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Theologian in Training

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[quote name='Mr.CatholicCat' post='1660938' date='Sep 22 2008, 05:00 AM']The Summa Theologica ( [url="http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm"]http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm[/url] ) written by Saint Thomas Aquinas ( [url="http://saints.sqpn.com/saintt03.htm"]http://saints.sqpn.com/saintt03.htm[/url] ) states existence of God is not self-evident but rather we know of God through reason. This has a lot of implications, [b]some being that it does indeed take a “leap of faith” to believe in God and to know God. It also challenges human faith, for if God is not self-evident then we must receive our ability to understand Him from Him, pointing to supernatural revelation[/b].
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[b]To be shown that God is not self-evident, that it does require a leap of faith, that it does require supernatural revelation, that we learn of the existence of God by the Divine gift of reason, and likewise that we should not look to human faith but rather a Divine Faith.[/b] This means believing what we believe for the Church does so teach it, for it was founded by God Himself for this purpose.[/quote]

Again see my other post about what 'self-evident' means. I don't think Aquinas was trying to say that we need to make a "leap of faith". I think by his proofs he means to show that even the hardest of Atheists can be brought over reason, by argument.

Anyways I think this may come from a misunderstanding of Aquinas's term 'self-evident'.

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[quote name='rkwright' post='1664110' date='Sep 26 2008, 11:10 AM']I was surprised to see you using that portion of the Summa as a pseudo argument for Atheism. I think you may have misunderstood what Aquinas was saying when he uses the term 'self-evident'.

In simple terms, Aquinas is rejecting St. Anslem's ontological argument. Objection 2 is actually Aquinas's version of Anslem's argument. The ontological argument is a 'self-evident' argument that; that is by the term God we know God has existence. Aquinas doesn't like this. For him proving God is not so easy that when we hear the word we know God exists.

I have a copy of Peter Kreeft's 'Summa of the Summa' which explains good portions of the Summa. This is what he says in relation to this article:

If the existence of God is self evident, it is superfluous to try to demonstrate (prove) it. No one proves 2+2=4 or 'something exists'. In Article 1, St Thomas shows that God's existence is not so obvious that it needs no proof; and in Article 2 he shows that it is not so obscure that it cannot be proved. Thus he refutes both extremes of "dogmatism" and "skepticism" about the existence of God.

Last Kreeft says that Aquinas does not believe the proposition that "God exists" is the same as "Bachelors are male" or "Wholes are greater than parts" (self-evident propositions).

I think for Aquinas, proof of God is not a math problem (self-evident), but an argument from the natural world around him. He uses motion and causation, not 'word games' as some have called Anslem's arguments.[/quote]I personally think you are making some rather massive assumptions in what I mean, as I pointed out first the quotation was offered in reflection of and not expounding from. Your response here makes me assume that you do not understand atheism, you did not read/understand the full three articles on this matter, or you present the existence of God in a way that is completely alien to me.

Edited by Mr.CatholicCat
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[quote name='rkwright' post='1664112' date='Sep 26 2008, 11:16 AM']Again see my other post about what 'self-evident' means. I don't think Aquinas was trying to say that we need to make a "leap of faith". I think by his proofs he means to show that even the hardest of Atheists can be brought over reason, by argument.

Anyways I think this may come from a misunderstanding of Aquinas's term 'self-evident'.[/quote]
If you believe reason alone will persuade someone then you are doing many people a disfavor. There must be a “leap of faith” at some point from reason. Reason alone is not enough and will never be enough to believe in God. But the leap of faith should be based on reason and evidence of some kind; it is not a completely blind leap, but a leap nonetheless.

If this cannot be admitted in my opinion you are going to go little or no where with atheists. At the least you wouldn't of with me. Because as an atheist ([i]past tense[/i]) I understood many of the “arguments” for the existence of God but they did nothing. Knowledge is useful and good, reason is great, but try to keep from sounding Gnostic in speaking of either.

Edited by Mr.CatholicCat
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[quote name='Mr.CatholicCat' post='1664132' date='Sep 26 2008, 10:56 AM']I personally think you are making some rather massive assumptions in what I mean, as I pointed out first the quotation was offered in reflection of and not expounding from. Your response here makes me assume that you do not understand atheism, you did not read/understand the full three articles on this matter, or you present the existence of God in a way that is completely alien to me.[/quote]


[quote name='Mr.CatholicCat' post='1664140' date='Sep 26 2008, 11:00 AM']If you believe reason alone will persuade someone then you are doing many people a disfavor. There must be a “leap of faith” at some point from reason. Reason alone is not enough and will never be enough to believe in God. But the leap of faith should be based on reason and evidence of some kind; it is not a completely blind leap, but a leap nonetheless.

If this cannot be admitted in my opinion you are going to go little or no where with atheists. At the least you wouldn't of with me. Because as an atheist ([i]past tense[/i]) I understood many of the “arguments” for the existence of God but they did nothing. Knowledge is useful and good, reason is great, but try to keep from sounding Gnostic in speaking of either.[/quote]

What? Where did all this come from? I was not presenting any arguments about atheism. I was saying I think you may have misunderstood the term 'self-evident' as Aquinas meant it.

To be perfectly clear, I'm not saying anything about atheism. I am saying that Aquinas did not believe in 'self-evident' arguments (ie Anselm) were convincing.

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[quote name='Mr.CatholicCat' post='1664207' date='Sep 26 2008, 12:12 PM']I doubt it... You assume...[/quote]

You have terribly misunderstood me.


Hopefully my posts have helped others understand what Aquinas meant with the term 'self-evident'.

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[quote]The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. if I claim God exists, and someone says, "He does? Show me." and then I say "Show me he doesn't!", then I have just shifted the burden of proof--which is generally frowned upon in the debate world.[/quote]

I was merely pointing out that he seems to hold the same idea that most atheists hold, which is just that, the burden of proof is upon the theist not the atheist to explain why he/she is one. In fact, the following is from Sam Harris' book "Letter to a Christian Nation:"

[i]Consider: every devout Muslim has the same reasons for being Muslim that you have for being a Christian. And yet you do not find their reasons compelling...Why don't you lose sleep over whether to convert to Islam?...But you need not prove any of these things to reject the beliefs of Muslims...The burden is upon them to prove that their beliefs...are valid...The truth is, you know exactly what it is like to be an atheist with respect to the beliefs of Muslims[/i]

It was also the common argument from Anthony Flew a "revert" to Christianity after being one of the most notorious atheists, though Dawkins probably would not agree seeing as he is more of the "strong atheism" type.

Also, I was merely reiterating what he had said and identified what he was saying as more in line with "weak atheism" than strong. [url="http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism"]http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism[/url]

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[quote name='Semalsia' post='1664042' date='Sep 26 2008, 05:43 AM']Again, this kind of depends how you want to define atheism and agnosticism. They can also overlap when in their broadest meanings. And yes, I would identify with weak atheism (and not with strong atheism).



I think it would be foolish not to be open to new ideas, but I'm not actively searching for God. More like passively waiting. If that makes sense.



We can't see air directly, but there are other ways to sense it. We can feel wind on our skin, hear it in the trees and see it in the waves. All such intangible things are sensible in some fashion. That's why we know of their existence! And I would argue that the same should apply to God also. If God acted in the world, we'd be able to sense it somehow.




Pursue how? Admitting the possibility of God is really a dead end. There's nowhere to go from there.



I'm glad it is.[/quote]

In terms of the intangible, if there is evidence of those things, how does God not fall into those?

When I spoke about pursuing, I meant exploring one of those moments and seeing where it might take you rather than dismissing them. I was more curious to know also what happened in the past when you had indeed pursued one of those moments. Was it truly nothing?

Also, most atheists seem to favor science as an explanation for the non-existence of God, does science have any part in your beliefs as well. Or, to put a different way, most atheists subscribe to Darwinism as an explanation for the world, and chance as its governing body, where do you fall in terms of those beliefs?

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[quote name='Theologian in Training' post='1664866' date='Sep 27 2008, 02:20 AM']It was also the common argument from Anthony Flew a "revert" to Christianity after being one of the most notorious atheists[/quote]

"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins." - Anthony Flew

[quote]In terms of the intangible, if there is evidence of those things, how does God not fall into those?[/quote]

Those things we can ascribe to science, god requires faith.

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[quote name='Semalsia' post='1664034' date='Sep 26 2008, 02:05 AM']I meant seeing in a figurative as well as literal sense. As in, there is no sign of God. I don't think it's unreasonable to say that while God may not be seen, he's actions on the world should be visible. It follows since every action causes change and all change is visible. To say otherwise would be to say that God doesn't affect the world and that would be deism.

I still like the cake analogy. Also, I like cake.[/quote]
In a figurative and literal sense, your analogy does not hold. Really, it's difficult to make true analogies because we are dealing with a completely non-material being. Deism or theism is not the argument. That's an argument for people who believe there is a god. Existence first, then nature.

All change is not visible, or even necessarily perceptible. And science has only progressed so far in detecting much which we cannot perceive with our physical senses.

[quote]True, but historical prevalence is a poor argument in favor of anything. For example, slavery and warfare have been nearly universal throughout history and yet that's no reason to oppose liberty and peace.[/quote]
[quote]QUOTE (Theologian in Training @ Sep 24 2008, 01:45 AM)
Also, based on my research and what I have read from them, most atheists hold the belief that one's default position should be the non-existence of God and it is the believers job to make that person believe. Do you subscribe to the same idea or do you think something different?


I'd agree with that. If I look into a fridge and see no cake in there, then my position should be that there is no cake. And obviously not that there is cake there. If someone is saying there's cake in the fridge, then that person should then show me the cake or I'm not going to believe it.[/quote]

Am I to understand you are withdrawing this argument and all that follows it? Or is what's good for the goose no longer good for the gander?

Your brush is too broad. Historical prevalence can be a very good argument to support or condemn something. Slavery caused immense human suffering and has led to war and poverty and collapse of empires (or played a role). Is that a poor argument against slavery? Warfare has liberated many people, when applied correctly. Is that a poor argument in favor of waging war against tyrants? History is an excellent place, usually with more arguments and study of the circumstances. I will point out that with atheism, the only good arguments are from utility, and there are plenty of good reasons for slavery and warfare, from that viewpoint.

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[quote name='Phazzan' post='1664989' date='Sep 27 2008, 01:29 PM']"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins." - Anthony Flew[/quote]

I apologize, I meant Alister McGrath. I think I have been getting the two confused, and thought it was Flew.

[quote]Those things we can ascribe to science, god requires faith.[/quote]

I know this next question is going to sound like I am trying to pick a fight, but I can assure you, that is not my intent, this is a genuine question: are you saying that atheists do not have faith?

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[quote name='Theologian in Training' post='1665074' date='Sep 27 2008, 12:09 PM']I apologize, I meant Alister McGrath. I think I have been getting the two confused, and thought it was Flew.



I know this next question is going to sound like I am trying to pick a fight, but I can assure you, that is not my intent, this is a genuine question: are you saying that atheists do not have faith?[/quote]

Not the kind of "faith" you're thinking of..

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One of my dear friends is an atheist. Everytime I see her, I see her as a soul greatly loved by God...even though she pays no attention to HIS attention...

She's really an incredible person, and sometimes I think that people who are just like her, who want nothing to do with Faith, are perhaps in their own stages of discovering the Truth of a God madly in love with them...

...and that's a good way to address the topic...to see atheists as lambs of God, who are lost but not forgotten by God who does everything He can to find them and bring them home...

Edited by dominicansoul
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[quote name='Theologian in Training' post='1664868' date='Sep 27 2008, 06:35 AM']In terms of the intangible, if there is evidence of those things, how does God not fall into those?[/quote]

The difference is that I have never experienced God in any way. You gave the example of love, but I have experienced love so I know it exists.

[quote name='Theologian in Training' post='1664868' date='Sep 27 2008, 06:35 AM']When I spoke about pursuing, I meant exploring one of those moments and seeing where it might take you rather than dismissing them. I was more curious to know also what happened in the past when you had indeed pursued one of those moments. Was it truly nothing?[/quote]

When I was much younger I did try praying once or twice just as a reaction to one of those moments. Since nothing happened I concluded no one was listening, gave it up and haven't tried again. I guess you'd first have to believe in God before praying would feel more significant than talking to your cactus does. The thing I don't understand is what makes people believe. That's partly why I hang around in a catholic forum.

Although there's always the possibility that God exists, in the practical sense I don't believe he does. Just like with the cake analogy if I see a empty fridge and someone asks is there any cake there, I'll say no. Even though in the philosophical sense I can't prove either way and would remain open about it.

[quote name='Theologian in Training' post='1664868' date='Sep 27 2008, 06:35 AM']Also, most atheists seem to favor science as an explanation for the non-existence of God, does science have any part in your beliefs as well. Or, to put a different way, most atheists subscribe to Darwinism as an explanation for the world, and chance as its governing body, where do you fall in terms of those beliefs?[/quote]

Since my objections to God's existence in this thread have been on empirical grounds, I guess you'd have to say science has some part with my disbelief. But when it comes to things like evolution and big bang, I don't find them all that relevant to whether there's God or not. If God exists, he would simply fit with all the scientific evidence. And if God created the universe and us in it, it would be kind of trivial to know how he did it.

And to clarify, I have no disagreements with the scientific consensus.

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[quote name='Winchester' post='1665027' date='Sep 27 2008, 04:42 PM']In a figurative and literal sense, your analogy does not hold. Really, it's difficult to make true analogies because we are dealing with a completely non-material being. Deism or theism is not the argument. That's an argument for people who believe there is a god. Existence first, then nature.[/quote]

You seem to have missed my point. The analogy wasn't between the nature of God and the nature of cake, but between my positions on their existence. Furthermore, the analogy was meant as an explanation of my thinking process which stays the same whether the question is about cake or God.

[quote name='Winchester' post='1665027' date='Sep 27 2008, 04:42 PM']Am I to understand you are withdrawing this argument and all that follows it? Or is what's good for the goose no longer good for the gander?[/quote]

Why? Are you saying those two passages you quoted are somehow contradictory?

[quote name='Winchester' post='1665027' date='Sep 27 2008, 04:42 PM']Your brush is too broad. Historical prevalence can be a very good argument to support or condemn something. Slavery caused immense human suffering and has led to war and poverty and collapse of empires (or played a role). Is that a poor argument against slavery? Warfare has liberated many people, when applied correctly. Is that a poor argument in favor of waging war against tyrants? History is an excellent place, usually with more arguments and study of the circumstances. I will point out that with atheism, the only good arguments are from utility, and there are plenty of good reasons for slavery and warfare, from that viewpoint.[/quote]

Historical prevalence can be used to show whether something has utility, but that has nothing to do with whether we should actually do it or not. Murder has utility, but it is immoral. Neither does it show us what is true and what isn't. Belief in astrology is prevalent and yet it is false.

Your claim that atheists have no morality is such a ridiculous and clearly false statement.

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