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Summary Against Modern Thought: Angels Are Intellectual Substances

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.

We’re still with intellectual substances. Such as angels.

Chapter 92 Concerning the great number of separate substances. (alternate translation) We’re still using the alternate translation.

1 In treating this problem, let it be noted that Aristotle attempts to prove that not only some intellectual substances exist apart from a body, but also that they are of the same number, neither more nor less, as the movements observed in the heaven.

2 Now, Aristotle proves that no movements unobservable by us exist in the heaven, because every movement in the heaven exists by reason of the movement of some star—a thing perceptible to the senses; for the spheres are the conveyers of the stars, and the movement of the conveyer is for the sake of the movement of the conveyed. He proves also that there are no separate substances from which some movements do not arise in the heaven, for the heavenly movements are directed to the separate substances as their ends; so that, if there were any separate substances other than those which he enumerates, there would be some movements directed to them as their ends; otherwise, those movements would be imperfect. In view of all this, Aristotle concludes that such substances are not more numerous than the movements that are and can be observed in the heaven; especially since there are not several heavenly bodies of the same species, so as to make possible the existence of several movements unknown to us.

Notes By “Aristotle proves”, our good saint meant “Aristotle suggested”. See the next paragraph before becoming exercised. Another good example of Thomas not slavishly following the master.

3 This proof, however, lacks necessity. For, as Aristotle himself teaches in Physics II [9], with things directed to an end, necessity derives from the end, and not conversely. So if, as he says, the heavenly movements are ordained to separate substances as their ends, the number of such substances cannot be inferred with necessity from the number of the movements. For it can be said that there are some separate substances of a higher nature than those which are the proximate ends of the celestial movements; even so, the fact that craftsmen’s tools we for those who work with them does not preclude the existence of other men who do not work with such tools themselves, but direct the workers. And, in point of fact, Aristotle himself adduces the preceding proof, not as necessary but as probable; for he says: “hence the number of the unchangeable substances and principles may probably be taken to be just so many; the assertion of necessity may be left to more powerful thinkers.”

4 It therefore remains to be shown that the intellectual substances existing apart from bodies are much more numerous than the heavenly movements.

5 Now, intellectual substances are in their genus transcendent with respect to all corporeal natures. Hence, the rank of such substances must be determined in accordance with their elevation above the corporeal nature. Now, some intellectual substances transcend the corporeal substance only in their generic nature, and yet, as we have seen, are united to bodies as form.

And since intellectual substances enjoy a kind of being that is entirely independent of the body, as was shown above, we find a higher grade of such substances, which, though not united to bodies as forms, are nevertheless the proper movers of certain determinate bodies. And the nature of an intellectual substance likewise does not depend on its producing movement, since the latter follows upon their principal operation, which is understanding. Consequently, there will exist a still higher grade of intellectual substances, which are not the proper movers of certain bodies, but are superior to the movers.

Notes These intellectual agents are so efficient, one might say they operate with wings! (Forgive me.)

6 Moreover, just as an agent that acts by nature acts by its natural form, so an agent that acts by intellect acts by its intellectual form, as we see in those who act by art. Therefore, just as the former agent is proportionate to the patient by reason of its natural form, so the latter agent is proportionate to the patient and to the thing made, through the form in its intellect; that is to say, the intellective form is then such that it can be introduced by the agent’s action into matter which receives it.

Therefore, the proper movers of the spheres, which (if we wish to side with Aristotle here) move by their intellect, must have such understandings as are explicable by the motions of the spheres and reproducible in natural things. But above intelligible conceptions of this sort there are some which are more universal. For the intellect apprehends the forms of things in a more universal mode than that in which they exist in things; and for this reason we observe that the form of the speculative intellect is more universal than that of the practical intellect, and among the practical arts, the conception of the commanding art is more universal than that of an executive art. Now, the grades of intellectual substances must be reckoned according to the grade of intellectual operation proper to them. Therefore, there are some intellectual substances above those which are the proper and proximate movers of certain determinate spheres.

Notes Although he didn’t say it, it would not be wrong to think of the angels assisting in the movement of the heavenly spheres. Before you scoff, consider that God is everywhere and everywhen the prime or first mover, and that God is pure intellectual substance. Who’s to say God does not then direct less intellectual substances to take over from the first movement. After all, where does material movement end and intellectual begin? This theory, so far unexplored, is rich in explanatory power.

7 The order of the universe, furthermore, seems to require that whatever is nobler among things should exceed in quantity or number the less noble; since the latter seem to exist for the sake of the former. That is why the more noble things, as existing for their own sake, should be as numerous as possible. Thus we see that the incorruptible, or heavenly, bodies so far exceed the corruptible, or element-composed, bodies, that the latter are in number practically negligible by comparison. However, just as the heavenly bodies are nobler than those composed of elements—the incorruptible than the corruptible—so intellectual substances are superior to all bodies, as the immovable and immaterial to the movable and material. The number of separate intellectual substances, therefore, surpasses that of the whole multitude of material things. Such substances, then, are not limited to the number of the heavenly movements.

Notes Modern observations and scientific theories do not, of course, obviate the conclusion.

8 Then, too, it is not through the matter that the species of material things are multiplied, but through the form. Now, forms outside of matter enjoy a more complete and universal being than forms in matter, because forms are received into matter in keeping with the receptive capacity of matter. Hence, those forms which exist apart from matter, and which we call separate substances, are seemingly not less numerous than the species of material things.

9 But we do not on this account say, with the Platonists, that separate substances are the species of these sensible things.

For, not being able to arrive at the knowledge of such substances except from sensible things, the Platonists supposed the former to be of the same species as the latter, or rather to be their species.

In the same way, a person who had not seen the sun or the moon or the other stars, and had heard that they were incorruptible bodies, might call them by the names of these corruptible bodies, thinking them to be of the same species as the latter; which could not be so. And it is likewise impossible that immaterial substances should be of the same species as material ones, or that they should be the species of the latter. For the specific essence of these sensible things includes matter, though not this particular matter, which is the proper principle of the individual, just as the specific essence of man includes flesh and bones, but not this flesh and these bones which are principles of Socrates and Plato. Thus, we do not say that separate substances are the species of these sensible things, but that they are other species superior to them, inasmuch as the pure is nobler than the mixed. Those substances, then, must be more numerous than the species of these material things.

10 Moreover, a thing is multipliable in respect of its intelligible being rather than its material being. For we grasp with our intellect many things which cannot exist in matter.

This accounts for the fact that any straight finite line can be added to mathematically, but not physically; and that rarefaction of bodies, the velocity of movements, and the diversity of shapes can be increased ad infinitum in thought, though not in nature.

Now, separate substances are by their nature endowed with intelligible being. Therefore, greater multiplicity is possible in such substances than in material ones, considering the properties and the nature of both these kinds of being. But in eternal things, to be and to be possible are one and the same. The multitude of separate substances is, therefore, greater than that of material bodies.

Notes Even given the limitations of thirteenth century science, Thomas understood mathematical modeling better than many of us.

11 Now, to these things Holy Scripture bears witness. For it is said in the Book of Daniel (7:10): “Thousands of thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him.” And Dionysius in his work, The Celestial Hierarchy, writes that the number of those substances “exceeds all material multitude.”

12 This excludes the error of those who say that the number of separate substances corresponds to the number of heavenly movements, or of the heavenly spheres, as well as the error of Rabbi Moses, who said that the number of angels which Scripture affirms is not the number of separate substances, but of forces in this lower world; as if the concupiscible power were called the “spirit of concupiscence,” and so on.

41 thoughts on “Summary Against Modern Thought: Angels Are Intellectual Substances Leave a comment

  1. AFAIK, the Ancients did believe the planets had their own separate sphere. The stars were all fixed to a simgle outermost sphere. People knew about precession, which can be explained by the sphere itself moving, but not about proper motion, which doesn’t work if all stars are fixed to a simgle sphere.

    Regarding angels, a couple of them helping the 5 visible planets along is not that unreasonable. A huge number of angels helping each elementary particle (including all the Dark Matter ones, and all the virtual particles masquerading as forces) along its world line, not so much.

  2. Gravity is angel goo? No. God doesn’t need glue. (I hope you know I’m joking.)

    It’s also daft to think you can work out these metaphysical phenomenon by mechanical explanations because God is not understood except in his messages. So the meaning is what matters, his word. This is what changes the human condition.

    In my experience they are always contextual and such things can happen any time.
    The message is one of hope and joy or comfort. Perhaps a person interprets according to their temperament.

    How about accepting the realm about which nothing is known except how it manifests in the physical to people who perceive it? It is obviously in the realm of perception, revelation.

    Outside of the business of a mechanical explanation of planetary movement.
    He can move other more important things.

    With wings! And other cute little furry things and young children, an dpeople in their dreams or their despair. Perhaps because their intellect lends itself, being low grade! Exactly the reason it is dismissed but it makes no difference because the truth doesn’t need a panel of intellectual theologians to give it the okay. God speaks to individuals. He does so in confidence, discretely. No physical laws need be broken for this since in these cases he is operating through mind. Other coincidences? Not so easy to explain. Those of a cyber nature may be immediately dismissed as fake, not necessarily ‘Ahem, on the side of the angels.”

    he can move darkness in a physical literal sense.
    The way that gas can be seen to move. That is seen in the actual sense.
    He can communicate in an intellectual way I.e. he moves through people.
    I think he is speaking to us when people are very unwell such as in dementia. Amongst all the nonsense there can be remarkable apparent visions and these can be coherently described in a way that hallucination does not explain. Knowing the name of recently passed people and speaking of them. Literally seeing and admitting that it IS mad but they are there, turning them into mime artists to the observer. These things are messages. Messages are language and meaning.

    The vision is just the mode of God’s operation. The movement of the real things such as the creatures or the people are the mechanics of conveying the message and the items/creatures/people themselves are all vital to the message. All things come together at once. Meaning is not only found in books. They save time and waste it all at once.

  3. Joy, where there is order there is an orderer, and the orderer most often makes use of instruments to create and maintain order. For simplicity sake, let’s just say that Angels are the powers and intellects that are charged with “making it happen” according to the Plan.

    Perception and Revelation are not equivalent. Many things are revealed that are not perceived; and many things are “perceived” that are not revealed. Subjectivism and “gnosis” have never been reliable indicators of reality.

  4. The first part of what you write isn’t controversial outside of an atheist world view. It’s vague enough but I don’t think God needs angels to be his helpers like some celestial army. Rather take a little girl who thinks Mary appeared to her. She’s not going to know God or a man so she encounters a woman. I am afraid that this is also very open to manipulation by charlatans and fakers, too.

    The second part makes more assumptions but is also not a surprise. It is only what to expect.
    As to perception and revelation, of course they are not interchangeable or nobody would be arguing. Every perception would be called a revelation. Miracle and revelation are not interchangeable either. Further than that I won’t get into the phoney metaphysical psychology which has the same value as any other psychology where mind is constructed in some person’s imagination and dressed up as logical fact. It’s simply representing the mind to suit the taste of the male sophist. Since most, myself included, women don’t give a fig but suffer what is claimed it’s best not to insist. I would add though that in psychology, somebody’s got to try and help people and I note that the metaphysical model isn’t used in the clinic. Clinics use what works because they have to. Humility is essential and pushing fake theories to achieve an effect won’t work.

    The descriptions there are as I count at least four different ways in which God communicates . Those of us who accept these things, anyway. The problem is that many, most, aren’t actually listening or opening their eyes.

  5. ..and another thing!
    If someone could bottle faith there’d be nobody in the clinic and nothing for the psychologists or the metaphysicians or the theologians to do.

  6. @ Joy,

    “I think he is speaking to us when people are very unwell such as in dementia”

    Is there anything you *wouldn’t* accept as evidence that god is speaking to us? Also, what is ‘he’ (really ‘it’) actually saying? I’d rather it kept it’s mouth shut so we don’t get dementia.

    “If someone could bottle faith […]”

    ISIS have great faith in Allah and just look at the results. Faith isn’t a good thing, and is only invoked because there’s no actual evidence for god.

  7. Keep knocking down that straw ‘god’ of yours, Swordfish, for that is the only ‘god’ you can handle. You are evidence of Him and you are literally swimming in evidence of Him; but since you won’t let your eyes see nor let your ears hear, well, you are never going to find Him. Why should He reveal himself to you since you would rather lie to yourself and never accept Him? /rhetorical He will reveal Himself to you when you accept that He Is. You have to open your heart and mind to Him. Oh, you have to do that humbly and honestly, too.

    In this world as a parent, what do I want from my children first and foremost?

  8. Swordfish,
    Faith is trust which is always evidence based.

    Yes it would be better people didn’t get dementia as it is a particularly cruel slow, heartbreaking death. As to what might not be evidence? Most single objects or scenarios taken on their own aren’t evidence. I could go on for ever about what is bad evidence. Most things are bad evidence. Dementia isn’t evidence of God, nor the signs and symptoms.

    The point was separate from the existence of suffering or it’s cause. Rather the effects, sometimes, of suffering, for me, do render much evidence that faith itself works just as that evil exists. If faith works, it’s more evidence for God.

    The evidence for God is not of a physical nature and that evidence, weighed on balance, is an individual matter. The two most important pieces of evidence for me?

    Firstly, the abstract considerations of the universe and it’s beginnings and it’s bifold nature seeming to be physical and metaphysical; Secondly, personal experience through work and life. Thirdly, all of the rest which is contained within the bible and in history which makes sense of it all in a way that naturalism alone does not as it can be waved away.

    When a patient says they have a mysterious pain it is well to believe the patient and keep their faith in searching. Wherever the pain is they have a problem, even if it’s at a higher level! Can I be conned? Yes, but I don’t care much and it doesn’t happen very often. One man who’d resorted to throwing furniture and swearing and shouting because I told him he was okay and could go back to work stopped me on the street to say sorry two years later. He was swinging the lead and was depressed. It bothered me that I’d done something to provoke him and took it as a sign that he had the nerve to say sorry. I nearly gave it all up.

    Well you’re right about faith in general being a varied thing. However to say that all faith is bad or dangerous is wrong. ISIS is based on lies and evil. Nobody disagrees on that, even the vast majority of muslims. The numbers will never be known. That bad exists isn’t a reason to blame faith itself. It depends what you’re up to.

    I don’t mean to be clever but you have faith in the pilot if you fly, enough to stake your life on him.
    Yet you’ve never met him nor know what he looks like, what his other plans are that day?

    How does naturalism explain beauty or love? It’s too elaborate. Darwin lost his faith because of grief, not his theory. Yet the grief persisted. Naturalism has nothing to say to these human problems.

  9. @ cdquarles,

    “Why should He reveal himself to you since you would rather lie to yourself and never accept Him?”

    Where do I even start with this? First of all, I’m not lying to myself, it would appear you are far more likely to be doing that as it must be pretty difficult for Christians not to have doubts. Secondly, where do you get the idea that god would only reveal himself to those who already believe in him? Not only is that at best childish and at worst morally evil, it contradicts the claim that ‘he’ sent his son to save us. What was the point of all those miracles and the resurrection, if not to convince nonbelievers?

    Also, I used to be a Christian (as did many atheists) but never got any answers to my prayers. Many others have the same experience, maybe a majority.

  10. @ Joy,

    “Faith is trust which is always evidence based.”

    Dictionary: ‘Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.’

    Not evidence-based. Religious faith isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself, but it often leads to evil due to the sense of certainty it engenders, and it’s a demonstrably poor way of determining truth.

    “you have faith in the pilot if you fly, enough to stake your life on him.”

    I assume he/she has been properly trained, and this is a different use of ‘faith’ to the religious one. See definition above.

    “How does naturalism explain beauty or love?”

    Through evolution. We’ve evolved to experience those feelings to increase our survival chances. Sorry if you don’t like such plain facts, but it doesn’t make the feelings any less meaningful.

  11. [quote=Joy] It’s vague enough but I don’t think God needs angels to be his helpers like some celestial army. [/quote]
    Uh huh! An omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being doesn’t “need” anything at all. But do you suppose that He’s too stupid to be able to do such or too arrogant to want such?

    There’s plenty of indications in Revelation and our temporal reality that such beings do exist and it makes perfect sense as Tom, in his inimitable ponderous style, is trying to explain.

  12. [quote Pinocchiofish]Also, I used to be a Christian (as did many atheists) but never got any answers to my prayers. Many others have the same experience, maybe a majority. [/quote]

    As some wise child once said: “He did answer your “prayers”… He said no.”

    The insufferable hubris of those that imagine that if God doesn’t do what I tell Him then He doesn’t exist. You should join in with the chutzpah of the Rabbis who put “God” in the dock and “teach Him a thing-or-two” about what He should be doing to further their ambitions.

    You have nothing to offer these considerations and discussions except sly swipes at your straw man. Everyone knows the ludicrous ideology of the “Evolution” god/religion because it is relentlessly rammed down everyone’s throat in all the media. You have never offered any reasonable justification for your ideology. About the only thing that can be deduced from your activities here is that you want to shut down any considerations that are not convenient to your irrational ideology.

    I’ll be back later with more criticisms of your ideology.

  13. Hmm, I note well that my question didn’t get answered, but the strawman was knocked down again. To be a Christian you must 1. accept that you are not God and have sinned against God and your fellow man; 2. Seek God and accept Him for who He Is and 3. Seek forgiveness from Him and your fellow man for your sins and love others as you love yourself.

    I have no problem with recognizing my inherent sin inherited from fallen Adam, acknowledging God as who He Is, seeking Him; and I love you even though you don’t love me. That’s why I want you to quit lying to yourself and others.

  14. [quote blaring noseyfish] ISIS have great faith in Allah and just look at the results. Faith isn’t a good thing, and is only invoked because there’s no actual evidence for god.[/quote]

    And atheists have great faith in “Evolution” and just look at the results. Every eugenics programme and “cultural revolution” in the 20th century has had as its fundamental principle “survival of the fittest” and the “evolution” of a master race and a “master ideology”; any of the various forms of communism where the “commoners” have no value except their utility in the service of the great ideology and the elite ideologues.

    Unfortunately for the idiotologues (or “useful idiots” as they have been called) once the despotic regime of “chosen ones” is installed they are dispensable and are dispensed with.

    According to the tenets of “natural selection” the definitive meaning of “natural selection” is the “winner” in a competition for survival. How do you know what is “right”? Well, it’s whatever wins the competition, eh?… according to “Evolution” anyway.

    However sanctimonious you berks like to portray yourselves history tells the story. Untold millions of Catholicky types, clerical, religious and lay have spent themselves in the service of their fellow Man yet you and your mates cherry-pick the few of the baddies and try to tarnish the whole barrel with the slime of them that essentially agree with you.

    What can you claim is wrong with a pretend Catholic that acts as though he believes the same as you? i.e. he is just a blob of chemicals seeking his own pleasure and supremacy for no reason and no end beyond his own (chemical) ego.

    There are Angels… them that do what they are created to do and them that refuse to do so.

  15. Hope you’re still reading Swordfish, after those. Check out the fish at the bottom if you’re busy.
    ….
    “Faith enables trust which in my case is evidence based.”
    The dictionary misses out the evidence, which is there. For example that Jesus Christ existed isn’t disputed by historians. The argument therefore is about whether what he said was true.
    It is very strange that the dictionary claims that faith must be strong!
    The dictionary emphasises what does seem to be the crux but it is important to know the difference between blind faith (which is potentially dangerous) and evidence based, scientifically aware, sound minded belief which does not disappear when some local cause for a thing is determined.

    You could call it spiritual conviction but so is the decision to fly. It’s just that the idea of spirit, like faith, differs in connotation as well as plain meaning. People know what they’re talking about when the faith is not misrepresented and muddying the water.

    No argument there’s no proof or we’d be insane to argue it! We’d all agree and life would be utterly odd. Which is why I assume that it is in the law of God’s creation that there will be no living answer of certainty of God that will satisfy. It is part of the way it all works. There is a reason for mystery itself.
    “God made the Earth round so we couldn’t see too far down the road.” It’s a good thing, for everybody.

    Really trust is based on faith. It’s how it works in my case and am not interested in what some nasty fanatic thinks.

    That there are cruel and hateful people, violent people, prepared to resort to criminality, humiliation, intimidation, torture, harassment, libel, brutality, murder, Just proves people’s nature, not God’s existence.
    Which was the reason for Jesus telling people to love one another and labouring the point. Bad witnesses are not believable.
    It does nothing for ‘The Fate of mankind in general. People seem to believe only in a poor interpretation of the Hebrew bible which contains much about crime and punishment and error of man before they learned the truth; ignoring the faith they claim to represent. Which they depict as a bad day in a dungeon.

    Truth cannot be forced. Some still believe it to their core because they believe their faith is about world domination and special entitlement. Those people do not understand the difference between world and heavenly power. They don’t even remember the lord’s prayer. Old habits die hard!

    “… but it often leads to evil due to the sense of certainty it engenders…absolutely. Thinking you’re on God’s side does not mean you can break the law.
    … and it’s a demonstrably poor way of determining truth.”
    It’s not a way to determine truth. It is a window to help explore truth by other means.
    There are many ways of seeking truth and truth is incontrovertible.

    “ there’s faith in things which are not true, which lead to evil.
    More reason for people to know what difference and look at evidence.

    “Beauty or love?…Through evolution. We’ve evolved to experience those feelings to increase our survival chance
    but it doesn’t make the feelings any less meaningful.” Is beauty a feeling? Outside of ‘I feel pretty’ I’m being serious. A genetic con trick! Who set the trap?

    It does make them less meaningful because it doesn’t explain beauty. Forget the human form for a moment. There is abundant richness of beauty in nature itself, then there is the copying of beauty by artists of all media. Why?
    Why do beautiful inanimate objects survive?
    Survival of the species doesn’t require any of that elaboration. Unless you say that life would be dull without it. Which is bordering on an eternal truth…and begging the question!

    Yet even the bible does explain this in genesis where aesthetics are mentioned, early, as part of the plan. So for me, it’s a better explanation and more evidence that I expected there is purpose and find it is noted from the beginning. God explains our experiences, the quest for truth and mind. Evolution does not answer the why. Or the why we have a need outside of food and shelter. That there is a perfectly good explanation which satisfies the questions asked of real interest. The why’s.
    There isn’t any proof.
    ~~~~
    Explain this: and that people thought is was an intelligent being which created it until they discovered it was a fish! (which don’t exist taxonomically)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B91tozyQs9M
    He’s not invisible to me so he’s not invisible to a female puffer fish either. That is a false explanation.

  16. Oldavid,
    I don’t only believe in angels Do you believe me?

    “An omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being doesn’t “need” anything at all”
    Yes, precisely. But he knows what we need.
    What’s that got to do with precisely what he does with his angels?

    He doesn’t do what revelations says literally. Not because he has no need, can’t or any other dare accusation but he is revealing to us or the observer through their language and comprehension which can only come from what is known or describable in words. Something which means something to everyone, too, despite the ambitions of some, that is the purpose of the word in the bible. Not just for some. In the other matter of revelation mentioned earlier, I’m claiming this not off the top of my head. However my reasoning is not always for public scrutany take it or leave it.

  17. @ cdquarles,

    “Hmm, I note well that my question didn’t get answered, but the strawman was knocked down again.”

    That’s because your question didn’t make sense, for the reasons I explained. As for a ‘strawman’ god, what gives you the arrogance to think you know what god is like? There are billions of religious believers in the world, the majority of whom are not Catholics and they would disagree with you about god so you cannot demonstrate that your idea of god isn’t the strawman one.

    “1. accept that you are not God and have sinned against God and your fellow man;”

    Well that’s me out for a start, as I haven’t sinned against god (which would be a victimless crime, as someone said).

    “2. Seek God and accept Him for who He Is”

    I did that and there was nothing there.

    “Seek forgiveness from Him and your fellow man for your sins and love others as you love yourself.”

    Loving others as you love yourself (what happens if you’re suicidal, BTW?) is unrealistic and silly. It’s against human nature to do so, and I’ve never encountered a Christian who came across as anything other than annoying and patronising when attempting to demonstrate their sanctimonious “love”.

    “I have no problem with recognizing my inherent sin inherited from fallen Adam,”

    There was no “Adam”. The human population has never fallen below 10,000, according to genetic research. The whole concept of original sin doesn’t even make sense, and it’s abusive to knock people down then build them up again.

    “acknowledging God as who He Is, seeking Him; and I love you even though you don’t love me. That’s why I want you to quit lying to yourself and others.”

    I’m not lying to myself or others, that’s what you’re doing.

  18. @ Oldavid,

    “And atheists have great faith in “Evolution””

    Evolution isn’t based on faith and it has nothing to do with atheism. In case you haven’t noticed, the Catholic church and most other Christians accept it as a fact.

    The rest of your comment is completely detatched from reality and not worth replying to, but I’ll just point out that atheism isn’t a political system and it isn’t an ethical system either.

  19. @ Joy,

    “For example that Jesus Christ existed isn’t disputed by historians.”

    You need to do some more research. There are historians who very much conclude that in all probability, no such person as Jesus existed. There is no evidence for Jesus outside of the Bible, so it’s hardly an unexpected conclusion to draw.

    “They don’t even remember the lord’s prayer.”

    I recited that at school every day. The thing that sticks in my mind is that most of it was meaningless to me. “Eden saw play” particularly baffled me. I now think it would make an excellent name for a band.

    ” Is beauty a feeling? Outside of ‘I feel pretty’ I’m being serious.”

    I’m not clear exactly what your point about beauty is. Can evolution explain it? I think it can, at least in outline. I remember reading a book which suggested that classical landscape paintings depicted scenes which were optimal from a survival point of view – good light, distant views to spot predators coming, trees in the foreground for shelter, water nearby, etc. Too prosaic? Maybe, but there may be something to that idea.

    “Survival of the species doesn’t require any of that elaboration.”

    Ask a peacock. Sexual selection leads to a fair bit of elabouration.

    “Or the why we have a need outside of food and shelter.”

    We don’t, if we don’t have food or shelter.

    “He’s not invisible to me so he’s not invisible to a female puffer fish either. That is a false explanation.”

    That Puffer fish video is amazing! I’m afraid I have no idea what point you’re making with it, though, unless you’re demonstrating sexual selection.

  20. @swordfish,

    No, I am not lying. He That Is must exist by logical necessity. Can existence come from nonexistence? I am not limiting Him by any means, nor am I being presumptuous nor arrogant. Denying Him is a sin, by the way; and it isn’t victimless, either. Again, what does any parent want from their children?

  21. Noisy Pinocchio Fish,

    A lack of integrity comes very expensive in the corporate world.

    I hope you are being paid handsomely.

  22. @ cdquarles,

    “He That Is must exist by logical necessity.”

    This isn’t true as there is no logical necessity for god, but even if there was, there can’t be a logical necessity for a specific god such as the Christian one.

    “Can existence come from nonexistence?”

    Prove that a state of non-existence has ever existed.

    “I am not limiting Him by any means, nor am I being presumptuous nor arrogant.”

    Other religious believers would disagree with you as to what god wants/thinks, so you are being pretty arrogant whether you realise it or not.

    “Denying Him is a sin, by the way; and it isn’t victimless, either.”

    I don’t care.

    “Again, what does any parent want from their children?”

    I wouldn’t push this parent/child analogy if I were you. If god is a parent, he’s the worst parent in history. Since when has demanding your children worship you and follow a strict set of rules under the threat of burning them alive been an example of good parenting?

  23. Swordfishtrombone’s comment is, as is his usual, ignorant and idiotic. but this particular bit caught my attention.

    “There are historians who very much conclude that in all probability, no such person as Jesus existed.”

    There are disagreements in just about any field of knowledge — even in Mathematics (though there, the disagreements are different in kind). However, the *overwhelming consensus* of the expert historians is that Jesus did exist; this does not mean of course, that ever expert agree on every detail the gospel laid out (e.g. the virgin birth or the resurrection). The “historians” that deny that Jesus was a real, historical person, are a teensy tiny fringe minority, with no serious proponents or hardly any serious peer-review papers.

    About the mythicist position, Hoffman as this to say here:

    “For those of you not paying attention, the New Atheism has a new postulate: Not only does God not exist but Jesus didn’t exist either. It is a theory that zips past Planet America every fifty years or so, like a comet, then fades away until a new generation of nutters tries to resuscitate it. Lucky us: We are living at the right time.”

    Apparently, the consensus of the experts in the field counts for nothing. Two lessons to be drawn: (1) science-deniers exist (2) everyone is in his epistemic rights to deny the science he dislikes the most as long as he is completely ignorant of it.

  24. Swordfish,
    It’s was taken for granted fact from years ago when first hearing ‘there is more evidence of his existence than that of Julius Caesar’; didn’t check, but trusted that through time many had, given his effect and who he was said to be.

    John Lennox confirms it and Dawkins conceded.
    He consulted historians and couldn’t find one who said he didn’t.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0UIbd0eLxw (37 min and 44:40).

    “Eden saw play” from Morning Has Broken! Good title.
    ….
    The landscape art itself explained by a survival motive. Many aren’t ideal habitat. Pastoral scenes, perhaps. It would appear to be a record of an impression of an experience to share, remember or some pursuit of perfection. Why that kind of contemplation? There’s a need and nature doesn’t become involved in waste, we’re told; So the contemplative mind of man seems to be for nothing. God explains it.

    Arts don’t seem to be motivated by selfishness, quite the opposite. Evolution requires a selfish drive, something more raw. Evolution has to account for all that humans have produced. It wasn’t in architecture, for example. Modern day art reveals a motive of money, broadly speaking, which drives most art these days. A labour of love produces something more beautiful than one without a proper muse.

    Food and shelter are essential for life, beauty isn’t, through a scientific biological perspective.

    The fish’s shell embellished pattern, that most people couldn’t make in a week with a snorkel AND a bucket and spade, is explained by his ‘invisibility’ but he isn’t.
    Is the puffer fish not evidence of a properly universal aesthetic ideal? Have you met a man or a fish that didn’t like it?

  25. Swordfish,

    You just proved my point. About the Christian God, there must be one and the Christian God is the one who said “I AM”. The Christian God is the one who identified Himself.

    Heh, again, you didn’t answer my question. God is the best parent. He doesn’t really ask for much and tells you explicitly what the consequences of your actions will be.

  26. Swordfish,
    Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!
    Old habits die hard.

    God, (if he exists) loves everyone.
    God Is Love. Not the one misrepresented here which uses the same source bible, incidentally, but earlier pre christian notions.

    Spiritual truth can’t be established by force. They disobey the two commandments of Jesus Christ. He kept thing simple.

    It is apparent to all that existence of Jesus of Nazareth clearly doesn’t prove his divinity. I only brought it up to answer the evidence question and I’m sorry.

    When asked directly about threatening people with heaven’s brimstone Jesus gave a very clear answer. He rebuked them for suggesting it.

  27. @ grodrigues,

    “Swordfishtrombone’s comment is, as is his usual, ignorant and idiotic.”

    And your comment is, as usual, rude and arrogant, but doesn’t actually find anything wrong with my comment.

    How exactly is it “ignorant and idiotic” to say “some historians think XYZ”, when some historians do, in fact, think XYZ?

    I didn’t say the consensus of historians. The majority of historians who’ve investigated the Bible are, not surprisingly, Christians. They are therefore overwhelmingly likely to be biased and to weight evidence accordingly.

    I also note that you don’t dispute the fact that there’s no evidence for Jesus outside of the Bible.

    Did Jesus Even Exist? Richard Carrier. (Who is published, peer-reviewed, etc.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUYRoYl7i6U&t=1044s

  28. @ cdquarles,

    “what does any parent want from their children?”

    I don’t know. What do you think is the answer?

  29. @swordfishtrombone:

    “And your comment is, as usual, rude and arrogant, but doesn’t actually find anything wrong with my comment.”

    I take the arrogant bit, coming as it does from a snotty, snarky, boorish ignoramus as a badge of honor. At any rate, it may be rude, but it is also true. As your response shows: “doesn’t actually find anything wrong with my comment”? You have the reading comprehension of an-yet-to-be-conceived-and-aborted human being. And *then* go on to mention Richard Carrier. Priceless, just priceless. Hmmm, what if the argument were about Evolution Theory and I mentioned the existing biologists that deny it? Just wondering out loud anyway, you cannot argue your way out of a paper bag so this would go nowhere; and it is all a mere trifle anyway.

  30. @ grodrigues,

    “I take the arrogant bit, coming as it does from a snotty, snarky, boorish ignoramus as a badge of honor.”

    I thought you would. How old are you, by the way? You come across like a 12-year old pretending to be an old man in a smoking jacket.

    “At any rate, it may be rude, but it is also true.”

    Just, no.

    “As your response shows: “doesn’t actually find anything wrong with my comment”? You have the reading comprehension of an-yet-to-be-conceived-and-aborted human being.”

    A baseless assertion followed by an insult.

    “And *then* go on to mention Richard Carrier. Priceless, just priceless.”

    You forgot to make an argument here. maybe you should spend less time thinking up old man insults?

    “Hmmm, what if the argument were about Evolution Theory and I mentioned the existing biologists that deny it?”

    Then I’d ask for some evidence.

    History is not on the same footing as science and there is no reason to suppose that only the majority viewpoint should be accepted when the majority is very highly biased. Asking Christian historians to investigate the historicity of Jesus is like asking UFO enthusiasts to investigate the historicity of the Roswell Incident.

    In any case, I specifically didn’t say “all historians” or even “most historians”, so your charge is unwarranted.

    “Just wondering out loud anyway, you cannot argue your way out of a paper bag so this would go nowhere; and it is all a mere trifle anyway.”

    Whatever.

  31. @ sft,

    From the second introductory paragraph:

    “Modern scholarship has largely acknowledged the authenticity of the reference in Book 20, Chapter 9, 1 of the Antiquities to “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James”[12] and considers it as having the highest level of authenticity among the references of Josephus to Christianity.[13][1][2][14][15][16]”

  32. @ Kyle,

    “Modern scholarship has *largely* acknowledged […]”

    Not totally acknowledged, and I wonder how much time Christian activists spend editing Wikipedia to suit their very strong prejudicies? My source disagrees with yours, and points out the large number of problems with this passage in Josephus.

    In any case, even if the passage is authentic, it’s talking about Jesus’s (supposed) brother, which is pretty thin evidence for someone who’s supposedly one of the most important figures in history.

    I’m not flat-out saying that Jesus didn’t exist, just pointing out that the evidence for this is far weaker than most people, including atheists, might think.

  33. @ Kyle,

    Hold the front page! It appears that your Wikipedia quote relied on outdated expert opinion which has been overturned by more modern, peer-reviewed research:

    “Josephus on Jesus? Why You Can’t Cite Opinions Before 2014”

    http://tinyurl.com/ya2a7qj5

  34. Noisy fishy thing, you seem to place an awful lot of reliance on specious interpretations of what Josephus said or didn’t say.

    I really don’t give a damn whether Josephus said anything or nothing. There’s much more contemporary and reliable and compelling indicators that Christianity is just what it says it is.

    Your insane religion has no rational basis… it is entirely the product of fanciful speculations with no basis in observational reality.

  35. @ Oldavid,

    “I really don’t give a damn whether Josephus said anything or nothing.”

    I was going to say ‘that’s surprising’, but actually, it isn’t.

    “There’s much more contemporary and reliable and compelling indicators that Christianity is just what it says it is.”

    Such as?

    “Your insane religion […]”

    Atheism isn’t a religion, and how is it ‘insane’ to try and base your beliefs on evidence and reason? I would have thought that it is the actual definition of ‘sane’.

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