The second objection that Aquinas covers in this article is an extension of the first. What is in view here is the idea that “science” is based on self-evident principles. Such fields of study do not cover specific details, such as the lives of potentially mythical characters like the Jewish ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In other words, any field of study that is defined as a science will deal with self-evident principles (or axioms) that can be tested and measured objectively with results that can be duplicated.
A modern equivalent of this discussion is the academic tension over whether the field of psychology is a science. Many people in our culture assume that psychology is a respected field of scientific inquiry. Indeed, much stock is put into what psychologists have to say about human behavior, especially criminal behavior. Impressed by advanced degrees from prestigious university’s, very few question whether psychology is a field of science.
Consider the fictional title character of House, M.D. (Fox Broadcasting Company.) House is written as a committed atheist, which is based on the worldview that only those things that can be proven empirically count as truth – and getting to truth is the goal of his quest each week. But he does not limit his vitriol to religion. The character considers psychologists, and psychiatrists for that matter, to be quacks presumably because their conclusions cannot always be proven empirically nor the results of their experiments reliably duplicated. Indeed, honest practitioners in both related fields will reluctantly admit that their chosen discipline is a “soft science,” meaning that it is not based on first principles.
Now of course Aquinas is not discussing the modern discipline of psychology here, but rather doctrine derived from the stories of biblical characters. But the teachings of Judeo-Christian bible are not handed down to us through the characters in the Bible. Rather, those characters demonstrate the teachings of the Law, which one can find beginning with Exodus chapter 20. I will discuss this more when I get to Aquinas’ reply.