By Paul O'Grady
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Additional resources for Aquinas's Philosophy of Religion
Since humans live and think in time, it is hard to make sense of a kind of existence which is timeless. Yet 26 Aquinas’s Philosophy of Religion something true is said when God is called eternal, despite the fact that the speaker has little grasp of the real content of it. Thus, while Aquinas thinks that we can rationally manage to say some truths about God, there is an infinity more besides, which we fail to get. So in no sense is God reduced to an explanatory posit or to a supercog in a conceptual system.
A schism existed between the Eastern Church based at Constantinople and the Rome-based Western Church, while wars were waged between Christians and Moslems. New religious movements preaching reform and critical of institutional religion regularly sprang up and were ruthlessly put down as a threat to social stability. While the masses were illiterate, a thriving intellectual culture came to fruition with the founding of the universities in the two decades before Aquinas’s birth. 30 Aquinas’s Contexts 31 In the eight hundred years between Augustine (354–430) and Aquinas (1225–1274), Neoplatonism was the dominant form of philosophy.
So if the five ways are interpreted as having theological concepts built into them, it is still epistemologically interesting to examine their logical structure and relationship to other beliefs. 42 That is, even though such chains of argument may not psychologically cause belief, it is still worthwhile to examine the logical structure of that belief, how it is supported by other beliefs. This fits well with Aquinas’s conception of argumentation about God’s existence – a reasoned account is possible, even though it is rarely, if ever, the actual cause of one’s belief.
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