Monday, July 31, 2006

Epistemology and Miracles

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a poster to the comment section (Anon) says:

(quoting me)"After, I say AFTER the medical guys do their thing and determine that they can't explain it naturalistically."

You're confusing "I can't find it" with "it doesn't exist".

A typical churchie mistake.

He/she is saying that I am confusing the inability to find a naturalistic explanation with the idea that there is none. But the problem with that argument is that to make it one must assert an ideological assumption that there must be one. Thus if a naturalistic assumption is not found, it only means we must keep looking, even if we must keep looking ad infinitum.

The problem is event the materialists have given up on the concept of a naturalistic cause for every effect. The Metaphysicians of modern cosmology, I mean people like Hawking who are the avant guard of materialistic thought, have abandoned the idea that the universe needs a cause. They use QM particles apparent lack of a cause (which is not even the case) to argue for a universe that doesn't need a cause. If the entire universe needs no cause why should we assume that miracles need causes?

Like a two edged sword it cuts both ways:

(1) One could argue that the lack of a physical cause means one need not search for one and thus the inability to find it means there is none and thus this is a miracle.

(2) the assumption could be made that if there is no reasont o always insist upon a cuase then the lack of a cause does not imply divine action, but merely a "strange happenstance" that has no rational explanation and requires none.

This is last explanation there is never any reason to attribute anything to a miracle. In this instance there could be a resurrection of Jesus from the dead and it would not necessarily be a miracle, but just a "wired deal."

"O look dear, that Nazerath boy is rising from the dead again, isn't that strange?"

The problem for materialists is this is not materialism. It's boarder on magic, but the leaving behind of rational law like statements of material cause and effect that govern all happenings in the universe, is not materialism it is moving away from materialism.

I have a feeling that the anonymous commentator is the old fashioned kind of materlist who assumes there is a naturalistic cause that we just cant' detect. Don't look now but that's faith. It is true there is an epistemological gap. There will always be such a gap. So we are in the realm of probability when we deal wiht miracles. Even standing in front of the risen Christ we are still dealing in terms of probability. But that should not be an argument in favor of the materialist. They cannot say "that's only probablity" since their whole philosophy is founded upon probabolistic methods, such as inductive reasoning.

If after applying every concievable medical test and using the state of the art examinations (which the Lourdes commitee does) we cannot find a naturalistic explainnation, this does not necessarily mean the case is declaired a miracle. At that pont it is handed on the the the religious examinoners, the chruchmen who will begin a doctrinal examination. That's important because miracles are contextual.

Miracles are not just any unexplained happenstance, they are specifically contextual events that occur in relation to religious belief and that draw up more deeply into further levels of belief. Since it's all probability anyway the assumption that lack of explanation means the case is less likely to be explained naturalistically, the religious context must be examined. If that checks out it is only logical to assume divine context for the event since that is the only avue of expalination left.

While Anon wants to continue assuming there is always a naturalistic cause that's far from the case. That is a statement of faith in the materialism of the past. Even modern materialists have given up that dogma.

Miracles are probabolistic and contextaul. There is always an epistemic gap that cannot be bridged between knowledge of causes and assumptions about the likelihood of cuases. To assume that there must always be a naturlisc cause is to assume that there cannot be a God or that God cannot interveen in the world. Either wayt that is an ideological assumption, it is not logic, it is not proven, it is merely an assertion of faith, the bygone faith of materialism.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Prayer Studies and Lourdes

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Someone calling himself "deepbeepitsme" posted this link on the comments to the peice "Why Doesn't God Heal Stupidity." The ony message was prayer has no effect:

The article speaks of a prayer study in which the prayer group fared worse than the control group. Of course even though this was the largest such study, that doesn't necessarily mean it outweighs the other 14 that contradict it. Harris study and Byrd study and the Targ study were all especially good.

I can thnk of a reason why it worked out this way. It may be that no study can control for prayer outside the group The control group get no prayer in the study, but presumably they know in their real lives. Those people, out on the streets, in churches and in their homes are probably praying for at least some of the control group. So there is no real way to isolate a control group to compare even if we have prefect double blinding. This means none of the kinds of prayer studies done are valid. It means there's no proof either way. One can't use this study to argue that prayer has bad effects, but if we stick with this answer, then we can't use the Byrd study or the others to argue that it has good effects.

This is why Lourdes is better. Now this is a thing that one must focus upon to understand. We all hear in college, in the media, that double blind studies are the most and only kind of kind of scientific study ever. But if you actually take a graduate social research methods class, as I have done (I was a sociology major) one learns that there are many different kinds of studies, and double blind is not always the way to go. It really depends upon the research design.

Now don't me wrong, I'm not saying a single blind study is ok. I'm not saying un blinded study is good. I'm saying sometimes the double blind (experimental group and control group) are not appropriate for the test at hand. Such is the case, since we cannot control for outside prayer.

In such a case we need totally different knid of method. Instead of a double blind quntitaive compariative analysis, we must use an empirical case study. Such we have at Lourdes. Here we have case by case, no attempt to construct a qunatiatibve analysis. We are not trying to say X% of pryaed for patients do X% better. In such an empirical case we focuss on one case at a time, we "can this be explained by naturalistic means." No? then we send it to the church committe to see if a miracle is involed. After, I say AFTER the medical guys do their thing and determine that they can't explain it naturalistically.

One simpley must accept that social research methods are complex and they very. They are not also stamped out of a cookie cutter with a control group and an experimental group. Case studies still have their place.

Dishonesty of CCC

Reemmber the Christian Complamentarian Coalition, from two posts down? They are the one's who are trying to promote the double talk that men and womenin the chruch aer equal, but that duties are such that men do thel leading and women follow. Who is this sweet little friend Donna, who just wants to talk and is so nice? She is actually an agent for CCC and was sent by Mouser to quell the talk of a debae.

On their baord she says:

I decided to take down the quotes because qoting from a pirviate list is not the same as just critiquing their views. They did ask, so what not? Besides this is not the kind of thing I want here, the not right atmophsere.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Badge of Honor is not just about egalitarians and complamentarians. Its' about all issues of unfariness on the net. But I will leave the link as this is a worhty site.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

skinny on God

Poster "HRG" on CARM asked me: Since you can't explain the existence, powers and motivations of your God either, it would be hypocritical to demand this of string theory.

Here is my attempt to accommodate:


The problem with this kind of argument is that Hans (as most atheists) are never willing to acknowledge the answers given. I say the same answer every time you just pretend that I didn't say it.

There is a distinction between naturalistic (contingent) and spiritual (necessary) phenomena. So saying that "God just always was" is not the same kind of answer as saying "the univers just always was." It works for God because he's not made of parts, not natural so he doesn't upon prior conditions out of which he arose. But naturalistic phenomena in so far as we know, always arises out of prior condition. It is always made up of smaller things such as moleculres, atoms, protons, quarks (or strings if you dont' accept quarks). bozons if you buy the quark thing, shelptons, and so forth.

Its' a totally different kind of answer because you have to keep showing this comes form this, and this came this and so and so on. I don't have to do that with God, because the's not matter and he's not contingent.

We know something had to always be. That something is the basis what being is and what makes all things exist. Religious people use the term "God" to describe an idea of what that is.

If you understand that the rest is easy:


God is spirit and spirit is mind. So the basis of reality is mind. consciousness is the missing element would explain the unified field. this came out on that PBS show. They are still looking for the unifying element that binds the four together in unification. Well, they propose strings, because being materialists they cannot propose consciousness.

Consciousness is the new spirit; where ghost in the machine used to take the place of Atomism or was the alternative to atomism in Greek philosophy, so consciousness is today the new way to understand what spirit is (ala Hegel).

The basis of reality is consciousness and reality is the product of that consciousness, ie the thought of it. So the power of God is absolute and is based upon being the generator that produces the universe becasue God is the mind that thinks the universe.


The one basic motivation of this conscouisness, and it is the underpinning of being itself, love! that link is seen by Tillich and also by Hans Urs Von Balthesar (one of the most brilliant minds of all time).

The link is this: both love and being share a primal directive. They are both the most basic things that are oppossed to nothingness. Nothing is a void, it's drain pipe down which all being goes. It's the lack of anything. We can think of nothing as "off." Think of an off switch. Its' negative. the lack of something.

But something, is "On" it's the oppossite of lack, so being, or existing is "on," it's something, it's not a lack but a posative presence. It is the nature of being to give itself to the beings. Individual things that exhibit the quality of that act are "the beings." The beings take part in "being itself." So being itself bestows itself upon the beings. With me so far?

Love is a posative act. Love is the will to the good of the other. So like being, love bestows itself upon others. Love is the will to give to the other. Love is the basic absense of selfish negative nothingess, it posative, giving, "on" something. It is like being in that it is the most basic from of existing.

thus love and being are bascially one, thus God, as the foudnation of being is also the foundation of love. Since God is conscoiusness, the basic motivation of consciousness is the will to the good of the other; thus God creates others.

that is the basis of God's motivation. God creates by imaginnig worlds, that is the basis of God's power. God loves, that is the basis of God's being.

The thiness of Hans's objections:

He will say "being is only an idea in the mind." But he made that up. He doesn't know that. Being is no more an idea in the mind, than Hans is. There is no reason in the world why ideas can't refur to realities. that is just fundametnal.

There is no such things strings. It is only we theorize that they look like strings that we all them that. So strings are just an idea in the mind. But they refur to soemthing that might really be there. Hans has better an argumetn agsint my deal than I would have by saying "strings are only an idea in the mind."

When is a Doctrine a Fruedian Slip?

There is a major problem with the Evangelical world today. It's all fine and good to stick up for the Bible and to hang on to the truth of the tradition, but when we start to put our own temporal view in the way of love and the understanding of Salvation in Jesus Christ alone, we strat to make idols of pet doctrines. This is what has happened to the Christian Complementerian Coalition. They have gone off the deep end, led their by the extremist Episcapal Priest Bill Mouser, who enshrine's sex as "cosmic" and his own views as idenitical with the faith to a degree that disagreement with him results in loss of salvation.

Consider the table of contents to his forthcoming book about Sex in Scripture:

Mouser (Rvililian)CCC


1 The Beginning of the Story of Sex 1

Backdrop: Why God is Masculine 7

2 What Went Wrong with Sex and Everything Else 19

Backdrop: Man's Headship and Woman's "Desire" 24

3 God Builds Himself A Wife But It Doesn't Work Out 35

Backdrop: Are we like God or is He like us? 42

4 How Things Develop with Earthly Sex 45

5 The Climax of the Story 61

Backdrop: Marriage, the Great Mystery 69

Living the Great Mystery

Why Sexual Sin is Wrong

6 The Consummation of the Story 79

Backdrop: Sexuality is Fundamental to Christianity 93

Conclusion: 97

Why Sexuality is the Best Frame

Masculine Men in a Feminine Creation

Feminine Women and a Masculine God

Finally, It's Not About Us

Notice that he just throws away Galations 3:28 "there neither male nor female in Christ Jesus," Not to mention a vast aray of images in both Testaments where God is female, and asserts that God is male. God might seem male if one slectively takes certain veres and leaves certain other verses out. But he has to ignore this list to do that:

Deu 32:11 "As an eagle stirs up her nest, and hovers over her young, and spreads her wings, takes them up, and bears them on her wings.

Deu 32 :18 "Of the Rock that bore you, you were unmindful, and have forgotten God that formed you." (that one may be hard to get, baring children--female image).

Job 38:8 "Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb."

Job 38:29 "From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven."

Isa 45 9-10 Woe to you who strive with your Maker, earthen vessels with the potter. Does the clay say to the one who fashions it: What are you making, or Your work has no handles? Woe to anyone who says to a father: What are you begetting? or to a woman: With what are you in labour?

Isa 49:15 "Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. (comparing God's attitude toward Israel with a woman's attitude toward her children).

Isa 66:13 As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

Hosea 13:8 "I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs, and will tear open the covering of their heart";

Mat 23:37 and Luk 13:34 Jerusalem, "Jerusalem, the city that kills its prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing."

God transcends either gender. Gender is a matter of culture, sex is a matter of biology, and God is a product of neither. We can, however, learn a lot from the fact that God is compared with both mother and father. This sets the basis in equality; neither gender is set on top by imaging God.

God's attitude is compared to that of a mother as well as a father. God is not only fatherly, but also motherly. Moreover, the word used of God which is most often translated as "Lord" in the Old Testament, the word "El Shaddi," comes form the Hebrew Shodine which means "a woman's breast." God is mother-like as well as Father-like. That's because the divine is beyond your understanding. All we can do is relate God to things we do understand.

We can also see from the contents he sort of expalins everything in universe by means of sex.Even Freud was not that extreme.

Mouser goes on state in Preface:

This book is about sexuality in the fullest sense. It contains a story with characters, a plot, and a point. However, the characters are not merely individual men and women; they are, rather, masculinity and femininity themselves, both cosmic and earthly, divine and human, good and evil.

Apparently he has magnified gender roles, and sexuality to the status of Platonic forms. They are not just biological and cultural constructs they are "cosmic," they are now, for him, ontological and metaphysical norms.

This story follows the plot of Scripture. The overture is taken from Genesis where the key characters and themes are introduced. The development comes from the Old Testament, the climax from the Gospels, and the conclusion from John's Apocalypse. Each chapter begins with a "story" presentation of key historical events. The "backdrop" section which follows examines crucial doctrines and controversies pertinent to the topics of each chapter.

O sure,I remember all those verses about cosmic sex. We used to hide in the bathroom hamper with flash lights and National Geographic and titer about cosmic sex, and about Plato's notion of the One.

Mouser goes on:

Sexuality counts for much more than mere personal morality—whether one sleeps with Steve or Eve, or keeps or kills the baby. Rather, one's sexual framework determines the nature of one's God, one's view of ultimate meaning and purpose, and the nature of salvation, if any is needed.

Indeed! that is a very illuminating paragraph. Let's examine that first sentence. Sexuality counts for more than mere personal morality. Why would one began a discussion about the meaning of sex by linking it just to morality? I get the feeling that Mouser is ill at ease with the concept of sex, perhaps he considers it dirty, but then why would it be enshrined at the top f the metaphysical hierarchy if it was dirty? He does go on to say regardless of oreintation sexual framework determines one's God. So he doesn't even imagine that all have the same God. What kind of God do we get if our framework for sexuality excludes half the human race form any kind of importance and religates them to s serving role? Finally he connets the view of sex to even salvation, meaning and purose. So he's got all figured out, this is the go to guy for meaning and truth. So ready to sum it all up, so blind and unwilling to be self critical.

"The Bible provides what the world does not have: an authoritative and credible revelation of the origin and destiny of masculinity and femininity," he tells us. It does not! That is nothing more than an attempt to put his obession front and center. The Bible says nothing about the origin of masculinity or femininity. God never says in Genesis "be fruitful and multiply, and avoid gender confusion." I'm sure Mouser would the amazed to know that the days of Abraham men probably wore eye shadow and vailed their faces. I say this because the Burber blue men do so (as a practical measure against the desert). But masculine and feminine are concepts of culture and they evolve with culture. When Mouser sees the terms "male" and "female" he equates this with "masculine" and "feminine" and that's fine. But it is not the result of God giving commands about what is masculine, and that concept has certainly changed over time. The most manly men of the Elisabethian age dressed in a style we would find efeminate and they used perfume. Gender folkways are matters of culture they are not mandated in the Bible, this is part of elivating one's obsession to a cosmic level.

As part of the preface Mouser offers definitions, and this is where he uses his cosmic hieararchy to attack groups to his pet obessive doctrines.

Patriarchy: This term names a familial, social, political, and ecclesiastical ordering of human relationships in which "fathers rule." In other words, the responsibility for leadership, protection, provision, and governance is laid on the shoulders of men, particularly familial heads. This pattern of human relationships is pervasive in the Bible, and those who embrace or reject patriarchy acknowledge this. They disagree sharply about whether Biblical patriarchy is good or evil. The authors of this book confess that patriarchy is God's very good and original design for human relationships.

Of course he defines Patriacrch as good, but he also extends the divine ordience of Patriarchy to all of scoiety. One gets the notion that Mousers world would contian no secualr speace. Patriarchy and (his version) of divine mandate would be all encupassing. Mouser's world is a one possiblity thing with no room for disent or counter views. Then of course it's time to lambast his oppoents:

Feminism: The social and political theory that men and women are interchangeable and that no gender-based difference in role, privilege, or responsibility should be recognized or sustained by the state or society.

Of course with this definition we see the true phsychological fear against which Mouser struggles. Apparently he fears being reduced in status from "Mascluine" to some interchangeable state where he might be plugged in as feminine. In defining his major oppoents as those who peddle the interchangeability he is teling us his great fear. The fact of it is, of cousre, feminissm has nothing to do with this. He says nothing in his defition about freedom or eqaulity. So this is his idea of equality, equality is equalizing and equalizing is interchangeablity that would threaten his manhood. Those of us in the liberal camp are not so uncertain of our manhoods.

Complementarianism: This term names a body of doctrines and practices which holds that men are by God's creation and mandate responsible to lead the human race with the help, nurture, and counsel of women. The sexes are equal insofar as they equally bear the image of God. They are also equal in their respective spiritual worth. However, they are distinct in sexual nature and roles. Though marred by the sins of both men and women, the patriarchal and complementary relationship of the sexes is restored, not abolished, by the redemptive work of Christ.

Another "whoray for our side" sort of statment. Here we find the major aspect of complamentarian double talk. We are eual but some are more equal than others. You and I are equal, except my role is to lead and your role is to shut up and follow. So be equal and silent. The stench of hypocracy is stifeling. These little spirtual bullies who enshirine their obesscessions no the cosmic face of creation and yet deny veryone ealse the right to any sort of self expression. Here difference of gender inequality disguissed as equality is equated wtih the work of Christ and seen as part of the transformative power of God, thus making a mockery of the Gospel.

So at this point we are told God is male, which means female is the aline other. The universe is about sex at it's deepest ontological level, the whole point of being "saved" is to deepen the inequality and put men more firmly in charge. What fear must lurk in the heart of this poor obsessed preist.But wait, it gets more puzzelling.

Egalitarianism: This is a movement of religious feminists in the Church; the body of doctrines and practices which holds that men and women are not only equal in essence and spiritual worth, but that they are also interchangeable in function and roles.

So he is trying to make a douplicate defition for egalitarianism which lumps it in as feminism. Both, in his fear crazed mind, are about "interchangeablity" (his great fear, being exchanged for the feminine). Again, egalitariansm has nothing to do with "interchangeablity," but it is the enemy camp so of course he must make it a subset of feminism.

Egalitarians advocate female headship (ordination of women as pastors, elders, bishops), "mutual submission," and partnership without headship in marriage and ministry. Egalitarians view patriarchy as an antiquity to outgrow or as an evil to be overturned. Passages in the Scripture which support or endorse patriarchy are dismissed as "culturally relative" or are reinterpreted to have meanings unknown in previous centuries of the Church.

Of course that is a generalized satment which ignores a great deal of specialized treatment on particualr passages. While Mouser reels in horror at the loss of his manufactured doctrine of "headship" (a word never used in the Bible) he totally ignores the basic substance of egalitarianism, which is found in the literal defition of the word, equality! Egalitariansim is about equality between the sexes, not the kind of equality that says "you are and I are equal, except for you, so shut up and let me lead" but the kind of equality that really gives everyone a chance to do wthat God has called that person to do.

Now here's where it gets funcky:

Sex: From what has already been said here, it should be obvious that we use the term "sex" to name things far more diverse than what happens conjugally in a bedroom or in the back seat of a car in a darkened park. In modern discourse, the word sex has been evacuated of all meaning except the animal and exclusively biological senses of the term. We refuse to follow this course.

There is a spirutal dimension to sex, and a sexual relationship that is right with God is a relationship between three eneties, a man, a woman, and God. So far, so good. But wait:

What may be new for some readers is our contention that sex in its broadest meaning for humans is derivative of a fundamentally cosmic relationship – the relationship between the Creator and the created.

But this would mean placing a male in a role of a female in relation to God as metaphorically God assumes the husband's role (I presume he will draw upon a Catholic reading of Song of Songs). I thought he was so worried about being interchangeable? He seems to be allowing for a degree of interchangeablity, at least in a metaphorical and spiritaul sense.This seems to be a bit of convolution and hypocraocy. What is truely disturbing is the extent to which Mouser and the CCC are willing to play mind games and bully women in order to ensure that their pet doctrines go unoppossed. We see this form of Bullying in the following story related on the Badge of Honor board:

GR's story


I spent about three weeks posting to the Complementarian Christian Coalition forum before I was banned from participation. I joined the forum with the idea that I would agree with the group on basic Christian doctrine, but would differ somewhat regarding the issue of gender roles. In fair play to the people on that forum, it is their group for the purpose of discussing their particular viewpoint. However, I stated outright when joining that I tend toward the egalitarian side of the debate, and they let me on.

Within a week, it became obvious that they consider even moderate egalitarians to be raving feminists, heretics and, in the case of one lady, communist sympathizers. Throughout the discussion, there were various comments about my ignorance and lack of theological knowledge. I was accused of twisting scripture, and twisting the statements of the forum members. I was told I was selfish and should take up pole dancing. Then someone said this to me:

“Indeed, to portray the values, virtues, and blessings of male headship and female submission to it as evils comes very close to what Jesus describedas the unpardonable sin: to credit to the devil what is, in fact, the work of the Holy Spirit. It is here where I warn you again that your soul is in peril of irrevocable damnation. For your own sake, back up and rethink things, if you are still able.”

So they are willing to make this not only a matter of salvation but to disagree is to blasepheme the Holy Spirit! That is the ultiamte bully move. Of course any doctrien, including egaltarianism could make the same calim. If any women are truely called to pastor chruches than to say that they are wron to do so is deying the Holy Spirit and possibly opening one up to the unpradonable sin, depending upon the brazen nature of the calim. In othe words, if one says "women as pastors is the work of the devil" and it just happens to be work of God, then that person is committing the unpardonable sin. Any doctrine can make this calim. In fact it is nothing moer than a bully tactic.

What the public does't see is the charade behind the scenes where Mouser tries to play bully boy and control the content even on other boards, by theatening to sue them for disagreeing with him on doctrine! One can only marvel at the idotic sense of self improtance attached to such a move. The heavy handed moderation on Comprlamentarian boards and their fascistic and hypocritical interpritation of their rules, their start raving fear of anything to do with woemn and the secular all lead one to conclude that they have raised their pet peaves to the level of idolotry.

I have challenged Mouser to debate. So for he reuses. I think it can't be he's afraid? No, it must be that he feels he has nothing to gain by beating little old me. Still, one wonders

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Introducing Egalitarian Badge of honor

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Badge of Honor is a Blog dedicated to telling the story of women (and smoe men i guess) who have been victimized by oppression of sexist tormenters who rule with an iron hand in their own little cybre kingdom in thier corner of the net.

These guys are called "Complementarians." They conservative Christians who say "God love women as men,we are all equal before God, but some are more equal than others." Man's equal job is to lead and be in charge of everytying and woman's equl job, which is just as important is to keep her mouth shut and do as she's told. Naturally, they would be most offended at my puttint that way. Of course how do you think they put it when they define "egalistarian" those women (and men) who believe that equality means equlaity not some more equal than others? They define it to mean "men and women aer interchangeable." That of course, is insluting but it doesn't darw the kind of ire that my sort of definition of them draws.

This groud is about fighting an oppressive regieme on cross walk forums. I was not banned from Cross Walk but from another comp forum which is about as bad, the "Christian Complimentarian Coalition." I was banned (actually one post was zapped) from their site because I argued with them. I was very polite, but hey said I was new so I didn't have the right to disagree, so I said "adios!" I wasn't banned my one post was banned.

So I urge the reading of this site, Badge fo Honor because I think these women are brave and trying to stand up to forces they have been led coward before thoughtout their Christiain lives.

In a sense I think it's a bit stilly to find them because we all know Message board hyjinx come and go and there are a million boards, and those guys are are not going to last.Their position will eventually be lumped in with people who defend the confederacy and flat earth people. In the mean let's enjoy the fireworks. STill I support Badge of Honor in their attempt to bring justice and ratioanl posting to the Christian net.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Christianity, Supernature, and Rise of Science in The Middle Ages

Part 3

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While rising from Purgitory, toward the heaven of the moon, Dante wonders how they can enter the pearl-like substance. It is a mystery, "like the union of divine and human nature in Christ." Dante than asks how it is that the moon, a perfect heavenly body, has spots. Beatrice answers that the distribution of the intelligence which governs each body varies in different places. She then gives him an experiment to perform which confirms this revelation. The important point is that here knowledge is coming from both faith and reason (revelation and experiment). Since this is an occasion in which sense data will suffice, experiment will confirm what faith has already taught. Beatrice praises experiment as the fountainhead of the arts, "From this objection may experiment deliver thee, if thou its virtue try, (Source where from stream the arts that you invent)." (Paradiso, Canto II. 4-6. Thus, Dante forms the perfect bridge between medieval and early modern, he forms perhaps the greatest literary expression of the medieval cosmos just before the transition into a scientifically defined universe. The Comedy also represents one of the last great artistic expressions of the valuation of nature in relation to the divine, the exaltation of grace over nature.

The dissolution of the unity began in the middle of the twelfth century, when a dispute arose over the independence of science from classical learning and tradition. This dispute set science on the road to mathematical precision, and to the view that the universe must be viewed as a dynamic system, no longer described in traditional ways. But, with the rise of Renaissance humanism, the exaltation of nature over grace begins. A comparison between Dante and Pico Dela Mirandola demonstrates how far the change had gone. Dante's Virgil is willing to remain silent in matters pertaining to revelation. The Comedy is a perfect description of the medieval cosmos, complete with the ontological relation of nature and grace. Human nature is exalted by grace, but human aspiration is in line with divine will. Thus, when Dante asks if those trapped in the heaven of the moon don't long for a higher state, he is told, "brother, the virtue of love hath pacified our will; we long for what we have alone, nor any craving stirs in us beside. If we desired to reach a loftier zone, our longings would be all out of accord with His will..."(Par. Canto III. 70-74). With Pico's oration "On the Dignity of Man," however, the notions of the Microcosm and Macrocosm are extended to their logical humanistic conclusions. These themes emerged out of the ontology of supernature, but with Pico, "there is nothing to be seen more wonderful than man." All the choice is with humanity. "He [God] took man, a creature of indeterminate nature...and addressed him thus,...`thou constrained by no limits, in accord with thine own free will, in whose hand we have placed thee, shall ordain for thyself the limits of thy nature.'" In the medieval ontology, humanity is fallen in will, but a spark of the Imago still resides in human nature, which bestows rational reason and spiritual love, and thus, grace can exalt and perfect human nature. With Pico's Renaissance humanism, humanity is set no limits, can choose for itself to rise to the heavens or sink to the earth. Humanity determines its own nature.

This exaltation of nature over grace grew until, almost four centuries latter, a new valuation of nature emerges, independent of grace. The old relation of nature and grace was rejected, identified too closely with scholasticism. The Reformation, while preserving the relationship between God and the world (immanence and transcendence, God's grace present in the world) Luther removed the centerpiece form the system. For Luther, humanity was not "God-capable." A whole new relationship between nature and grace was forged, one based on sheer volunterism and equivocity (the unlikeness of creature and creator). Equivocity, for Luther, is based primarily upon the doctrine of the fall. He assumed that the act of sin had completely destroyed the image of God in which humanity was originally created. By the 16th century a new feeling for nature was forming. People wanted to own the world they had discovered, to feel comfortable in their new relationship with nature. Humanism marked a total rejection of scholasticism, the relation of nature and Grace was almost reversed. Thus, Fontenelle's Marquise, when asked "did you not have a more grandiose conception of the universe?" replies, "well, I hold it in much higher that I know its like a watch..." There was a trend toward the diestic view of a God "out there." The older view Fontenelle describes as "...a false notion of mystery wrapped in obscurity. They only admire nature because they believe she's a kind of magic."

Newton and Boyle, having totally rejected scholasticism, in the last quarter of the 17th century, nevertheless maintain an ordered relation between God and the universe. Newton's sensorium of God, which explained "action at a distance" involved in gravity (his private explanation) was taken directly from the work of 14th century scholastics (Thomas Bradwardine and Nichole Oresme) who identified God with space itself. "Despite the virtuosi's sustained and vigorous denounciation of scholastic philosophy, they heavily upon the medieval heritage in their use of teleology...they combined the mechanical view of nature with the medieval conception that nature is the product of divine goodness." Newton and Boyle were at pains to explain God's activity in a mechanical universe, but, as Brooke says, "for latter generations less tolerant of paradox, less tolerant of things above reason, less tolerant of a realm of grace above a realm of nature, a clockwork universe demanded nothing more than an original clockmaker." D'Alembert said that one could understad the existence of God though natural reason, but he went on to say that scholastic ontology was superstition. Nature was valued in its own right, but as a separate piece of machinery, divorced from divine valuations and grace. For Newton and Boyle, grace was not so much completing nature, as it was propping up their cosmologies. In a sense, nature was completing grace.

The supernatural ontology ceased to be important to scientific explanation, not only because it ceased to inform the scientific method, but also because cultural values had as much to do with the process as did scientific method. Scientists could have continued to understand the God-world relationship as an important completion of scientific understanding (as indeed they did until well into the 18th century). But, the cultural value of autonomy changed the way in which "higher" explanations were connected to the causal world. Rather than the immanent God who worked through supernature, dietic thinkers, and philosophes in the enlightenment, came to value the for itself apart from God, and to view God as the absent God who wound up the universe and left it to run on its own.

When historians of science, such as Grant, Lindberg, and White, argue that Christian belief helped to spur the development of science in the middle ages, their accounts of those developments are incomplete as long as they ignore the supernatural ontology. White attributes the interest in science to developments in natural theology, but an understanding in natural theology is incomplete as long as it ignores the supernatural ontology upon which the whole foundation of natural theology was built. The 12th century developments above describe the rise of natural theology. Moreover, White explains the interest in natural theology merely as an attempt to "understand God's mind by examining his creation. Clearly, there is much more to the rise of natural theology. It was not only attempt at understanding God through creation (that attempt was made in using nature as a symbol of the divine). There was an actual value of nature which went into the process. The conception of nature as a whole, the notion of the Universitas, had given rise to an appreciation of nature in its own right. That was made possible by the value bestowed upon nature through its intimate connection to the divine, the harmony between immanent and transcendent. Grant argues that harmony between science and theology existed in the 12th century because theologians were trained in both natural philosophy and natural theology. True enough, but there must have been a reason why they were so trained. Grant suggests that the reason is because, being trained in both, they knew how to relate the two disciplines. On the other hand, there must be more to it than mere lack of professional jealousy. Why were they trained in both? Because, they saw both as an inter-related whole. Nature was valued "in its own right," but not as an autonomous piece of clock-work which with no relation to grace. They understood the valuation of nature as an extension of grace, nature was valued in its own right because it was the creation of a God who was immanent, as well as transcendent, and who gave nature theological significance.


Bibliogrophy and End Notes_________________________________________


Augustine. The City of God. translated Henry Bettenson. Penguin Books, 1972. This edition 1984.
Bingen, Hildegard von. Hildegard of Bingen's Book of Divine Works: With Letters and Songs. ed. Matthew Fox. Sante Fe, New Mexico: Bear and Company inc. 1987.
Brooke, John Hedley. Science And Religion: Some Historical Perspectives. The cambridge history of Sciences Series. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Charlton, D. G. New Images of The Natural: A Study In European Cultural History, 1750-1800. The Gifford Lectures, London: Cambridge University Press, 1884.
Chenu, Marie-Dominique. Nature, Man, Society in The Twelfth Century. Wehic Press, 1979.
D'Alembert, Preliminary Discourse to the Encyclopedia of Diderot. Trans. Richard Swab. The library of liberal arts series, Bobbs Merrill company, 1963.
Dante. The Divine Comedy. Trans. Lawrence Binyon, ed. Paolo Miano, New York: Viking Press, 1947.
Fairweather, Eugene R. "Christianity and The Supernatural," in New Theology Number One. Martin E. Marty and Dan G. Peerman, ed., New York: The Macmillian Company, 1964.
Fontenelle, Bernard le Bovier. On The Plurality Of Worlds. trans. H. A. Hargraves. Berkeley: University of California press, 1990.
Grant, Edward. "Science and Theology in The Middle Ages," in God and Nature: Historical Essays ON The Encounter Between Christianity and Science. ed. David Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers., Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.
Inge, William Ralph. Christian Mysticism. the famous Bampton Lectures, Oxford, 1899, New York: Meredian, Living Age Books, 1956, second printing, 1960.
L Ladurie, LeRoy. "Introduction," Montaillou: Promised Land of Error. trans. Barbara Bray, New York: George Braziller, Inc. 1978 (American pub. date, originally 1975).
Lindberg, David "Science and The Early Church," in Lindberg, Op. Cit. . Science In the Middle Ages. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.
Lovejoy, Arthor O. The Great Chain of Being: The History of An Idea. The William James lecture 1833, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1934. This edition 13th printing 1976.
Lloyd, Genevieve. The Man of Reason: "Male" and "Female" in Western Philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.
Marcus, R. A. Christianity In The Roman World. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1974.
Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of The Development of Doctrine. The Growth of Medieval Theology (600-1300). Vol. III. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.
Ruther, Rosemary Radord. Sexism in God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology. Boston: Beacon Press, 1983.
Scheeben, Mathias Joseph. Nature And Grace. trans. Cyril Vollert, ST. Louis:Herder Book Company, 1954 (originally 1856).
Schiebenger, Londa. The Mind Has No Sex? Women in The Origins of Modern Science. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989.
Tanner, Kathryn. God and Creation In Christian Theology: Tyranny or Empowerment. Basil Blackwell, 1988.
Tillich, Paul. A History of Christian Thought. ed. Carl Bratten. New York: Simmon and Schuster, 1968.
Westfall, Richard. Science and Religion in Seventeenth Century England.
Ann Arbor paperbacks: University of Michigan Press, 1973 (originally, 1958).
Willey, Basil. The Seventeenth Century Background: STudies in The Thought of The Age In Relation to Poetry and Religion. London: Chatto and Windus, 1934, seventh impression, 1957.
White, Lynn. "The Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," in Machina Ex Deo: Essays in The Dynamism of Western Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1968.

End Notes

1 The term "supernature" simply refers to the concept of the supernatural. But, that concept is much changed in modern parlance. The term first originated with Pseudo-Dionysius around 500 CE. In modern terms it refers to anything wired, or beyond the normal course of cause and effect; the occult, psychic powers, and so on. In scholastic terminology, however, it is two things: the realm of the transcendent (or God's presence beyond the created order), or the power to God to alter the natural and bestow grace. Miracles, for example, are "supernatural effects." To say that supernature is the ground and end of nature is simply to say that God is the origin of the nature, and whatever goal or purpose is fulfilled in creation, it is fulfilled to the extent that it moves toward God's purpose. This could be a moral goal, it doesn't have to be a physical effect, because "nature" includes human nature (and primarily human nature in scholasticism). Supernature is the higher law, rooted in God's will and grace (power). see Fairweather and Scheeben.

2 Eugene R. Fairweather, "Christianity and the Supernatural," in New Theology N0. 1. Martin E. Marty and Dean G. Peerman, ed. (New York: The Macmillian Company, 1964), 237.

These are Fairweathers terms; the analogical ontology, which is juxtaposed to the "equivocal" and "univocal" views. The equivocal representing the reformed and neo-orthodox theology, the univocal representing enlightenment based liberal theology. Admittedly, Fairweather's schema is too Thomistic to be accurate, but his terms are handy descriptions of concepts which take a long time to lay out, so I use them. He speaks of the harmonious relation of immanence and transcendence as "analogical" on the assumption that religious language is merely analogy. Since the transcendent is beyond word, thought, or image, the most we can ever hope for is an analogical relation, or pure mystical experience. Of course, there is nothing to guarantee the accuracy of the analogy. But, in contrast to the other two views, the idea is that rather than losing the supernatural in the natural (which includes the materialist view as well as most liberal theology) and rather than losing the relation of nature to grace through sheer volunterism (which the reformers substituted for creative purpose in their notions of soverginty), what for Fairweather is the "correct" view, maintains some relation between creature and creator, even if we can only know that relation through analogy.

3 Fairweather, 245-253.

Fairweather traces the notion of supernatural from the early days of the Church to modern times, in summary fashion. He emphasizes the Greek, Augustine, Aquinas, the Reformers, and Paul Tillich. He argues specifically against the denigration theory.

4 Fairweather, p. 237.
5 White, 86.
6 Ibid., 88.
7 Rosemary Radford Ruther. Sexism in God-Talk: Toward A Feminist Theology. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1983), 54.

Ruther argues that in religious thinking of the West the association is always between the female, the earth, nature, and the mother goddess, the male associated with the sky, heaven, transcendence, and the sky father. Thus, transcendence is the longing of the male ego to survive, and is rooted in the warrior culture and its tendency to force young boys, when coming of age, to flee the "world of women" and join the men.

8 Ibid.
9 Schiebinger, 162.
10 Lovejoy, 103.
11 Ibid.
12 Fairweather, 327.
13 Schiebinger, 1969.

"Augustine had asserted that both sexes, having been created in the image of God, posses a rational soul (though woman's rationality was of a lesser degree). While woman might be inferior to man by nature, she was his equal by grace: in the afterlife souls have no sex..." She footnotes Eleanor Mclaughlin "equality of souls, inequality of sexes" in Religion and Sexism, Images of Women in The Jewish and Christian Traditions. ed. Rosemary Ruther. New York: 1974, 218. On the other hand, see Genevieve Lloyd. The Man of Reason: "Male" and "Female" in Western Philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984. 29. Lloyd argues that Augustine was stuck with the baggage of Genesis, and was forced to explain woman's difference in creation in terms of subordination, but he tried to explain it in such a way as to correct the denigration of women. "His own interpretation of the sexual symbolism of Genesis is clearly supposed to defend woman against what he perceived as the misogynism of earlier exegesis...Augustine attempted to articulate sexual equity with respect to reason, while yet finding interpretive content for the Genesis account subordination of woman to man...what woman is as a rational spirit [not necessarily after life] must be distinguished from what she symbolizes in her bodily difference from man." What she symbolizes is human reason diverting toward the practical, Lloyd argues, not the lack of reason, or less reason. While this answer is unworthy of a thinker of Augustine's stature, he could hardly have picked up a better one at Woodstock.

14 Evelyn Underhill. Mysticism. (New York: Meridian books, 1955) originally published 1911. 206.
15 Lindberg, Science in Middle Ages, 42.
16 Ladurie, viii. 17 Lindberg draws upon Weber at this point, to explain the economic developments and religious attitudes toward those developments in the 10th through 12th centuries. Science In The Middle Ages, 29-42. Unfortunately, Lindberg does not explain exactly what those theories are, or how they really explain the developments. He simply says that economic forces drove religious attitudes. Fortunately, I used to be a sociology major. Weber was one of my favorites. In The Spirit of Capitalism and the Protestant Work Ethic he says that the protestant reformation prepared the ground for capitalism by instilling an ethical base thorough religious attitudes. The same set of sensibilities required to be a good Calvinist, were also those required to be a good capitalist. His theory was also wider, and he applied it to many periods of history. Lindberg seems to be arguing that religious attitudes and economic developments were mutually reinforcing and laid the groundwork for the rise of medieval science in the 12th century.

18 Ibid., 25.
19 Ibid., 23.
20 Ibid., 27.
21 R. A. Markus. Christianity In The Roman World. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1974), 60.
22 Fairweather, 247
23 Fairweather, 248
24 ST. Augustine, The City of God. Trans. Henry Bettenson, Penguin Classics (London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1972/84) Book XII, Chapter 4.4, p. 475.
25 Ibid., 473-4.
26 David C. Lindberg, God and Nature: Historical Essays on The Encounter Between Christianity and Science. ed. David C. Lindberg and Ronald Numbers, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), 31.
27 Lindberg, 35.

Augustine didn't really make any contributions to the development of science, but Lindberg numbers him among the "early church practitioners" of science. Augustine did apply scientific thinking on occasion. He used the example of twins to counter astrology; both babies are born under the same sign, at the same time, but one is often weaker and meets a different fate than the other.M

28 Lindberg, 37.
29 Arthor O. Lovejoy. The Great Chain of Being. The William James Lectures, 1933,(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1934), 67.
30 Grant, 50-51.
31 D.G. Charlton. New Images Of The Natural In France: A Study in European Cultural History, 1750-1800. The Gifford Lectures (New York, London: Cambridge University Press, 1984),35.
32 Paul Tillich. A History of Christian Thought. ed. Carl E. Braaten, (Simon and Schuster: Touchstone, 1967), 154.
33 Lindberg, Science in The Middle Ages. 42 35 Ibid.
Lindberg includes as magic, of course, the supernatural and the sacraments. From an anthropological view this is quite correct, but his inclusion of miracles is conceptually wrong. Miracles and magic are not the same thing, not simply because Christian belief (the Bible for example) condemns one and condones the other, but because they stem from two different concepts. Magic seems to be based on the ultimate premise that some force built into nature can be controlled by the user. For example, with the Hermetic corpus, there is a certain design which the ancients knew of that allows for the control of nature in a certain way. Miracles, on the other hand, or "supernatural effects" as Scheeben calls them, are not the result of the user's control, but of God's will. Moreover, they are not brought into play by some hidden design within nature, but by the orchestration of supernature; that is, they are the laws of nature obeying a higher law which is evoked at God's choosing. From an anthropological view this may be hair splitting, but from within the inner logic of a theological tradition it makes a large difference. Be that as it may, Lindberg's basic point still stands, by allowing the infusion of pagan magic, which is obvious in some respects, if not in the sacraments, Christianity allowed a combination of traditions which emerged as science in the Renaissance.

36 Edward Grant, "Science and Theology IN the Middle Ages." in Lindberg, God And Nature. 49.
37 In his famous lectures, the Bampton lectures (Oxford, 1899) on Christian mysticism, William Ralph Inge speaks of "medieval dualism" of spirit over matter. This is in contradiction to Fairweather, Tanner, and others. Nevertheless, even though the lectures were given at the turn of the century, Inge has been considered the major authority on Christian mysticism thoughout most of the 20th century. Inge does go on, however, to state that the view of the more developed mystics was toward the notion of harmony and unity. Christian Mysticism, 263. He also states, "all nature [for Christian mysticism] (and there are few more pernicious errors than that which seperates man from nature) is the language in which God expresses his thoughts," 250. Inge has long been one of my favorites, so I feel in all honesty I must admitt that this compromises my argument. But, I still think there is an idea here, so I have tried to qualify my argument (I'm tweeking it). After all, who wants to be an ideologue?

38 Lauderie shows that the Manachiean influences in France fed into the Cathari dualism, which did disvalue the natural world. Like some forms of gnosticism from the early centuries, this did not always take the form of asceticism, it sometimes meant licence to sin (we are trapped in matter anayway, so why avoid sex?). The Cathori had two levels of believer, (as did the Manachieans) the "perfects," or elites, abstaned, the ordinary people (peasants mostly) did not abstaine, but indulged at an almost alarming level.
39 Ibid., 34.
40 Ibid., 35.
41 Chenu, 29.
42 Lindberg, Science in The Middle Ages, 37.
43 Ibid.
44 Ibid., 30.
45 Schiebinger, 13.
46 Underhill, 458.
47 M.D. Chenu. Nature, Man, and Society in The Twelfth Century: Essays on New Theological Perspectives in The Latin West. ed. and trans. Jerome Taylor and Lester K. Little, (Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press, 1957). 35.
48 White, 88
49 Inge, 250.
50 Fairwether, 237.
51 Hilegard of Beingen's Book of Divine Works: With Letters And Songs. ed. Matthew Fox, Santa Fe, New Mexico: Bear and company Inc. 1987, 26.
52 Mary Jeremme Finnegan. The Women of Helfta: Scholars and Mystics. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1991).
53 Tillich, 144.
54 Tillich, 181-82.
55 Lawrence Cunningham. ed. Brother Francis. Huntington, Indiana: OSV, 1972. Cunningham argues that ST. Francis did not idealize or romanticize nature..the "nature mystic" image is fallacy. St. Francis was more of a democratic than a romantic, that is, he accepted all of God's creatures on an equal basis, but he did not divinize nature.
56 get it
57 Tillich, 181-82.
58 M.D. Chenu. Man, Nature, and Society In The Twelfth Century: Essays On New Theological Perspectives In The Latin West. ed. trans. Jerome Taylor and Lester K. Little, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957, 1968 edition), 4-6.
59 Chenu, 6.
60 Ibid., 9-10.
61 Ibid.
See also Grant, 51. Grant gives the same developments of Platonic philosophy leading the search for natural causes, lists the same names, but with less development, he even includes another part of this same larger quotation from William of Conche.
62 Lindberg, Science in The Middle Ages, 41-42.
63 Chenu, 16-17.
64 Chenu, 28.
65 Chenu, 18.
66 in Chenu, 19.
I thought I would quote the expression of such a modern concern, cheap energy. 67 Chenu, 29.
68 Ibid.
69 Ibid.
70 Chinu, 32-33.
71 Ibid., 33.
I could as easily footnote Lindberg's Science In The Middle Ages, and Grant, as both go hand in hand with Chenu on almost every point, concerning the developments at Chartres, but their accounts are much more general.
72 Chenu, 32.
73 Jarslov Pelikan. The Christian Tradition, a Development of The History of Doctrine: The Growth of Medieval Theology, (600-1300). Vol. III. (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1978), 284-85.
74 Ibid.
75 Aquinas in Pelikan, Ibid.
76 Ibid.,288.
77 Pelikan, 289.
78 This is an antiquated designation, I realize. The fashion is to speak in terms of early modern, and to include the 12th century as a "renaissance" in its own right. While I can see the value in that, I can't go along with it when speaking of Dante. In agreement with Peter Burke, I view the Renaissance as a literary movement rather than a time period, but Dante is a literary figure.
79 Ibid., 291.
80 Purgatorio. XVIII. 46-48.
81 C.H. Grandent. Notes on Paradiso, The Divine Comedy, ed. Palo Milano, trans. L..Binyon. Canto II. (New York: The Viking Press, 1947), 371.
82 The experiment doesn't make much sense. It involves three mirrors, one placed further away from the other two, and a light which can be seen in all the mirrors. The light is supposed to shine as brightly in the third mirror, proving that the spots on the moon are not the result of rarity and density...I think. Be that as it may, the point is not what is proven (I don't think anything is proven) but the fact that Dante used experiment at all, even if only theoretically.
83 Pelikan, 291.
84 Lindberg, Science in The Middle Ages, 43.
85 Pico Dela Mirandola, "Oration on The Dignity of Man," in The Renaissance Philosophy of Man. Anthology, ed. Ernest Cassierer, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1948), 223.
86 Ibid. 225.
87 see Fairweather. 237.
Katherine Tanner argues that the real difference in Reformation and scholastic ontology was a problem of language. She argues that the relation of nature and grace is inherent in all Christian assumptions about the God-world relationship, but this relation gets distorted through language which is designed to convey one aspect of the system or another, and the other aspects are forgotten. Luther emphasized the need of the creature for grace, Aquinas emphasized the ability of the creature to rise to the level of grace (the operation of the Imago). My response is, all doctrinal disputes are disputes over language, all "errors" and "heresy" are linguistic problems. 88 Basil Willey, The Seventeenth Century Background
89 Fontenelle, ON The Plurality of Worlds, 12.
This attitude marks what Fairweather calls the "univocal" side of the equation. There is only one voice, everything is pulled down into nature. In the 15th century disputes over foundationalism, the Catholic anti-foundationalists, because their position disvalued reason as a counter to Protestant foundations, took the opposite view. As with Montaigne, they took the equivocal side. That is, grace over nature. They supported Catholic tradition, but changed the content so that the harmonious relation which valued the world through supernature no longer valued the world. It is my contention that this feeling was transposed and read back by historians as the medieval attitude of Christian supernaturalism to nature. see Lovejoy, 103.
90 Ibid.
91 Grant, 57.
92 Richard Westfall, 51.
93 Brooke, 144.
94 D'Alembert, 14, 25.
95 Grant, 69.
96 White, 88.
97 Grant, 69.
98 Ibid.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Please agree

I pray that God will grant rationality and compassion to all leaders in all sides of the mid east conflict, to stop the war.

I pray this in all the names that people use to adress the object of ultiamte concern (for me that's Jesus) but I join with all people of faith and human decenency, religious or not, in seeking these ends.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pray for Peace

We are now on the brink of another Arab/Israli war. O joy, another war! Man we must pray our you know what's of. I am sick of seeing wars happen! Let's go out in the street today all over the world and sing "give peace a chance."

I have followed the conflict in the middle east all my life. I remember the "June war" (1967) we call it "the six day war" over here. It was really amazing how they just zipped through the attacking forces. The popular American sympathy was clearly with Israel in those days. They still had cultural capital from being victims of Hitler and most Americans saw Israel as the alternative to the fear of future persecution. The man who killed "Bobby" (Robert F. Kennedy) was an Arab who apparently was reacting against Kennedy's support of Israel. So that tended to taint the arab cause in the American mind, an collective mind already reeling from the newly discovered possibility that racial prejudice was wrong. It was a big enough feat to realize that black people were ok (I lived in the south and I speak of the average southern American of the day in 1967). It was a bit harder to go further and say the Arabs are ok. We knew so little of Arabs back then. I think also the fact that a great many Arabs are of another faith, and a faith little understood by American Christians. Fortunately, today a good many Americans realize that everyone is ok.

This is not the case today. There are so many Moslims around us now, which is a good thing, that we find people croping up who seem totally American (and they are) they lived here 20 years (from birth) and turn out to be Moslim, it's kind of neat and kin of amazing. There is still a lot of prejudice. After 9/11 there were threats to Mosques here and there. I check with Arabic and Persian friends to make sure they weren't getting threats. I told them if they were to call me I'd try to help. None of them had gotten any, fortunately.

But I also care about Israel. I suppor the Palestinian cause. I see that the Israeli government has done a lot of harm and abused it's power, but I agree with the fundamental right of Israel to exist. I also think the Palestinians have a fundamental right to exist. There isnt' much land or water there, but I still think it's possible for both people's and two states to live side by side in peace. Everyone actsl ike its' just too great a task toe ven imagine. Well the asnwer is obvious, both sides have to give up things they currently hold as non negotable. I am not sure what excactly those things would be, but both sides must give them up. The most fundametnal thing they both must give up is the tendency to ratinoalize violance with "but they did this to us."

I find the coflict between arabs and Isralis goes all the way back. I've studied an indicident in Damascus in the 1880s called the "blood Libel" where Jews got stuck with balme for the murder of a Christian Preist. No one knows who really killed hinm but It led to a mass exodus of Jews from Syria to Jeruslaem and a big boost for the Zionist movment. That's all violence acomplishes, more violence. There are records of arabs killed by Jews and Jews killed by arabs going back to the middle ages, and even beyond. The conflict probably does really go back to Issac and Ishmael.

I just hope that the Peace Now movment can bring sanity to the actions of the Israeli government.But there needs to be a counter balacing peace movement among the Arabs. I undersand why there is not, because most of their energies are focussed on a liberation movment especially for Palestinians. Dont' forget a lot of Palestinians are decendents of the original Christians and they are Chrsitian even today. But that means they more anyone should be able to forgive and to work for peace.

Now is the time for all good radicals to speak up for rational action and peace.

Christianity, Supernaure and Rise of Science in Middle Ages

Part 2

Augustine's scale of values, plus Pseudo-Dionysius' hierarchies of being combined with the great chain of being to form the basis of the Medieval synthesis. The natural world was valued in its relation to supernature, and contemplated as a symbol of the transcendent (fire symbolized the soul's longing to rise to God, for example). The world was the fallen world of sin, a proposition which leads some historians to see dualism at work. Nevertheless, it was not a metaphysical dualism. The world was not sinful because it was alien to the spirit, but fallen from grace through human will. Moreover, it still stood in relation to and derived valuation from its ontological relation to the divine. An elaborate sacramental system grew out of the need and desire to "have a society which is guided by the present reality of transcendent divine character." Boethius (d. 524), Cassiodorus (d. 580), and Bede (672-735) laid down the principle of nature as a consistent system obeying a verifiable set of laws, and understandable through reason. Lindberg argues that this view of nature as "meaningful order revealing God's purpose" enabled the re-emergence of science. This "meaningful order" was embodied in the supernatural ontology. At this point, there was also in influx of pagan magic, to which the Church closed its eyes. Science, in the "dark ages," consisted of some Aristotle, Pleny, Boethius, Cassiodorus, and a few classical mannuels and encyclopedic works.

In the early medieval period (the "dark ages") there does seem to have been a dualistic attitude toward nature, with transcendence of the spirit over matter outweighing an interest in nature. Nevertheless, this dualism is not necessarily linked to the supernatural ontology per se, but could easily be the remnants of gnostic influeces. Moreover, the church, under influence Bede, sought to preserve knowledge of the natural world. From the 5th to the 10th Christianity enabled the survival of ancient learning, through preservation of the "quadrivium," in monastic life (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, sometimes with medicine added). The earliest known presentation of the quadrivium was the work of Isidore of Seville (d. 636). "In the seventh century an efflorescence of scholarly activity took place in the British isles, and Isidore's encyclopedic efforts were complemented with those of Bede (d. 735)...the scientific activities of Bede's age formed part of a widespread missionary program. The spearheads of the program were the monasteries." Nevertheless, the monasteries were passive recorders of learning, not active students of science. The culture outside the monasteries was basically oral, but a true revival of the liberal arts came in the Carolingian Renaissance, in the eighth century. Most of the Carolingian contributions to science amounted to copying texts, but the Hortulus of Theodulph of Orleans made original contributions to the study of botany. Moreover, John the Scot, the most celebrated thinker of the age, advanced the notion of "man" as the microcosm of the universe. This notion placed humanity in a position of antinomy, between nature and God, but it also served to create a relation of dialectical connection between the two. It was a reflection of the ontological relation between God and nature. The Carolingian period deteriorated into a century and a half of administrative chaos and confusion.

By the 10th century, economic forces combined with religious attitudes to create a new set of values, altering the human relationship to nature and the divine. Economic forces, such as the growth of cities, freed rural populations from agricultural life and created an artisan class. Gerbert of Aurillac (Rheims 972), helped to popularize the astrolabe, and algerism (arabic numerals) thus making a real contribution to trade, which was increasing dramatically. "There emerged a new set of values which--for better or worse--regarded the transformation of this world as sufficient for salvation in the next." As Lindberg documents, From the 10th to the 12th centuries, a new movement spread through Europe: the combination of monastic life and efficient economic production, the Cistercians being the most notable example. This prodo-capitalism brought with it exploitive attitudes toward nature, not because the ontology of supernature led to a juxtopossion of spirit and matter, but because the imperatives of economic production created the need to contorl nature. As White points out, however, these same force also brought with them an interest in understanding nature.

The seeds of Renaissance were planted in the 10th century, they came to full flower in the 12th century, and with them, a vital upsurge of interest in nature. The 12th century saw some very complex developments, because it brought not only a Renaissance, economic expansion and the rise of scientific study, but also a religious reformation. The movement included reform of Church corruption, as well as a mystical sense of the divine. Schiebinger makes the point that monastic institutions afforded women a measure of power, education, and scientific study. She mentions Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), who was "the most notable medieval woman author on medicine, natural history, and cosmology." She was also one of the most notable mystics of the middle ages; a major leader of the reform movement. Hildegard, through her studies of the natural world, transformed static Greek science into mystical symbolism.

The most strightfarward example of mystical nature symbolism is, as White says, the ant was a lesson to the lazy, fire symbolized the spirit's desire to rise toward God, "the view of natuare is artistic rather than scientific." A more complex form of nature sybolism is dealt with by William Inge, the entire last chapter of his famous Bampton lectures was entitled "nature-mysticism and symbolism." The host in holy communian, and the sacraments in general, become symbols of the divine. In the same way, all of nature becomes such a symbol. Fairweather argues that the most powerful example of the harmony of nature and supernature is the incarnation itself; the transcendent in the immanent, divinity in humanity, logos in flesh. In Hildegard's vision of the creation of the world, animals, fire, planets and stars symbolise human nature in harmony with the divine. She saw animal heads appear around a human figure and rays of light from the seven planets illuminated them. The meaning was explained to her in another vision as follows, as she states:

On this world God has sourrounded and strengthened humans beings with all these things and steeped with very great power so that all creation supports the human race in all things. All nature ought to be at the service of human beings, so that they can work with nature since, in fact, human beings can neither live nor survive without it.

A host of German woman, contemporaries of Hildegard, deserve mention: among them, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Gertrude the great of Helfta, and Gertrude of Heckborn. All of these figures used nature symbolism to illumine understanding of the divine. The German mystics, far from denigrating nature, were so enchanted by it that they are often charged with pantheism; Meister Eckhart being one of the primary examples of this type of mystic. In the southern mediterranean, St. Francis brought in a new understanding of the relation to nature. Francis put nature on equal terms with humanity, "he opened up nature with respect to its ground of being, which is the same as with man." Contrary to the popular image, however, St. Francis was not a "nature mystic," that title fits Eckhart much better. Francis did not divinize nature, nor did he romanticize it. Instead, he democratized it, putting animals, trees, the stars, and the planets on the same level as humanity (his hym to "brother sun, sister moon"); all creatures beloved of God. There is a story for example, probabbly myth, which illustrates Francis attitude toward animals. A hunter was about to kill a wolf which had become a killer. Francis stood in the way and said, "don't harm brother wolf." On the other hand, he did preach to animals, on the assumption that as creatures of God they loved God and enjoyed hearing the Gospel. He also began an active engagement with life in the world, rather than contemplation in the monastery. His new order, along with their female counterparts, the Poor Clares, began a medieval poverty movement which threatened to reform the whole Church. For this reason, and because he did change the attitude toward nature, Tillich calls him "the true father [parent we could say] of the Renaissance."

The entire relationship of humans to nature was being re-thought, not to the exclusion of the divine, but based on and related to the divine in a different way. Through the works of John the Scot, the word "universitas" came into more common parlance, meaning, that nature was seen as a whole (a universe, a united diversity--a uninted and harmonious whole made up of many smaller parts). Theologians, artists, poets, and other thinkers "reflected that they were themselves caught up within the framework of nature, were themselves also bits of this cosmos they were ready to master." Nature came to be valued, not merely as a symbol of the spiritual, but in its own right (as with St. Francis). God had always been present in the world, but now God infused nature with divine being. "To conceive the world as one whole is already to perceive its profound structure--a world of forms transcending the medley of visible and sense-perceptible phenomena. The whole penetrates each of its parts; it is one universe; God conceived it as a unique living being, and its intelligible model is itself a whole."

A new relation between nature and God led to the realization of nature's beauty in its own right, and to scientific curiosity. The study of nature was not divorced from the spiritual, however, but the two were inter-related. The search for natural causes began in many monasteries: at Tours, Orleans, Paris, but most notably at Chartres and Saint-Victor. There was a reaction against the search for natural causes, not out of denigration of nature, but on the grounds that God is the final cause of all things, one need not seek further. William of Conches denied that the search for causes detracted from the Glory of God, the search for natural causes was the great work of the believer. He charged his opponents with "placing more reliance on their monkish garb than on their wisdom." The major proponents of the new outlook at Chartres were William of Conches, Adelard of Bath, Bernard Silvester, Hermann of Carinthia, John of Salisbury, and most notable, Gilbert of Poitiers.

These men wrote scientific treatises, they defended a naturalistic outlook which placed natural order interest in the natural order above the miraculous, but, they did so from within a framework of faith. Adelard distinguished between the creative acts of God, and the autonomous forces of nature, while Andrew of Saint-Victor argued that before recourse to miracles, one must seek out natural explanations. Hugh of Saint-Victor argued for a historicizing exegesis which declined allegorizing, thus moving interpretation out of the realm of nature as symbol, and into the realm of naturalism and history. This was not, however, the autonomous machine of a latter age. These theologians still operated under the categories of Greek metaphysics, nature was still infused with essence, and each aspect of the chain of being stood in relation to its next highest component, and was drawn toward the divine through supernature, which held it all together as whole in God.

Curiosity about nature shifted, from wonder at the amazing (such as comets), to curiosity about regular order. The word "Nature" was spelled with a capital "N," and nature was personified and presented in a sophisticated and literary fashion. Alan of Lille wrote The Complaint of Nature, in which nature is personified as the goddess. Nevertheless, "to exalt these powers of Nature was not at all to detract proudly form the omnipotence of God,...and Alan's Nature was herself made to proclaim this fact: `His working is one, whereas mine is many; his work stands of itself, whereas mine fails from within...and in order that you may recognize that my power is powerless in contrast to the divine power, know that my effect is defective and my energy cheap.'"

With so much attention upon nature, and humanity's place in it, an old idea re-emerged in new form. The theme of "man as the microcosm" of the universe was re-introduced (taken from the Timaeus by John the Scot in an earlier age). It was echoed in 1125 with the Elucidarium of Honorius of Autun. From that time on it had a wide diffusion through European monastic centers. William of Saint-Thierry based his physics on it, and it spread through Cistercian centers, taken up by a new generation after 1150. Hildegard of Bingen used the physics of William of Saint-Thierry in the construction of her theological symbolism. The scholastics also drew upon the Hermetic corpus as a source of the macrocosm/microcosm theme, which became so important latter in Renaissance alchemy, and humanism, and as a direct result of its revival in the monasteries. The concept of the macrocosm in the microcosm was part and parcel of the supernatural ontology. It was a picture of the harmonious relation between immanent and transcendent, nature and supernature. On the other hand, it was a new picture of these relationships. Humanity is placed in an antinomy, humanity is both an image of the world and an image of God. The tension is found between nature, which operates as God's ordered creation, and the radical distinction between God and creation.

These ontological developments set up developments in the next century which would not only create the most sophisticated and elaborate expression of supernatural ontology, but at the same time, would sow the seeds of its own negation. Renaissance autonomy and humanism flow directly out of the ontological formations in the 12th and thirteenth centuries. The revival of Aristotle, due in large part to the conquest of Moorish Spain, would not only feed scientific knowledge, but submerge the ontological influence of the Timaeus as well. The major proponents were Albert the Great, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, and in French vernacular literature, such as that of Jean de Meun. Of course, the greatest of these was Aquinas. Due to a complex situation, the attempt to prove the existence of God, and to prove the Trinity through reason, had become a major issue by the 13th century. This attempt flowed directly out of the theme of humanity as microcosm. It is also related to theorizing about the limits of reason and course of scientific study.

If human nature still bore some trace of the Imago, human reason must be capable of decerning God. "Conversely, only if the state of nature were now devoid of the superadded gift of grace, could one contend, on Christian grounds, that certain mysteries of the faith...were beyond the reach of nature and of reason." This controversy was predicated upon the Augustinian notion of the relation between nature and grace. Before moving on to try and demonstrate the proofs for God (which are of no concern here), Aquinas first worked out a position on theological method. It was the development of that position which begins the autonomous life of reason and nature apart from grace. He argued that in other sciences argument from authority was the weakest. Not so in theology, however, because one is arguing from divine revelation. Thus, Aquinas' position was not based on empistemological concerns, which he side-stepped, but on doctrines of creation and redemption, on the relation between nature and grace (that is to say, reason is given though nature, revelation through grace). Aquinas was not separating nature and grace, but explicating their relation to one another. "Grace does not abolish nature, but completes it." Ultimately, for Aquinas, reason and faith will agree on final points of truth.

Aquinas bound together knowledge of truth on different levels, through the relation of nature to grace. In so doing, he developed a position of autonomy, but not one of alienation. Nature is capable of certain effects, unaided by grace. But, grace completes nature and raises it to the level of the divine through supernature. Through reason one could conclude that there was a creator, but only through revelation could one know the Trinity. Human reason could know some things unaided, but it was not capable of knowing all things. This completion of nature means that human nature can be exalted, energized supernaturally, and sanctified (the eastern orthodox concept is called 'deification'). It is only through grace that humans are able to know what God is, but that God is can be gleaned from sense experience of the works of nature.

Perhaps the greatest literary expression of Aquinas' views on the relation of nature and grace, are found almost a half century latter, in Dante. Even though literary scholars have long held that "`the Thomism of Dante is an exploded myth,'" Dante is clearly at home in the world of medieval Latin theology, and places into Virgil's mouth words which evoke Aquinas' distinction between that which can be revealed by nature, and revelation by grace. "So far as reason plead can I instruct thee; beyond that point, wait for Beatrice; for faith I here need." Only so far as reason is concerned can nature enlighten Dante, for matters of faith, the divine is required. Although, since the question was in regard to the nature of love, this answer tells us as more about Dante's notions of romantic love (a divine matter) than it does about Thomistic epistemology. Nevertheless, Virgil's answer is an interesting counterpoint to the rather unintelligible experiment Beatrice works out for Dante in order to demonstrate to him the nature of the moon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Greeting foreign visitors

We have a good crop of foreign visitors this time. That is, those from outside the USA (foreign to me).

Num Perc. Country Name
55 63.22% United States
10 11.49% Canada
6 6.90% United Kingdom
4 4.60% Australia
3 3.45% Indonesia
2 2.30% India
1 1.15% Israel
1 1.15% Malta
1 1.15% France
1 1.15% Uganda
1 1.15% Netherlands
1 1.15% Pakistan
1 1.15% Saudi Arabia

I wish I could put in the little flags I see on the hit counter. It shows the flags of all the nations. It's very cool. I love to travel and I wish I visit all of our countries. It seems the Ungandan visitor might be new. But I still have hopes the one form Pakistan is Ben Ladin. He's reading my site and thinking "I must not attack America, Metacrock might be hurt." Or he's probably thinking "we must get that ahole Metacrock!"

The life of an amabassador of peace is never an easy one.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Rise of Modern Science in the Middle Ages

Part 1

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Monks at Chaartres were major contrbiutors to rise of Modern Science
in the middle ages.

The medieval Christian doctrine of the supernatural has long been misconstrued as a dualistic denigration of nature, opposed to scientific thinking. The concept of supernature, however, is not a dualism in the sense of dinigrading nature or of pitting against each other the "alien" relams of spirit and matter. The Christian ontology of the supernatural bound together the realm of nature and the realm of Grace, immanent and transcendent, in a unity of creative wisdom and purpose, which gave theological significance to the natural world. While the doctrine of supernature was at times understood in a dualistic fashion, ultimately, the unity it offered played a positive role in the development of scientific thinking, because it made nature meaningful to the medieval mind. Its dissolution came, not because supernatural thinking opposed scientific thinking, but because culture came to value nature in a different manner, and the old valuation no longer served the purpose of scientific thinking. An understanding of the notion of supernature is essential to an understanding of the attitudes in Western culture toward nature, and to an understanding of the cultural transition to science as an epistemic authority.

The ontology of supernature assumes that the natural participates in the supernatural in an ordered relation of means and immediate ends, with reference to their ultimate ends. The supernatural is the ground and end of the natural; the realm of nature and the realm of Grace are bound up in a harmonious relation. The Ptolemaic system explained the physical lay-out of the universe, supernature explained its theological relation to God. The great chain of being separated the ranking of creatures in relation to creator. The supernatural ontology is, therefore, sperate from but related to cosmologies. This ontology stands behind most forms of pre-reformation theology, and it implies an exaltation of nature, rather than denigration. This talk of two realms seems to imply a dualism, yet, it is not a metaphysical dualism, not a dualism of opposition, but as Fairweather points out, "the essential structure of the Christian faith has a real two-sidedness about it, which may at first lead the unwary into dualism, and then to resolve [it]...[into] an exclusive emphasis on one or the other severed elements of a complete Christianity...such a dissolution is inevitable once we lose our awareness of that ordered relation of the human and the divine, the immanent and the transcendent, which the Gospel assumes." Yet, it is this "two-sidedness" which leads unwary historians of into dualism.

In his famous 1967 article, "The Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," Lynn White argued that the Christian belief of the Imago Dei created "a dualism of man and nature;" "man shares in God's transcendence of nature." This notion replaced pagan animism, it removed the "sacred" from the natural world, and with it, inhibitions against exploiting nature. Moreover, by the 12th century, nature became a source of revelation through natural theology. In the Latin West, where action prevailed over contemplation, natural theology ceased to be the decoding of natural symbols of the divine and became instead an attempt to understand God through decerning the operation of creation. Western technology flourished, surpassing even that of Islamic culture (although they still led in theoretical pursuits). Thus, White argues, medieval theology did allow science to grow, but at the ultimate expense of the environment.

The insights of feminist scholarship, however, suggest an even more subtle argument for the denigration of nature. Feminist theologian, Rosemary Radford Ruther, argued that there is an identification between the female and nature, the male and transcendence. Women have been disvalued historically through the association between female sexuality and the "baseness" of nature. Londa Schiebinger, calls attention to the fact that the Judeo-Christian cosmology placed women in a subordinate position. Gender was more fundamental than biological sex, and it was a cosmological principle, "...Men and women were carefully placed in the great chain of being--their positions were defined relative to plants, animals, and God." The subordination of women was predicated upon their position in nature. "Male" and "Female represented dualistic cosmological principles penetrating all of nature, principles of which sexual organs were only one aspect. One might suspect that the place of women on the great chain of being is indicative of the true status of nature itself in Christian ontology; an overt denigration of women indicates a covert denigration of nature.

Moreover, the very fact of the medieval cosmos, and the great chain itself, because of the relation of earth to heaven, might be taken as an indication that nature was denigrated. Historians and classicists have tended to assume that the Ptolemaic system was designed so as to give humanity a position of honor and centrality. As Lovejoy points out, however, earth was the closest thing to hell, which was at the center of the cosmos. On the other hand, as Author O. Lovejoy himself admits, it was the fact that earth was the staging ground for the drama of salvation that gave it significance. Everything derived its value from its relation to the eternal. Nature was not disvalued, but re-valued, in its relation to God. It is this distinction that often leads historians to understand Christian medieval ontology as a denigration of nature. White assumes that transcendence must imply denigration of the thing transcended. Transcendence, however, does not mean that God fled the world; God is both immanent and transcendent, in creation and beyond it. Fairweather argues that the most profound symbol of this relation is the incarnation, the transcendent in the immanent, the spirit in flesh.

It cannot be denied that women were assigned an unjust and denigrating position in the cosmos, based upon the ignorance, pride, and self-interest of the dominate male hierarchy. Ruther makes an elegant argument, the associations between denigrated nature and the female gender (the great mother), and the triumphant sky father (the transcendent God of the Christians) fit so neatly, it is hard to reject. On the other hand, the medieval Christian relation to nature was very complex. In late antiquity, for example, St. Augustine is said by Scheibinger to have ascribed to women an inferior nature and lesser reason. Yet, her comments do not represent Augustine's true positions. He tried to correct abuses against women through a doctrine of spiritual equality, he argued that they possessed equal reason to that of men, and he said nothing about inferior natures. Most Christian mystics believed in some sort of illumination of the transcendent through the natural world. Natural creatures were seen as vessels, or mirrors of the divine; "God in all creatures and all creatures in God."

What these arguments really demonstrate, however, is a very complex situation. It is an oversimplification to say that Christian belief in transcendence resulted in the abhorrence and exploitation of nature. A combination of cultural and economic forces produced certain attitudes toward nature which are often read as denigration if one is not careful to understand the relation of value. Historians tend to read back into transcendence their own assumptions of alienation created by the enlightenment, Karl Marx, and Jackob Burkhart's view of Renaissance autonomy. There was a sense of medieval alienation from nature. In German culture, fear of the forest, fear of the unknown, created a certain sense of danger in the natural world. There were anti-naturalistic assumptions surviving from gnosticism and the Manicheans, which asserted themselves in groups such as the Cathori. The bias of Latin culture for action over contemplation created economic forces which took on a life of their own, and laid claim to nature as a thing to control.

David Lindberg draws upon Max Weber's theory of modernization in order to explain the way in which economic forces drove religious attitudes. After the fall of the Roman empire, the center of power and population shifted to the north, where Gaul and the Rhineland had already become the industrial base of the late empire. A less developed culture was struggling to come to terms with a civilization which had ceased to function and had to be re-created. Daily life under such conditions was hard, labor saving devices were much more important than theoretical insights. Technological applications, such as the heavy plow, the harness, wind and water power probably have more to do with conquest of nature than do metaphysical speculations. The supernatural ontology did not denigrate nature, but it did allow for trends which eventually issued in both science and capitalism. The supernatural ontology grew along with these developments, and plays a part in the rise of science. In order to fully understand this argument, however, it will be necessary to take an historical view, to trace the major themes as they unfold side by side, beginning with the Church's early self-identity and relation to nature.

The Church, in the first three centuries of the era, forged its identity in opposition to gnosticism. In so doing, it also forged its understanding of the relationship between God and the natural world. The "gnostic" were not a unified movement, but most of them held in common a Persian style dualism, (a stark contrast between spirit and matter, represented as the forces of light and dark, good and evil) and an abhorrence of the material world. For most gnosticis, the flesh was evil, as was all matter. Humans were divine sparks of light trapped in evil flesh, only the secret knowledge which would return them tot he other world had any value in this life. In struggling to define itself apart from gnosticism's "tragic myth," the emerging orthodoxy, Irenaeus of Lyons in particular, (mid second century, C.E.) proclaimed that God's creation was "a single world full of the glory of the God who created it and to whose providence all its history is subject. The world of matter and time is not alien to man." As the Church made more explicit its views on the relation between God, humanity, and the natural world, the analogical ontology was formulated as the action of Grace upon human nature. External nature was not disvalued, but valued in its relation to supernature as its ground and end. Where the Greeks developed an emphasis upon the transcendence of God, and God's gracious approach to creatures, the Latins thought more along the lines of moral valuations.

Thus, for Augustine, a product of Latin culture in North Africa (late 3d early 4th centuries) grace is divinely bestowed power of action, the effect of God upon the will. The relation of immanence to transcendence is, for Augustine, the relation of a scale of values; temporal and eternal. Eternal values represent that which we are to love, temporal values are that which we use. This does not mean, however, that because the temporal order of the natural world consists of things we use, less perfect than the eternal, that it is unimportant, or of no value. This scale of values, hierarchical though it may be, is not a dichotomy of denigration.

It would be ridiculous, on the other hand, to regard the defects of beasts, trees and other mutable and mortal things which lack intelligence, sense, or life, as deserving condemnation. Such defects do indeed effect the decay of their nature, which is liable to dissolution; but these creatures have received their mode of being by the will of their creator, whose purpose is that they should bring to perfection the beauty of the lower parts of the universe by their alternation and succession in the passage of the seasons; and this is a beauty in its own kind, finding its place among the constituent parts of this world. Not that such things of earth were meant to be comparable with heavenly realities. Yet the fact that those other realities are of higher value does not mean that these lower creatures should have been excluded from the whole scheme of things.

Moreover, for Augustine, no existence is contrary to God, therefore, mater is not contrary to spirit. Enmity with God did not arise out of nature, but of will. "Augustine insisted that sin is situated not in the body, but in the will. This was a point of extraordinary importance, because it helped to liberate Christendom from the [gnostic] notion that the soul is contaminated by its contact with the body--and therefore that matter and flesh must be inherently evil."

Nor was Augustine opposed to study of the natural world, provided the study bare some relation to the scale of ultimate values. Augustine used references to the scientific learning of his day throughout his writings, mainly to illustrate his theological concepts. In the final analysis, he placed less value on knowing physical causes, than on knowing eternal values, but he did not obstruct learning. He even developed a conception of natural laws of cause and effect. Augustine's causality allowed for things to change according to their divinely bestowed natures, "God governs his creation `from the summit of the whole causal nexus.'" This is a description of the analogical ontology, the relation of natural law to the higher law of supernature. St. Augustine does not denigrate nature, nor does its place on the temporal value scale mean that an understanding of nature is to be condemned. Rather, nature is given theological value in relation to the higher scale.