Of God and His Creatures
« Prev Chapter LIV. Arguments against the aforesaid… Next »

CHAPTER LIVArguments against the aforesaid statements, and their Solutions

ARG. 1. No access of light to the eye can elevate the sight to see things that transcend the natural faculty of bodily vision. But the divine substance transcends the entire capacity of created intelligence, even more than intellect transcends the capacity of sense. Therefore no light can supervene upon any created intelligence, to elevate it to the capacity of seeing the divine substance.

Reply. The divine substance is not beyond the capacity of created intelligence as though it were something altogether alien from it, as sound is alien from sight, or an immaterial substance from sense, — for the divine substance is the prime object of intelligence, and the beginning of all intellectual knowledge, — but it is beyond the capacity of created intelligence as exceeding its power, as the more excellent sensible objects are beyond the capacity of sense.606606But not so entirely beyond the capacity of telescopes, spectroscopes and photographic plates. — Can we then say that the difference between a created intelligence and the divine is more like a difference of degree than of kind? Can we say that created and divine differ only as finite and infinite in the same kind? We cannot say that: for God is not in any kind (B. I, Chap. XXV), and the same name is predicable of God and His creature only in an analogous sense (B. I, Chapp. XXXII, XXXIV). The difference between Creator and creature is not a difference of degree, and is deeper than any difference of kind. I do not venture to dissent from St Thomas’s solution, and I have no other. But to me the difficulty remains, still outstanding, and apparently insoluble.

Arg. 2. That light which is received in the created intelligence is itself created, and therefore falling infinitely short of God. Therefore no such light can raise the creature to the vision of the divine substance.

Reply. This light raises the creature to the vision of God, not that there is no interval between it and the divine substance, but it does so in virtue of the power which it receives from God to such effect, although in its own being it falls infinitely short of God. For this created light does not conjoin the intelligence with God in point of being, but only in point of understanding.607607Non propter ejus indistantiam a divino intellectu, sed propter virtutem, etc. The light then does not reach the object, and still has the power of carrying the mind’s eye to the object. To say so is to confess that the metaphor of light has broken down.

Arg. 4. What is created, may very well be connatural with some created thing. If then that light is created, there may be some created intelligence, which by its own connatural light will see the divine substance, contrary to what has been shown (Chap. XLII).

Reply. The vision of the divine substance exceeds all natural faculty: hence the light whereby a created intelligence is perfected to the vision of the divine substance must be supernatural.

Arg. 6. There must be proportion between the intelligence and the thing understood. But there is no proportion between a created intelligence, perfected in the aforesaid light, and the divine substance, since the distance between them still remains infinite.

Reply. So there is a proportion between a created intelligence and God as an object of understanding, not a proportion implying any commensurateness of being, but a proportion implying a reference of one to the other, as matter is referred to form, or cause to effect. Thus there may well be a proportion between the creature and God, as the understanding is referred to the understood, or the effect to the cause.608608This is called in the schools proportio habitudinis (St Thomas’s phrase here), sed non existentiae. I have written elsewhere: “There is an analog between the paper plan of the building and the building as it exists. . . . It is obvious that plan and building do not receive the same name in the same sense: yet there is some connexion and relation between the two, a relation of the less to the incomparably greater which it somehow exhibits and represents” (Oxford and Cambridge Conferences, second series, pp. 132, 133). Another, and possibly a more apt illustration, might be supplied by modern ‘graphs,’ I mean one of those ‘curves of temperature,’ or the like, which correspond to, but do not (except a very indirect or highly generic fashion) resemble the facts which they truly represent.

Some have been moved by these and the like arguments to lay down the statement that God is never to be seen by any created intelligence. But this position, besides taking away the true happiness of the rational creature, which cannot be except in the vision of the divine substance, as has been shown (Chap. LI), is also in contradiction with the authority of Holy Scripture, and is to be rejected as false and heretical.609609In this chapter St Thomas labours to dispel the difficulties of ittisâl,—that conjunction of the human mind with a superior intelligence, which Averroes and the Arabian school dreamt of; and thought to see fulfilled in this life (B. II, Chapp. LIX sq.) which is fulfilled, although in a different manner, by Christian faith and charity, sanctifying grace and sacraments; which has its perfect fulfilment in the beatific vision. It is a white counter, inscribed with a new name, which none knoweth but him who receiveth (Apoc. ii, 17). I mean, there are difficulties in the explanation of it, beyond the power of mortal faculties to solve.

« Prev Chapter LIV. Arguments against the aforesaid… Next »


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |