By William J. Courtenay

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Extra info for Covenant Causality in Medieval Thought: Studies in Philosophy, Theology, and Economic Practice

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At the same time, and by way of a limited kind of defence of the Argument, it is relevant to note that it has commonly gone about in the company of other theistic arguments, and many 46 philosophers have assumed that in any case it cannot be expected to perform unaided the task of proving God. There is perhaps some unfairness in the criticism that the Argument cannot possibly prove the infinite God. Perhaps its function should be regarded as being only that of providing a preparation for other arguments that may have some hope ofleading to more profound conclusions - the Cosmological Argument and the Moral Argument, perhaps.

Admittedly, someone who (like Beattie's son, if we are to believe the story) has not had any religious teaching will hardly have the concept of miracle, and there will therefore be difficulties in introducing him to the notion of divine purposive action through the explanation of certain events as miracles; yet this would seem to be the logical direction in which to proceed. If not, what is the point of such a beginning as Beattie provided? I suggest, then, that in the case of someone who is not predisposed to believe in a divine designer, the kind of thing that it might seem appropriate to seek an explanation for in terms of (divine) purpose is the unique, the unusual; for example, that which surprisingly seems to have a personal reference to oneself.

But the parallel with miracles is clear. The somewhat surprising thing is that Beattie, having attracted the boy's interest by the name on the ground, did not go on to draw an analogy with miraculous events that could be seen to need the same sort of explanation - an explana- 32 tion in terms of (divine) purpose. He went on in fact to talk about entirely regular and orderly happenings, like the workings of people's hands and feet. There is no indication in the story that it was in any sense the extraordinary character, or the complexity of the workings, of hands and feet that he wanted to call to the boy's attention; rather it was the regularity of their working, and their usefulness.

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