Thomas Aquinas, Christian travel

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Thomas Aquinas (1224/27-1274): known by his contemporaries as "Doctor Angelicus" he is the most important philosopher and theologian of the Roman Catholic tradition. Educated by Benedictines and Dominicans he studied in Paris and Cologne. Later he taught in Paris 1252-59, 1269-72; and Italy 1259-69, 1272-74. He was responsible for "baptizing" the philosophy of the Greek philosopher Aristotle, which he made the basis of Roman Catholic theology and apologetics.



For Aquinas there is a level of knowledge attainable by reason alone; another attainable by reason for skilled thinkers and by faith for unskilled thinkers; the highest level, however, is attainable only by faith. The system Aquinas developed is called "Thomism," his followers "Thomists."

The cosmological argument is: an attempt to prove the existence of God from the empirical fact that things exist. The argument is based on the view that being contingent the universe requires the existence of a non-contingent God. Although the argument was savaged by David Hume, and is generally neglected today, it has been revived by various philosophers such as Hugo Meynell in his book The Intelligible Universe (1982).

Teleological argument is an inductive argument from observations about the presence of purpose and apparent design in the universe to a designer or God who created order in the universe. The best known example of this argument is William Paley's analogy of the watch which begins by assuming that someone who has never seen a clockwork watch before accidentally discovers one.

Paley goes on to say that after careful examination of the design and operation of the watch, any reasonable person would conclude that the watch was man made, therefore, he reasons, anyone who carefully observes the universe must ultimately reach the conclusion that it displays characteristics indicating the presence of a mind behind its design. Although strongly attacked by David Hume, this form of argument has been revived recently by a number of statisticians, astrophysicists, and philosophers like John Leslie.

Copyright Irving Hexham 1999