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G D His Existence And His Nature -Rev. R. Garigou-Lagrange, O.P.

 

The first two editions of this work, printed in 1914 and published in 1915, were quickly sold out, in spite of the difficulties caused by the war. During the four years which have elapsed since, few works have appeared on this subject, and hence we have not much to add or to modify in this third edition.

However, for the more difficult questions, we have here and there quoted more freely from St. Thomas passages which throw additional light upon the subject. Various pages have been modified for the special purpose of giving a clearer explanation of the proper cause of individual and transitory effects as well as that of universal and permanent effects, and also so as to determine more closely the nature of the free act in God and to give a more exact demonstration of the possibility of miracles.

These changes are to be found in nos. 9, 50 B, 52 D, 62.

 

We could have eliminated some abstract discussions, which refer to the objections of contemporary Agnostics; but our purpose here was not to exhaust the objection, but to establish as soundly and precisely as possible what are the immediate data of the intelligence which constitute the basis of our rational certainty of God's existence.

Some readers requested us to translate the Latin quotations, since a good understanding of them is difficult without being well versed in Scholastic terminology. We have done this in some cases; but on the whole it was necessary to stick to the original, which, for the rest, is explained by the context.

In the English translation an attempt has been made to give a faithful rendering of these Latin quotations.—Tr.

 

We have been particularly careful in the use of terms. Every science has its special terminology. We find this to be so in mathematics, in physics, and in biology; it is the same for philosophy and theology. If we wish to avoid the abuse of circumlocution, we must employ special terms to designate the concepts which are more distinct than those of common experience. That is why we have retained the technical terms, especially where, concerning the existence and nature of God, we explain what it is that distinguishes Nominalism, Conceptualism, and Pantheistic Realism, from that traditional realism the truth of which we demonstrate. The fundamental question is, whether God is merely a name, or an idea, or the universal being of all things. Is He truly the One who is, infinitely superior by reason of His absolute simplicity and immutability to the world of corporeal and incorporeal beings—a world which is essentially composite and subject to change?

We have added by way of appendices a critical inquiry into certain special difficulties, which have been submitted to us since the publication of the first edition.

Only the second of these appendices was contained in the first two editions.

 

The difficulties follow the order of subjects discussed in this work and refer to such questions as these:

Concerning the proofs of God's existence: I. The synthesis of the Thomistic proofs for God's existence and the notion of the proper cause. II. The validity of the principles of inertia and conservation of energy.

Concerning the distinction between God and the world: III. The simplicity of the analogical notion of being. IV. The various forms of Pantheism refuted by St. Thomas.

Concerning Providence and divine causality: V. St. Thomas and Neomolinism. A synthesis of the teaching of St. Thomas is given on these questions.

A detailed exposition of these problems would have unduly impeded the progress of the demonstrations given in the course of this work. Moreover, we shall see that the discussion of these problems serves but to confirm our demonstrations. We would not have written the last of these appendices, if it had not been necessary in answer to the criticisms which we received, and this gave us an opportunity to synthesize the scattered teaching of St. Thomas on these great problems. May these closing pages, far from the noise of dispute, cause some souls to understand better the words of Our Lord: "If thou didst but know the gift of God." (John IV, 10).

The first two editions lacked an alphabetical index of the subjects discussed and the principal authors quoted. The one now given, even though not detailed, will enable the reader to group together the various aspects of the same question, explained in different parts of the book.

May this book, in spite of its rather abstract character, give to those who read it that real joy which is the result of having seen the truth, and cause them to have a greater love for the Author of all goodness, in whom we must find our happiness. "Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God." (Matt. V, 8).

 








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