Science (chr.)

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(Turk. Bilim)

The term ‘science’ refers to a form of human explanation and understanding of the world that works with the methods of rational argumentation (or at least of rational review). Science emerged in pre-Christian Greek philosophy and was first expressly defined as such by Aristotle (384-322 BCE): In contrast to myth, for which the claim to truth is a function of the credibility of the party relating the myth (hence the tradition of transmission), a scientific proposition can be recognised as true only if it can be understood solely through the powers of natural reason with which every person is equipped, regardless of cultural tradition. Modern technology was able to come about only on the basis of this rational understanding of science. With the exception of a few passages in later New Testament texts, the scientific ideal of Greek philosophy is unknown in the Bible. No later than with the advent of Christianity in the Hellenistic-Roman cultural realm, however, as a result of the mission that began with St. Paul, it became necessary to define the relationship between Christianity and the sciences. Because the theology of Creation takes a positive fundamental view of the human capacity of reason, the stance taken towards the sciences was largely an approving one. This science-friendly outlook can be substantiated in the Bible itself with the observation by Paul that natural awareness of God is even possible for Gentiles on the strength of their God-given powers of reason (Rom 1.19-21). There is no contradiction to this positive fundamental Biblical assessment of science when Paul elsewhere (1 Cor 1.22-24) contrasts the wisdom of the Greeks with the Christian folly of the preaching of Christ crucified. Instead, his message here is that Christian faith is not exhausted in the things discernible through reason, but that this faith is also and particularly relevant in situations in which reason runs up against its own limits, or has been weakened through human sin, and thus encounters the existential dimensions of human salvation. From the very beginnings of the history of Christianity, much attention has been devoted to the effort to provide rational reflection upon faith. This effort has brought forth the discipline of theology (of revelation) as a science in its own right.

Martin Thurner

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