Aquinas’s work eventu- ally had several effects: It divided reason and faith, making it possible to study them separately, it made the study of nature respectable, and it showed the world that argument over church dogma was pos- sible. Although his goal was to strengthen the posi- tion of the church by admitting reason as a means of understanding God, Aquinas’s work also had the opposite effect. Several philosophers follow- ing Aquinas argued that faith and reason could be studied separately and that reason could be studied without considering its theological implications. Philosophy without religious overtones was becoming a possibility—a possibility that had not existed for hundreds of years.
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Aquinas at least partially shifted attention away from the heavens and back to earth, although his emphasis was still on theology. This shift had to occur before the Renaissance could take place. However, until then, the church still controlled most human activities.