and Nature and Motion in the Middle Ages, editor (Washington: The Catholic Revue des Questions Scientifiques 171 (4) 2000: 319-347. He doesn’t mean that a thing with some perfection is perfect as God is supposed to be perfect. Similarly, many of the critics of the general conclusions of evolutionary biology, as we shall see, also confuse the order of biological explanation and the order of philosophical explanation. Traditionally, the Big Bang has been seen as a singularity at which the laws of physics break down. . Now a thing is said to be perfect if it lacks nothing according to the mode of its perfection. . William E. Carroll "Creation, Evolution, and Thomas Aquinas." But the absence of good, taken in a privative sense, is an evil; as, for instance, the privation of sight is called blindness. Those like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, who argue for a denial of creation on the basis of evolutionary biology, see the incompatibility between evolution and divine action in fundamentally the same way as theistic opponents of evolution. Earthquakes that devastate whole cities and cripple or kill thousands or tens of thousands of innocent people. Reprinted with permission of the author, William E. Carroll. [14] For Aquinas, there is no conflict between the doctrine of creation and any physical theory. "We see in the transition from an earth peopled by one set of animals to the same earth swarming with entirely new forms of organic life," he wrote, "a distinct manifestation of creative power, transcending the known laws of nature: and, it appears to us, that geology [i.e., catastrophism] has thus lighted a new lamp along the path of natural theology. Getting back to natural or physical evil, it may be hard to see how such evils are supposed to be privations. Aquinas notes that although the interpretation regarding successive creation, or what we might call "episodic creation," is "more common, and seems superficially to be more in accord with the letter," still that of simultaneous creation is "more conformed to reason and better adapted to preserve Sacred Scripture from the mockery of infidels. Richard Lewontin's review of Carl Sagan's, Francisco J. Ayala, "Darwin's Revolution," in, The debate about contingency in evolutionary processes and the implications of such contingency for notions of purpose, meaning, and finality in nature occurs in the domain of natural philosophy, and is, as I have suggested, quite separate from the topic of creation and evolution. But the form itself is signified by the species; for everything is placed in its species by its form. Italian Christian theologian and philosopher. Such an application of his doctrine of creation to the human soul depends on his arguments about the existence and nature of the soul, arguments which he advances in natural philosophy. Although we do not have to appeal to divine action in the natural world to account for what the empirical sciences discover, it does not follow that a materialist account of reality is true. Evolution and creation take on cultural connotations, serve as ideological markers, with the result that each comes to stand for a competing world-view. Aquinas gives the classic example of blindness: a lack of an ability to see; but, more specifically, it is a lack of sight in something to which it is due, that is, in the sort of thing which has (or should have) that ability, and so is supposed to see. His insight though is to note that what is most or fundamentally desirable is a thing’s existing – its own being. It is a sad fact of the world that it contains many instances – even a superabundance – of evil: injury, disfigurement, disease, disability, natural disasters: hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, fires, drought. [43] Necessity in nature is not a rival to the fundamentally different kind of necessity attributed to God.[44]. He produced a comprehensive synthesis of Christian theology and Aristotelian philosophy that influenced Roman Catholic doctrine for centuries and was adopted as the official philosophy of the church in 1917. Since natural or physical evil is real and objective, and since evil is the privation of goodness due to a thing according to its nature, the natures of things have to be real and objective as well, in order for things to suffer these natural evils. [11], Thomas Aquinas' Understanding of Creation. Aquinas explains that the objective nature of a thing specifies its various perfections, goods which do (or should) belong to it, for it to be complete in its being. So, evil is not created at all; it is a lack, and the lack results from good things pursuing their own perfection at the expense of goods of other things. Furthermore, for the Greeks, since something must always come from something, there must always be something; the universe must be eternal. The same with diseases: microbes or cancer tumors are beings, but their evil consists in the disfunction and non-being they cause; indeed, some microbes are good for humans by aiding their being, e.g., in digestion. Physics cannot explain the primal Big Bang; thus we seem to have strong evidence, if not actual proof, for a Creator. The encounter between the gospel and the culture of his time formed the nerve centre of Thomas’s position and directed its development. Among William Lane Craig's many works in defense of this position one should examine the book he co-authored with Quentin Smith. Such an insistence has its source in a literalistic reading of Genesis, which Aquinas would reject. Aquinas saw no contradiction in the notion of an eternal created universe. This debate between kalam theologians and Averroes [17] anticipates, as we shall see, discussions in our own day about evolutionary biology and divine action in the world. Obviously, the contemporary natural sciences are in crucial ways quite different from their Aristotelian predecessors. One reaction, made famous by some Muslim thinkers, known as the kalam theologians, was to protect God's power and sovereignty by denying that there are real causes in nature.