Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Patron Saint of - Scientists?!

I doubt that many people really think Earth is flat these days, but there are still plenty of quaint notions that 'everybody knows.' Like faith and reason being utterly opposite ideas. And, of course, that religion is utterly opposed to science. (March 20, 2009)

I can see where the idea that faith and reason, religion and science, are seen as bitter enemies. Bishop Ussher, when he wasn't writing about " 'papists' and their 'superstitious' faith and 'erroneous' doctrine" (Linder), used the best (Protestant) Bible scholarship of his day to determine the date, in the year 4004 B.C., when the world was created.

Between Ussher and his acolytes, and fans of Thomas Carlyle, it's easy to get the impression that religious people - particularly Christians - live in a special little world of their own.

Darwin and Huxley's mix of science and proselytizing, and the (in my view) imprudently passionate and somewhat clueless responses by well-meaning Christians, helped establish the idea that faith isn't reasonable.

I've written about that sort of thing before: and linked to those posts toward the end of this one.

Me? I can't assume that faith is opposed to reason, because I've studied Catholic teachings: and converted to Catholicism.

I don't expect to convince anyone who earnestly believes that Science (capital "S") is all about reality and that those religious people over there are a lot of superstitious atavisms.

And I wouldn't expect to change the mind of someone who was passionately convinced that Faith (capital "F") is utterly unrelated to reason. That doesn't mean that I agree with either, or that I've bought into the idea that (A) can equal (not-A). I'm not that "sophisticated."

The Patron Saint of Scientists?!

Albert had the reputation of being a wizard and magician during his lifetime. He wasn't, but I can see how that happened.

He was the son of a military lord in Emperor Frederick II's army, back in the 13th century, but took a more scholarly career track than his father's. After joining the Dominicans, he was given several teaching assignments, and then ordered to to set up a Dominican house in Cologne. Which is how he ran into Thomas Aquinas, but that's another story.

Albert was allowed to settle in Cologne in his later years, which seems to have given him time to pursue some of his own interests. He built a laboratory of sorts where he conducted experiments in chemistry and physics.

I suppose the plants, insects, and odd chemicals he collected and used helped build his reputation as a wizard.
"...He died a very old man in Cologne on November 15,1280, and is buried in St. Andrea's Church in that city. He was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1931 by Pope Pius XI. His writings are remarkable for their exact scientific knowledge, and for that reason he has been made the patron saint of scientists.

Thought for the Day: St. Albert the Great was convinced that all creation spoke of God and that the tiniest piece of scientific knowledge told us something about Him. Besides the Bible, God has given us the book of creation revealing something of His wisdom and power. In creation, Albert saw the hand of God....
"
("The One Year Book of Saints")
Related posts: Background:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

Coolness.

By the by, I think there's a word missing in here: "I don't expect to convince anyone who earnestly believes that Science (capital "S") all about reality..."

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Oops! Thanks, Brigid. Found it, fixed it, and right you were.

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