The Road from Regensburg

FAITH Magazine January-February 2010

Papal Dialogue in Search of a Modern Apologetic


26th November to Astronomy Conference which was on "From Galileo's telescope to evolutionary cosmology. Science, philosophy and theology in dialogue."

It was the year 1609 when Galileo first pointed skyward an instrument which 'I myself devised', he wrote, "enlightened at the outset by divine grace": the telescope. [...] "Without any doubt it is a great thing to add innumerable other stars to the immense multitude of fixed stars that until today it has been possible to discern with the natural faculty of sight, and which exceed by more than ten times the number of ancient stars already recorded". The scientist was able to observe with his own eyes what, until that moment, had been no more than controversial hypotheses. [...]

With this discovery, the cultural awareness of facing a crucial point in the history of humanity increased. Science was becoming something different from what the ancients had always thought it to be. Aristotle had made it possible to arrive at the certain knowledge of phenomena starting with evident and universal principles; Galileo then showed in practice how to approach and observe the phenomena themselves in order to understand their secret causes. The method of deduction gave way to that of induction and prepared the ground for experimentation. The concept of science that had remained the same for centuries was now changing, entering into a modern conception of the world and of humankind. [...]

It is probable that over and above his intentions, the Pisan scientist's discovery also made it possible to go back in time, prompting questions about the very origins of the cosmos

[...] Matter has an intelligibility that can speak to the human mind and point out a way that goes beyond the mere phenomenon. It is Galileo's lesson which led to this thought.

Was it not the Pisan scientist who maintained that God wrote the book of nature in the language of mathematics? Yet the human mind invented mathematics in order to understand creation; but if nature is really structured with a mathematical language and mathematics invented by man can manage to understand it, this demonstrates something extraordinary. The objective structure of the universe and the intellectual structure of the human being coincide; the subjective reason and the objectified reason in nature are identical. In the end it is "one" reason that links both and invites us to look to a unique creative Intelligence.

[...] Philosophy, confronting the phenomena and beauty of creation, seeks with its reasoning to understand the nature and finality of the cosmos. [...] There is no conflict on the horizon between the various branches of scientific knowledge and of philosophy and theology. On the contrary, only to the extent that they succeed in entering into dialogue and in exchanging their respective competencies will they be able to present truly effective results to people today.

Cf. Caritas in Veritate n.21

10th October to African students, concerning:
the urgent need to shape a new humanistic vision that will renew the links between anthropology and theology

19th November to participants in the general assembly of the International Federation of Catholic Universities,referring to John Paul II's Sapientiae Christiana of 30 years ago:

[there is an] urgent need, which still persists today, to overcome the separation between faith and culture, [...] in the firm conviction that Christian Revelation is a transforming power destined to permeate patterns of thought, standards of judgment and norms of behaviour [...] Jesus Christ [...] alone illuminates man's true dignity.

In a culture which reveals [...] a lack of thinking capable of formulating a guiding synthesis Catholic universities, faithful to an identity which makes a specific point of Christian inspiration, are called to promote a 'new humanistic synthesis', knowledge that is 'wisdom capable of directing man in the light of his first beginnings and his final ends', knowledge illuminated by faith.

30th October to Astronomy Congress in Rome
Our own age, poised at the edge of perhaps even greater and more far-ranging scientific discoveries, would benefit from that same sense of awe and the desire to attain a truly humanistic synthesis of knowledge which inspired the fathers of modern science. [...] true knowledge [...] invites us to lift our gaze to the higher realm of the spirit. [...] Revelation tells us that, in the fullness of time, the Word through whom all things were made came to dwell among us. In Christ, the new Adam, we acknowledge the true centre of the universe and all history, and in him, the incarnate Logos, we see the fullest measure of our grandeur as human beings, endowed with reason and called to an eternal destiny.


9th December, from the General Audience
Like other theologians of the Middle Ages, Rupert also asked: why was the Word of God, the Son of God, made man? Some, many, responded, explaining the incarnation of the Word with the urgency of repairing the sin of man. Rupert on the other hand, with a Christocentric vision of the history of salvation, enlarged the perspective, and in a work of his entitled "The Glorification of the Trinity" held the position that the Incarnation, the central event of all history, was foreseen from all eternity, even independently of the sin of man, so that all creation could give praise to God the Father and love Him as a unique family gathered around Christ, the Son of God. He therefore saw in the pregnant woman of the apocalypse the whole history of humanity which is oriented to Christ, just asconception is oriented to birth; a perspective which would be developed by other thinkers and enriched also by contemporary theology, which affirms that the whole history of the world and of humanity is a conception oriented to the birth of Christ.

Faith Magazine

January - February 2010