Tuesday, March 2, 2010

William E. Carroll, "In the Beginning..."


Over at The Catholic Thing, Bill Carroll writes:

The Jewish philosopher and theologian, Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), observed that Jews, Muslims, and Christians share a common belief that the world is created by God. Maimonides, following in the tradition of many Muslim thinkers, was not sure that Christians were monotheists, given the doctrine of the Trinity, but he was sure that Christians recognized that all that is depends upon God's creative act. With most believers, Maimonides identified creation with temporal beginning, as do most people today. But this has to be carefully examined to avoid unnecessary conflicts between faith and science.

Muslim and Jewish thinkers in the Middle Ages wrestled with the relationship between Greek science (especially Plato and Aristotle) and revelation in the Koran and the Hebrew Bible. What appeared especially troublesome was the common Greek view that the universe is eternal, a claim that contradicted the generally accepted belief in creation as a beginning of time. The discussion of the relationship between science and faith in medieval Islam and Judaism anticipated (and partly formed) the later debate among medieval Christians. The discussion continues today, especially as contemporary thinkers reflect on the implications of evolutionary biology and cosmology for religious belief.

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