Can we know that God exists? vs. Can we know God?
In the Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas uses the philosophical method to theology and addresses the question of whether God’s existence can be demonstrated as well as the question of whether we can know God completely. For Aquinas, the question of proving the existence of God is always bound up with the question of how, and to what extent, we can know God at all. St. Thomas Aquinas believes that yes, God’s existence can be demonstrated but that no we cannot know God completely.
St. Thomas believes that God’s existence can in fact be demonstrated and that it can be done so in two ways. “One is through the cause, and is called “a priori”, and this is to argue from what is prior absolutely. The other is through the effect, and is called a demonstration “a posteriori”; this is to argue from what is prior relatively only to us” (Aquinas 15). In other words, to demonstrate that God exists is done in a cause and effect manner. For the question as to whether or not we can know God completely, St. Thomas answers that no, we cannot know God completely. According to St. Thomas one can know the essence of God, but to completely know God would be impossible. The differences between these two questions are that the question as to whether or not God’s existence can be demonstrated addresses God’s existence whereas the question on whether or not we can know God completely does not question God’s existence, just the amount of knowledge one can have on God. St. Thomas Aquinas proposed five proofs in which humans can use natural reason to prove the existence of God through extrinsic evidence. Through the use of natural reason we can logically conclude in the existence of God. Yet strictly speaking, God’s existence cannot be definitively proven through laboratory tests and experimental science. Experimental science and intrinsic evidence cannot definitively prove historical events, and yet by reason we know they have...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document