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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So apparently Aquinas was just another intolerant Christian.

Judged by today's standards of freedom of conscience, certainly, but in the context of his time it would be doing your duty to God. The Greeks condemned Socrates to death as well. Our notion of what is just and moral took a long time to develop and although we consider it obvious today, past attitudes were much different and it is always difficult to know how much culpability we should assign to people in history for not having our standards.

Dr. Clark:

"Judged by today's standards of freedom of conscience, certainly, but in the context of his time it would be doing your duty to God."

Times haven't changed much from the time of Aquinas, especially in America. In my opinion, for one to call oneself a far right Republican, is the same as calling oneself an intolerant Christian. I would wager that Wayne LaPierre of the NRA is both a far right republican and an intolerant Christian. Those twenty precious children and six adults at Newtown in Sandy Hook Elementary, in my opinion, were killed as a result of Christian intolerance, viz., intolerance for a ban on assault weapons. And why do the far right not want such a ban ? Because they want those weapons to fight the government. As I've posted elsewhere there is a fringe movement among the far right who has a lot of influence known as Dominionism. Their goal ? The overthrow of democracy and the establishment of theocracy.

No, times have not changed all that much since the days of Aquinas.

Certainly the tendency to condemn those with different views has not passed from human experience. Nor would I argue that justifications for that condemnation have altered much in general character—the examples you cite show the same conspiracy theory explanations of different outlooks. I do see difference in the notion of earlier times that the conspiracy was manifestation of the activity of Satan towards overthrowing Christendom (an argument we only hear now from fundamentalists) and that not killing heretics allowed a risk to the church that in itself condemned anyone who might reluct from it. Tolerance was not a virtue at that time and there was no notion of freedom of conscience. It would have been a completely foreign idea at the time, and while it may not be held by everyone nowadays with the degree of commitment one would like, it is, nonetheless, a principle valued by a large number, perhaps even a majority.

I always think it's helpful to look at the actual words so here is the passage from Summa Theologica in which Aquinas argues in favor of the death penalty for heretics. (I haven't put them in quotes to save space.)

Whether heretics ought to be tolerated?

Objection 1. It seems that heretics ought to be tolerated. For the Apostle says (2 Tim. 2:24,25): "The servant of the Lord must not wrangle . . . with modesty admonishing them that resist the truth, if peradventure God may give them repentance to know the truth, and they may recover themselves from the snares of the devil." Now if heretics are not tolerated but put to death, they lose the opportunity of repentance. Therefore it seems contrary to the Apostle's command.  ---

Objection 2. Further, whatever is necessary in the Church should be tolerated. Now heresies are necessary in the Church, since the Apostle says (1 Cor. 11:19): "There must be . . . heresies, that they . . . who are reproved, may be manifest among you." Therefore it seems that heretics should be tolerated.  ---

Objection 3. Further, the Master commanded his servants (Mt. 13:30) to suffer the cockle "to grow until the harvest," i.e. the end of the world, as a gloss explains it. Now holy men explain that the cockle denotes heretics. Therefore heretics should be tolerated.  ---On the contrary, The Apostle says (Titus 3:10,11): "A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: knowing that he, that is such an one, is subverted." 

I answer that, With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the faith which quickens the soul, than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death.  ---On the part of the Church, however, there is mercy which looks to the conversion of the wanderer, wherefore she condemns not at once, but "after the first and second admonition," as the Apostle directs: after that, if he is yet stubborn, the Church no longer hoping for his conversion, looks to the salvation of others, by excommunicating him and separating him from the Church, and furthermore delivers him to the secular tribunal to be exterminated thereby from the world by death. For Jerome commenting on Gal. 5:9, "A little leaven," says: "Cut off the decayed flesh, expel the mangy sheep from the fold, lest the whole house, the whole paste, the whole body, the whole flock, burn, perish, rot, die. Arius was but one spark in Alexandria, but as that spark was not at once put out, the whole earth was laid waste by its flame."  ---

Reply to Objection 1. This very modesty demands that the heretic should be admonished a first and second time: and if he be unwilling to retract, he must be reckoned as already "subverted," as we may gather from the words of the Apostle quoted above.  ---

Reply to Objection 2. The profit that ensues from heresy is beside the intention of heretics, for it consists in the constancy of the faithful being put to the test, and "makes us shake off our sluggishness, and search the Scriptures more carefully," as Augustine states (De Gen. cont. Manich. i, 1). What they really intend is the corruption of the faith, which is to inflict very great harm indeed. Consequently we should consider what they directly intend, and expel them, rather than what is beside their intention, and so, tolerate them.  ---

Reply to Objection 3. According to Decret. (xxiv, qu. iii, can. Notandum), "to be excommunicated is not to be uprooted." A man is excommunicated, as the Apostle says (1 Cor. 5:5) that his "spirit may be saved in the day of Our Lord." Yet if heretics be altogether uprooted by death, this is not contrary to Our Lord's command, which is to be understood as referring to the case when the cockle cannot be plucked up without plucking up the wheat, as we explained above (10, 8, ad 1), when treating of unbelievers in general. 

---Summa Theologica, 2nd Part of the 2nd Part, Question 11, Article 3."

Yes, Aquinas was no better than Mohammad, who also recommended death to infidels after 3 warnings!  

No, Clarky is somewhat wrong about Aquinas, there were philosophers before him (e.g. Jesus) who did not wish death on non-believers.

Aquinas was definitely a nut job, like Mohammad who also suffered similar hallucinations/temporal lobe trauma!

GOD'aye , I would prefer we not be cheeky with each other. If you referred to me as "Joanie" I would feel put-down, discounted, trivialized and even demonized. I would feel I have to defend myself instead of open myself to new ideas.

Thanks Joan,
Realized that after I posted it, such a habit is so natural here in Australia, as to us it is not considered cheeky, we alter people's names as a form of endearment or familiarity.
The first thing that happens to me when I join any group or start working at any company in Australia is I score a common nickname or get a "Y" or "azza" inserted into my name.
Monty Python did a great skit on this aspect of Australian culture.


Your judgment of Aquinas is ill-founded and summary and fails to recognize his value to the progress of philosophy, but it's clear you have no interest in any views other than your own and since it satisfies you so completely there is no reason to continue discussing this issue with you.

Well Allan, simply deeper, more neurological and psychological analysis of his work, such as "Summa" which Anthony has already alluded to.
As we gain a deeper understanding of the human mind, from the inside, as I stated before, such science is still in it's infancy.
I'm constantly watching Sapolsky's articles and lectures, because his lab is somewhere close to the forefront of this field.
I found much of Aquinas's writings nonsensical in the late 70s, I'm certain many have also, but their criticisms have been quashed by Catholicism until recently.
I find it unusual that the likes of yourself are making excuses and apologies for Catholic apologists (those who make excuses for Catholic lies).
We have already coined the term here for Catholic Theology as "Porky Pondering", Theologians as "Porky Ponderers" and Christian Apologists as "Porky Deniers/Excusers", which describes Aquinas and all his derivatives excellently.

I, too, like Sapolsky because he doesn't look only at what philosophers or religious write and repeat generation after generation, gaining power and authority over the centuries. He observes how superstitions begin, grow and evolve over time. He also recognizes the role obsessive compulsive disorder in human thought and action impacts an individual, and a culture.

Professor Sapolsky Explains the Origin of Religion Part 1/2

Professor Sapolsky Explains the Origin of Religion Part 2/2

Joan, thanks for linking the clips.

It's an interesting topic all on its own.  Way back when, early in my training, I did a couple of clinical rotations on a psychiatric ward.  It was so interesting.   A few patients, either schizophrenic or in manic stage of bipolar disorder, were like prophets.  Very intense, very compelling.  They had surprising charisma.  They were seductive both emotionally and sexually.  They were often hyperreligious, heard auditory hallucinations, saw visual hallucinations.  Their speech was highly pressured, intense.  They were tangential.  

I remember one who had dug out teeth with a pocket knife, believing that within the teeth were transmitters from aliens.  Apparently, others have also done that.

Since then, I have encountered a small number of either schizophrenic or manic bipolar individuals, out of the hospital.  They too, are such compelling personalities. Interesting, it can feel good to be around them.  Again, quite charismatic.

This would make for an interesting topic all on it's own, but I don't have the energy to research it.

Not long ago I saw a book review on the role of hallucinogens in evolution of human society and the human brain.  I will look for that.

Even though hyperreligiosity may be frequently manifested in psychosis, it would be a mistake to dismiss all religious thought as a form of mental illness and too use that judgment to ignore the accomplishments of all religious thinkers. That may be tempting, but it's foolish.

A good counterexample to that attitude is the mathematician Blaise Pascal, who made significant contributions to mathematics, philosophy, and theology. Pascal had a mystical experience and gave up his scientific work in favor of theology, something to be deplored for the loss to mathematics, but out of it came the Provincial Letters and the Pensées. The latter contains some of the most beautiful French ever written and has been recognized for its literary value as well as its theology. It contains the famous wager, which is still often discussed here and elsewhere. Pascal spent time at the abby at Port-Royal and may have had a hand in the Port-Royal logic which was the standard for a long period.


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