to function), well, there would be no movements left, since all which could soar up would have soared up and all which could fall down would have fallen down.

1:43 Things can "just happen"? Without a cause?

If I drop a pen, it is usually accidentally. My fingers let go because I am tired and the pen, left to itself, drops to the ground.

But how come the pen was above the ground? I had caused it to be higher by holding it.

How come I did not consistently so hold it? I was tired.

How come I was tired? Something had kept me from getting to sleep early enough or waking up late enough. A lot of that happens when you are homeless. But I would not say it "just" happens.

If I lie inside the first porch of a house, but outside the inner one, there is a lock preventing me from getting higher in the stair case. If I lie there, at a certain early hour, someone is going to take out the garbage bins for communal emptying. Now, this s not bothering a lot of other persons, but this is because they are further in, further from the noise. That was the night to yesterday. And the security agent this morning had been sent on purpose to wake me up. It was 6:16 when I got out.

1:45 half lives are not self caused, they are caused - or so they suppose - by instability in the nucleides set up.

And this is because stability in the setup needs to follow certain rules. Like Carbon 12 or Nitrogen 14, stable isotopes, at least until exposed to radioactivity, have 6 protons and 6 neutrons in Carbon 12, 7 protons and 7 neutrons in Nitrogen 14. Now Carbon 14 has 6 protons and 8 neutrons.

Hence, there is an instability and a half life.

And while Carbon 14 having 6 protons and 8 neutrons, this causing the half life, there is some cause why 6 protons and 6 neutrons or 7 protons and 7 neutrons is a "better idea." Stability wise.

1:58 The explosion of a grain silo is definitely caused.

It is caused by heat and growth of germing seeds.

2:05 And next question is, what causes certain conditions to promote ignition?

2:21 - 2:27

A bit wrong.

If EVERYTHING had the possibility of not existing, sooner or later over eternity, the non-existence of everything would coincide. But once that happens (and it would have happened an eternal number of times except for the following), whatever had existed before that could never more be brought back to existence, since only sth existing can cause the existence of a thing which can non-exist.

Therefore SOMETHING needs to be necessarily (and therefore eternally) existing. Creation is not even as yet considered. Even God being personal is only considered in some way in proof 4 and 5 - and in following questions.

St Thomas concludes this proof with "and this everyone calls God" but of course in the time of Epicure, one Epicure was identifying "atoms" (not identic to things like C12, N14 or C14, obviusly) as this.

2:32 "creator" is not even in the proof.

St Thomas had his reasons for not bringing in Epicure's atomism, like being unused to it and its being less intellectually satisfying than hylomorphism and Euclidean matter.

A non-identity of Euclidean matter with the eternally necessary is fairly obvious : it can be divided and it can be composed and is therefore a contingently existing thing.

2:50 "the idea that something has to be created" - is not involved in third way.

The idea that many observable things don't exist before coming into existence and many observable things cease to exist when destroyed (like a tree not existing before planted and not existing any longer when burned down) is very much involved. But it is also an everyday observation.

3:10 While Aquinas may not have had YOUR idea of what exists in empty space, he certainly did not consider it empty.

Also, the "nothing" he was talking of in case of an eternity of non-necessary only extants is a conclusion from that premiss, not an observation.

He most definitely did not think that there was a place or time when and where one would literally find nothing. So, that is not involved in his argument.

3:18 facepalm

  • "people at the time" is not involved in St Thomas' argument and their limitations don't refute it - you need to refute it on its terms, not on its presumed indebtedness to a limitation he had because of living when he did;
  • "contingent being creating" is so misunderstanding what the word contingent means - and the processes imagined for planets coming into being are contingent ones, not eternally necessary ones
  • "creating" is not at all involved in the argument : from the fact St Thomas is a Theist and a Creationist, you are reading into his argument that he must have had creation in mind, when he is in fact not stating it there.

3:27 "we now know" - no, we don't, and most times you hear that phrase, it is false. The proposed process had never in fact been observed, in this case.

"how a planet can come into existence without the help from any intelligent being"

Was "intelligent" a mis-subtitling for "contingent" or was "intelligent" what you said?

Intelligence of the necessary being is not a consideration entering as yet into third way as such.

And contingency of what brings planets into being is not really denied by the sources you are using.

3:54 "even perfection is an idea which we don't see in reality"

Sure we do, you and I are more perfect than the substitling automaton, since we understand language, which is a perfection.

4:05 St Thomas was stating from observed difference in degree of perfection that there is a being which is MOST perfect. I don't see how you have put that in doubt just by not getting what it means.

4:12 Perfection is subjective?

Well, I don't know of any subject to whom not understanding language is more perfect or as perfect as understanding it. Except of course, some subjects, if you can call them that, not understanding language and not understanding the difference.

The fact that subjects exist is an argument for St Thomas degree of perfections, not against it.

5:00 Recall some sense data.

Earth is still. Sun is moving about it each day, creating day and night.

You CAN prove that stars outside planets must be VERY far away, and even so, their angular speed is above that of the sun, they circle Earth in 23 hours 55 minutes. Considering the distance, that is at an enormous speed. (I have calculated that their local speed is, if one light day away, superior to the speed of light). Even at that enormous speed, they don't collide and don't burst or explode.

You are dealing with as perfect a machinery as you can get (this admiration was one of the reasons why, as a byproduct, regarding nature as a machine became popular). It is working day and night, year after year (and Sun changing the angle slightly along Zodiac plane is involved in seasons), producing the ideal conditions for biological life on Earth. It all happened by chance?

Hmmm ... next time you watch the Bolshoi ballet, how about considering the coordination of all the dancers also happened by chance?

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