Saint Thomas Aquinas
Saint Thomas Aquinas was a philosopher, theologian, Doctor of the Catholic Church, and is the patron saint of Catholic Universities, colleges, and schools. He was born in Rocca Secca, Italy, in 1225 and was born into a wealthy family. He even was related to the kings of Aragon, Castile, and France. His journey into Catholic beliefs seemed predestined, for he was told when he was a young child that he would become a friar and no one would be equal to him. He started his questioning of faith and religion when he was a youngster, frequently asking his teachers, ?What is God??
Saint Thomas was a panentheist, meaning that he arrives through logical argument at the conclusion that God must be present in all things. In humans He is especially present, through grace, as the Holy Spirit. Saint Thomas also said that we can know and love God, but we cannot fully comprehend him in our time here on Earth. Saint Thomas had five main reasons for the knowledge of the existence of God. I will now expound on these five points in detail.
Saint Thomas Aquinas? first way to prove the existence of God was the argument of motion. By his common observation he was able conclude that an object is put into motion by some other object or force. From this, Aquinas believed that there had to be an unmoved mover who first put things in motion. That is where he concluded that God exists. His summary of this statement went as followed: 1) Nothing can move itself. 2) If every object in motion had a mover, then the first object in motion needed a mover. 3) This beginning mover is the unmoved mover, called God.
The second approach of Saint Thomas? evidence that there is a God was the cause of existence. He concluded that no object creates itself, in effect there had to be a God who began the chain of existence for all things. The way Aquinas explained this was as follows: 1) There exists things that are caused or created by other things. 2) Nothing can create itself. 3) There cannot be an endless string of objects causing other objects to exist. 4) Therefore, there must be an uncaused first cause called God.
The third manner of Aquinas? support of God was that there are two types of beings, contingent beings (humans) and a necessary being (God). Saint Thomas believed that this necessary being (God), was necessary for the contingent beings (humans), to exist and without God, we humans would not exist. The easiest way to explain this very confusing subject would be as follows: 1) Contingent beings are caused. 2) Not every being can be contingent. 3) There must exist a being that is necessary to cause contingent beings. 4) This necessary being is God.
Saint Thomas Aquinas? fourth argument of the presence of God came from his observations of the quality of objects. For example one may say that of two paintings one is more beautiful than the other. So for these two objects, one has a greater degree of beauty than the next. This is referred to as degrees or graduation of a quality. From this fact Aquinas concluded that for any given quality (e.g. goodness, beauty, knowledge) there must be a perfect standard by which all such qualities are measured. These perfections are contained and reflected in God. God is the ultimate and everything is insufficient compared to His greatness.
The final way that Saint Thomas Aquinas speaks of God?s existence has to do with the observable universe and the order of nature. Aquinas states that common sense tells us that the universe works in such a way, that one can conclude that is was designed by an intelligent designer, God. In other words, all physical laws and the order of nature and life were designed and ordered by God, the intelligent designer. Everything from a slug to dirt to man were created and perfected by God into whatever He pleased. He created physical laws such as gravity and water pressure, and we are merely living in the world that He has created.
Saint Thomas Aquinas was a brilliant man with an incredible education and faith in God unequaled by almost no one. He was well respected because he did not follow the guidelines set by the Pope and the Catholic Church. He took risks on how far Catholics would accept his beliefs. My favorite of all of his quotes, though, came from his Summa Theologica, written in 1273. He was speaking to one of his pupils, and he said, ?Clearly the person who accepts the Church as an infallible guide will believe whatever the Church teaches.? I believe this quote showed his devotion to not just allow what people told him, but to find out the answers of God and his existence by himself. I now greatly respect Saint Thomas? accomplishments and his teachings because they can be comprehended by the common man without studying his writings or papers. He has affected my life by showing me the truth in how God exists and the ways that I am able to support my beliefs without just claiming faith.