Tuesday, September 6, 2011

St. Thomas Aquinus: The Dumb Ox. Why reason can be trusted, and atheism fails.

My favorite writer is Gilbert Keith Chesterton.  He died long ago, but the man was referred to as the "Apostle of Common Sense". At age 9 he visited a brain doctor, it was feared he was a little slow.  Dabbling in the occult in his teens, he turned to Catholicism, the religion of his beloved wife, being somewhat of an apologist for Orthodoxy in his later years.  I haven't followed him quite that far, saving it for my old age.

He wrote the Father Brown mysteries and was an editorial writer for the Illustrated London News.  He is seen as a great catholic writer, although sainthood is out of the question...he was too utterly human, he liked his booze and cigars too much, was easily amused and confused, and liked to argue.  He was a man of great intellect, seeming to absorb information, and putting it back out in a new way , paradox's his favorite writing style  The title of the NPR program, "All Things Considered" was based upon a book he wrote.  He considered all things, and whittled them down to what made sense to him.  He foresaw the nationalism/racism of Germany, and was abhorred by Hitler in the 20's, long before others woke up to his evil ways.  He was a gentle giant, himself, not unlike St. Thomas Aquinas, for whom he wrote a book giving praise to Aquinas's acceptance of the rational ways of Aristotle, mixing rationality and faith, the latter being a product of the first.  He was fascinated by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, he was appalled by the Eugenics movement that followed it. All things considered.

...St. Thomas was a huge heavy bull of a man, fat and slow and quiet; very mild
and magnanimous but not very sociable; shy, even apart from the humility of
holiness; and abstracted, even apart from his occasional and carefully concealed  experiences of trance or ecstasy...

...St. Thomas was so stolid that the scholars, in the schools which he attended regularly, thought he was a dunce. Indeed, he was the sort of schoolboy, not unknown, who would much rather be thought a dunce than have his own dreams invaded, by more active or animated dunces...

In the dumb ox's own words:

"Far be it from a poor friar to deny that you have these dazzling diamonds in your
head, all designed in the most perfect mathematical shapes and shining with a
purely celestial light; all there, almost before you begin to think, let alone to see
or hear or feel. But I am not ashamed to say that I find my reason fed by my
senses; that I owe a great deal of what I think to what I see and smell and taste
and handle; and that so far as my reason is concerned, I feel obliged to treat all
this reality as real... "

It was the very life of the Thomist teaching that Reason can be trusted: it was the very life of Lutheran teaching that Reason is utterly untrustworthy...They vaguely imagine that
anybody who is humanising divinity must be paganising divinity without seeing
that the humanising of divinity is actually the strongest and starkest and most
incredible dogma in the Creed.

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