Is Theology a Science or is it Dialectical? St. Thomas' Nuanced Position
The following is an excerpt from a paper I recently presented at a conference titled Saint Thomas d'Aquin et ses sources Arabs / Aquinas and the Arabs at the Sorbonne in Paris (which is, coincidentally, the modern successor institution of the medieval University of Paris, where St. Thomas taught). The title of the paper was: "Averroes and Aquinas on the Dialectical Nature of Revealed Theology."
Two of the greatest Aristotelian commentators, Averroes and Aquinas, used the Aristotelian distinction between demonstrative, dialectical, and rhetorical discourses to assign an epistemological status to religious or theological knowledge, that is, to conclusions drawn from revelation. But their respective views on this point turned out to be very different, even opposite. Averroes considered religious knowledge to be dialectical in nature, whereas Aquinas believed revealed Christian theology to be a demonstrative science. The author shows that both of these greater Aristotelian commentators strive, although very differently, to be faithful to Aristotle concerning the epistemological status of theology. Ultimately, however, their approaches converge, particularly insofar as in both accounts, theology is dialectical in nature, at least in a qualified sense in the case of Aquinas.