The rational perfection of the non-reasonable

Why does God demand we believe what we cannot know, prove or intuit? I suspected the reason would be something stern – to humble the mind, remind us of our lowliness, etc. Isn’t this how we’re supposed to read God’s words to Job from the whirlwind?

Thomas’s answer is that it was necessary to the perfection of reason. To simplify:

1.) The perfection of subordinate requires two distinct perfections (a) what it can do by itself and (b) what it can only do in conjunction with another. For example, tools are subordinates and a computer must both do things by itself (autocorrect, run programs) and in union with another (write sentences, be turned on and off.) If a spatula is going to fulfil what it was made to do, it needs both to hold its shape and run over hot surfaces (which it does by itself) and be moved around under pancakes (which it does in union with another.)

2.) Created reason, as reason, is subordinate to God.

3.) Reason can reason, think, prove, intuit etc by itself.

4.) Therefore, the perfection of reason requires something it can’t reason, think, prove or intuit.

So taken, if we consider a rigorous skepticism even apart from any of its conclusions it is only compatible with atheism* since limiting the perfections of reason to what reason can know can only be reasonable if reason itself is not a subordinate nature.


*Taken broadly to include all of Plato’s divisions of atheism – the denial of God’s existence or his care for human beings.

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