Augustine, Galileo and natural science
(06-19-2011, 11:36 PM)Alabama Trad Wrote: An important topic.

The Galileo affair is probably the biggest black eye that the Church has suffered over the centuries, not because she was proven to be fallible, but because the incident has served to discredit the Catholic Church in the eyes of many moderns.

What's the lesson of the Galileo affair?

Our attitude towards science should not be one of hostility. It should be one of dialogue between the "book of nature" and the "book of faith".

Galileo was not perfect and he even had shoddy reasons for positing what he did. He backed into a correct position, so to speak. However, he did brilliantly reference the ever-more-brilliant Augustine in his private letters explaining his position.

The Church has always been respectful of science.  What she does not tolerate is intrusion into articles of faith.  As an example, Pius XII said that the Church does not prohibit investigation into the pre-existent matter evolutionary fiasco.

When the literalistic (i.e. most simplistic) reading of a Scriptural text SEEMS to contradict widely held scientific or natural knowledge in any field of study, our duty is not to superimpose the literalistic text on the widely held belief in an attempt to stifle debate. This necessarily does two things,
a. It closes our minds to possible natural truths, of which God is the author, just as he's the author of supernatural truths,
b. It scandalizes nonbelievers, who have good reasons for certain natural beliefs, and throw the baby out with the bathwater, refusing to accept anything Christians say, even on faith.

Rather, we ought to accept the most likely natural theory and seek ways of understanding the Scriptural text in light of it. Augustine was wonderful here. He notes that ten people can have ten different insights into a Scriptural text (say, the formlessness of matter in the beginning) and all ten people may have something valuable to offer.

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Re: Augustine, Galileo and natural science - by wulfrano - 06-19-2011, 11:44 PM

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