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 ?


Any thoughts ?

Tags: Epicurus

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True Allan, Christianity is based almost entirely on anecdotal evidence and could not logically stand up as evidence in any court of law.
Nobody who met Jesus actually wrote about him.
All those books chosen by Constantine's mob were anecdotal.
The only book believed to have been written by an actual apostle (called 'Q') cannot be found, though they believe that the gospels of Mark and Matthew were loosely based on or plagiarized from 'Q'.

When I was studying the Old Testament I found much of it written from a third person perspective (Moses on the mountain) which added to my disbelief in it. It was supposedly to have come from Moses, but nobody of that era would write about themselves from a partially disinterested third person perspective.
This is one of the reasons I left school at night to visit the public library originally for science, but later to delve into religious history in the religion/philosophy section I discovered Voltaire, whose books the school library would not even consider stocking, his criticisms of religion mirrored some of my own doubts.

Of course it is quite easy to make assertions without evidence. Tell us what evidence you have that Aquinas had an angel hallucination? Explain why that evidence should be considered factual.

Dr. Clark:

This is only a question asked out of curiosity, and I mean no offense. What is your interest in defending Thomas Aquinas ? Are you a firm atheist, a struggling and wavering atheist, or a theist ? Again, no offense intended. Just curious.

I have beena firm atheist since I was twelve. My interest is historical accuracy and correct understanding of the history of ideas. In the case of Aquinas the story is actually quite an interesting one. Simply writing off Aquinas as insane does not furnish an accurate view of how modern ideas developed.

After the fall of the Roman empire, Greek ceased to be a language in common usage and as a result the works of Greek philosophers and scientists—in particular Plato and Aristotle—were not well known or studied in Christendom. Following increased contact with Islamic culture these works began to be translated into Latin and used in the universities developing in Europe. In the early part of the thirteenth century Aristotle was recovered in Latin translations and began to influence philosophy and theology. The church was naturally suspicious of the writings of Aristotle since they opened a pathway to knowledge not revealed by scripture and over which the church had little control. Attempts were made to ban these works or to expurgate them in the early thirteenth century.

 St. Thomas Aquinas was a thorough Aristotelian in his philosophy—he refers to Aristotle as "the philosopher"— and successfully reconciled the notions of revealed truth and truth acquired through reason in his Summa Theologica. He did it through a clever argument still in use today. He argued that there could only be one truth and consequently conflicts arising between the two means of acquiring knowledge could only be apparent and never real—further investigation would necessarily resolve them. Further he argued that God did not bother to reveal truths which man could acquire on his own without divine revelation, but only revealed those things which could not be known otherwise, such as the triune nature of God and the scheme of redemption. In this way Aquinas helped legitimize the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake.

 The church was not happy with Aquinas’s view and in 1270 Etienne Tempier, Bishop of Paris, issued a list of thirteen propositions concerning Aristotle’s notions being taught at the University of Paris that were considered false and which would automatically lead to excommunication. After the death of Aquinas the list was expanded to 219 items, but it was badly written, self-contradictory, and eventually in 1325, it was revoked precisely because it conflicted with the writings of Aquinas. The principal objections were statements that appeared to limit the power of God. Aquinas had argued that God could not change the fundamentals of science and mathematics and could not change the past since these kinds of changes would result in contradictions.

 Aquinas is responsible for elevating the status of reason in theology and for opening a path within Catholicism for rational investigation of nature. His authority allowed scientists and philosophers to carry forward a program of seeking truth through reason alone just as long as they held their views tentatively and not dogmatically. 

The results of this development later came to be called natural theology—the study of what could be learned about God from nature—and natural philosophy—the name given to the physical sciences.

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

Yet, Islam and other cultures around Christendom also helped to preserve such philosophy and logic.  Eastern cultures had also developed similar philosophies and in some ways superior philosophies.

I still believe that Jesus Christ was influenced by Buddhist philosophies which he encountered through the many travellers and traders that passed through the trade crossroads where he inhabited.

Thus, essentially Christianity was the beginning of an Easternization or softening (humanism) of Western, harsh Judaism.

Regardless of the existence of Socrates, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Aquinas or whoever, the human mind and social philosophies were evolving and such concepts, philosophies and knowledge of physics would have evolved regardless of the existence of those philosophers.

It's simply evolution!



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.


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