The Relationship between Faith and Reason: Thomas Aquinas Views

Faith and reason are authoritative sources on which beliefs can be based. The reason is believed to be the doctrine for a practical inquest, be it intellectual, religious, aesthetic, or moral. Therefore, it is not the mere rules of logical assumption or the personified wisdom of a tradition or power. Faith, however, is the belief in some assertion that is not at least currently demonstrated by reason. Therefore, faith is a kind of mindset of conviction or assent. This is ordinarily understood to entail an action of will or a pledge on the believer’s part. When it comes to religious faith, it involves a kind of belief that is either obscure or clear reference to a great source. A person’s faith is most times believed to originate from revelation. The revelation can come through direct infusion, which is a direct revelation or it can come through another person’s testimony, which is indirect. Having a religious belief by reason or faith alone is possible. It is possible for an individual not to have faith in God or refute the fact that God exists, but find consolation in practicing religion.

In this article, we shall be exploring Thomas Aquinas views on the relationship that exists between faith and reason. But before we proceed it will be good to know who Saint Thomas of Aquinas was?

Who was Thomas Aquinas?

Popularly known as Saint Thomas of Aquinas, Thomas Aquinas was one of the most famous and influential medieval philosophers of scholasticism and a theologian. He was the father of the Thomistic school of theology. He was born in the year 1225 in Roccasecca, Italy, a region that is close to Aquino, Terra di Lavoro, and the Kingdom of Sicily. His father was called Landulp, the count of Aquino. The thinker’s family descended from Emperors Frederick I and Henry VI but was regarded as lower nobility. At the age of 5, Thomas was sent to the Abbey of Monte Cassino to train as a monk.

Thomas grew up to become a creative writer and wrote over 60 books. His written works were given to libraries all over Europe because of the richness of information they contained.  Aquinas’s writings cover a broad range of topics that include Bible commentaries and Aristotle’s work on natural philosophy. Often referred to as the universal teacher because of his writings, Thomas of Aquinas died on March 7, 1274, at the monastery of Fossanova and was canonized by Pope John XXII in 1323.

Thomas Aquinas Views on the Relationship between Faith and Reason

Next, let’s focus our discussion on exploring the opinion of Saint Thomas Aquinas about the relationship between faith and reason.

Aquinas’s Theological view on Faith and Reasoning

Saint Thomas of Aquinas worked out a much-expressed hypothesis of theological reasoning, unlike Saint Augustine, that made little distinction while trying to explain the meaning of giving an argument and a religious proposition. Thomas argued that our faith in being saved eternally showed that we have theological truths that surpassed human reason. But Thomas also held that it is possible to arrive at the truth of religious claims without faith. However, such truths may be incomplete. He called this a two- fold truth about religious claims in his book Summa Contra Gentiles. One is the one that a reasonable investigation can reach, while the other is beyond the ability of human reasoning.

However, the philosopher believed something could be the truth for faith and falsehood in philosophy, but not the other way. It then means that a non-believer is capable of attaining the truth, but not to the superior truth of faith. The question now will be, why then do we need two truths? Is a single fact not sufficient? And if indeed the object of the rational inquest is God, then why do we need faith? Thomas provided an answer to this question in one of his books called De Veritage, where he claim that you cannot believe through faith and then by rational demonstration know the same truth because it will make one of the two knowledge unnecessary.

Aquinas’s view on Rational and Revealed Theology

Based on the two-fold premise of truth, the thinker then made a distinction between the theology that is revealed and theology that is rational. He came to the opinion that the former is a pure science, although it is based on reason and natural experience. To him revealed theology is an exploratory science that has to do with understanding God. Due to it greater certainty and higher self-respect of the subject matter, it is nobler than any other science. Philosophical theology, however, is capable of making demonstration through the use of articles of faith principles. Although it ca remorsefully disprove objections that may arise against the faith even without the articles of faith as presupposed.  Unlike the theology that is revealed, philosophical theology may err.

Thomas elucidated the connection between faith and reason on the ground of a difference between lower and higher orders of creation. He criticized the nature of naturalism that believes that the goodness of any truth “is whatever belongs to it in keeping with its own nature” with no need for faith. However, from the just reason, we can attest that all ordered pattern of nature have two things that constitute its entire development: Onne is based on its action, and the other is based on the action of a higher nature.

Conclusion

Faith and reason are sources of influences on which principles can rest. This article explored the concepts of faith and reason from the viewpoint of Saint Thomas of Aquinas. A little background of the philosopher was given in the article from where we moved entirely into exploring his thoughts about the two concepts. From the article, it is evident to see that the philosopher’s Christian background in theology played a significant role in shaping his understanding and subsequent writings on the two concepts. Though Saint Augustine worked on the same concepts, he did not go deep with his work on faith and reason. It was Thomas that finally did a more detailed writing on the concepts.

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