"To restore sanity to the world, three conditions are imperative:
1. People must not feel but think, that is, use their reason.
2. In every discussion and presentation, it is always well to know both sides of the question and to decide them, not on the basis of prejudice, but on that of reason.
3. Argue from the opponent's premises, not only from your own.
We know someone who fulfilled these three ideals. When he was born, his father went out and said to his neighbors, commenting on the size of the child who had just been born to him, 'Well, the little calf has come.' Years later when in school, his fellow students, noting both his timidity and his big legs, neck, and body, labeled him the 'dumb ox'. His very learned professor defended the youth, prophesying, 'Some day the bellowings of the ox will be heard around the world.'
That intellectual giant born in 1224, whose name is Thomas Aquinas, wrote thirty-four volumes in quarto in Latin, some of which have been translated into English. His works represent the greatest masterpiece in the realm of philosophy. His gigantic powers of intellect naturally led him to God, and his parents and relatives tried to deflect him from his religious vocation. Being rather 'modern', they thought the best way to do it was to develop in him an interest in sex. They introduced a woman into his room when he was studying. Seizing a blazing poker from the fire, he chased her from the room and then traced upon the door a blazing cross.
The suppression of carnal instincts seemed to intensify his powers of mind as reason came out of him like molten lava. His principle was: You cannot begin religion with faith; there must be a reason for faith and a motive for belief. This was reather astounding to those who believed that religion, particularly supernatural religion, was without a foundation in either reason or history. One of his friends, Raymond of Pinafort, who had been a missionary among the Moslems, was quite unsuccessful in disputation with his adversaries. He asked Aquinas to write him a book that could be used against the unbelievers. Thomas wrote in answer to that request his Contra Gentiles. He began it by saying that, when arguing with the Moslems or pagans, it does no good to quote the Bible or the decisions of the Church. When you argue with a Jew, it is all right to use the Old Testament since he believes in the Old Testament; when you argue with fellow Christians, it is right to use the New Testament; but when discussion centers on those who are without faith, one must rely on the one power and capacity which is common to all men, namely, human reason.
A second basic principle was always to give both sides of the question. This demanded a fair and honest presentation of the other man's point of view. One of his greatest works, called the Summa Theologica, gave mankind its greatest lesson in controversy. Discussing thousands of problems, such as memory, passions, mind, prudence, temperance, the effect of carnal excesses on thought, humanism, the desire for God, he follows throughout all the volumes exactly the same structure: (1) he first gives the position and the arguments of the adversary; (2) he gives the reasons for his own position; (3) he then answers by reason the arguments of the adversary.
Take, for example, the problem of the existence of God. Contending that the existence of God is not self-evident but must be proved by reason, he proceeds to ask if there is a God. He begins by giving the atheistic position honestly and fairly. The first argument he gives for atheism runs something like this: If God exists, He would have to be Goodness; but if He is perfectly Good, there could be no evil in the world. But there is evil in the world; therefore, God does not exist.
The second argument of the atheist which he considers is that nature explains everything; the scientific description of the universe being total, there is no necessity of invoking a Power outside of the world to explain it.
After stating the objections against the existence of God, Saint Thomas then proceeds to give five very solid arguments for His existence, the first of which is drawn from the facts of evolution. Evolution to him is not only cosmic and biological; it even embraces the development and the unfolding of thought. After elaborating the five arguments for the existence of God, he then answers the atheistic objections which he considered at the beginning."