This article originally appeared in, Howard Van Till, "Basil, Augustine, and the Doctrine of Creation's Functional Integrity,". Any change presupposes some reality which is there to change. Thus, the dispute over the reality of universals—i.e., the question about the relation between general words such as “red” and particulars such as “this red object”—which had dominated early Scholastic philosophy, was left behind, and a coherent metaphysics of knowledge and of the world was being developed. [18] Similarly, Aquinas would reject a process theology which denies God's immutability and His omnipotence (as well as His knowledge of the future) so that God would be said to be evolving or changing with the universe and everything in it. For a detailed discussion of the relationship between Big Bang cosmology and creation, see: William E. Carroll, "Thomas Aquinas and Big Bang Cosmology,", W. Whewell, "Lyell: Principles of Geology," British Critic 9 (1831), p. 194. Now because faith is chiefly about the things we hope to see in heaven, 'for faith is the substance of things hoped for,' [Hebrews xi.1] it follows that those things which order us directly to eternal life essentially belong to faith; such as the three Persons of almighty God, the mystery of Christ's incarnation, and other like truths. [33] Philosophers such as William Lane Craig have argued that contemporary Big Bang cosmology confirms the doctrine of creation out-of-nothing since it shows that the universe is temporally finite. Premium Membership is now 50% off! Contemporary theories of science often eschew an appeal to the discovery of such necessary connections in nature. Updates? From these primordial principles everything that comes about emerges in its own time and in the due course of events." Defenders of "special creation" and of "irreducible complexities" in nature think that divine agency will show up in such gaps of nature. Obviously, as Aquinas was aware, if we were to know that there is an absolute beginning to the universe we would know that the universe is created out of nothing and that God exists. . The same with diseases: microbes or cancer tumors are beings, but their evil consists in the disfunction and non-being they cause; indeed, some microbes are good for humans by aiding their being, e.g., in digestion. Creation [in such a view] is portrayed as a series of interventions in natural process, and evolutionary natural process is held to be in principle insufficient to bring about major features of the world. We might remember here, a famous remark by Aristotle: "There is no part of an animal which is purely material or purely immaterial." Divine agency, rather, ought to be seen in the fundamental teleology of all natural things, in the need for a First Mover, and in the complete dependence of all things on God as the source of their existence. As we have seen, Aquinas does not think that the sciences themselves can conclude whether or not the universe is temporally finite. Throughout the thirteenth century, brilliant scholars such as Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas wrestled with the implications for Christian theology of the most advanced science of their day, namely, the works of Aristotle and his Muslim commentators, which had recently been translated into Latin. So, for Aquinas, even moral evil is a privation of a due good, insofar as human actions ought to follow reason’s judgment about what is the true or appropriate good. Richard Lewontin's review of Carl Sagan's, Francisco J. Ayala, "Darwin's Revolution," in, The debate about contingency in evolutionary processes and the implications of such contingency for notions of purpose, meaning, and finality in nature occurs in the domain of natural philosophy, and is, as I have suggested, quite separate from the topic of creation and evolution. The fact that evil is a privation of a due good implies that whatever things suffer natural or physical evil have objective natures. We cannot account for the "more" of the whole in terms of the sum of the material parts. . However necessary evolutionary biology is for understanding nature, it is not a substitute for the complete study of what things are and how they behave. Accordingly, events that occur in the natural world are only occasions in which God acts.[15]. Rather than excluding Darwin from the curriculum, the schools should add Aquinas. If, in producing something new, an agent were to use something already existing, the agent would not be the complete cause of the new thing. Investigations of the nature and origins of life concern various scientific, philosophical, and theological disciplines. As Daniel Dennett would say, [2] Darwin's ideas are truly dangerous, especially for anyone who wishes to embrace a religious view of the world. William E. Carroll "Creation, Evolution, and Thomas Aquinas." Whether they come in large numbers owing to major weather or geological events, or arise spontaneously in individuals: cancers, infectious diseases, birth defects, these natural evils identify what deprives their victims of perfections which should belong to them: bodily integrity, health or life. Italian Christian theologian and philosopher. "We see in the transition from an earth peopled by one set of animals to the same earth swarming with entirely new forms of organic life," he wrote, "a distinct manifestation of creative power, transcending the known laws of nature: and, it appears to us, that geology [i.e., catastrophism] has thus lighted a new lamp along the path of natural theology. He remained there until 1252, when he returned to Paris to prepare for the degree of master of theology. The Creator does not take nothing and make something out of nothing. ", When Aquinas remarks that the sciences of nature are fully competent to account for the world of physical reality he includes in the category of "sciences of nature" what we would call philosophy of nature. He answered his own question: "The sciences of observation describe and measure the multiple manifestations of life with increasing precision and correlate them with the time line. Getting back to natural or physical evil, it may be hard to see how such evils are supposed to be privations. "[53] However much we recognize the value of this insight, we need to guard against the genetic fallacy: that is, making judgments about what things are exclusively on the basis of how things have come to be. Therefore, existing itself, insofar as it is desirable, is good. Aquinas concludes to the reality of God on this basis in the fourth of his famous Five Ways of proving the existence of God in ST Ia, 2, 3. Aquinas would say that the natural sciences are fully competent to account for the changes that occur in the natural world, but this does not mean that "everything in nature" can be explained in terms of material causes. Whatever exists is caused to be by God; this is a conclusion in metaphysics; whether human souls are among the things that exist is a question to be answered in natural philosophy; whether living things have evolved by natural selection is the subject of evolutionary biology. The complete dependence of the creature on the Creator means that there is a kind of priority of non-being to being in any creature, but this priority is not fundamentally temporal. Just as a hole refers to where some material is missing, or a shadow is where a light does not shine, so evil refers to how something is falling short, or is incomplete in what it is supposed be. . As a theologian, he was responsible in his two masterpieces, the Summa theologiae and the Summa contra gentiles, for the classical systematization of Latin theology, and, as a poet, he wrote some of the most gravely beautiful eucharistic hymns in the church’s liturgy. Natural evils occur without any human intervention. . All change requires an underlying material reality. At the very least, we should recognize, as Richard Lewontin did in the passage quoted above, that to claim that only materialist explanations of reality are acceptable is a philosophical assumption not required by the "methods and institutions of science. University of America Press, 1985), © 1996-2019 Catholic Education Resource Center | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Sitemap, CERC is an entirely reader-supported web site and non-profit charity. He thought that it was a matter of biblical revelation that the world is not eternal. Yet the "same God who transcends the created order is also intimately and immanently present within that order as upholding all causes in their causing, including the human will." St. Thomas Aquinas, Italian San Tommaso d’Aquino, also called Aquinas, byname Doctor Angelicus (Latin: ... were reacting against the traditional notion of contempt for the world and were striving for mastery over the forces of nature through the use of their reason.