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Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able ? Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing ? Then he is malevolent.

Is he both willing and able ? Then whence cometh evil ?

Is he neither able nor willing ? Then why call him God ?

Epicurus.

Any thoughts ?

Tags: Epicurus

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Don't get me wrong Allan,  I too appreciated Aquinas keeping Aristotelian philosophy sort of alive, though somewhat twisted by his misguided conceptualism.

You must be stupified with amazement at what Aquinas achieved despite being—in your view—a psychotic idiot full of misconceptions.

Somewhat, allan!

Yes, it would have been a difficult task to reconcile Christian delusion with Aristotelian and to do this Aquinas had the right tools, quite an intellectual genius with a demonstrated deep devotion to his hallucination base.

Though it was something he was likely struggling with internally.  Since he had a great love of Aristotle, but believed so strongly in his vision(s) (some he likely never disclosed), that he had to reconcile these internally to convince himself.   Once a person convinces himself of the perceptual reality of their own reconciliation, they are usually more convincing when conveying those reconciliations to others, or in their writings.

His work likely came from a lot of internal conflict and questioning, along with testing these on others for response.

People with such long, internal turmoil, often produce startling concepts and revelations.

He was the man to do it at the time.

Though, had he not produced the reconciliation, somebody else would eventually have to, since  Aristotelian knowledge was still preserved and running parallel to Christianity in nearby cultures.

I believe that even if Darwin had not existed, we would still be discussing the opposition to 'Evolution' in religious circles, because the relationships exist for anybody who takes a good look to discover.

Philosophies and sciences in human cultures sort of run parallel at differing rates.

There's too many natural laws and relationships, just waiting to be discovered and be understood/resolved/categorized by observant humans, regardless of race, religion or culture.

Like I stated: Had Aquinas put his incredible intellect to work on Aristotelian concepts in a more scientific framework, rather than a delusional framework.  Science may be further advanced today than it is.

So, we can be amazed at his achievement in gaining acceptance of Aristotelian philosophy and natural science in Catholicism, but have some regret at what some of us see as an incredible waste of time and effort on the part of scientific advancement.

Though, in his time, they may have executed him if he pursued science instead of theology.

Without his providing apologist arguments for Christendom, Catholicism may have died and we wouldn't be putting up with it in this age.

So this is another reason I think the world would have been better off if he had pursued science instead of rationalizing delusion.

 

 

You haven't yet offered any convincing evidence that Aquinas did have hallucinations.

If you bothered to read some of the accounts of his Angels vision, they state that the cord was tied around his waist that he was awoken and then while awake the angels gave him their message.

That's a hallucination, not a dream.

Also his accounts of his vision of heaven later in life bears a definite resemblance to a hallucination, rather than a dream.

Dreams often don't have a strong influence on human endeavours like hallucinations can, because people usually realize that they are only dreams.

Thus they are unlikely to hold them strongly in memory and endearment like Aquinas held the memory the angels hallucination for most of his life.  This is highly unlikely for a dream.

Oliver Sacks (neurologist) makes this point in "Hallucinations".

The influence it had on Aquinas's psych, commitment to chastity and his deeply held, somewhat secretive memory of it confirms it as being a hallucination.

Simple deduction, Sacks would likely make the same conclusion from his study into dreams, hallucinations and the neurological aspects of these.

By all means give us references—the names of the authors, the titles of the works, that conclusively prove Aquinas had hallucinations.

As I pointed out the lives of the saints are full of stories of all kinds that cannot be given credence. I gave you one example from a modern biography, that of Chesterton, in which it is claimed that Aquinas levitated before a group of friars.

Dr. Allan H. Clark

I very much appreciate your clarification of Plato (428-347 BCE), Aristotle (384-322 BCE), and Aquinas (1225–1274 CE). It puts the men and their ideas into perspective.

I am concerned, however, when you stated, "writing off Aquinas as insane does not furnish an accurate view of how modern ideas developed."

I don't think he was insane, nor are others who have visions or dreams or whatever it is that they have when they get their messages from god. I know that Sapolsky doesn't think these events are necessarily insanity. Some are, of course, i.e. David Koresh of Waco, TX and Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. These and others clearly had gone over the edge and took a lot of people with them.

For those who have dreams, delusion, aberrations, fantasies, illusions, or just imaginations, there are some brain activities that we now know cause such events. If a person is charismatic, believes the thoughts are from god and persuades others he is speaking for god, some people will follow. 

When I listen to some sermons or religious programming on the internet, they are clearly delusional. Sadly, several of my dear family believe outrageous things they hear on TV. They are so convinced the man or woman is telling facts, there is no reasoning with them. It scares me when I listen to my family and distresses me when I see their fear and futile hope in answered prayers.

So I would like to separate out those religious who are insane and those who are deluded. I don't know how to draw the line and define them clearly. I just know ideas come from the ancients, such as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, or Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Jimmy Swaggart, Chuck Baldwin, and various other groups as identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

 

 

It is interesting that Aquinas himself allowed both natural and supernatural explanations of hallucinations. He recognized that certain herbs could induce hallucination, but he also allowed, as most would have in his time, for supernatural causes.

Hagiography is notorious for relating miracles, visions, visitations, and ecstasies of saints in order to enhance their credibility with the faithful. It is ironic that what in the past constituted evidence of holiness is now precisely what provides evidence of mental illness or fakery. In the case of someone who lived seven centuries ago, we have no way of discriminating between truth and fabulations.

In any case I don't believe many of us today believe the content of visions, etc. represent truth. What we have to work with is the content of what Aquinas wrote—a long, precise, subtle, well-organized, but rather tiresome analysis of things no longer of interest.

From all documents pertaining to Thomas Aquinas's life, Catholic or otherwise.

It was part of his deathbed confession, that these two angels visiting him with a cord and message, enlightened him and they foretold him of his great purity, thus his now sudden sense of grandeur started his career.  

Such visions have been known to make believers of these visions behave strangely, change their entire lives and there are numerous examples in history of people devoting their entire life to superstition and silly beliefs, because of one vision in their life.

I have a client who is considered as a public nuisance because he has devoted his whole life to worshiping the Garabandal visions because of a hallucination he had of the sacred heart of Jesus.  He's of average intelligence, just that his entire life had been misdirected by a single hallucination, similar to Aquinas.

Had Aquinas not had such a vision and message, he may not have thought so highly of himself and put his high intellect to something much more useful than Christian apologetics. .

Here's Thomas Aquinas's tale: 

From: http://www.sspx.ca/EucharisticCrusade/2002February/St_Thomas_Aquina...

"

When Thomas’ two brothers came home from the army, they decided to teach their brother a lesson.  They sent an evil woman into the tower to tempt him towards sin!  But Thomas grabbed a piece of burning wood from the fireplace, and drove the wicked woman from the tower.   He then traced a cross upon the wall with the burning wood and kneeling down, begged God to grant him the gift of Purity until his death. 

Suddenly, Thomas went into ecstasy!  Two Angels appeared and tied a cord tightly around his waist saying, “We have come from God to give you this cord of Chastity and God has heard your prayer God has granted you the gift of Purity until your death!”  This cord, which was worn by St. Thomas until his death, is now kept as a relic, in the Monastery of Chieri in Piedmont, Italy."

Evidently a life changing hallucination, because he clung to it strongly the rest of his life.

Thus it is quite likely the entire basis of his deeds and works.

From all documents pertaining to Thomas Aquinas's life, Catholic or otherwise.

Not all. Here's one from Hampden's biography that gives a different version:

In this version it's a dream, not a hallucination. That's a bit of a difference. In any case these kinds of stories about saints are manifold and hardly constitute a solid basis for your conclusions. It's told of Saint Denis that after his head was cut off he walked into Paris carrying it in his arms and preaching the whole while. (In fact there are a number of cephalophoric saints.)

These kinds of stories about saints—visions, miracles, visitations, etc.—were told to enhance the belief of the faithful and are notoriously suspect. In fact it is so suspect that a word was coined for it: hagiography. We can't to take them seriously.

From all documents pertaining to Thomas Aquinas's life, Catholic or otherwise.

Again, not quite all. Here is a quote from G. K. Chesterton's biography of Aquinas:

After the affair of the firebrand, and the woman who tempted him in the tower, it is said that he had a dream; in which two angels girded him with a cord of fire, a thing of terrible pain and yet giving terrible strength; and he awoke with a great cry in the darkness.

There seem to be multiple versions of this story of his dream as is common in hagiography and Chesterton remarks in another place:

Needless to say, his followers and admirers were as eager to collect these strictly miraculous stories as he was to conceal them; and one or two seem to be preserved with a fairly solid setting of evidence. But there are certainly fewer of them known to the world, than in the case of many saints equally sincere and even equally modest.

Chesterton does give some credence to another story that when other faculty of the Sorbonne questioned Thomas about the mystical change in the elements of the Eucharist, he proceeded to write a careful statement after which, with the other friars watching, the figure of Christ

came down from the cross before their mortal eye; and stood upon the scroll, saying "Thomas, thou hast written well concerning the Sacrament of My Body." It was after this vision that the incident is said to have happened of his being borne up miraculously in mid-air.

Hagiographies are full of wonderful things, but it is a mistake to take them seriously. So together with the Hampden biography that makes two sources that indicate the angels came in a dream, not a hallucination.

slick talking theists try to get around this riddle but it makes sense to me. That's why I`m an atheist.

 

I recommend that everyone read  Epicurean writer Lucretius` "On the Nature of Things." Written it 50 B.C.E., its an attempt to make scientific sense of the universe by naturalistic analysis without the supernatural. Lucretius was a Roman and wrote in Latin but any interested reader can easily find an English translation.

God doesn't exist.  Period.  Nor does Superman or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  That is the answer to Epicurus.  We can't figure out God's plan because there isn't any. 

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