November 6, 2005 at 9:51 pm (Default Category)
Socrates claimed that he knew nothing. He meant that his knowledge, compared to the knowledge of God, was nothing.
Still, “nothing” is as transcendent as “everything”. Neither word can be said except by a being who already knows all things. In saying “nothing” I negate all, which requires that I already understand the all.
Socrates’ statement is superlatively wise because he sees wisdom as knowledge relating to God. God is the cause, measure, object and fulfillment of all wisdom at least as Socrates’ understands it. God is the cause, because Socrates begins to seek out wisdom in response to an oracle of the god; God is the measure, for all human wisdom is reckoned as nothing in comparison to him; God is the object, because the goal of the philosophical life is likeness to God (Theatetus); and he is the fulfillment, for all things seek their fulfillment in the perfect, and all men desire wisdom.
November 5, 2005 at 2:20 pm (Default Category)
The Angelic Multitude
The consensus on the multitude of angels is that it is immense. St. Thomas claims that the angelic multitude exceeds material multitude by as much as the size of the universe exceeds the size of earth.
Even if one were to confine themselves to speaking about the number of things poduced by the fucundity of nature, still, estimates for the number of species that have existed begin at two billion. The number of one species alone, ants, is reckoned at over a quadrillion living individuals. It is only fitting that the fecundity of creation in the angelic universe is incomparably greater than the fecundity and diversity of nature.
Even in this superabundant fecundity, there is a greater perfection of unique individuals and personality. Each angel is his own unique species- the best way to picture it is that when we go to heaven and see our first angel (scripture indicates that we will think that we have seen God) then even after we see this angel and we are told that it is not God, when we look at our next one, we will say “what is that? Now that must be God!” (except we will need a new personal pronoun, since distinctions of gender are meaningless to describe angels). And even after this, it has only happened twice. The fecundity of the angelic universe will have already produced angels in incalculable billions in the discrete instant of our thought, and repeat itself with billions in the next thought… billions… I’m sure we’ll see that number as so laughably small-
And how much does it help to think of numbers anyway? Our numbers are homogeneity of divided quantity, the same thing over and over again. If we saw angels, we would understand how meaningless it is to number them- it would be like trying to number all human thoughts.
November 4, 2005 at 11:50 am (Default Category)
A Dominican Story.
Because he lived as a beggar, Thomas Aquinas went out once a week to collect food (and presumably spare change) from local towns people. One of his students asked him if it bothered him to have to do such rounds, since he was an internationally- well-known theologian. Thomas’ response was “No, I have too much common sense for that”.
November 3, 2005 at 4:52 pm (Default Category)
We speak about God, angels, our own soul, and the life to come in the same way that a blind man speaks about colors. We can certainly say true things about spiritual things- but anything we imagine about spiritual things is false; and usually dull. I for one can’t help imagining the angelic hierarchy as a row of unmoving points of light in black space- or imagining my own soul as a ghost. If you want a certain idea of what spirits are not, imagine them. We can say and know all kinds of true things about immaterial being, but we cannot allow so much as a glimmer or dot of light, or a specteral form, or a dark void to creep into our imagination without creating a misleading and utterly false thing with the very image. Deum nemo vidit umquam (Jn. 1:18)
November 3, 2005 at 12:01 pm (Default Category)
Givens agreed upon by Athiests and Theists
1.) In any system well ordered by reason, good is rewarded, and evil punished (this is axiomatic).
2.) Good is not always rewarded, nor evil always punished in this life (a fact simply given).
If one affirms that God exists, the argument proves that there is a life after this one, i.e. that man is immortal (for in that life he will be punished or rewarded)
If one denies the immortality of man, the argument is a proof against the existence of God.
November 2, 2005 at 8:58 pm (Default Category)
We can only reason from what we have memorized.