"Prudence, Justice, Rosemary & Tyne" 5-9-2022
“Love follows knowledge.” – Thomas Aquinas
In the Declaration of Independence, Natural Rights expressed as Life, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are presented as representing the foundation on which the Colonists moral, lawful and ethical prerogative to fight for their freedom against a tyrannical monarch bent on denying them the blessings of self-rule, and democracy.
The Founders identified these rights as God Given and therefore inalienable, could not be removed or curtailed (if at all) by any unfair, unjustified, all too often arbitrary and capricious act of government by using the earthen laws of mankind.
The inclusion of God-given Rights opened the door to theological studies including centuries old
Sectarian, Cosmological arguments, or claims that God’s existence can be inferred (we can’t see him) by the study of the physical universe, including evidence by way of empirically based philosophical discovery, and a scientifically generated basis as applied through the Laws of Physics.
This combination of Natural and Eternal Law, philosophy and science as a recipe for a morally, ethically and acceptable form of proper government (democracy was found to be the best fit) is not new.
For our purposes, let’s begin in Ancient Greece when Aristotle identified the “Unmoved First Mover”, that first set the universe in motion. Aristotle also theorized that only an unmoved mover, an entity wholly concerned with itself and not necessarily seeking to instigate change, still had the potential ability to move the world from outside time and space, aka the physical world, introducing movement from potential into actuality causing what we describe as motion.
To build upon Aristotle’s theories that God’s existence must be demonstrated at least initially by His effect upon the physical universe, we journey to the years 1225-1274 the time Thomas Aquinas, a Benedictine Monk wrote an instructional guide for students “Summa Theologiae” including his illuminating “Five Ways” analysis/arguments for the existence of God.
In Part I Aquinas identifies the concept of God as the “universal first cause” and God’s non-actions that set the universe in motion. In Part II, Aquinas attributes Cause and Effect as further proof of God’s existence. In recognition of the re-occurring and predictable outcome of certain repeating events, not all acts are random. So, some acts must be subject to a cause capable of generating a repeating outcome, while other do not.
Aquinas points out these differences suggest that some causes are more important than others therefore creating a hierarchy of “necessary” effect ostensibly developed to keep a better sense of order in the material world.
In Part III, Aquinas couples the “necessary” component of his hierarchy of effect to a higher level, where “necessary” is matched with “Unnecessary” as in a perishable contingency, where some things simply need not exist.
But again, total contingency cannot exist for it does not exist and the reason is the God is imperishable. God did not exist before Himself, and therefore cannot change Himself. To maintain the contingency, one cause must be imperishable in and of itself. One must remain eternal, and Aquinas understood this to be God.
In Part IV Aquinas turns to Gradation, as further proof of God’s involvement, this time in the area of let’s call it degrees of goodness. If it is true that our purpose on Earth is to follow a rational hierarchy of truth, nobility and ethical behavior, there must be a being who causes the best outcome, so we can see, or sense it, recognize and evaluate “good over bad”, “more or less” and proceed accordingly. Aquinas again attributes the role of decider/provider to the only one who could supply it. In this circumstance, God.
In Part V Aquinas finishes “Five Ways” dissertation with pointing out the need for a Final Ends, as illustrated by the observation a great many objects in this world lack even the most basic of intelligence. This should make them unable to move in any predictable pattern as they lack the basic intelligence to do so. (MAGA comes to mind.) Yet they do. Therefore, it must be an entity with intelligence to which again, God must be the answer.
The Final Ends is also notable for a corollary often referred to “Intelligent Design”. Intelligent or Efficient Design that allows for the formulation of an “ends” or, a specific goal for the intelligent to strive for.
Yet today, even with the help of the ancient Greeks, Plato and Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and countless others, well, maybe not Jean-Pierre Sartre, who couldn’t get over the cynical “hole in his heart” left by atheism, humanity has not been able to develop a good understanding of the proper place for what constitutes human life within the far broader concept of simply “life”.
Again, based upon his “Five Ways” Aquinas provided some guidance. Aquinas believed that when it came to an orderly, divinely ordained way of life, he believed in stages of life. He identified plant life, animal life and human life as each having its own unique activities, all relevant to their role in the real world.
Plants can take in food, grow and reproduce, all necessary functions to survive. Animal life has senses, sight, smell, hearing and tasting. All valuable abilities in the scheme of things. Human life is further qualified by intellect, willpower and the right to be able to think and choose for oneself.
However, these revelations have yet to produce an actual logically acceptable time for when human life begins. Plato thought life began prior to conception. There are no less than seven other theories of when human life begins.
With the recent rise of ignorance, and emotion, mostly rage, taking the place of reasonable analysis of any kind, the issue of abortion continues to drag itself forward with or without the need for any reasonable, rational, religious, or non-religious, confirmation, verification, proof, authorization, substantiation or authorization for any of its positions on when human life begins.
For the MAGA crowd, affirmation has taken the place of information. They only hear what they want to hear. In place of their mistaken belief that God has abandoned them, mostly due to the depravity (them) and rejection of the words of the gospel (them), and our choice as Democrats to legalize abortion (we did that), allow for persons of the same sex to marry who they love (we did that), marriage between different races (we did that), educate the poor and undeserved (we did that), allow homosexuals to serve in our military (we did that).
Show compassion, kindness, and empathy toward those who are less fortunate (we did that), offer immigration to the strangers among us, provide healthcare for the sick, build back better, and provide tax breaks to children to help pull America’s future out of poverty. Yes, we did all that.
For the record, Thomas Aquinas opined a fetus, not an embryo, became a human life around the fifth month. But hey, it’s so much easier to hear words like “electrical activity” is the same as a heartbeat (it’s not), inception, conception (immaculate optional), point of insertion (that sounds dirty probably because I got it from a meme) and “I just know it’s alive” than take an informed by something other than a meme position that bears some resemblance to human intelligence, as opposed to well, what I would describe as a living, breathing rock.
I’m reminded of the story and times of Onan. Duty bound to impregnate his brother’s widow Tamar, Onan chose in the interest of breaking the line of succession, “spilled his seed” and was slain for his act of not masturbation, a common misconception, but coitus interruptus.
Problem was at the time of the indiscretion, bad biology claiming the entire human being was contained within the sperm with little known about and even less mind paid to the ovulation process, led to what I would label a punishment that did not fit the crime. All his fault sounded good, but for once, it wasn’t true.
Today, we are grappling with a whole new set of false procreation beliefs based upon nothing resembling what an ordered universe of rational thought and reason might look like. Incest and rape are violent criminal acts that have no justification for forced birth, a crime much like involuntary sterilization that has always (till now) been classified as a crime against humanity.
What is the justification for placing the life of a fetus/embryo above that of the living, thinking, breathing and intelligent, possessor of free will mother that by any reasonable evaluation of let’s call it intelligent design should be forced to give up her life with no exceptions for even the most serious of health-related reasons?
Is this faith in action? I say it is a cynical power-grab for a dying segment of our population that is watching their “culture” of child-brides forced into arranged adult marriages, for nothing more than to increase the birthrate of white babies, saving these impressionable young children from falling prey to a “groomer” from the LGBTQ community, or even worse, from marrying a democrat in league with the devil himself.
Now, after 50 yeas of trying to overturn Roe v Wade, the full power of the now thoroughly corrupted SCOTUS has entered the fray.
Now, those of us who have refused to drink the crazy water soon to be further tainted by the blood dripping off a clothes hanger after a failed back-alley abortion, isn’t it time to start looking at the big picture?
Can the question of when human life begins face rational resolution by the courts, politicians, mostly men who want to regulate the vagina, yet can’t find the clitoris? Clerics? Pedophile congressmen from Florida who have no qualms about crossing state lines with a minor or paying her through Venmo? Cash me outside indeed.
Or, here me out, is it possible, that perhaps the decision about whether to abort a fetus should remain primarily with the mother? Or, if she so desires, in consultation with her doctor or family members? I have yet to see an actual rational response to that proposition. I don’t know about you, but I have never met a woman who got pregnant for the singular experience of having an abortion.
These women deserve our kindness and compassion and not the misdirected wrath and scorn of the fellow American who would go so far as to arrest the mother for murder, lock up her doctor for life and even arrest her Uber driver (if she can afford one) for aiding and abetting in a crime?
I end on this sobering note. After a discussion with a supposedly conservative sparring partner concerning the issue somewhat along the lines of this essay, but a bit more skewed to the basic issue of why, if there is a God, evil can exist in His perfect world, I received the standard non-answer (wouldn’t want any MAGA to think too hard) of “Oh c’mon Phil, even you know only God knows the answer!”
I replied with “If that is so, then why are you trying to tell me what He thinks?” Followed by you guessed it, crickets. It was like that. Come to think of it, it’s always like that, isn’t it?
Did Thomas Aquinas get it right? I don’t know. But if he were alive today, I guarantee you this. He would have been a democrat and by following his general commitment to harmony through reasonable and rational observations and practical applications of a loving, kind and inclusive God who favors intellect over chaos created by ignorance and emotion, in the long term, perhaps not too long at that, Democrats, by electing Democrats will prevail on the intertwined issues between the Natural and Eternal. Including, when does human life begin? Thoughts?
This Communique was influenced by and prepared with inspiration and assistance from Father Charlie Ara.
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