Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Pope Benedict XVI: Faith, Reason and the University Part 2

Outline of Pope Benedict's Lecture

  1. He reflects on his early days as a professor at the University of Bonn. 
  2. He states how the theology faculty shared with the other faculties the responsibility for the "right use of reason."
  3. The university was proud of the theology faculty, and this faculty inquired about the reasonableness of faith.
  4. He says that it is still reasonable "to raise the question of God through the use of reason."
  5. He states that violence is "incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul." It is against reason and God to spread the faith through violence.
  6. God is a God of reason. There exists a "profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the Biblical understanding of faith in God."
  7. In the gospel of John, the evangelist says that God is logos which means reason and word--"A reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason."
  8. The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought happened because of God's providence, not chance.
  9. During the Hellenistic period, Biblical faith and the best of Greek thought were mutually enriching.
  10. It was in the late Middle Ages that Greek thought and Biblical faith was first separated by Dun Scotus and voluntarism.
  11. The pope disagrees with Muslim teaching that says God is not "bound to truth and goodness" because He is exalted beyond them. Instead, the Christian faith has always asserted that a real analogy exists between reason and God.
  12. There are three stages of Dehellenization. The first occurred with the Protestant reformers because they thought that in scholastic theology they confronted a "faith system totally conditioned by philosophy." A faith system alien to the Biblical faith. The principle of sola scriptura sought faith in a pure form as originally found in the Biblical record. Metaphysics was considered a foreign source. When Kant stated that thinking must be set aside to make room for faith, he carried the reformers program further than they probably would have wanted to go.
  13. The liberal theology of the 19th and 20th centuries ushered in the second stage of DeHellenization. Adolf von Harnack is its leading representative. Harnack's basic idea was to return the man Jesus to his simple message before it was layered with theology. 
  14. Another part of this stage is the synthesis made between Cartesianism and empiricism. This synthesis "presupposes the mathematical structure of matter." It is that structure that makes it possible to understand nature. In addition, it emphasizes exploiting nature for our own benefit. Third, "only the possibility of verification or falsification through experimentation can yield decisive certainty."
  15. Only the kind of certainty that comes from the mathematical and empirical elements can be considered scientific. Therefore, history, psychology, sociology, and philosophy is forced to "conform to this science of canon of scientificity." Of course, this method leaves out the "question of God." If science is only this, then it leads to the reduction of men and women, "for the specific human questions about our origin and destiny, the questions raised by religion and ethics, have no place within the purview of collective reason as defined by science, so understood, and must thus be relegated to the realm of the subjective."
  16. We are in the third stage of DeHellenization. Because of cultural pluralism, it is said today that the "synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was an initial inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures." The pope disagrees. He thinks that the "fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and human reason are part of the faith itself."
  17. The pope's reason for this critique of modern thought is for the purpose "of broadening our concept of reason and its application." I have always preferred Thomas Aquinas' view of reason than modern man. The pope is asserting that reason is broader than the empirically falsifiable. 
  18. Theology belongs in the university as "inquiry into the rationality of faith." Both philosophy and theology in "listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding."
  19. It is the task of the university to rediscover this breadth of reason.

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