Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hierarchy of truths, God and creatures

Right now I'm reading Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles, and Criteria for a fundamental theology class. (read it here: ) That will involve writing a paper, so I will probably write more thoughts on it. There was a citation in the section on faith's relationship with reason, and I was glad to see that it adapts very much of what St. Thomas teaches on philosophy. What especially stood out is the way our mind stands to reality, not as something that imposes order on it, but rather as something that is open to reality and approaches it by different methods. I'll think more about that later...

Later on the document talked about an order among truths, citing St. Thomas. In haste, I will just cite II-II, q. 1, a. 7. Go read Thomas. The point that stood out is that all the articles of faith are contained in two: "God exists" and "God is provident". These two truths sum up or contain everything about God's interior life and exterior life. They contain the mystery of the most holy Trinity and the mystery of the Incarnation. What is interesting is that both of these truths fall under those that can be attained by human reason. So at some point I will want to work out the details of how they can be at once truths knowable by unaided reason and yet contain all the other articles of faith virtually, in such a way that God a man who held just those to propositions by faith (rather than reason?) might even be justified on account of that faith. Is it faith that makes the holding of those proposition salutary? Is that because faith is necessarily open to further instruction from another, whereas reason may see itself at a conclusion? Not sure, more thinking will follow.

Also related to this, is the mystery of creation and everything that isn't God. It is interesting that St. Thomas names two propositions rather than one. Earlier in the Summa, it is shown that God is provident, and it seems (I'm pretty sure it is) the case that God's providence is the same with his essence. Yet, why would he single this attribute out? It seems that it is because it has to do with what is not necessary. It is necessary that God exist. It is not necessary that he create, and consequently be provident over such a creation. This reminds me of an argument I had a year ago about whether God's providence is really knowable by human reason. I held that it was...and I still think it is, but I also have a hunch that it's account makes it different from other predicates that pertain to God. The fact that reason must start with creatures in ascending to knowledge of God, means that natural knowledge of God will some how involve his relation to creatures.

Just to draw out what I mean by the mystery of creation (this is all out of order, but apparently so is my mind): God is free in creating the world. He doesn't have to. And yet God does do it. And God's being and activity are not other than each other in re, at least with respect to his interior life (I wish I could state more definitively about all his activity, but this is where my understanding breaks down). If God is the same with his activity, does that mean he is the same with his act of creation? But if his essence is to create the finite world, then isn't it necessary that he do so? If it is necessary, is it contrary to his freedom? If it is not necessary, then is that act really the same with his essence?

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