Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Aquinas Regarding Almighty...Again

Aquinas Regarding Almighty was posted in the early days of this blog, but I thought I’d bring it up again because…

1. It’s Aquinas’s feast day.
2. We have more followers now.
3. It’s just cool stuff! Joe and I never get tired of this sort of thing. What sort of thing? Thinking things and connecting things…because thinking means connecting things.
The post relates to the premise that God creates out of nothing. Now, some ridiculous discussions can be had about what really is “nothing”. Some say there is no such thing as “nothing”, which is true if there is always God (being itself), but to avoid sidetracks to nowhere and to bring some additional clarity, it might be better to start by saying that God requires no other condition, or set of conditions to exist in order to create. He is the one reality that requires no other reality.

Aquinas Regarding Almighty
St Thomas Aquinas falls into that category of people I like to call “scary-smart”. Reading his work can result in a peculiar experience, at least for me. I may read something translated to English well using perfect grammar, and understand the meaning of each individual word, yet somehow not understand what was said. Does Aquinas write nonsense or am I not the sharpest knife in the theological drawer? The latter is more reasonable.  Here is a case in point from the Compendium to Summa Theologica chp 70:
“The more remote a potency is from act, the greater must be the power that reduces it to act.”
With help from other Catholic thinkers that explain Aquinas and my blog buddy Joe, I can make sense of such a sentence. Rephrasing in more common language, I think it may read something like this:
The less one has to make something potentially happen, the more power one needs to make it actually happen. But what does this mean when contemplating ultimate things?
Analogies are most helpful………
Suppose you have a new car you wish to start. All that is needed is the key and the ability to turn the ignition; not very difficult. Now take away the gasoline. You now need the ability to get some gasoline, put in it the car and then start it. More resources are needed. In a sense you might say you need more “power”. Now take away the battery as well. You now need to get a battery, install it, get gasoline in the car, and then start it. You’ll need even more “power”.
The more that is taken away from the car, the more power needed to make it actually work. Taking away things to infinity becomes nothingness. Adding power to infinity becomes “all powerful”. If left with nothing to work with (no-thing), no matter, no energy, no force, no time, no space (no outside condition), the only way you could make a car first exist and then start it is if you had infinite power. To create from nothing then, requires infinite power.
St. Thomas Aquinas
1225 - 1274
All of this to truly understand one word in our Creed. The word “Almighty” is not used simply because it sounds lofty and majestic. It describes, from logical necessity, the kind of power needed to bridge an infinite gap between potency and act.
Thank you St. Thomas Aquinas; thou art scary-smart!

No comments:

Post a Comment