Nature, not Naturalism


In a previous post I have talked about the philosophical tendency towards naturalism. “From the Stoics through the Latins like Lucretius and Cicero there was a strong Naturalistic tendency in Western thought. Augustine, using Plato, rescues the centrality of God and resist this naturalism, while Boethius nails naturalism’s coffin and puts ‘nature in its place’.” 

In a recent reflection on death, dedicated to deceased prelates, Pope Benedict XVI has given a gem on the subject of the power of nature and the power of God. Nature has its role, but God obeys a different logic that respects nature while keeping primacy. This is another response to the modern ideas of naturalism that pervade our culture. He is reflecting on a passage from Hosea, 6.

At the time of the Prophet Hosea the faith of the Israelites was in danger of being contaminated with the naturalistic religions of the land of Canaan, but this faith is not able to save anyone from death. But God’s intervention in the drama of human history does not obey any natural cycle; it only obeys his grace and faithfulness. The new and eternal life is the fruit of the tree of the cross, a tree that blossoms and bears fruit from the light of the sun of God. Without the cross of Christ all the energy of nature remains impotent before the negative force of sin. A beneficent force greater than that which moves the cycles of nature, a Good greater than that of creation itself: a love that proceeds from the “heart” itself of God and that, while it reveals the ultimate meaning of creation, renews it and directs it toward its original and final goal… Now, thanks to Christ, thanks to the work accomplished in him by the Most Holy Trinity, the images drawn from nature are no longer only symbols, illusory myths, but they speak to us of a reality.

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