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Catholics and intelligent design: Making too much depend on that pagan, Aristotle


Just up at ENV is Jay Richards’ “Catholics and Intelligent Design, Part 2” (April 14, 2011):

it’s easy to underestimate Aristotle’s influence in Roman Catholicism, due to his influence on the “Angelic Doctor” Thomas Aquinas. The Greek philosopher’s contributions are invaluable.iv Partially for this reason, however, we’ve sometimes failed to keep critical distance between the pagan philosopher and the faith itself. Traditional Catholics are much more likely to have an Aristotelian blind spot than, say, an Epicurean blind spot.Probably the most unaccommodating element of Aristotle’s thought to Christian theology is the idea that the universe is eternal rather than created as the free act of a transcendent God. The implications of this belief in an eternal universe permeate not just Aristotle’s physics but his metaphysics as well.

This is one of the reasons that when Aristotle’s major writings were first introduced to the Christian West in the thirteenth century, they were not received with universal warmth. St. Bonaventure, Thomas’s contemporary in Paris, identified a key danger with Aristotle. …

For more, go here.

Richards, a Catholic, seems to have aimed his piece at the sort of current “Thomism” that argues that if design can be observed in nature, God is diminished thereby.

By exposing the false reasoning of anti-ID neo-Thomists who misread their hero, Jay Richards has fulfilled a desperate need by showing that St. Thomas' philosophy is perfectly compatible with ID science. This issue is far more important than most ID proponents seem to realize. It was Aquinas, after all, who, more than anyone else, explained the compatibility of faith and reason in the first place. StephenB
No. And one thing I don't understand about the whole Thomistic anti ID argument is that the fifth way is even more broad than ID.
The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly. Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer. Therefore, some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.
if design can be observed in nature, God is diminished thereby. Certainly a strange form of Thomism. Has the fifth way been deleted in this new kind of Thomism? Vladimir Krondan

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