What if Thomas Aquinas had been a tabloid journalist?


It seems that Elvis was not kidnapped by space aliens.

For, first, there are no space aliens. Now that which does not exist can exert no causal efficacy; but kidnapping involves the exertion of causal efficacy. Therefore, Elvis was not kidnapped by space aliens.

Second, any species with the technological capacity for interstellar travel would have to be extremely intelligent. Now no extremely intelligent species would be interested in Elvis. Therefore Elvis was not kidnapped by space aliens.

Third, if Elvis had been kidnapped by space aliens, then the reports of his having died on Earth would be a hoax. But Elvis’s death on Earth was reported by respectable newspapers, and respectable newspapers do not perpetrate hoaxes. Therefore Elvis died on earth, and was not kidnapped by space aliens.

But on the contrary, I have been informed by confidential sources that Elvis was kidnapped by space aliens.

I answer that the kidnapping of Elvis by space aliens may be proved in five ways.

First, Elvis is commonly agreed to be a star. Now stars are found only in the sky. Therefore, Elvis is in the sky. Yet Elvis was born on Earth, and objects of terrestrial origin are not naturally found in the sky. Therefore Elvis must have been taken into the sky by space aliens. Furthermore, everything of terrestrial origin seeks its natural place, the Earth, and can be restrained from this, its natural motion, only by force. Hence the space aliens took Elvis by force, and this all men understand to be kidnapping; therefore Elvis was kidnapped by space aliens.

Second, Elvis is not currently on the Earth. Hence he is either dead, or in outer space. Now life is the essence of the soul, and nothing can be without its essential property. Therefore Elvis’s soul is alive. Now the soul is the form of the body, as the Philosopher says in the second book of De Anima; hence the form of Elvis’s body is alive, and so exists. But no form can exist in separation from its subject; therefore Elvis’s soul is both alive and united to his body, and so the union of Elvis’s soul and Elvis’s body is alive. But this union all men understand to be Elvis. Hence Elvis is not dead, but is instead in outer space. That he could have gotten there only by being kidnapped by space aliens is proven in the same way as before.

Third, it is the essence of man to seek the good. Space aliens are not human, and so it is not their essence to seek the good. Therefore, space aliens either seek evil or seek nothing at all. Now every created object is ordered to its natural end; hence there is nothing that seeks nothing at all. Therefore, space aliens seek evil. Every violation of the natural law is evil, and kidnapping is a violation of the natural law; therefore, space aliens seek to kidnap. Now those who seek evil will prefer a worse kidnapping to a better, and the worst kidnapping would be that which deprived mankind of its most revered idol. Now this idol all men understand to be Elvis. Therefore Elvis was kidnapped by space aliens.

Fourth, the name “Elvis” is a corruption of “elvish,” meaning “of the elves.” Now something may be of the elves in two ways: either in accordance with nature or contrary to nature. Now Elvis was a human, not an elf, and so was not of the elves in accordance with nature; he was therefore of the elves contrary to nature, that is, he was taken by the elves against his will. Now by “elves” all men understand “space aliens”; therefore, Elvis was kidnapped by space aliens.

Fifth, every potentiality strives to realise itself, and will do so in the fullness of time. Hence whatever can happen eventually does happen, and from this it follows that whatever can go wrong eventually does go wrong, as St. Murphy says in his De Legibus. Now Elvis’s being kidnapped by space aliens is one of the things that can go wrong, and so Elvis is eventually kidnapped by space aliens. Now this does not happen in the future, for the future is not yet determinate, as the Philosopher says in the Perihermeneias, and so nothing happens there; nor can this happen in the present, for kidnapping is a temporally extended process, and cannot occur in an instant such as the present; hence it must have occurred already. Therefore Elvis was kidnapped by space aliens.

To the first objection: It is not true that only what exists can exert causal efficacy; for causally efficacious unicorns do not exist, yet they are by definition causally efficacious.

To the second objection: The capacity for interstellar travel may be understood in two ways: as an original capacity, or as an imposed capacity. Now nothing other than God has an original capacity to produce any effect; but any creature may have any capacity imposed on it by the omnipotence of God. Hence God may impose the capacity for interstellar travel on an unintelligent species.

To the third objection: There is no inconsistency between Elvis’s having been kidnapped by space aliens and his having died on Earth; for the entire Earth may have been kidnapped by space aliens.

Written by Roderick T. Long circa 1987.