Notes through Aquinas: Part I Question 2

Article 1: Very nice answer to a misuse of Anselm's "that than which nothing greater can be conceived." Category mistake: God is not therefore that greatest thing which can be conceived, and even were God's conceivability to be necessary, God's existence is not therefore also necessary. Hypothetical maxima have no necessary existence. (The true value of Anselm's declaration is bound up in his own arguments, and taking it out of context rather misses the point.) This is by no means to claim the nonexistence of God, but rather that even if God's existence is self-evident, it is not necessarily self-evident to us. The difference is epistemological availability. STA talks about it in terms of knowing God's essence, which we've already said we don't have access to. So we rely on effects. Sacred doctrine is a posterior science reliant upon revelation and the transmission thereof. God can be denied, at which point we have nothing useful to say to one another. Non-self-evidence is simply an extension of the non-necessity of belief in this deity with whom sacred doctrine deals as object.

Bonus points for roots of "graced nature" in Rahner's theology: there is a basic knowledge of God, which is the eschatological blessedness of creation, but which is not therefore specific revelation of God's reality.

Article 2: alright, God's existence is not self-evident. Can it be demonstrated? Aristotelian logic: Abc, Aab, Aac. Objection two suggests that without knowing the essence of God, we cannot demonstrate that God is a _____, and therefore exists. Nor can it be demonstrated, as a) it is a non-demonstrated premise and b) by connection to faith it cannot be seen (obj. 1); further, c) it cannot be demonstrated from its effects because they do not share its nature (obj. 3). Ah, but the trick here is that we're not concerned with knowing about God a se in this question. The sole concern is whether God's mere existence can be demonstrated. STA says this is naturally epistemologically available, and not an articulum fidei. Further, we know well certain things that God has done, certain effects of God. Between this and posterior analytics, it is perfectly legitimate to say that God is that which causes God's known effects, and therefore exists. Essence is a question to be considered after we know this basic fact.

Article 3: oh, goodie: ( God \/ Evil ), plus shaving with Occam. And the five banes of everyone else's existence: first mover, first efficient cause, only necessary being, causative maximal substance (being with all possible perfections), and director of all non-sentient things toward their ends. As though these are philosophically undeniable, or at least commonly rationally understood. Even Occam will agree that God, as a single cause, is preferable to Nature and Will as separate causes. And power to bring ultimate good out of even evil things ... is this an argument?

It's hard for me to deal with this article because it has been made so banal. I need to get back to a place where I can understand why it works.

I can't help but think that this whole thing is still predicated upon acceptance of the existence of God even to have the argument. This is an internal-to-the-faith discussion, so its purpose seems entirely apologetic, but to whom? Who is the real opponent?


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