Thursday, September 06, 2007

Not the first

The more that I read, the more I find that I'm not the first to think about the relationship between science and religion. Right from the beginning Christian writers were wondering if and how far they should accept the philosophy of the Greeks.

Justin Matyr (100-165) who wrote around 100 years after Jesus' death writes:
Whatever either lawyers or philosophers have said well, was articulated by finding and reflecting on some aspect of the Logos. However, since they did not know the Logos - which is Christ - in its entirety, they often contradicted themselves.
He seems to think that the scientific and philosophical search for the truth is only completed with Christ.


Clement of Alexandria (150-211) has a similar position - that science can be thought of as preparing the way for the gospel.
For philosophy acted as a "custodian" to bring the Greeks to Christ just as the law brought the Hebrews. Thus philosophy was by of a preparation which prepared the way for its perfection in Christ.

Tertulian (200AD) disagrees completely - saying that philosophy is a pagan outlook and has nothing to do with Christianity and had led to heresies introduced into the church.
For philosophy provides the material of worldly wisdom, in boldly asserting itself to be the interpreter of the divine nature and dispensation.... What is there in common between Athens and Jerusalem? Between the Academy and the church?

I think that he's right. If we use pagan philosophy as the basis of Christianity, rather than God, we will ultimately glorifying ideas and placing them too high.

Augustine (354-480) argues that pagan philosophies are not entirely false, but have some truth which comes from God - and should be used by Christians.
If those who are called philosophers, particularly the Platonists, have said anything which is true and consistent with our faith, we must not reject it, but claim it for our own use.
Augustine was probably a Berber and came from Hippo which is in present day Algeria. From what I've read so far, I like the guy. He also says some interesting things about the interpretation of Genesis.

1 comment:

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