Faith and Reason: Is There a Sharp Divide? (Part 5)
Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas held that faith and reason are separate and distinct, but that both have a place in leading us to knowledge. His position was that reason, apart from God’s word, could lead us to knowledge of God. Reason, unaided by faith, can prove, according to Thomas, the existence of God. This is called Natural Theology (NT). NT posits that there is much we can know about God by merely analyzing the world and nature. This is because nature is God’s creation and therefore would reveal some of his divine qualities. Aquinas does believe that there are things that NT cannot uncover, such as the Biblically teaching that God is a Trinity and creation out of nothing (ex nihilo), which means that the world was created out of nothing. These truths cannot be ascertained by what reasoning can discover from nature. These can only be believed by faith in Scripture.
Thus, on Aquinas’s view, in order to be considered “reasonable” one does not need to accept the teaching of the Bible (i.e. express faith in the Bible). Someone is perfectly okay within the realm of “reason” when is comes to “natural” (as opposed to “spiritual”) things. So, while Augustine believes that faith precedes understanding (giving faith the priority), Aquinas privileges Reason (note the capital R).