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Grand Theories and Everyday BeliefsScience, Philosophy, and their Histories$
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Wallace Matson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812691

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.001.0001

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Jerusalem Collides with Athens

Jerusalem Collides with Athens

(p.132) (p.133) Chapter 17 Jerusalem Collides with Athens
Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Wallace Matson

Oxford University Press

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

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