Thomistic Institute lecturer offers UMD students new perspective on God

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By Ben Cooper
For Mitzpeh
@ben_coops

The Rev. Raymund Snyder led a discussion on whether belief in God is rational Thursday night in a lecture that was open to the public at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union.

The event, hosted by this university’s Thomistic Institute chapter, was one of a string of lectures by the institute, each with a similar goal of encouraging discussion about the tough questions surrounding the many topics relating to religion.

The institute uses the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas to explain the subjects of their lectures. In the discussion Thursday, Snyder, the director of campus programs and evangelization for the institute, referenced Aquinas’ “Five Ways,” which outline arguments that seek to explain the existence of God.

Snyder addressed approximately 50 attendees in Stamp’s Juan Ramon Jimenez Room where he explained how Aquinas would have answered the question of whether it is rational to believe in God.

“It’s really one of my favorite philosophical considerations,” Snyder said. “It’s really a good topic for anyone to contemplate.”

Sophomore agricultural business management major Jack Wavering attended the lecture in hopes of learning something new.

“It’s a topic that I don’t really know that much about, so I was looking for an introduction to Thomas Aquinas’ reason and logic and his thoughts on God,” Wavering said.

Dan Singer, a sophomore biochemistry major, explained that he likes to read various theologians’ teachings, which was one of the reasons he attended Snyder’s lecture.

“I like to expose myself to a variety of talks. I also enjoy Catholic theology, it’s very well-fleshed-out,” Singer said.

 

Rev. Raymund Snyder addresses attendees about the idea of faith and reason coexisting when thinking about the rationality of God existing. Ben Cooper/Mitzpeh.

 

By the end of the lecture, Snyder hadn’t directly answered the question about whether God exists, but rather, he made clear to attendees that God’s existence could be proven through reason alone, as opposed to through both faith and reason.

“God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the things that were created through the natural light of human reason,” read a quote from a handout given to the attendees.

However, he acknowledged that no one would leave the lecture feeling like they had received proof of God’s existence.

Snyder also explained that even though reason alone can prove God’s existence, both faith and reason go hand-in-hand in understanding the concept.

“The same god, who reveals mysteries and infuses faith, has bestowed on the human soul the light of reason,” read the handout.

Wavering thought the lecture was a good preface to the deep discussion that the main questions provokes, but admitted he hoped to learn more about how reason alone can be used in proving certain ideas in theology.

“I would have liked more exploration of what the actual lines of thinking are. Today was a good starting point and introduction to just discovering that we can prove with reason alone,” Wavering said.

Snyder has given other speeches on behalf of the Thomistic Institute, including one last Saturday in New York on “How to talk to people about God.”

This university’s Thomistic Institute chapter will host its next speaker in April.

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