From: John W Burgeson (email@example.com)
Date: Thu May 22 2003 - 13:47:47 EDT
Howard's thread is so fascinating I almost (not quite) am reluctant to
return to an earlier one.
I had said my books were packed away for the move, but I was mistaken;
Tillich's DYNAMICS OF FAITH was still on my night table. Here are a few
passages from this book -- a primary source on Tillich:
"Reason is the precondition of faith; faith is the act in which reason
reaches ecstatically beyond itself. ... Reason is not bound to its own
finitude. It is aware of it and, in so doing, rises above it." (Pg. 87)
"Reason can be fulfilled only if it is driven beyond the limits of its
finitude, and experiences the presence of the ultimate, the holy." (Pg.
"Science tries to describe and to explain the structures and relations in
the universe, in so far as they can be tested by experiment and
calculated in quantitative terms. The truth of a scientific statement is
the adequacy of the description of the natural laws, which determine
reality, [!] and it is the verification of this description by
experimental repetitions. Every scientific truth is preliminary and
subject to changes both in grasping reality and in expressing it
adequately. This element of uncertainty does not diminish the truth value
of a tested and verified scientific assertion. It only prevents
scientific dogmatism and absolutism.
"Therefore, it is a very poor method of defending the truth of faith
against the truth of science, if theologians point to the preliminary
character of every scientific statement in order to provide a place of
retreat for the truth of faith. ... scientific truth and the truth of
faith do not belong to the same dimension of meaning." (pg. 93-94)
"When the representatives of faith impeded the beginning of modern
astronomy they were not aware that the Christian symbols, although using
the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic astronomy, were not tied up to this astronomy.
... if representatives of modern physics reduce the whole of reality to
the mechanical movement of the smallest particles of matter, denying the
really real quality of life and mind, they express a faith, objectively
as well as subjectively... science is their ultimate concern -- and they
are ready to sacrifice everything ... for this ultimate...the create a
monstrous symbol of this concern, namely, a universe in which everything,
including their own scientific passion, is swallowed by a meaningless
mechanism. In opposing this ... Christian faith is right."(Pg. 94-95)
Note the place where I have interjected a "[!]." This seems to me that
Tillich regarded natural laws as prescriptive, not descriptive (of
course, he recognized that our expressions of those natural laws are
always preliminary). That is one of the passages that leads me to see
him, as with Bultmann, rather convinced that the resurrection event,
whatever it was, was entirely natural and that a "return from the dead"
did not happen. Borg, I think, takes a similar view.
BTW -- the quotation in my earlier post was made in 1935 by some guy
named Einstein in a fairly famous (EPR) paper in the Physical Review. The
full paper (JPG form) appears on my web site at the end of the QM page.
John Burgeson (Burgy)
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