Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

my interests, I am subtle about them

I ate lunch outside today and started reading Ian Barbour's When Science Meets Religion. Jeff V. (of FCS) is doing this book for the pilot of the "Eggheads" group. I am unexcited about the topic, but I am easily persuaded to show up and discuss texts with people, so I ILLed myself a copy of the book.

In the Introduction, Barbour lays out "a fourfold typology as an aid to sorting out the great variety of ways in which people have related science and religion" (p.1) and says, "I believe that the examples of each of the four categories can be found in the major world religions---especially in the monotheistic ones (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), but also in Hinduism and Buddhism" (p. 6).

It struck me in reading that parenthetical that the only monotheistic religions (at least the only major/surviving ones -- I have no idea if other groups independently invented monotheism and just didn't stick) all worship the same One God. Huh.

Unrelatedly -- from Chapter One:
     In the centuries before Galileo, a variety of views about scripture had been advanced. In the fourth century, Augustine (whom Galileo quoted) had said that when there appears to be a conflict between demonstrated knowledge and a literal reading of the Bible, scripture should be interpreted metaphorically. In commenting on the first chapter of Genesis, Augustine had said that the Holy Spirit was not concerned about "the form and shape of the heavens" and "did not wish to teach men things not relevant to their salvation." Medieval writers acknowledged diverse literary forms and levels of truth in scripture, and they offered symbolic of allegorical interpretations of many problematic passages. Galileo himself quoted a cardinal of his own day: "The intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes." This aspect of Galileo's thought could be taken as an example of the Independence thesis, which distinguishes scientific from theological assertions. On astronomical questions, he said, the writers of the Bible had to "accommodate themselves to the capacity of the common people" by using "the common mode of speech" of their times. He held that we can learn from two sources the Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture---both of which come from God and therefore cannot conflict with each other. (pp. 7-8)
I continue to be thrown by reminders that Traditional Christianity has not always been the post-Enlightenment thing it is today. The whole "the Word was given to a particular people in a particular socio-historical moment and so it is culturally conditioned and doesn't literally apply to everyone through all time and space" is something that today fundamentalists dislike progressives saying, but hey look, not actually an invention of twentieth-century liberals.

(I, of course, would quibble with the "how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes," since my theology focuses on how we are called to bring God's Commonwealth to fruition here on Earth -- so what salvation looks like is as important as how one brings it about. But that does mean I am similarly uninterested in parsing the bejeweled descriptions of the New Jerusalem as literal.)

Then my best friend called, and we talked about her day thus far and her evening last night and my preaching last night and gendered language for the Godhead.

After work I'm having smoothies with one of the Gordon Conwell students who's been visiting CWM (they're doing a school project) and then joining the tail end of Laura Ruth's office hours at Blue Shirt to be followed by the re/New planning meeting (this month's topic is "Change and Transition").
Tags: church: somerville: ucc: eggheads, issues: religion and science

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