Thursday, 5 February 2015

Karla Pollmann: Reason, ‘Science' and Anthropology - the Role of Early Christian Thought in a Perennial Debate

This panel intends to present facets of the way in which Christian thought engaged with concepts of cosmology and anthropology, and how their synthesis impacted on later, more or less scientific attempts to explain the nature of the cosmos and the human person in relation to a decidedly Christian world-view and theology.
Antiquity displays a fascinating variety of possibilities of how one can reflect about the origin, nature and possible purpose of the world around us, and the level of methodological awareness was very high. From the beginning it is apparent that there is a close connection between thinking about the nature of the cosmos, the nature of the human person and a way of life, while at the same time there is no necessary link between a specific way of thinking about the one and a specific way of thinking about the other(s). This is also true of early Christianity which builds its thinking about the cosmos and the human person not only on the Bible, but also on pagan predecessors, especially Plato's dialogue Timaeus, and Aristotle respectively, which also had ramifications in later restagings of these dabates.
(Pollmann's paper Augustine between Science and Salvation will investigate the approach to these issues by arguably the most influential early Christian thinker of the Western, Latin-speaking world, Augustine of Hippo, taking into account in particular his understudied, monumental Literal Commentary on Genesis. Special focus will lie on Augustine's view of the nature of creation and its consequences for his anthropology.)

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