History of thought and Christianity:


III. Modern Philosophy

-by F. Javier Álvarez-

translated by D. Ohmans
(c) copyright 2011

Text imprint Barcelona, Publicaciones Andamio, ©2005


The birth of modernity
  • The Renaissance: the humanist aspiration for an autonomous reason
  • The Protestant Reformation
  • Political Thought: the absolute monarchies and the founding of the modern state
  • Valuation of Renaissance thought
The Scientific Revolution
  • Modern science and the triumph of the Copernican model
  • Kepler
  • Galileo
  • Newton
  • Valuation of modern science
Philosophic Rationalism
  • Descartes
  • Malebranche
  • Spinoza
  • Leibniz
  • Valuation of rationalist philosophy
Empiricism and knowledge
  • Locke
  • Berkeley
  • Hume
  • Valuation of empiricism
Enlightenment thought
  • The Encyclopedists
  • Kant and the tragic destiny of reason
  • Valuation of Enlightenment thought
I. THE BIRTH OF MODERNITY When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet. (Psalms 8:3-6) THE RENAISSANCE: THE HUMANIST ASPIRATION FOR AN AUTONOMOUS REASON Together with the development of science and technology, the principal characteristics of the modern epoch were, undoubtedly, the geographic discoveries that brought many to the New World, the progressive emancipation of political power with respect to religious power and the emphasis put on the human being as center and reference for all forms of knowledge. In that time, as a consequence of the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter- Reformation, a new religious and political map of Europe was also configured which had important ideological repercussions. The most important of these was, toward the end of this passionate period in history, philosophical thought and faith, so profoundly associated in the past, ended by divorcing and confronting each other in a permanent struggle which has comprised, until very recent times, the fundamental reason for the absolute separation between religious beliefs and the ever more developed scientific and technical knowledge. Although one could add certain shadings, the majority of scholars consider that, from a philosophical viewpoint, modern thought began in the Renaissance on two specific notes: humanism and the scientific revolution. Rationalism and Empiricism were the two subsequent philosophical movements that culminated in the Enlightenment philosophy of idealism. As many authors have noted, modernity meant the triumph of human rationality over the previous religious conventions. The Renaissance, which in a decisive mode provided a beginning to modernity, was marked by the sign of the human. In it, man came to be the referential and valuational center of the entire Universe and reality stopped being contemplated from the perspective of the divine. This transcendental change that inserted the Renaissance and its repercussions into the unfolding of human history has been clearly expressed by Moisés González: For the starting point of the modern world and thought we cannot nor in justice should we situate it in the 17th century as if it were possible that from a decadent and petrified scholasticism there suddenly could emerge the modern philosophy and science which Descartes and Galileo represent. The Renaissance men were those who, when the medieval conception declined, went on to break with the clerical traditions of the Middle Ages allowing other forces, other impulses, new cultural ferments to emerge that would change the attitude towards reality and the form of understanding the relation of man to it, transforming the way of thinking with the appearance, consequently, of new methods, new horizons that would produce a radical upset in western culture.(1) Although the term "Renaissance" had already been employed by Vasari in the year 1550, its modern meaning is principally due to the theoretical approach of Burkhardt who, in the 19th century, coined the term "Renaissance" to define a movement of spiritual renewal and of knowledge that would decisively break with the medieval vision of the world. The same word "Renaissance" also carried with it the idea of a return to Greco-Roman antiquity in the course of which man felt reborn to a classical and glorious past, which lamentably had been forgotten throughout the gloomy centuries of the now legendary Middle Ages. Whatever might be the position taken with regard to the concept and value of the Renaissance, what is undeniable is that an important difficulty exists in giving a definition and general characterization of the Renaissance that will be temporally as well as spatially accurate for, to begin with, this occurred in each nation at a different historical moment and with some particular and well-differentiated characteristics. Despite that, it can be said with certainty that the center from which this movement expanded was the Italian cities of Florence, Venice and Rome and that the defining and common axis of this entire movement was the cultural recovery of Greco-Roman antiquity. In effect, the process tending toward the restoration of ancient literature, begun in Italy by Petrarch, provoked throughout the European spirit a feeling of profound admiration towards classical culture. This entire vital journey will culminate with the desire to comprehend and interpret man under the prism of a completely new light. In this fashion, the great philosophical synthesis achieved by Thomist scholasticism having been mined in the 13th century, in the Renaissance produced a sort of philosophical vacuum that coincided with the simultaneous discovery of the poets of antiquity, Homer and Hesiod, and also tragic authors like Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, of historians like Herodotus and Thucydides, and especially of thinkers and philosophers as often Greek as Latin. At the same time one can see how the conception of the autonomous individual was gradually replacing the theocentric perspective that had been dominant in the Medieval epoch, according to which the human being was understood fundamentally as a creature subjected to a continual relation of dependency regarding its creator. During the Renaissance, on the contrary, the thinkers began to feel the influence of Greek thought in a completely new way and to value man above everything.(2) In this process of man's recovery of classical antiquity, from a philosophical viewpoint, three fundamental currents of thought occurred: Platonism, mysticism and Aristotelianism. In the first place, the Platonic thinkers tried to reconcile the tradition of Greco-Roman philosophy with the Christian religion, developing their work particularly at the Academy of Florence which had been founded by the famous patron, Cosimo de Médici. Among the thinkers in this current the Neo- Platonic philosopher Marcilio Ficino was especially distinguished. He believed that Plato's thought was the very ante-chamber of Christian revelation. In the exaltation of the human being and his dignity, Ficino believed he was finding the road that would permit the return of man to God. For him there existed three basic forms of knowledge: first that provided by the senses, secondly that which deriving from deductive reason attempted to go a little further than these and, finally, contemplation. This last path was precisely the one that makes the intuition of divinity possible for man. Thanks to it man could elevate himself towards his Creator or, utilizing his essential liberty, reject this possibility and remain in the merely sensory and animal. In Marcilio Ficino, belonging also to the magical-hermetic tradition, the concept is also found of man as the limit and meeting of two horizons, the material and the spiritual. In the same line, for Pico de la Mirandola, a devotee of Kabbalah and belonging equally to the Neo-Platonic school, no being existed somehow superior in essence and in dignity to the human being for it was made in the image and resemblance of God. Pico's Platonism was displayed in his celebrated definition of man who is conceived as a heavenly animal; he more superbly is a divinity clothed with human flesh. As one can see, in strict connection with Neo-Platonism, during this period a synthesis was likewise produced between philosophy and the Kabbalistic, astrological and alchemical doctrines. At the start of the modern era, together with the spiritual forces of the Reformation, the Counter- Reformation and humanism, there also existed a mystical current very close to the esoteric lucubrations of Antiquity. As in no other period in history, in the Reformation it was attempted to harmonize magic with religion and Christian theology. The most distinguished figure within this current was the Swiss doctor named Paracelsus, who maintained that man was a microcosm. For him, the human body was similar to the solar system, in that it was comprised of the four elements: earth, fire, water, and air; these four elements corresponded respectively to various tastes and humors. To earth there corresponded acid as flavor and melancholy as the humor. To fire there corresponded bitterness as the taste and anger as the humor. Sweetness corresponded to water as the taste and, the phlegmatic as humor. Lastly, to air there corresponded saltiness as taste and blood as the humor. According to Paracelsus, the preponderance in the body of one of the four elements gave rise to a determinate temperament type, thus resulting in four definite types of personality who names have endured until the present: the melancholic, the choleric, the phlegmatic, and the sanguine. Beside these magical and Platonizing tendencies the Renaissance also included an Aristotelian focus which subordinated all occultist elements to the study of nature and opened the way for a new form of understanding as much the human being as the totality of the physical world. Among the thinkers in this lineage one distinguishes the Calabrian Bernardino Telesio, for whom man was not only a part of nature, but instead was essentially its meaning, its finality. In this same line there can also be cited the works of Jacobo Zabarel and of César Cremonino. Certainly, in this group, strong materialist tendencies were likewise expressed, clearly distanced from the faith. By way of example one can cite the position of Pietro Pomponazzi, the author of a treatise On the Immortality of the Soul, which considered it impossible to reconcile human liberty with divine omnipotence. Together, these authors defended a naturalistic interpretation of Aristotle's thought and denied both the immortality of the soul as well as a supernatural dimension of its existence. For them, nature should be studied for itself. THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION Together with renascent humanism, another essential element for understanding the shaping and development of the modern world is the Protestant Reformation. At the beginning of the 16th century the Church found itself in a profoundly discredited situation. On one hand, both the Babylonian captivity of the Church as well as the Western schism had considerably diminished the prestige and the authority traditionally reserved for the spiritual power of Rome. On the other side, the moral crisis of the end of the Middle Ages brought as a consequence that the behavior of the high religious hierarchies could barely be differentiated from the habits of the great personages of their time, whether these be politicians, merchants or bankers. In this sense, the imperative moral crisis also implied a profound religious crisis, which commenced with the search for a sincere spirituality. To this was added, to complete the historical mix, the growing nationalism that was emerging with great force in certain European nations. In this context, while the spirit of nationalism and reform was awakening in different points in Europe, an event occurred that would bring important consequences for the later development of history. In the year 1514, León X, father of the Médici family, desirous of gathering the money necessary to finish the works at the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, granted indulgence or pardon for the temporal sins of those who might contribute with their alms as much to the construction of the Basilica as to the Crusade against the Turks. León X entrusted the sale of indulgences in Germany to the archbishop of Mainz, a certain Albert of Brandenburg of the house of Hohenzollerns, which aspired to German hegemony, who wished to accumulate in his person as many ecclesiastical positions as possible. In turn, Albert of Brandenburg commended the special dispensation of indulgences to the priest Tetzel, of the Dominican order, and not to the Augustinian fathers who had handled this labor on other occasions. The resentment of the Germans toward the papal power meant that the response to the sale of indulgences was not long in coming. On the 31st of October of 1517, the Augustinian monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses against the sale of indulgences on the door of the church in Wittenburg. In them he denounced the exploitation of the people as an object on the part of Roman power. To the ears of the German public the slogan as soon as the money enters into the coffer a soul is released from purgatory sounded poorly, as much from the viewpoint of German political nationalism as from the moral perspective. The upset produced by Luther's thesis went beyond the expected limits. That which presumably, in other circumstances, would not have been more than the spur to an open theological debate, unexpectedly attained a deep popular echo. Thus it was that the authorities, at this point, found themselves implicated in the dispute. A copy of the written polemic was sent to Albert of Brandenburg and he, in turn, sent it to Rome. So much turmoil provoked the indignation of emperor Maxmilian, who immediately asked that León X intervene in the matter. At that moment there existed a great discontent in Germany against papal power, a discontent that came to reinforce the Lutheran position, who cause found support among the German princes who offered help and protection. In such a state of affairs and after the passing of Maxmilian, Carlos I was named emperor. The young Charles, who then was only 20 years old, wished to put an end to the religious controversies, for the support that the German princes provided to the nascent religious movement suggested a serious danger to the peace of Germany; with this goal the Emperor arranged the celebration of the Diet of Worms in the year 1521. Luther was called to it through an epistle in which the emperor called him "honored, appreciated and beloved son." The terms of the encounter were pacific and for insisting on this friendly position Luther was granted safe passage which guaranteed the monk's tranquility during the voyage. Luther presented himself before the Diet on April 18th, 1521, there finding the emperor surrounded by counselors and by six imperial electors, among them Frederick the Wise. Before the question asked by an ecclesiastical functionary concerning whether he had written certain books, Luther answered yes. They then read some fragments of them and the German monk was recognized as the author of the same. In the following act, Luther was warned to retract it, to which the monk responded that he found himself there in the position of being taught. Unable to provide a more decisive answer, Luther requested a night to consider how he would respond. That night was a night for weighing where his priorities were. To return to the writings bequeathed by the primitive church and read them with prior ecclesiastical or philosophical conditioning was the only way to discover what had been the teachings of Christ and of the apostles. It follows that Luther's reply before the Diet would have the transcendental character of a declaration of principles: I am tied to the Bible and my conscience is captive of the Word of God. I cannot nor do I wish to retract anything, for it is neither safe nor just to act against my conscience. May God help me. Amen. Beginning with that moment the Reformation has initiated its rupture with the Empire. For the Protestants, the Bible and not Church tradition would be, starting from that moment, the only norm of faith and conduct. Revelation thus came to occupy in conscience the place formerly occupied by scholastic philosophy, clearly rejected by Luther. This is not to overlook that to the detriment of arts and letters, the Bible and its interpretation would wholly occupy the reformer's interest, for neither literary humanism nor speculative philosophy fit with his declared anti-intellectualism. In the repulse of profane wisdom, Luther condemned the Copernican heliocentric system and was in general indifferent to the new scientific and geographic discoveries. The reformer's objective was not to understand man or the world, his longing was to reach God and this only was possible through Christ. The theology of the Cross in this manner substituted for the natural theology of reason. As Agustín Devesa notes: it is not the world, the works of creation (cosmology), nor yet our own actions (anthropology) which approaches to knowledge of God, but instead faith in Christ of the cross. In Christ, the exclusive and only redeemer, the absoluteness of God in history is incarnated. Philosophy is sacrificed in favor of the historical figure of God in Christ.(3) Natural theology, an essential part of scholastic theology such as it had been formulated by Thomas Aquinas, was incompatible with Lutheran thought centered, above all, on the person and on the work of Christ. Thomas had affirmed that natural reason was capable, beginning with the observation of created nature, of deducing certain important theological truths, among which was found the very demonstration of the existence of God. Such a mode of thinking had already previously been called into question above all by the Franciscan thinkers Duns Scotus and William of Occam. Thus had begun, in irreversible form, the dissolution of scholastic philosophy. In open opposition to Saint Thomas, Occam argued for the absolute arbitrariness of the theological dogmas and distanced man from any attempt at rational approximation of faith. The starting point of his thought consisted in affirming that all theological doctrine should be believed and accepted solely through faith and therefore, for this approach, there were no religious truths that could be proved or which necessitate philosophical reasoning. Along this same line Luther maintained that, corrupted by sin, human reasoning was absolutely blind with respect to the truths of God. When Occam denied the value of natural theology, there only remained the possibility of a strictly Biblical theology. The truths of faith could not be found within the domain of the study of nature, such that only faith was left as recourse to God's revelation and therefore, Scripture, understood as revelation of the divine will, came to be the only rule of faith and of conduct possible. That implied that the Bible should begin to be considered as the final authority. Thus, William of Occam emphasized the importance of personal and individual comprehension of the Scripture. In this way, advancing to the birth of modernity, Occam's philosophy came to be the ideological substratum underlying Reformed thought. As James Atkinson says: Occam's doctrine, that man could know nothing of God except by means of revelation, and his emphasis upon its infallible authority, found a profound echo in the mind of Luther.(4) The success of the Occamist anti-scholastic arguments had opened the way for the Fideist positions that had such a wide echo in the agenda of the reformers. Their voluntarism and fideism, together with the critique of papal pretensions, paved the way toward pure faith as the way to salvation, a concept that was widely developed in the modern era by Luther and in the rest of the Protestant religious confessions. In the first half of the 16th century the ideas of the Reformation extended rapidly throughout the center and north of Europe. Influenced by the humanism of Erasmus, in 1520 Zwingli joined the cause of the Reformation. Zwingli, celebrated for his polemic with Luther regarding the theme of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, died in the battle of Kappel. Although Zwingli's work was decisive, it above all would be the theologian John Calvin who was the principal mastermind of the Reform in Switzerland. The most controversial thesis of this Swiss reformer was that of predestination, according to which God had constituted, according to his eternal and immutable design, as much those he had loved who were saved as those whom he had destined for condemnation. For Calvin the important question was, who chose who? His reply, by the light of the Bible, was clear: God chose first. In this manner the divine sovereignty was transformed into the immovable certainty of believing Calvinists, in whom the basis for security about their salvation reposed in an absolute form. All regarding salvation, sovereignty and the grace of God had, in this fashion in Calvinist thought, an absolute primacy over the merits and demerits of human works. For its part, the Reformation in England began when King Henry VIII broke with Rome. At one point the English monarch had inveighed against Luther, but in the year 1533, Pope Clement VII refused to allow him to divorce his first wife, Catalina of Aragón. For this reason, in 1534 the king declared himself as the only visible head of the national Church of England. Through an Act of Supremacy and in conformity with the desires of the monarch, the English Parliament recognized the king as the supreme ecclesiastical authority. The Anglican Church had been born. The political and ideological consequences which followed all these reforms would indelibly mark the later unfolding of all human history. POLITICAL THOUGHT With regard to political thought, the Renaissance also brought with it a new vision. This was the epoch of the birth of the modern state. Throughout its duration territorial unification was produced, under monarchical power, of countries as important as Spain, France and England, which emerged as the first national states. As a consequence of the Reformation in religion, the geo- political situation had recently undergone a considerable change. Around the middle of the 15th century the Hundred Year War had ended and the pestilence had disappeared, resulting in there being generated an enormous increase in Europe's population, which brought in its turn an important economic expansion. The European states, ever richer and more powerful, tried to reap as much from religious power, represented by the Pope, as from political power, represented by the emperor. In this manner, as against medieval universalism, clearly expressed in the ideal of a Christian Universitas, the Renaissance and the Reformation were witness to the formation and development of the absolute monarchies and contemplated also the birth of the new national states. Along with these changes there necessarily was coupled the evolution of diplomacy as well as the development of a new political science. A political science which would attempt to be independent of moralism as much as from theology. This transcendental change in the form of understanding politics had its birthplace in Italy. During the Renaissance, Italy had become a mosaic of petty states where some sought to expand at the expense of others. There, as well as in the other European nations, the bourgeoisie, ever more powerful at least in the economic domain, had broken their bonds of dependency with regard to the feudal nobility, thus giving origin to the birth of capitalism. The new naval businesses, the discovery of unexplored lands and lately of markets, the maintaining of important armies, and all the other challenges of the modern age required great sums of money for their advancement and this was not in the hands of the nobility, but in those of the recently appeared bourgeoisie. It was to them and not to the old nobles to whom the kings resorted to make their financial necessities solvent. The benefit was mutual, because for this incipient bourgeoisie the existence of a strong and astute monarch was also necessary, a vigorous and energetic king who, freed from the pretensions of the feudal seignorage, could serve the interests of nascent capitalism and lead the state to a greater sovereignty that would permit economic development without shortcuts. It was upon this economic and social domain that Machiavelli carried out a profound analysis of political power. Machiavelli, the main political theorist of the Renaissance, approached the reality of political power through the lens of historical reflection and derived the principles of a radical secularization of politics. His work, The Prince, is considered a classical piece of political theory. In it the Italian thinker presented a collection of advice directed to governing whose end was to educate one in the art of staying in power without taking moral considerations for decisions into account. This work was written with the purpose of seeking the Italian national unity already achieved by other nations. To reach this goal he defended so-called "political realism," which is to say that the prince should have no qualms about the means utilized so long as they led to the desired end. It was thus that the grand political principles seemed subordinated to opportunist tactics such that, following Machiavelli, any recourse was justified, including the use of violence, as a means of remaining in power. As one can imagine, Machiavelli's interest in this work was not to moralize, but instead to indicate in a practical way how one should govern to obtain success at this task. For that, the prince should only take self-interest into account which, granted, was identified with the welfare of the state. Logically, once divine legitimation of the political authority of the state was annulled, it would require another more honorable justification than the simple lust for power among those governing. A century after Machiavelli, in an England exhausted by a multitude of civil wars, Thomas Hobbes confected an ambitious political theory to rationally justify the existence of and necessity for an absolute state. In his lengthy work, Leviathan, he presented a pessimistic conception of human nature. According to him, man was bad by nature, in the natural state the human being being aggressive and egotistical and capable of doing whatever is at hand to survive. The state of nature, with neither laws nor rules, was for Hobbes a state of war of all versus all for Man, as he would say, is a wolf to man. According to the English philosopher, to emerge from such a lamentable condition, men decided to dispense with their liberty and institute a social contract, an accord by which they assigned control of violence to the sovereign, such that only he, starting at that moment, could exercise that power. Under absolute government peace was guaranteed but, as counterpoint, the ruler concentrated all power in his person and individuals saw their powers notoriously constrained. VALUATION OF RENAISSANCE THOUGHT There is no doubt that it is difficult to perform a summary evaluation of this so plural and multiform period. It has frequently been thought that Renaissance man was an irreligious being who decisively broke with the entire medieval tradition and past. It is clear that not all historians of philosophy are in agreement on this point, such that there exist in this respect two theories clearly opposed to each other. One of them defends the rupture and the other defends the continuity of the modern world in relation to the Middle Ages. In this manner we know that for those who defend the thesis of rupture, the Renaissance venture consisted of a sort of intellectual revolution by which all the schemas of medieval Christian thought were transmuted through a type of conceptual decentralization. What before had been on the periphery now came to occupy the center and that which was in the center progressively came to be displace towards the edges. If over centuries the gaze of men had been concentrated on the grandeur of God, to observe from that the contingency of all creatures, beginning now there would be seen, starting from man's autonomy, the marvel of the world and of God. For this reason, the search for glory in the Renaissance period will not be fulfilled in a coming celestial reign, like that described in a futuristic interpretation of the Apocalypse, but instead in a terrestrial world, in a world of the here and now, in a world marked, in those times, but luxury and courtesan etiquette. If throughout centuries this Earth had occupied a preferred spot in the center of a finite universe, now its dignity had mutated to become a minuscule planet that wandered ruled by the laws of physics in an infinite universe. Such an important change in perspective, according to the partisans of the rupture thesis, justifies one to speak without ambiguities of a radical separation of the new modern spirit in relation to the past. In contrast with this interpretation, the defenders of the continuist theory maintain that, at root, modernity is nothing more than a logical derivation of the Middle Ages and see in the Renaissance clear continuity with the spiritual changes that had their origin in 12th century Europe. According to this thesis, the Renaissance would then not be a full rupture with the medieval past, but more like the culmination of it. In support of this vision of things one can cite the fact that, at least from a philosophical viewpoint, the Renaissance was hardly original, for it is true that in it we encounter the same themes, the same authors for reference and the same conceptual terminology which had been utilized during the Middle Ages. It is possible that both theories may have a bit of truth. Truly there was a certain continuity in the academic elements of reflection, yet it is evident that there was, with respect to them, an undeniable change of vision for, whether it be on a Christian basis or not, what is certain is that in the Renaissance there took place the creation of a secular knowledge independent of theological understanding. Man, and not God, came to comprise the basis of all knowledge and all science, and during this period theology separated itself from philosophy as well as from science. From this philosophical point of view, the admiration of the Greco-Roman culture brought with it the rediscovery of Plato, of Aristotle and of stoicism, such that Renaissance man returned his gaze to classical antiquity in search of inspiration for art and for literature. In consequence, from a literary viewpoint the texts of the classics were not used, as had occurred in the Middle Ages, as adornments for the Christian faith, but instead were valued in themselves. Also art was interpreted as spiritual re-creation of the natural world and not as the expression of religious sentiment. In this way, the Renaissance was indissolubly united with humanism. A humanism which meant, at the start, a study of the humanities, that is, of classical letters, and which only secondly came to understand itself as the philosophical position centered upon the human being and his exaltation. Certainly during this period there was much interest in the value of human dignity, in opposition to medieval theocentrism and thus there slowly emerged a new manner of thinking in which man was the center, especially in the intellectual sphere. As had been said, this new focus had its origin primarily in the literary camp coming later to engage philosophy and science. Upon analyzing this period it is important to indicate, for it is often passed over, that the fundamental tendency of Renaissance humanism was the Christian influence and to it belong personalities of the stature of Poliziano, Pico de la Mirandola, Erasmus, Lefebvre d'Étaples, Luis Vives, and others. In this period man was considered his own maker, as owner of his destiny for, being the image of God, he shared with Him the privilege of being the creator or, more accurately, co-creator of himself. For him, the course of human life was not subject to a fatalistic design but, on the contrary, consisted of an opening into liberty, to empowerment and self-direction. The Renaissance individualism and optimism were made patent in that lovely sentence from Pico de la Mirandola: man is the model and the sculptor of himself. Before this humanist optimism, which seemed not to want to place limits on the knowledge and power of the human being, the Reformation theologians upheld the doctrine of the total depravity of man. This doctrine did not necessarily imply that every man will have reached the maximum degree of depravity possible for him, or that natural man might lack a moral conscience, or that sinful man was incapable of performing generous or noble acts. The doctrine of total depravity meant that the corruption resulting from sin applied universally to all the faculties and characteristics of the human essence. This doctrine involved the idea that it is man, the complete man, including his capacities for knowledge, who is affected by the consequences of sin. It is the entire man, and not only his moral or volitional dimension, that is taken captive under the noxious effects of sin. It is thus that faith is necessary; a faith that saves and illuminates, that rests in God and places its confidence in Him. The tremendous impact of the Reformation did not occur in a vacuum, but instead should be embedded in certain concrete circumstances. In effect, a moment in history arrived in which the spiritual atmosphere of a civilization that called itself Christian was insupportable. Men had become so distant from the Word of God that their spiritual life itself had remained completely darkened by what is only the smoke and fallen fruit of human understanding. Therefore it was necessary to return to the original sources of Christianity, that God had spoken in the past, God had been manifested to man in the person of Christ, so if the human being now wished to re-encounter with God it was necessary that he do so on the terms that God himself had established. How to know them? Above all by returning to the primitive texts of the Old and New Testaments. No doubt the renewed encounter with the Biblical texts brought a fresh breeze to the hearts of man who then, as now, could find the surest prophetic word in the Sacred Scriptures. The reformationists held that it was not the Church which propounded the teaching of the Scriptures, but that it was more the Scriptures which carried the authority to determine what the Church taught. Their meaning imposed itself in a clear and accessible form for all who, with a pure heart, approached them. The renewed reading of the Bible brought light and hope to the men of that time, for in the dawning of the modern epoch the world was as deranged and needful of God as now. In this way, the Reformation was part of a movement at the heart of a God who did not want his children to resign themselves to a losing church. The Reformation was a cry of anguish and of rupture, yet was also a cry of emancipatory hope and of liberty. Of importance upon arrival at this point is not to annotate the exterior history of the religious denominations and how lamentably each of these preferred to serve their particular princes, whether these be great or small, but to render and give glory to the Lord of Lords. The church was never a model of perfection, neither then or now. What is fascinating in studying that era is verifying that God was alive and was still capable of stirring the consciences of men. Perhaps still in our day, heirs of that time, we abound with the intransigence and the dogmatism of the modern age. But perhaps also today, as occurred in Luther's time, in the heart of each of us who claim to be Christian, there should exist that desire which the prophet Isaiah had long ago, who when moved by the vision of God's glory, exclaimed: Here am I. Send me! (Isaiah 6:8). God calls each person of that time to be a reformer of their own life and of the church as a community that wants to be God's people, whom God exhorts today as well, as he did in the past through the mouth of the apostle Paul, not to adapt to the century wherein we chance to live, but to transform our most intimate being, in the spirit of our understanding, so that we too can approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2) II. THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION And now by the foregoing it has been made evident that God is the complication within everything, including the contradictions, it being clear, therefore, that nothing can escape his providence. It is such that whether we do something, or do the opposite, or do nothing, all is implicit in God's providence. Nothing occurs, then, except by the providence of God. Nicolás de Cusa, Of Learned Ignorance, Book 1, chap.22 While the Middle Ages agonized in its deathbed, a new illusion was born in the hearts of the men of that time. This new ambition gradually conquered the heart and mind of modern man. The dream of unveiling the secrets of nature was also, at bottom, the desire to uncover oneself. It was thus that the attraction to the physical world surrounding him gave origin to a peculiar Philosophy of Nature that served to establish the basis of modern science. Its principal characteristic was the study of the material world on a completely different basis from that proposed by medieval Aristotelianism. In this manner, while on one hand a revaluation of observation as a form of knowledge was produced, on the other an attitude of suspicion was created with regard to the criterion of authority, exemplified par excellence in the Christianized Aristotelian figure of Saint Thomas. As a consequence of the confluence of these two factors, observation and critique, finally the separation of science with respect to philosophy would be produced, such that the development of the scientific agenda would bring with it the creation of a working method of its own, essentially experimental, that would break with the rational proceedings of philosophy. In summary, one can say that the primordial characteristic of modern science was the abandonment of Aristotelian physics. As is known, Aristotelian physics understood the universe to be finite. This idea, so firmly ingrained in ancient and medieval thought, was discussed at the margins of the modern era by certain thinkers of a Platonic tendency. Among them it is sufficient to distinguish Nicolás de Cusa, born in the year 1401. After completing his studies in Heidelberg, Nicolás moved to Pisa, later traveling to Byzantium. A declared partisan of the authority of the councils before the Pope, he received the deep influences of Neo-Platonism and of German mysticism. For him, God as well as the world were infinite beings. This dealt, logically, with two different infinities, yet linked together. They were clearly unequal because, for Cusa, only the divine infinite was essentially absolute, while the world was infinite only in the sense of lacking limits, for it concerned an infinity created by the hand of God. Nevertheless, bordering of pantheism, Cusa held that both infinities were related, given that on one hand the infinite unity of God unfolded in an infinite plurality of beings that constituted the world and the other those multiple beings were comprehended in God. The modern conception of the infinite Universe thus replaced the finiteness so tenaciously defended by the ancient and medieval philosophers. Together with the unfathomable mystery of the infinite, the epistemological themes or theory of knowledge largely attracted Cusa's attention. In fact, his principal work carried the title The Learned Ignorance. In it the difficulty was broached of attaining an absolute understanding of reality and it is maintained that knowledge is never perfect and, therefore, can be only hypothetical. For him, the reason that knowledge of nature was always imperfect lay in that the infinitude of the universe always surpassed every human capacity. Cusa's position thus implied a recognition of one's own ignorance on the part of the human being who attempts to know reality and, consequently, that becoming conscious of this knowledge would only be possible through successive approximations which, hereafter, would never represent absolute being. Also Neo-Platonic and quite close to the magic and Kabbalistic postulates, the Italian born near the city of Naples, Giordano Bruno, defended the idea of the infinitude of the Universe. This opinion led him to affirm that the Earth was one more planet in the Universe, thus openly breaking with the metaphysical division which Aristotle established between earth and sky. For Bruno God was in everything and the only way to know him was through his presence in the world. For Bruno the Universe was similar to a gigantic living being in which multiple solar systems existed. Even more than in Cusa's model, this organicist model of the Universe, which identified Nature with God, was clearly pantheist. To defend it, the Italian philosopher, an aged Dominican monk, was condemned to burn at the stake on February 17th, in the year 1600. Bruno was burned alive in the city of Rome, a result of the intransigence characteristic of the recently inaugurated modern era. Together with the finiteness of the Universe, the other great idea of Aristotelian-Thomist physics that was called into question in the modern age was the geocentric representation of the Universe which maintained that the Earth occupied its center, with the rest of the astral bodies revolving around it. Such an image of the world, which had been kept intact over centuries, began to crumble due to the works of a Catholic priest named Nicolás Copernicus. The starting point of his thought was faith in a God whose wisdom had arranged things in an absolutely judicious and simple fashion. The simplicity was, undoubtedly, a manifestation of the divine intelligence. Thus, by virtue of the work of Copernicus, the principle of simplicity, already suggested in their time by the Franciscan nominalists, came to signify the substitution of the jumbled medieval metaphysical models by new explanatory systems based upon the precision of mathematics. In this way Copernicus, supposing that it was the Sun and not the Earth at the center of the Universe, elaborated an astronomical theory which considerably reduced the calculations necessary for determining the movement of the planets, at the same time explaining with complete clarity their position in the firmament. This illustrious Polish astronomer arrived in the world on the 17th of February in 1473. He was born in Turin, a Hanseatic community that had remained under the protection of the king of Poland (Cracow) and was raised in the bosom of a family of merchants and municipal functionaries. Unfortunately, when Nicolás was only ten years old his father died. Then his maternal uncle, the erudite priest and later Catholic archbishop, Lucas Watzenrode, took in his nephews and procured the means so that they would receive a painstaking education. This circumstance made it possible for young Nicolás to attend the most prestigious European universities. It was thus that Copernicus began the study of humanities in the University of Cracow in the year 1491 and, later, at the University of Bologna he was instructed in canonical law. During that period he resided in the home of a mathematics professor named Domenico Maria da Novarra, who awakened in the heart of the young Copernicus an interest in the explanation of astronomical phenomena in the deeply-rooted Neo-Platonic and Neo-Pythagorean mathematical tradition. In Padua he also studied medicine, law, astronomy, mathematics, and classical languages. In 1500 Copernicus obtained the doctorate of Astronomy in Rome. Without completing his medical studies, in the year 1503 he likewise earned the doctorate in Canonical Law at the University of Ferrara. He then returned to Poland and, after a stay of seven years in the episcopal palace of his uncle Lidzbark Wariniski, he was named canon of Frombork cathedral. In the year 1512 Copernicus was invited to take part in the fifth Lateran Council commission, convened by Pope León X, which had as its goal the reform of the ecclesiastic calendar. This event became decisive in the life of Copernicus. Without any doubt, the fact that the duration of the year and the months as well as the movements of the Sun and the Moon were still not known with sufficient precision was what led Copernicus to accomplish, concerning these, observations and calculations that would be decisive for the formulation of his astronomical theory. It was in this context that, between the years 1507 and 1515, Copernicus wrote one of his fundamental pieces, the work called Comentariolus, in which the Polish astronomer established the basis of a new astronomical system. However, his principal work titled De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestum did not appear until 1530. The publication of this writing, transcendental for the history of astronomy, was not exempt from difficulties. Jorge Joachim Retico, who spent two years next to Copernicus, was the one charged with editing this most important work. In reality his proposal was to publish the work at the University of Wittenburg, but the Lutheran opposition to the Copernican system moved him to transfer it to Nuremberg. There, the reformer Ossiander accepted the burden but, preoccupied by the Lutheran opposition to Copernicus's work, in the prologue to it inserted an anonymous preface in which he asserted that the new system should be considered as a mere hypothesis and not as an attempt to insist on the physical reality of terrestrial movement. After Copernicus's demise on May 24th, 1543, it was Retico who finally published De Revolutionibus in the city of Nuremberg. Copernicus had died in Frombork that same year. The astronomy previous to Copernicus, from the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic court, defended a geocentric model of the Universe. Although in general terms it can be said that the Aristotelian system, perfected by Ptolemeus, was a valid system for explaining the movement of the planets, nevertheless this model encountered certain difficulties in explaining the so-called "apparent movement" of some of the planets. Concretely, the so-called stations where the planets seemed to pause in their movement, and the retrogrades, in which those celestial bodies, namely Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, appeared to move backwards and later to return to moving in the opposite way. So as to make sense of these phenomena, so difficult to explain in the Ptolemaic model, the medieval astronomers had sought different solutions. They conceived, for example, of an explanation of the planets' trajectory called deferent. This consisted in postulating the existence of a new series of accessory circles called epicycles, which if they tremendously complicated the Ptolemaic system were capable of explaining the planetary movements with sufficient precision, at least insofar and as these present themselves to terrestrial observation. In opposition to the Ptolemaic model, taking inspiration from Occamist simplicity, the Copernican system postulated the existence of a double movement for Earth, the rotation movement which consisted of the turning upon itself that our planet does once a day, and the forward movement according to which the Earth annually follows a complete circular orbit around the Sun. As against the ancient Aristotelian system, which argued that the celestial bodies were essentially different from those that could be found in the sublunar world, this new system assumed the homogeneity of space. And although Copernicus kept holding the idea that the planetary orbits were perfect circumferences, his system was much simpler that everything previous because, before the 80 orbits necessary to explain planetary movement required by the Ptolemaic system, in the new system only 34 orbits were needed. Seemingly, the idea that the Sun occupied the center of the Universe came to Copernicus's mind upon reading some Greek authors. Copernicus discovered that others before him had already presupposed the heliocentric system in antiquity. Among them the noted Pythagorean philosopher Aristaco de Samos stood out. Taken as a working hypothesis (per Ossiander the editor) this theory was presented as an ingenious system for calculating future planetary positions which, due to their mathematical simplicity, offered considerable simplicity compared with the geocentric explanation in vigor up to then. Although he was also quite influential in the development of the new astronomy, the Dane Tycho Brahe never accepted the Copernican ideas and held a position intermediate between geocentrism and heliocentrism according to which the Earth remained immobile in the center of the Universe and the rest of the planets revolved around the Sun, which in turn also revolved around the Earth. The great distinction of Tycho's work doubtless derived from the precision and detail of his observations concerning the position and the movement of the stars, to the study of which the Danish astronomer dedicated his entire life. A friend and collaborator of Tycho Brahe was Johannes Kepler. This German mystic notably perfected the Copernican heliocentric model affirming that the planets moved at variable velocities, furthermore describing orbits that were not circular, as was thought until that moment, but elliptical. Although in actuality Kepler is known and remembered principally for his work as an astronomer, it is important to keep in mind that his original purpose was to know God. Indeed his religious vocation led him to study to practice as a Protestant pastor. But while he studied in Thuringia he felt strongly attracted to mathematics and by mysticism. His investigations led him to deny two of the fundamental assumptions of ancient astronomy. In the first place, that of the circularity of the orbits of the celestial bodies and, in the second place, that of the uniformity of the planets' movement. The first of Kepler's laws, the law or the orbits, established that the planets moved in elliptical orbits around the Sun. Kepler thus negated the postulate of circularity. The second law, called the law of equal areas, suggested that the further a planet was from the Sun, the slower it moved. That is to say, in their movements the planets sweep equal areas in equal times, which means that the velocity with which they move is variable. Such an affirmation negated the Aristotelian presupposition of the uniformity of planetary movement. The third law, known as the harmonic law, did not formally oppose any principle established by the previous astronomy for it limited itself to affirming that the squares of the periods of revolution of the planets was in the same ratio as the cubes of their average distances to the Sun, which was nothing but a mathematical proportion that served to calculate the actual distance between the Sun and each of its planets. Kepler's work, especially his first two laws, dynamited the foundations of Greco- medieval astronomy and therefore was an object of persecution, especially by the Catholics. His religious opinions, for their part, caused him to be expelled from the Lutheran church. The new astronomical theory would find its support and definitive backing the physics of Galileo Galilei. Galileo was born in the Italian city of Pisa on February 15 in 1564. His father was a musician who occupied a distinguished place in the passage from medieval polyphony to harmonic modulation. Before his enrollment in the University of Pisa, Galileo had studied in the Vallombroso monastery. In Pisa he began a medical career but did not reach obtaining the title. Also in that city Galileo practiced as a mathematics professor, although without much luck since his opposition to Aristotelianism caused the academic authorities not to renew his contract. A new stage then began for him as docent in the University of Padua. In the year 1609 Galileo constructed a divergent telescope. He focused neither more nor less than on his famous telescope, so being permitted to make the discovery of solar spots. The royal star lost, beginning at that moment, its character of absolute and immaculate excellence. Encouraged by this novel invention, he also discovered that the Moon was not, as the Greeks had thought, a perfect sphere, but was a place with abundant valleys and mountains, a place of distressed topography. In the same fashion, with the aid of his recent contraption, he could contemplate Jupiter's four major satellites, thereby deepening in the conviction that not all the celestial bodies had the Earth as the referential center, and had access, likewise, to observation of the phases of the planet Venus. All these considerations corroborated the veracity of the heliocentric system. Firmly convinced of the validity of the Copernican system, Galileo maintained that it was not incompatible with Christian faith. Nevertheless, accused by the ecclesiastical hierarchy of defending a grave heresy he was obliged to abjure his system in 1633. The punishment of life in prison that originally was imposed finally was commuted to house arrest. On the 8th of January in 1642 Galileo died and it was not until 1992 that a Papal commission recognized the error of the condemnation. Galileo is considered the founder of modern mechanics. Conscious of the important of apply the experimental or hypothetico-deductive method to the study of physics and convinced that nature was written in mathematical language, he realized conscientious studies concerning rectilinear movement and the circular, also analyzing the parabolic trajectories described by projectiles and the slipping of balls upon inclined planes. Being a professor in Pisa, he studied the fall of gravity, which was how material bodies were denominated by function of their weight. Before him the theory of Aristotle held that the falling velocity of objects was proportional to their weight, yet before this thesis Galileo managed to demonstrate that two bodies of different mass or density dropped from the same elevation would reach the ground at the same time. This fact was demonstrated in an irrefutable form by dropping two objects of different weights from the famous tower of Pisa. Galileo's contributions to the physical sciences were innumerable, from the formulation of the laws of inertia to the definition of scientific method which, starting from observation and through the experimental corroboration of the hypothesis, would be capable of establishing scientific laws in a rigorously mathematical language, ranging from the establishment of the principle of relativity of movement to the study of the resistance of materials. Throughout his work, Galileo claimed to be simply a physicist and not a theologian. That is, he wanted to be a modest philosopher of nature who aspired to discover the laws of movement and not their ultimate cause of which, certainly, it was always taken for granted was God. Beginning with Galileo, physics stopped seeking the final and ultimate "why" in nature to attend merely to "how" the phenomena are produced. Without wishing to be irreverent, he thought science should separate itself as much from faith as from scholastic philosophy. In this way, modern science, based on the hypothetico-deductive method, sacrificed the broadness of the Aristotelian causal explanation for the sake of rigor and the functionality permitted by the mathematical calculus. Until those developments mathematics did not occupy a very relevant place in the study of Physics, given that the qualitative criteria of Aristotelianism predominated. However, the ideal of the new science of nature carried the pretentious aspiration of expressing itself in mathematical language. In this way calculus was introduced into the study of physical laws. Space ceased having an absolute up and down and a natural place for everything and so was transformed into a geometrical uniform space. In 1642, the same year that Galileo died, Isaac Newton was born. With him the entire process which he had brought to the birth and definition of modern science would culminate. Newton shone as the preeminent man of his time. Firstly he was a member of the Royal Society, later coming to be its president. He was named, likewise, a member of Parliament representing Cambridge University and also served as director of the House of the Treasury. Nevertheless, on the tombstone of his grave he did not want any of his titles to be written as epitaph, not even that of Sir, his desire being that on the mortuary stone there only be put "Isaac Newton. Theologian." In truth his entire lifework had an essentially theological vocation consisting of discovering and explaining God's action in the Universe. For him the Universe was like a divine cryptogram whose meaning was still to be revealed. His freedom of spirit and his love of truth were praiseworthy. As one of his biographers writes: although he belonged to the Anglican Church he was against persecuting the non-conformists to convert. He judged men by their customs and for him the non-conformists were neither vicious nor damned. It is not that he trusted only in natural religion, but was persuaded by Revelation, and among the different types of books which he always had in his hands the one he most constantly read was the Bible.(5) His celebrated work Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy posited the bases for classical mechanics. In books I and II of this work, using the language of mathematics, Newton established the general laws of movement. In continuation in book III, sub-titled The System of the World, Newton presented his famous law of universal gravitation, according to which an attractive force exists between bodies that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance. Newton did not attempt to explain why things occurred in this way, and even more, openly confessed he ignored that, for his interest, following Galileo, was not so much clarifying the why of things, but instead to explain how they happen. In the General Scholium of his Principles, the illustrious physicist openly recognizes this fact when he writes: Hitherto we have explained the phenomena of the heavens and of our sea by the power of gravity, but have not yet assigned the cause of this power... But hitherto I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena, and I frame no hypotheses; for whatever is not deduced from the phenomena is to be called an hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, whether of occult qualities or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction. Thus it was that the impenetrability, the mobility, and the impulsive force of bodies, and the laws of motion and of gravitation, were discovered. And to us it is enough that gravity does really exist, and acts according to the laws which we have explained, and abundantly serves to account for all the motions of the celestial bodies, and of our sea.(6) In this fashion Sir Isaac Newton, transcending the Aristotelian dichotomy between the sublunar world and the supralunar world, managed to elaborate a system of physics that would permit the unification of the Universe beneath the same laws. VALUATION OF MODERN SCIENCE The 16th century began in Europe with a profound crisis in the breast of Christianity. It is said that a superiority complex is nothing but a hidden inferiority complex, that is, a way of compensating for the frustration of feeling oneself smaller in comparison with others. If anything characterizes the modern era it is not exactly humility. The humanism of the Renaissance was nothing but the rebel reaction of an adolescent who, motivated by his own unconscious, thinks herself superior to everyone else. In a certain sense it is explicable. The development of modern science, especially the theory of the Polish monk Nicolás Copernicus, caused man to have a smaller self-image. In effect, the planet that he inhabited was no longer the center of the Universe. His home, the world that he inhabited was no longer a privileged place in Creation, but just one more planet that revolving around the Sun was moving lost in a gigantic Universe. Man felt lost in the immensity of a physical and intellectual abyss that overcame him and, meanwhile, the Christian church, the only possible source of relief, meaning and hope, had lost the freshness of its early days. Religion then took the form of incomprehension and confrontation. And the pastors became wolves dressed in sheepskins. Certainly the opposition to the work of Copernicus came from the Catholic side as much as from the Protestant. The Protestants considered the new heliocentric theory to be contrary to a literal interpretation of the Bible. For their part, the Catholics did not attack Copernicus's theory until it was defended by Giordano Bruno and later by Galileo Galilei. What is remarkable about the matter and something that the defenders of atheist scientism frequently forget is that no essential incompatibility exists between the Bible and modern science. In fact, the age as well as the first modern scientists were openly and declaredly Christians. Modern science emerged from medieval university Christianity and from the new methods of thought inaugurated during the low Middle Ages. In this sense it is important to mention the formidable historical debt contracted by modern science with Christianity prior to the medieval epoch. As Rupert Hall has written: There was not a unique reason for the evolution of science during the beginnings of modern Europe, now that we are free to argue that each one of the traits of European civilization contributed to it. It is tempting to suggest that this civilization was more intellectual than others, like the Chinese or the Arab, but this is unlikely to be true except in the sense that perhaps they were relatively more educated. No comparable civilization had produced anything like the medieval university, whether in its form or in its size, and it is hard to see how our science might have been born without the university of the medieval and later eras. It generated an enlightened caste which never was composed exclusively of priests and bureaucrats; taught that truth derived from argument and from proof, not from mere authority; it flourished thanks to criticism and debate. (It also had its weak points, its trivialities, its oft-recited platitudes, its unending wordiness). The medieval university gave much liberty to men and there was variety between one apprenticeship center and another; no single series of courses and procedures was imposed, no unified dogmatism.(7) Undoubtedly, despite the circumstantial opposition of ecclesiastical hierarchies to the new heliocentric scientific ideas, they emerged from the breast of a profoundly Christian world and culture. Neither historically nor dogmatically is the Bible opposed to science nor science to the Bible. Another thing is that philosophical interpretations of certain clerics or by some ideologues of anticlericism have been deployed in arguing both perspectives. Hummel indicates that: far from being antagonistic, then, both perspectives, the scientific and the theological, are mutually complementary. The Bible reveals a God consistent in his character and with an orderly creative activity. The conviction that the universe is consistent and predictable is essential for scientific activity. Modern science unfolds in the breast of a society whose dominant philosophy was Christian theism. Christian theology provided an adequate terrain and climate for nourishing scientific growth.(8) The reasons for which the Catholics opposed the heliocentric system should be sought not so much in faith as in purely theological or, more strictly speaking, philosophical discrepancies. And what cannot be forgotten, lest one should fall into a crass anachronism, is that the science of that time was profoundly impregnated by theology and philosophy. This was so much so that it is appropriate to affirm that without Christian philosophy and theology so- called modern science would not have existed. In consequence, it is not risky to maintain that the teachings of Copernicus and those of Galileo were rejected for the challenge they contained with respect to the Aristotelian-Thomist system. An imposing system of thought which, until that moment, was in force in Europe, not only in theological contexts but also in scientific. Just as occurred in the modern epoch with the astronomy of Copernicus and with Galileo's physics, one has very often tried to evaluate the value of Revelation according to its compatibility or not with scientific theories in fashion. This attitude is dangerous and simplistic; dangerous because it runs the risk of putting the individual into a dilemma in which they cannot respect one part without abandoning the other, and it is also a simplistic position because of it being reductionist in the domain of knowledge: perhaps it reduces all knowledge to the Revelation, or perhaps the only truth is that resulting from the application of the scientific method. In reality, science and Revelation are two different types of discourse. It is very important to distinguish between the propositions of both languages so as not to fall into confusion. Science is essentially human knowledge which tries to provide an explanation of how natural phenomena occur. It is important to be clear that science tries to give an explanation of the "how," not of "why" natural phenomena occur. It is interested in finding the relationships given between phenomena and expressing these relations in a systematic mode, for which it elaborates theories. A scientific theory can thus be defined as a set of statements that try to give an explanation of a set of coincident phenomena. According to Kuhn,(9) it is understood that scientific theories are substituted by others attending to diverse criteria. Nor does science attempt to inquire into the essence of things in search of their metaphysical reality, but instead it abides in the phenomena; that is to say, it is occupied with things, not such as they are in themselves, but as they present themselves or appear to the observer. Revelation, on the contrary, has a primarily soteriological goal, that is, concerning salvation. As Galileo accurately put it, the Bible was not given to us so that we would know what heaven is, but so that we would know how to go there. The Biblical message is a message that is not directed towards a specialist public, but one that has a universal character, being directed to persons of every gender and condition. Thus it is, for example, that divine wisdom would not imagine that Genesis was written in language only intelligible to the minds of certain men of the 20th or 21st centuries, but that its Word was expressed in a manner such that it would be accessible and comprehensible not only at any moment in history, but also at any place in the world and in any culture. Therefore, from the assumption of the existence of a personal God, the fact is perfectly rational that He would have spoken to men in their own language. In short, the Bible is a rational book because it is intelligible to all peoples in all times. Christianity is the only universal religion, because the book of Christianity speaks a universal language. God effectively speaks through the Scriptures to all, without distinction of race, color, nationality, social state, or intelligence level.(10) Neither the rationality of natural science nor the rationality of historical knowledge can exhibit similar pretensions of universality. It is important to state that the Bible was not originally written as a book of science. Science as well as philosophy represent two attempts by the human being to apprehend reality and explain it. Yet neither science nor philosophy, nor both disciplines taken together, exhaust the universe of rationality. The wise French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal wrote: the heart has reasons that reason cannot know. To reduce the truth value of the propositions of the Revelation to the test of scientific verification is to try to enclose rationality in an excessively narrow and completely inappropriate setting. Science is one type of knowledge concerning facts and by its character of provisionality is continuously renewable. God's Word, on the other hand, is absolute and is not limited by facts: it is the facts that are limited by It. The language of the Bible, the language of faith, is not scientific language. The Bible claims to be the Word of God and as such is the Word of God for all persons at all times. The goal of the Bible is not to describe nature according to a scientific procedure. The value of the Word of God is permanent. The value of scientific theories, as the history of science demonstrates to us, is subject to the transformations and the variations required by the advance of knowledge. Theories are substituted one for another following the movement of the times. The Lord's Word remains forever. III. PHILOSOPHIC RATIONALISM Accordingly, it is true that when I think only of God, and turn wholly to him, I discover no cause of error or falsity: but immediately thereafter, recurring to myself, experience assures me that I am nevertheless subject to innumerable errors. R. DESCARTES, Metaphysical Meditations No.4 Rationalism was a philosophical movement on the European continent throughout the 17th century. Although its antecedents can be found in ancient Greece, in Parmenidean speculation as well as in Plato's metaphysical idealism, it cannot be doubted that this concept acquired a special significance and formulation as a system during the course of the Modern Age. According to this doctrine what is primary in the order of knowledge, that immediately present in consciousness, are the ideas of the mind itself. They are the concrete content of our thought. This can be certified or incorrect, but it always will be reason itself that elucidates this question and will do so attending fundamentally to the manner according to which some ideas are deduced starting from others. It is not, then, unusual that some rationalist philosophers were great mathematicians at the same time. Recall, for example, that Descartes was the discoverer of analytic geometry, that Leibniz was the inventor of the infinitesimal calculus and that Spinoza came to write an Ethics Demonstrated by Means of Geometry. Certainly mathematics comprised, for this current of thought, the model par excellence for knowing. The rationalist philosophers believed that in the human soul there existed certain concepts starting from which one could deduce, in a rigorously logical manner, a coherent explanation of reality. For the rationalists those concepts, which gain the name of innate ideas, are acquired not through any sort of external experience but instead, already being contained in our reason, they are grasped in an immediate fashion through rational intuition. It is enough to introspectively analyze our mind to be aware of the existence of such ideas. RENÉ DESCARTES René Descartes, the most outstanding of the rationalist philosophers, was born in 1596 in the bosom of a noble and prosperous family. He was educated until 1612 in the La Fléche school with the Jesuits. There, convinced he had already attained all the knowledge of his time, he decided to abandon his studies and to dedicate the rest of his life to knowledge of himself and of the great book of the world. After completing numerous voyages and serving as a soldier on various fronts, he traveled to Holland where he lived from 1628 until 1649 but, in this last year, seduced by the invitation of queen Christina of Sweden he went to Stockholm. As it is told, he was usually required by the queen, desirous of receiving philosophy classes, at five in the morning. Accustomed as he was to staying in bed until eleven in the morning, it seems that the rigors of winter found a perfect ally for ending the life of the French philosopher within a few months. His most significant works were the Discourse on Method (1637) of an expository character, and the Metaphysical Meditations (1642), directed toward a more learned public and written, therefore, in Latin. Descartes was, above all, a seeker of certainty, but in this search the French philosopher could not accept any previous knowledge as valid. This absolutely certain understanding could not come from the surrounding world for this showed itself to be chaotic, nor could it begin starting from knowledge existing in the past for this had been found incapable of resolving the fundamental philosophical problems. Everyone opined in their own way and the chaos extended as much into the realm of ideas as into that of beliefs. It was necessary to discover an absolutely new and secure road or method. For this reason, in the Discourse on Method, Descartes described the spirit of his new way of making philosophy with a beautiful comparison: like a man who walks alone and in the dark--writes Descartes--I resolved to go so slowly and to use so much circumspection in all things that, if I advanced only very slightly, at least I would effectively keep myself from falling. Security in understanding, solid certainty was the only way to advance along the highway of knowledge. It follows that the question of method would be fundamental in Cartesian thought. In fact, the word method derives precisely from the Greek words "meta" (toward) and "odos" (road); the method was, thus, a direction, a pathway, a procedure which must lead, for all who follow it with rectitude, to the attempted end. That method, according to him, would also permit in turn the realization of a unification of all the scientific criteria with one reason which would be capable of taking into account absolutely all human understandings. With this method of proceeding, rigorous and methodical, Descartes was not trying to attain a conglomerate of disconnected truths, but instead to develop a solid, secure and organized system, because for him only one science existed, although this displayed numerous ramifications. By virtue of the method, all human understanding from now on would fall into a unitary character. Knowledge for Descartes was like a tree whose trunk was physics, metaphysics the roots and the branches each one of the particular sciences. As Descartes hoped, the fruit of this tree, called "mathesis" or universal mathematics, would be nothing else but ethics. So then, to solidify the metaphysical cement of this new system it was necessary to elaborate an infallible set of rules that might permit clearly distinguishing the true from the false. The first of these rules, such as it is described in the Discourse on Method, lay in accepting as true only that which one could perceive with absolute evidence as being so. According to the second rule, the problem to be studied had to be divided into as many parts as might be necessary for its best resolution. The third rule established that starting with the simplest elements, one should gradually advance toward the resolution of ever more complex problems. The fourth and last rule consisted in performing as many enumerations and repetitions as might be necessary so as to verify that no error had been committed in the process. Once the rules for the method were established, what Descartes needed was a solid foundation, a firm point of departure upon which to begin constructing the new structure of knowledge. In the same way that Archimedes asked only for a reference point so as to lift the earth and move it elsewhere, the French philosopher desired an absolutely certain and unbreakable starting point. The subterfuge used to arrive at that first truth was so-called methodical doubt, a taking into account of all knowledge held up to the present that did not resort to remaining within mere skepticism, doubt for doubt, but sought to go further and become a tool in service of the search for truth. In progressive fashion, this starting doubt kept yielding distinct and ever more radical levels of profundity. In the first place, Descartes is going to doubt judgments based on the testimony of the senses and secondly, is going to doubt all his previous reasoning. He also will imagine that his state is similar to a dreaming man asleep who takes as truth that which is no more than fiction. Lastly, he will propose the hypothesis of a malign genie, whose fundamental interest is to deceive him. But, wanting to think in this manner, wishing to think that everything was false, the French philosopher discovers that it was necessary for him, who was doubting, to do so. Cogito, ergo sum (I think therefore I am), such will be the first firm an immovable certainty of the Cartesian system. Starting from that Descartes will construct all of rationalist philosophic thought. The res cogitans, the I, consciousness or thought will be the starting point for Cartesian metaphysics. The first reality discovered will be, as was seen, self-consciousness. Beginning with that all the rest is inferred. The human soul is, for Descartes, completely immaterial and free. This soul is essentially defined as thought and its existence is entirely independent of the corporal world. Now then, is the I, the conscience, the only existing object? For the moment it appears to be so. Descartes is enclosed in the tower of his own thought with all the windows of the senses closed to the exterior world. In principle there is no exit, Descartes having remained alone with his own thought, this being called the problem of solipsism. Nevertheless, Descartes' proposition is not to speak only of the I, of the res cogitans, but also the French philospher wants to investigate matters of God and the world. God and the res extensa are, to his way of seeing, substances, understanding by substance that which has in itself the principle of its existence, that which does not need anything else to exist. Descartes' recourse to escape from solipsism was precisely to recur to the existence of God. The father of rationalist philosophy demonstrated the existence of God in various ways, one of them reproducing the Anselmian model consisting in deriving the existence of God starting from the idea of a totally perfect being. In effect, upon finding within himself the idea of an absolutely perfect being, he felt obliged to claim that such an idea could not proceed from himself, he being imperfect. Nor could such an idea emanate from the exterior world, for this equally presented itself as finite and imperfect. Therefore, such an idea could only have been introduced in the human mind because an infinite and perfect entity had actually placed it there. Thus God exists. God exists and furthermore, since he is wholly good, he will not permit man to be deceived every time his senses tell him something about sensible reality. In this manner, God came to be the guarantee for human thought concerning the world. Therefore, the res extensa, which makes reference to the being of the objects of the external world, should also have, like God and consciousness, a substantial reality. The fundamental characteristic of the objects that comprise the res extensa will be that of occupying a place in space. In this way, for Descartes matter will be the extensive, the quantifiable, the measurable. The human body, belonging to this world of extended things shall be understood, from then on, as a machine and explicated according to the deterministic laws of physics-mathematics, while the human soul will continue to belong to the intangible kingdom of thought and of liberty. It was thus that, together with the mechanistic view of the world, there also was formulated one of the cardinal themes that preoccupied the followers of Descartes and which was precisely that of the relations between the soul (the res cogitans) and the body (the res extensa). The radical separation between both types of reality led the Cartesians to ask themselves how it was possible for both to be connected. To this problem, known as the problem of the communication of substances, each author responded in a different manner. Descartes himself supposed that communication was realized through the so-called pineal gland which was found situated in the brain. MALEBRANCHE Malebranche, a great admirer of Descartes' philosophy, tried to solve the problem of the communication of substances postulating a thesis known by the name of occasionalism. For Malebranche, the only way to put two natures so absolutely disparate as matter and thought into contact was causing God to intervene in the process. According to this theory, on one side was God who, occasioned by a movement of the res extensa, provoked in the human being a determinate idea, and on the other side also was the same God who, occasioned by a decision of the human will, put into motion the corresponding part of the human body. As one can see, Malebranche's rationalism turned out to be extremely theological. In reality, his philosophy, tightly linked with the Christian faith, was an attempt to synthesize Descartes' dualism with the thought of St. Augustine. For this philosopher, born in Paris in 1638, it was not necessary to demonstrate the existence of God, for this was a clear and distinct reality immediately present to his conscience. God was, therefore, evident. Further, Malebranche argued that only through God was it possible to know the rest of things, thus if we do not somehow see God we shall be incapable of seeing anything else. For Malebranche one could not speak of philosophy nor of knowledge independent or separated from God. As we have seen, Malebranche started from the principle of the irreducibility of substances. The senses and imagination committed errors due to their dependent relation with respect to the body, and only reason, pure understanding, was configured to capture the true idea about things. So then, if the res cogitans and the res externa were two absolutely disparate types of reality, it was logical to ask how it was possible for the human being to access knowledge of things. Like others before him, Malebranche considered the sense organs to be faithful and exact when they instructed us concerning the necessary relations to conserve one's life, and their function being so practical one could verify that they fulfill it admirably; but upon trying to go beyond this function, the senses were condemned to a most resounding failure. If as a source of theoretical knowledge the testimony of the senses was uncertain and fallacious, one could then ask about the derivation of our ideas. According to Malebranche they could not come from external objects, yet it was also unacceptable to claim that they were merely creations of the subject's imagination. The only possible explanation that this French priest found to account for the origin of our ideas is that these were directly contemplated by our mind in the mind of God, given that the realities of all things were contained in this divine mind and it is in it that we literally could know them. SPINOZA Another notable Cartesian, Baruch Spinoza, produced his rationalism beginning with the idea of substance. Substance for him is all that which exists for itself and is self-conceived, so one must admit that only God is, properly speaking, substance. Now then, God expresses himself through myriad attributes of which only two are known by man: thought and extension. The problem of the communication of substances was thus fully resolved or, better said, avoided. The problem of the communication of substances does not exist because in reality "substances" do not exist; for Spinoza there is only one substance: God. In this manner, Spinoza understood that everything which exists in the Universe is nothing but a manifestation of divinity, or Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived(11) because God himself is identical to substance, is identical with Nature. This doctrine, which is known by the name of pantheism, maintains that God is an intrinsic cause of things and neither an external nor a transcendent cause of them. God is reality par excellence; God is existence for itself, and such a reality is infinite and absolutely free: for, following definition VII of the Ethics, that thing is called free which exists solely by the necessity of its own nature, and of which the action is determined by itself alone. In this way, God governs the whole Universe through the sole necessity of his essence. For this reason, Spinoza can conclude saying that the universal laws of nature and God's eternal decrees are one and the same thing. Everything is in God and lives and moves in Him. In addition to this singular metaphysics, Spinoza constructed a peculiar theory of the passions and affects following the geometrical order of mathematical demonstrations. For him the basic tendency of all men is the "conatus," that is, the effort that each thing makes to persevere in their being: Everything, insofar as it is in itself, endeavours to persist in its own being.(12) Every nature strives in this way to maintain the actual form of its existence, and the endeavour wherewith everything endeavours to persist in its own being is nothing else but the actual essence of the thing in question.(13) The Spinozian theory of the state and of law are grounded in this inertial concept of natural beings. By the right and ordinance of Nature, I merely mean those natural laws wherewith we conceive every individual to be conditioned by nature, so as to live and act in a given way. For instance, fishes are naturally conditioned for swimming, and the greater for devouring the less; therefore fishes enjoy the water, and the greater devour the less by sovereign natural right.(14) Natural law, therefore, became a necessary outcome of nature itself. Thus, individual possessed a destiny by natural right that they inexorably have to fulfill, that of persisting in their being. Now it is the sovereign law and right of nature that each individual should endeavour to preserve itself as it is, without regard to anything but itself; therefore this sovereign law and right belongs to every individual, namely to exist and act according to its natural conditions.(15) Each one's right extended, therefore, up to the point reached by their power, which necessarily implied a state of permanent conflict between the interest of some individuals and the others' aspirations. To be able to escape from this state of permanent war it was necessary to revert to the creation of a social contract, according to which each individual would transfer their power to society and at the same time agree to obey it. From the theological point of view, Spinoza proposed a new method for interpreting the Bible, said method being similar to that utilized for interpreting nature. For Spinoza, the general rule for interpreting the sacred books consisted in not attributing to Scripture any doctrine that could not be explained in an evident fashion by its history. Biblical knowledge had to be completely rational and therefore needed to be interpreted in a manner as much philological as historical. Thus he wrote: The history of a Scriptural statement comprises, first, the nature and properties of the language in which the books of the Bible were written, and in which their authors were accustomed to speak. We shall thus be able to investigate every expression by comparison with common conversational usages. Now all writers both of the Old Testament and the New were Hebrews. Therefore, a knowledge of the Hebrew language is before all things necessary, not only for comprehension of the Old Testament, which was written in that tongue, but also of the New, for although the latter was published in other languages, yet its characteristics are Hebrew.(16) The Dutch philosopher added to this the necessity of finding a naturalistic explanation of the miracles and of everything supernatural in general, and considered it fundamental, following the postulates of the rationalist method, to always proceed from above to below, that is to say, he counseled going from the most general towards the interpretation of the particular and concrete details. LEIBNIZ The thinker Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, born in the city of Leipzig in the year 1646, presents himself as the philosopher of concord. His life as well as his work were dedicated to the project of returning unity to the Christians, despite all the existing differences among them, with a single church. This idea of harmony or of universal concord was profoundly rooted in Leibniz's philosophy throughout his entire life. Not in vain, in the marrow of this celebrated German mathematician and logician's thought, the firm conviction existed that, by starting from certain elementary truths and applying the deductive rules of logic to them, humanity could come to resolve whatever discrepancies there might be between them. Leibniz considered only two types of truth to exist, the truths of reason and the truths of fact. The truths of reason could be reduced to the so-called principle of identity or principle of non-contradiction. The truths of fact, for their part, were ruled by the principle of sufficient reason, according to which everything that occurs in the universe has a cause because of which it unfolds in this fashion and not in a different one. As against Spinoza, who supported the substantial equality of everything within the divine unity, Leibniz thought that each individual possessed their own specific dignity. According to him, by virtue of the so- called principle of the indiscernibles, in the universe no two identical substances existed. These individual substances, unique and unrepeatable, Leibniz called monads. The rationalism of Leibniz inclined more towards metaphysical objects than towards ethics or the politicians. For him, material things were nothing more than mere appearances, mere phenomena. That which truly shaped material reality was the coordination of a set of atoms of an immaterial nature. Those atoms, the above-mentioned indivisible substances which receive the name of monads, were characterized, moreover, by being indivisible and non-communicable. As Leibniz said: monads are windowless, that is, they are closed to the world and withdrawn into themselves. Thus there reappeared, with a new perspective, the celebrated Cartesian problem of the communication of substances. The Leibnizian approach to this was simple: the monads, having been programmed to behave by God, necessarily acted according to the divine plan. In accordance with a pre-established harmony, these autonomous machines of a spiritual character projected, perfectly synchronized among themselves, the film of their own individual existence, written by the Creator since the beginning of time. So then, if everything had been programmed or pre-ordained by God, how then to explain the origin of badness in the world. Should the evil be attributed to God? In order to respond to this question Leibniz coined a new term, the term "theodicy," which literally means justification by God, and that will provide the title for one of his most well-known writings. According to the principle of sufficient reason, everything that occurs in the Universe occurs in this concrete manner and not in another because there is a reason for it. One cannot speak, therefore, of liberty; even the most apparently indifferent actions do not stop being determined. With all this, Leibniz will defend a thesis known by the name of metaphysical optimism, which consists in affirming that this world is the best of all possible worlds. That is why God chose it! VALUATION OF RATIONALIST PHILOSOPHY The distinctive mark of modern Philosophy was the emphasis put on subjectivity. Beginning with the Renaissance human reflection was gradually becoming distant from metaphysical and theological consideration so as to center itself on psychological and epistemological ones. The primacy of Revelation as a criterion and guide to human actions came to be substituted with the autonomy of human reason. Reason was progressively distancing itself from faith and began to become, starting from this moment, the supreme guide to all truth. Curiously, the roots of this change were not foreign to the spiritual transformations and the new theological uneasiness which emerged as a consequence of the Protestant Reformation and the bet declared for personal conscience as opposed to the authority of the church. Despite the importance conceded by Luther to conscience, the famous German reformer reinforced a sound rejection of philosophy. For him the Bible was the only valid norm for matters of faith. When he affirmed before emperor Charles V that his conscience was captive to the Word of God, he was clearly expressing what were his priorities and his reference point. He dealt, obviously, with a personal faith seated in personal conviction and in the Biblical Revelation provided by the Sacred Scriptures. The modern world, originated beginning with the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, was a world of doctrinal and political definitions, from which the European nations emerged, with their historical, religious and cultural peculiarities. Medieval universalism had definitely given way to multiplicity and to individuality. Yet, as everyone knows, in this process of shaping Europe, which was not exempt from bloodshed, religious disputes played an essential role. As Vilanova writes: post- Reformation Europe was degenerating into a growing ramification of sects and into a struggle of forms of faith and of thought that submerged Europe into a warlike atmosphere.(17) Starting with the peace of Westphalia, which established Europe's frontiers from the point of view of religious influences, produced during the 17th and 18th centuries, on the Catholic side as much as the Protestant, a radicalization of positions. After the Council of Trent the Protestants began to revert to their own creeds with the goal of defending their own points of view. As can be imagined, these declarations of faith were not far from ideological assumptions and philosophical assertions. Despite their aversion to philosophy, when the Reformation became a positive religion was seen in the obligation to crystallize their faith in dogmatic formulae. In the concrete case of Lutheranism, Philip Melanchton was the one entrusted to introduce in Germany a system of humanist thought of an Aristotelian cut which predominated in the German universities for several centuries. Thus there emerged the confessional interpretation of the so-called Protestant scholastic which, with the passage of time, would favor the birth of a clearly rationalist theology. As Ginzo writes, concerning the later influence of Lutheranism: Protestant theology and philosophy appear in tight relation and thus we can see that in the theological camp, together with the representatives of Lutheran orthodoxy and of Pietism, there appears an entire current of rationalist thought that aspires to adapt to the new movement of ideas.(18) Just as had occurred with Lutheranism, each denomination tried to justify its own dogmatic pronouncements, and the interpretation of the Bible came to be a mere effort to find approving texts that might reinforce or justify the beliefs defended by the different creeds. Following the model of literalness, reading of the Bible was reduced more towards the search for texts than to their interpretation. The different Protestant denominations maintained that their credos had to be based upon interpretation of the sacred texts. But, on the other hand, the different credos clearly affected that Biblical exegesis, since together they assumed a previous comprehension of the Bible, thus influencing the mode they should use to study it and arriving, eventually, at a determination of what was necessary to seek in it. Each denomination defended something. Catholics and Protestants opined differently and the Protestants themselves were not in agreement amongst themselves. Where then was the truth? What was it that one should believe? How to know whether one had the correct faith or not? These and other similar questions were the explosive of a transcendental revolution in the history of thought. Philosophy stopped questioning the truth of things to being asking about the certainty of knowledge. In this way, undoubtedly, one can say that the great theme of modern philosophy was the theme of knowledge. To have an adequate idea of the evolution of philosophy throughout history it is necessary to keep in mind the themes that have been preeminent in its development. We can summarize them in the following manner: ancient philosophy as much as medieval interested itself in the reality of things. Nature and humanity were the objects of knowledge which especially attracted the attention of Greek thought, with God being the preferred theme of study for medieval philosophy. As a response to the new historical situation presented to man, modern philosophy centered its attention on problems relative to knowledge: its origin, reach and limits. As fruit of the inheritance of the changes attempted in the 16th century, critical moments were seen in the 17th century. On one side the Protestant Reformation caused the spiritual cement of old Europe to crumble, and on the other the commotion caused by modern science caused the knowledge of the geniuses of antiquity, so appreciated during the Renaissance, to lose all value and authority. Before this profound spiritual and social crisis two possibilities opened. The first of them was to accept a radical skepticism which, as in Montaigne's case, postulated that the world was a chaos and that it had become absurd to try to find an explanation. The truth did not exist or could not be known and, therefore, the only wise attitude consisted in adopting a permanent doubt. The second possibility consisted in not resigning oneself before the chaos and to begin anew a philosophic journey which from the fogs of uncertainty would conduct man to the secure luminosity of knowledge. According to Descartes, reason was the only faculty that could remove men from the quagmire of uncertainty in which they find themselves. In effect, for Descartes reason was the very essence of man because, as was commonly accepted, all human beings share the faculty of thought. Good sense, Descartes wrote, is of all things among men the most equally distributed; for everyone thinks themself so abundantly provided with it that even those who are the most difficult to satisfy in everything else do not usually desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess. And in this it is not likely that all are mistaken, the conviction is rather to be held as testifying that the power of judging aright and of distinguishing truth from error, which is properly what is called good sense or reason, is by nature equal in all men.(19) So then, if reason is the very essence of man, how is it possible that everyone thinks differently from everyone else. Given that it is not possible that some men are simply more reasonable than others, the discrepancy of opinions better should be sought in the particular use which each human being makes of this faculty than in a fault or deficiency in it. What Descartes tried was to find a method that would permit him to utilize his reason with a full guarantee of not erring. To inquire, then, into what might be an adequate road for directing our thoughts shall be a motivating moment for rationalist philosophy. The problem which in the long run the rationalist philosophy poses will not be so much that of affirming reason as a source of knowledge, as the alienation of God by virtue of the growing autonomy of a human being who, with the passage of time, will end believing that it is possible to live omitting her Creator. Such was the road that, beginning with the 17th century's rationalism, led from the western civilization of uncertainties of faith in the credos of men to the certainties of a reason which, throughout the transit of years, was becoming ever more dogmatic and more absolute. Meanwhile God, the ultimate grounding of all reason, was being lost in the process. The sad consequences, anguish and despair that they derived from all that still projects its shadow over our days and allows palpably perceiving where in the here and now the old yet continually renewed words of the prophet Jeremiah resound. My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water (Jeremiah 2:13). As has become patent in hindsight, despite all its arrogance, pure reason, the reason that digs its own cisterns alienated from God, has been unable to cure the profound pains of the human soul. IV. EMPIRICISM AND KNOWLEDGE Honoured Sir, Since you are pleased to inquire what are my thoughts about the mutual toleration of Christians in their different professions of religion, I must needs answer you freely that I esteem that toleration to be the chief characteristic mark of the true Church. JOHN LOCKE, A Letter Concerning Toleration The roots of empiricism should be sought in the boom undergone by the natural sciences in the 17th century. The value of experience as a source of scientific knowledge came to supplant all the medieval speculative pretensions. Because of this, for the empiricists confronted with rationalist mathematization, physics was erected in the model as wisdom par excellence. Although the empiricist focus for philosophy is as ancient as Heraclitus or Aristotle, Francis Bacon in England can be considered the initiator of modern empiricist philosophy. Hobbes, famous for his pejorative conception of human nature, is also found among the precursors of empiricism. Yet it will be persons like Locke, Berkeley and Hume who develop this system of thought in the modern epoch and who give it definitive formulation. The most characteristic trait of empiricist philosophy was its epistemological position, which is to say, its posture with regard to that knowledge which, openly confronted with rationalist idealism, resulted in a negation of philosophic knowledge of transcendental themes. In this way, empiricism performed a critique as much of the classical themes of philosophy as of its fundamental metaphysical concepts. Starting from the axiom that all knowledge originated in experience, terms such as substance, the I, God, causality, were objects for a severe revision on the part of the English thinkers. Consequently, it can be claimed that the empiricist philosophers' interest was less in abstract speculation than in the study, on one hand, of practical, social, moral, religious, and political problems which affected the human being in a concrete form and, on the other hand, as had occurred with the rationalists, the analysis of problems of knowledge. JOHN LOCKE John Locke was born in England in 1632 in the bosom of a Protestant family with marked Puritan inclinations. At Oxford he studied medicine, science and philosophy. Later, between 1675 and 1679 he lived in France and between 1683 bna 1689 resided in Holland. When William of Orange ascended the throne of England in the year 1689, Locke returned to his country and for 11 years occupied an official post responsible for commerce and agriculture. He died in the year 1704. Locke is considered by many as the founder of empiricism, that doctrine which postulates that all knowledge is derived from experience. In consequence, he was opposed to all the rationalist philosophers, especially to Descartes, by affirming that general a priori ideas or principles do not exist. Declared enemies of fanaticism as well as skepticism, the English philosopher put into relief the fact that a unanimous agreement among men does not exist concerning fundamental philosophical principles or concepts whether they be speculative or practical, and also claimed that to resolve this conflict, what could by no means be countenanced was to postulate the existence of principles of innate character. Despite all the modern and secular types who can result from his philosophical approaches, what is certain is that, like so many authors of his era, Locke's principal preoccupation was originally theological; Esmeralda Garcia notes that: the difficulties that emerged from an examination of moral and theological problems led him to perform a general investigation of the faculties and limits in the knowledge of the human mind.(20) That is to say, originally motivated by strictly anthropological and religious problems, and before the difficulties that those raised, Locke proposed to investigate the origin, certainty and reach of the contents of our consciousness. As has been said, on this subject Locke completely broke with rationalism. According to him, in consciousness there is no content prior to sensory experience, nor can there be. For Locke innate ideas did not exist at all, for even the most abstract and general concepts were due simply to the habit of coordinating and combining simpler elements acquired through experience. In the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke wrote: Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas-How comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from EXPERIENCE. In that all our knowledge is founded; and from that it ultimately derives itself.(21) So then, what is an idea? For Locke an idea was all that that is thought by man. The idea, seen as he defined it, was essentially a content of consciousness. According to Locke, ideas could be divided into the simple and the complex. Now then, Locke clarified that the simple ideas were not mere copies of things, yet instead the effect that these produced in us. In this way Locke distinguished in human perception between primary qualities, which are those that things possess in themselves such as weight and extension, and secondary qualities, which are those that provoke certain sensations in us. These secondary qualities are not properly speaking qualities of the things. Complex ideas, for their part, were the result of combination of the simple ideas. Regarding the origin of complex ideas, the English philosopher maintained that they all derived partly from the direct relationship with the particular objects of the external world (ideas of the senses), partly from the operations which spontaneously occur within one's own mind (ideas of reflection). With regard to complex ideas Locke considered that these could be of three classes: ideas of modes, ideas of relations and ideas of substances. In reality, the first two classes gave him no trouble, but that was not what happened with the idea of substance. From the beginning, it is necessary to review clearly that the substance of things, as such, is not something that can be captured by means of the senses. As against rationalism, which had considered substance as a cornerstone concept of philosophy, Locke considered the concept of substance something confused and problematic. Locke interpreted substance in the Aristotelian fashion, as the essential background that supported the properties of things and, understood in that way, we understand why it will not be possible to have direct sensory knowledge of it for, strictly speaking, human beings are only capable of perceiving sensory qualities. Despite that, Locke believed it necessary to postulate that substances existed. On this point, his reasoning was rigorously logical: given that the qualities we perceive must necessarily be qualities of something, that something, substance, ought necessarily to exist even though we cannot have an adequate idea about it. And thus, although his philosophy could not dispense with those two fundamental metaphysical concepts, soul and substance, with Locke's empiricism the critique of the principal rationalist ideas had begun.(22) With respect to political thought, in his Letter on Toleration Locke defended the radical separation between the state and the Church. This, understanding the role of the state to be watching over the well-being of the citizens, and of the Church to dedicate itself to the souls of its faithful. According to him, moral norms varied over time and space. Consequently, universal or innate ethical principles did not exist. If those speculative Maxims, whereof we discoursed in the foregoing chapter--wrote Locke-- have not an actual universal assent from all mankind, as we there proved, it is much more visible concerning practical Principles, that they come short of a universal reception: and I think it will be hard to instance any one moral rule which can pretend to be so general and ready an assent as, "What is, is"; or to be so manifest a truth as this, that "It is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be." Whereby it is evident that they are further removed from a title to be innate; and the doubt of their being native impressions on the mind is stronger against those moral principles than the other.(23) In spite of this, in the domain of political theory Locke maintained the existence of a natural law that rules nature as well as mankind, and was for the latter the moral law. It was possible to accede to this natural law by means of reason and its essential principles were life, liberty and the right to property. The government, for Locke, had as its basic goal to protect and defend the exercise of these rights. In reality, in his opinion, all government had emerged from a pact or contract among individuals with the purpose of protecting life, liberty and property, the citizens having the right to withdraw their confidence in the governor and even to rebel against him in the event that he does not comply with that function. The governors operated solely by popular mandate and were responsible only to the people for their activity. In this manner, before the absolute power of the monarch defended by Hobbes, Locke proposed a constitutional monarchy in which the power of the kind was clearly limited by the parliament. Later, these ideas would have a very large influence in the French Enlightenment. BERKELEY George Berkeley was born in Ireland in the year 1685. He was originally a pastor and later an Anglican bishop. His interest in philosophy had as principal engine the struggle against the irreligiosity of skeptics and atheists whose roots, for the Anglican bishop, were found in the incipient materialism of certain thinkers of his time. To complete his defense of Christianity as against materialism, Berkeley radicalized the critique of knowledge begun by Locke and developed with greater rigor the consequences that could be deduced from the empiricist approach of the English philosopher. For Berkeley, materialism was the fruit of error, and he therefore defended a doctrine known by the name of "subjective idealism." His reasoning started from the idea that, given we only can know that of which we have sensory experience, one must affirm that for an empiricist, abstract concepts cannot possess more reality than mental. In this fashion, for Berkeley, the claim that all abstract concepts are nothing more than mere names clearly meant that these, in reality, lack all objective reference. The consequences of this position necessarily led him to immaterialism, according to which matter and things in general only exist insofar as they are captured by a subject. Certainly matter, understood as the substratum of things, is not something that indeed can be captured by means of sensation. Hence, Berkeley concludes, matter cannot have an objective existence. The being of things is thus comprehended in the act or the deed of being perceived. Being is perceiving, the Irish bishop categorically stated. In conclusion, matter was defined as a mere universal concept, something that human beings ingenuously assume in things, yet which in a strict sense we cannot view at all. HUME Hume was the one charged with taking English empiricism to its most radical extreme. He was born in Edinburgh and studied law in that city. He lived in the century of the Enlightenment and can be framed within English empiricism as well as within the philosophical movement of the Reformation. Hume considered it necessary to develop a human science to complement the natural sciences and with this in mind undertook the study of reality in phenomenological terms, that is, fundamentally attending to the way things presented themselves or appeared to man and not how they were in themselves. He focused the problem of knowledge in an eminently psychological manner. All the material of thought is nothing more than perceptions. The result of his analysis was the crudest skepticism, that is, the negation of the possibility of any knowledge. As for valid objects of knowledge he indicated on one hand the relationships among ideas (which are purely logical relations) and on the other, questions of fact (which depend entirely upon observation and experimentation). In his work Treatise on Human Nature, he divided the perceptions of our mind into impressions and ideas. The difference between them lay in the degree of force and intensity with which they impinge on our mind. Impressions always are more lifelike than ideas. Hume defended the thesis that they are the origin of all our ideas, whether these be simple or compound. According to the English author, every idea however extravagant it might be, would have as its basis one or more impressions. To wit, one might perhaps think it difficult to explain how a man could have in his mind ideas such as "a golden mountain" or the idea of a "gnome," since an impression of such things has never existed. Hume explains the possibility of such ideas existing by virtue of some principles called the association of ideas that permitted combining different ideas deriving from simple impressions like "gold" and "mountain," or which permitted increasing or diminishing the content of a perception: a "gnome" would be nothing but the idea of a man in miniature. Beginning with this thesis, the English philosopher accomplished a devastating critique of three fundamental metaphysical concepts: in the first place the concept of cause, which had so much significance for scientific thought. For Hume this concept will be understood simply as a mere custom or mental habit consisting in associating the succession of two similar phenomena that recur in a constant manner. In the second place, Hume attacked the metaphysical concept of substance and carried the critique that his empiricist predecessors had performed to its ultimate consequences. According to this conception, because we cannot have any experience of it, substance would automatically stop having any consistency, becoming an empty concept which designates absolutely nothing. In the last place, the concept of the I will not emerge intact from the Humean critique. According to Hume, the I is nothing more than an aggregation of perceptions for, according to this thinker, an I did not exist as a permanent substrate of personality or as soul, but simply a succession of internal perceptions. In this fashion, Hume's gnoseological or cognitive empiricism ended in being absolute metaphysical skepticism. Hume also concerned himself with religion and morality. Profoundly impacted by Newtonian physics, he tried to apply them to the moral sciences. This desire led him to abandon all purpose of constructing an ethics upon rational postulates founding, instead, a morality based on the feeling of approval or disapproval which the human being experiences with certain actions. The general principle that supports this ethic is contained in the idea that we approve that which gives up pleasure and disapprove of that which gives us pain. His politics too were raised upon an irrational and utilitarian foundation, the useful for him being what was good for the greatest number of persons. He found the grounding of society in human egoism, since we do not unite one with another without the intention of obtaining a benefit. Religion emerged from the fears and distress of mankind. Hume considered invalid all the arguments that tried to demonstrate the existence of God. Whether God exists or does not exist is not something that implies logical contradiction so, in the absence of empirical tests, is not something which can be demonstrated. VALUATION OF EMPIRICISM Some historians consider that, at least from an intellectual point of view, the Modern Age had its origin in the 17th century when, due principally to the work of the rationalists, mathematics replaced theology as queen of the sciences. The human being arrived at the firm conviction that the laws which rule the functioning of nature were universal and necessary and could be reached, furthermore, through the simple exercise of reason. The agitated European political and intellectual situation played an important role in the shaping of this new way of thinking. Faith in the potency of human reason, inaugurated by the Renaissance, continued growing over more than 200 years and, enriched by the contributions of empiricism and the developments in modern science, culminated in magnificent fashion in the historical period known as the Enlightenment. For empiricist philosophy the deciding authority charged with establishing the limits and the reach of knowledge was not reason, but sensory experience instead. In opposition to the abstract theories of reason, the empiricist philosophy put the emphasis on the value of facts. As opposed to Rationalism, the empiricists maintained that the origin of all knowledge was in experience. For this reason, they were certain that innate ideas in no way existed, for even the most abstract concepts were acquired and shaped by the mind beginning with the data obtained through the exercise of the rational capacity. The Modern Age meant the triumph of Rationalism, which is not the same as the triumph of rationality. Rationalism is the philosophy that supports the primacy of the human mind as a faculty of knowledge. If indeed it is true that the immense majority of the rationalists professed to be Christians, what in the long run signified the triumph of philosophies of rationalist cut was a discrediting of Biblical Christianity, especially in all those aspects of the faith that could not be accessed through reason. For a strict rationalist only those parts of Revelation would be true which could be attained through the human faculty of thinking. The miraculous and the supernatural were found on the same plane as superstition. The true religion could only establish itself, from now on, upon a strictly rational foundation. Along this line deism, developed especially in England by men like John Toland, consisted in the affirmation that a natural religiosity could be found implanted within nature, a religion accessible to human reason and stripped of all mystery. From a general viewpoint, one could define empiricism as a doctrine or philosophical system according to which the origin and the value of knowledge depends upon experience. Therefore human knowledge in a strict sense remains limited to those questions of which we can have sensory experience. Not to be missed is that, taken to its extreme, empiricism leads to the most radical skepticism and to the negation not only of the existence of God, but also of all knowledge. It is well known that these were the reasons that in 1745 impeded Hume from obtaining the chair in ethics and pneumatic philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. Hume's critique definitively threw the pretensions of deism and of rational theism to the ground. From his radical empiricism one deduced that, firstly, a universal human nature did not exist and that, secondly, in the absence of empirical proofs, one could never believe that the existence of God was something rational. Natural theology had touched bottom. If rationalism had fought to strip religion from all miraculous or supernatural elements, empiricism had ended with the pretension of justifying, in a strictly rational manner, as much the Supreme Being, which is the foundation of all religiosity, as religiosity itself. Just as had occurred with scientific thought, the great systems of philosophic thought of the 17th and 18th centuries were founded independently of ecclesiastical doctrines. Reason and human knowledge in general had been emancipated from Christian theology. Thanks to the triumph of English empiricism the basis of a long-lasting discussion between science and religion was established. Human thought, built upon the testimony of the senses, began to be the only guarantee of solid knowledge. However, one must note that the empirical truth of science and religious truth are not counterpoised, yet are distinct.(24) It would be mistaken to seek God through the experience of sight, of hearing, of smell, of touch, or of taste. Like Thomas, the disciple of Jesus, many empiricists only believe what they see and, enclosed in such a limited conception of knowledge, have no eyes for a revived Christ. It seems logical to think that if man could access the truths manifested by God in the Scriptures though experience, or through the mere exercise of his rational capacity, the divine Revelation would be unnecessary. From another angle, if the Word of God were not absolutely true it would not be trustworthy. We arrive, therefore, at the conclusion that the Revealed Word must be true and, thus, in a determinate sense reasonable. What must be kept in mind is that not all rationality has reason to be scientific rationality. The Bible was not written in scientific language, but that does not at all affect its credibility, its veracity or its rationality. The Revelation possesses rationality, but a rationality that is unique and characteristic of it, a rationality which cannot be reduced to physics or mathematics, to psychology or to history. So then we can examine the Biblical text and attend to its veracity as well as its rationality. V. ENLIGHTENMENT THOUGHT AND THE MATURITY OF THE AGE OF REASON To found a moral people of God is therefore a task whose consummation can be looked for not from men but only from God Himself. KANT, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone THE CENTURY OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT A fruit of the evolution of science and of thought during the 16th and 17th centuries, in the 18th century there crystallized an essentially rationalist and critical ideological movement. This century is known for Europe by the name of the Enlightenment or the Age of Reason; throughout it, a great number of new ideas came to form constitutive parts of western society's new consciousness, characterized as much by rational optimism as by the lust for knowledge. The thinkers of this time believed that they could and should reform society, principally through greater education, and therefore subscribed to a theory of progress which pointed to the permanent perfecting of humanity. Even though the Enlightenment had its origin in England and was diffused in the 18th century throughout all Western Europe, North America and even Russia, the country where it attained the greatest success and resonance was in France. The most outstanding work from the French Enlightenment which well reflected the Enlightenment clarity of spirit was The Encyclopedia. It dealt with a compendium of knowledge that, under the direction of Diderot, was destined to satisfy the tremendous desire for knowledge of the 18th-century bourgeoisie. Philosophy, which thus extended itself to wide sectors of the population, had ceased being a specialized redoubt reserved for a cultured minority. Speaking philosophically, the Enlightenment meant a mix, or better a synthesis, between empiricism and rationalism. Faith in progress was the result of optimistic confidence in reason, which was seen strongly fortified by the success experienced by the development of science and technology, because in that era the spectacular advances of scientific research made possible technical accomplishments of great practical resonance. Not a few authors have considered the history of modern thought to have begun when mathematics displaced theology as queen of the sciences and when physics relegated the so- called philosophy of nature to being forgotten. Faith in the potency of human reason and in experience contributed to creating a climate of optimism that was only reinforced by an extraordinary advance in the development of the sciences of nature. The classifying passion and thirst for knowledge of the men of the Enlightenment had its preferred field of study in the natural world. This Enlightenment utopia of a reason that functions freely in a vacuum, without psychological conditioning nor social precedent, was called into question at the start of the 19th century. But, up until that moment, reason was the owner and indisputable mistress of all forms of knowledge. The criterion that was then proposed for knowing truth was exclusively reason. A reason, it is clear, associated with experience and not with authority, of whatever type it may be. Reason was exclusively subject to experience and its conclusions only had value if they were supported by it. The model par excellence of knowledge was Newtonian physics and every sort of knowledge should inevitably resemble it. The world was regular, static and rigid. Reason, necessarily, also was. The reason of the Enlightenment was an invariable reason, self-identical and without distinctions for all persons, peoples and cultures. Reason had no exceptions and also lacked a history. Thus all the ideas imposed by geographic or temporal conditions as well as by tradition were questioned. Reason, in addition to being unitary, was absolute. It was, decidedly, a goddess, or preferably: the goddess. Yet a reason so immanent in man and nature that it ended by drowning all sense of transcendence. In this way, in the name of the brilliance and luminous splendor of reason, everything tied to the supernatural was openly combated. The miraculous was considered an incredible thing repugnant to magnificent reason. For the majority in the Enlightenment, God had ceased being an object of rational speculation. This is not to overlook that the origins of modern atheism can be traced to the thought of the Enlightenment philosophers. As Manuel Fernández writes: Modern atheism began with the great cultural crisis that the Enlightenment represents. In that crisis Christianity and religion in general appeared as obscurantism, oppression and ignorance. Starting with the Renaissance, and above all during the Enlightenment, a new cosmic vision whereby they outlined and emphasized the dignity of the human subject as creator of science, discoverer of the universe and rationalizer of politics and the economy. All this supposes a collision with the medieval world's cosmic vision.(25) What is truly serious in this situation is that different levels of knowledge were confused and intermixed, which brought as consequence that often the distinct postures were polarized and radicalized. Beginning with that moment, religion confronted the modern world and the modern world, religion. The Enlightenment philosophers tried to reduce all revealed knowledge to the truths that reason could demonstrate by itself and, for their part, the theologians of the day opposed themselves to reason. The responsibility for this alienation thus corresponded to science and to philosophy, but also to institutionalized religion as to the rigidity of viewpoint of its representatives. As Andrés Torres Queiruga has very well indicated in a magisterial exposition of this entire process: It then appears that the conduct of the churches contributed decisively to creating that false impression, that enormous and tragic equivocation. In an immediate way, through their obstinate and fatal opposition to the advancements and discoveries that were setting the pace of modernity: astronomical science and the biological revolution, subjective philosophy and critical history, the social revolution and psychology clashed severely with the ecclesiastical ideology. And in a deeper way, the negative redefinition and comprehension of faith before the requirements of the new paradigm, presenting religion as indissolubly linked to a past authoritarian age, impermeable to the new critical mood and opposed to the search for a new liberty, individual as well as social, scientific as well as religious and political.(26) For his part, in the previously cited article, professor Manuel Fernández comments that: what was most serious was that theologians and the men of religion of that epoch did not know how to distinguish between faith and the culture with which until then they had been involved. And this led them, disjointedly, to a confrontation with the modern world. The result was that religion appeared as an impediment to progress, liberation and the happiness of mankind.(27) For Enlightenment thought, religion was limited to ethics and revealed Christian theology was stripped of all transcendence and reduced to the narrow circle of the natural theology of deism. The good religion was that which sought the welfare of humanity and, in their opinion, such a religion should be marked, principally, by an ethical interest. In consequence, all types of dogma were the objects of a severe critique. The official church, whether this was Catholic, Lutheran or Anglican, was criticized. A similar attack on traditional Christianity came accompanied by the birth of new forms of spirituality, among which especially German pietism and Wesley's English Methodism stood out. From a political viewpoint, the world of the Enlightenment was an orderly world, but it contained subterranean currents of rebellion. In that period, the bourgeoisie and the peasants joined forces to abolish still feudal regimes. This century, characterized by so-called Enlightenment despotism, will also see the emergence of a clearly liberal ideology, the seed of future revolutionary movements, by virtue of which individuals will stop considering themselves as subjects so as to definitely become citizens. Nevertheless, the society of the Ancien Regime, still in force in the 18th century, was clearly a society of estates, in which the King, the nobility and the clergy enjoyed tremendous privileges, while the simple people and the nascent bourgeoisie had to support the entire economic weight of society on their backs. Enlightenment political theories, based upon the motto liberty, equality, fraternity, undermined the ideological basis of absolutism and, though it is important to underline that the Enlightenment thinkers often were not in agreement one with another, their political thought prepared the environment which gave way to the French Revolution of 1789, whose fundamental consequences were the fall of the absolute monarchy and the end of the Ancien Regime. Namely, Charles Louis de Secondat, baron of Montesquieu (1689 - 1755), distinguished especially for his political thought. He had been born in the breast of a noble family and studied law in Bordeaux. Later he was elected a councilor in the Parliament of that city. In 1721 he published in Amsterdam, in anonymous fashion, the first of his works, The Persian Letters, which had great resonance. His most famous work was, undoubtedly, The Spirit of the Laws (1748). In this work, Montesquieu maintained that constitutional monarchy was the most perfect form of government. In it he studied the foundations of the state and of the different forms of government. Despotism, in his opinion, rested purely on fear. Monarchy, in turn, had honor as its basis. For its part, republicanism rested upon virtue. Montesquieu frontally opposed absolute power and, to avoid the corrosive effects of power over human nature, defended the division and harmonious balance of three powers. The legislative power, whose expression was fundamentally the laws elaborated by a freely elected assembly. The executive power, which was charged with control of the government. And the judicial power, whose labor was that of administering justice. François Marie Arouet, called Voltaire, was, without a doubt, the predominant intellectual figure of his century. His temperament made of him a fierce enemy of injustice, being a tremendously polemical person. In his writings he always is scathing, critical and caustic. As a philosopher he was a talented popularizer, and his manner of thinking, secular and anti-clerical, oriented the theories of the French Revolution. On various occasions he was jailed in the Bastille. Nevertheless, in the London court and in British literary and commercial media he was very well received. His most scandalous work carries as title The Philosophical Letters or Letters Concerning the English Nation (1734). In them he converts a brilliant report about Great Britain into an abrasive critique of the French regime. Inspired by the English model, Voltaire held that the monarchy should be at the service of the people. His provocative character caused him to have confrontations with Protestants as much as with Catholics. On one hand, in Geneva he collided with the rigid Calvinist mentality: his theatrical fictions and the chapter dedicated to Servet in his Essay on Manners (1756) scandalized the Genevan Protestants. On the other hand, his disrespectful poem on Joan of Arc, La Doncella de Orleans (1755) and his collaboration on The Encyclopedia ran into the "devout" party of the Catholics. The short novel Candide (1759) is one of his masterpieces. It deals with an innocent youth who follows the teachings of an aged master tied to the old ideas. He also wrote the Treatise on Tolerance (1763) and the Philosophical Dictionary (1764). In all these writings Voltaire presented himself as much a passionate defender of tolerance and of reason as a severe critic of religious traditions and of superstitious dogmatism. The writer and Swiss philosopher in the French language, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, began being a collaborator on the Encyclopedia, but ended becoming a severe critic of it. Rousseau was born in Geneva in 1712, in the breast of a Protestant family, and died in Ermenonville in 1778. The best way of approaching this polemical thinker is, doubtless, to read his Confessions. Through them it is possible to follow the narrative, personally lived, of the genesis of his thought and his work. Thus there is opened, thanks to Rousseau's autobiographical memory, an entire sequence of events that provide understanding, in a complete manner, of the why of who he was and what he did. Admirable, above all, is the sincerity and the fine style with which he narrates his past and his personal circumstances. Rousseau became known with the prize that the Dijon Academy granted his "Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts." In this work Rousseau frontally rejects the prevailing Encyclopedist optimism. In the opinion of the Swiss thinker, men were essentially good by nature and it was society that corrupts them. Civilization was, for him, the origin of all the evils that befell human beings. For this reason, education, the theme to which he dedicated his celebrated pedagogic novel Emile, fundamentally consisted in leaving the child free from the constraints imposed by the teachers, thereby nourishing in him spontaneous and natural behavior. In Emile Rousseau, losing faith in progress and reason, clearly moved away from illuminism and adumbrated the Romantic sensibility. The controversial pedagogic theory expressed in this work was condemned by the Parisian Parliament and the author had to flee from France. Lastly, another fundamental writing of Rousseau was The Social Contract, which he began to draft in 1754 and which was not published until 1762. KANT AND THE TRAGIC DESTINY OF REASON For Pietism the Bible was not a book of knowledge, but instead a book of salvation and, therefore, its principal message had to have a fundamentally practical character. In this strictly Pietist ethical context is where the work of Kant should be framed. Emanuel Kant came from a modest family, probably of Scottish origin, established in Königsberg (Prussia). From infancy the German philosopher received an education based upon the Pietism that his mother professed. Although she died when young Emanuel was only 13 years old, his childhood will persist in Kant's soul his entire life. At the age of eight Kant enlisted in the Collegium Fridericianum, also of a Pietist orientation, which he will not leave until the year 1740 in order to enroll at the University of Königsberg as a theology student. Kant's transcendental idealism, the name by which his philosophy is known, comprises a synthesis between Continental rationalism and English empiricism. In reality one can say that the general viewpoint of Kant's theory of knowledge was an attempt to overcome the skepticism of Hume. Certainly, the basis of knowledge should be sought in sensory impressions but these, in turn, had necessarily to be subject to certain conditions. As against rationalistic metaphysical speculation, Kantian gnoseology started from the principle that all knowledge begins with experience but, avoiding the risks of radical empiricism, added that not everything that exists in the understanding comes from it. Both elements, what is given by experience (a posteriori) and what is posited by the subject (a priori), are essential. In this manner it can be affirmed with Kant that thoughts without content are empty, but intuitions without concepts are blind. In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant tried to determine what was the scope and what were the limits of human knowledge. This work, written in 1781, is divided into three main parts: the transcendental aesthetic, transcendental analytic and transcendental dialectic. In the transcendental Aesthetic Kant established that Mathematics was possible as a science grounded in the study of sensibility. Space and time are the a priori forms (pure intuitions) of the senses, not deriving from the outside, but instead being posited by the subject as organizing structures of sensory perception. The demonstration of the legitimacy of Physics as scientific knowledge was brought to fruition in the transcendental Analytic. In this second part Kant showed how certain categories or pure concepts of the understanding were applied to experience, classified according to their quantity, quality, relations, and modality. These concepts being a priori will confer upon the understanding of Physics a character of universality and necessity. In this way, knowledge becomes something not merely passive, and the mind was decidedly active in the process of knowledge and was capable of unifying and organizing experience. The problem of Metaphysics, in Kant's opinion, lay in the fact that human reason, by its nature, tends to go beyond the limits offered by physical experience, yet in this attempt to coherently understand the totality of the Universe, which is precisely the goal of Metaphysics, reason runs the risk of falling into profound contradictions. Such is the conclusion of the transcendental Dialectic and perhaps of all the Critique of Pure Reason, that the metaphysical questions are legitimate and belonging to philosophy, but are subject to the tragic destiny, inseparable from all philosophic disquiet, of being unavoidable yet incapable of being completely answered, or as Kant says: Human reason has this peculiar fate that in one species of its knowledge it is burdened by questions which, as prescribed by the very nature of reason itself, it is not able to ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also not able to answer. The perplexity into which it thus falls is not due to any fault of its own. It begins with principles which it has not option save to employ in the course of experience, and which this experience at the same time abundantly justified it in using. Rising with their aid (since it is determined to this also by its own nature) to ever higher, ever more remote, conditions, it soon becomes aware that in this way--the questions never ceasing--its work must always remain incomplete; and it therefore finds itself compelled to resort to principles which overstep all possible empirical employment, and which yet seem so unobjectionable that even ordinary consciousness readily accepts them. But by this procedure human reason precipitates itself into darkness and contradictions, and while it may indeed conjecture that these must be in some way due to concealed errors, it is not in a position to be able to detect them.(28) According to Kant, the ideas of God, the soul and of the world, based essentially on Metaphysics, cannot be known, yet nor can they be completely abandoned. Dissatisfied with the rationalism of his time and notably influenced by Hume's empiricism, Kant carried out a critique of Metaphysics, arriving at the conclusion that such a discipline was not possible as a speculative science. According to him, human reason was incapable, by itself, of either affirming or negating the existence of God. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant established that the ideas of God, soul and world were merely regulative ideas of reason. For him, such ideas lacked cognitive content, yet at the same time were inevitably supplied by reason as general markers to which the understanding could refer. Given that pure reason was incapable of accessing theoretical knowledge of God, it will be precisely in the Critique of Pure Reason, in the ethics, where God will appear as a necessary postulate of morality. The famous Kantian saying, I had to suppress knowing to make way for believing, gives clear evidence of this change in perspective. God, liberty and the immortality of the soul, which had been absolutely inaccessible to theoretical reason, were now presented as necessary requirements of the moral conscience, as undeniable postulates of practical reason. This is not to omit that Unamuno, always interested in considering philosophy from within the biographical intimacy of its authors, would consider that Kant reconstituted from the heart what he had previously demolished through the understanding. Thus the famous Spanish thinker writes in his work The Tragic Sense of Life: Take Kant, the man Manuel Kant, who was born and lived in Königsberg at the end of the 18th century and until crossing the threshold of the 19th. There is in the philosophy of this man Kant, a man of heart and head, that is to say, a man, a critical leap, as Kierkegaard would have said, another man--and what a man!--, the leap from the Critique of pure reason to the Critique of practical reason. He here reconstructs, say what they will those who do not see the man, what he there demolished. After having with his analysis examined and pulverized the traditional proofs of the existence of God, the Aristotelian God, who is the God corresponding to the zoon politikón, the abstract God, the unmoving prime mover, he turns to reconstructing God, but the God of conscience, the Author of the moral order, ultimately the Lutheran God. This Kantian leap already exists in embryo in the Lutheran notion of faith.(29) In this manner, in his practical or moral philosophy Kant stated that there were two things that powerfully attracted his attention: one the starry sky over my head, another the moral law within me. In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant focused on the second of these concerns and tried to respond to a fundamental question of all human beings: what should I do? In summary fashion and very briefly, three defining characteristics of Kantian morality can be cited. First, the Kantian ethic is a formal ethic, which means that it is not interested as much in the content of the moral norms, that is, in what is mandated or prohibited by a specific moral norm, as in the form or the will implicit in the action that is performed. Second, the ethics of Kant is an ethics of duty, which means that it is not an ethics interested in reward or punishment, but instead is an ethics in which moral action has value in itself. Moral imperatives cannot therefore have a hypothetical form--"if you do this then you will get that"--but must be categorical or unconditional imperatives - "you should do that which any human being operating in your same circumstances in the same way ought to do." Third and last, one must say it deals with moral autonomy. Before heteronomous morality, in which moral norms are given by a legislator outside the moral subject, in autonomous morality the moral subject themself is charged with determining the ethical norms in an a priori manner. VALUATION OF ENLIGHTENMENT THOUGHT Given the impossibility of theoretical knowledge of God under the influence of Pietism or the Enlightenment, Biblical faith in Kant came to be interpreted as mere support for the common morality. Jesus Christ had been converted into an extraordinary teacher of morality, whose teachings only had value in the degree to which they contributed to the individual ethical perfecting of the human being; yet the reality of his life, the veracity of his works and his miracles, the like of his divine nature, remained in the most complete uncertainty. Religion thus had to conform, necessarily, to the limits of pure and practical rationalism. Exegesis of the Sacred Scripture should therefore obligatorily be a moral exegesis. In analyzing the Kantian method, Terry indicates that: we should mention what is generally called Moral Interpretation that owes its origin to the famous philosopher Kant. The prominence which it gives to pure reason and to the idealism contained in its metaphysical system lead naturally to the practice of adapting the Scriptures to the preconceived requirements of reason, because although the entire Scripture may be given through God's inspiration, its value and practical purpose are the moral betterment of man.(30) This is to say, that for Kant and for all Christian thought of a rationalist and Enlightenment cut, the authentic value of the Sacred Scriptures was reduced to describing and confirming the religion of reason. As much from the viewpoint of critical rationalism as through Enlightenment moral exegesis, the objective message of the Bible had been relegated to a second tier, at the same time as the subjectivity of the believer gained ground, from now on constituted as a pure rationality which set itself to be the supreme interpretive norm, even for the revealed text. The result of all this was a religiosity based more on human reason than upon Revelation. On the other side, the German philosopher Emmanuel Kant can be cited as an example of those thinkers who in the 18th century not only identified morality with religion, but contributed to a reduction in Christian eschatology of a vague faith in progress. Thus, Tamayo Acosta writes: another important link in the secularization of the kingdom of God is the thought of Kant, his moral philosophy as well as his philosophy of religion and of history. At bottom we have an implication of his Enlightenment idea which defines as adulthood a being capable of utilizing their understanding without the guidance of another.(31) Along the same lines Ruiz de la Peña writes: human history, consequently, displays the existence, as an irreversible constant, of progress towards betterment ("the highest good"), attainable in principle through the in situ dynamism of practical reason. This "highest good" Kant does not hesitate to call religious, the "kingdom of God," although it does not deal with an eruption of transcendent power, but with the autonomous development of human nature. Thus this integration of history oriented toward the good, that is, the spiritual reign of reason, virtue, peace, and universal liberty, qualifies as "Chiliastic."(32) For Kant, the reign of God in this fashion becomes an intra-world reality, attainable by virtue of the right use of one's practical reason. According to the German philosopher, a supreme goal exists in nature according to which All natural capacities of a creature are destined to evolve completely to their natural end.(33) The fulfillment of these dispositions consists in a state of universal citizenship or a cosmopolitan society where it is possible to achieve a full development of all the human capacities. In this way, Kant conceives history as the tendency toward this ideal state. Given that the execution of this secret plan of Nature, to develop a state wherein all human dispositions can be completely unfolded, cannot be reached within a purely individual framework, it must be accomplished by the human being as a species, at the global or worldwide level: This gives hope finally that after many reformative revolutions, a universal cosmopolitan condition, which Nature has as her ultimate purpose, will come into being as the womb wherein all the original capacities of the human race can develop.(34) With Kant eschatology and the entire Christian faith reach the extreme of becoming merely a part of ethics. The supreme goal of history is the collective realization in this world of pure and practical reason. With the Enlightenment the anthropocentric process initiated in the Renaissance culminated. What had begun with an affirmation of man culminated with a sovereign negation of God. Reason was converted into sovereign and mistress emancipated and free as much of prejudices as of transcendental imperatives. By virtue of it, salvation came to man from himself and not from outside. Original sin did not exist and the human being, now deified, was considered good by nature. The Modern Age and the Enlightenment also had their myths, perhaps the most well-known of them, for its assumptions and anthropological implications, would be the myth of the "noble savage." Such an idea emerged, logically, from the rationalist necessity of justifying the goodness and original innocence of man. As opposed to this conception, Christianity maintained that human nature was degraded and fallen because of sin. If Leibniz had felt himself forced to elaborate a Theodicy to explain the existence of evil, the Enlightenment confronted the difficulty with a "homodicy" for, if God is in reality a superfluous being and if man, furthermore, is good by nature, how can the origin of evil in the world be explained? If before it was difficult to justify God, now it will be impossible to justify man. So-called Nietzschean irrationalism will point precisely to this logical and rational conclusion, which will degenerate in turn into another even more radical optimism, libertarian optimism. Truly, if God is dead all is permitted. Reason for itself alone destroys the man and destroys itself. As against this naive, and ultimately damaging optimism, it is important to point out that the Bible, from a much more realistic perspective, speaks of man as a sinful being. The sin is a conscious or unconscious transgression of God's Law. All movement of the human will that is contrary to the will of God may be defined as a sin. The Greek term for designating sin is "hamartia," which literally means to err, to miss the target, to be incapable of reaching the objective. In the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 5, verses 12-21, it is said that all of us are sinners because we inherit a depraved nature transmitted as the result of Adam's sin, for it is understood that when Adam sinned all humanity sinned with him. Isaiah 53:6 clearly establishes that We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. The Bible teaches that human nature is a fallen nature and this reality cannot but have its consequences on the gnoseological plane, that is, from the sinful condition of man it follows that the human capacity to understand things is neither infallible nor unlimited. The book of Proverbs declares that the fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge. Human reason attains maturity, as Pascal well puts it, on recognizing that some things cannot be reached. Mankind has before her the mystery of being, of the being of the world, of one's own being and the being of God. The Bible assists man to situate himself before this mystery with a new light, a revelatory light. Before the silence of things or the equivocal constants of a reason that proceeds by touch in the darkness, divine truth is offered like a lamp capable of orienting man in the obscurity of existence. The great yearning of the Enlightenment was for rational unity, which is why the plurality of religions came to be a scandal and an obstacle that only could be saved by means of a new religiosity: the rational religiosity of deism. Even more than in Trent and with the Tribunal of the Holy Inquisition, with Enlightenment fanaticism uniformity in the extreme had triumphed, giving us one of the Enlightenment elements of the secularized totalitarianisms of the 19th and 20th centuries. Unlike the multicolor richness of Antiquity as well as the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment announced the mono-color rigidity of Canova's sculptures, the cold whiteness of Neo-Classical architecture, the blood-red of the Marxist revolutionaries, the suffocating gray of the industrial revolution, or the sad remembrance of the black shirts, or blue, or khaki. In the final analysis, in its attempt to reduce everything to a single color, mankind had attained its majority but the light and the color had died in the attempt, irreparably and forever. The history of the coming centuries is the history of adult men who were capable of inventing a world without God. They are the centuries of the fruits of reason, of fascism and of the wars. They are the centuries of insupportable sorrow and the centuries that saw the birth and development of psychology, sociology and anthropology as sciences. They were the years of alcohol and of drugs, the times of abstract art and of the literature of the absurd. They are times of flight and of search for new venues, for mature and autonomous mankind now cannot bear itself. What is sad in the triumph of modernity was that rationalist pride, fruit of the Enlightenment, was incapable of seeing that the voice which says unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven is the same voice that says come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. But that is yet another history, the history of contemporary man, heir of the Enlightenment and of modernity. That is how it was. That is how it happened. How it happened to us. The dawnings of the contemporary world, the logical consequence of rationalism and modernity, were marked by a terror of blood and war. The western Christian culture, so successful up to then, had forgotten the words of its Lord when he said: Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing (John 15: 4,5). The history of the contemporary world and its thought is the story of some branches sadly separated from their stalk. Notes 1. GONZALEZ, M. (1996) Introduction to Philosophical Thought, Ed. Tecnos, Madrid, p.104. 2. Within Renaissance humanism one would have to cite, in the first place as senior figure, Erasmus of Rotterdam, who attempted an ethical reform of the life of the church, which he attacked in his famous work The Praise of Folly. 3. DEVESA, A. (1998). Luther, Ed. del Orto, Madrid, p.49. 4. ATKINSON, J. (1987). Luther and the Birth of Protestantism, Ed. Alianza, Madrid, p.52. 5. FONTENELLE, B. "Elogium of Sir Isaac Newton", published as an introduction to the work of NEWTON, I. (1983) The System of the World, Ed. Sarpe, Madrid, p.52. 6. NEWTON, I. (1982). Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy and his System of the World, Ed. Nacional, pp.816-17. 7. HALL, R. (1985). The Scientific Revolution, 1500-1750, Ed. Critica, Barcelona, pp.64-66. 8. HUMMEL, C. (1991). "The Creation-Evolution Debate: a critical approximation of its fundamental aspects" taken from the book, In the Beginning... Ed. Andamio-Clie, Barcelona, p.21. 9. KUHN, T. (1975). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Ed. Fondo de Cultura Economica, Mexico City. 10. BIGG, D. (1973). The Rationality of the Revelation, Ed. Evangelicas Europeas, Barcelona, p.61. 11. SPINOZA, B. (1984). Ethics, pt.1 prop.XV, Vidal Peña translation, Ed. Orbis, Barcelona. 12. Ibid. pt.3 prop.VI. 13. Ibid. prop.VII. 14. SPINOZA, B. (1985). Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, Ed. Orbis, Barcelona, p.168. 15. Ibid. 16. Ibid. p.96. 17. VILANOVA, E. (1992). History of Christian Theology, vol.3, Ed. Herder, Barcelona, p.45. 18. GINZO, A. (2000). Protestantism and Philosophy, Ed. Universidad de Alcala de Henares, Madrid, p.52. 19. DESCARTES, R. (1983). Discourse on Method, chap.1, Ed. Orbis, p.43 (literature.org translation). 20. GARCIA, E. (1995). Locke, Ed. del Orto, Madrid, p.24. 21. LOCKE, J. (1984). Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Ed. Sarpe, Madrid, p.49. 22. The metaphysical concept of the soul was also important in the Lockean philosophy, understood as the support of operations of the mind. 23. Ibid. p.43. 24. Indeed for some empiricists including Locke himself, the conformity of the simple ideas with the sensible world was guaranteed by the divine will. 25. FERNANDEZ DEL RIESGO, M. (1990). "Secularization and Postmodernity" in the journal Estudio Agustiano v.XXV no.3 (Sept-Dec), Valladolid MX, p.526. 26. TORRES QUEIRUGA, A. (1986). Creo en Dios Padre, Ed. Sal Terrae, Santander Spain, p.33. 27. FERNANDEZ DEL RIESGO, M., op.cit. p.527. 28. KANT, E. (1979). Critique of Pure Reason, Ed. Porrua, Mexico City, p.5. 29. UNAMUNO, M. (1983). The Tragic Sense of Life, Ed. Sarpe, Madrid, p.27. 30. TERRY, M. S. (1950). Biblical Hermeneutics, Ed. La Aurora, Buenos Aires, p.25. 31. TAMAYO ACOSTA, J. J. (1993). Towards Understanding Christian Eschatology, Ed. Verbo Divino, Estella Spain, p.181. 32. RUIZ DE LA PEÑA, J. L. (1986). The Other Dimension, Ed. Sal Terrae, Santander Spain, p.34. 33. KANT, E. (1978). "Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View" in Philosophy of History, Ed. Fondo de Cultura Economica, Mexico City, p.42. 34. Ibid. p.61.