Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Aquinas and Academic Bias

A reader inquires:
I'm currently studying for a masters in counseling and am taking a course on Psychological testing. The text is Psychological Testing and Assessment - An Introduction to Tests and Measurements (McGraw-Hill, 6th Edition) by Ronald J. Cohen & Mark E. Swerdlik. The inside cover contains "a decidedly noncomprehensive historical overview of events in the field as they stand out in the minds of the authors"

The bias of the authors against religion is apparent - "200 AD, science takes a backseat to faith and superstition" and 313 AD "Christianity is established as the state religion of the Roman Empire and "medical practice" (prayers, potions and magic) is in the hands of the clergy."

And then to the reason I'm writing - 1265 "Thomas Aquinas argues that the notion of a human capacity to think and reason should be replaced with the notion of an immortal soul."

Now ... I have not read much Aquinas, but am certain in the little I've done that this is an inaccurate summary of his work, to say the least.However, I do not have the background (or the time) to be able to refute this statement. Even so, I feel a duty to write the authors and correct the error.

So my plea to you - can you direct me to some specific works of Thomas Aquinas that would refute this statement? Any direction would be helpful. If you can summarize a position and give some references, that would be fantastic. As someone who apparently understands and appreciates his work, you may be interested in helping correct this error. If so, I'd be grateful for any help you could provide.

There's academic bias against Christianity, but this really takes the cake. Off the top of my head I don't think I could point to a single passage, but somebody else aquainted with the Summa might. The statement is completely off-base to the point of being comical, given Aquinas' confidence in human reasoning (for instance reason as an aid to faith in knowing the existence of God).

Responses from our readers?

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