From Thomism to Enlightenment Deism/Atheism

Did you know Aquinas' kissing cousin is David Hume? Allow me to explain...

Did you know Aquinas’ kissing cousin is David Hume? Allow me to explain…

How would Thomism possibly lead to Enlightenment Deism/Atheism?

By: Jay

In my twenties, I was completely invested in the fortified religio-philosophical system known as Thomism.  Catholicism was a massive castle of argumentation that was impenetrable to any skeptical challenger that might bombard the system with (what I assumed were) futile attacks.  I recall reading Umberto Eco in his dissertation on Aquinas’ aesthetics commenting that he, too, was once an ardent Thomist until he came to the conclusion that the system just didn’t work.  At that time, I couldn’t understand why anyone would come to that conclusion.  How could something so vast and, as a my friend James Kelley said, “elegant,” be fundamentally flawed? That was some ten years or so ago, and in that span of time, Thomism was completely dismantled.

The path to that dismantling is not the subject of this article, but it is worth noting that I was someone totally invested in it, just as in my earlier years, I was totally invested in Protestantism.  This has been the source of a lot of criticism for me from those who have observed my journey, but I could care less. Any change of view or new path I have taken was taken out of sincere interest in the truth or falsity of the worldview itself, regardless of the consequences of adopting those positions. And I suspect I’ll always be that way.  From my perspective, wouldn’t you rather examine the opposing position to see if it holds water?  What other option is there (assuming one has chosen a lifestyle which allows for such religio-philosophical investigations - a conscious choice I made)?

That said, the point of this article is simply to clarify some points on a recent debate I had with a friend concerning the major reasons that Thomism, as a system, is fundamentally flawed.  In fact, I want to go even further and show how the Thomistic schema is precisely what led to the Enlightenment and the subsequent deism and atheism of the West.  What’s in question here is not Augustine or Aquinas’ motivations or psychology, anymore than I care what Calvin’s motivations were.  What’s in question here is the actual published position of Aquinas (and Augustine by extension), in terms of whether it had an instrumental influence on the Enlightenment and the trek Western philosophy took into modernism and the endless word-sludge we see in philosophy today.  It is my contention that this is correct: the lesser known Eastern critique is right in making the strong claim that Thomism is a pivotal step in the Western trek from what might be termed a revelational epistemology to Enlightenment empiricism, scientism, deism and atheism.

This article is going to assume knowledge of Thomism on the part of the reader, too, since those interested in an abundance of footnotes and citations can easily search the archives for numerous articles full of citations.  Here, we are just going to speak about the system’s golden chain of internal “Dumb Ox” logic.  This also doesn’t mean that I think the Eastern view is itself free from all problems or difficulties, but rather that it provides a strong enough critique that I doubt I would ever be reconciled to Thomism again, as much as I would never be brought back to Protestantism.  Indeed, it is quite evident to me (and has been for the last several years unchallenged) that Thomism, for whatever good points might be salvaged from it, is so fundamentally flawed that it actually propelled the West down its path of downward spiraling dissolution.

The key issue to look at in order to understand this problem in Thomism is God’s relation to, and action in, the world.  Aquinas starts with the assumption of divine simplicity meaning that God is what God has, and God is what God does.  God is actus purus, or pure act, with no potentiality.  His essence is utterly simple, such that anything predicated of God is only distinguished logically.  That means the distinctions made between attributes are only distinctions suited to human finite cognition, and not actual distinctions in reality.  Thus, God’s act of creating might be distinguished from His justice or foreknowledge in the human mind, but in actuality, those acts, attributes and predicates are strictly identical to the divine essence, or ousia, in reality.  This is a fundamental law in Thomism, as well as in Augustine, and should be without question to those who are studied Thomists.  This is abundantly clear in both Summas, as well as in other works like De Veritate. Continue reading

Oblivion (2013) – Esoteric Analysis

Oblivion film poster

Oblivion film poster

By: Jay

Spoiler Alert

Oblivion is the summer’s first big sci fi blockbuster that opened to mixed reivews. Many movigoers and critics are expressing confusion and bewilderment, not understanding the plot. Others are calling it dull and uneventful, yet my conclusion is that they missed the film’s point.  While there are some legitimate questions as to plot points here and there, the narrative itself is not flawed overall in my estimation.  The key to understanding Oblivion is twofold: conspiracy theory and esoterism.  To be more precise, gnosticism and Platonism.

While “gnosis” arises often in JaysAnalysis reviews, there’s a reason why: it is a theme really and truly prevalent in so many Hollywood productions.  The reasons for this are manifold, but in the big picture, “Hollywood is an extension of gnosticism,” as one director put it.  Considering the Oblivion director’s previous work (Joseph Kosinski) with Tron Legacy, we can be assured that the themes are intentional, since they are the same in that work.  I have done an analysis of Tron Legacy here.

As a refresher, since JaysAnalysis has gained a larger audience over the last few months, gnosticism refers to the numerous heterodox, extra-eclessial Christian groups of the first three to four centuries.  Gnosticism encompasses a wide variety of sects with varying influences, ranging from Greek pantheism, polytheism, Platonism, far Eastern mysticism and various Christian texts.  One common thread in gnosticism, however, is the rejection of the God of Moses and the Jewish prophets as the “demiurge.”  In this view, the creator God is actually the devil because, it is believed, He has made man flawed and imposed death.  In this view, theology is reversed and man’s goal is salvation through gnosis or knowledge, leading to escape from this plane of existence.  Plato comes to mind here, with the famous dictum that the body is a prison. Continue reading

Apocalypticism, Republiconmunism and Race-specific Bio-Weapons

All aboard!  Here's your passport to republican utopia!

All aboard! Here’s your passport to republican utopia!

By: Jay

For a long time I’ve held back on my actual thoughts on things, but nowadays I could care less. The actual operation of the entire society has become so absurd, backward, and irrational that it is now comical. For those aware, it is quite evident there is a long term plan to re-engineer and reorganize the western world in particular. The modern world is under the delusion that it has been freed from the prison of “superstition” and “dogma”: Altar and throne have been overthrown and now the “New Man” can arise from the ash heap of millennia of “dark ages” and oppression. Modernity has given us medicine and personal computers, right? Indeed, so onwards towards the great utopia! But is this so?  Why do the day-to-day lives of those of use in modernity seem like everything but the great utopia?  The previous millennia has seen a multitude of millenialist demagogues hellbent on establishing the “Great Society,” yet the he awakening public is becoming aware of the sense that modern utopia is really another form of enslavement, as even Zbigniew Brzezinski has noted on multiple occasions.

But what if the uprising of the masses is not really a good thing? Mass uprisings bring forth the reordering of society under a new hierarchy: not the elimination of hierarchy. Marshalling of the masses for political means has ever been the tool of petty tyrants, demagogues and gainsayers, as well as powerful larger interests. To understand the gigantic farce of the modern world’s beliefs about itself, it is to the ancient world that we must turn. This is a point you will almost never hear mentioned, so grab your pen and paper and get ready for notes. Following upon the French Revolution, most of the western world supposedly rejected monarchy and religion in favor of Enlightenment Republicanism. Obviously this doesn’t mean Sarah Palin and George Bush. By “republicanism” is meant the idea of a republic, and the idea of a republic cannot be divorced from Plato, and an analysis of the Republic should be given, but before that, the stream (or sewer) of millennial sects and movements must be explained.

Prior to the French Revolutionary Jacobins and so-called “illuminists,” came the medieval heretical sects of the Bogomils and Cathari that represented the most significant challenges to papal power. While never an organized front, the sectarians were able to wrest various sections of Europe from Roman primacy, while the compliment in the East could be seen as Islam, representing similarly a gnostic challenge to the Imperial Orthodoxy of Byzantium (such is the origin of Bogomilism, which birthed the western gnostic movements).

Also concurrent with these movements were the Catholic orders that had similar trends, like the Franciscans and pseduo-millennialists like Joachim of Fiore. The Joachimites and some Franciscans foresaw an era of mass pouring out of “the Spirit,” ushering in a “golden age” of humanity living righteously. In fact, Benedict XVI has even written concerning these connections in Joachim as follows:

“Ratzinger dug deep in his research. And he discovered that in Bonaventure, there is a strong connection with the vision of Joachim of Fiore, the Franciscan who had prophesied the imminent advent of a third age after those of the Father and the Son, an age of the Spirit, with a renewed and entirely “spiritual” Church, poor, reconciled with Greeks and Jews, in a world restored to peace.”

I think there is a clear conduit from this to modern revolutionary movements. The Thomas Muntzer rebellion should also be mentioned as important currents of modern socialism, inasmuch as Muntzer attempted to practice perfect and total communism. It is also important that these centers of rebellion were France, Germania and Hungary: future centers of radical communism and “illuminism.” Renaissance humanism and the Reformation gave birth to the revolutionary movements of Illuminism and socialism, yet there are two crucial factors seldom mentioned in treatments of this subject that undergird all these trends: Plato and millennialism. Continue reading