Sunday, 3 February 2008

But will Theologians Listen ? My real deep concerns...

It was highly appropriate and deeply significant that His Holiness should have given this speech on the Feast of The Angelic Doctor - Because just as Aquinas warns us of 'straw in the wind' , I think we're ignoring the warning : 'Put not your trust in Scientists'.

Please do not misunderstand me - I'm not some Luddite ; nor am I anti-science.

I'm referring to an intellectual compromise verging upon a kind of acedia that emerges when science appears to corroborate or justify some aspect of doctrine and moral teaching ; and rather than emphasising the fundamental objective truth in the doctrine or morality ; we construct a pseudo-fallacious whitewash - a 'cop-out' in order to simplify our proselytising/catechetical agenda; rather than justifying our morality from first principles ; we rather resort to science to back up the doctrinal conclusions or recommendations for praxis.

I'm going to use a quite intrinsic example to explain my point in a later posting; but in the meantime please listen to what His Holiness is actually saying - and please understand we must consider, appreciate and utilise science within its own remit - and not attempt to use it outside its own sphere to justify some aspect of our faith ; because science is not to be trusted as something crystal, perfectly defined and a logically self-evident a priori - it's more a system of 'best fit' in accordance to the known facts ; and is liable to be changed irrevocably once some rogue 'fact' gets thrown into the system - a spanner in the works ; if you will - for us to rely on this to justify 'unalterable' truths ? Well it would be like building a house upon sand.

I am not suggesting that this is a prevailing or predominant feature in modern systematic theology, or modern moral theology ; but I've been reading a substantial amount of theological articles recently [especially in Faith Magazine etc ] and a little too often I'm witnessing hints, tiny glimmers of it ; more reliance upon it ; and some pretty poor judgments and rationalisations which verge upon equivocations ; merely because they appear to vindicate and justify what we believe in.

Anyway for the moment I've said enough :

"Science cannot determine who man is, where he comes from or where he goes,"

Benedict XVI says. [ 28/1/08]

Thus, the most important knowledge is the knowledge of the human person.

The Pope affirmed this today when he received in audience participants in an interacademic conference titled

"The Changeable Identity of the Individual,"
promoted by the Academy of Sciences of Paris and the Pontifical Academy of Science.

In his address to them, the Holy Father first expressed his joy at their interacademic collaboration which, he said, "opens the way to vast and ever more profound multidisciplinary research."

In our time, he said, "the exact sciences, both natural and human, have made prodigious advances in their understanding of man and his universe."
However, he continued, "there is a strong temptation to circumscribe human identity and enclose it with the limits of what is known."

The Pope continued: "In order to avoid going down this path, it is important not to ignore anthropological, philosophical and theological research, which highlight and maintain the mystery of human beings, because no science can say who they are, where they come from and where they go. The knowledge of human beings is then, the most important of all forms of knowledge."

"Human beings always stand beyond what can be scientifically seen or perceived," the Pontiff affirmed. "To overlook the question of man's 'being' inevitably leads to refusing the possibility of research into the objective truth of being [...] and, effectively, to an incapacity to recognize the foundation upon which human dignity rests, from the embryo until natural death."


Benedict XVI said the participants in the conference, "starting from the question of the new being, who is produced by a fusion of cells and who bears a new and specific genetic heritage," had highlighted certain "essential elements in the mystery of man."

Man, the Pope explained, is "characterised by his otherness. He is a being created by God, a being in the image of God, a being who is loved and is made to love. As a human he is never closed within himself. He is always a bearer of otherness and, from his origins, is in interaction with other human beings.

"Man is not the result of mere chance, of converging circumstances, of determinism, of chemical inter-reactions. Man is a being who enjoys a freedom which [...] transcends his nature and is a sign of the mystery of otherness that dwells within him."

"This freedom, which is characteristic of human beings, means they can guide their lives to a goal," the Holy Father said. And it "highlights how man's existence has a meaning. In the exercise of his authentic freedom, the individual realises his vocation, he is fulfilled and gives form to his deepest identity."

"Human beings have the specific ability of discerning what is good,"
the Pope concluded. "In our own time, when the progress of the sciences attracts and seduces for the possibilities it offers, it is more necessary than ever to educate the consciences of our contemporaries to ensure that science does not become the criterion of good, that man is still respected as the centre of creation, and that he does not become the object of ideological manipulation, arbitrary decisions, or abuses."

"All scientific progress," he affirmed, "should be also a progress of love, called to put itself at the service of man and humanity, and to offer its contribution to the building up of the identity of persons."

2nd February - Candlemas - The Presentation in the Temple...

'...and a sword shall pierce your heart"

Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine,
secundum verbum tuum in pace.
Quia viderunt oculi mei,salutare suum.
Quod parasti, ante faciem omnium populorum.
Lumen ad revelationem gentium,
et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

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