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Beauty for Truth's Sake--Queen of the Sciences PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 10:53

Written by Winston Elliott III

Below is a post by Stratford Caldecott on Beauty for Truth's Sake. I highly recommend this site and his recent book by the same title. My comments are appended at the end.

Queen of the Sciences

Here is a passage from Fr Robert Barron's wonderful book
The Priority of Christ (pp. 155-6):

In the thirteenth century, Bonaventure maintained that all of the non-theological arts and sciences taught in the university find their proper center in theology, that science which speaks directly of Christ the Logos. As the rationality of God the creator, Christ is the physical, mathematical, and metaphysical center of the universe and hence the point of orientation for all of the sciences dealing with those dimensions.

In the nineteenth-century, at the high-water mark of modern foundationalism, John Henry Newman felt compelled to call for the re-insertion of theology within the circle of university disciplines. Following the inner logic of Christian revelation, Newman, like Bonaventure, saw that theology not only should be around the table, but must be the centering element in the conversation, precisely because it alone speaks of the creator God who is metaphysically implicit in all finite existence.
A few lines later he adds: "Newman saw that once theology is displaced, some other discipline necessarily takes its position at the center and thereby disturbs the proper harmony among the sciences, for no other discipline has the range or inclusiveness properly to hold the center."

The same argument is made powerfully in Alasdair MacIntyre's recent book,
God, Philosophy, Universities. But what is this "proper" harmony that Barron appeals to? Why is only theology capable of "holding the center"? The point is that, while theology cannot determine the methods or content of the individual sciences, it alone is concerned with that which transcends them all. It is a place-holder for that which connects everything - for what Barron terms "co-inherent relationality." Theology as a formal discipline is a quest for that relationality. Without it, rationality itself fragments and falls apart.

Icon by Solrunn Nes (www.icon-painting.com). "Just as the Virgin was called to offer herself entirely as human being and as woman that God's Word might take flesh and come among us, so too philosophy is called to offer its rational and critical resources that theology, as the understanding of faith, may be fruitful and creative. And just as in giving her assent to Gabriel's word, Mary lost nothing of her true humanity and freedom, so too when philosophy heeds the summons of the Gospel's truth its autonomy is in no way impaired. Indeed, it is then that philosophy sees all its enquiries rise to their highest expression" (John Paul II,Fides et Ratio, 108).
{End Caldecott post}
______________________

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world"

These words of William Butler Yeats in The Second Coming may be used to describe a culture in which Christ is no longer at the center.

Thank you Mr. Caldecott for reminding us that when the study of theology loses its rightful position in higher education all learning and culture loses it unity. For without relationship with our Lord things fall apart and hope is lost.

cross posted at The Christocentric Life

 

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