Divine Action and Thomism. Why Thomas Aquinas’s Thought Is Attractive Today

Ignacio Silva


Sumario: 1. Introduction. 2. Thomas Aquinas and the History of Divine Action Theories. 3. Thomas Aquinas on Divine Action: Primary and Secondary Causation. 4. Some uses of Aquinas’ doctrine today. 5. Some objections to Aquinas’ understanding of primary and secondary causation. 6. Conclusion.

Abstract: In this paper I suggest a reason why the Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of providence is attractive to contemporary philosophers of religion in the English-speaking academy. The main argument states that there are at least four metaphysical principles that guided discussions on providence and divine action in the created world, namely divine omnipotence and transcendence, divine providential action, the autonomy of natural created causes, and the success of reason and natural science. Aquinas’ doctrine, I hold, is capable of affirming these four principles without rejecting any of them, as it is in the cases of other doctrines. In addition, I present and answer some objections raised against Aquinas’ thought, and briefly expand on how Aquinas’ ideas on providence are used today to tackle issues regarding contemporary science, such as evolutionary biology, quantum mechanics, and big bang theory.

Keywords: Thomas Aquinas, Providence, Divine Action, Thomism.