Talking About God
What does it mean to say “God is just” or “God is merciful” or “God is loving”? Do such statements mean anything, rationally? In this essay, I’m going to argue that they don’t--not if we follow the epistemological premises of Thomas Aquinas to their logical conclusions. If I’m right, then Thomistic theology ultimately negates itself, and the first sentence of Genesis, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, begins and ends rational discourse about God.
So let’s begin, in the beginning, with the first line of Genesis--which was accepted as literally true by Thomas for the very reason that it was the first line of Genesis; it was revealed truth, and thus dependent on faith. Yet he acknowledged the rational possibility that the world had no beginning, that it had existed with God "from eternity." In a previous essay (PN 44, Jan/Feb 04), I contended that the beginning of the world was in fact demonstrable--a position held by Thomas’s contemporary, Bonaventure. If Bonaventure was right, then Thomas was wrong even to acknowledge the possibility that the world had no beginning.