Wednesday, March 19, 2014

More Ian Taylor: From Aquinas to Galileo

I was hoping this would be my last blog on the first chapter of In the Minds of Men by Ian Taylor.  There really is so much information needs to break down.  So, depending on how fast my husband gets home, I'll see what I can cover.

So far, Taylor gives a history of belief in the supernatural v. anti-supernaturalism.  People who believe in the other world and those who do not.  At first this develops into Plato v. Aristotle.  Plato believed that this visible world was only shadows and that the unseen was the real thing.  Aristotle did believe in God, but he was more of a deist.  His faith was only in what could be seen and experimented. 

Move through about 1000 years of Christendom, this debate morphs into Augustine v. Thomas Aquinas.  I like the former more than I like the later, but it's hard to be against Aquinas when RC Sproul likes him so much.  I don't like him like he does, but I think he was a decent man and a true Christian who was wrong on things.  I think the same about both Sproul and John MacArthur, though I go more for Sproul who is Presbyterian and amillennial. 

Augustine followed Plato, both the good and the bad.  He believed in a much more real world that could not be seen, this one being all shadows.  He originated the modern belief in predestination and total depravity based on Scripture and his own testimony.  Ultimately, he believed without question.  Thomas followed more Aristotle.  The thing is, Thomas was not a deist.  He was a real Christian who believed in the supernatural.  However, his love for Aristotle led him to believe in transubstantiation, the idea of "accidens."  It could look like bread but could really be the Body, and the look would be the accidens.  Really, that sounds more Platonic than Aristotelian, but just the same, Thomas had to experiment more to come to what he believed.

Now to start the rest of the blog.  I will post words and post my thoughts on them.

Renaissance: Means "new birth" and began when Arab traders began having commerce with the Europeans.  They brought with them Greek texts, Greek science, and exciting innovations.  Sure they destroyed Constantinople and Jerusalem, but these guys were progressive!  The good news is that people began to read the original Greek and Hebrew Bible.  The bad news, is that it did lead to a more humanistic view of life.  However, the Renaissance saw a resurgence of art, music, and devotion to the Lord that was more interested in what the Bible said over what church tradition taught.  So at this time there was the tension between Church tradition, the Bible, and humans wanting to be free from restraint.  There is much overlap but also many differences.

Printing Press: Johan Gutenberg invented it in 1465.  Now books and literature were cheaper and more accessible to the public.  Now, the average Joe had access to the Scriptures.  Some places where translating them from Latin into the vernacular languages.  Luther would not have been nearly as successful had it not been for this watershed technology.  And it was invented by a devout Christian who spread the Bible to the known world.  It was a Renaissance concept, but one from the Lord.

Ptolemy of Alexandria: he was an Egyptian Aristotelian who really popularized the concept of a geocentric universe.  He was to that believe as Darwin is to evolution.  It existed before him, but he got his name on it.  The Muslim traders adopted this view and passed it on to Latin Europe.  To think that this is Aristotelian actually makes no sense to me.  If this belief is supposed to be based on inductive reasoning, then there is no way a person could come up with an earth-centered universe made of revolving spheres that rubbed against each other.  This is more based on seeing that the sun and moon does seem to move in the sky around the earth.  But there is no inductive reasoning that could lead to the idea of the spheres.  This is more of a theory that was not proven but accepted as fact since no experiment could be conducted to prove it one way or another.

This is exactly what has happened with Darwinism today.  There is no empirical process to lead anyone to those believes.  Sure there is speciation and natural selection, but it does not mean that they all came from one species that also evolved from nothing.  You can't prove it took millions of years or one hundred.  Without God's Word to contradict it, you can't prove it false either.  So it just melted into accepted fact and the church began to accept that as dogma.  It was the new geo-centrism proved by twisting Scripture texts so that church men could sleep at night.

John Wycliffe: I wish I could write that name and someone would not mispronounce it.  That would be a false hope though.  It's not pronounced like Wyclef Jean.  It is Why, not Whi.  As a priest in England, he noticed that his parishioners believed in faith as a part of their culture and their tradition.  They believed whatever the priest said.  They could not check the sources.  He translated the Bible into English, and soon people began to follow that.  The church authorities became concerned that they could not control the people or keep their coffers filled since they could think independently.  Therefore, they made it illegal to translate the Bible.  Many people burned at the stake because they wanted all people to know the complete truth for themselves.  Men like Jan Hus who was promised safety but then burned because the church didn't keep promises to "heretics."  And he was only a heretic because his beliefs opposed the pope and called him into question.  The good think is John Wycliffe did not get martyred until after he died.  The church exhumed his bones and burned them to ashes when they linked him to Jan Hus.

Martin Luther: He enjoyed the privilege of living after the invention of the printing press.  Wycliffe and his followers known as the Lollards had to copy the Bible over and over by hand and use a lot of paper and ink.  The printing press catalyzed the process by the time Luther was nailing theses to the Wittenburg door.  That was how his 95 these got translated to German and copied for all the town to read.  That was how it spread to Rome. 

Plus, in Luther's time, more people were able to translate the Bible into German and Italian and English and print it.  Luther was concerned about the sale of indulgences.  He was not completely against them, but he noticed how people who purchased them did not really repent of their sins.  He also suffered from never thinking that he could be good enough to be accepted by God after completing penance after penance.  If asked if he loved God, he would say, "Sometimes I hate him."

Luther read the epistle to the Romans and realized that the Bible's teaching was nothing like what the Church taught.  This lit the powder keg that exploded into both the Reformation and the split of the Western Church.  What does this have to do with Aristotle and Plato?  It really seems that empiricism leads to more Biblical truth and more accurate science, making this more after the fashion of Aristotle.  But Luther realized he needed Plato's "sixth sense" to be able to accept both the supernatural and see that the visible world confirms it.

Copernicus: Sometime between Halloween of 1517 and the Council of Trent, Nicolas Copernicus became concerned that the dogmatised geo-centrism had too much influence from the Arabs and from Aristotelian deism.  Neither the Bible nor his observation of the skies confirmed it.  He theorized about the universe making more sense if the sun was placed at the center with all the planets revolving around it.  He died at a ripe old age before his findings could really become popular.

Council of Trent: Between Copernicus and Galileo, the mother Church finally decided to do something about Luther's teachings.  They definitely needed to be addressed.  It was at this Council that they affirmed the 66 books of the Bible, plus the Apocrypha.  Luther had decided that the Apocryphal books were not authoritative Scripture as they came from Alexandrian Egypt during the exile and nobody knew who wrote them.  The Jews knew who wrote the Protestant Old Testament by the time it was canonized but could not account for these extra writings.  They had good stories and history, but Luther saw them as authoritative as any other non-Bible book you can buy at LifeWay.  It wasn't evil.  Jesus celebrated Hanukkah.  But it wasn't exactly in sync with Scripture.  The Council of Trent included the Apocrypha. 

They affirmed many things I agree with.  There is no salvation outside of God's church.  Paedobaptism is the proper form of baptism as it initiates a baby into the visible covenant community.  They affirmed the need of Christ and God's grace.  The sad thing, they did not accept salvation by faith alone and grace alone through Christ alone.  They believed that a believer needed to practice penance and work off their sin even in Purgatory after Christ had initially saved them.  They taught the need to go to an intercessor to get to Christ, such as a saint or Mary.  They anathematized the Protestants who believed Christ's sacrifice was good enough for all time and that he is the intercessor.  He is the intercessor between God and man and needs no other agent to link us.  From what I can see as a devout Protestant is that the RC church practically excommunicated itself and chose not to believe in Christ the same way the Jews decided not to believe.  They've become more accepting of non-Catholics since Vatican II, but they have never recanted their anathemas and actually went to far in accepting anyone in trying to be tolerant.  We still can't reunite the churches today, although Christ will come someday and put our Humpty Dumpty church back together.

Galileo: I think I'm going to end this everyone's favorite controversialist: Galileo Galilei.  He read Copernicus's writings, then built a telescope, and he observed that the heavens orbited around the sun and not the earth, just as as Copernicus had theorized.  His friends in the church helped him to keep this knowledge a secret for a while to avoid persecution, but by keeping it secret, everyone knew about it.  The Church had already excommunicated Luther and his followers as heretics. 
Galileo was presenting yet another thing that went against church dogma and refused to investigate.  They would not look in the telescope and believe.

In the same way the church is refusing to even listen to the reasoning of 7-day Creationists who have reinterpreted the geology, the fossils, the genetics so that they do not contradict Scripture.  They want to keep believing that man knows more about creation and salvation than God does who invented it all.  We may not always understand paradoxes this side of heaven, but at this point, it is clear that both Scripture and science negate evolution and millions of years just like they proved a heliocentric universe.  And this is not a Catholic/Protestant issue.  This isn't even a divide between natural and supernatural.  This is simply a choice of will you trust God's account of his own creation and speculate along those lines, or are you going to give in to any negativity that has solidified into faulty dogma?  Is it man's word or God's word that you will follow?  You have to choose at some point.

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