Presentation on theme: "DEPARTMENT OR OFFICE TITLE EDIT IN TITLE MASTER (VIEW MENU) December 17, 2014 Faith, Science and the Human Person Rev. Dr Andrew Pinsent Research Director."— Presentation transcript:
DEPARTMENT OR OFFICE TITLE EDIT IN TITLE MASTER (VIEW MENU) December 17, 2014 Faith, Science and the Human Person Rev. Dr Andrew Pinsent Research Director Ian Ramsey Centre, Faculty of Theology and Religion University of Oxford
Faith, Science and the Human Person DISTINCTIONS: God, philosophy, religion and faith COMPATIBILITY: Can one be a person of faith and of science? VALUE: Does faith help us understand persons and the world? ACTIONS: How can we help faith ‘do’ what it is meant to do? 12/17/2014 Contents Page 2
God and philosophy Belief that there is a God is not unique to those who are ‘religious,’ cf. philosophical arguments of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Newton, Descartes, Kant etc. This fact is obscured in contemporary culture due to the influence of (new) atheists, who generally argue (and want to believe) that theists are primitive, irrational and evil. So it is helpful to be aware of intellectual inferences that there is a God drawn simply from examining the world. These lines of reasoning lead to the conclusion that there is a God, but not to who (or what) God is, religious belief or faith. 12/17/2014 Page 4 Distinctions: God, philosophy, religion and faith
An example of the effects of prejudice on policy Brian Iddon, the MP for Bolton South East, made the following contribution to a debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill: “… Throughout time, there has been a conflict between religion and science. We should remember Galileo, for example. It seems almost impossible to believe today, but Harvey's description of the circulation of the blood and the heart's role in it met large objections in his day.” … We hope that by taking the nuclei out of a skin cell or other cell of sufferers of these diseases and creating admixed human embryos, which the bill deals with, scientists will be able to find out how those diseases develop, with the ultimate goal of stopping them developing at all in every individual who might otherwise have acquired them.” Manchester Evening News Blogs Posted by David Ottewell on May 13, :50 AM The Palace of Westminster, where the Embryology Bill was debated 12 th May. The building was designed by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. Pugin was a Catholic convert whose Gothic style was inspired by medieval Catholic architecture. The very building where legislation now contravenes natural law is a building inspired by Catholic civilization.
Daily Telegraph 6 th June 2006
Proofs for ‘God’s existence Cosmological (first efficient cause/ mover) Teleological (design/goals in nature) From degree (proof of ‘maximal being’) Ontological (‘being greater than which cannot be conceived’) Anthropic (unlikelihood of our existence) Moral (existence of objective morality) Transcendental (non-sense without God) 12/17/2014 Page 7 Contrary to popular belief, many of these arguments are still ‘in play’ in contemporary philosophy, that is, they have new formulations and influential advocates. Attempts to invalidate these arguments usually try to show that God is not the only solution, not that God is not a solution. Furthermore, any objections to any proof of God existence can, at best, show that the proof is not valid rather than that God does not exist. Distinctions: God, philosophy, religion and faith
Sometimes the structures found in nature witness to an supra-human order that simply evokes belief in a divine mind and handiwork without any formal proof. This is the view of St Augustine when he wrote, “All respond: ‘See, we are beautiful’. Their beauty is a confession.” St Augustine, Sermon 241 (ccc. 32) The Infinitely Complex Mandelbrot Set, revealed from 1978 by means of computers
Why ‘God’ is practically unavoidable in the search for wisdom: the ‘cause funnel’ 12/17/2014 Page 9 Many particular things which are easy to know about A small number of universal causes that are hard to discover Towards knowledge of ‘first’ causes. The more remote and and powerful causes tend to be smaller in number, not links in an endless chain Distinctions: God, philosophy, religion and faith Number of known compounds: Very large: > 30 million Number of elements: c. 118 Number of elementary particles 12 (+ force carriers; Higgs)
Why ‘God’ is practically unavoidable in the search for wisdom: the ‘cause funnel’ 12/17/2014 Page 10 Particular human actions (waking up, washing, eating, lunch with friends, going to college etc.) Flourishing of body, society and mind Many particular things which are easy to know about A small number of universal causes that are hard to discover Happiness Distinctions: God, philosophy, religion and faith Towards knowledge of ‘first’ causes. The more remote and and powerful causes tend to be smaller in number, not links in an endless chain
Why ‘God’ is practically unavoidable in the search for wisdom: the ‘first cause’ 12/17/2014 Page 11 Cosmological proofs infer a ‘First Cause,’ an ‘Uncaused Cause’ that causes everything else in the cosmos: this conclusion is hard to avoid without denying our ability to trust causes remote from experience (cf. Hume), which also undermines science. The real challenge is to know what God is, not whether God is. Atheism usually offers substitutes, i.e. an alternative ‘god’ in all but name Distinctions: God, philosophy, religion and faith
Aquinas’ ‘Second Way’: an example of a ‘cosmological proof’ Some opponents of the cosmological proof claim that the causal chain could be circular, avoiding the need to begin with a First Cause but closed systems of causes tend to decay, like a clock running down, and a circle of causes is not itself self-causing, so a further causal agent is still required.
Millions of flowers on the earth tell us his love. Blue waves of the ocean sing of his work. He is the creator of happiness to grow the garden of Ju-che. Long live, long live, General Kim Jong-Il ! An English translation of the second verse of the (former) national anthem of North Korea The North Korean national anthem The Juche (‘joo-cheh’) Idea is the official state ideology of North Korea and its political system. The core principle of the Juche ideology since the 1970s has been that 'man is the master of everything and decides everything'.
Religion and faith Belief in God’s existence and religion overlap but are not identical. Besides facts or inferences about the world, religion typically involves worship, traditions, ritual and other elements. The conception of ‘God’ and the relationship with God vary considerably, e.g. Islam (mainly third-personal); Christianity and ‘narrative Judaism’ (mainly second-personal) and Buddhism (‘no-personal,’ i.e. no personal God or relation). This talk focuses on ‘faith,’ the root virtue of a second-person relation to God by grace (divine adoption) in Catholicism. 12/17/2014 Page 14 “Late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient and so new; late have I loved you!...You were with me and I was not with you... You called and cried to me and broke open my deafness: and you sent forth your beams and shone upon me and chased away my blindness: you breathed fragrance upon me, and I drew in my breath and do now pant for you: I tasted you, and now hunger and thirst for you: you touched me, and I have burned for your peace.” Augustine, Confessions Translation from The Divine Office: The Liturgy of the Hours According to the Roman Rite (London: Collins, 1974), 225* Distinctions: God, philosophy, religion and faith
FAITH AND SCIENCE: ARE THEY COMPATIBLE? 12/17/2014 Faith and science: are they compatible? Page 15
Mgr Georges Lemaître, Father of the Big Bang 12/17/2014 Page 19 Mgr Georges Lemaître (d. 1966), a Belgian Catholic priest, proposed what became known as the ‘Big Bang’ theory of the origin of the Universe, deriving what became known as ‘Hubble's Law’ in a paper in 1927, two years before Edwin Hubble confirmed the expansion of the universe. He also proposed the way in which the theory might be tested by searching for radiation from the Big Bang. He died on shortly after having learned of the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, proof of his intuitions about the birth of the Universe. Faith and science: are they compatible?
Fr Lemaître was honoured by the Church: he was made president of the Pontifical Academy of Science in 1936 and a Monsignor in By contrast, as late as 1948, astronomers in the Soviet Union, a state constituted officially on the basis of an atheist Marxist system, were urged to oppose the Big Bang theory as ‘promoting clericalism’ (cf. Kragh, Cosmology and Controversy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999), p. 262).
Mgr Gregor Mendel, Father of Modern Genetics 12/17/2014 Page 21 Gregor Mendel (d. 1884) was an Austrian Augustinian priest and scientist often called the ‘father of genetics’ for his study of the inheritance of traits in peas (between 1856 and 1863 Mendel cultivated and tested c. 29,000 pea plants). Mendel showed that the inheritance of traits follows particular laws, later named after him. Mendel's paper was published in 1866 in Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Brünn, but largely ignored for nearly half a century. The rediscovery of Mendel’s work prompted the foundation of genetics. Faith and science: are they compatible?
Fr Angelo Secchi, Father of Astrophysics 12/17/2014 Page 22 Fr. Angelo Secchi (d. 1878), S.J., Director of the Vatican Observatory, made the first spectroscopic survey of the heavens, classifying stars by four spectral types. He also studied sunspots, solar prominences, photographed solar corona during the eclipse of 1860, invented the heliospectroscope, star spectroscope, telespectroscope and meteorograph. He also studied double stars, weather forecasting and terrestrial magnetism. He is considered to be the father of the ‘spectral classification of stars,’ leading to an understanding of their physics and evolution. Faith and science: are they compatible?
Fr Nicholas Steno, Father of Stratigraphy 12/17/2014 Page 23 Nicolas Steno (d. 1686) was the founder of stratigraphy, the interpretation of rock strata. He is credited with the law of superposition, the principle of original horizontality, and the principle of lateral continuity, which are the building blocks for the interpretation of the natural history of rocks and the development of geology. Note that a Catholic layman, Georg Pawer (d. 1555) earned the title ‘father of mineralogy’ for his great work On the Nature of Metals. Faith and science: are they compatible?
Fr Boscovich S.J., Father of Field Theory 12/17/2014 Page 24 Fr. Boscovich’s Theoria Philosophiae Naturalis (1758) developed a theory of matter as consisting of many dimensionless points, with the mutual attraction of any pair of points being some general function of the distance between them, represented by an oscillatory curve. Field theory are now fundamental to modern physics. Einstein’s efforts in 1919 to create a unified theory of physics was based upon extending Newtonian theory along the lines of Boscovich, who was also an early advocate of atomic theory. Yet few textbooks mention him today. Faith and science: are they compatible?
Fr René Hauy, Father of Crystallography 12/17/2014 Page 25 René Haüy (d. 1822) was ordained a priest and had a strong amateur interest in science. Examining the fragments of a calcareous spar, he was led to make experiments which resulted in the statement of the geometrical law of crystallization associated with his name. Haüy is also known for the observations he made in pyroelectricity. His brother was Valentin Haüy, the founder of the first school for the blind, its most famous student being Louis Braille. Faith and science: are they compatible?
Women as Early Scientists in Catholic Italy 12/17/2014 Page 26 Maria Gaetana Agnesi (d. 1799) was one of a number of remarkable women scientists associated with the University of Bologna in the 18th century. Others include Laura Bassi (d. 1778), Anna Morandi Manzolina (d. 1774), and Maria Dalle Donne (d. 1842). Agnesi is credited with writing the first book discussing both differential and integral calculus. Elena Lucrezia Piscopia (d. 1684) was the first woman to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree. In 1750, Maria Agnesi was appointed by Pope Benedict XIV to the chair of mathematics and natural philosophy at Bologna. To put this achievement in perspective, Winifred Merrill was the first woman to be awarded a PhD in mathematics in the United States – in Faith and science: are they compatible? La versiera di Agnesi, which means ‘the curve of Agnesi’, read by Cambridge professor John Colson as ‘l'avversiera di Agnesi’, where ‘avversiera’ means ‘witch’. The mistranslation stuck.
Geographical Exploration Marco Polo: c –1324, 24 year exploration of Asia covering 15,000 miles Prince Henry the Navigator, 1394 – 1460: Azores, West Coast of Africa. Bartolomeu Dias, 1488: southern tip of Africa. Christopher Columbus, 1492: America Magellan's expedition of 1519–1522: first crossing of Pacific; first global circumnavigation. ____________________________ Catholic Explorers also founded and named vast numbers of countries and cities, such as San Francisco (St Francis) and São Paulo (St Paul) Fr Matteo Ricci, SJ, 1552 – 1610 The First Scientific Maps: Diogo Ribeiro’s version of the Padrón real (1529) World exploration and the first scientific maps
The Gregorian Calendar from /17/2014 Page 28 Detail of the tomb of Pope Gregory XIII celebrating the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar, on 24 February The Gregorian Calendar with its leap years is now used almost all countries worldwide. Much of the work was done by Aloysius Lilius and Fr Christopher Clavius SJ, drawing from measurements using meridian lines in Italian basilicas. Faith and science: are they compatible?
Is atheism genuinely the friend of science? 12/17/2014 Page 29 Faith and science: are they compatible? Examples of the persecution of intellectuals in the atheist regimes of the twentieth century, especially in the USSR and Communist China: Nikolai Vavilov, who was murdered; Andrei Sakharov, who endured internal exile; and the Chinese 'Cultural Revolution,' during which intellectuals of all kinds were denigrated and persecuted as enemies of the people.
Faith and science: are they compatible? Most of the time, modern science deals with matters that are not directly connected with faith at all, often involving measurements, laws and quantities. What should be clear from these examples is that there are no grounds for supposing a naïve hostility to exist between faith and science, or that being a person of faith precludes fruitfulness in science and intellectual life at the highest levels. But is there a stronger causal connection between faith and fruitfulness in science? Is the weak conclusion the best that we can offer: that faith and science are not incompatible.... ? 12/17/2014 Page 30 Faith and science: are they compatible?
VALUE: DOES FAITH HELP US UNDERSTAND PERSONS AND THE WORLD? 12/17/2014 Page 31 Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
Does faith help us understand anything? Faith may not oppose science, but why should those seeking knowledge care about faith at all? Faith does not teach us about mathematical laws and leads us to very few facts about the world that we cannot find out by other means. So what does faith ‘do’? What is its value? I propose three responses: (a) how faith has shaped ideas and institutions; (b) how faith shapes our understanding of the human person; (c) seeing what happens when faith is removed. 12/17/2014 Page 32 Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
Faith forming understanding: via philosophy 12/17/2014 Page 33 Principles adopted, introduced or transfigured by Catholic intellectual life: THE PERSON SUBSTANCE AND ACCIDENT FREE WILL AND INTELLECT VIRTUE ETHICS UNIFIED BY CARITAS (LOVE) SECONDARY CAUSATION THE FOUR CAUSES CRITICAL REALISM MATTER AS GOOD, NOT EVIL OBJECTIVE AND NATURAL LAW IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL NATURE AND SUPERNATURAL GRACE SECOND-PERSON RELATEDNESS TO GOD PRINCIPLE OF NON-CONTRADICTION St Thomas Aquinas O.P Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
Faith forming understanding: via time, history, records, progressive ‘evolution’ 12/17/2014 Page 34 The standard worldwide system for counting the days of the year, the Gregorian Calendar, 1582, named after Pope Gregory XIII BCAD 0 History as progression centered on Christ rather than an endless repetition Giovanni De Dondi's astronomical clock, the Astrarium, built 1364, Padua, Italy 400 St Bede the Venerable (623/4 – 725). Father of English History Escarpement: used in cathedral clocks, monasteries and town halls by c CHRIST Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
Faith forming understanding: via education 12/17/2014 Page 35 There were over 50 universities in Catholic Europe by the time of the Fall of Constantinople in These universities included Bologna (1088); Paris (c. 1150); Oxford (1167); Salerno (1173); Vicenza (1204); Cambridge (1209); Salamanca ( ); Padua (1222) and Naples (1224). Monasteries, where manuscripts were copied, developed and preserved for centuries, helped save civilisation after the barbarian invasions of the fifth century. These orders taught Europe to read again. Lindisfarne Priory (f. 635), famous for Lindisfarne Gospels. Like other monasteries in England, Lindisfarne was destroyed by Henry VIII. Roughly 10% of children in England today are educated in Catholic schools, and these schools tend to be oversubscribed. Across the world, Church schools educate nearly 50 million students worldwide and provide much of the education in many developing countries. King’s School Canterbury, possibly founded by St Augustine in 597, the world’s oldest extent school Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
Faith forming understanding: via law 12/17/2014 Page 36 From the 12 th century, Catholic scholars such as Gratian drew together the terms of Revelation, Roman Law (esp. the Christian emperor Justinian), together with Visigothic, Saxon, and Celtic legal elements, with Greek philosophical dialectic. The result effectively created the ‘science of law,’ jurisprudence, and a wide range of concepts we still use today, such as: AGENCY OR REPRESENTATION ‘SOCIETAS’ (‘PARTNERSHIP’) AND ‘UNIVERSITAS’ NATURAL AND POSITIVE LAW THEORY OF CONTRACTS LAW AS A UNIFIED SYSTEM FIDUCIARY TRUST LEGAL SCHOLARSHIP AS A PROFESSION OBJECTIVE LAW, WHICH EVEN THE MOST POWERFUL RULERS CANNOT CONTRAVENE Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
Faith forming understanding: via society 12/17/2014 Page 37 St Ambrose confronting Theodosius, c Modern principles derived from Catholic Social Teaching include: subsidiarity (Fr Oswald von Nell-Breuning; Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum), developed by Belloc and others into distributivism. Catholic social teaching envisages society as a garden rather than a machine, in contrast to much modern political philosophy (e.g. Rousseau) The distinct powers of the state and Church defend society, teaching and sacraments, but the fruitfulness of the ‘garden’ arises from divine inspiration and personal initiative at a local level. A healthy Catholic society has many diverse institutions: for example, families, parishes, religious orders, guilds, distinct national identities, and is culturally diverse, e.g. Italian city states, Spain. Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
Faith and the ‘person’ The uncertainty regarding the meaning of ‘person’ is associated with a surprising forgetfulness about its origins. Introductions, reference works and dictionaries of philosophy generally overlook the theological origin of the term ‘person’, taken from the Latin word persona (Gk. prósōpon / hypóstasis ) and then adapted to meet the needs of early Christian theology: A rare exception is Robert Spaemann (2006): 12/17/2014 Page 38 The mystery of ‘persons’ “Without Christian theology we would have had no name for what we now call “persons”, and, since persons do not simply occur in nature, that means we would have been without them altogether. That is not to say that we can only speak intelligibly of persons on explicitly theological suppositions, though it is conceivable that the disappearance of the theological dimension of the idea could in the long run bring about the disappearance of the idea itself.” Robert Spaemann, Persons: The Difference Between “Someone” and “Something”, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, 17–18 (Personen, 27).
The symbiosis of persons and theology 12/17/2014 Page 39 Part of “Holy Trinity with Mary Magdalene, St John the Baptist and Tobias and the Angel” by Botticelli Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
The symbiosis of persons and theology The association of persons and theology is not accidental. Spaemann claims that we would not have had a concept of ‘persons’ without theology. Conversely, it would also be impossible to have Christian theology without persons. The challenge is that Christian teaching regarding the Trinity and Incarnation cannot be expressed without error or contradiction using the tools of classical philosophy alone. 12/17/2014 Page 40 The mystery of ‘persons’ Example. Try to express the Trinity using Aristotelian philosophy alone. Are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit substances? If so, there are three Gods. Are they accidents? This the ancient heresy of ‘modalism’ (the three are simply modes of one God. The doctrine cannot be expressed without an additional principle, which became what we call a ‘person’.
Human beings as persons With the Father, Son and Holy Spirit defined as ‘persons’, human beings were also quickly described as persons. The precise genesis of this development has not, to the best of my knowledge, been traced, but the probable origin is the Christian doctrine of divine adoption, by which a human being becomes an ‘adopted child’ of God, hence ‘Our Father’. The social implications of this development were profound. A human being was no longer simply a ‘rational animal’, a ‘citizen’ or ‘slave’ (cf. Varro, ‘instrumentum vocale’), but called to become an adopted child of God. St Paul’s Letter to Philemon, written on behalf of a slave who is now the ‘brother’ of his master, shows the influence of this thinking. 12/17/2014 Page 41 The mystery of ‘persons’
Social and legal implications of ‘persons’ 12/17/2014 Page 42 The notion of a ‘person’ had many consequences for the origins of the Western legal tradition in the 12 th and 13 th centuries. For example, the notion of a ‘corporate person’ gradually emerged with the development of jurisprudence. A ‘corporate person’ is not simply an aggregation of persons, but is treated, in some ways, like a single person, with rights and responsibilities. From this development, inspired also by the notion of the Church as ‘corpus Christi’ (the body of Christ) came the possibility of stable associations such as universities and corporations that could outlast their members. There were over fifty universities in Europe by the time of the fall of Constantinople (1453). Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
The continuing mystery of the ‘person’ The problem, however, is that a philosophical understanding of the notion of a person has remained difficult. The Boethian definition, ‘individual substance of rational nature’ can be seen as a retrograde step: an attempt to write the concept back into classical terms of substance and accident, reintroducing old theological and moral problems. Neither classical philosophy, influenced by organic metaphors, nor modern philosophy, influenced by geometry and formal structures, have provided a way to understand and express what is meant by a ‘person’, which remains a slightly ‘orphaned’ metaphorical principle today. 12/17/2014 Page 43 Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
Inadequacy of organic or geometric ‘root metaphors’ for understanding persons Human persons are also natural beings, but persons cannot be expressed simply in terms of a philosophy of natural substance and accident, such as the philosophy of Aristotle, inspired by generic biological prototypes. 12/17/2014 Page 44 Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
A different approach? St Thomas Aquinas proposed a new way to understand what is meant by a ‘person’. ST I, q.40, a.2, ad 1, “The persons [of the Trinity] are the subsisting relations themselves.” This proposal is novel because in Aristotelian philosophy, ‘relation’ is an accident of substance. In Aquinas’s proposal, by contrast, a ‘person’ can be a relation. But what does this mean? How is it possible to understand this claim? 12/17/2014 Page 45 St Thomas Aquinas O.P Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
First-person relatedness to objects 12/17/2014 Page 46 A person with the virtues O P Some object Some stance Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
Faith and ‘second-person relatedness’: Aquinas’ account of human flourishing 12/17/2014 Page 47 Some object God O G P A person with the Gifts Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
Joint attention as a metaphor for gift-based movement, removing our spiritual autism 12/17/2014 Page 48 The most appropriate metaphor for understanding what Aquinas means by gift- based movement is joint attention. In Aquinas’s moral framework, the gifts are dispositions that enable a joint attention or second-person relationship with God. Grace as second- person relatedness to God
Why Limbo (‘pure nature’) is not enough 12/17/2014 Page 49 “There in Nirvana, why should she ever come out? Yet she was ours as well as her own, and we wanted her with us. If what we had to offer was not enough, we had nothing beside it. Confronted with a tiny child’s refusal of life, all existential hesitations evaporate. We had no choice. We would use every stratagem we could invent to assail her fortress, to beguile, entice, seduce her into the human condition.” Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
Justice (in the natural, Aristotelian sense) The virtue of rendering to each and to all what belongs to them. Faith + Infused Justice + Gift of Piety Treating other persons as children of God – one’s adopted brothers and sisters Beatitude “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” BENIGNITY (“HOLY FIRE”) The Fruit of the Holy Spirit which makes a person ‘melt’ to relieve the needs of others “My heart has become like wax; it is melted within my breast” Psalm 22
Converging insights: philosophy, science and theology What seems to be emerging from philosophy, science and theology is the extent to which persons are constituted relationally, specifically in terms of the ‘I-thou’ relation. What it means to be a person, to flourish as a person and to attain that flourishing are all inherently second-personal. In Christian theology, second-person relatedness is with God through grace. In developmental psychology, the second- person is typically a parent or caregiver, but in both cases the ‘I’-’thou’ relationship is the key to development. In theology, the culmination of this relationship is divine friendship. In the history of Western art, we can also see what happens when second-person relatedness to God is removed. 12/17/2014 Page 51 Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
December 17, 2014 Van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece or The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, completed in 1432 Page
December 17, 2014 Joachim Patinir, The Penitence of St Jerome, completed in 1524 Page
December 17, 2014 Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Harvesters, completed in 1569 Page
December 17, 2014 Constable, The Haywain, completed in 1821 Page
December 17, 2014 Vincent van Gogh, Wheat field with Crows, completed in 1890 Page
December 17, 2014 Jackson Pollock, Enchanted Forest, completed in 1947 Page
December 17, 2014 London Riots, 2011 Page
December 17, 2014 Page 59 Source: McGilchrist, The Master and His Emissary, Yale 2009 The chaos from right-brain impairment Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
“In the eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews (v. 1) we find a kind of definition of faith which closely links this virtue [of faith] with hope … Faith is the hypostasis of things hoped for; the proof of things not seen” Saint Thomas Aquinas, using the terminology of the philosophical tradition to which he belonged, explains it as follows: faith is a habitus, that is, a stable disposition of the spirit, through which eternal life takes root in us and reason is led to consent to what it does not see. The concept of “substance” is therefore modified in the sense that through faith, in a tentative way, or as we might say “in embryo”—and thus according to the “substance”—there are already present in us the things that are hoped for: the whole, true life.” ENCYCLICAL LETTER SPE SALVI OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS, PRIESTS AND DEACONS MEN AND WOMEN RELIGIOUS AND ALL THE LAY FAITHFUL ON CHRISTIAN HOPE Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on 30 November, the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, in the year 2007, the third of my Pontificate. Faith as the beginning of the life of grace
The Magisterium on the loss of grace 7. Thereupon there came into being and spread far and wide throughout the world that doctrine of rationalism or naturalism, — utterly opposed to the Christian religion, since this is of supernatural origin, — which spares no effort to bring it about that Christ, who alone is our lord and savior, is shut out from the minds of people and the moral life of nations. Thus they would establish what they call the rule of simple reason or nature. The abandonment and rejection of the Christian religion, and the denial of God and his Christ, has plunged the minds of many into the abyss of pantheism, materialism and atheism, and the consequence is that they strive to destroy rational nature itself, to deny any criterion of what is right and just, and to overthrow the very foundations of human society. First Vatican Council, Dei Filius 24 April 1870
The Magisterium on grace and Catholic enlightenment Pursuing the purpose which is proper to her – that of saving mankind – the Church communicates the divine life to men. But not only that; in some way she casts the reflected light of that life over the entire earth. She does this most of all by the healing and uplifting influence she has on the dignity of the person, by the way she strengthens the bonds of human society and imbues the everyday activity of man with a deeper meaning and significance. Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, N.40
How faith ‘adds value’ to understanding Faith is the root disposition of the life of grace, a life of second- person relatedness to God that dispels our ‘spiritual autism’. This life of grace forms our understanding of persons, shapes our ideas and institutions of our culture and helps to form a particular ‘right-brain’ cognition of the world, a framework within which facts and reasoning (‘left-brain’) can be organised. The lesson from art since the sixteenth century rejection of the life of faith is that our perception of nature gradually decays. In the longer term, science may not be immune from this decay, even though we continue to accumulate new facts. It may not be coincidental that a loss of faith has been correlated, in the West, with an epidemic of narcissism (first-person obsession) and objectified (third-person) treatment of persons. 12/17/2014 Page 63 Does faith help us understanding persons and the world?
HOW DO WE HELP FAITH TO ‘DO’ WHAT IT IS MEANT TO DO? 12/17/2014 Page 64 How do we help faith to ‘do’ what it is meant to do?
What would help to nurture faith? To draw on two thousand years of faith- formed genius to communicate that belief in God and a life of faith is intellectually respectable. To impart some basic historical facts, e.g. Catholic formation of universities etc., to inoculate against falsehoods. To show the value of faith in shaping our world, especially via ‘organic apologetics’: roots (history and origins of our civilisation) and fruits. 12/17/2014 Page 65 “You will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:16 How do we help faith to ‘do’ what it is meant to do?
What would help to nurture faith? Faith helps form understanding, a mainly right-brain cognitive operation (seeing the whole or ‘big picture’, cf. the ‘Eureka!’ of Archimedes). Right-brain cognition is imparted principally by images and narratives that evoke embodied experience to enable metaphoric understanding (words to life). Our children need to know the parables of Christ; the key narratives of the Old Testament (inc. the ‘spiritual sense’ of these narratives – e.g. Exodus as the story of a soul); the heroic figures of Christian history, especially certain saints; the story of our civilisation in a Christian key, Christian literature (e.g. Lewis, Chesterton etc.) and films. The experience of Christian art and its interpretations, providing cognition by means of both halves of the brain. 12/17/2014 Page 66 How do we help faith to ‘do’ what it is meant to do?
Resources to help (but we need more) 12/17/2014 Page 67 How do we help faith to ‘do’ what it is meant to do?
... and a little humour helps... 12/17/2014 Page 68 How do we help faith to ‘do’ what it is meant to do?
Prayer as essential to nurture faith and second-person relatedness to God Luke 1:38 I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. Luke 1:46 My soul magnifies the Lord
What else do YOU think we need? How can the Church, Catholics in universities, publishers such as the Catholic Truth Society and others be helpful? I open the floor to you /17/2014 Page 70 How do we help faith to ‘do’ what it is meant to do?