Question # 4
Aquinas worked out a highly articulated theory of theological reasoning. St. Bonaventure, an immediate precursor to Aquinas, had argued that no one could attain to truth unless he philosophizes in the light of faith. Aquinas held that our faith in eternal salvation shows that we have theological truths that exceed human reason. But he also claimed that one could attain truths about religious claims without faith, though such truths are incomplete.
Aquinas claimed that the act of faith consists essentially in knowledge. Faith is an intellectual act whose object is truth. Thus it has both a subjective and objective aspect. From the side of the subject, it is the minds assent to what is not seen. Moreover, this assent, as an act of will, can be meritorious for the believer, even though it also involves the assistance of God's grace. Moreover, Faith can be a virtue, since it is a good habit, productive of good works.
Aquinas elucidates the relationship between faith and reason on the basis of a distinction between higher and lower orders of creation. We know that every ordered pattern of nature has two factors that concur in its full development: One on the basis of its own operation; the other, on the basis of the operation of a higher nature. A great example is water: In a lower pattern, it naturally flows towards the center, but in a higher pattern, such as the pull of the moon, it flows around the center.
Aquinas's two-folded theory of truth develops a strong compatibilism between faith and reason. But it can be argued that after his time what was intended as a mutual autonomy soon became an expanding separation.
Ockham first restricts the scope of Aquinas's rational theology by refuting its ability to provide arguments that stop infinite regresses. In fact he is wary of the attempts of the natural theology to prove anything about higher orders or lower orders. On this basis, he rejects the...