AI and cognitive psychology rant (getting more and more OT - tell me if I should shut up)

Michele Simionato mis6 at
Tue Oct 28 14:42:28 CET 2003

Robin Becker <robin at> wrote in message news:<t8kqYJA+$om$EwTo at>...

> Even causality is frowned upon in some circles.

Then avoid those circles. When somebody questions the causality
I always point out the Summa Theologica, Part I, Question XXV, art. 4,
"Whether God can make the past not to have been?".


  Objection 1: It seems that God can make the past not to have been.
For what is impossible in itself is much more impossible than that
which is only impossible accidentally. But God can do what is
impossible in itself, as to give sight to the blind, or to raise the
dead. Therefore, and much more can He do what is only impossible
accidentally. Now for the past not to have been is impossible
accidentally: thus for Socrates not to be running is accidentally
impossible, from the fact that his running is a thing of the past.
Therefore God can make the past not to have been.

  Objection 2: Further, what God could do, He can do now, since His
power is not lessened. But God could have effected, before Socrates
ran, that he should not run. Therefore, when he has run, God could
effect that he did not run.

  Objection 3: Further, charity is a more excellent virtue than
virginity. But God can supply charity that is lost; therefore also
lost virginity. Therefore He can so effect that what was corrupt
should not have been corrupt.

  On the contrary, Jerome says (Ep. 22 ad Eustoch.): "Although God can
do all things, He cannot make a thing that is corrupt not to have been
corrupted." Therefore, for the same reason, He cannot effect that
anything else which is past should not have been.

  I answer that, As was said above (Question [7], Article [2]), there
does not fall under the scope of God's omnipotence anything that
implies a contradiction. Now that the past should not have been
implies a contradiction. For as it implies a contradiction to say that
Socrates is sitting, and is not sitting, so does it to say that he
sat, and did not sit. But to say that he did sit is to say that it
happened in the past. To say that he did not sit, is to say that it
did not happen. Whence, that the past should not have been, does not
come under the scope of divine power. This is what Augustine means
when he says (Contra Faust. xxix, 5): "Whosoever says, If God is
almighty, let Him make what is done as if it were not done, does not
see that this is to say: If God is almighty let Him effect that what
is true, by the very fact that it is true, be false": and the
Philosopher says (Ethic. vi, 2): "Of this one thing alone is God
deprived---namely, to make undone the things that have been done."

  Reply to Objection 1: Although it is impossible accidentally for the
past not to have been, if one considers the past thing itself, as, for
instance, the running of Socrates; nevertheless, if the past thing is
considered as past, that it should not have been is impossible, not
only in itself, but absolutely since it implies a contradiction. Thus,
it is more impossible than the raising of the dead; in which there is
nothing contradictory, because this is reckoned impossible in
reference to some power, that is to say, some natural power; for such
impossible things do come beneath the scope of divine power.

  Reply to Objection 2: As God, in accordance with the perfection of
the divine power, can do all things, and yet some things are not
subject to His power, because they fall short of being possible; so,
also, if we regard the immutability of the divine power, whatever God
could do, He can do now. Some things, however, at one time were in the
nature of possibility, whilst they were yet to be done, which now fall
short of the nature of possibility, when they have been done. So is
God said not to be able to do them, because they themselves cannot be

  Reply to Objection 3: God can remove all corruption of the mind and
body from a woman who has fallen; but the fact that she had been
corrupt cannot be removed from her; as also is it impossible that the
fact of having sinned or having lost charity thereby can be removed
from the sinner.


If God himself cannot go against the causality principle, how can we,
physicists? ;)

See for more.

                  Michele Simionato

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