Transubstantiation in modern science: How can substance change without accidents
#1
I understand in Transubstantiation the substance changes but accidents stay the same, since according to modern day science substance is determined by molecular structure, how does transubstantiation work. Or how are we to understand it? ???
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#2
(12-06-2012, 02:21 PM)jim111 Wrote: I understand in Transubstantiation the substance changes but accidents stay the same, since according to modern day science substance is determined by molecular structure, how does transubstantiation work. Or how are we to understand it? ???

Substance is not determined by molecular structure ...

The accidents refer to everything perciptible. This includes what we perceive with our unaided senses, with eyeglasses, with microscopes. It includes everything we can determine about structure at the molecular level. A Host put through atomic absorption spectroscopy (this would be sacrilegious to actually do) would, we expect, show the same results as an unconsecrated host.

The substance is the essential nature of something, which is changed for the host in the Mass. This is something we cannot explore with scientific investigation at all, since everything that can be investigated using technological means approaches the accidents only.

Does that help?

Think also about the Eucharistic miracles, e.g. at Lanciano, when the Host was actually turned to blood in a visible way ... that is an exception. Usually a Host's accidents don't change at all, even under an electron microscope.
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#3
(12-06-2012, 02:21 PM)jim111 Wrote: Does that help?

Perhaps answering this question will help with my understanding. 

"Transubstantiation differs from every other substantial conversion in this, that only the substance is converted into another — the accidents remaining the same — just as would be the case if wood were miraculously converted into iron, the substance of the iron remaining hidden under the external appearance of the wood."
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm

In this senario, if it is not the changing of molecular structure that defines substance then what determines the substance of something?
If it is not the molecular structure, then what reason to we have to believe that there is something else that makes wood, wood?
A plant grows form soil into wood. How do we know that the wood substance is not actually dirt with rock accidents?
If we cant detect substances then how could anyone know they exist? How do we know if we are changing substances, or if everything is the same substance with different accidents? How do we know the priest is not concerting something with the accidents of bread but substance of something else?

Perhaps my problem is my understanding of substance, I have read new advents description and it did not help me with this problem.
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#4
(12-06-2012, 03:30 PM)jim111 Wrote:
(12-06-2012, 02:21 PM)jim111 Wrote: Does that help?

Perhaps answering this question will help with my understanding. 

"Transubstantiation differs from every other substantial conversion in this, that only the substance is converted into another — the accidents remaining the same — just as would be the case if wood were miraculously converted into iron, the substance of the iron remaining hidden under the external appearance of the wood."
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm

In this senario, if it is not the changing of molecular structure that defines substance then what determines the substance of something?
If it is not the molecular structure, then what reason to we have to believe that there is something else that makes wood, wood?
A plant grows form soil into wood. How do we know that the wood substance is not actually dirt with rock accidents?
If we cant detect substances then how could anyone know they exist? How do we know if we are changing substances, or if everything is the same substance with different accidents? How do we know the priest is not concerting something with the accidents of bread but substance of something else?

Perhaps my problem is my understanding of substance, I have read new advents description and it did not help me with this problem.

The distinction between substance and accidents is from Aristotle. The idea is that there is something fundamentally there, which is related to but not the same as the accidents (which we perceive).

The substance is not the accidents but deeper, or inside, or at a smaller level. It's a totally different thing. How do we know molecules even exist? We know from the accidents -- every experiment in the history of chemistry supporting atomic/molecular theory is interpreted by looking at things directly or through instrumental analysis -- all accidents.
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#5
Is substance matter, if not is it physical or metaphysical?

Under our current science the very nature that defines a things is by its molecular makeup, are you saying we must reject the current understanding of atoms and how they work?
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#6
(12-06-2012, 04:07 PM)jim111 Wrote: Is substance matter, if not is it physical or metaphysical?

Under our current science the very nature that defines a things is by its molecular makeup, are you saying we must reject the current understanding of atoms and how they work?

The distinction between substance and accidents is a metaphysical one.

Physically, scientifically, we are only concerned with accidents. Spiritually, we can discuss both.

I accept the scientific understanding of atoms/molecules (within reason -- there's a lot we don't know, quantum theory has not been completely worked out, etc) but it has nothing to do with substance.

"Our current science" only says that the very nature of things is it's molecular makeup (or whatever it's lower level structure is) only because scientists are concerned with accidents. They (scientists) speak of the nature of an object as it's accidents, including it's structure, mass, shape, whatever.  They do not consider the substance at all.

Remember substance defined metaphysically (Aristotle, Aquinas) is not the same thing at all as substance as in chemical substance.
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#7
The Scholastics, who accepted Aristotle's definition, also distinguished primary substance (substantia prima) from secondary substance (substantia secunda): the former is the individual thing — substance properly so called; the latter designates the universal essence or nature as contained in genus and species.
(New Advent)

So is transubstantiation a change in  substantia secunda?
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#8
(12-06-2012, 04:52 PM)jim111 Wrote: The Scholastics, who accepted Aristotle's definition, also distinguished primary substance (substantia prima) from secondary substance (substantia secunda): the former is the individual thing — substance properly so called; the latter designates the universal essence or nature as contained in genus and species.
(New Advent)

So is transubstantiation a change in  substantia secunda?

It is a change in substantia prima.  The actual individual thing is different. It was bread, now it's not (it's Our Lord). It was wine, now it's not (it's Our Lord).

Substantia secunda is a logical distinction, looking more universally at substance-ness in a category (at least that's how I understand it, I could be wrong as this is not easy stuff). For example if any Host is concentrated, you can say "that individual piece of bread is now no longer bread." So the substanstia prima was changed.

"Breadness" has not been transformed however, so the substantia secunda has not changed.
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#9
It is my understanding that the metaphysical change of transubstantiation is not just the addition of something metaphysical, but the change from its old metaphysical state to a new one. Do all things of matter have physical and metaphysical parts.
It was my understanding that only when the soul entered a body, that there was a metaphysical interaction between the physical and spiritual world.
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#10
(12-06-2012, 05:44 PM)jim111 Wrote: It is my understanding that the metaphysical change of transubstantiation is not just the addition of something metaphysical, but the change from its old metaphysical state to a new one. Do all things of matter have physical and metaphysical parts.
It was my understanding that only when the soul entered a body, that there was a metaphysical interaction between the physical and spiritual world.

This all depends upon definitions. If metaphysics includes everything that is not in science (physics) then it includes discussion of substance. That doesn't mean metaphysics is limited to spirit. Physical things have substance and accidents. But the scientIfic approach ignores substance.

A human body has accidents and substance but the substance is in a sense incomplete unless joined to a soul.

Is perhaps your difficulty coming from seeing metaphysics as only related to the spiritual?

I'm not sure if this is helping? Transubstantiation is a real metaphysical change, but not a physical one. You will never prove it by physical methods (excepting the miraculous cases like Lanciano).
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