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Thread: What did Thomas Aquinas believe about the nature of God?

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    Professor KingsGambit's Avatar
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    What did Thomas Aquinas believe about the nature of God?

    I recently saw the claim advanced that he believed that God was something like an impersonal force. I find this almost impossible to believe. Can somebody point me to relevant excerpts from his writings that clear up what he did think?
    Something is always happening, but when it happens, people don't always see it, or understand it... or accept it.

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    tWebber Spartacus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    I recently saw the claim advanced that he believed that God was something like an impersonal force. I find this almost impossible to believe. Can somebody point me to relevant excerpts from his writings that clear up what he did think?
    It sounds rather incredible to me as well, not least because Aquinas believe in the Incarnation.

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    I recently saw the claim advanced that he believed that God was something like an impersonal force. I find this almost impossible to believe. Can somebody point me to relevant excerpts from his writings that clear up what he did think?
    Here is the first part of the Summa, about God and Creation:

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1.htm

    The main source of misunderstanding is that St Thomas starts each subpoint by citing his opponents, some of which actually did believe things like that. If you don't have the patience to read on till you get to "I answer that it must be said that", you will be getting arguments of his opponents and at best also the authority (often Biblical) he cites against them.

    For instance, the question "on existence of God" and article "whether God exists" starts with "to the third we proceed thusly : it would seem that God does not exist".

    His citation of atheistic arguments is only two objections, one of which is basically theodicy, the other the atheistic version of Occam's razor. Well before Occam mind you.

    THEN he cites "Exodus pi", and THEN he gives the five ways proof, a composite philosophical one and THEN he answers the objection.

    THat is how he structures basically every article. Sometimes, very rarely, he is giving a midway position, and first portion includes objections first from one, then from other direction, and both are answered. But this is the usual structure.

    The guys who thought that he was a pantheist were probably either themselves sloppy enough to read the beginning of an article and take the objections for St Thomas' own view, or they were relying on an older source which was (19th C. English Protestants were horrible in Thomas scholarship, at least some of them, especially if involved in Catholic bashing).

    A starting point for YOUR question would perhaps be:

    Part I, on God and Creation
    Question 3. The simplicity of God
    Article 8. Whether God enters into the composition of other things?
    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1003.htm#article8
    Last edited by hansgeorg; 11-22-2016 at 08:40 AM.

  4. Amen MaxVel amen'd this post.

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