C.S.Lewis on What Makes Us Human

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SC Lewis on Man

 

“Then, in the fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say “I” and “me,” which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgments of truth, beauty and goodness, and which was so far above time that it could perceive time flowing past.”

C.S. Lewis, On the Problem of Pain

Werner Heisenberg, From the known to the unknown

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werner-heisenbergWerner K. Heisenberg (05 December 1901 – 01 February 1976) was a German theoretical physicist who devised a method to formulate quantum mechanics in terms of matrices, for which he was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize for Physics. Heisenberg is widely considered as one of the most influential figures in nuclear physics, particle physics and quantum field theory.

An author of philosophical works, his “uncertainty principle” contributed to overcoming deterministic mechanics, while at the same instigating a lively epistemological debate about the nature of the real.

In the Winter 1955-56, he delivered the Griffolds lectures at University of St. Andrews, Scotland,  later published in the book “Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (1958). Here, he said:

“The existing scientific concepts cover always only a very limited part of reality, and the other part that has not yet been understood is infinite. Whenever we proceed from the known into the unknown we may hope to understand, but we may have to learn at the same time a new meaning of the word ‘understanding’.”

Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976)
German theoretical physicist & one of the key pioneers of Quantum Mechanics

Source: Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Physics. (New York: Harper Perennial, 1952), 99. I

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John Henry Newman on evolution and man’s origin

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“Does Scripture contradict [Darwin’s] theory?—was Adam not immediately taken from the dust of the earth? ‘All are of dust’ —Eccles 3:20 — yet we never were dust — we are from fathers. Why may not the same be the case with Adam? … I don’t know why Adam needs be immediately out of dust — Formavit Deus hominem de limo terrae [God formed man from the dust of the earth]—i.e. out of what really was dust and mud in nature, before He made it what it was, living.”

— John Henry Newman (1801–1890), English Cardinal and theologian.
Letter to Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800–1882), Birmingham Oratory (5 June 1870).

Source:
— Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman: The Vatican Council. January 1870-December 1871. Ed. Charles Stephen Dessain. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1961), 138.

Georges Lemaitre on Physics and Providence

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Georges LeMaitre on Physics Chance Providence

 

« Physics does not exclude Providence. Nothing happens without its order or permission, even if this gentle action is not miraculous. Evolution, whether of the universe or of the living world, could be made at random by quantum leaps or mutations. Nevertheless, this chance has, from a superior point of view, been directed towards a goal. For us Christians, it was oriented towards the appearance of life. In what was done, there was life, intelligence and life was light in man and finally in humanity by the incarnation of the Man-God: the true light that illuminated our darkness.

Chance does not exclude Providence. Perhaps chance provides the strokes mysteriously actuated by Providence. »

Georges Lemaitre, 1966

 

« La physique n’exclut pas la providence. Rien n’arrive sans son ordre ou sa permission, même si cette action suave n’a rien de miraculeux. L’évolution, que ce soit celle de l’univers ou du monde vivant, a pu se faire au hasard des sauts quantiques ou des mutations. Néanmoins, ce hasard a pu d’un point de vue supérieur être orienté vers un but. Pour nous chrétien, il a été orienté vers l’apparition de la vie. En ce qui a été fait, il y avait de la vie, de l’intelligence et la vie était lumière chez l’homme et enfin dans l’humanité par l’incarnation de l’Homme-Dieu : la vraie lumière qui a illuminé nos ténèbres.

Le hasard n’exclut pas la Providence. Peut-être le hasard fournit-il les touches qu’actionne mystérieusement la Providence. »

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Lemaître, « L’expansion de l’Univers: Réponses à des questions posées par Radio Canada le 15 avril 1966 », Revue des Questions Scientifiques, t. CXXXVIII (5e série, t. XXVIII), avril 1967, n°2, pp. 153-162, version revue et adaptée par O. Godart. In: Dominique Lambert, Georges Lemaître : repères biographiques. Revue des Questions Scientifiques, 2012, 183 (4) : 1-59

 

 

John Henry Newman on Design

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“I believe in design because I believe in God;
not in God because I see design.”

John Henry Newman was not only theologian, but also very well versed in science, and always acknowledged that he felt rather comfortable with Darwin’s “new idea’s”.

Newman felt more and more uncomfortable, though, with William Paley’s Natural Theology, mainly for two reasons:

‘First, natural theology lacks the evidential and argumentative rigor to establish such a belief in the first place. Newman famously rejected traditional arguments from design: “I believe in design because I believe in God; not in God because I see design.” (1) Paley’s natural theology, Newman suggested, was as likely to lead to atheism as to belief in God. Second, Newman raises concerns about the “God” disclosed by natural theology…. Such a notion of God is limited to a rational principle of interpretation, lacking any sense of transcendence, holiness, or majesty. Physical theology, Newman insisted, taught “exclusively” only three divine attributes: power, wisdom, and goodness; yet it remained silent concerning the real essence of the Christian vision of God – namely, the divine holiness, justice, mercy, and providence.‘ (2)

(1) J.H.Newman, letter to William Robert Brownlow, April 13, 1870; in Newman, John Henry, The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, ed. Charles Stephen Dessain and Thomas Gornall. 31 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963–2006, vol. 25, 97.

(2) Alister E McGrath, Darwinism and the Divine, Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology, p. 128

 

Alfred North Whitehead on some scientists…

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On 15 February 1861, Alfred N. Whitehead (1861–1947) was born in Ramsgate, GB.

Educated at University of Cambridge (BA, 1884/ScD, 1898), he was an important 20th century philosopher, physicist and mathematician who co-authored with his former student Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) the monumental text of formal predicate logic “Principia Mathematica” (1910–13), an effort later undermined by Gödel’s incompleteness theorems (1931).

He elaborated process philosophy, which had a particular influence, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, on how the relationship between God and nature was conceived, proposing an image of God as a “principle of concrescence” in a continually developing world.

“Scientists animated by the purpose of proving that they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study.”

Referenced:
“Alfred North Whitehead – The Influence of Western Medieval Culture Upon the Development of Modern Science.” Inters. org: Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Science & Religion.
Whitehead, Alfred North. The Function of Reason, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1929), 9.

 

Bonhoeffer: God and scientific knowledge

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bonhoeffer04On 04 February 1906, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) was born in Breslau. He was a German pastor, theologian, spy, anti-Nazi dissident, and key founding member of the Confessing Church. His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential, and his book The Cost of Discipleship has become a modern classic. Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer was known for his staunch resistance to Nazi dictatorship, including vocal opposition to Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and imprisoned at Tegel prison in Berlin for one and a half years. He died on April 9, 1945 in the Flossenbürg concentration camp.

He sought new ways of theological reflection in a secularized world in which God seems to remain in silence. He maintained that God should not be sought as an answer to the mysteries of man, or as a sort of stopgap that fills our gaps in knowing, or only encountered in terms of our existential needs. God is to be found, not in what we do not know, but in what we do know. His insights are worth reading:

It has again brought home to me quite clearly how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know; God wants us to realize his presence, not in unsolved problems but in those that are solved.

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letter to Eberhard Bethge on 29 May 1944

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