Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) was both a theologian and a philosopher. He is mostly famous today for his attempts to synthesise Aristotle’s philosophy with the principles of Christianity. Aquinas also developed a theory of natural theology – proving the existence of God through reason.
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His most important contribution to Western thought is the concept of natural theology (sometimes referred to as Thomism in tribute to his influence). This belief system holds that the existence of God is verified through reason and rational explanation, as opposed to through scripture or religious experience. This ontological approach is among the central premises underpinning modern Catholic philosophy and liturgy. His writings, and Aquinas himself, are still considered among the preeminent models for Catholic priesthood. His ideas also remain central to theological debate, discourse, and modes of worship.
Aquinas’s key contributions
Adhered to the Platonic/Aristotelian principle of realism, which holds that certain absolutes exist in the universe, including the existence of the universe itself;
Focused much of his work on reconciling Aristotelian and Christian principles, but also expressed a doctrinal openness to Jewish and Roman philosophers, all to the end of divining truth wherever it could be found;