I have been hearing all these great things about Thomas Aquinas lately; What a great scholar and philosopher he was. But he wasn't all that friendly toward non-belief. He believed in the death penalty for heretics and unbelievers.

From the Summa Theologica:


"With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the faith which quickens the soul, than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death.

On the part of the Church, however, there is mercy which looks to the conversion of the wanderer, wherefore she condemns not at once, but "after the first and second admonition," as the Apostle directs: after that, if he is yet stubborn, the Church no longer hoping for his conversion, looks to the salvation  of others, by excommunicating him and separating him from the Church, and furthermore delivers him to the secular tribunal to be exterminated thereby from the world by death. For Jerome commenting on Galatians 5:9, "A little leaven," says: "Cut off the decayed flesh, expel the mangy sheep from the fold, lest the whole house, the whole paste, the whole body, the whole flock, burn, perish, rot, die. Arius was but one spark in Alexandria, but as that spark was not at once put out, the whole earth was laid waste by its flame".

So, just what is so great about this man ? It's the same old story: Religious intolerance.

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Never read Aquinas, myself (I'm an engineer and a pragmatist, not a philosopher), but if this is a sample of his POV, it may be just as well that I haven't.  Obviously, he takes his god and his god's dictates as a given, though that is at least in part a product of the time he lived in.  Science, investigation, scrutiny and skepticism were not the tools of the trade in his day and time and place, so perhaps he can be forgiven that, but his words are nearly 800 years removed from the age of science which we now live in and enjoy.  The specious concepts of sin and faith have far less weight in an environment which has objective means of gaining knowledge.  And because we as atheists care about the here and now rather than an undemonstrated afterlife, the here and now is where our attention and efforts are focused.

Frankly, Aquinas sounds like an ethnic cleanser in the above paragraph.  If his writings fed the rise of the Inquisition, I shouldn't be at all surprised.

I read a bit of Aquinas, where he said something like "Because all nature is led by one, then mankind should similarly by led by one."

After twelve years in Catholic schools, I had began freeing myself from Catholicism's tyranny and resolved to read no more of his stuff.

Years later I read about him that though he had never married, he had written a marriage manual.

I was a cynic about the RCC and I'd read of Augustine's wanting chastity "but not yet". I figured that for Aquinas to have never married, then a marriage manual would have been his pornography.

Until there's evidence that Aquinas had little or no testosterone, I'm okay with statistical evidence about men and their interest in sex.

I am not a religion hater but had I read Aquinas, I might have become one.




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