Saturday, November 7, 2015

Mike Flynn on the difference between medieval scholasticism and modern fundamentalism:
The entire post from which this quote comes can be found here:

And the third thing, which is what actually got my attention in the first place was that neither Wilson (who said it) or Hibbard (who "reported" it) seem to have a clue about medieval scholasticism.  They seem to think it has something to do with Late Modern, scientificalisitc fundamentalism.

The scholastics, it is well to recall, had no reason to suppose that there were such a thing as evolution, having never seen an example of a new species arising.  In fact, all the kinds known to Aristotle were known to Darwin; and those known to Darwin within Aristotle's geographic scope were already known to Aristotle.  There is no reason to concoct a theory to explain a phenomenon that has never been observed. 

Tommy Aquinas
One scholastic who did consider the concept in passing was Thomas Aquinas (aka Da Man), who wrote:
Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning.
-- Summa theologica, Part I Q73 A1 reply3
IOW, if any new species ever did arise, they would do so through the immanent powers of nature actualizing the existing potentials.  (Much as the word "gat" exists beforehand in the word "cat," being actualized by a simple mutation/phonemic shift.)  Moderns, who do not believe in immanent natures, have a mechanical philosophy "in which nature is seen as a kind of unnatural composite of passive, unintelligent, preexisting matter, on which order has been extrinsically imposed."  This led inevitably to Paley and Dawkins. 

The Louisiana textbook material is further presented as saying:
"God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals." 
Gus Hippo
But there is nothing that actually requires this, and it is a belief that dates pretty much to the 19th century novelty sects.  If we go back a millennium and a half, we find Augustine (who was not a medieval scholastic, the middle age having not yet quite begun).  He wrote:
It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth.  In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in times to come.
-- On the literal meanings of Genesis, Book V Ch. 4:11
IOW, various species need not have come into being at the same time, since God created "what was to be in times to come."  Not only that, but it was the "earth," that is, the natural world, which received from God the immanent power to do this, Gus citing the Bible as his source.

Were I of a puckish frame of mind, I might even say that this means that evolution can be found in the Bible.  Fortunately, I am not; and so I will not. 

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