when logic meets scripture
Up to this point in his thinking, Aquinas works basically as
a philosopher; he feels that everything he has laid out can be
justified by reasoning from known facts. But now he makes the
delicate transition from philosophy to theology: from pure reason
to reason that takes as its input patterns that have already been
described, specifically in Scripture (e.g., the Gospels, etc.).
When it comes to Scripture, Aquinas is quite direct about saying
that the information about the world we find there is information
that we would not necessarily arrive at ourselves. He thinks that
it reflects a level of recognition of spiritual reality to which
we haven't yet arrived. He also of course thinks that nothing
described in Scripture will be inconsistent with what we find
out on our own using reason, since truth cannot contradict truth.
He feels that scripture is inherently reasonable, that it doesn't
contradict what we otherwise know, but enables us to understand
things at a much deeper level. But he doesn't think it's worthwhile
to attempt to philosophically prove such truths, as they are "demonstrably
undecidable:" on the scale of complexity, such matters are
way up there, past the point of provability. On the other hand,
we can expect that they will be consistent with what we otherwise
know, and if there is an inconsistency, it will be the result
of our misunderstanding of either proven knowledge or the spiritual
truths themselves. Furthermore, Aquinas thinks that the spiritual
truths conveyed in Scripture provide the best way for us to understand
the world. They describe the highest context by which we can know
things, describe a coherent view of the cause and purpose of life
into which all other knowledge can harmoniously fit, and provide
a practical guide to the best means of opening ourselves up to
seeing the world as it really is.
Case in point: the Trinity.
"Truth cannot contradict truth."