23 July 2015

Faith and Science in Pascendi §16-17

[A friend requested clarification on St. Pius X's meaning in this section of his great encyclical Pascendi, since it is unclear when he is speaking in the voice of the Modernist, and when in his own voice.  Response: he is speaking in the voice of the Modernist through pretty much the entire passage quoted below.  My notes in [red].]


Having reached this point, Venerable Brethren, we have sufficient material in hand to enable us to see the relations which Modernists establish between faith and science [science is understood here in the agnostic sense explained earlier in the encyclical], including history also under the name of science. 

And in the first place it is to be held [according to the modernists] that the object of the one is quite extraneous to and separate from the object of the other. For faith occupies itself solely with something which science declares to be unknowable for it [i.e. a sentiment or experience of the "divine"]. Hence each has a separate field assigned to it: science is entirely concerned with the reality of phenomena, into which faith does not enter at all [in other words, faith is not concerned with the reality of observable phenomena]; faith on the contrary concerns itself with the divine reality which is entirely unknown to science. Thus the conclusion is reached that there can never be any dissension between faith and science [this claim, in itself, is orthodox, as St. Thomas suggests in ST 1a q.1 a.6 ad 2—where the conclusion of a particular science disagrees with faith, it belongs to faith, as a higher science to correct it], for if each keeps on its own ground they can never meet [this claim is false—faith does make claims which pertain to observable phenomena and therefore overlap with "science"] and therefore never be in contradiction. 

And if it be objected that in the visible world there are some things which appertain to faith, such as the human life of Christ, the Modernists reply by denying this [in other words, the modernists insist that no visible phenomena pertain to faith]. For though such things come within the category of phenomena, still in as far as they are lived by faith and in the way already described have been by faith transfigured and disfigured, they have been removed from the world of sense and translated to become material for the divine [recall that the province of the "divine" for the modernists is the immanent experience of the "religious sentiment"]

Hence should it be further asked whether Christ has wrought real miracles, and made real prophecies, whether He rose truly from the dead and ascended into heaven, the answer of agnostic science will be in the negative and the answer of faith in the affirmative - yet there will not be, on that account, any conflict between them [according to the modernist, because the "affirmative" of faith pertains solely to the immanent experience and sentiments related to these doctrines, not to their physical reality]. For it will be denied by the philosopher as philosopher, speaking to philosophers and considering Christ only in His historical reality; and it will be affirmed by the speaker, speaking to believers and considering the life of Christ as lived again by the faith and in the faith [one hears this sometimes (I have, at least)—that Christ may not have risen physically, but he rose spiritually in the experience of the post-Easter Christian community].
Yet, it would be a great mistake to suppose that, given these theories, one is authorised to believe that faith and science are independent of one another. On the side of science the independence is indeed complete [according to the Modernists], but it is quite different with regard to faith, which [they belive] is subject to science not on one but on three grounds. For in the first place it must be observed that in every religious fact, when you take away the divine reality and the experience of it which the believer possesses, everything else, and especially the religious formulas of it, belongs to the sphere of phenomena and therefore falls under the control of science [in other words, according to the Modernist, to the extent that religious formulas deal not with the "divine reality" of a person's interior experience, but actually make claims above and beyond "faith" about actual phenomena, those claims are subject to science—for example, we read that Moses spoke with God on Sinai; this has a significance in faith, which pertains solely to our own personal experiences and sentiments, and another significance in its physical reality, which may relate to faith, but is subject to science]

Let the believer leave the world if he will, but so long as he remains in it he must continue, whether he like it or not, to be subject to the laws, the observation, the judgments of science and of history. Further, when it is said that God is the object of faith alone, the statement refers only to the divine reality [which, again, is a sentiment, not something existing independently of human consciousness] not to the idea of God. The latter also is subject to science which while it philosophises in what is called the logical order soars also to the absolute and the ideal [think here of Hegel—the experience and "reality" of the divine sentiment is a matter of faith, but the scientific analysis of the development of that experience is a matter for dialectical investigation]

It is therefore the right of philosophy and of science to form conclusions concerning the idea of God, to direct it in its evolution and to purify it of any extraneous elements which may become confused with it. Finally, man does not suffer a dualism to exist in him, and the believer therefore feels within him an impelling need so to harmonise faith with science, that it may never oppose the general conception which science sets forth concerning the universe [so, even though faith is an experience independent of science, the analysis and rectification of that experience is subject to science—if my "faith" has an outdated character, "science" can let me know that this is the case, so I can get with the times]

Thus it is evident that science is to be entirely independent of faith, while on the other hand, and notwithstanding that they are supposed to be strangers to each other, faith is made subject to science. All this, Venerable Brothers, is in formal opposition with the teachings of Our Predecessor, Pius IX, where he lays it down that: In matters of religion it is the duty of philosophy not to command but to serve, but not to prescribe what is to be believed but to embrace what is to be believed with reasonable obedience, not to scrutinise the depths of the mysteries of God but to venerate them devoutly and humbly. 

The Modernists completely invert the parts, and to them may be applied the words of another Predecessor of Ours, Gregory IX., addressed to some theologians of his time: Some among you, inflated like bladders with the spirit of vanity strive by profane novelties to cross the boundaries fixed by the Fathers, twisting the sense of the heavenly pages . . . to the philosophical teaching of the rationals, not for the profit of their hearer but to make a show of science . . . these, seduced by strange and eccentric doctrines, make the head of the tail and force the queen [i.e. sacred doctrine] to serve the servant [i.e. profane science].