Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stephen Meyer on Coast to Coast AM. Alas, you have to be a member to download clips.

He is a fellow at the Discovery Institute. During the show he maid references to Pete Ward's Rare Earth. He also mentioned his colleagues Jay Richards and Guillermo Conzalez, who wrote Privileged Planet.

Stephen Meyer's new book

Signature in the Cell

He is being interviewed on Coast to Coast AM tonight. If an audio file becomes available, I will put up the link.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Zenit: Cardinal Tauran at World Religion Congress
"We Have To Do Good and To Avoid Evil"

Often a question is asked: "Do objective moral values exist capable of uniting men and of procuring for them peace and happiness?". How do believers answer such a question?

Believers are convinced that ethics cannot only produce norms of behaviour, but must shape the human conscience and help to discover the demands of natural law: we have to do good and to avoid evil. [The First Principle of Practical Reason.] This is a fundamental principle which imposes itself on everybody and which allows dialogue with persons of different religions and cultures.

So as believers, we must be able to indicate to our fellow men and women that our values are fundamental for our fellow men and women in order to foster mutual comprehension, recognition and cooperation among all the members of the human family. [We may share the same ends or goods... but does that necessitate that the means always be the same, in every society?]

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 constitutes one of the highest expressions of the conscience of modern history. No doubt it has contributed to make men and women of our time aware of the patrimony of values inherent to the human person and to its dignity.

Believers nevertheless are in a position of giving a new light by teaching that man has been created in the image of God. They have been created equal. They have received from the Creator inalienable rights among which are the right to live, to be free and to look for happiness. [Is he taking this explicitly from the Declaration of Independence?]

So consequently we have to measure the progress of science and of technology not only according to their results, but also according to their capacity to defend the specificity of the human person and to check if the spiritual fundamental values are prevailing over our instinctive reactions.

It is why so often Pope Benedict recalls the nobility of reason which manifests itself through authentic human behaviour of the person and of the society. It is therefore always urgent to check if in our life the truth prevails over ambiguity. A trend to separate human rights from the ethical and rational dimensions should be resisted.

The legislator should behave in a manner which is ethically responsible because politics cannot make abstraction of ethics nor civil law and legal order can make abstraction of a superior moral law.

The great religious wisdoms and philosophies have to witness to the existence of a moral patrimony widely shared, which forms the basis of every dialogue on moral questions; this patrimony expresses a universal ethical message that man can decipher. The form and the extension of these traditions can considerably differ according to cultures and situations, but nevertheless they remind us of the existence of a patrimony of moral values common to all human beings. For example, the "golden rule": "do not do to anyone what you do not want to be done to you" is found, under one form or another, in the majority of the traditions of wisdom. [And what of the love of God?]

Individuals and communities are able, in the light of reason, to recognize the fundamental orientations of an ethical behaviour consistent with the nature of the human subject himself.
What is a Vocation? According to St. Thomas Aquinas By Joseph Bolin

Whether sinners love God more than themselves with a natural love?

Mr. Kevin F. Keiser writes in response to my use of Garrigou-Lagrange to argue that we cannot love God more than ourselves without grace:

I am well aware of these texts of Garrigou-Lagrange, as well as other similar ones in the Christian Perfection and Contemplation, The Three Ways, and in his commentary on the Summa. I had to undertake the study of them for my doctoral thesis. 
Nevertheless, I still maintain what I said, that in St. Thomas’ mind, the deliberative love of the will is perverted through sin, but not even sin can remove the natural love of God as principle of nature and as extrinsic common good. See for example De Veritate 22, a. 2, ad 3: 
“To the third it must be said that God can be considered in two ways: either in himself, or in his effects. In himself indeed, since he is the essence of goodness, he cannot be not loved. Wherefore, by all those seeing him through his essence, he is loved, and there as much as someone knows him, so much does he love him. But in some of his effects, insofar as they are contrary to the will, such as punishments inflicted, or commandments which seem heavy, God himself is refused, and in a certain way is hated. And nevertheless, it is necessary that they who hate him as so some effects, love him in other effects; just as the Demons themselves, according to Dionysius in the 4th book of the Divine Names, they desire to be and to live naturally, and in this, they desire and love God himself.” 
It is perhaps better explained in the Commentary on the Sentences, lib. 4 d. 50 q. 2 a. 1 qc. 1: “I answer that, A twofold will may be considered in the damned, namely the deliberate will and the natural will. Their natural will is theirs not of themselves but of the Author of nature, Who gave nature this inclination which we call the natural will. Wherefore since nature remains in them, it follows that the natural will in them can be good. But their deliberate will is theirs of themselves, inasmuch as it is in their power to be inclined by their affections to this or that. This will is in them always evil” 
The upshot of this is that… (qc. 5): “Now God is apprehended in two ways, namely in Himself, as by the blessed, who see Him in His essence; and in His effects, as by us and by the damned. Since, then, He is goodness by His essence, He cannot in Himself be displeasing to any will; wherefore whoever sees Him in His essence cannot hate Him. On the other hand, some of His effects are displeasing to the will in so far as they are opposed to any one: and accordingly a person may hate God not in Himself, but by reason of His effects.”

Even better is II-II, q. 34, a. 1: “I answer that, As shown above (I-II, 29, 1), hatred is a movement of the appetitive power, which power is not set in motion save by something apprehended. Now God can be apprehended by man in two ways; first, in Himself, as when He is seen in His Essence; secondly, in His effects, when, to wit, “the invisible things” of God . . . “are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made” (Romans 1:20). Now God in His Essence is goodness itself, which no man can hate–for it is natural to good to be loved. Hence it is impossible for one who sees God in His Essence, to hate Him. 
Moreover some of His effects are such that they can nowise be contrary to the human will, since “to be, to live, to understand,” which are effects of God, are desirable and lovable to all. Wherefore again God cannot be an object of hatred if we consider Him as the Author of such like effects. Some of God’s effects, however, are contrary to an inordinate will, such as the infliction of punishment, and the prohibition of sin by the Divine Law. Such like effects are repugnant to a will debased by sin, and as regards the consideration of them, God may be an object of hatred to some, in so far as they look upon Him as forbidding sin, and inflicting punishment.” 
I realize that these texts are speaking about hatred of God, and not about the inability to love him. Nevertheless, they are quite pertinent, since they all speak of a natural love of God that cannot be subverted or displaced by sin, not even by the obstinacy in actual mortal sin found in the demons and the damned.
It is not sufficient, then, simply to assert that my previous post “goes against the plain meaning of I II 109, 3.” Does St. Thomas go against the plain meaning of I II 109, 3. I should say not, unless by plain you mean not requiring any understanding of the terms used, But I think the plain meaning is, well, what St. Thomas says there, namely, “in statu naturae corruptae homo ab hoc deficit secundum appetitum voluntatis rationalis.” It is quite plainly consistent with St. Thomas’ other thought elsewhere. 
As for Garrigou-LaGrange, my adherence to him is quite strong, but my adherence to St. Thomas is stronger, And I have found that Garrigou-LaGrange is a sure guide to Thomas’ thought, with few exceptions. This is one of those exceptions, where, with the Carmelites of Salamanca and many others, he placed an already existing aversio to God in the will of man in Original Sin, an aversio with which he is born, present even before a child’s first motion of will (as the texts you supplied so clearly point out). St. Thomas, on the other hand, does not think so; he says that in original sin, there is “something corresponding to the aversion [i.e. of actual sin], namely, the destitution of Original Justice” (De malo, q. 5 a. 2). For St. Thomas, the essence of Original Sin is not an inordinate love of self that we are born with, but the loss of the gratuitous integrity of our Original State (which makes it so that our first rational act will certainly be one of inordiinate love of self unless we are helped by grace, I-II, q. 89, a. 6), plus the real culpa that accrues to our nature, since the loss of Original Justice was perpetrated by the human will in the active principle of our nature, i.e. Adam. Even the wound of malice for St. Thomas is by way of privation of a previous order, not by way of position of a perverting self-love (I-II, q. 85, a. 3). 
As for religion in sinners, we agree. As for whether the State can compel acts of religion, I’m not sure, but you might want to look at De Regimine Principum, Bk. 1, ch. 15. My first interpretation would be that before Christ, the State could command acts of religion, but afterwards, it must leave that to the Church,

Mr. Keiser (apologies for misspelling your last name earlier):

I concede that according to these texts, the demons and sinners love God in the way spelled out in those texts. But, we need to keep in my the distinction between an inclination and the will act or volition. Commentary on the Sentences, lib. 4 d. 50 q. 2 a. 1 qc. 1 identifies the natural will with an inclination. Just because the will is inclined to certain acts, does not mean that it is reduced to those acts necessarily. None of the texts show that sinners or the demons actually love God more than themselves. So, the damned may be inclined by nature to love God more than themselves, but they do not actually do so.

The inclination to the love of God (and to love God more than one's self), being natural, is present in children before the age of reason. I believe St. Thomas stipulates that once a child reaches the age of reason he must make a true choice between God and sin. For those who reject God sinfully, they have turned themselves away from God, and they cannot love God more than themselves even with a natural love. The inclination to love God remains but it is not actualized.

Regarding your last comments: here and here -
Also the texts do not directly speak of loving God more than one's self - I think it is correct to say that the love of God more than one's self is possible when we understand that God is greater than our selves, is the final end of all creation, and so on. Is it possible for someone to love God naturally and yet not love Him more than himself [once he has this understanding]? I think it is possible for a disordered or sinning will to do so - the love of God in such a manner is nonetheless made subordinate to the love of one's self (and the rejection of God as the [supernatural] last end). Is it possible for those who are damned to have multiple or successive acts of the intellect and will? It seems that this is the case for the demons and the blessed in heaven while we have not reached the Last Day - but afterwards?