Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-5zjcf Total loading time: 0.291 Render date: 2022-08-10T08:28:46.139Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Article contents

Interpreting Faith and Reason: Denys Turner and Bernard Lonergan in Conversation1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 March 2013

David Hammond
Affiliation:
High Point University

Abstract

The dogmatic constitution Dei Filius of the First Vatican Council held as a matter of faith that it is possible to prove the existence of God through the natural light of reason and apart from the aid of revelation. The doctrine has been criticized for its abstractness and lack of historical consciousness, in that it neglects the conditions in the human subject for the possibility of such a proof. Denys Turner has recently defended this claim of Dei Filius. In Faith, Reason and the Existence of God (Cambridge, 2004), however, Turner does not address the nuanced position of Bernard Lonergan, who interpreted Dei Filius in a way that defended its conclusion but severely limited its applicability. I propose to bring Turner and Lonergan into conversation on the matter of Dei Filius' doctrine regarding the possibility of proving the existence of God.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The College Theology Society 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

2 First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith (Dei Filius), in Tanner, Norman P., ed. Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 2 vols. (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990), 2:806–10.Google Scholar

3 For two diverse examples of theologians who argue that it is impossible to prove through unaided reason the existence of God, see Küng, Hans, Does God Exist?, trans. Quinn, Edward (New York: Random House, 1981), 529–51Google Scholar and Milbank, John and Pickstock, Catherine, Truth in Aquinas (New York: Routledge, 2001), 2139.Google Scholar

4 Lonergan, Bernard J. F., “Natural Knowledge of God,” A Second Collection, ed. Ryan, William F. J. and Tyrrell, Bernard J. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1974), 117–33.Google Scholar

5 Lonergan, Bernard J. F., Insight: An Essay in Human Understanding, ed. Crowe, Frederick E. and Doran, Robert M., Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, vol. 3 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992).Google Scholar

6 Lonergan, , “Insight Revisited,” A Second Collection, 277.Google Scholar

7 Turner, Denys, How to be an Atheist: Inaugural Lecture delivered at the University of Cambridge, 12 October 2001 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 8.Google Scholar See also idem, Faith, Reason and the Existence of God (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 230.

8 See Milbank, John and Pickstock, Catherine, Aquinas on Truth (London: Routledge, 2001), 2830.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

9 Turner, , Faith, Reason and the Existence of God, 45, 16–17.Google Scholar

10 Ibid., 210–11.

11 Pseudo-Dionysius, , The Complete Works, trans. Luibheid, Colm and Rorem, Paul, The Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist, 1987), 98Google Scholar, as cited in Turner, , Faith, Reason and the Existence of God, 156.Google Scholar

12 Faith, , Reason and the Existence of God, 19.Google Scholar

13 Ibid., 120.

14 Ibid., 118.

15 Ibid., 86–87.

16 Ibid., 106.

17 Ibid., 76. See Turner, Denys, The Darkness of God: Negativity in Christian Mysticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

18 Ibid., 116–22.

19 See Turner, Denys, “Atheism, Apophaticism, and Différance” in Théologie negative, ed. Olivetti, Marco M., Biblioteca dell'Archivio di Filosofia, 29 (Padova: CEOAM, 2002), 225–41.Google Scholar

20 How to be an Atheist, 39. Turner is taking aim at Bertrand Russell's famous “brute fact” approach to the “why is there anything at all” question.

21 Faith, , Reason and the Existence of God, 100–01.Google Scholar

22 Ibid., 220.

23 The same crucial point regarding Christology is made by Sokolowski, Robert, The God of Faith and Reason: Foundations of Christian Theology (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1982).Google Scholar

24 Turner's notion that a proof for the existence of God would entail the simple recognition that the question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” reveals a basic similarity to Bernard Lonergan's proof, in Chapter 19 of Insight, that “If being is intelligible, then God exists.”

25 Faith, Reason and the Existence of God, 201.

26 Scotus, , Ordinatio 1 d3 n.36Google Scholar, quoted in ibid, 199.

27 Ibid., 197–202. Turner's position is that, in order to avoid Scotus' position that univocity between premises and conclusion is required and possible in a proof for the existence of God, Milbank affirms an a priori experience of God (and reads such into Aquinas' proofs). Scotus (and Milbank) are mistaken in assuming that such univocity is required for a valid proof. Mention of such experience, of course, brings Rahner's Vorgriff to mind. However, a comparison of Milbank-Pickstock and Rahner on the question of what precedes explicit reflection, while an important issue, stretches beyond the limits of the present essay. For a compendious presentation of the development of Rahner's position, see McCool, Gerald, “Karl Rahner and the Christian Philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas” in Kelly, William J. S.J., ed., Theology and Discovery: Essays in Honor of Karl Rahner, S.J. (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1980), 6393.Google Scholar

28 For a summary of the concerns of the authors of Dei Filius, see McCool, Gerald A., Catholic Theology in the Nineteenth Century: The Quest for a Unitary Method (New York: Seabury, 1977), 216–24.Google Scholar For the historical context of Dei Filius both McCool and Lonergan rely on Pottmeyer, Hermann Josef, Der Glaube vor dem Anspruch der Wissenschaft: Die Konstitution über den katholischen Glauben, Dei Filius des 1. Vatikanischen Konzils und der unveröffentlichten theologischen Voten der vonbereitenden Kommission, Freiburger theologische Studien, vol. 87 (Freiburg: Herder, 1968).Google Scholar

29 Lonergan, Bernard J. F., Insight: An Essay in Human Understanding, ed. Crowe, Frederick E. and Doran, Robert M., Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, vol. 3 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992).Google Scholar

30 Note Turner's tongue in cheek comment that one can learn to be an atheist by “being careful to suppress any [questions] which might seem to push thought off civilized limits; be reasonable, lest you find yourself being committed to an excessive rationality; have the good manners to scratch no itches which occur in intellectually embarrassing places—at least not in public” (How to be an Atheist, 39).

31 Lonergan, Bernard J. F., “Philosophy of God and Theology,” in Philosophical and Theological Papers 1965–1980, ed. Croken, Robert C. and Doran, Robert M., Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, vol. 17 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 159218.Google Scholar

32 Reason, being a part of creation, shares its capacity to reveal the sacred, and thus displays its sacramentality. See Faith, Reason and the Existence of God, 224–25.

33 Lonergan, Bernard J. F., “The Form of Inference,” in Collection, ed. Crowe, Frederick E. and Doran, Robert M., Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, vol. 4 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988), 316, at 5.Google Scholar The essay was originally published in 1943 but probably written earlier (see the editorial note in ibid, 256).

34 Turner, , Faith, Reason and the Existence of God, 80, 89.Google Scholar

35 Ibid., 87.

36 Lonergan, Bernard J. F., Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas, ed. Crowe, Frederick E. and Doran, Robert M., Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, vol. 2 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), 3839 and 39, n.126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar See also Insight, 396.

37 See McShane, Philip, ed. Language, Truth, and Meaning: Papers from the International Lonergan Congress, St. Leo College, 1970 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1972).Google Scholar

38 “Philosophy of God, and Theology,” 171–72, at 172.

39 Method in Theology (New York: Seabury, 1972), 364.

40 A Second Collection, ed. Ryan, William F. J. and Tyrrell, Bernard J. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1974)Google Scholar and A Third Collection, ed. Crowe, Frederick E. (New York: Paulist, 1985).Google Scholar

41 Faith, Reason and the Existence of God, 262.

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Interpreting Faith and Reason: Denys Turner and Bernard Lonergan in Conversation1
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Interpreting Faith and Reason: Denys Turner and Bernard Lonergan in Conversation1
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Interpreting Faith and Reason: Denys Turner and Bernard Lonergan in Conversation1
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *