Aquinas actually dealt with this issue in his _De aeternitate mundi_. There
is a very good article on this subject by John Wippel: 'Did Thomas Aquinas
Defend the Possibility of an Eternally Created World?
(The 'De aeternitate mundi' Revisited)', _Journal of the History of
Philosophy_, 19 (1981), 21-37.
>From: "Bedani G.L.C." <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
> <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: eternal world and aquinas
>Date: Tue, 2 Jan 2001 12:15:07 -0000
>I am responding to your request about a source for the question about
>Aquinas' view of the eternity of the world. I'm afraid I have not followed
>other aspects of the discussion, and your question may have been answered.
>Nevertheless, here goes.
>Aquinas did not himself accept that the world was eternal, but did indeed
>accept that it is possible 'philosophically' to accept the idea. He deals
>with the question extensively in his 'Contra Gentiles' (Book 2, chapters
>xxxi-xxxviii), where he clearly believes that the arguments in favour of
>eternity of the world are respectable but not conclusive. In strictly
>philosophical terms the notion of the eternity of the world can be neither
>proved nor disproved. The notion of the eternity of the world was not in
>itself incompatible with the belief of God's creation of the world, since
>the notion of creation is independent of the notion of 'time' - and it
>be possible to believe that the world is permanently and eternally
>on God's creation. He does, however, assert his own view at the end of
>chapter xxxviii that believers cannot accept the essentially pagan
>philosophical arguments about the eternity of the world.
>There is also a more succinct discussion of the question in Aquinas' Summa
>Theologica (Prima pars, q.46, art.2), where he answers the objections (1-8)
>of those who claim that the doctrine that the world had a beginning is not
>simply an article of faith, but can also be demonstrated through argument.
>It is clear not only in his detailed reply to the objections, but also in
>the first sentence of his 'Respondeo dicendum' (which is always the
>substantive part of Aquinas' own argument) that it is by faith alone, and
>not through demonstration, that the Christian believes that the world did
>not always exist.
>With best wishes,
>From: Richard Landes [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
>Sent: 27 December 2000 04:13
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: eternal world and aquinas
> >Actually I see no intrinsic reason for religion to be concerned with
> >eschatology. Eschatology necessitates a conception of time as limited;
> >it is certainly possible for one to conceive the world as eternal (this
> >St. Thomas' opinion],
>are you sure? some of his contemporaries, like Siger of Brabant, were
>pursued as heretics for so arguing. do you have a source for this
>claim? my guess is that in his attack on Siger (contra averroistas) he
>took on this issue. (anyone read it?) and he does have an extensive
>discussion of eschatology in his summa theologica.
> >even if our human frailty recognizes that its
> >personall alotment is quite limited. Eschatology as a term taken in its
> >proper sense deals with the chronology of the cosmos, not the individual.
> >It seems obvious to me that the monotheistic religions are eschatological
> >for a historical reason; namely that the OT and NT speak of the end of
> >world / the end of time. But not for philosophical or pyschological
>the point is less that the OT and NT speak of the end (far more centrally
>the NT) for whatever reasons, but why people persist in making this the
>center of their concerns and imagining (so far incorrectly) that the end
>(Parousia, for xns) will come in their generation. that, it seems to me,
>calls for psychological reasons to explain.
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