A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Today is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. Do something logical in his honor.

Brandon has a very nice post regarding Aquinas and government:
With regard to the good ordering of the government of some city or nation, two things must be attended to. One is that everyone should have some part in the government, for through this is conserved the peace of the people, and everyone loves and takes care of such an ordering...
-- Summa Theologiae 2-1.105.1
And in the same spirit:
"If to provide itself with a king belongs to the right of a given multitude, it is not unjust that the king be deposed or have his power reduced by that same multitude if, becoming a tyrant, he abuses his royal power."
-- On Kingship, I:6

We also have his thoughts that a multiplicity of species across time and space is a positive good: creation participating in the infinity of God. There is a two-part post on why evolution is a fitting way for God to create species, here and here. And in line with this, we have Thomas' thought on where new species would come from:
Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning.
-- Summa theologica, I.73.1 reply3


  1. For the feast, I finished reading Feser's "Aquinas" I got by Interlibrary Loan & ordered a copy on Amazon. It seemed like the logical thing to do at the time.

  2. That's interesting Xena, as I too am reading "Aquinas"- but not by Feser, rather by Copleston.

    Have you read it? If so Id like to hear your thoughts on it. I would also concur; reading a book on Aquinas on his feast day is eminently logical, but also quite amusing. if only of the chuckle variety. Pax tecum

  3. And I am reading Chesterton's biography of Aquinas today...

  4. "And in line with this, we have Thomas' thought on where new species would come from" ...

    Let us contextualise a bit (*grin*) before concluding this is his thought of where new species would come from ...

    Objection 3. Further, nothing is said to be complete to which many things are added, unless they are merely superfluous, for a thing is called perfect to which nothing is wanting that it ought to possess. But many things were made after the seventh day, as the production of many individual beings, and even of certain new species that are frequently appearing, especially in the case of animals generated from putrefaction. Also, God creates daily new souls. Again, the work of the Incarnation was a new work, of which it is said (Jeremiah 31:22): "The Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth." Miracles also are new works, of which it is said (Ecclesiasticus 36:6): "Renew thy signs, and work new miracles." Moreover, all things will be made new when the Saints are glorified, according to Apocalypse 21:5: "And He that sat on the throne said: Behold I make all things new." Therefore the completion of the Divine works ought not to be attributed to the seventh day.

    which is answered:

    Reply to Objection 3. Nothing entirely new was afterwards made by God, but all things subsequently made had in a sense been made before in the work of the six days. Some things, indeed, had a previous experience materially, as the rib from the side of Adam out of which God formed Eve; whilst others existed not only in matter but also in their causes, as those individual creatures that are now generated existed in the first of their kind. Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning. Again, animals of new kinds arise occasionally from the connection of individuals belonging to different species, as the mule is the offspring of an ass and a mare; but even these existed previously in their causes, in the works of the six days. Some also existed beforehand by way of similitude, as the souls now created. And the work of the Incarnation itself was thus foreshadowed, for as we read (Philippians 2:7), The Son of God "was made in the likeness of men." And again, the glory that is spiritual was anticipated in the angels by way of similitude; and that of the body in the heaven, especially the empyrean. Hence it is written (Ecclesiastes 1:10), "Nothing under the sun is new, for it hath already gone before, in the ages that were before us."

  5. One little point is that this is surrounding the body of an article saying God created no new species after the sixth day.

    I answer that, The perfection of a thing is twofold, the first perfection and the second perfection. The 'first' perfection is that according to which a thing is substantially perfect, and this perfection is the form of the whole; which form results from the whole having its parts complete. But the 'second' perfection is the end, which is either an operation, as the end of the harpist is to play the harp; or something that is attained by an operation, as the end of the builder is the house that he makes by building. But the first perfection is the cause of the second, because the form is the principle of operation. Now the final perfection, which is the end of the whole universe, is the perfect beatitude of the Saints at the consummation of the world; and the first perfection is the completeness of the universe at its first founding, and this is what is ascribed to the seventh day.

    I am very well pleased to find that he would be content - or rather is - with me stating that Kenneth Miller believes in a God who created a music box which must work "without his intervention", while Catholics believe God created first a "violin" (should perhaps have chosen harp, though) and after that is playing it, continually. Not a second of history is passing without God causing it by playing the instrument He created. When He stops, it is because He is finishing history, because it is time for Doomsday.

  6. And another point is that he is not at all saying that new species appear, but that if such do it is ... well he mentions putrefaction.

    Two points on this one.

    For one thing he is talking about a kind of condition where insects might be joined by even smaller pictures. Hugh Ross, an old earth creationist, denies evolution happened in big creatures we can see, but affirms it can happen very well among bacteria.

    And for another thing he is talking about generatio equivoca - about abiogenesis.

    At this point I might owe you some links:

    I, Q 73, all articles

    New blog on the kid : Responding to Miller, Staying with Father Murphy's God, part 1

    (There are four parts, link to first one here, then on links within).

    Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on Abiogenesis and Evolutionist Ideology

    On, obviously, the new version of generatio equivoca.

  7. Thanks for linking to Brandon, will go there ...

  8. I actually meant the ones on Biologos Forum, by "Father Austriaco OP".

    His argument has been countered by me. God wants His creatures to be true causes, but not in a disordered way in which unconscious evolutionary causes get primacy over freewilled agents, such as Evolutionists suppose evolved.

    An angel may hold the sun or the moon or a planet or a planet satellite. A man may hold a pen or a sword. A gene can in one sense be said to hold a man, but only insofar as God's special purpose for him allows. Meaning it went into that man's making on God's direct purpose and not as a result of an evolutionary process involving death before Adam.

  9. Therefore, in my view, it was also fitting that God created via evolution rather than via special creation because in doing so he was able to create more species to reflect his glory: With evolution, he created four billion species over a three billion year period, which is significantly greater than the mere eight million extant species today. In fact, it would have been ecologically impossible for all four billion species to co-exist on our planet, because there are only a limited number of ecological niches on the planet at a given moment in time.

    He is, alas, taking estimates from Evolutionists as Gospel Truth, he is treating Academic consensus as the Consensus Sanctorum Patrum, he is treating unconformity to the Academic consensus as heresy.

    A sad fall for a priest. For an Austrian (that is what Austriaco means). For an Ordinis Predicatorum. A very sad fall.

  10. Brandon Emrys is another matter. I like his translation, I am giving it:

    Law properly, primarily, and principally is concerned with order to common good. But to order something to common good belongs either to the whole multitude or to someone acting as proxy [gerentis vicem] for the whole multitude. And thus making law either belongs to the whole multitude or to some public person who is to care [curam habet] for the whole multitude. For in everything else to order to the end is his to whom the end belongs.

    Note how total consensus throughout all the multitude about a legislative matter is the primary decision maker. A secondary one is "someone acting on behalf of the multitude".

    This does not mean he has to be elected. An election is precisely such a legislative matter. And in cases when kingship was more or less hereditary on an "elective basis", it was often by acclamation, i e by total consensus throughout all the multitude (of those present during the ceremony). What it does mean, in context, is that total consensus throughout all the multitude can be replaced by:

    * majority decisions;
    * élite decisions;
    * monarchic decisions.

    Majority decisions are more close to total consensus throughout all the multitude as far as number is concerned. Élite decisions are more close to total consensus throughout all the multitude whenever the élite is representative of what the multitude is about (say knights in Spain on the Moorish frontier or merchants in Flanders between a few Catholic powers living piecefully together, and priests both places, because Catholic), whereas monarchic decisions are closer to what total consensus throughout all the multitude should be by totality of consensus, a man very rarely disagreeing with himself.


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