Patristic Theology and Modern Science Pt 3

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Taking into consideration the mind of those engaged in natural science in its various disciplines and in the humanities and the mind of the theologian both operate in space and time, then there is common ground from which reality is sought to be understood.  The reasoning faculty of the mind does not contain within it the ultimate truth of the reality it wishes to seek understanding.

In theology, we do not have the ability within us to logically deduce who God is in Himself based on non-Christian methods of seeing and knowing.  To know God we have to lay aside our way of thinking and allow it to be transformed into another way of thinking consistent with Jesus Christ.  The intelligibility of God rests in the mind of Christ and not in us.  Jesus Christ is the Object of our study of which  we must submit to the realities He disclosed of Himself regarding the ways and works of God.  To understand our creation, we first understand Jesus Christ as Creator upon which the whole created order came from nothing and was brought into being by Him.  There is rationale created into creation.  The rationale of Jesus Christ is in union with our rationale.  Our rationale is sustained and held together by Christ who in Himself is the Source of all rationale and intelligibility contained within the Universe.

In science and humanities, the objects studied consist and are held together by the Word.  Their mind as well as the whole Universe also consists and are held together by the Word.  To understand the object of their study, the same level of submission to their object must also be undertaken to allow it to disclose its inner truths.  These are not just a self-declared ‘truth’ on the part of the observer.  It is the inner truth of the object that discloses the same revealed truth to all others that endeavour to explore the same object and by whom all arrive at the same conclusions.  The facts revealed within the level of understanding of the object so far are verifiable not just independently by universally as well.  Therefore science should not function in a way that is “neutral” from nature but is to be far more engaged with the objects trusting that it is the objects themselves through proper and meaningful questioning appropriate to it, that will unlock its secrets.

If scientific enquiry functions in such a way that we believe order is self-explanatory, self sufficient, timeless and necessary and is grounded on ideas based on blind chance or accident, then we risk misinterpreting the real meaning  behind the Universe.  If we use the darkened mind of the Pre-Christian era that believes in its own presuppositions, then the outcome of trying to strive for the inherent truth of the object of their study may be impeded severely.

This is evident in Latin Theology where the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception has to be developed to maintain the idea of the sinlessness of Jesus Christ.  By ignoring the fundamental truth of the Incarnation as understood by the ancient church, “the unassumed is the unhealed,” a whole series of explanations had to be logically, causally and deductively laid out.  They adopted the Pre-Christian frame of mind believing the truth of God is contained within their own mind.  The Pre-Christian mind regarded the incarnation of God as impossible and they tried to squeeze and press the gospel to conform to their own framework of thought.  Doctrines based on Limited Atonement and Universalism have suffered the same errors.  However, if we believe the reality of God coming to us as the Man, Jesus Christ, then we have to lay aside all our presuppositions and begin with the Incarnation of God as the reality.  We likewise conform to this reality.  We therefore understand there is contingency in our knowledge of God based on God revealed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  It is not from ourselves but is a gift given by God who is the gift to us from Him.

In science, as we endeavour to engage with our object of study, we must lay aside all preconceived ideas and allow the object to speak for itself.  This has been the case in physics.  In the 19th Century, for Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell, the explanations provided so far failed to provide answers that properly explained the electromagnetic field.  The “theories” or presuppositions provided did not line up with the empirical evidence and tended to distort the realities they were confronted with.  There was a wedge between “theory” and “empirical” data.  Faraday and Maxwell both believed in the doctrine of creation.  They used this process of thinking to allow the objects to express their “real modes of connection” to come up with data to inform their theory and even review it.  This was the beginning of allowing empirical data and theory to interpenetrate one another and inform one another.  Albert Einstein picked up on their idea and developed his theory of Relativity allowing the empirical data to inform and review his theory so that his work could be verified in a real and meaningful way.  The way of allowing “theory” to manipulate the empirical data was overturned.

Why is this so important?  This protects the truth from manipulation and provides an understanding of nature that can be picked up by other scientists and further developed.  If ‘theory’ dictates the outcome, then science moves from fact to fiction.  Instead of suspending judgement until further knowledge informs us of ‘truth’ that is yet to be revealed; logic, reasoning and deductive processes are employed to make the theory fit into empirical data and appear to hold some truth to it.  On the other hand, empirical data is interpreted through the lens of the theory where its conclusions can only be understood if one adopts the framework of the theory. If the facts do not support the theory, then we must further question whether or not the theory holds any validity at all and thereby it should be revamped or disregard completely.

Furthermore, as science is starting to grasp contingent intelligibility from beyond and allowing it to press upon our understanding of nature, we are seeing breathtaking advances in the many fields of science and disciplines.  It is also allowing for fruitful communication between them to help further the quest for truth within the relevant fields.  If there is a single person trying to implement a theory that cannot be independently verified by other scientists, then it may not be helpful to the overall quest for truth.

If there is one God, Father, Son and Spirit and there is One Mediator between God and Man through whom the whole created order came to be, then there can only truly be His way of seeing the way the world as it ought to be.  In addition to this, if we truly understand the whole created order is consisting and held together in Him where we all live move and have our being is now flesh, then we are united in His way of knowing and seeing the universe.  If we truly reject the notion of the mind of God separated from the mind of humanity, then there is a union of the rationality of God and the rationality of the human being in Jesus Christ. A truly scientific approach to understanding the Universe and the things contained in it requires a participation in the truth that lies behind the Universe as well as the things contained in it.  The eureka moments in scientific investigations are ones that can be objectively and independently observed by others.  In theology, it is submitting to the Spirit of Truth where even the ‘unbelieving’ scientist must endeavour to submit to this same truth also if it is to ever make progress.  This does not mean that one has to be a Christian to obtain such truth.  I believe the common ground between science and theology is the Spirit of Truth who permeates all things.  This truth cannot be mastered by any creature but is One that must be served so the truths of the things of creation might be disclosed.