Author Topic: Thomist theory of grace and predestination  (Read 9286 times)

Offline LouisIX

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #180 on: May 08, 2017, 06:36:27 PM »
But God (and so His existence or essence) is not identical to (God, X).

Indeed not.  The relevant question is whether God is identical to (God, Creation of X).

Here's the dilemma for Thomists: they must make creation of X either identical to God or identical to X.  If creation of X is identical to God, then X is necessary.

Only with necessity of supposition, not absolute necessity; because it is possible to suppose that God had chosen not-X rather than X. There are things which God has by the absolute (logical and metaphysical) necessity of His being God (Pure Act), and there are things that God (physically) has only because He has freely willed them from all eternity. God freely wills X through His essence, without X in any way determining His essence. So indeed, X is necessary, but without in any way limiting God's liberty, as its necessity comes only through God's choosing it. Pure Act is still Pure Act, without any change in Himself, whether He creates the visible world or not. This is what Thomists mean when they say that God willing / creating X is no accident in God. As for how God can physically will X, Y, Z, etc., without this causing a change in God - St. Thomas quotes St. Dionysius that in God is: "the material immaterially, the divisible indivisibly, and the many unitedly,"; God wills all X, Y, Z, etc., not through many separate acts but through willing Himself in one simple act.

But Q will come back and assert that if God's self-subsisting existence is willed in the same simple act as His willing contingent creaturely act X then the creaturely act must be identical with God's nature. This is why I think it's important to recall the vast difference between human and divine willing, which recognizes the radically external nature of the movement which is premotion (in regard to the divine will).

John, where is the above text from?
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Offline LouisIX

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #181 on: May 08, 2017, 06:41:08 PM »
Also, I think it's important to note that the first point made by Thomas in the quoted material from John is not just Thomas. Lombard says almost exactly the same.

“Whether he [God] can do something in another or a better way than he does.” Lombard responds, “If the method of operation is related to the wisdom of the craftsman, it can neither be other nor better. For he cannot do anything otherwise or better he does, that is, with another wisdom or a greater wisdom: for he can make nothing more wisely than he does make it. But if the method is related to the thing itself which God makes, we say that the method can be both other and better. And with respect to this, it can be agreed that what he makes, he can make better and other than he does, because he can furnish to some things a better mode of existence, and to others a different one.” The Sentences, Book 1, Dist. 44, Cap. 2, §4

In other words, I maintain that, while it is possible for God to have created the universe different than He did, He would never have actually done so. So Q's positing of other universes is entirely hypothetical. It's possible in the abstract but under the supposition of an unchanging wisdom, the universe that exists is the one that God would always have created, as it were.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 06:52:04 PM by LouisIX »
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Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #182 on: May 09, 2017, 01:38:12 AM »
... I maintain that, while it is possible for God to have created the universe different than He did, He would never have actually done so. So Q's positing of other universes is entirely hypothetical. It's possible in the abstract but under the supposition of an unchanging wisdom, the universe that exists is the one that God would always have created, as it were.

I don't understand this. It seems to be saying if God has unchanging wisdom and creates at all, then He would necessarily create the current universe (because He would never have created another one).

(Or, in other words) If you say God supposedly could have created something less perfect (or different) but never would (because of Who He IS), then I don't see how He really COULD have created something less perfect (or different). Unchanging Wisdom is a given.

God could have created a different universe, but He created this one and "saw that it was good".  He would have created another one if He (from eternity) chose another one, and it too would be good. "Choosing" is said analogously of God; there isn't a pot full of choices or multiple eternities.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 01:46:39 AM by Non Nobis »
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Offline John Lamb

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #183 on: May 09, 2017, 02:57:10 AM »
John, where is the above text from?

http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles1.htm

The full quote from Dionysius is chapter 58, but he quotes it (in part) in chapter 77. The relevant chapters are 73-77, 80-83

73. That the will of God is His essence
74. That the principal object of the divine will is the divine essence
75. That in willing Himself God also wills other things
76. That God wills Himself and other things by one act of will
77. That the multitude of the objects of the will is not opposed to the divine simplicity

80. That His own being and His own goodness God wills necessarily
81. That God does not will other things in a necessary way
82. Arguments leading to awkward consequences if God does not necessarily will things other than Himself

edit: if you're asking about the long text, I provided the url at the bottom.
Here it is again: https://tinyurl.com/lwm3u3g

« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 10:44:25 AM by John Lamb »
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Offline John Lamb

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #184 on: May 09, 2017, 03:05:11 AM »
I think it's interesting how, in the text I posted, we find repeatedly the phrase, "there are possible worlds where God exists and . . ."
I think this might show some of the gap between the medieval terminology and the modern, because it's seems nonsense to me to say "possible worlds where God exists and", as though there could possibly be a world where God, the very ground and cause of all existence, does not exist. God isn't an object that exists in some possible worlds and not others . . . He's the cause of there being any possible world in the first place. In other words, there is no possible world where God does not exist, or, it is impossible for God to not exist.
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Offline LouisIX

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #185 on: May 09, 2017, 03:32:23 PM »
... I maintain that, while it is possible for God to have created the universe different than He did, He would never have actually done so. So Q's positing of other universes is entirely hypothetical. It's possible in the abstract but under the supposition of an unchanging wisdom, the universe that exists is the one that God would always have created, as it were.

I don't understand this. It seems to be saying if God has unchanging wisdom and creates at all, then He would necessarily create the current universe (because He would never have created another one).

(Or, in other words) If you say God supposedly could have created something less perfect (or different) but never would (because of Who He IS), then I don't see how He really COULD have created something less perfect (or different). Unchanging Wisdom is a given.

God could have created a different universe, but He created this one and "saw that it was good".  He would have created another one if He (from eternity) chose another one, and it too would be good. "Choosing" is said analogously of God; there isn't a pot full of choices or multiple eternities.

Absolutely speaking, God could create any universe which He likes, but that doesn't mean that He would ever actually have created a different universe. What difference could account for God deciding to create a different universe than the one He indeed created?

Under the supposition that God is going to create a universe according to His divine wisdom, it seems to me that He would decide to create this one, but that's not an absolute necessity because God would always retain the power to have made it otherwise.
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #186 on: May 09, 2017, 09:11:21 PM »
Too many posts to respond to individually in detail, but I'll just point out that defenses of Thomism such as we see here are philosophically and logically incoherent and obviously so, and thus it isn't too much of a leap to think the system as a whole is. 

I want to draw attention especially to this: In my view, it is unreasonable to suppose that Aquinas is guilty of a large, explicit, obvious, and uncomplicated contradiction.

No, it isn't.  Anyone can make mistakes.  Aquinas may be a Saint, and a Doctor of the Church.  But he is still a human and does not possess the charism of infallibility.  He disagreed with St. Bonaventure and St. Anselm on various things: and they are also Saints and Doctors of the Church.  They cannot all be correct.  St. Anselm, in fact, made quite an obvious mistake in his defense of the ontological argument.

But to see the contradiction requires modern modal logic and possible worlds semantics, unknown in St. Thomas's time (at least in its current form).  So it's not surprising it didn't come up until now.

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This is my gripe with the way Quare handles himself in his anti-Thomist zeal. Quare, you get upset when amateurs question the results of material scientists, but then you seem to want to have Aquinas and centuries of commentators involved in covering up such a glaring error, that an amateur like Perry Robinson could see what said experts could not see for centuries.

In other words, you are simply going to reject even the possibility of such out of hand, under the pretext I reject what non-scientists say out of hand on the basis they are not scientists (which is certainly not true; sometime scientists are wrong and egregiously so).

What matters is what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what is false; not who is saying it.

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Which do you think is more likely: that Aquinas and all his scholastic and neo-scholastic commentators, which have received the Church's special approbation, have made such a drastic blunder in a central point in theology - or that you and Perry Robinson misunderstand their doctrine?

Again, what is relevant is not what anyone thinks a priori is more likely to be true but what is true and can be demonstrated to be true.

Quote
[If creation of X is identical to God, then X is necessary] Only with necessity of supposition, not absolute necessity; because it is possible to suppose that God had chosen not-X rather than X.

If I've heard the sophistic argument about the distinction between necessity of supposition vs. absolutely necessity, I've heard it a thousand times.  If creation of X is identical to God, and God is absolutely necessary, then creation of X is absolutely necessary.  This argument is valid and so any arguments about why creation of X is not absolutely necessary, if true, prove creation of X not identical to God.

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There are things which God has by the absolute (logical and metaphysical) necessity of His being God (Pure Act), and there are things that God (physically) has only because He has freely willed them from all eternity.

And exactly what is His freely willing them?  Identical to Him, yes or no?  If yes, then freely willing X IS His essence, so the rest of the argument falls through.  If no, then what is it, and why does it exist?

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But Q will come back and assert that if God's self-subsisting existence is willed in the same simple act as His willing contingent creaturely act X then the creaturely act must be identical with God's nature.

Yes....

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This is why I think it's important to recall the vast difference between human and divine willing, which recognizes the radically external nature of the movement which is premotion (in regard to the divine will).

The only way you can really posit a difference between human and Divine willing that actually solves the problem at hand without mere hand-waving (exactly what do you mean by "radically external nature") is to admit Divine willing (or causation, if you prefer) of creatures is non-deterministic, in which case there really is no difference in God but only in the moved.  Modern quantum mechanics strongly supports that conclusion.

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In other words, I maintain that, while it is possible for God to have created the universe different than He did, He would never have actually done so. So Q's positing of other universes is entirely hypothetical. It's possible in the abstract but under the supposition of an unchanging wisdom, the universe that exists is the one that God would always have created, as it were.

This is philosophically and logically incoherent.  If creating another universe were against God's nature as Wisdom, it is not something He could do, since He cannot act contrary to His nature.  If creating another universe were not against God's nature (any aspect of it), then there is no coherent reason why He would not.

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I think it's interesting how, in the text I posted, we find repeatedly the phrase, "there are possible worlds where God exists and . . ."
I think this might show some of the gap between the medieval terminology and the modern, because it's seems nonsense to me to say "possible worlds where God exists and", as though there could possibly be a world where God, the very ground and cause of all existence, does not exist.

To say there are possible worlds where God exists and X, Y, Z does not entail there are possible worlds where God does not exist, and I'm sure Dr. Stumpf does not mean to imply this.  If you think it does, then you need to get more acquainted with modern terminology.

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God isn't an object that exists in some possible worlds and not others . . . He's the cause of there being any possible world in the first place. In other words, there is no possible world where God does not exist, or, it is impossible for God to not exist.

Modal logic recognizes this.

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Absolutely speaking, God could create any universe which He likes, but that doesn't mean that He would ever actually have created a different universe. What difference could account for God deciding to create a different universe than the one He indeed created?

VERY good question, to which there is no good answer...

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Under the supposition that God is going to create a universe according to His divine wisdom, it seems to me that He would decide to create this one, but that's not an absolute necessity because God would always retain the power to have made it otherwise.

If this is the only universe concordant with His divine wisdom (which I deny), then His nature demands this is the universe He creates.  To claim that God would have the power to act contrary to His Wisdom is incoherent.
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Offline LouisIX

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #187 on: May 09, 2017, 09:33:03 PM »
You have the power to stick your hand into a meat grinder, but you'll never do so according to your wisdom. That doesn't mean that you lack the power. So, is it possible for you to stick your hand in a meat grinder? Of course. It is possible that God could have created other universes given the divine omnipotence, but, given the divine wisdom, there's no reason to expect that He ever would have done so. This is why I'm stating that He never would have actually created a different universe.
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Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #188 on: May 10, 2017, 12:56:26 AM »
... I maintain that, while it is possible for God to have created the universe different than He did, He would never have actually done so. So Q's positing of other universes is entirely hypothetical. It's possible in the abstract but under the supposition of an unchanging wisdom, the universe that exists is the one that God would always have created, as it were.

I don't understand this. It seems to be saying if God has unchanging wisdom and creates at all, then He would necessarily create the current universe (because He would never have created another one).

(Or, in other words) If you say God supposedly could have created something less perfect (or different) but never would (because of Who He IS), then I don't see how He really COULD have created something less perfect (or different). Unchanging Wisdom is a given.

God could have created a different universe, but He created this one and "saw that it was good".  He would have created another one if He (from eternity) chose another one, and it too would be good. "Choosing" is said analogously of God; there isn't a pot full of choices or multiple eternities.

Absolutely speaking, God could create any universe which He likes, but that doesn't mean that He would ever actually have created a different universe. What difference could account for God deciding to create a different universe than the one He indeed created?

Under the supposition that God is going to create a universe according to His divine wisdom, it seems to me that He would decide to create this one, but that's not an absolute necessity because God would always retain the power to have made it otherwise.

LouisIX and QMR, some thoughts...

Speaking anthropomorphically (as though God were in time)...

When God "decided" to create any world, and then (whatever it was) "looked back" to see if He might do it better (or create a different one).. He wouldn't, because it would have been perfectly fitting and in accord with His Wisdom in the first place...

But when God first "considered" what world to create... I think He was not limited (infinite "good" worlds that would be in accord with His Wisdom were possible).  But He had His Divine reasons for creating the world He did. "Reasons" is said analogously when speaking of God's infinite Wisdom; however I am sure they were infinitely bound up with God becoming man. There is no better way of manifesting God's glory (the reason for all creation) than infinitely,  through Christ.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 01:28:34 AM by Non Nobis »
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #189 on: May 10, 2017, 11:52:59 AM »
You have the power to stick your hand into a meat grinder, but you'll never do so according to your wisdom. That doesn't mean that you lack the power. So, is it possible for you to stick your hand in a meat grinder? Of course. It is possible that God could have created other universes given the divine omnipotence, but, given the divine wisdom, there's no reason to expect that He ever would have done so. This is why I'm stating that He never would have actually created a different universe.

For me, power is distinct from wisdom, so I have the power to act in a way that is not wise.  For God, however, His power is identical to His wisdom.  So it is logically impossible for any given hypothetical universe to be consistent with His power but inconsistent with His wisdom.
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #190 on: May 10, 2017, 01:48:33 PM »
I'll put this in a way where the problem can't be muddied by sidetracks about accidents and attributes or about appeals to motion "ad extra" (whatever that is).

Here are the premises, which every Thomist would accept (I think):

1.  An (ontological) thing either is or is not; non datur tertium.  (Premise)
2.  A thing that is either exists in act or in potency; non datur tertium. (Premise)
3.  Two things that exist are either identical to or not identical to each other; non datur tertium. (Premise)
4.  For anything which exists and is not identical to God, God wills it to exist.  (Premise)
5.  Willing of anything is an ontological thing, related to the thing willed as cause to effect. (Premise)
6.  This universe (meaning, the set of all existing things excluding God) exists. (Premise)
7.  There cannot exist an infinite chain of hierarchically subordinated (per se) causes. (Premise)
8.  God's existence is absolutely necessary.  (Premise)

And the logical argumentation:

9.  God willing this universe is or is not. (1,5).
10.  If the willing of the universe were not, this universe would not exist. (4)
11.  Therefore, the willing of this universe exists. (6,9,10)
12.  Willing of this universe exists in act or in potency. (2,11)
13. If the willing of the universe existed in potency, this universe would not exist. (4)
14. Therefore, the willing of this universe exists in act.  (6,12,13)
15.  Willing of this universe is either identical to or not identical to God's existence. (3,14)
16.  If willing of this universe is not identical to God's existence, then God wills the willing of this universe. (4)
17. By a repeat of (9-16), willing of willing of this universe exists in act, is either identical to or not identical to God's existence, and if not, was willed by God.
18. Willing of willing is related as cause to effect. (5)
19.  Therefore this chain cannot go on to infinity (willing of willing of willing of willing...) but must terminate at a willing identical to God's existence. (7,15,18)
20.  Such willing is absolutely necessary (8, 19)
21.  Therefore, willing of willing of willing, etc., down the chain until willing of the universe are absolutely necessary (5)
22.  Therefore, the universe is absolutely necessary (5,21).

This argument is logically valid.  That means, the conclusion is entailed by the premises.  It is not a refutation to merely explain why the conclusion must be false without saying which of the premises you reject (and why).  But rejecting any of the premises is fatal to Thomism.

The real purpose of traditionalist polemics is not to find truth, but to attempt to construct an epistemological fortress rendering one's worldview impervious to attack.
 

Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #191 on: May 10, 2017, 05:26:09 PM »
I'll put this in a way where the problem can't be muddied by sidetracks about accidents and attributes or about appeals to motion "ad extra" (whatever that is).

Here are the premises, which every Thomist would accept (I think):

1.  An (ontological) thing either is or is not; non datur tertium.  (Premise)
2.  A thing that is either exists in act or in potency; non datur tertium. (Premise)
3.  Two things that exist are either identical to or not identical to each other; non datur tertium. (Premise)
4.  For anything which exists and is not identical to God, God wills it to exist.  (Premise)
5.  Willing of anything is an ontological thing, related to the thing willed as cause to effect. (Premise)
6.  This universe (meaning, the set of all existing things excluding God) exists. (Premise)
7.  There cannot exist an infinite chain of hierarchically subordinated (per se) causes. (Premise)
8.  God's existence is absolutely necessary.  (Premise)

And the logical argumentation:

9.  God willing this universe is or is not. (1,5).
10.  If the willing of the universe were not, this universe would not exist. (4)
11.  Therefore, the willing of this universe exists. (6,9,10)
12.  Willing of this universe exists in act or in potency. (2,11)
13. If the willing of the universe existed in potency, this universe would not exist. (4)
14. Therefore, the willing of this universe exists in act.  (6,12,13)
15.  Willing of this universe is either identical to or not identical to God's existence. (3,14)
16.  If willing of this universe is not identical to God's existence, then God wills the willing of this universe. (4)
17. By a repeat of (9-16), willing of willing of this universe exists in act, is either identical to or not identical to God's existence, and if not, was willed by God.
18. Willing of willing is related as cause to effect. (5)
19.  Therefore this chain cannot go on to infinity (willing of willing of willing of willing...) but must terminate at a willing identical to God's existence. (7,15,18)
20.  Such willing is absolutely necessary (8, 19)
21.  Therefore, willing of willing of willing, etc., down the chain until willing of the universe are absolutely necessary (5)
22.  Therefore, the universe is absolutely necessary (5,21).

This argument is logically valid.  That means, the conclusion is entailed by the premises.  It is not a refutation to merely explain why the conclusion must be false without saying which of the premises you reject (and why).  But rejecting any of the premises is fatal to Thomism.

You reject  the conclusion. So you reject one or more premises; which ones (2,12?), and why? Explain your idea of God's non-deterministic causality (and ideas of potency, act, relation...), as they fit in here. Forget you ever heard of Thomism.  What is your explanation of God creating or willing X?
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Offline An aspiring Thomist

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #192 on: May 10, 2017, 06:34:33 PM »
Premise five is wrong if applied to God and the Trinity.
 
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #193 on: May 11, 2017, 09:16:27 AM »
Premise five is wrong if applied to God and the Trinity.

OK, what is meant is:

5.  Willing of anything is an ontological thing, related to the thing willed as cause to effect for anything willed not identical to God.

No Thomist would deny this, and the argument is still valid.
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Thomist theory of grace and predestination
« Reply #194 on: May 11, 2017, 10:02:39 AM »
You reject  the conclusion. So you reject one or more premises; which ones (2,12?), and why? Explain your idea of God's non-deterministic causality (and ideas of potency, act, relation...), as they fit in here. Forget you ever heard of Thomism.  What is your explanation of God creating or willing X?

First, I'd like to see the necessary intellectual honesty from Thomists or Thomism-defenders to admit the argument is valid, that therefore denial of the conclusion entails denial of one of the premises, and which of the premises they would deny.  For many, unfortunately, allegiance to Thomism takes precedence over truth.  There was one implicit premise which should have been made explicit, and I'll take AAT's statement into account:

1.  An (ontological) thing either is or is not; non datur tertium.  (Premise)
2.  A thing that is either exists in act or in potency; non datur tertium. (Premise)
3.  Two things that exist are either identical to or not identical to each other; non datur tertium. (Premise)
4.  For anything which exists and is not identical to God, God willing it to exist is a necessary and sufficient condition for its existence.  (Premise)
5.  For anything willed not identical to God, its willing is an ontological thing, related to the thing willed as cause to effect . (Premise)
6.  This universe (meaning, the set of all existing things excluding God) exists. (Premise)
7.  There cannot exist an infinite chain of hierarchically subordinated (per se) causes. (Premise)
8.  God's existence is absolutely necessary.  (Premise)


9.  God willing this universe is or is not. (1,5).
10.  If the willing of the universe were not, this universe would not exist. (4)
11.  Therefore, the willing of this universe exists. (6,9,10)
12.  Willing of this universe exists in act or in potency. (2,11)
13. If the willing of the universe existed in potency, this universe would not exist. (4)
14. Therefore, the willing of this universe exists in act.  (6,12,13)
15.  Willing of this universe is either identical to or not identical to God's existence. (3,14)
16.  If willing of this universe is not identical to God's existence, then God wills the willing of this universe. (4)
17. By a repeat of (9-16), willing of willing of this universe exists in act, is either identical to or not identical to God's existence, and if not, was willed by God.
18. Willing of willing is related as cause to effect. (5)
19.  Therefore this chain cannot go on to infinity (willing of willing of willing of willing...) but must terminate at a willing identical to God's existence. (7,15,18)
20.  Such willing is absolutely necessary (8, 19)
21.  Therefore, willing of willing of willing, etc., down the chain until willing of the universe are absolutely necessary (5)
22.  Therefore, the universe is absolutely necessary (4,21).

Lest anyone try to muddy the waters "absolutely necessary" is meant in the modal logic sense of "is true in all possible worlds" so what I am saying is that Thomism logically leads to modal collapse (e.g. this world is the only possible one).  So it is not a refutation to say that God's existence is absolutely necessary but this universe is only necessary with a necessity of supposition (it is ontologically dependent on God and only exists under the supposition that God exists and wills it).  That is admitted, but it is not the sense of "absolute" meant here.

Of course I deny 5.  Every other premise can be known to metaphysical certainty.  Willing simpliciter is an ontological thing, but willing of this thing or that thing is not.  It is a relation.

The real purpose of traditionalist polemics is not to find truth, but to attempt to construct an epistemological fortress rendering one's worldview impervious to attack.