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Extra resources for Aquinas’s Philosophy of Religion
46 Rather the role of philosophy is subtler. It allows conceptual clarification of the content of religious belief, but conceptual clarification which roots those beliefs in reality. 47 By this, revelation is rooted in reality. Te Velde notes that theism emphasizes the separation of God from creation – that God is a unique being with special characteristics, including causal powers, timelessness etc. 48 Does that make Aquinas a pantheist? No, Aquinas thinks of God as independent, but the conditions under which we think about God always involve the world.
God is understood as being itself, self-subsisting being. If Heidegger contends that the history of Western philosophy has involved the forgetting of being, it is hard to square that with Aquinas’s insistence on distinguishing Being from beings. As noted above, a deeply important aspect of Aquinas’s account of God is that humans do not understand God’s essence, that there is not a ratio about God. The reality of God is too great for us; it far exceeds our mental capacities. So God is not captured within a system, or made part of a greater whole.
Aquinas’s claim is that the God yielded by natural theology is the very same God as that of revelation. 3, indicates that the reality made available by reason is also the reality known in religious tradition. Obviously this ontotheological objection has no weight for naturalists or atheists, but it has inspired a great number of Christian thinkers to be sceptical of Aquinas’s views. Accepting it as an objection requires a commitment to Kantian epistemology and characterizing Aquinas as a deist.