Christian Theology and Modern Science of Nature Foster 1934

Ensayo sobre la influencia de la teología cristiana en la ciencia moderna.
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  II.-CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE (I.).' BY M. B. FOSTER. I. Paganism nd Rationalism n Greek hilosophy. Every science of nature must depend upon presuppositions about nature which cannot be established by the methods of the science tself. Thus it is the method Qf he nductive atural sciences, described by Mill, to proceed from xperience f par- ticular natural phenomena to a conclusion about all natural phenomena f the same kind. The procedure epends upon the presupposition hat nature s uniform in Mill's sense of the word; but the uniformity f nature s ncapable f being stablished by the methods f nductive cience. It was the method, gain, of physics, n Descartes' conception f t, to proceed by demon- stration, ike the mathematician, rom self-evident remises. But the possibility f thus extending he method f mathematics to the science of nature depends upon a presupposition bout nature which cannot tself be demonstrated, amely hat nature is a homogeneous material substance, determined hroughout by subjection o universal nd necessary aws. To assert the truth f what natural cience presupposes s not science of nature but philosophy f nature. I use this erm olely for he sake of brevity n terminology, nd without ny implica- tion of the possibility f developing systematic metaphysics of nature. It may be, for ll I wish to assume to the contrary, that the philosophy f nature s exhausted n the two assertions that nature s subject o universal aws and that t s uniform n the sense required by inductive natural cience. It will be sufficient for my purpose if it is granted that these two assertions re not established by the processes of natural science, but that the procedure f natural science s dependent pon them. 11 venture o presuppose n the reader cquaintance with a previous article ntitled The Christian octrine f Creation nd the Rise of Modern Natural Science , published n MIND, October, 934.  440 M. B. FOSTER: Philosophy f nature s dependent n its turn upon theology. This dependence, hough ess generally ecognsed, is not less obvious than the other. Theology s of course doctrine f God; but there an be no doctrine f God which does not at the same time contain or imply a doctrine f the world. According o the dogma of Christian heology God is creator of the world; according o Brahmin theology he produced the world by an act of generation; in Plato's Timaeus God is represented ot as creating ut as informing he world, s a potter oes not create but informs is clay; according o the philosophical heology of Aristotle God lives apart from he world, irecting is activity not upon it but exclusively pon himself, nd influencing t only in so far s it is drawn owards him by desire; according o Greek Olympian mythology he gods are not apart from he world at all but are in it and of the same nature with t 1; for Pantheism God is identical with the world. It is clear that each of these theologies differs rom he others not merely in proclaiming different onception f God but n mplying different onception of the world. A world which s the product of divine creation is one thing, world which s the product of divine nformation is another, nd a world begotten by God is another world still. Whether God is in the world r out of t, makes a great difference not only to the conception f God but to the conception f the the world. The truth f this contention s not affected y the fact that it is possible for a man to profess ither Atheism r Agnosticism. If Atheism s the denial that there s any being other han nature, it is itself theology n the sense n which have used the term,2 and it involves he most mportant onsequences or he concep- tion of nature tself, ince t implies hat nature s self-contained and self-explanatory, o that the sufficient ause of every natural happening s discoverable within he natural world tself. Ag- nosticism s not a theology, ut a refusal o embark upon one. An agnostic n the sense n which T.' H. Huxley declared himself agnostic, s one who adopts a philosophy f nature but declines to commit himself o the enquiry, what theology is philosophy of nature mplies or whether t implies one. But his refusal o investigate t is of course no evidence gainst he contention hat the implication s real and is discoverable. A natural scientist is agnostic n a precisely nalogous sense who confines imself o 1 J,S o,uoOev yey aan Ocol Gv7rTo ' avGpw&ro&. Hesiod, quoted by Hume, Natural Hi8tory f Religion. 2 It is difficult o see, ndeed, ow uch an Atheism s to be distinguished from antheism.  CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE. 441 proving ulch aws of nature s can be established y the methods of his science, nd refrains rom sking either what philosophy of nature is presupposed by the use of these methods or even whether ny philosophy f nature is presupposed t all. His attitude s no argument ither gainst the existence f the pre- suppositions r against the possibility f revealing hem. The object of his rticle s to exhibit ome mplications etween Christian heology nd the philosophy f nature which s pre- supposed by modern natural science . Both Christian heology and modern cience of nature, of course, nclude much that is derived rom reece. The very onception f nature s the proper object of science, he notion that God can be made the object of understanding, he very dea of science tself, re all G;reek in their rigin. Christian heology s nevertheless ot all derived from Greek sources. It takes its rise also from he Christian revelation f the Old and New Testaments, nd the amalgama- tion of Greek theology with the revealed dogma of Christianity through enturies f effort o expound the latter n terms f the former nd to modify he former nto consistency ith he atter, produced by slow degrees a Christian heology, which differed from he Greek n the degree n which t had assimilated un- Greek elements from the body of revealed doctrine. This assimilation was not of course mere xtension f Greek heology so as to embrace n additional set of articles ide by side with what it had contained before. Greek theology and Christian faith were, rimdfacie t least, and in the eyes of their xponents, not mutually omplementary ut mutually ncompatible. The influence hich hey xerted pon one another was one imparted by antagonism, nd Greek theology was transformed ather than augmented n the Christian heology which emerged rom the conflict. Nor is modern cience identical with that Greek science, of whose methods he classical formulation s to be found n the ogic of Aristotle. It differs rom t in method, not in the extent of what t has achieved by the same method. But the difference n method s itself subtle one. It has neither ubstituted quite other method nor added a fresh et of methods to be used in addition to the Aristotelian. (This latter s the error of those who supposed, ike Mill, that in order to give an account of I I mean by modern atural cience he body of natural cience which arose n westem urope fter he Middle Ages. It has of course eveloped continuously ince, but I shall exclude consideration f its most recent developments.  442 M. B. FOSTER: the methods of modern cience t was sufficient o enlarge he Aristotelian ogic by the inclusion of an additional treatise of Inductive Logic.) It is not ndeed necessary ither o assert that there are no methods recognised by Aristotle which modern science has simply discarded or to deny that any methods have been introduced n modern cience which are quite without a counterpart n Greek. But to a large extent he process y which the former as developed ut of the atter has been one not either of displacement r accretion but of transformation. The methods f modern cience, recisely n so far s they differ from hose of Greek science, must presuppose philosophy f nature correspondingly ifferent. But a different hilosophy of nature in its -turn presupposes a different heology. The transformation f theology y the introduction f elements rom the Christian revelation nvolved as a necessary- onsequence a corresponding odification n the philpsophy f nature. The object of this article s to show that the modification f the philo- sophy of nature necessitated by the peculiarities f Christian theology s precisely hat presupposed by the peculiarities f modern natural cience. There were two elements n Greek- heology with which the revealed doctrines of Christianity ere incompatible, he first the element f Paganism, the second the element f Rationalism. In the progressive limination f the former, hristian heology was only carrying ut with a stricter onsequence task which Greek philosophy had already begun but had nowhere con- sistently ccomplished; ts opposition o the latter, on the other hand, was due to the introduction rom ources n Jewish evela- tion of a principle lien to anything n Greek philosophy. I shall deal with each in order, howing he consequences f its elimination pon the philosophy f nature and hence upon the methods f natural science. I. Paganism I shall define s the failure to distinguish God from nature. It is not essential that it should be polytheistic. The pantheist doctrine f the Anima Mundi s itself sophisti- cated form of paganism, and the contradiction f paganism s contained not in the mere assertion hat God is one, but in the assertion that God is spirit; that he has a being separate from he world, nd operates on it by the spiritual activities of will and reason. Thus, the Olympian eligion f Greece was pagan in its deification f natural powers and natural objects, and in its assumption hat the Gods could be perceived by the senses, nd it is a fact too well known o require repetition hat the first nergies f Christian olemic were directed gainst this
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