Here is a longer quote. The remaining portion really hammers home the
consequences of using the Bible as a science text.
In The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim)
(translated by J. H. Taylor, Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982,
volume 41) Book 1 Chapter 19 Paragraph 39 Augustine wrote:
"Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens,
and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the
stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable
eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about
the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he
holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a
disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian,
presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these
topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing
situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh
it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is
derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred
writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose
salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected
as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they
themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our
books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the
resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of
heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts
which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?
Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble
and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their
mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound
by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly
foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy
Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they
think support their position, although they understand neither what they say
nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]"
Stephen J. Krogh, P.G.
The PanTerra Group
> -----Original Message-----
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]On
> Behalf Of Ted Davis
> Sent: Friday, February 08, 2002 12:28 PM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Augustine on science
> I have been asked to support my statement that Augustine didn't use the
> Bible as a science text--a fair request. Overall, let me refer readers to
> the account of Augustine and other patristic authors by David C.
> Lindberg (a
> leading historian of medieval science) in God & Nature (Berkeley, 1986).
> More specifically, let me quote Augustine himself, from his "Literal
> Intepretation of Genesis," 1.19.39, as quoted by Lindberg on p. 31 of the
> above book:
> "Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the
> heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion
> and orbit of
> the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the
> eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons,...
> and this knowledge he holds as certain from reason and experience. Now it
> is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian,
> presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these
> topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing
> situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh
> it to scorn."
> I don't suppose Mr Mortenson is within earshot?
> Ted Davis
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