Re: On Tillich

From: Graham E. Morbey (
Date: Fri May 23 2003 - 10:47:47 EDT

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    Years ago a professor of mine once asked Tillich if a camera could have
    recorded the Resurrection of Jesus. The curt reply was "no!"
    Now, was that because of the limitation of the camera (no record of a
    personal observation of the actual Resurrection in Scripture)? Perhaps a
    better question
    " Would the camera have recorded the three of them on the road to
    Emmaus?" The answer for Tillich, I believe, is still "no". The Creeds
    teach a camera faith!


    John W Burgeson wrote:

    >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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