Jerusalem Collides with Athens

Wallace Matson

in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812691
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919420 | DOI:
Jerusalem Collides with Athens

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Judaism held that there was truly only one God, creator, warlord, and legislator, Who accomplished everything simply by willing it. Christianity retained its beliefs about God and imposed this model on the intellectual world. God's omnipotence made everything about nature contingent. Everything imaginable became ‘logically possible,’ hence could be the case should God will it. God imposed the Laws of Nature and could suspend them–miracles. Together these notions added up to the conception of “possible worlds." When gradually Greek learning revived to the point of being a rival to Christian orthodoxy, St. Thomas Aquinas worked out a compromise: Aristotle was held authoritative as to the usual behavior of Nature, including the human body; but the human soul, and truths knowable only by revelation, were the province of the Church. Thus a new membrane was hung up between high and low beliefs, this time a visible one. But it was fairly soon ruptured, notably in the Galileo case.

Keywords: Judaism; Christianity; will; omnipotence; logical possibility; possible worlds; Aquinas; Galileo; miracle; revelation

Chapter.  4846 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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