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vol 6: Essays

On visible salvation

1 Introduction
2 Salvation as passive rescue from sin

2.1 Salvation and faith
2.2 Salvation and justification
2.3 Salvation and good works

3 Salvation as evolutionary development
4 A mathematical model of salvation
5 Constructing heaven on earth
6 Conclusion

"One needs a new language of salvation, one that addresses the historical suffering experienced in our world, and the present day consciousness that is scandalised by it, and at the same time is faithful to the scriptural and classical witness about Jesus saving." Haight p 26

Through the Living letters we listened and heard our sisters answer Jesus question, "Woman, why are you weeping?" Women responded by revealing their secret pain of isolation, economic injustice, barriers to participation, racism, religious fundamentalism, ethnic genocide, sexual harassment, HIV/AIDS and violence against women and children. We lamented. We searched the scriptures and we prayed. We found the Holy Spirit interceding with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26). Empowered, we have begun the journey of healing. WCC Eighth Assembly.

1 Introduction

This essay is written from the viewpoint that human affairs have meaning in the context of the evolving Universe revealed to us by scientific work. Silk, Weinberg. This scientific view of the world was introduced to Christianity by the Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard De Chardin. Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhard de Chardin appears to identify an end point of the Universe, which he called the omega point, with the Christian escatological vision. Teilhard de Chardin, page 257 sqq.

The problem we have before us is typified by the question quoted above: "Woman (human? any being?) why are you weeping?" The general answer is that we are to some degree off course, lost and in need of salvation. Good navigation protects us from shipwreck, and violence in general. A short reflection reveals that the problem of finding effective means to avoid the evils that surround our lives is both universal and exceedingly difficult.

Although when conflicts arise, there is a natural tendency to find fault or sin at the root, it is clear also that severe difficulties can arise between persons of good will with no evidence of wrongdoing. Errors, ignorance and acts of God can bring the best navigator undone.

The general theory of navigation is cybernetics. Ashby. The word was coined by Norbert Wiener and defined as control and communication in the animal and the machine. Wiener. Animals and machines control themselves through error signals, which measure how far they are missing their target. In its current meaning Salvation carries overtones of sin and of private misery. I would like to differentiate sin (with its concomitant guilt) from error, and so to construct a language of salvation which speaks in practical and public terms. Accusations of sin seem to be a potent source of the very division which practical salvation seeks to heal. back

2 Salvation as passive rescue from sin

The Christian narrative of human existence begins with Genesis. An event in Genesis, which gives context to the story of Salvation, is the Fall:

The serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that Yahweh God had made. It asked the woman, 'Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?' The woman answered the serpent, 'We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit in the tree in the middle of the garden God said. "You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death".' Then the serpent said to the woman, "No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil. The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:1-6

And so, according to the Christian hypothesis, the original sin was committed and punishment followed; suffering and a tendency to further sin entered in the human world. Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 602. This is the bad news. The good news, found in the New Testament, is the story of Redemption or Salvation and the consequent hope for the Kingdom of Heaven.

The details of this position have been worked out over the last two thousand years, and the process of defining Christianity continues. The lively current movement toward unity requires each of the Churches to examine its position to decide what it holds in common with the other Churches and where it differs. One very public example of this process has been the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue whose formal beginning was the Common Declaration made by Pope Paul VI and the Archbishop of Canterbury on 24 March 1966. Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.

The documents generated by this dialogue provide clear contemporary statements of Christian faith drafted by expert Commissions guided by modern scholarship. In Salvation and the Church

The primary task of ARCIC II is to examine and try to resolve those doctrinal differences which still divide us. Accordingly, at the request of the Anglican Consultative Council (Newcastle, September 1981) we have addressed ourselves to the doctrine of justification, which at the time of the Reformation was a particular cause of contention. This request sprang out of a widespread view that the subject of justification and salvation is so central to the Christian faith that, unless there is assurance of agreement on the issue, there can be no full doctrinal agreement between our two Churches. Anglican-Roman Cathoic International Commision II, Preface.

3 . . . Above all it was agreed that the act of God in bringing salvation to the human race and summoning individuals into a community to serve him is due solely to the mercy and grace of God, mediated and manifested through Jesus Christ in his ministry, atoning death and rising again. It was also no matter of dispute that God's grace evokes an authentic human response of faith which takes effect not only in the life of the individual, but also in the corporate life of the Church. The difficulties arose in explaining how divine grace related to human response, and these difficulties were compounded by a framework of discussion that concentrated too narrowly upon the individual. ARCIC II § 3.

These three difficulties related to salvation and faith, salvation and justification and salvation and good works. back

2.1 Salvation and faith

9 When we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, we praise and glorify God the Father, whose purpose for creation and salvation is realised in the Son, whom he sent to redeem us and prepare a people for himself by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This wholly unmerited love of God for his creatures is expressed in the language of grace, which embraces not only the once for all death and resurrection of Christ, but also God's continuing work on our behalf. The Holy Spirit makes the fruits of Christ's sacrifice actual within the Church through Word and Sacrament: our sins are forgiven, we are enabled to respond to God's love, and we are conformed to the image of Christ. The human response to God's initiative is itself a gift of grace, and is at the same time a truly human, personal response. It is through God's grace that God's new creation is realised. Salvation is the gift of grace; it is by faith that it is appropriated. ARCIC II § 9.back

2.2 Salvation and justification

13 . . . The concept of justification relates to the removal of condemnation and to a new standing in the eyes of God (e.g. Rom. 3.22 ff., 4.5, 5.1 ff; Acts 13.39). Salvation in all these aspects comes to each believer as he or she is incorporated into the believing community.

14 . . . The discussion . . . has been confused by different understandings of the word justification and its associated words. The theologians of the Reformation tended to follow the predominant usage of the New Testament, in which the verb diakaioun usually means 'to pronounce righteous'. The Catholic theologians, and notably the Council of Trent, tended to follow the usage of patristic and medieval Latin writers, for whom iustificare (the traditional latin translation of dikaioun) signified 'to make righteous'. Thus the Catholic understanding of the process of justification, following Latin usage, tended to include elements of salvation which the reformers would describe as belonging to sanctification rather than justification. As a consequence, Protestants took Catholics to be emphasising sanctification in such a way that the absolute gratuitousness of salvation was threatened. On the other side Catholics feared that Protestants were so stressing the justifying action of God that sanctification and human responsibility were gravely depreciated. ARCIC II, §§ 13, 14. back

2.3 Salvation and Good Works

24 The language of merit and good works . . . when properly understood, in no way implies that human beings, once justified, are able to put God in their debt. Still less does it imply that justification itself is anything but a totally unmerited gift. ARCIC II, § 24.

. . .

The concern to emphasise the freedom of God's gift and the impotence of humanity has also been a subject of Catholic-Lutheran dialogue in relation to the Eucharist. The report Sacrament and Sacrifice from the Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue in Australia makes the following points regarding the Eucharist:

Catholics and Lutherans hold in common that the Christ who is present . . . in the Eucharist is the same Christ whose death on Calvary was the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue Committee, §43.

Our dialogue is unanimous in agreeing that there is no sacrifice which human beings can offer which can usurp the place of this unique, saving event on Calvary. §51.

In general, Lutherans have considered that the prime purpose of the Eucharist is to communicate God's forgiveness to the faithful and strengthen their faith in Christ. Because the risen Christ is truly present in the Eucharist in his crucified body and blood, the forgiveness of sins, promised at the Last Supper (Matt. 26:28) and won on the Cross (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:22), is imparted to the believer in the sacrament. Consequently Lutherans have usually laid emphasis on the reception of the Eucharist: the faithful receive what Christ has gained for them on the Cross, viz the benefits and fruits of his sacrifice. For this reason Lutherans have traditionally been critical of any suggestion that Christ or his sacrifice on the Cross is offered up to the Father by the priest, by the people, by the Church. They fear that this understanding of the Eucharist leads to a confusion of Christ's action and ours, opens the door to false stress on human achievement, and calls into question Christ's unique sacrifice. §61.

It is very clear from these documents that the current Christian view is that salvation is in every sense unmerited. As ARCIC II wrote "Even the very first moments which lead to justification, such as repentance, the desire for forgiveness and even faith itself, are the work of God as he touches our hearts by the illumination of the Holy Spirit." §24. back

3 Salvation as evolutionary development

Although the quotations above tend to picture people who see themselves totally dependent on God's grace for every move toward salvation, it is apparent from a wider viewpoint that the Churches, like other human organisations, have been very active in bringing about their vision of the Kingdom of heaven, and have been heavily involved in social welfare, social policy and politics since earliest times. Toynbee, pp 319-350. The nature of his death indicates that Jesus himself was viewed by his government as a political agent. Fredriksen, p 124. Viewed in this light, Jesus' preaching and the 'deposit of faith' are quite consistent with the developments in governance, agriculture, industry and human relationships that we have seen in the last two thousand years.

The social history of the Church is consistent with the natural function of religion documented by Reynolds and Tanner in what they claim is the first "thoroughgoing functional approach to religions in terms of the life cycle of ordinary people . . . ". Reynolds and Tanner, p 15. They note that

religions . . . engage people in the most matter-of-fact ways, instructing them about their hygiene, their sexual behaviour, how and when to have children, how to manage the difficulties of adolescence, and so on, through the life cycle until death. p 25.

Noble argues persuasively that technological development is intimately related to salvation, first in reversing the damage done in Eden, and then in actually bringing the Kingdom of Heaven into existence:

For modern technology and modern faith are neither complements nor opposites, nor do they represent succeeding stages of human development. They are merged, and always have been, the technological enterprise being, at the same time, an essentially religious endeavour.

This is not meant in a merely metaphorical sense, . . . Rather, it is meant literally and historically to indicate that modern technology and religion have evolved together and that, as a result, the technological enterprise has been and remains suffused with religious belief. Noble, pp 4-5.

He argues by examining the words of prominent scientists and technological innovators to see what they thought they were doing. In his chapter 9 The Ascent of the Saints: Space Exploration, he draws attention to the very high proportion of those involved in space exploration who are Christians, many quite outspoken in their belief. He quotes the following words of Werner von Braun, the 'father' of the US space effort (whose early work was in Nazi Germany):

In this reaching of the new millennium through faith in the words of Jesus Christ, science can be a valuable tool rather than an impediment. . . . Science and religion are not antagonists. On the contrary they are sisters. While science tries to learn more about the Creation, religion tries to better understand the Creator. Speaking for myself I can only say that the grandeur of the cosmos serves only to confirm my belief in the certainty of a Creator. page 127.

Christianity interprets the Fall as a major ontological failure of the world. There is another way, rooted in evolutionary psychology, of looking at Genesis 3 which may throw more light on the human situation at the time this story entered human literature. Cummins.

Jaynes provides an analysis of human consciousness and uses ancient sources to study the origin of human consciousness. Jaynes. One line of evidence for this event is found in Mesopotamian sculpture. p 223. A second is an analysis of the Iliad and the Odyssey which shows that the narrator of the Odyssey has an awareness of self which is absent in the earlier narrator of the Iliad. p 67 sqq.

Jaynes then turns to the Khabiru (Hebrews) with the words "The third great area where we can look at the development of consciousness is certainly the most interesting and profound." p 293. Consciousness allows us to reflect on our fate, and the narrative of the Fall is one such reflection which widely shared by Homo sapiens. From Jaynes' point of view, the Fall narrative does not reflect some ontological failure of the relationship between human beings and the rest of reality, including God, but rather the dawning of awareness that we do have to work for a living, and that the future is in our own hands. As the serpent pointed out, "on the day you eat of [the tree of knowledge] your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil". Genesis 3:5.

The consequences of this action which Yahweh God visits upon the snake and the humans (Genesis 3:14-19) are nothing other than a description of life as it has always been for all living things: each must avoid sudden death, grow and reproduce, and make the effort necessary to achieve these ends, or be unfit. Wilson. In contrast, life on earth for creatures and people completely accepting of their lot may have been subjectively paradisaical. Turnbull.

That the evolutionary approach to the meaning of human existence has a place in the Church was reaffirmed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II in his address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences entitled Truth cannot contradict truth. The Pope said:

. . .

5. The church's magisterium is directly concerned with the question of evolution, for it involves the conception of man. . . . It is by virtue of his spiritual soul that the whole person possesses such a dignity even in his body. Pius XII stressed this essential point: If the human body take its origin from pre-existent living matter, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God (animas enim a Deo immediate creari catholica fides nos retinere iubei; Humani Generis, 36 Pope Pius XII). Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the spirit as emerging from the forces of living matter or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground the dignity of the person.

6. With man, then, we find ourselves in the presence of an ontological difference, an ontological leap, one could say. . . . The sciences of observation describe and measure the multiple manifestations of life with increasing precision and correlate them with the time line. The moment of transition to the spiritual cannot be the object of this kind of observation, which nevertheless can discover at the experimental level a series of very valuable signs indicating what is specific to the human being. But the experience of metaphysical knowledge, of self-awareness and self-reflection, of moral conscience, freedom, or again of aesthetic and religious experience, falls within the competence of philosophical analysis and reflection, while theology brings out its ultimate meaning according to the Creator's plans. John Paul II

This is not the place to dispute the Catholic dogma on the creation of the soul. My working hypothesis is that a proper understanding of the Universe makes the postulation of a God outside (and the special creation of the human soul) unnecessary.

Let us assume, then that evolutionary theory (coupled with the mathematics of networks, computation and communication) is capable of explaining the origin and function of the human mind and that ecological theory can explain the diversities of the development of the human species and give us much insight into the state of the world today. Cummins, Diamond. Religions, as components of human culture, obviously have an important part to play in human ecology.

This view of salvation embodies the adage "the Lord helps those who help themselves", which seems to carry with it the idea that human have some control over acts of God, and that acts of God are not therefore purely gratuitous. If one is to follow this adage a major question arises. How do I help myself? How do I act, in this vast Universe, to become a member of the Kingdom of Heaven? back

4 A mathematical model of salvation

The progress of technology is intimately bound up with progress in mathematics. The 'do it yourself' attitude to salvation seems to have taken root about the time of Descartes. Gaukroger, Davis. At this point, we can see the stream of human intellectual development splitting in two. Scientists, technologists, capitalists, merchants and the like set out on the project of building a new world. The Reformers, on the other hand, emphasised the overwhelming power of God and the weakness of mankind.

When mathematics looks at the wheel it sees a circle, a geometric object defined as the plane figure comprising a line (or set of points) equidistant from a point in the plane called the centre of the circle. Lonergan, p 31. Looking at salvation in the same vein, we may see the sequence on course - off course - on course. Before the Fall, we were bound for glory. We lost it, but, as the New Testament explains, God has saved some of us. He has brought the faithful back onto the right path.

The mathematical model is built around an object called the control loop. The archetypal control loop operates in a sailing craft controlled by a helmsman, Greek kybernetes, whence kybernetike, skilled in steering. To make headway, the boat must be kept in a certain relationship to the wind and sea. The helmsman watches sails and sea, decides if any correction is necessary, and uses the tiller to put these decisions into action.

Mathematics models the control of the ship by a function which is put into action by a computer. Jech, p 8, Davis. A function is a mapping, that is a relationship between two sets of elements. One set is the input, in this case the sensations experienced by the sailor sensitive to wind, sea and the motion of the ship. The other set is the output, the movements of the tiller known from long experience to be necessary to keep the ship under control and making the best prudent headway.

From the point of view of the mathematical model, steering a ship is but one instance of the general class of control loops. Once we get used to thinking in this way, we can see control loops everywhere as systems that control themselves in order to optimise some parameter or set of parameters. Evolution naturally selects those systems who are able to succeed in steering themselves through the general space of life.

Lovelock's concept gaia is defined cybernetically. Lovelock. Through it we see the earth as a single living organism comprising interlocked systems of other organisms, all acting together to produce a suitable envronment for each other. This seems to me to be a good candidate model to reinterpret the Catholic concept Mystical Body of Christ.

In practical terms, the heart of the control loop is the function that the system uses and the way this function is implemented in whatever real physical computer the system uses. Theory is not so constrained as practice, and revolves around an abstract mathematical computer affectionately known as the Turing machine. Turing. The abstract Turing machine can deal with countably infinite sequences of symbols, and a countably infinite number of machines may be linked together into a network. This abstract mathematical structure is thus big enough to model the world organism by organism, or even atom by atom, as the gaia hypothesis suggests.

The abstract heart of the control loop is a function implemented as software in a computer or network of computers. This function may be represented by a string of symbols, that is an ordered set. It is a word, in the biblical sense of a set of words like the Bible or the writings of the Fathers. If God were to program the computer it would be fitting to call that program the Word of God. The Church is a goal oriented organism which falls within the definition of a control loop. We can see, through our familiarity with the Church, how the Word of God coupled with dialogue between its members guides its activity in the world. back

5 Constructing heaven on earth

"This is the revelation given by God to Jesus Christ so that he could tell his servants about the things which are now to take place very soon; . . . " Revelation 1:1. The classical Christian narrative of salvation operates on very short timescale compared to the world as we now know it. One of the main difficulties with understanding evolutionary theory is appreciating the slowness of the process, the vast amount of detailed information involved and the vast times needed to make significant changes.

From a ecological point of view, a successful religion is one that enables its adherents to "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on earth." (Genesis 1:28), but it is clear that much more information is needed to regulate human affairs than the deposit of faith. Christianity has indeed conquered the earth, but because the earth is a single closed system, our conquest runs the risk of being a Pyrrhic victory. Our very success can be seen to threatens the foundation of our continued existence.

At first glance, the interpretation of salvation as passive rescue from sin seems to be vastly different from the interpretation of salvation as evolution of means of dealing with problems as they arise. In particular the evolution of technology seems to point to dangerous human hubris, to playing God, contrary to the nature of religion, which requires submission to the divine: eg Islam is Arabic for Submission (to the will of God). Delbridge, sv "Islam".

Practical acquaintance with technology, however, suggests that this difference is more apparent than real. The nature of God is revealed not just in the deposit of faith, but also in creation. To make any technology work requires meticulous attention to the detailed requirements of nature, that is submission to nature.

In the magical phase of human development, people think that the world will hear their words and rituals and obey. Later we realise that if we want to make things happen, it is no use talking to them in human language, but in their own natural language. We must submit to the protocols of the world if we wish to survive in it. Science is our means of learning the languages of nature and learning to speak them with sufficient facility to guide the world toward our own ends. Insofar as God reveals itself through nature, science seeks to hear the word of God. Science so understood is an element of gaia, part of the loop that keeps us on course. If we want to construct heaven for ourselves, we must learn to listen very carefully to both our own nature and the nature of the world. back

6 Conclusion

How does this discussion meet Haight's request for a new language of salvation, one that meets the sort of problems documented by the women of the Ecumenical Decade festival?

We are animals with an evolutionary heritage three or four billion years old. In that time we and our ancestors have adapted to the demands of the world, and the record of that adaptation is carried in our genotype. We have a very wide dynamic range of behaviour, ranging from utmost gentleness to murderous violence. Each behaviour has its place in one or other of the vast array of situations which may confront any individual and have surely confronted its ancestors.

Speaking of our special relationship to God, Pope John Paul II writes "St. Thomas observes that man's likeness to God resides especially in his speculative intellect, for his relationship with the object of his knowledge resembles God's relationship with what he has created (Summa Theologica I-II:3:5, ad 1). Aquinas 605

The simplest creatures are almost completely specified by their genotype, but more complex creatures, especially Homo sapiens are able to learn from experience and pass this learning on to their offspring. This transmission of information parallel to genetic transmission we call cultural transmission. Religion is part of culture.

We are all born, as Aristotle noted, cultural blank slates. Aquinas. Human beings, otherwise identical, born into different cultural milieux are differentiated by the culture they absorb from their environment. This absorption requires understanding, for one does not become inculturated simply by hearing words and seeing actions; one must give meaning to the elements of culture and learn how to apply them in life.

The error signal in a control loop arises through change. The helmsman sees that a wave has knocked his vessel askew and moves to restore its optimum orientation. Relativity is inherent in the notion of error. The position of a boat cannot be in error by itself. The error that the helmsman detects and corrects is relative to wind, sea and desired course.

Genetic evolution and cultural evolution operate on vastly different timescales. In the modern world, the rate of change of culture is such that we may consider the human genotype as effectively fixed. The laws of mathematics, physics and chemistry and the genotypes of all the other creatures which surround us are also, to a first approximation, fixed in comparison to the rate of human cultural change. Cultural changes can introduce error into the system, and awareness of this error may be used to guide culture back into harmony with nature.

The consequence of uncorrected error is ever increasing error and eventually violence. A sailor far enough off course is very likely to be involved in shipwreck. From this point of view, human crime and violence are results of cultural error: the culture places human beings in positions where their evolved natural instinct dictates a very powerful reaction.

From a cybernetic point of view, we may speculate that the error at the root of domestic violence is the failure to recognise that male and female of any species are peers, whose relationship to one another has been carefully tuned over very long periods. In a culture, such as that represented by the Apostle Paul, female is made subordinate to male:

Wives should regard their husbands as they regard the Lord, since as Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife, and as the Church submits to Christ, so should wives to their husbands, in everything" Ephesians, 3:22-24

This may be seen as a cultural error relative to our animal reality, and to lead to violence and misunderstanding as one person tries to exert cultural control over another that has no evolutionary foundation.

The way forward that Haight seeks is documented in Jesus, Symbol of God. We are learning to let go of Jesus as an extremely attractive real person and instead take a more abstract view of the symbolic content of the term Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour.

John, in his gospel, had already extended Jesus' personality into a more abstract space. Jesus is the Word of God (Jn 1:1-18). Jesus is the totality of divine revelation. Jesus is the soul of culture. From the point of view of the mathematical model presented above, Jesus as Word is a salvific function, the function which takes as input the human experience of life and delivers as output a world of peaceful, loving, productive, people.

Is this happening? Is the Christian story a safe algorithm with which to steer the human elements of the world? I feel that there are problems, mostly due to the finite perspective of Christianity in both time and space.

Early Christians thought the end was coming soon. To the best of current knowledge, the future of this planet is measured in billions of years. If we are to be part of the planet over such a vast period, we must tailor our cultures to fit nature to a high degree of precision.

Christians are apt to see their religion as the religion, in some way preferable to other religions. It is for this reason that Christians have not hesitated to claim a right to indoctrinate others in their point of view. Code of Canon Law, Book 3 Title 2. Yet Jesus and Christianity remain relatively tiny events in the planetary and universal process. It would come as no surprise to a person whose culture accepts evolution and cosmology to learn that there are millions of other species in the Universe as intelligent and organised as we are.

Perhaps the language of salvation needs to be extended to reflect these possibilities. One feels that this language will draw strongly on the language of mathematics, science, and the rule of law. Walker.

It seems that much of the humanity of functioning social democracies arises from the rule of law. This, in a way, is the gift we received from the Roman Empire via the Catholic Church. It seems clear, in the modern context, that such societies depend upon the principles of equal representation in decision making and a concern that public debate be allowed to bring out the full truth of each issue.

Haight constrains the language of salvation to remain "faithful to the scriptural and classical witness about Jesus saving." Haight, ibid. There may be a problem here for many people insofar as the language of salvation is so closely held and guarded by institutional churches, as we have seen in the snippets of inter-church dialogue quoted above.

Similar people might see this problem related to the authoritarian structure of some churches. The Catholic Church, in particular, is far from the open, democratic and scientific champion of human rights they would like to see. Perhaps a revolution in the understanding of salvation may prompt a revolution in the governance of the Church and a new rapport between the spiritual and practical wings of religion. back

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Further reading

Books

Click on the "Amazon" link below each book entry to see details of a book (and possibly buy it!)

Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, The Final Report, CTS/SPCK 1982 Appendix contains the Common declaration by Pope Paul VI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, 24 March 1966.back
Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission II, Salvation and the Church, SPCK 1987 back
Aquinas, Thomas, Summa Theologica, Editiones Paulinae 1962 Advertenda: 'Cum Summa Theologia Divi Thomas usitatissimus in scholis theologicis evadat, saepius temporibus anteactis forma manuali edita est, ut facilius eius usus redderetur; tamen hucusque impossibile fuit editionem manualem unico volumine parare. Nunc progressus artis typographicae ad hoc optima media praebet et ideo desiderium omnium professorum at alumnorum adimplere nisi sumus, illis Summam Theologiae unico volumine, forma manuali et scholaris, cum typis maxime perspicuis, offerendo et hoc modo magno incommoda editionum in prluribus voluminis evadendo.'back
Aquinas, Thomas, and (edited by Angeli M Pirotta), In Aristotelis librum de Anima Commentarium, Marietti 1959 William of Moerbeke's latin text of Aristotle's On the Soul (a brilliant little treatise on life written 2300 years ago) together with a latin commentary by the Angelic Doctor Thomas Aquinas. Here is an ancient foundation for the Christian belief in the immortality of the soul.back
Ashby, W Ross, An Introduction to Cybernetics, Methuen 1964 'This book is intended to provide [an introduction to cybernetics]. It starts from common-place and well understood concepts, and proceeds step by step to show how these concepts can be made exact, and how they can be developed until they lead into such subjects as feedback, stability, regulation, ultrastability, information, coding, noise and other cybernetic topics' 
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Canon Law Society of America, Holy See, Code of Canon Law: Latin-English Edition, Canon Law Society of America 1984 Pope John Paul XXXIII announced his decision to reform the existing corpus of canonical legislation on 25 January 1959. Pope John Paul II ordered the promulgation of the revised Code of Canon law on the same day in 1983. The latin text is definitive. This English translation has been approved by the Canonical Affairs Committee of the [US] National Conference of Catholic Bishops in October 1983. 
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Cummins, Denise Dellarosa, and Colin Allen (editors), The Evolution of Mind, Oxford University Press 1998 Introduction: 'This book is an interdisciplinary endeavour, a collection of essays by ethologists, psychologists, anthropologists and philosophers united in the common goal of explaining cognition. . . . the chief challenge is to make evolutionary psychology into an experimental science. Several of the chapters in this volume describe experimental techniques and results consistent with this aim; our hope and intention is that they lead by example in the development of evolutionary psychology from the realm of speculation to that of established research program' 
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Davis, Martin, Computability and Unsolvability, Dover 1982 Preface: 'This book is an introduction to the theory of computability and non-computability ususally referred to as the theory of recursive functions. The subject is concerned with the existence of purely mechanical procedures for solving problems. . . . The existence of absolutely unsolvable problems and the Goedel incompleteness theorem are among the results in the theory of computability that have philosophical significance.' 
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Delbridge, Arthur, and John Bernard, David Blair, Susan Butler, Pamela Peters, Richard Tardif (editorial Committee), The Macquarie Dictionary, The Macquarie Library 1991-1995 Introduction to first edition: 'This Dictionary of Australian English is ... a landmark in the history of great chanbge which has come over intellectual and cultural life in Australia. It looks back to the days of Old Australia, of colonial Australia when the European inhabitants of this continent were expected to apologise for the way they talked, indeed for the offences they were alleged to have committed agianst the Engish language.' Manning Clarkback
Diamond, Jared, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, W W Norton and Co 1997 'Diamond's book is complex and a bit overwhelming. But the thesis he methodically puts forth--examining the "positive feedback loop" of farming, then domestication, then population density, then innovation, and on and on--makes sense. Written without favor, Guns, Germs, and Steel is good global history.' Amazon.com 
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Ephesians, and Alexander Jones (editor), in The Jerusalem Bible, Darton Longman and Todd 1966  
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Fredriksen, Paula, From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus, Yale University Press 1988 Jacket: 'How did Jesus of Nazareth become the Christs of the Christian tradition? And why did the early Christian communities develop different theological images of Jesus? In this exciting book, PF answers these questions by placing he various canonical images of Jesus within their historical context.' 
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Gaukroger, Stephen, Descartes: An Intellectual Biography, Clarendon Press 1995 Jacket: 'Rene Descartes (1596-1650) is the father of modern philosophy and one of the greatest of all thinkers. This is the first intellectual biography of Descartes in English; it offers a fundamental reassessment of all aspects of his life and work. . . . Descartes' early work in mathematics and science produced ground-breaking theories, methods and tools still in use today. This book gives the first full acount of how this work informed and influenced the later phisosophical studies for which, above all, Descartes is renowned. . . . [It] offers for the first time a full understanding of how Descartes developed his revolutionary ideas. It will be a landmark publication, welcomed by all readers interested in the origins of modern thought.' 
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Genesis, and Alexander Jones (editor), in The Jerusalem Bible, Darton Longman and Todd 1966 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, and God's spirit hovered over the water.' (I, 1-2) 
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Haight, Roger, Jesus Symbol of God, Orbis Books 1999 Jacket: 'This book is the flagship of the fleet of late twentieth century works that show American Catholic theology has indeed come of age. Deeply thoughtful in its exposition, lucid in its method, and by turns challenging and inspiring in its conclusions, this christology gives a new articulation of the saving "point" of it all. . . . Highly recommended for all who think about and study theology.' Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, Fordham University. 
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Hodges, Andrew, Alan Turing: The Enigma, Burnett 1983 Author's note: '. . . modern papers often employ the usage turing machine. Sinking without a capital letter into the collective mathematical consciousness (as with the abelian group, or the riemannian manifold) is probably the best that science can offer in the way of canonisation.' (530) 
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Jaynes, Julian, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Mariner Books 2000 Jacket: 'At the heart of this book is the revolutionary idea that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but is a learned process brought into being out of an earlier hallucinatory mentality by cataclysm and catastrophe only 3000 years ago and still developing.' 
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Jech, Thomas, Set Theory, Springer 1997 Jacket: 'This book covers major areas of modern set theory: cardinal arithmetic, constructible sets, forcing and Boolean-valued models, large cardinals and descriptive set theory. . . . It can be used as a textbook for a graduate course in set theory and can serve as a reference book.' 
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Lovelock, James, Ages of Gaia: A Biography of our Living Earth, W W Norton 1995 'This book describes a set of observations about the life of our planet which may, one day, be recognised as one of the major discontinuities in human thought. If Lovelock turns out to be right in his view of things, as I believe he is, we will be viewing the Earth as a coherent system of life, self regulating and self-changing, a sort of immense living organism.' Lewis Thomas 
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Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue Committee, Sacrament and Sacrifice: A Report from the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue in Australia, Lutheran Publishing House 1985  
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Noble, David F, The Religion of Technology: The Divinity of Man and the Spirit of Invention, Penguin Books 1999 Introduction: 'It is the aim of this book to demonstrate that the present enchantment with things technological ... is rooted in religious myths and ancient imaginings. Although today's technologists, in their sober pursuit of utility, power and profit, seem to set society's standard for rationality ... their true inspiration lies elsewhere, in an enduring, other-worldly quest for transcendence and salvation.'  
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Revelation, and Alexander Jones (editor), in The Jerusalem Bible, Darton Longman and Todd 1966 Prologue: 'This is the revelation given by God to Jesus Christ so that he could tell his servants about the things that are to take place very soon.; he sent his angel to make it known to his servant John, and John has written down everything he saw and swears it is the word of God guaranteed by Jesus Christ. Happy the man who reads this prophecy, and happy those who listen to him, if they treasure all that it says, because the Time is close' 1: 1-3. 
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Reynolds, Vernon, and Ralph Tanner, The Social Ecology of Religion, Oxford University Press 1995 Jacket: 'No society exists in which religion does not play a significant part in the lives of ordinary people. Yet the functions of the world's diverse religions have never been fully described and analyzed, nor has the impact of adherence to those religions on the health and survival of the populations that practice them. . . . this extraordinary text reveals how religions in all parts of the world meet the needs of ordinary people and frequently play an important part in helping them to manage their affairs.' 
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Silk, Joseph, The Big Bang: The Creation and Evolution of the Universe, Freeman 1988 Jacket: 'Written for the non-specialist, The Big Bang describes the greatest contemporary puzzles and achievements in astronomy, cosmology and astrophysics, clearly recounting the history of the universe and examining current controversies from several points of view. The book concludes with a self contained appendix providing the basic mathematical framework for understanding modern cosmology." 
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Tanenbaum, Andrew S, Computer Networks, Prentice Hall International 1996 Preface: 'The key to designing a computer network was first enunciated by Julius Caesar: Divide and Conquer. The idea is to design a network as a sequence of layers, or abstract machines, each one based upon the previous one. . . . This book uses a model in which networks are divided into seven layers. The structure of the book follows the structure of the model to a considerable extent.'  
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Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre, The Phenomenon of Man, Collins 1965 Sir Julian Huxley, Introduction: 'We, mankind, contain the possibilities of the earth's immense future, and can realise more and more of them on condition that we increase our knowledge and our love. That, it seems to me, is the distillation of the Phenomenon of Man.'  
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Toynbee, Arnold, A Study of History, Oxford University Press (in association with Thames and Hudson) 1972  
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Turnbull, Colin M, The Forest People, Peter Smith Publisher 19887 Amazon customer review: 'This ethnography of the Mbuti Pygmy of Africa's Ituri forest is, as Dr. Burton puts it, a successful failure. One cannot deny that it is a fabulously romantic piece, and a refreshing look at a people that have suffered from exploitation and the image of being hopelessly primitive. The late Dr. Turnbull uses reflexivity and a particularly observant eye to capturehis subjects in time and offer up this portrait to his readers. However, it is this same romanticism that makes the account just a bit too novel-like and not all that satisfying from a modern anthropological point of view. The reader cannot help feeling that Turnbull's idyllic forest world in which Pygmys are good guys and Bantu villagers are bad guys is somehow retrogressive. The goal of modern ethnography is to recognize the anthropologist's effect on the target society, and to incorporate that into the book, while at the same time drawing back from their world and asking, will this society read this book and say, "hmmm, that's surely us"? In that sense, Turnbull fails, but as an exciting piece, the book's appeal is undeniable.' Alexander M. Moir 
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Walker, Geoffrey de Q, The Rule of Law: Foundations of Constitutional Democracy, Melbourne University Press 1988 Jacket: 'The author argues that the survival of any useful rule of law model is currently threatened by distortions in the adjudication process, by perversion of law enforcement (by fabrication of evidence and other means), by the excessive production of new legislation with its degrading effect on long-term legal certainty and on long-standing safeguards, and by legal theories that are hostile to the very concept of rule of law. In practice these trends have produced a great number of legal failures from which we must learn.' 
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WCC Eighth Assembly, Letter to the Eighth Assembly of the World Council of Churches from the men and women of the Decade Festival of the Churches in Solidarity with Women, Harare, Zimbabwe 3-14 December 1998, document number DE 8. back
Weinberg, Steven, The First Three Minutes: a modern view of the origin of the universe, Basic Books 1993 Preface: 'The present book is concerned with the early unvierse, and in particular with the new understanding of the early universe that has grown out of the discovery of the cosmic microwave radiation background in 1965.'  
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Wiener, Norbert, Cybernetics or control and communication in the animal and the machine, MIT Press 1996 The classic founding text of cybernetics. 
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Wilson, Edward Osborne, Sociobiology: The new synthesis, Harvard UP 1975 Chapter 1: '... the central theoretical problem of sociobiology: how can altruism, which by definition reduces personal fitness, possibly evolve by natural selection? The answer is kinship. ... Sociobiology is defined as the systematic study of the biological basis of all social behaviour. ... It may not be too much to say that sociology and the other social sciences, as well as the humanities, are the last branches of biology waiting to be included in the Modern Synthesis.'  
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Papers
Lovelock, James, "Gaia as seen through the atmosphere", Atmospheric Environment, 6, , 1972, page 579-580. 'The purpose of this letter is to suggest that life at an early stage of its evolution acquired the capacity to control the global environment to suit its needs, and that this capacity has persisted and is still in use. In this view the sum total of species is more than just a Catalogue, "The Biosphere", and like other associations in biology is an entity with properties greater than the simple sum of its parts. Such a large creature, even if only hypothetical, with the powerful capacity to homeostat the planetary environment needs a name: I am indebted to Mr William Golding for suggesting the use of the Greek personification of mother Earth, "Gaia".' . back
Turing, Alan, "On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem", Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, 2, 42, 12 November 1937, page 230-265. 'The "computable" numbers maybe described briefly as the real numbers whose expressions as a decimal are calculable by finite means. Although the subject of this paper is ostensibly the computable numbers, it is almost as easy to define and investigate computable functions of an integrable variable or a real or computable variable, computable predicates and so forth. The fundamental problems involved are, however, the same in each case, and I have chosen the computable numbers for explicit treatment as involving the least cumbrous technique. I hope shortly to give an account of the rewlations of the computable numbers, functions and so forth to one another. This will include a development of the theory of functions of a real variable expressed in terms of computable numbers. According to my definition, a number is computable if its decimal can be written down by a machine'. back
Links
Aquinas 605, I II,3,5: Whether happiness is an operation of the speculative, or of the practical intellect?, 'I answer that, Happiness consists in an operation of the speculative rather than of the practical intellect. This is evident for three reasons. First because if man's happiness is an operation, it must needs be man's highest operation. Now man's highest operation is that of his highest power in respect of its highest object: and his highest power is the intellect, whose highest object is the Divine Good, which is the object, not of the practical but of the speculative intellect. Consequently happiness consists principally in such an operation, viz. in the contemplation of Divine things.' back
John Paul II, Truth Cannot Contradict Truth, Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences October 22, 1996 , 'Consideration of the method used in the various branches of knowledge makes it possible to reconcile two points of view which would seem irreconcilable. The sciences of observation describe and measure the multiple manifestations of life with increasing precision and correlate them with the time line. The moment of transition to the spiritual cannot be the object of this kind of observation, which nevertheless can discover at the experimental level a series of very valuable signs indicating what is specific to the human being.' back
Pope John Paul II, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, The text of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum Prologue: '... 11 This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church's Tradition. Its principal sources are the SacredScriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church's Magisterium. It is intended to serve "as a point of reference for thecatechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries. ...' back
Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, 'ENCYCLICAL HUMANI GENERIS OF THE HOLY FATHER PIUS XII TO OUR VENERABLE BRETHREN, PATRIARCHS, PRIMATES, ARCHBISHOPS, BISHIOPS, AND OTHER LOCAL ORDINARIES ENJOYING PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE HOLY SEE CONCERNING SOME FALSE OPINIONS THREATENING TO UNDERMINE THE FOUNDATIONS OF CATHOLIC DOCTRINE' back

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