Communicating substantiality (pt. II)

(Still noodling with the argument from Michael Bolin, here I try turning it into a cosmological argument.)

Let it be given that some natural substance arises from physical parts, as Aristotelians say is true of men, horses, roses, etc. and Atomic theory says is true of atoms.

But substance cannot arise by being identical to the parts, for the parts are many but the substance is one; nor can it arise as being actualized by the parts, for many things make one only when they are in potency to it. Thus actual substance arises neither from identity with its parts or by their causality, and so derives its actuality from another.

Now if this other acts by acting on the physical parts, it can no more account for actual substance than the physical parts themselves. But all natural causes act in this way, since we observe no second sort of natural energy or power that kicks in after the natural agent has brought the parts together.

And so what is most actual in nature arises from a region beyond all observable natural causes. The energy or power that actualizes what is most immanent in them is by that very fact entirely transcendent to them.

By the same argument given above, this being must either be a substance or something whose whole being overflows substance. And thus there is a substantial or supersubstantial reality beyond all nature that accounts for the existence of nature.

For those who take persons as substance, and as the highest sort of substance, the supersubstantial reality beyond all nature can be called a person. For those who take only what is conserved in being while others pass out of being as substance, then this supersubstantial reality transcends that which endured imperishably throughout all time. But it seems best to take these as diverse perfections of substance in nature, and so the supersubstantial reality beyond nature at once fills out and exceeds the reality of an eternal person. And this all understand to be God.


  1. Michael Bolin said,

    March 28, 2015 at 12:38 am

    Enjoying the tinkering, thanks. However, I’m not a priest. I expect you’ve confused me with my brother.

    • March 28, 2015 at 8:55 am

      Oh right – I was mapping your name over Joseph’s face!

%d bloggers like this: