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Dr. Dennis Bonnette

About

Dr. Dennis Bonnette retired as a Full Professor of Philosophy in 2003 from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. He taught philosophy there for thirty-six years and served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1992 to 2002. He lives in Youngstown, New York, with his wife, Lois. They have seven adult children and twenty-five grandchildren. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970. Dr. Bonnette taught philosophy at the college level for 40 years, and is now teaching free courses at the Aquinas School of Philosophy in Lewiston, New York. He is the author of two books, Aquinas' Proofs for God's Existence (The Hague: Martinus-Nijhoff, 1972) and Origin of the Human Species (Ave Maria, FL: Sapientia Press, third edition, 2014), and many scholarly articles.

   
 

How God Can Know and Cause a Universe of Things

Nature of the Problem God is absolutely simple, meaning that he is not composed of parts, principles, or things. He is a spiritual being, since what is physical is subject to motion and God, as Unmoved First Mover, cannot be subject to motion. It seems unimaginable that a simple, pure spirit could both know and cause the nearly infinite myriad of things that God has created. Yet, it is demonstrable that he causes each creature and knows each one individually. That God causes all finite things follows... Read More

God: Eternity, Free Will, and the World

Rather than present a systematic defense of all the divine attributes involved in this article, my purpose here is to explore some philosophical doctrines about God whose interrelationship appears perplexing, if not outright contradictory – drawing on whatever elements of natural theology are needed. Starting with a proof of God’s immutability, I will then consider his eternal life and how it is possible for him still to have free will. Finally, I will consider how it is possible for an eternally... Read More

How Proofs for God Lead to Divine Simplicity

According to the First Vatican Council, the existence of God can be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason through those things that have been created. (De Fide)1 Pope Pius X specified this statement more exactly by affirming that God’s existence can be known “as a cause is known with certainty through its effects, from those things that have been made, that is, by the visible works of creation….” (Sententia fidei proxima).2 Since every being must have a sufficient reason... Read More

How God’s Nature Is Known: The Three-Fold Way

Acceptance of God’s existence is conditioned for many on whether or not a convincing proof thereof can be presented to them. But for others, it is not a problem of proving that God exists, but rather questions about whether the  concept of a Supreme Being is even coherent. Many atheists or agnostics simply find the classical conception of God to be unintelligible. God is said to be omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, all good, omnipresent, and so forth. But to many it is not at all clear how... Read More

How Cosmic Existence Reveals God’s Reality

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) famously posed the ultimate question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” To this, theoretical physicist Sean Carroll replies: “The universe can simply exist, end of story.” Still, as I have shown elsewhere, everything must have a reason for its being or coming-to-be, including the cosmos. This metaphysical first principle is ably defended by others as well.1 One distinction must be added: either a thing is its own reason or not. To the... Read More

How “New Existence” Implies God

“Why new existence?” What kind of a question is that? Does it really mean anything? We know that motion or change is real and that everything in motion is moved by another. Moreover, a new paper defends the common sense Aristotelian understanding of motion and time while simultaneously definitively refuting certain misinterpretations of modern physics. But what does all that have to do with “new existence?” Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Being a finite or limited being... Read More

Whatever is Moved is Moved By Another

“Motion is the act of a being in potency insofar as it is in potency.” - Aristotle, Physics Book III, 201a10-11 In his famous First Way of proving God’s existence, St. Thomas Aquinas says, “It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion.”1 But, are things really in motion? Most people would think that motion in the world is too obvious to doubt. Yet, some, based on theories of modern physics, claim that physical change in the universe is actually... Read More

Why an Infinite Regress Among Proper Causes is Metaphysically Impossible

Presuppositions, definitions, and purpose: This article presupposes the metaphysical first principles of non-contradiction, sufficient reason, and causality, which I defended earlier in a Strange Notions article. By the principle of sufficient reason, I mean that every being has a sufficient reason for its being or becoming. This principle is recognized by virtually all mankind as essential to reality’s intelligibility. By causality, I mean that every effect (a being whose sufficient reason is... Read More

“Brute Facts” vs. “Sufficient Reasons”

The metaphysical principle that every thing must have a sufficient reason for its being or coming-to-be is challenged by those who claim that some “brute facts” exist, that is, things for which there are simply no reasons at all. The opponents of sufficient reason’s universality claim that science works quite well by finding reasons for many things, even though we allow that one thing or some things might turn out just to be “brute facts,” that is, things without a reason. But that is... Read More

Why Modern Physics Does Not Refute Thomistic Philosophy

Today some claim that modern physics evinces that Aristotelian-Thomist philosophy is an archaic myth that has outlived its credibility. They say things like, “If Thomist metaphysics contradicts modern physics, then Thomism is false.” They make claims against Thomism, citing modern physical theories like quantum mechanics and relativity. We are told counterintuitive things, such as that (1) whole universes can pop into existence from nothing according to quantum mechanics, (2) effects sometimes... Read More

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