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Western Civilisation

Until the advent of materialism and 19th c. dogma, Western Civilisation was  superior to anything Islam had developed.  Islam has not aided in the development of the modern world; in fact civilisation has only been created in spite of Islam.  Proof of this resides in the 'modern' world and the unending political-economic and spiritual poverty of Muslim states and regions.  Squatting on richer civilisations is not 'progress'.  Islam is pagan, totalitarian, and irrational.   

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Sunday, March 24, 2024

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The Scholastics and Rationalism

No Church, no universities, no scientific tradition.

by Ferdinand III




Much derided by the ‘Enlighteners’ from the poorly named ‘Enlightenment’, an era largely weaponised as propaganda by protesters and atheists, the age of ‘Scholasticism’, running from the 12th to 16th centuries was absolutely essential for the development of Western civilisation.  Logical, rational deductions were at the heart of Scholasticism, and this age of inquiry bequeathed, universities, natural science, optics, physics and advanced mathematics.  Scholasticism includes work done at the universities, but also in the society at large, all of it, or a great deal of it, funded by the Church.  Hence the animus from the ‘Enlighteners’.


Scholasticism however defined, was at its core, as an ethos, dedicated to rationality.  Reason was viewed as the indispensable tool in theological and philosophical study.  The use of the dialectic, borrowed from Platonic dialogues was the core of how issues were assessed.  There would be a problem statement, opposite arguments were presented, followed by a resolution.  The resolution did not appeal to authority or scripture, but reason and logic.  Objections would be answered, and the author’s own ideas presented as well.  This schema was followed well into the 20th century. 


The earliest known Scholastic was probably Saint Anselm the archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109).  In his Cur Deus Homo Anselm examines how God became man using logic and natural science.  He also developed a rational proof for the existence of God, known as the onto-logical argument.  For Anselm the existence of God is implied in the very definition of God, since God is ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived.’  God cannot exist just in our minds because a greater being could be justly conceived who was real and existed in reality.  God must logically exist in reality and be beyond our comprehension in scope and perfection.


Another early Scholastic Peter Abelard (1079-1142) wrote Sic et Non or Yes and No C 1120.  He assembled a list of apparent contradictions from the Bible and early Church fathers, using reason to resolve the contradictions and forcing his students to logically answer the supposed discrepancies with logic.  Abelard was famous for his dedication to reason and structured logic to build up proof for the one-true-faith and the veracity of scripture.  He aligned Aristotelian logic with that of the Church and commented that he would stop being a philosopher if that meant being cut off from the truth of the Catholic Church.  


His student Peter Lombard (1100-1160) wrote Sentences, which next to the Bible became the central textbook for students of theology for the next 500 years.  This book is a systemic exposition of the Catholic faith, discussing everything from God’s attributes to sin, grace, the Incarnation, redemption, virtue, the sacraments, death, judgement heaven and hell. 


Abelard and Lombard’s work was further developed by the angelic doctor, St Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century (1225-1274).  The greatest metaphysician in history, Aquinas reconciled the logic and systems of Aristotle with that of the Church.  The Summa Theologica raised and answered thousands of questions and objections in theology and philosophy.  He proved that Aristotle could be readily harmonised with Catholic teaching.  He also offered 5 proofs for God’s existence, a must read for Catholics in any age, using reason and physics.


Aquinas resolutely shows that there is always an uncaused cause.  A cause that is not itself in need of a cause.  From this uncaused cause, proceed all other causes.  This first cause is of course God.  God is the one self-existing being whose existence is part of his very essence.  He depends on nothing prior to himself to exist.  Using physics and natural science, Aquinas explains how this works in the physical as well as the immaterial world. 


Aquinas, Lombard and Abelard all studied at the university of Paris.  In fact, the dense network of Catholic universities which would cover Europe by 1350, provided ‘rivers’ of intelligent inquiry, innovation, and scientific treatises of all varieties.  This intellectual tradition was entirely unique in world history.  The university system was dominated not by appeals to authority as in today’s schools, but by the rigour of logical dissertation and argumentation. 


No Catholic Church?  No university system, no scientific tradition. 

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