“We may doubt, but it is in God we doubt. We may kick against the pricks, but they are God‘s pricks.” – Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans

Sperl, Johann. Leibl and Sperl on the chick hunt. 1890. Oil on canvas.
Sperl, Johann. Leibl and Sperl on the chick hunt. 1890. Oil on canvas.

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“Now, Lord, since it is you who gives understanding to faith, grant me to understand as well as you think fit, that you exist as we believe, and that you are what we believe you to be. We believe that you are that thing than which nothing greater can be thought.” – Anselm of Canterbury, Proslogion

“Discourse about God comes second because faith comes first and is the source of theology; in the formula of St. Anselm, we believe in order that we may understand (credo ut intelligam).” – Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation

Romanelli, Giovanni Francesco. The Meeting of the Countess Matilda and Anselm of Canterbury in the Presence of Pope Urban II. 1642. Oil on canvas.
Romanelli, Giovanni Francesco. The Meeting of the Countess Matilda and Anselm of Canterbury in the Presence of Pope Urban II. 1642. Oil on canvas.

“Upon the disappearance of the fixed points that should give unity to everyday activity, persons live at the mercy of events, unable to establish fruitful links between them and forced simply to jump from one to another.” – Gustavo Gutierrez, We Drink for Our Own Wells

Van Gogh, Vincent. Wheatfield with Crows. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Van Gogh Museum, 1890. Oil on canvas..jpg
Van Gogh, Vincent. Wheatfield with Crows. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Van Gogh Museum, 1890. Oil on canvas.

Theodicy

“Epicurus (c. fourth century BCE), the ancient Greek philosopher, who held that it was impossible to hold these three propositions together:

  1. God is all-powerful.
  2. God is all-good.
  3. Evil exists.

Epicurus’ argument was revived in the eighteenth century by the skeptical Scottish philosopher David Hume. In Hume’s own words: ‘Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?'”

Richard J. Plantinga, Thomas R. Thompson, and Matthew D. Lundberg, An Introduction to Christian Theology.
Hume, David. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.

Tissot, James. Cain leads Abel to death. 1902..jpg
Tissot, James. Cain leads Abel to death. 1902.

“Since empirical science can only proceed on the working assumption that nature is uniform and subject to universal and necessary laws, and since this presupposition cannot be established by the inductive method of science itself, the question arises: Whence come these larger suppositions? Many scholars today believe that Christianity’s creation doctrine slowly encouraged the requisite philosophy of science needed to supplant Aristotelian cosmology.” – Richard J. Plantinga, Thomas R. Thompson, and Matthew D. Lundberg, An Introduction to Christian Theology

Wright of Derby, Joseph. A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery. Derby Museum and Art Gallery. 1766. Oil on canvas..jpg
Wright of Derby, Joseph. A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery. Derby Museum and Art Gallery. 1766. Oil on canvas.

“Our prevailing modern Western worldview is no more ‘modern’ than the worldview of the first Christians. All that has happened is that many leading scientists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, who were attracted to Epicureanism for quite other reasons (not least social, cultural, and political), have interpreted their perfectly proper scientific observations (for instance, concerning the origin and development of different species of plants and animals) within an Epicurean framework. It has then been assumed that ‘science’ actually supports this view of a detached ‘God’ and a world simply doing its own thing. But this is profoundly mistaken.” – N. T. Wright, The Case for the Psalms

Raphael. Epicurus. The School of Athens. 1511. Fresco..jpg
Raphael. Epicurus. The School of Athens. 1511. Fresco.

Botticelli, Sandro. Violent against others. 1495.

“Non ti rimembra di quelle parole
con le quai la tua Etica pertratta
le tre disposizion che il ciel non vuole,
incontinenza, malizia, e la matta
bestialitade?”

“Have you forgotten, then, the words with which
your Ethics treats of those three dispositions
that strike at Heaven’s will: incontinence
and malice and mad bestiality?”

“‘Filosofia’, mi disse, ‘a chi la intende,
nota, non pure in una sola parte,
come natura lo suo corso prende
dal divino intelletto e da sua arte:
e se tu ben la tua Fisica note,
tu troverai, non dopo molte carte,
che l’arte vostra quella, quanto puote,
segue, come il maestro fa il discente:
sì che vostr’arte a Dio quasi è nepote.
Da queste due, se tu ti rechi a mente
lo Genesì dal principio, conviene
prender sua vita ed avanzar la gente;
e perché l’usuriere altra via tiene,
per sé natura e per la sua seguace
dispregia, poi che in altro pon la spene.”

“‘Philosophy, for one who understands,
points out, and not in just one place,’ he said,
‘how nature follows—as she takes her course–
the Divine Intellect and Divine Art;
and if you read your Physics carefully,
not many pages from the start, you’ll see
that when it can, your art would follow nature,
just as a pupil imitates his master;
so that your art is almost God’s grandchild.
From these two, art and nature, it is fitting,
if you recall how Genesis begins,
for men to make their way, to gain their living;
and since the usurer prefers another
pathway, he scorns both nature in herself
and art, her follower; his hope is elsewhere.”

“God creates nature, and human art springs from and imitates nature [Aristotle]. Usury thus offends both nature (God’s ‘child’) and art (His ‘grandchild’).”

“And to the man he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’”

3.17.19.png

1. Botticelli, Sandro. Violent against others. 1495.
2. Dante Alighieri. La Divina Commedia. BUR Rizzoli, 2016.
3. Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. Translator Allen Mandelbaum.
4. Dante Alighieri. La Divina Commedia. BUR Rizzoli, 2016.
5. Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. Translator Allen Mandelbaum.
6. Notes by Peter Armour
7. Genesis 3:17-19 (NRSV).
8. Crumb, Robert, and Robert Alter. The Book of Genesis Illustrated.