Thursday, March 13, 2008

Augustine's Advice to Christians Who Talk about Science

St. Augustine made the following remarks in his book The Literal Meaning of Genesis. This is excellent counsel for believers in our day who try to speak about scientific issues without adequate understanding.

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]

Let him who has ears to hear, take heed to this wise counsel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Experience and the light of reason has led many to believe that all we see came from a cosmic burp, man evolved from sludge, and God isn't necessary. So who is the one that really looks foolish when they speak about what they know from experience and the light of reason? A Christian should speak with knowledge, but he doesn't need to be afraid to speak because he may look foolish to some one who thinks he knows the truth of the world. We are loosing the culture because Christians have backed away from these conversations with the so-called theologians of science. So-called Science has been a stumbling block for many Christians; and for many, it's been a block that was never circumvented because they thought Scripture wasn't able to give an answer to "science's" objections. Thankfully the Lord has raised up men and women to give an answer to those that ask. Scripture can stand up to any "experienced and enligtened" heathen that comes along; no matter what century they show up in.
God Bless,