William M. Briggs

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Summary Against Modern Thought: That God Is One II

This may be proved in three ways. The first...

This may be proved in three ways. The first…

See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

Finishing the God is one argument this week. Many words, but boy do they flow. If you’ve been following the discussion, this should be a breeze. But if not, review the subjects of essence and existence, and recall the in God they are the same.

Chapter 42 That God is One Two (as in Part two)

[9] Furthermore, given two gods that are posited as agreeing in the necessity of being, either that in which they differ is in some way required for the completion of their necessity of being, or it is not. If it is not, then it is something accidental, because that which accrues to a thing without contributing to its being is an accident. Hence, this accident has a cause, which is, consequently, either the essence of the necessary being or something else. If its essence, then, since the necessity itself of being is its essence, as is evident from what was said above, the necessity of being will be the cause of that accident. But the necessity of being is found in both gods. Therefore, both will have that accident, and thus will not be distinguished with reference to it. If, however, the cause of the accident is something else, it follows that, unless that something else existed, this accident would not exist; and unless this accident existed, the aforesaid distinction would not exist. Therefore, unless that something else existed, these two supposed necessary beings would not be two but one. Therefore, the proper being of each depends on the other, and thus neither of them is through itself a necessary being…

[11] It is, therefore, not possible to posit many beings of which each is through itself a necessary being.

Notes In other words, it isn’t and can’t be turtles all the way down, which each one giving something to another which the other doesn’t have.

[12] What is more, if there are two gods, either the name God is predicated of both univocally, or equivocally. If equivocally, this is outside our present purpose. Nothing prevents any given thing from being equivocally named by any given name, provided we admit the usage of those who express the name. But if it be used univocally, it must be predicated of both according to one notion, which means that, in notion, there must be in both one nature. Either, therefore, this nature is in both according to one being, or according to a being that is other in each case. If according to one, there will not be two gods, but only one, since there cannot be one being for two things that are substantially distinguished. If each has its own being, therefore in neither being will the quiddity be its being. Yet this must be posited in God, as we have proved. Therefore, neither of these two beings is what we understand by the name God. It is, therefore, impossible to posit two gods…

Notes Shorter version: since God’s existence and essence are one, as previously proved, to say there are two (or more) gods is to speak equivocally.

[13] …therefore there cannot be several beings of which each is a necessary being. It is, consequently, impossible that there be several gods.

[15] Furthermore, either the nature signified by the name God is individuated through itself in this God, or it is individuated through something else. If through something else, composition must result. If through itself, then it cannot possibly belong to another, since the principle of individuation cannot be common to several, It is impossible, therefore, that there be several gods.

[16] If, again, there are several gods, the nature of the godhead cannot be numerically one in two of them. There must, therefore, be something distinguishing the divine nature in this and in that god. But this is impossible, because, as we have shown above, the divine nature receives the addition neither of essential differences nor of accidents. Nor yet is the divine nature the form of any matter, to be capable of being divided according to the division of matter. It is impossible, therefore, that there be two gods.

Notes Of course, this follows even if you’re not yet convinced God exists. And if you are not yet convinced, you need to go back and re-read especially Chapter 13. And the material proving God is pure act, actuality only, and in Him there is no potential or accidents (if you like, parts that are not essential).

[17] Then, too, the proper being of each thing is only one. But God is His being, as we have shown. There can, therefore, be only one God…

[19] Furthermore, we notice in each genus that multitude proceeds from some unity. This is why in every genus there is found a prime member that is the measure of all the things found in that genus. In whatever things, therefore, we find that there is an agreement in one respect, it is necessary that this depend upon one source. But all things agree in being. There must, therefore, be only one being that is the source of all things. This is God.

[20] Again, in every rulership he who rules desires unity. That is why among the forms of rulership the main one is monarchy or kingship. So, too, for many members there is one head, whereby we see by an evident sign that he to whom rulership belongs should have unity. Hence, we must admit that God, Who is the cause of all things, is absolutely one…

Notes This is St Thomas being complete. I don’t think these last arguments are convincing on their own. [19] relies on earlier material on being-in-act, and where that ultimately arises. [20] seems to be missing premises about what God is up to. But, of course, we don’t need either of these two and have enough both from last week and this to prove (with certainty) there is only one God who is the ground of all being, the Unmoved Mover, etc.

3 Comments

  1. Sander van der Wal

    March 1, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Again, in every rulership he who rules desires unity. That is why among the forms of rulership the main one is monarchy or kingship.

    Actually, a king desires a holiday home in some African country.

    And if he doesn’t get permission for that from Parliament, he desires a holiday home in Greece next to Putin’s holiday home. And a speedboat and a jetty. And the lease of some extra land to put a fence on for way too much money.

    And that the People pay for all that stuff.

  2. Would you say I would be accurate in summarizing this by stating that God is absolute?

    And in drawing the conclusion that if God is absolute then God must also be infinite and eternal?

    And that all things and persons exist *relative* to God?

    And if persons exist relative to God, then God must be the Absolute Person?

  3. QUOTE: “Let US make mankind in OUR image, in OUR likeness, …”
    – God, Genesis 26

    “us” and “our” and, again, “our” begs some questions:

    – Who are ‘they’?
    – What prior document(s)/myth(s) was this story adapated with such carelessness that 3000 or so years later the sloppy editing hasn’t yet caught up?

    FROM the essay: “Notes Shorter version: since God’s existence and essence are one, as previously proved, to say there are two (or more) gods is to speak equivocally.”

    What about the unforgivable/unpardonable sin — denial of the Holy Spirit (ref Mark 3 and/or Matthew 12)?
    One can blaspheme against God, and blaspheme against Jesus…but not the Holy Spirit. So says the Bible. There’s a distinction there about distinct entities that are also spose’d to be one entity–if there’s only one, why is the unpardonable sin sub-Trinity-specific to a particular entity of the Trinity?

    If there were truly only one entity wouldn’t that unforgivable sin be more like the “one for all & all for one” of the Three Muskateers…where either blasphemy against any of the Trinity’s members was not forgivable??

    This special distinction against one of the members of the Trinity reflects a stipulated hierarchy, which is incompatible with a “One God” doctrine….and/or….another example of mythic plagarizing where the inconsistencies weren’t edited out (ref Capitoline Triad or Archaic Triad in ancient Roman mythology…some curious pre-emptive parallels there with the Trinity concept; regarding such pre-emptive parallels Justin Martyr had much to say in his First Apology — a rationalization that is the official word to this day).

    Have trouble with that, consider Matt 26: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Who was Jesus talking to…certainly not Himself as numerous analyses make clear… …. … but there was an early form of Christianity that held that Jesus was just a guy that was [in modern jargon] possessed [at baptism] with god … a god that departed just before he died — in THAT plot Jesus’ remark makes logical & perfect sense.

    It’s one example of many lingering debates about just the “stuff” of Jesus (man, man-possessed, spirit in man-form, etc.) … that took a committe (Council at Nicea) to officially set straight. One would think that, with the guy spending a third-century doing miracles & stuff that such debates would’ve been long resolved before a debate could fester…

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