Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An Important Link: PL of St. Augustine

I have a wonderful thing to tell you, something I just learned.

The following link, will take you to the complete Latin text of the Patrologica Latina of the Opera Omnia (complete works) of St. Augustine. My hearty thanks to those who worked on it - let us remember them in our prayers.

This is of great importance to us who study SLJ (and therefore PD also) as by means of this link you have access to St. Augustine's De Genesi ad litteram - his commentary on Genesis which SLJ quotes in several places regarding the supposed "conflict" between Science and the Faith. It provides the complete answer to all the whining nonsense we are still hearing today, some 1400 years after the book came out.

I know it's in Latin; I don't yet know of an English source for it. But it is far better than nothing, and perhaps someone who knows of an English text or web page for it will tell us.

To save you time in looking up the reference, here is how SLJ tells it:
...he [St. Augustine] wanted no part of a study of the Bible which purposely ignored the well-established results of scientific studies. He put the matter bluntly: “It is often the case that a non-Christian happens to know something with absolute certainty and through experimental evidence about the earth, sky, and other elements of this world, about the motion, rotation, and even about the size and distances of stars, about certain defects [eclipses] of the sun and moon, about the cycles of years and epochs, about the nature of animals, fruits, stones, and the like. It is, therefore, very deplorable and harmful, and to be avoided at any cost that he should hear a Christian to give, so to speak, a ‘Christian account’ of these topics in such a way that he could hardly hold his laughter on seeing, as the saying goes, the error rise sky-high.” Such a performance, Augustine remarked, would undercut the credibility of the Christian message by creating in the minds of infidels the impression that the Bible was wrong on points “which can be verified experimentally, or to be established by unquestionable proofs.” While ignorance on the part of Christians was reprehensible, not every detail of knowledge about nature possessed, as Augustine was quick to note, the same measure of certainty. Beside incontrovertible facts there were probable hypotheses and simple conjectures. When some statements of the Bible collided with the latter, Augustine urged caution. A case in point was the question whether celestial bodies, stars in particular, were animated or not. As reason and observation provided no decisive evidence, nor did the Scriptures seem to be explicit, the matter was open to further inquiry. When, however, a question appeared to be settled in a convincing manner by scientific reasoning, Scriptures had to be reinterpreted. Clearly, the biblical phrase about God stretching out the firmament as a tent (skin) clashed with the sphericity of the earth. This naturally demanded a spherical covering, which was also suggested by the motion of the planets and stars. Augustine was not reluctant to give reason its due: “The Bible contradicts those who affirm something which is false; for that is true which is asserted by divine authority and not that which is conjectured by human frailty. However if perchance, they [the heathen] should prove it [the sphericity of the heavens] with evidences that cannot be doubted, it remains to be shown that what is spoken of as a tent, does not contradict those true demonstrations.”
[SLJ "The Leaven of Confidence" in Science and Creation 182 quoting Sancti Aureli Augustini De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim,edited by J. Zycha, in Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, vol. XXVIII, Sec. III, Pars 1 (Vienna: F. Tempsky, 1894), pp. 28-29 (Book 1, chap. 19); p. 62 (Book II, chap. 18); p. 46 (Book II, chap. 9)]


Carl Hasler said...

Thank you for the passage from Jaki on the point in question (and for the link to the Augustine site). It is quite a useful passage for those of us who teach the poorly formed students at the college level.

leon dixon said... But, I think Jaki was clear that Genesis was more about Moses wanting to ensure that the Sabbath was kept holy. Are there other writers than Sungenis who are critical of modern physics?

leon dixon said...

Would AMBER dilvuge whether Jaki ever commented on the Sungenis book or thesis of same?