Aquinas (1225-1274 AD)
Aquinas was born the seventh son of an Italian nobleman. His family
wanted him to join a group of monks called the Benedictines, but
he wanted to be a Dominican monk instead. When he ran away to
join the Dominicans, his brothers kidnapped him and brought him
back. His family finally allowed him to join the Dominicans. As
part of the Dominicans, Aquinas had the opportunity to study ancient
Greek philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle. His goal became
proving God’s existence through reason, the tool of philosophy.
Before Thomas Aquinas, people
believed that faith in God was in conflict with philosophy. Aquinas,
a monk, set out to change that belief. He believed that Aristotle’s
"unmoved mover," a supreme being whose existence at the beginning
of time set the universe in motion, was the same as the Christians’
God, who created all things. He believed that without God there
was no universe because "to take away the cause is to take away
the effect." Aquinas provided five proofs that show the existence
of God in his book Summa Contra Gentiles. Aquinas also
believed that all living things had souls, and that people's souls
had the ability to reason.
• How would Thomas Aquinas have
answered the question: What is the meaning of life?
• How did Aquinas prove the
existence of God through reason?
• What might the universe
look like from the perspective of Aquinas?
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