Day 22 – Two-Books Doctrine – encountering God
According to this teaching, the Word of God is echoed in two books, the Book of Scriptures and the Book of the World. Both are offered to man so that he may search for and love Him who has inspired the writing of Scriptures and has created the world. And it is Augustine’s conviction that Scriptures has been given to us in order to help us better understand the Book of the World. “Listen to the Book of the Scriptures; observe the Book of the World!”
God asks us to read the book of nature laid open before our eyes and to listen to what He wishes to say through the pages He has inspired … “To listen” and “to observe/see” cannot be attitudes that are merely receptive nor purely aesthetic. “To listen” to the Word means to heed God who speaks; “to observe/see” the world is to interpret history as that “place” where God reveals his intentions. “World” therefore, means “the inhabited earth,” it is “human history” wherein God intervenes in order to save man. This insight is important because it tells us that dedication to the branches of learning dealing with the “World” – physics, biology, chemistry, biology etc. – has a value that is rooted in God Himself.
To think that God can be encountered in creation is a Christian conviction, and it is not surprising that Christian scientists have had religious experiences as they worked in their laboratories! Augustine discusses the value of profane learning in his De doctrina christiana II, 25,38 -39,61. They are to be studied because wherever one finds the truth, there is God. The Christian however should not approach profane studies as if these have the absolute word on man and the world. Apart from this, Christians should always remember two things: study should be done with moderation (“Nothing too much.”), and the Pauline caveat: “Knowledge puffs up; charity builds up.” (1 Cor. 8:1)