Discuss how Thomas uses the first principle (of non-contradiction) and the first condition (the ability of the mind to know the truth) together with his conviction of the harmony between faith and reason in Chapter VII of Summa Contra Gentiles.
It can be extremely difficult to discuss the idea of truth in a postmodern society. Many people have their own, different definition of truth that they take pride in and the ways the meaning of truth is explained vary widely. Before diving into an argument, three "primary truths" must be accepted when speaking of the truth in order that there as little complications as possible. The first truth is that human existence is a fact. There is no way to dispute this because humans are here and are living creatures. The second truth is the principle of non-contradiction, which states that if two ideas are each a fact, they cannot be contrary to each other. The third truth is that the ability to know truth is present in the human mind. There is no way for a person to discuss truth without accepting these three primary truths as facts first. St. Thomas Aquinas, in relation to the primary truths in Chapter VII of his work Summa Contra Gentiles, wrote about the truths of reason and faith.
Aquinas makes a point to speak about this issue of being able to know the truths of faith and reason, also known as nature. His claim is that "the knowledge of naturally known principles is instilled into us by God, since God himself is the author of our nature." Aquinas is explaining that the human ability to reason comes right from the creator, God, because he created humans in the beginning. Aquinas takes advantage of the third primary truth, that humans can know the truth, by stating that God originally gave man the truth of reason. Humans can know the truth of reason simply because they are enveloped by nature, and God has given everyone the amazing gift of understanding this. On the other hand, the truth of faith is a fair amount more difficult of many people to accept. "The truth of Christian faith surpasses the ability of human reason," Aquinas explains. Individuals often jump quickly to the conclusion that if faith somehow surpasses reason, it cannot be known and for that reason, cannot be a truth, since the mind IS able to know truth. Clearly, Aquinas is not trying to make this a point. The truth of faith can definitely be KNOWN; but the real question is whether or not it can be fully UNDERSTOOD by human's limited field of reason. There are many things that humans can know of or about, but that cannot be fully understood or explained. One good example of this is the mystery of life. Going into detail about this, however, will not be attempted.
Aquinas also speaks about the dispute that faith and reason are conflict with each other, in Chapter VII of Summa Contra Gentiles. Here, Aquinas says that because faith surpasses reason, the assumption that faith contradicts reason is made frequently. Thus, both of these concepts cannot be looked at as truths. One or possibly both have to be false, and a large part of the globe would concur that faith, because it can be more challenging to comprehend, must give heed to reason. Aquinas believes, however, that "it is impossible for the aforesaid truth of faith to be contradictory to those principles which reason knows naturally." He says that both truths clearly come from the same source of Divine Wisdom since nature is "instilled into us by God" and faith is "confirmed by God." God is not contradictory, so neither can truths that he gives mankind be contradictory. Thomas Aquinas also says that, "God does not instill into man any opinion or belief contrary to natural knowledge." If faith didn't come from God, where else would it come from? Thus, if faith is from God, and God does not contradict the nature a person knows is true, faith and reason must be able to live in harmony. By using this argument, Aquinas deftly refutes the arguments against faith as truth in a way that leaves the reader with no room to doubt his point.
In the age of modernity, skeptics seemed to be the ones giving the majority of criticism of the truth of faith. Reason was considered supreme among all other truths in order that the world would be more stable and secure so that mankind would have some sense of organized structure. The world seems to be moving towards postmodernism, so the opinions of St. Thomas Aquinas may be viewed more positively by the open-minded people of postmodernism. There is a possibility that faith will not have to hide behind reason and science. Hopefully, it will be able to finally enter a stage that allows faith and reason to have equality within the truths that make up what humans call "knowledge." The world may be ready to let faith and reason exist together in harmony the way God designed it at the beginning of creation.