A Dominican Friar Talks Aquinas, Nietzsche, Faith, and Reason

Father Thomas Joseph White entered the priesthood after spending countless hours as a Brown University student engrossed in the thoughts of the great philosophers - from religious thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas to existentialists like Nietzsche. Ultimately, he found the Thomism of Aquinas to be an ideal religious response to our contemporary times because it reconciles modern contradictions between faith and reason. Father White’s background gives him a unique insight into some of the biggest questions facing believers and nonbelievers alike concerning faith, its role in society, and the priesthood.

Aside from explaining Aquinas’ unique popularity among today’s young theologians and priests, White shared his thoughts on religion in America. For one, White doesn’t believe that religion has the influence on politics that many perceive it as having. In fact, the perception that religious voices are necessarily “fundamentalist” – a messy word to White – is preventing America from engaging in a vital nonreligious discussion about moral goods.

White also explains that the priesthood crisis that many of us hear about is not as dire as some of us may think; in fact, though there is a decline in the number of believers in America, there is also an encouraging movement of young people committing their lives to the faith.

Some of White’s most compelling thoughts involve the dynamic between faith and reason. He opens up questions about whether relying on “faith alone” is truly the right approach to a full experience of God, and places reason high on the hierarchy of the spiritual gifts bestowed upon humanity.

Finally, White introduces us to two of his heroes: a medieval religious pioneer, and a contemporary literary icon.

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