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CHAPTER IVThat the Philosopher and the Theologian view Creatures from Different Standpoints

HUMAN philosophy considers creatures as they are in themselves: hence we find different divisions of philosophy according to the different classes of things. But Christian faith considers them, not in themselves, but inasmuch as they represent the majesty of God, and in one way or another are directed to God, as it is said: Of the glory of the Lord his work is full: hath not the Lord made his saints to tell of his wonders? (Ecclus xlii, 16, 17.) Therefore the philosopher and the faithful Christian (fidelis) consider different points about creatures: the philosopher considers what attaches to them in their proper nature: the faithful Christian considers about creatures only what attaches to them in their relation to God, as that they are created by God, subject to God, and the like.201201We have not gained by the divorce between philosophy and what is now called ‘science,’ as though philosophy were not science, or (physical) science were not one branch of philosophy. The word ‘philosopher’ in the text therefore includes the physicist. Nor does the word ‘philosopher’ exclude the ‘faithful Christian man.’ It is a difference of formalities, or characters, as between ‘professor’ and ‘volunteer,’ not an incompatibility. Hence it is not to be put down as an imperfection in the doctrine of faith, if it passes unnoticed many properties of things, as the configuration of the heavens, or the laws of motion. And again such points as are considered by philosopher and faithful Christian alike, are treated on different principles: for the philosopher takes his stand on the proper and immediate causes of things; but the faithful Christian argues from the First Cause, showing that so the matter is divinely revealed, or that this makes for the glory of God, or that God’s power is infinite. Hence this speculation of the faithful Christian ought to be called the highest wisdom, as always regarding the highest cause, according to the text: 80This is your wisdom and understanding before the nations (Deut. iv, 6). And therefore human philosophy is subordinate to this higher wisdom; and in sign of this subordination divine wisdom sometimes draws conclusions from premises of human philosophy. Further, the two systems do not observe the same order of procedure. In the system of philosophy, which considers creatures in themselves and from them leads on to the knowledge of God, the first study is of creatures and the last of God; but in the system of faith, which studies creatures only in their relation to God, the study is first of God and afterwards of creatures; and this is a more perfect view, and more like to the knowledge of God, who, knowing Himself, thence discerns other beings. Following this latter order, after what has been said in the first book about God in Himself, it remains for us to treat of the beings that come from God.


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