Was the Catholic Church the Builder of Civilization?
first episode of three about Catholicism as foudner of Western Science.
Wisdom 11:21 ... second half "but thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight."
Note two things:
- 1) Protestants have started getting onto this train. But Wisdom is a Catholic Bible book outside their 66 book "canon".
- 2) It has inspired the thought that natural law must be expressible in quantifiable terms. I have seen this brought to extremes, like people asking, against Thomistic Metaphysics, how one quantifies the influence of spirit on matter, whether it be human mind chosing which letter to write or angelic spirit guiding a star. But the verse has a context:
 But for the foolish devices of their iniquity, because some being deceived worshipped dumb serpents and worthless beasts, thou didst send upon them a multitude of dumb beasts for vengeance.  That they might know that by what things a man sinneth, by the same also he is tormented.  For thy almighty hand, which made the world of matter without form, was not unable to send upon them a multitude of bears, or fierce lions,  Or unknown beasts of a new kind, full of rage: either breathing out a fiery vapour, or sending forth a stinking smoke, or shooting horrible sparks out of their eyes:  Whereof not only the hurt might be able to destroy them, but also the very sight might kill them through fear.  Yea and without these, they might have been slain with one blast, persecuted by their own deeds, and scattered by the breath of thy power: but thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight.  For great power always belonged to thee alone: and who shall resist the strength of thy arm?
I have even been asked by atheists to quantify God's possibility of turning the Universe around the Earth each day. Here is Wisdom 11:23
 For the whole world before thee is as the least grain of the balance, and as a drop of the morning dew, that falleth down upon the earth:
I recall Juliana of Norwich (Saint?) seeing Our Lord holding all he had created in His hand "and it was no greater than a hazelnut" ... or "than a nut".
And verses 24 seq:
 But thou hast mercy upon all, because thou canst do all things, and overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance.  For thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which thou hast made: for thou didst not appoint, or make any thing hating it.
Just in case som idiot should think my attributing all this strength to God makes me anxious.
Babylonians and modern science ... I have heard Newton described as "the last Sumerian".
Babylonians did not per se believe the Universe was orderly, but they had Mages engaged in - essentially, not unlike Pythagoras - finding order under the chaos, and that to the end of making predictions. Astrology was Babylonian, Pythagorean and in some ways also Medieval. The same Bradwardine who saw there was something logarithmic about movement, like distance and speed or time and speed, and thus gave an impetus to later development of logarithmic tables, was named a bishop by one of the Avignon Popes - and he believed in Astrology.
"that does not mean the Universe is so orderly that God can't make miracles"
Actually this was one error that showed up its ugly head in scholastic surroundings.
"Quod sine agente proprio, ut patre et homine, etiam a deo non posset fieri homo."
This was proposition 35 on the list of 219 propositions condemned by Bishop Tempier in Laetare Sunday of what to them was "still 1276" (since 1277 would start only 25 of March) but to us is "already 1277".
Here is the list of errors about God or the first cause:
Collectio errorum in Anglia et Parisius Condempnatorum ... Et primoordinantur qui sunt de deo
[on blog En lengua romance en Antimodernism y de mis caminaciones]
And here is the index of all the chapters:
Index in stephani tempier condempnationes
The footnotes are my work, the text in that form was given as an appendix in the recent book by D. Piché - his own major contribution was translating the propositions in order into French and giving an introduction about them.
- proposition 34 of the condemned ones is what I like to call the "Narnia clause":
"Quod causa prima non posset plures mundos facere."
"the functioning of the universe is one of those promises"
Indeed. But it is NOT in that promise that for instance day and night shall be explainable in principle as continuations of something previous merely inherent in creation rather than as a new but identical to previous act of God each time.
St Thomas saw the turning of the Universe around Earth as a proof for God's existence. Less clear as Prima Via in I-Q2-A3, more clear as its parallel in Contra Gentes and as St Thomas refers to Prima Via when later in Pars I (Q11, I think?) proving that God is one from fact that the turning of the Universe around the one axis where earth is proves there is exactly one first mover. Riccioli considers this point as superfluous, and prefers the Ontological argument (the most noble thing cannot lack the perfection of existing) because he saw Lucretius and Epicure unconvinced of God and attributing the daily rotation of Universe (which they admitted too, they were not Heliocentrics) to mere chance.
Also it is NOT in that promise that the movement of celestial bodies must be as motorically explicable as the movement of falling objects, doing without for instance angelic movers (which both St Thomas and Riccioli agreed on).
Day and night proclaim God's glory. God calls out to the stars and they answer "here I am". That is also very much in Scripture.
"what looks like a law to you may be one of Allah's habits which he can discontinue at any time"
This is not in conflict with Christianity (unless we involve moral law, God is never immoral), and it is not against Catholic Christianity.
Chesterton had expressed it in Orthodoxy while he was an Anglican, and far from being asked to revoke it when converting, Orthodoxy is still on his bibliography. The Minim Friar Mersenne was an Occasionalist - and he founded the science of Acoustics. So, it is not against science either.
Malebranche and Guélingx (if that is the right spelling of that Belgian) were both Occasionalists, and only one of them is on the Index.
I am sorry, but Dom Stanley Jaki is wrong on this one.
VII a personal note here too:
I have precisely on these points been accused of having a basically not just erroneous, but actually anti-Catholic concept of God's relation to the universe. And that despite the fact I was actually agreeing with Scholastics like notably St Thomas Aquinas, and despite the fact of not being an Occasionalist even. If fire burns flax, indeed, God can discontinue that at any time, but it is also an inbuilt working of the universe, God has wanted this to be the normal order. Even when God does miracles, He does not take away the natural properties involved in normal causalities. Water wasn't weightless when Jordan was cut in two or when the Red Sea was parted in two. Fire wasn't deprived of its burning power when presumably the angel of that fire in the furnace (I speak with St Hippolytus here) seeing Christ - God the Son - as the fourth young man respected God's will it should not burn the three young men.