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God and Aristotle

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  • God and Aristotle

    I'm sort of a new-ish philosophy student, and I wanted to know what relation, if any, can we make of God in Christianity with that of Aristotle's God as the final cause of the world?

    I realize that there's probably good literature out there on this (maybe lots?), but I'm just looking for the general gist on it for the time being, along with some recommendations for future reading. I'm also aware that Aquinas had a lot to say about Aristotle's philosophy, but I've been busy with other readings, so I haven't gotten to anything by him yet. Unfortunately.

  • #2
    That's a very good question. If you accept final causality (not everyone does) and if you accept the importance (and limitations) of human reason in theology, the Aristotelian tradition can be very helpful. Aquinas is very good but so are other philosophical systems as well as nonsystematic approaches.
    βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
    ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

    אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

    Comment


    • #3
      The relationship I see between Aristotle and Aquinas is Aristotelian logic, and simply an argument for the existence of God, not which God they were arguing for. I do not consider their argument very convincing in today's world despite the efforts of Craig and others repeated efforts to resurrect them.
      Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
      Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
      But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

      go with the flow the river knows . . .

      Frank

      I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
        . . . an argument for the existence of God, . . .
        An existence which does not need a God, but a God who must be shown to exist. The former negates the need for a God.
        . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

        . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

        Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by 37818 View Post
          An existence which does not need a God, but a God who must be shown to exist. The former negates the need for a God.
          Someone who classifies himself as a Christian in effect says that the universe does not need anything like the God of the Bible.
          The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

          [T]he truth I’m after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by 37818 View Post
            An existence which does not need a God, but a God who must be shown to exist. The former negates the need for a God.
            No, A God or God(s) does not need to be demonstrated to exist based on the physical evidence for God(s) to exist. Actually it is very very unlikely that there will ever be actual physical evidence that may be falsified to demonstrate to exist.

            Logical arguments are for the most part circular with at least one priori assumption that God exists. This has always been a weakness of Aristotelian arguments since Thomas Aquinas.
            Last edited by shunyadragon; 12-04-2014, 06:42 PM.
            Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
            Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
            But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

            go with the flow the river knows . . .

            Frank

            I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Theistic-Student View Post
              I'm sort of a new-ish philosophy student, and I wanted to know what relation, if any, can we make of God in Christianity with that of Aristotle's God as the final cause of the world?

              I realize that there's probably good literature out there on this (maybe lots?), but I'm just looking for the general gist on it for the time being, along with some recommendations for future reading. I'm also aware that Aquinas had a lot to say about Aristotle's philosophy, but I've been busy with other readings, so I haven't gotten to anything by him yet. Unfortunately.
              Definitely you should read Ed Feser Scholastic Metaphysics, which I hear is a good education in why Aristotelian metaphysics can solve some of the conundrums lingering in modern philosophy, as well as defending it against modern attacks. If you want something lighter read his The Last Superstition and Aquinas, both are easily read and focus mainly the arguments for God's existence.

              Beyond that if you're interested, you could pick up Garrigou Lagrange, who is one of the greatest neo-scholastic commentators.

              I recommend reading those before reading St. Aquinas by yourself, and if you do that start with Summa Contra Gentiles because it focuses mainly on the philosophy approach to God.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                No, A God or God(s) does not need to be demonstrated to exist based on the physical evidence for God(s) to exist. Actually it is very very unlikely that there will ever be actual physical evidence that may be falsified to demonstrate to exist.

                Logical arguments are for the most part circular with at least one priori assumption that God exists. This has always been a weakness of Aristotelian arguments since Thomas Aquinas.
                The physical/empirical is not the sole existence. Without the physical/empirical there is an existence since there cannot be nothingness.
                . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

                . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

                Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
                  Someone who classifies himself as a Christian in effect says that the universe does not need anything like the God of the Bible.
                  Not really. If you know the identity of God.
                  . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

                  . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

                  Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 37818 View Post
                    The physical/empirical is not the sole existence.
                    This is a Theist assumption.

                    Without the physical/empirical there is an existence since there cannot be nothingness.
                    Not sure what you are trying to say here. It does not make sense.
                    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                    go with the flow the river knows . . .

                    Frank

                    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                      No, A God or God(s) does not need to be demonstrated to exist based on the physical evidence for God(s) to exist. Actually it is very very unlikely that there will ever be actual physical evidence that may be falsified to demonstrate to exist.

                      Logical arguments are for the most part circular with at least one priori assumption that God exists. This has always been a weakness of Aristotelian arguments since Thomas Aquinas.
                      Where in his 'Five Ways' does Aquinas make use of such an a priori assumption?
                      ...>>> Witty remark or snarky quote of another poster goes here <<<...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MaxVel View Post
                        Where in his 'Five Ways' does Aquinas make use of such an a priori assumption?
                        Example: In the fifth way the presumption is an Intelligent Designer is presumed necessary for and unintelligent physical existence to move.
                        Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                        Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                        But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                        go with the flow the river knows . . .

                        Frank

                        I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                          Example: In the fifth way the presumption is an Intelligent Designer is presumed necessary for and unintelligent physical existence to move.
                          Don't confuse Aristotelian final causality with an argument for intelligent design or efficient causality and movement. Intentionality or end-directed purposefulness (not mere movement), yes, but there is no implication of a designer necessarily involved in creation in Aristotle or Thomas' philosophical appropriation of Aristotelian language.
                          βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                          ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                          אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by robrecht View Post
                            Don't confuse Aristotelian final causality with an argument for intelligent design or efficient causality and movement. Intentionality or end-directed purposefulness (not mere movement), yes, but there is no implication of a designer necessarily involved in creation in Aristotle or Thomas' philosophical appropriation of Aristotelian language.
                            Aquinas's arguments are as a matter of fact based Aristotelian logic. The argument for intelligent design as necessary for Intentionality or end-directed purposefulness (not mere movement) is clear and specific in his argument fro the existence of God as Self-Evident as referred to before and here again. It is abundantly clear that the statement 'Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence,' requires an Intelligent Designer.

                            Source: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm#article3


                            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.

                            © Copyright Original Source

                            Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                            Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                            But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                            go with the flow the river knows . . .

                            Frank

                            I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                              Aquinas's arguments are as a matter of fact based Aristotelian logic. The argument for intelligent design as necessary for Intentionality or end-directed purposefulness (not mere movement) is clear and specific in his argument fro the existence of God as Self-Evident as referred to before and here again. It is abundantly clear that the statement 'Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence,' requires an Intelligent Designer.

                              Source: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm#article3


                              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.

                              © Copyright Original Source

                              Not really. Final causality does not necessarily entail creation by intelligent design. Modern apologists may use it in this way, but this is not Aristotle's understanding of final causality.
                              βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                              ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                              אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                              Comment

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