Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. Much praise to God for a large donation that came in from a friend today. It is good to know that when you are at hard times in your life, you do have friends in your life. God always provides. Today, we’re going to go back to our study of the doctrine of God and we’re going to crack open once again the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. If you do not have your own copy to crack open, you can use your browser instead and go to newadvent.org. We are discussing the topic of God’s knowledge and asking if God knows infinite things.
This is an interesting one for we know that an infinite can only be known successively by us. We know one part after another and as soon as one person thinks he knows all the parts, there are still more parts. We cannot know infinite things for this is how we possess knowledge in this life.
Aquinas asks us to consider how we know what men are. When I look at an individual, I can know this man or that man. For instance, I have friends who are identical twins. However, there are some minor differences that I can see so that when I see one of them, I know which one it is. (Granted, I still have not learned to tell their voices apart)
However, it is not by my senses alone that I can tell they are men alone, but it is by the intellect pondering what has come through the senses. I can look at each of them and tell certain things about men. I can look at women and tell certain things about women. I can look at men and women and tell certain things about humanity.
All of these I learn through inference. I take this piece of information and from that I reason to this piece of knowledge. However, God does not think in the same way as he learns nothing by inference for if he did, then he would be dependent on something else for his knowledge. There would be, in essence, knowledge that existed outside the mind of God.
God, rather, knows all things at once as it has been said, by knowing himself. Aquinas does not include this in the knowledge of vision however as we’ve already seen his position on infinities in the material world. Things can be relatively infinite, but he does not hold to actual infinities, save for God alone who is infinite not in a quantitative sense but in a qualitative sense. God is without limits.
The importance of this question for us is that it helps us better understand how it is God knows the material world. We are beings that reason from sense experience and the drawing of inferences to conclusions. This is also a problem with a scientism worldview that believes that all truth is that which can be explained through the scientific method. Proper inferences are to be followed for every field and that is philosophical. The method collects the data. Sound reasoning works with the data. God, however, does not know as we know. He knows all things eternally by knowing himself.
We shall continue tomorrow.