I Dont Have Enough Faith to be an Evolutionist - Skepticism of Evolution

There's a lot to unpack.

Let's start with the end :

(09-15-2019, 09:33 PM)Augustinian Wrote: And death, even in regard to animals, is something I take issue with before the Fall because it is a privation of life, which would go against the integral good. Yes, it would be a good for lions to eat lambs as they are today, but the Fathers appear to agree that the pre-Fall state of carnivores is that of herbivores given that the privation of life would introduce an evil into creation. And it is not the place of animals to introduce evil, but man, due to the order God set within creation.

You have a mistaken notion of "the integral good" and it is something which St Thomas Aquinas already took issue with (ST I, q. 22, a. 2, ad 2)

Quote:Objection 2. Further, a wise provider excludes any defect or evil, as far as he can, from those over whom he has a care. But we see many evils existing. Either, then, God cannot hinder these, and thus is not omnipotent; or else He does not have care for everything...

Reply to Objection 2. It is otherwise with one who has care of a particular thing, and one whose providence is universal, because a particular provider excludes all defects from what is subject to his care as far as he can; whereas, one who provides universally allows some little defect to remain, lest the good of the whole should be hindered. Hence, corruption and defects in natural things are said to be contrary to some particular nature; yet they are in keeping with the plan of universal nature; inasmuch as the defect in one thing yields to the good of another, or even to the universal good: for the corruption of one is the generation of another, and through this it is that a species is kept in existence. Since God, then, provides universally for all being, it belongs to His providence to permit certain defects in particular effects, that the perfect good of the universe may not be hindered, for if all evil were prevented, much good would be absent from the universe. A lion would cease to live, if there were no slaying of animals; and there would be no patience of martyrs if there were no tyrannical persecution. Thus Augustine says (Enchiridion 2): "Almighty God would in no wise permit evil to exist in His works, unless He were so almighty and so good as to produce good even from evil." It would appear that it was on account of these two arguments to which we have just replied, that some were persuaded to consider corruptible things—e.g. casual and evil things—as removed from the care of divine providence.

So, the example of the lion is straight from St Thomas Aquinas.

Later in Question 48, Article 2, St Thomas is even more explicit :

Quote:As, therefore, the perfection of the universe requires that there should be not only beings incorruptible, but also corruptible beings; so the perfection of the universe requires that there should be some which can fail in goodness, and thence it follows that sometimes they do fail. Now it is in this that evil consists, namely, in the fact that a thing fails in goodness. Hence it is clear that evil is found in things, as corruption also is found; for corruption is itself an evil.

And replying in Objection 3 to the person who would assert that God always creates the best, so there cannot by nature be any evil in creation :

Quote:God and nature and any other agent make what is best in the whole, but not what is best in every single part, except in order to the whole, as was said above (I:47:2). And the whole itself, which is the universe of creatures, is all the better and more perfect if some things in it can fail in goodness, and do sometimes fail, God not preventing this. This happens, firstly, because "it belongs to Providence not to destroy, but to save nature," as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv); but it belongs to nature that what may fail should sometimes fail; secondly, because, as Augustine says (Enchir. 11), "God is so powerful that He can even make good out of evil." Hence many good things would be taken away if God permitted no evil to exist; for fire would not be generated if air was not corrupted, nor would the life of a lion be preserved unless the ass were killed. Neither would avenging justice nor the patience of a sufferer be praised if there were no injustice.

Later in the Prima Secundæ, Question 85, St Thomas explains that death is natural to man. It would follow then, if it is natural to man, a fortiori, it is natural to what is less than man, namely the animals and plants.

His argument is that :

Quote:Universal nature [as] an active force ... intends the good and the preservation of the universe, for which alternate generation and corruption in things are requisite: and in this respect corruption and defect in things are natural ... although every form intends perpetual being as far as it can, yet no form of a corruptible being can achieve its own perpetuity, except the rational soul... Consequently as regards his form, incorruption is more natural to man than to other corruptible things. But since that very form has a matter composed of contraries, from the inclination of that matter there results corruptibility in the whole. In this respect man is naturally corruptible as regards the nature of his matter left to itself, but not as regards the nature of his form ... Whereas the fact that it is corruptible is due to a condition of matter, and is not chosen by nature: indeed nature would choose an incorruptible matter if it could. But God, to Whom every nature is subject, in forming man supplied the defect of nature, and by the gift of original justice, gave the body a certain incorruptibility, as was stated in the I:97:1. It is in this sense that it is said that "God made not death," and that death is the punishment of sin.

So while it is natural for our soul to be immortal, it is also natural to our body that we die, and it is only because God in Original Justice, supplied a præternatural immortality that the body was totally subject to the soul and thus immortal.

The consequence of that argument, however, is that if the only created thing which is properly immortal by nature is the rational soul, then those creatures without rational souls would even more naturally die, since they have no rational soul.

The point is that St Thomas sees no incompatibility of animal death before the Fall with Scripture. He was clearly aware of the Fathers, since he quotes them in other places, so did not see their arguments as definitive or even the common opinion.

This is an important point that a lot of people, like Hugh Owen and the Kolbe Center miss. They fall into the same trap as the Modernist resoursement. They quote the Fathers, but fail to look at the developments in theology which correct some notions that are not dogmatic in some Fathers. They will speak of how "all the Fathers" teach a point and fail to understand that not all do, or even many, and when some do it is not done so ex professo—in order to teach a doctrine which is to be held—but rather often in passing or as an assumed point.

This is normal that later theologians will take more refined points, and sometimes contradictory points than the Fathers on points where there is no universal agreement on a point of dogma. For instance St Thomas corrects St Augustine on several points surrounding grace and its operation.

It is fine to go back to the Fathers, but one also has to realize that in doing so, one also has to read the Fathers in context of the next 1500 years or so of theology and the Magisterium.

And thus the most interesting passage from St Thomas is Prima Pars, Question 96, Article 1, in his response to the second objection (my emphasis):

Quote:In the opinion of some, those animals which now are fierce and kill others, would, in that state, have been tame, not only in regard to man, but also in regard to other animals. But this is quite unreasonable. For the nature of animals was not changed by man's sin, as if those whose nature now it is to devour the flesh of others, would then have lived on herbs, as the lion and falcon. Nor does Bede's gloss on Genesis 1:30, say that trees and herbs were given as food to all animals and birds, but to some. Thus there would have been a natural antipathy between some animals.

So, in the opinion of St Thomas, lions, before the fall, most likely did not eat grass and plants, but other animals, because sin did not change their nature.

That also corresponds well with the fact that Adam named the animals before his Fall, and to give a name not only shows mastership, but reflects the nature of the thing named. This is a very Scriptural notion, that a name signifies something essential about the thing itself.

However, if one looks at the names in Hebrew for lion, hawk, eagle, owl, vulture, cobra, adder, viper, and serpent, among many others, we find terms which are sourced from very violent behavior. For instance the Hebrew for "eagle" comes from a verb meaning "to lacerate", and serpent from a word meaning "burning poison". Likewise the Hebrew word used for "beasts" in Genesis 1.24 indicates a carnivore, where as the "cattle" herbivores.

The New Testament arguments from Rom 5.12 and 1 Cor 15.21 also are very clearly referencing human death, not animal or plant death.

And so we have no passage of Scripture which definitively requires that there were no carnivores before the Fall. Instead a quite reasonable argument why there would have been carnivorous animals and thus likely animal death before the Fall, and the pre-eminent theologian of the Church agreeing with this against some Fathers, whose opinion he calls "unreasonable". That's certainly at least worth consideration.

(09-15-2019, 09:33 PM)Augustinian Wrote: Yet there's an issue I take with even this view before the Fall, in both scripture and the teachings of the Church Fathers. Forgive me, I don't mean to hammer you with quotations, but I would just like to back up my point.

I'm happy to have this discussion, and in no way see this as "hammering" at all. Do find defenses of your points. It makes for a good discussion, something previous pages in this thread have sorely lacked!

(09-15-2019, 09:33 PM)Augustinian Wrote: Citing Genesis 1:29-30
Quote:'Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food." And it was so.'
This passage explicitly states, via the order of creation wherein the plants preceded the animals, that plants, herbs and fruits of the earth were created to provide sustenance not only for Adam, but also for the animals and 'beasts' as well. This suggests that before the Fall, all animals would have been naturally herbivorous following in the order of their master, Adam. It wasn't until Adam fell, that, in his role as appointed master of creation, that all of creation followed suit and faced accidental changes to their nature (developing predatory instincts, carnivorous appetites, etc.) Much like how the passions of man were altered.

That is not the only conclusion from this passage.

Several times in Scripture we have synecdoche where a part is used to mean the whole. We have to be careful in such cases, or analogous ones, not to assert that what is said is more exclusive that what is actually said. A perfect example of this is the number of angels at the tomb after Resurrection. One account gives one, another two, and this is often used by Rationalists as a proof of contradiction, when to see one does not mean there were not two. If the passage said "only one" then "two" is a contradiction.

Here, no where do we read that "I give only green plants for food". In fact that's not found in Scripture.

(09-15-2019, 09:33 PM)Augustinian Wrote: But I won't just stop there with scripture, there are various Church Fathers who make the same conclusion:

And it's not my place to take issues with some Fathers, but just to point out that St Thomas thought these opinions unreasonable.

My surmising why these Fathers took this idea is that probably it was the neo-Platonic philosophy and theology they were working with which tended to be highly idealistic, hence a kind of idyllic utopia in Original Justice among even animals, but neglecting that a more realist St Thomas would suggest that Original Justice was something pertaining to men and not to animals and plants as such.

(09-15-2019, 09:33 PM)Augustinian Wrote: Finally, I just want to cite an excerpt from a Fr. Ripperger talk on the same subject, unfortunately he doesn't make any specific references, as I had to find those myself.

I would take issue with Fr Ripperger for two reasons.

Firstly, it is well known that his celebrity status and his tendency to be found speaking about every kind of topic is troubling to me. He is an intelligent man, but there is something odd about the fact that people cite him for every kind of topic and not only this, his sermons and videos and conferences, etc. are everywhere in tradition circles. I don't see that with many other priests, so that's a red flag for me, but only a concern, so not directly applicable to the matter at hand.

The second issue is that he is also a theological advisor for the Kolbe Center. In itself that is not a problem and it is good that such an outfit would have a theological advisor. Laymen doing theology without any formal training like Hugh Owen is very dangerous, without a theological filter.

The issue is that Fr Ripperger seems to play very loose with his theology when it comes to this subject. One SSPX priest who I know well wrote to Hugh Owen about his misquoting St Thomas Aquinas on ST I, q. 45, a. 8. This question deals with the present day and substantial change and is St Thomas asserting that when a substantial change occurs is the new form educed from the pre-existing subject or is it Creation again where God creates ex nihilo a new form. St Thomas asserts the former. Owen uses the question, however, to assert that there is no secondary causality in Genesis 1—i.e. that natural forces do not enter into the adornment of Creation so everything described in Genesis 1 is a direct act of the First Cause. This is not what that question address at all.

The priest who questioned Owen got a response saying that Fr Ripperger said that indeed Owen's claim was not what St Thomas was arguing, but by analogy one could make the argument, so even if it is a misquote of St Thomas, it still is an accurate statement of theology, so it is fine to use St Thomas even if this is not what St Thomas means. That's unreasonable, and is one of the points that made me really start to question Fr Ripperger's orthodoxy as a theologian on such points.
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RE: I Dont Have Enough Faith to be an Evolutionist - Skepticism of Evolution - by MagisterMusicae - 09-15-2019, 11:45 PM

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