... on Theology and Evolution, Logic and Geocentrism · Prima Via, with a Franciscan
It's Time to Stop Believing in "God" (Mostly Clickbait)
Breaking In The Habit | 11.V.2018
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- A little tip.
Since Heliocentrism, Third way is way more (!) used than first way.
Speak of God as first MOVER - the guy who turns the universe around Earth each day and so much else with it down to Coriolis effect by being allpowerful, or omnipotent, and without whom not one day and night is turning (reason why He could easily stop Sun and Moon for Joshua) ... rather than "necessary being".
WHEN speaking of the God of the Bible, we DO need to defend that He exists and is powerful enough for what the Bible describes.
- Grace and Rust
- Regarding the First Way, the definition of "motion" used by Aquinas and those following his thought tradition does not mean simple "translation through space," but involves change in general, and is especially concerned with causal chains where "secondary causes" cannot exercise causal power on their own--all their causal power is "derived" from the first cause. The proof is actually more detailed than the part of the Summa people read in philosophy of religion anthologies.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- the definition of "motion" used by Aquinas and those following his thought tradition does not mean simple "translation through space,"
There are several species of motus and translation through space is the most noble one, since not changing what is moved.
It is also the most obvious one, and I am not sure the text is nowcorrect on New Advent site:
"It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion."
I recall "utpote sol" - "as for instance the sun" : if not here, at least in the parallel version, in Contra Gentes.
Riccioli also refers to St Thomas' argument as this, but since he denies there is a general overall motion of heaven, thinks individual bodies just move through empty space, and like St Thomas holds the individual bodies are moved by angels, he dismisses this argument for God.
"is especially concerned with causal chains where "secondary causes" cannot exercise causal power on their own--all their causal power is "derived" from the first cause."
Exactly : Coriolis, Gulf stream, daily motion of Sun and Moon are all derived from God's general daily movement of the Heavens.
- Grace and Rust
- Thanks for your feedback, but I think you're misreading when you cite Aquinas' appeal to the senses as an argument that he had translation through space in mind specifically rather than just as one of the different kinds of motus. My problem is that numerous forms of change are evident to the senses besides translation through space (including ageing and death, the reddening of an unripe apple, and others). Consequently, that passage alone doesn't do enough to rule out this general point. I expect that Riccioli--whose name has never appeared in what I've read about Aquinas--has other arguments to support his interpretation--you mention the use of the sun as an example, so he probably appealed to it as well. I'll try to find what you recommend, and I'll let you know if I'm unable to find it.
I'm also skeptical about the objection he gives. A general, overall motion throughout the cosmos doesn't seem necessary to the First Way, and even the Third Way seems like it can survive without it. My impression, although I'm following the likes of Edward Feser and Garrigou-Lagrange, is that we only need for change to require an external explanation. Even a conglomerate of things moving through space without any harmony between them could suffice, at least if we make the right provisions (such as rejecting inertia, or granting an "impetus" theory of motion).
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- "evident to the senses besides translation through space (including ageing and death, the reddening of an unripe apple, and others)"
He said manifest, not just evident.
You cannot watch an apple as it gets red, but you can most definitely watch the sun either rise or set.
You can watch death, but not pregnancy as a whole in one session, and birth is a translation in space.
"I expect that Riccioli -- whose name has never appeared in what I've read about Aquinas -- has other arguments to support his interpretation -- you mention the use of the sun as an example, so he probably appealed to it as well."
Check the full Latin of the Proof in Summa Contra Gentes.
You are right he has, like unity of God in Q XI A 3 referring back so as to make it clear the ONE motus of the universe in circle around earth was one thing he thought of.
Riccioli is asking the questions on celestial mechanics and solving them by appeals to authority in Almagestum Novum.
For instance, God Himself is by acts of will moving each star - very few authorities Riccioli knew, the one he thought worth mentioning being Albertus Magnus (back then not yet canonised), but each star having an angel to move it (not the other way round!) he cited a very long list, including St Thomas, Coimbra Jesuits ("Conimbricenses"), Nicolas of Cusa and a few more.
On the question of how heaven is moved, Riccioli goes against St Thomas, saying "by angels" since he thinks heaven consists only of heavenly bodies (under the Heaven we hope to go to which has pearly gates, of course) each of which is moved ...
In Josephus Antiquitates, Abraham realises there is one God by watching sun, moon and stars with Riccioli's (or similar) mechanics : all these different spirits moving bodies without collision, they need to obey a single direction.
St Paul also mentions "from heaven" before stating "from the visible things the invisible things of God are made manifest, and in De Fide Orthodoxa, as far as I recall, St John of Damascus gives a similar proof of God.
As to errors, which negatively attest to the truth they contradict, Giordano Bruno was polytheistics and pantheistic on claiming each what we now would call "solar system" has its own prime mover, its own God (in his interpretation specifically "world soul", that in our being his blasphemy against the Holy Spirit). And Deism, Atheism both start out after Newton repromotes Heliocentrism.
"A general, overall motion throughout the cosmos doesn't seem necessary to the First Way"
If so, the first way can get into things like atomism and polytheism.
"and even the Third Way seems like it can survive without it."
It's not directly relevant to third way, but without it, atomism is an option for God of third way.
"we only need for change to require an external explanation."
Atomism provides one external to the outer and apparent changes.
"Even a conglomerate of things moving through space without any harmony between them could suffice, at least if we make the right provisions (such as rejecting inertia, or granting an "impetus" theory of motion)."
By rejecting inertia or granting an impetus theory of motion, full Newton style, I presume, you get into difficulties with First Way requiring at each moment a simultaneous cause for each change.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- Sorry for delay, but writing the reply involved copy pasting onto combox, which I can in this cyber but could not on Saturday in Nanterre University Library.
Here is their URL, if you want to contact them:
And here is visual proof of an earlier failed try :
- Grace and Rust
- Don't worry about taking a long time to respond, I usually don't back back to people for a few days.
I think you'll need to be more specific than to direct me to the Latin proof in the Summa Contra Gentes; my current source for English and Latin texts from St. Thomas is the DHS Priory of the Immaculate Conception, and they didn't mention Riccioli either. I also tried the library you directed me to, but they don't seem to have works by him or mentioning him that talk about Thomas' philosophy. I guess I'll have to find his Almagestum novum. I'll make some time to read it once I do.
Until then, you do a few other claims that don't seem to hinge on what Riccioli said, and I think delving into them would be the most profitable course.
1. The appeal to the term "manifest" to rule out other forms of motus seems suspect to me. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the term manifestus and related mean "plainly apprehensible, clear, apparent, evident;" of offenses, "proved by direct evidence;" of offenders, "caught in the act." I think we still agree that St. Thomas meant "manifest to the senses." But that change of any form is apparent or evident, doesn't require our ability to observe the whole process of change from beginning, through the middle, to the end. The fact that something was originally X, and is now Y can be proved by direct evidence without watching the whole process. Our senses attest to these even when we do not see the entire act of change.
2. Suppose we accept that motus can refer to change of any kind, rather than exclusively to translation through space. It's unclear why allowing for the cosmos to be a conglomerate of changing parts, rather than having a general motion, makes atomism and polytheism into imminent threats. The definition Aquinas gave for motus as reduction of potency to act can only have those implications if we grant that more than one thing can be pure actuality, since the point of the proof is that there is something purely actual. But this is impossible; St. Thomas addresses this point (Summa Contra Gentes, I.42), and we can derive it from his metaphysics independently.
- Hans Georg Lundahl
- Why should DHS Priory texts mention Riccioli any more than Tolkien or CSL, two latter day more or less Thomist Christians?
I didn't go to Riccioli to study St Thomas, but to see his view on angelic movers ... which was that of St Thomas and cited him as one authority. I glanced at the other question, on daily motion of all heaven, and saw he disagreed with his view and therefore proof.
Liber 1 caput 13:
#2 Primo autem ponemus rationes quibus Aristoteles procedit ad probandum Deum esse. Qui hoc probare intendit ex parte motus duabus viis.
#3 Quarum prima talis est: omne quod movetur ab alio movetur. Patet autem sensu aliquid moveri, utputa solem ...
aside : hence perhaps my intrusion into Summa theologica. Note also the difference between proving from senses and what is explicitly and immediately manifest to them (patet).
Ergo alio movente movetur. Aut ergo illud movens movetur, aut non. Si non movetur, ergo habemus propositum quod necesse est ponere aliquid movens immobile. Et hoc dicimus Deum.
And if - for instance the Sun - is not moved directly by God (a position which was that of St Albert his teacher, not his own), it is moved by sth other, which is either moved by sth other and other and other in infinity, meaning I presume larger and larger spheres around earth, or by a finite number of spheres (in St Thomas' view presumably one per celestial major body, in mine a single one, the firmamentum of aether) moved by God. But the alternative is ruled out by the impossibility of infinita simul moveri.
What does that mean?
In a Newtonian and Kantian infinite universe, infinite numbers of planets around infinite numbers of stars would be moving simultaneously in any finite time, like they would be moving significant parts of their years in the finite time of an Earth year. Or, more to the point, they would be turning significant parts of their days in the finite time of an Earth day.
But Aristotle says, as given by St Thomas:
#12 ... Si in motoribus et motis proceditur in infinitum, oportet omnia huiusmodi infinita corpora esse, quia omne quod movetur est divisibile et corpus ... omne autem corpus quod movet motum, simul dum movet movetur. Ergo omnia ista infinita simul moventur dum unum eorum movetur.
If we go back to number 3, Thomas has in mind (and I think I have seen a fuller text, stating this more explicitly) a scenario where Sun while moving for instance the spheres down to atmosphere and passage winds and oceanic currents is moved in its sphere by a sphere outside that by another sphere outside that.
I think there is a passage to restore in which the ultimate reason why this is impossible is, it would involve corpora moved at infinite speed. Infinity times two times pi / day = infinity.
I recall copying this and starting an article on philologica in which I translate the full passage, as given earlier. And that draft is gone. Not first time sth on my blogs seems to have been hacked and gone.
"The fact that something was originally X, and is now Y can be proved by" ... watching state Y and not watching but recalling state X.
In other words, a red apple or yellow grass which was green is not manifest to the eye as moving from anything else to yellow. It is only evident by comparing memory with present state. You can see a cheek go from normal to red when someone blushes, but you cannot see, only conclude from sight with memory (sth else, as St Thomas knew) that an apple which is red had gone from green.
As I can detect, but not catch redhanded, a change in the text by comparing the present version of it to my memory of it.
I'll have to leave this library to copy paste elsewhere, Nanterre University Library is still playing funny with the abilities to copy paste onto youtube comments. They claim it is Firefox, but Firefox has worked fine before.
Continued outside the library, which seems only to have firefox [which has only firefox, which seems to block as said], now in a cyber with google chrome:
"Our senses attest to these even when we do not see the entire act of change."
Already dealt with : pregnancy, growth, maturing and withering of plants and so on are all not "manifest to senses" as much as evident between manifest sensation and memory of previous such.
"Suppose we accept that motus can refer to change of any kind, rather than exclusively to translation through space. It's unclear why allowing for the cosmos to be a conglomerate of changing parts, rather than having a general motion, makes atomism and polytheism into imminent threats."
Even from studying the Giordano Bruno case? That was for polytheism. For atomism, we can imagine having energy as first mover and that would leave diverse manifest movements in diverse parts of universe as diverse conglomerates of energy quanta.
Have a look at Q XI A 3, two points, reversing order because second will go back to an earlier one:
"Thirdly, this is shown from the unity of the world. For all things that exist are seen to be ordered to each other since some serve others. But things that are diverse do not harmonize in the same order, unless they are ordered thereto by one. For many are reduced into one order by one better than by many: because one is the per se cause of one, and many are only the accidental cause of one, inasmuch as they are in some way one. Since therefore what is first is most perfect, and is so per se and not accidentally, it must be that the first which reduces all into one order should be only one. And this one is God."
In this definition of world, where everything is ordered in relation to all other, solar systems are worlds, galaxies perhaps in the case of spiral ones if even that and the universe as seen by modern science not at all.
Hence Bruno expressed his belief in many solar systems as a belief in many worlds. And drew the conclusion of many gods.
"Secondly, this is proved from the infinity of His perfection. For it was shown above (I:4:2) that God comprehends in Himself the whole perfection of being. If then many gods existed, they would necessarily differ from each other. Something therefore would belong to one which did not belong to another. And if this were a privation, one of them would not be absolutely perfect; but if a perfection, one of them would be without it."
Actually, this would not suffice against atomism, if each quantum particle were thought of as a god, and if omnipresence was not a divine perfection .... but let's go back to Q IV A 2:
"Secondly, from what has been already proved, God is existence itself, of itself subsistent (I:3:4). Consequently, He must contain within Himself the whole perfection of being. For it is clear that if some hot thing has not the whole perfection of heat, this is because heat is not participated in its full perfection; but if this heat were self-subsisting, nothing of the virtue of heat would be wanting to it. Since therefore God is subsisting being itself, nothing of the perfection of being can be wanting to Him."
A quantum theory atomist could claim that some extension, some mass and some forces is all there is to the perfection of being and that all other perfections above quantum level are illusory, but here he points to QIII A4 ...
"First, whatever a thing has besides its essence must be caused either by the constituent principles of that essence (like a property that necessarily accompanies the species—as the faculty of laughing is proper to a man—and is caused by the constituent principles of the species), or by some exterior agent—as heat is caused in water by fire. Therefore, if the existence of a thing differs from its essence, this existence must be caused either by some exterior agent or by its essential principles. Now it is impossible for a thing's existence to be caused by its essential constituent principles, for nothing can be the sufficient cause of its own existence, if its existence is caused. Therefore that thing, whose existence differs from its essence, must have its existence caused by another. But this cannot be true of God; because we call God the first efficient cause. Therefore it is impossible that in God His existence should differ from His essence."
Very fine if first mover is one as moving one universe (old sense) and therefore identic to a single necessary being (as opposed to quanta) ...
"Secondly, existence is that which makes every form or nature actual; for goodness and humanity are spoken of as actual, only because they are spoken of as existing. Therefore existence must be compared to essence, if the latter is a distinct reality, as actuality to potentiality. Therefore, since in God there is no potentiality, as shown above (Article 1), it follows that in Him essence does not differ from existence. Therefore His essence is His existence."
Quanta would have very little potentiality, very little variation ... as to no potentility, well:
"First, because no body is in motion unless it be put in motion, as is evident from induction. Now it has been already proved (I:2:3), that God is the First Mover, and is Himself unmoved. Therefore it is clear that God is not a body."
What induction is that?
"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."
The one example other than translation in space is heat - sth which moves life and a lot of other qualities from movement of the Sun.
So, accept the Sun is only one among many, not moved per se but in relation to earth by movement of earth, and then a lot of things are moved adequately in each moment - on your theory, not mine - by inertial forces and gravitation.
Riccioli, I cite him in this post on angelic movers:
And link back to his book, online:
I think you will find motion of heaven as a whole by going backwards a few pages. I think it is the next page (without looking), that you find opinion four with lots of authorities including St Thomas.
- To be
- perhaps continued?