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Thomas Aquinas and Luis de Molina: a historical-critical synthesis in response to the problem of divine foreknowledge

Norris, M. J. (2023) Thomas Aquinas and Luis de Molina: a historical-critical synthesis in response to the problem of divine foreknowledge. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00113610


Since the Congregatio de Auxiliis, the Thomist and Molinist positions on divine foreknowledge have been portrayed as antithetical. Nowhere has this ostensible incompatibility been more vividly played out than the theories’ applicability as a solution to the problem of theological fatalism, the claim that if God has infallible knowledge of future contingent propositions, then human free will is impossible. The thesis argues that while both theories are satisfactory solutions to the problem, there are deficiencies within each that can be addressed by blending the two views. This novel contribution to the scholarship outlines such a synthesis of the Thomist and Molinist positions to resolve the challenge of fatalism and outline a coherent and plausible theory of divine foreknowledge. Through a rigorous exposition of the key concepts of fatalism and freedom, the challenge to the classical theistic concept of articulated, but it is demonstrated that the fatalist position lacks fangs and that a Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP) conception of creaturely freedom can be preserved. A critical exegetical approach is used to assess a range of theories of divine providence, with careful analysis of the merits of Aquinas and Molina’s work in particular. In recognition that Aquinas and Molina’s work relies on a coherent Boethian account of divine timelessness, a firm distinction between God’s eternality and creation’s temporality is defended with an appeal to Special Relativity, Perfect Being theology, and the phenomenological experience of tense. Having demonstrated conclusively the crucial premise of both views, Thomas’ emphasis on the divine vision is integrated with Molina’s recognition of the role of counterfactual middle knowledge to produce a view that overcomes the objections raised against Thomism and Molinism individually. This highly original synthesis based on what I have termed ‘meta-vision’ not merely rebuts serious objections; it opens up major theological debates on prayer, sin, and much more.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Oderberg, D. and De Gaynesford, M.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Philosophy
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:113610
Date on Title Page:November 2022

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