Thursday, December 27, 2012

An Apology - Part Three

Stop and ponder this metaphysical certitude. It is no hypothetical possibility! It is absolute fact that if there were only possibles or contingent, conditioned realities, then there would be no existing beings at all! Which is absurd, as St. Thomas says, because obviously we exist! This is the given, that even the evolutionists must admit, though they cheat when they do so, because their theory denies this first principle of existence.

However, the reason why the universe of merely possibles is absurd is because, and this also is a given, a metaphysical fact - nothing, that is, no thing comes into being except by some being already in act, in existence. The argument is thus two-pronged:

My (your) existence -- God as Primary Agent (Act) and Cause

My (you) Parents as secondary causes, Agents in act.

Going from St. Thomas to Father Spitzer is like descending into a quagmire with only the hypothetical possibilities of ever emerging into the light of day and the terra firma of earth and the certitudes of reason and of faith.

Thus what Father Spitzer claims to prove as the existence of "at least One Unconditioned Reality", St. Thomas proves the absolute necessity of One, and only One Absolute Necessary Being, and this Being we call God.

Now is perhaps a good point at which to bring out another fault in Father Spitzer's universe of discourse. It concerns the natural order and the supernatural order of Divine Grace. I will save this for the next paper.

An Apology - Part Two

This is not to say that some good may come of these modernist developments; and Father Spitzer must be given credit for squeezing the most out of modernist philosophies to disprove their own positions leading to atheism.  Thus, and in this way, the methodology of disjunction can be useful.  There is only one serious flaw and it is serious:  it is the basis of all disjunctive proofs upon the ground of probability only.  This is because Father Spitzer has further reduced logic to inductive science which must always admit of the possibility of an exception to the rule.  Thus Father Spitzer begins with the dichotomy of:

Conditioned Reality vs. Unconditioned Reality

These two categories encompass all of reality in the domain of empirical-physical science.  Thus an individual cat, or a particle such as the electron or a field such as the electro-magnetic lines of force surrounding the earth, or a wave of light and so on, all of these individuals are dependent upon or conditioned by some other conditional reality for their existence.  Thus the cat is conditioned by and dependent upon the cells of its body, and the cells, in turn, are dependent upon or conditioned by the atoms which in turn depend upon the protons, neutrons, electrons, quarks and so on to the ultimate nano-particle.  This is Father Spitzer's modernist version of the 3rd way of St. Thomas. (See ST, I, q.2, a3)  What makes it specifically modernist is the note of the hypothetical.  In fact, Father Spitzer's major premises or two dichotomies are both hypotheses (see p.113).  This is a radical departure from Traditional Catholic philosophical principles whose first principles of all knowledge assure absolute certitude for the truths both of reason and of faith if the truths of reason are firmly and emphatically based upon Thomistic realism rather than modernist idea-ism or ideology. 

Here is St. Thomas on the 3rd way of demonstrating God's Existence.  Compare and contrast it with that of Father Spitzer:

"We find in nature things that are possible (this is Father Spitzer's "conditioned") to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt and consequently they are possible to exist or not to exist..."  Implicit here, as also in Father Spitzer, are the principles of act and potency.  Think of human reproduction or procreation.  Before a child is formed or generated in the maternal womb - by the union of man and woman, the child, such as you or me, did not exist.  And as soon as we began to exist, we contained the possibility, indeed, because of Adam's fall, the inevitability of eventual death.  This is the order of generation to which St. Thomas refers.  And here is an important point, which the argument, of Father Spitzer omits:  even the parents of the new being of the child, were also non-existent, until their parents came together.  And so on, all the way back to Adam and Eve - just as the geneaologies of scripture reveal! 

But - and here is the core of the demonstration -  if everything, that is, if, in Father Spitzer's terms, all of reality were dominated by the principle of potency or were conditioned, then it would be impossible for anything to exist - including you and me! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Apology

The truly Catholic traditional cosmology is such a marvelously harmonious hierarchical system of natural and supernatural truths that I feel an apology is in order for using Father Spitzer's book as an occasion for pointing out the places where his modernist cosmology touches and denies this traditional catholic cosmology.  I can only hope that in this process of analysis, the grand picture may eventually emerge for the reader of these papers. 

It must be said also, that I am not a scientist as Father Spitzer is.  Father Spitzer has advanced degrees in the physical sciences, whereas my A.B.D. is in literary theory.  I just happen, by God's Providence, to have had the immense privilege of studying under three men who were devoted students, not only of their specialties, but also of St. Thomas Aquinas.  Especially in literary theory, we followed the principles laid down by Aristotle in his Poetics, Rhetoric and the entire Organnor of logical principles.  These are the same principles that permeate the theological Summa of St. Thomas.  Apropo of these latter in particular, it is worth noting here that Father Spitzer confuses and/or conflates the arts of logic with the science of metaphysics.  This is a common mistake among academics these days.  And its influence is very harmful, mainly because it deprives its practitioners of the full benefits of both disciplines. 

Father Spitzer makes great use of the disjunctive syllogism in Chapter Three (Part Two) of his book, New Proofs for the Existence of God,  (Eerdmans, 2010).  The basic distinction between logic and metaphysics is this:  logic deals with the language of propositions, whereas, metaphysics focuses on the affirmative judgments of the intellect with respect to being as such in reality.  Father Spitzer never rises from the language of propositions to the scientific knowledge of being as such.  And yet he entitles Chapter Three, "A Metaphysical Argument for God's Existence".  Again, in Chapter Six, (Part Two), there is the section heading, "I.A. Complete Disjunction Within Metaphysical Assertions."  Since such assertions are not proper to logic or to syllogisms,  these assertions bear a closer examination.  Chapter Three is entitled, "A Metaphysical Argument for God's Existence", but the chapter deals entirely with the disjunctive language of dichotomies and never rises to metaphysical first principles.  This reduction of metaphysics to logic goes back to Bertrand Russell and ultimately to Immanuel Kant.   ------ To be continued....

Monday, December 17, 2012

Truth: A Brief Exposition

St. Catherine of Siena, in her classic: Dialogue, describes Our Lord, the Word Incarnate, as the Bridge that unites Heaven and Earth. Therefore, it must truly be said that Our Lord is not only the Truth in Person, but that He is also the Answer to Pilate’s question: “What is Truth?”

Jesus Christ, Our Lord, is both the Who and the What: Who when He said: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” and the What when He became Man and bridged the gap between man’s mind (Earth) and all of Reality; the Universe of Heaven and Earth (Gen. 1)

St. Thomas defines Truth as the conformity or adequations of our minds with reality. Great complexity enters only when we try to grasp all of Reality at once. But we cannot grasp Reality all at once, but only in little pieces, beginning with the lowest, most material, most physical – like dirt. And so we begin with the existence and then the identity of the most basic things like food and water, and flowers and birds. Until arriving at the age of reason, we can begin to understand the Truths of Faith, of Hope and Charity. Hope of heaven lost by sin and of charity, love for God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves, in His Church. Perhaps without realizing it, all truths presuppose Creation.
Nothing at all could exist if God had not created all things, "In the Beginning" just as Genesis One describes.  And of necessity, not only ex nihilo but in toto.  That is, God created fully formed and readily functional beings.  Their forms substantially complete (as Lateran IV declares) were so from the beginning. so that processes, such as nourishment and reproduction (the Order of Generation) necessarily follows after and proceeds from the substantial form of every corporeal creature.  Therefore, all truths of nature and of grace, presuppose the order of creation and the proper understanding of God as Creator and of all substantial forms with all their proper accidents - in the Beginning.   

When St. Paul tells the Athenians (Acts 17) that in this one God of Christianity we live and move and have our being, St. Thomas explains that he is referring directly to the Creator - Cause of all existence Who by absolute necessity must hold all things in existence by His all-encompassing Power and Goodness.  Otherwise, if He did not, all things would instantly dissolve back into the nothingness from which they came by the Word and Command of God alone.  And so, in this way, Our Divine Lord is both the Who and the What of all Truth.  And only when the mind of man embraces Him as Creator, does he begin to grasp the real truth of things as they conform to the mind of Christ.  For St. Paul also tells us: "Let this mind be in you...the mind of Christ."  But Father Spitzer's explanation cannot lead to Christ nor can it presuppose Him, as Truth does.  Father Spitzer, on pages 142-143 of his New Proofs proclaims a "broader" interpretation of the scriptural-traditional concept of a one-time creation ex nihilo.  He displaces the traditional truth with the false concept of "continuous creation".    This contradicts Holy Scripture wherein God says repeatedly (in Genesis 2: 1-3) that He finished, ended, and so rested from all the work He had done, on the seventh day.  If Father Spitzer's interpretation were correct, then the Sabbath rest would lose all meaning. 

St. Thomas, as usual, has the correct interpretation, the only one that honors both faith and reason.  This principle of Divine Providence is called divine concurrcus, indicating God's all-present power - maintaining all things in existence.  St. Thomas is the Church's real existentialist.  G.K. Chesterton called him "Thomas of the Creator", because of his emphasis in all his works upon the Order of Creation.  For all things and all truths of the natural and the supernatural order, presuppose creation ex nihilo and in toto, leading directly to the Word of God, Christ our Lord, the Truth in Person, both Who and What - or Who as Sum of all Truth.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Harm Done by Newtonian Physics: Part Three

This is the first and most manifest way of St. Thomas for proving God's Existence (St, I, of 2, a 3) and creation ex nihilo.  Father Spitzer does not help his atheistically-tending students by muddling the clarity of real physical laws with such fictional abstractions as Newton's agent-less processes and films run backwards.  To suggest that the actions represented in film run backwards could ever be actually possible in the real world, is insanely absurd.  It is the domain of the merely mental, divorced from reality.  And is this not the definition of insanity? 

As for time, it is as Aristotle defined it:  the measure of motion.  Now, to measure requires an intelligent agent.  And God Himself gave us the moving objects by which to measure, and their motion as the temporality to measure.  The movements of the sun, moon and stars determine for us the temporal segments of day, night, month and year.  God Himself determined the week by creating all things in a series of a-temporal Acts on six literal - 24 hour days.  He reiterated this pattern of the week and confirmed it for all time when He gave the Ten Commandments as recorded in the Book of Exodus. 

History and its biological rhythms of all corporeal creatures reflect in the natural order what God revealed by supernatural means in Holy Scripture.  Thus teach all the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.  Such is the irreversible and immutable Tradition of the Church embodied in the Deposit of Faith from the beginning, in creeds and in the abundant Hexaemeral literatures. 

Everything presupposes Creation. 

The Harm Done by Newtonian Physics: Part Two

Other examples abound - the cooling of a hot cup of coffee; we do not grow younger; ashes do not turn into logs.  There are "irreversible processes" and go forward in time.  This is as far as Father Spitzer goes here in defining time.  But his crowning example is that of the billiard balls.  This is supposed to explain the cause of time's irreversible flow forward.  However, if one takes a film of the process in which a neat triangular arrangement of the billiard balls racked up and then hit by the cue ball, scattering the balls aimlessly in many directions, what happens?  Then run the film backwards, according to Father Spitzer and his Newtonian physics,...either way one runs the film, one would see a process that is possible according to the laws of physics.  The film run "backwards" isn't showing something that is physically impossible; rather, it is showing something that is simply incredibly improbable. (p.25)

The rest is rhetorical subterfuge hiding the fact that what the film run backwards is showing is not just "incredibly improbable" and therefore physically possible, but actually and physically impossible. 

Father Spitzer here avoids what should be a major point in physics from the metaphysical principles of act and potency governing all cases of motion or process.  This is the absolute necessity for an agent in act to initiate any motion, either immanent or transitive, biological or local.  Thus, no billiard ball acts on its own to strike the rack.  Rather, a human agent is absolutely required to strike the ball that strikes the rack.  In this case, the passive beings are inanimate, non-living billiard balls and their passive dispositions are multiple but governed, also, by certain laws of friction and impact.  This is another issue involving the immediate environment of the pool table.   But all such circumstances are strictly defined by the physical laws built into the materials of the balls.  There is no such thing as chance or randomness, as such.  Every single detail of particle physics down to the smallest nano-second of a particle's existence, up to the mega-motions of the stars - all are governed and were initially created by the one Supremely Infinite and Intelligent, wise Triune God of Genesis One, who alone is all Actuality and the Primary Agent and Efficient Cause of all things. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Harm Done by Newtonian Physics: One Example

In his book,  New Proofs for the Existence of God (Eerdmans, 2010), Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer translates the absolute, non-relative Second Law of Thermodynamics into a probabalistic or relative "law", reducing it to the domain of inductive probability.  But in reality, this Law of Entropy is a reflective application in the physical world of an absolute metaphysical principle involving act and potency.  Such a disastrous departure from truth in the sciences was brought about largely by Isaac Newton and his so-called "laws of motion."  On pages 24 and following of his book on New Proofs, Father Spitzer is explaining the Second Law of Thermodynamics and its relation to time.

Now any explanation of processes necessarily involves a consideration of motion, and motion or movement cannot be properly understood without reference to the agents doing and the passive beings receiving the motion and thus being changed.  Father Spitzer begins with the example of the soda pop in a bottle.  When the bottle is opened, the gas is released until the pressure inside the bottle and that of the air outside are the same.  What is left out of this example is the absolute necessity for an agent to hold and then release the gas in the bottle by opening it. 

One cannot and may not, in truth, describe this process without the presence of an agent holding and opening the bottle of soda pop.  But Newton never acknowledges the necessity for an agent!  Thus, his "laws" are not laws at all but purely fictional abstractions playing around real objects.


Certitude: An Attempt to Clarify...Part Four

To introduce Probabalism into the proofs for God's existence is to strike a blow against both faith and reason in the name of Modernism's Agnosticism and this will undoubtedly be condemned at some future date by the Church.  Meanwhile, Traditionalist Catholics must cling to the certitudes of both reason and faith.  For it is a mortal sin against Faith to doubt of any truth of faith.  And it is at least a sin againt Truth as such, to doubt one's own existence and then to doubt God's existence.  For Our Lord said emphatically, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life," and to Pilate:  For this was I born, for this came I into the world, to give Testimony of the Truth.  It was Pilate and modern man who questioned God Himself with his contemptuous agnosticism when he said:  And What is Truth?

It's all a matter of priorities, which is to say of hierarchy:  The intellect is higher than and is superior to the will because the will is a blind faculty.  It must follow what the intellect shows it.  The intellect was made for Truth which is its proper object; whereas the will was made for the Good, its proper object. 

Plato, and all those in his tradition, emphasize the will and the subjective aspects of reality, whereas St. Thomas, following Aristotle, emphasized the intellect and its superiority.  History and reality prove him to be correct.  But Father Spitzer tries to "blend" faith and reason without respect to their proper order. 

Certitude: An Attempt to Clarify...Part Three

Modernist Agnosticism is a far cry from the absolute certitudes taught by the Church as in the philosophical theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (d.1274).  According to the teaching of the Church from the beginning, the truths of faith are absolutely certain; and the scholastics developed the theology of the natural order from both Plato and Aristotle, according to which the first principles of reason are also absolutely certain.  In brief, these first principles are:

1.  The intellect's affirmative judgment that things exist outside the mind
2.  The principle of identity based on its essence, i.e., what it is as opposed to that it is
3.  A thing cannot be (exist) or not be, at the same time in the same manner.  This principle of contradiction (or non-contradiction) depends upon the two former principles of existence and essence. 
4. The principle of sufficient reason leads directly to the four causes:  efficient and final; material and formal.

The principles according to substance and accidents proceed directly from all three of the former principles.  The absolute certitude of these principles is affirmed by the Oath Against Modernism and the Twenty-Four Theses of Scholastic Philosophy, all of which were issued by and mandated under Pope St. Pius X (d.1914).  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Certitude: An Attempt to Clarify...Part Two

This is the first and "most manifest" way of St. Thomas' five ways for proving (or rather demonstrating) God's existence.  Although it is termed the way from motion, it proves that motion absolutely requires an Agent Who is in Act, so that regressing back in time with finite agents in act initiating movements, one must eventually arrive at a source of motion, or Aristotle's "Prime Mover" - who is all Act with no needs or potencies.  This being who is all actuality is the one and only source of all existence because to be as such is to be in actuality, that is, to exist. 

Now this is absolutely certain.  There is no room here for doubt or for the probable or the possible.  Either God exists or He does not.  Either I exist or I am a probability only.  And so is God, then.  This is the modernist's philosophy of Agnosticism.  Everything, including the truths of faith are only probable, or even, as Father Spitzer would insist, most highly probable, so as to require "at least one singularity"  we call the existence of our universe as a result of a Big Bang explosion and the creative processes of the one most highly probable unconditional Reality we call God. 

This kind of philosophical thinking, following also on the methodical doubt of Rene Descartes, is grounded in the Modernist's Agnosticism as described in the Encyclical Pascendi of Pope St. Pius X (1907).    

Certitude: An Attempt to Clarify...

Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer begins his book on New Proofs for the Existence of God (Eerdmans, 2010), with a quotation from Sir Arthur Eddington's classic work, The Nature of the Physical World (1928).  Eddington emphasizes that there is something implanted in our nature that yearns towards God, a "light" that "beckons ahead" and to which "the purpose surging in our nature responds."

Most people will immediately recognize this as an echo of St. Augustine's famous cry:  "Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee."  And St. Augustine, in turn, produced the Christianized version of the Platonic and pagan restlessness, with emphasis upon the realm of the will and morality, leading more or less directly to the mystical, or what Sir Arthur Eddington refers to as "the mystical pursuits of the spirit" or "the intellectual pursuits of science"  (Spitzer, p.1).

And so, in the context of the total reality of man and creation, Plato, St. Augustine and Father Spitzer take as their starting point, a yearning of the human spirit for union with God as the Source of all Good. 

Without exaggeration, one might truthfully say that the starting point of Saint Thomas Aquinas is more scriptural and more in conformity with reality.  How so?  Because the real starting point in everyone's experience is not an idea abstracted from reality, but rather, an affirmative judgment, a non-conceptual recognition that things exist outside the mind.  The emphasis here is on the existence as such, of things other than my self. 

R. Descartes (d.1650) was probably the first to shift the emphasis so explicitly from objective existence to the subjective idea and philosophers have never yet recovered from his cogito, ergo sum, making the starting point and basis of all moderns, the thinking, feeling self rather than the sheer existence of all things, which existence leads most surely and directly to the one necessary Source of Existence which is God.  If God does not exist, then I cannot exist.  But I do exist, therefore God must exist, because He alone is existence.