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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Augustine on Science

One thing that continues to jump out at me while reading the Great Books is how common "modern" ideas are. Augustine is writing in the fourth century, so I was interested to read what he has to say about science.

An important background point is that Augustine's Confession is not only a story about how great his conversion to Christianity was, but also how evil everything he did in the past was. He seems to hate his father for having the nerve to provide him with a top notch liberal arts education. Even his love for his mother is limited to her praying for him to become a Christian. I don't find Augustine to be particularly lovable.

Book IV, chapters 15 and 16 give his thoughts on science. For Augstine, he compares Christianity to a variety of other world views. For whatever reason, he seems to take science and Manichaeism as a pair. He basically observes that science is better at describing the natural world than the Manichaens. So, why not go with science. Then, he think Christianity is better than the scientists.

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