Petty Armchair Popery posted a quote from Thomas Aquinas on faith, and the weakness of human intellect. In it, he points out how little we understand about the common fly, and uses this “lack of intellect” as an argument for faith.
We’ve made a lot of progress since Thomas Aquinas’s day. The genome of the fruit fly (Drosophila) has been fully mapped, and every day, geneticists learn more an more about how gene’s are expressed as proteins. It is not one philosopher, but the cumulative efforts of thousands that have brought us this far.
Is Aquinas not then making a “God of the Gaps” argument? That argument is as follows: “There are currently things we don’t know, therefore they can only be explained by the existence of God.” Every year, the amount of knowledge we possess grows, and the gaps that can’t be explained grow smaller. So “God” is merely an ever shrinking slice of unexplained phenomena.
Here’s why I don’t think Aquinas is entirely wrong: For every thing we learn, there are new things we discover that we don’t know.
For all we’ve learned, we still don’t know why we are here. You can choose to believe that there is no higher purpose, but that is an act of faith. You can remain agnostic, which means remaining open to new knowledge, and possibly accepting that you will never know. Or, you can seek truth in spiritual practices or in the beliefs of others.
One of our biggest problems is that our knowledge has outstripped our wisdom.We have amazing technology, yet we haven’t solved the basic problems that have been around since the dawn of civilization. Atheists claim that religion is not required in order to have morals, largely justifying the claim by pointing to immoral acts done in the name of religion, which proves nothing. But without a higher purpose (be it from religion, spirituality, or humanism) we will never solve the problems of war, hunger, and exploitation of the weak.