The book will appeal to readers interested in religious and intellectual history, the history of science, and the relationship between faith and science, as well as all those interested in South-East Europe either side of the First World War.
"The collection holds significant value for graduate and postgraduate students, especially when studying the relationship between faith and science, the approach to theology as a science, and critical examination of specific dogmatic and ecumenical matters. The contributors to this volume provide insightful analyses on these topics, making it an indispensable resource for scholars seeking to enrich their understanding of these complex areas of inquiry."
—Ante Mateljan, Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Split, Croatia
Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Table of Contents
- Introduction: University—A Place of Conflict or Collaboration Between Religion and Science
- 1. The Impact of Social-Political Circumstances on the Position of Theology as Science. Case-Study: Priests as Rectors of the University of Zagreb and Professors of the Catholic Faculty of Theology
- 2. The Catholic Youth and Student Conflicts at the University of Zagreb in the Early Twentieth Century
- 3. The Attitude of the Communist Authorities Towards the Faculty of Theology in Ljubljana in the Initial Post-War Period
- 4. Priests-Rectors of the University of Zagreb, Inter-Confessional Relations, and the Unity of Church
- 5. Inaugural Speeches of the Priests-Rectors. The Relationship between the Catholic Faith (Theology) and Science
- 6. The Relation of Religion and Science in the Thought of Antun Bauer
- 7. Mariology of Ivan Bujanović, Scientific and Theological Contribution in the Context of Time
- 8. Father Agostino Gemelli, Founder of the Catholic University of Milan: Faith, Science and Education
- 9. The Florentine Union and the Late Medieval Habsburg in Transylvania on the Eve of the First World War: In the Institutional and Scholarly Impact of Augustin Bunea
- Brief Author Description
Catholic Faculty of Theology
University of Zagreb
“Both religion and science, are of God’s origin, and mutual love, unity, and support of the being and source for all bestowed.” Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer: a sermon on the occasion of the opening of the paintings’ gallery
The relationship between religion and science is most often examined through four models: conflict, integration, dialogue or independence.1 However, regardless of which model we advocate, it remains indisputable that, throughout history, there have been ties that bind religion and science. For example, mathematics and physics occupied an important place in the Islamic world in the Middle Ages because, among other things, they were used to calculate the exact praying time or to calculate the direction to Mecca. On the other hand, Jews in early modern Europe contributed to the development of science and the practice of medicine, whereas Catholics supported scientific research, for instance, in astronomy.2 Therefore, the question arises whether these are really the only four possible approaches when exploring the relationship between religion and science, bearing in mind that religion and science have been subject to change throughout history. Perhaps their relationship could be regarded, as Stenmark points out, through a new “contact model”.3 The conflict model itself is a landmark concept derived from the nineteenth-century historiography, primarily John William Dreper4 and Andrew Dickson White,5 and it is characterized more as propaganda than historiography, hence it is not surprising that today this model is mostly abandoned.6 The difference between the two is that Dreper addresses the conflict between science and religion, while White reduces it to a conflict between science and dogmatic theology.7
The activity of the Catholic Church has challenged this model of conflict. Specifically, the Church has supported scientific research in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, and other sciences, and it was often priests and monks who brought such knowledge to light.8 As Heilbron notices, the Catholic Church provided financial and social support to the development of astronomy from antiquity to the Enlightenment unlike any other institution.9 Furthermore, in the past, religious beliefs served as the premise of scientific endeavour, and in supporting the uniformity of cause-and-effect relationships, religious doctrines enabled either sanctions or justification.10
Nevertheless, certain conflicts occur due to the limitation that the Church teachings and dogmas imposed on science, and some of the classic examples are the 1633 condemnation of Galileo11 or the nineteenth-century condemnation of Darwinism.12 Since the eighteenth century, the gap between faith and science has been constantly widening, scientists have been rejecting the supernatural and the miraculous as scientific arguments, they have been rejecting tradition. The conflict between the Catholic Church and science most often stemmed from certain cognition that contradicted the dogma of the Church or the Bible.13 The glaring case of Galileo should be considered within the historical context and significant local circumstances such as Galileo’s attachment to the pro-Spanish faction at the papal court. Moreover, given that the acceptance or rejection of Galileo’s ideas were present both among theologians and among scientists, we cannot speak of a conflict between religion and science, but rather about conflict within religion and within science.14 It should certainly be pointed out that, for example, the case of Galileo, while observed in a broader historical perspective, is nevertheless an exception, not a rule. At that time, the Church was not opposed to science as such, and as already asserted, new scientific breakthroughs often encountered resistance within the scientific community itself.15 With respect to Darwin’s theory of evolution, although it had caused fierce resistance among some theologians, it was nonetheless accepted by others.16 Perhaps the conflict over the theory of evolution should be considered by way of the Victorian conflict between faith and science, as Livingston suggests, and as a result of the cultural politics of Darwin’s century, that is, the drive to secularize the society. We should take into account the fact that many religious intellectuals had accepted the theory of evolution or a more or less revised version of it without rejecting theology. The failure to determine the views of the general public on this matter remains an issue, as it diminishes the objectivity of the judgments presented. It is indisputable that there were conflicts between faith and science around Darwin’s theory of evolution, but it is also important to remark that the relationship between faith and science around this issue cannot be moulded into only two categories: conflict or co-operation.17
Throughout history, universities have played an important role in the development of science, and it is therefore compelling to examine the issue of the relationship between religion and science using the example of universities. Had medieval Church aspired to suppress science, then it certainly would not have supported and founded universities.18 At universities, many students became aware of Euclid’s geometry, optics, astronomy in a rudimentary form and arguments for the sphericity of the Earth. We should draw attention to the fact that not all medieval universities taught theology and not all students studied theology. A considerable number exclusively studied liberal arts, logic, natural philosophy or mathematics. Thus, we can claim that the medieval Church did not hinder the development of science, but quite the opposite—and the examples of the Dominican scientist Dietrich von Frieberg or Bishop Nicola Oresma support this argument.19 Additionally, we suggest that medieval universities, along with disputations and scholastic theology, helped create the environment necessary for the development of the seventeenth-century “scientific revolution”. There are certainly many other individuals, lay believers or clerics, who had contributed to the development of science during the “scientific revolution” of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.20 Therefore, we cannot speak of the separation of religion and science in the seventeenth century, firstly because that would presuppose that they had been unified earlier, and Brooke points out it was a relationship of subordination. It is hence more appropriate to speak of differentiation rather than separation.21
Although the model of conflict, which become a paradigm in the nineteenth century, is nowadays abandoned, we can still find traces of it in the general public and the media.22 The aim of these proceedings is to outline the relationship between religion and science at certain universities and to demonstrate that even in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, conflict was not the only model of the relationship. Therefore, the focus of research is the relationship between religion and science at universities (more precisely, Catholic Faculties of Theology at the University of Zagreb and Ljubljana, and the Catholic University in Milan) and efforts to determine the implications of social and political circumstances on the relationship, with the presentation of several cases of scientific work that was the result of the impact of these relationships. Our intention is not to engage in scientific debates, but rather to offer a historical context for the relationship between religion and science at universities during the second half of the nineteenth and the twentieth century. The proceedings are largely the result of research conducted through a project funded by the Templeton Foundation.
The aim of the contributors is primarily to research the (in)dependence of the faculties of theology at state universities in relation to political authorities, to establish whether professors who were involved in politics suffered consequences (Biočić), and then to point to the impact of politics on the survival of the faculties of theology at state universities (Biočić, Gabrič). Furthermore, the goal is to investigate, using concrete examples, whether there is a possibility of a successful co-operation between natural sciences and faith (Polenghi), and to explore the influence of faith in a society where, unlike in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy, Catholics are not the majority (Simon). The book primarily deals with the relationship between the Catholic faith and science in predominantly Catholic countries, however the case of Romania is also reviewed to provide a diverse perspective.
In order to answer the research questions, in addition to analyzing the legislative framework that had enabled the Church to operate with society and allowed the faculties of theology to operate within state universities, the impact of political circumstances on university autonomy and the status of faculties of theology is also probed (focusing on the examples of the University of Zagreb and the University of Ljubljana). The activities of student groups at the beginning of the twentieth century at the University of Zagreb and their conflicts arising from the matter of whether theology is a science (Luetić) are also explored. The book offers a concrete insight into the contributions made by professors of theology teaching at state universities to the fields of theology (Pehar) and philosophy (Tolvajčić). An example of a priest’s contribution to the development of natural sciences and successful cohesion of faith and natural sciences is given with reference to the Franciscan Agostino Gamelli, the founder of the Catholic University in Milan, the first Catholic university in Italy. In Romania, on the other hand, the influence of religion (Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic) on the creation of a historical narrative is given through the example of the Greek Catholic priest and professor Augustin Bunea (Simon). The activities of the priest-rectors of the University of Zagreb from the Faculty of Theology towards Protestants and Orthodox expose tensions (Slišković), which is also affirmed by the Romanian case. Also, the inaugural speeches of the priest-rectors of Zagreb University were discussed in the context of the relationship between religion and science (Mršić Felbar).
Topics and contributors were selected by applying the principle of rounding up the topic of the relationship between faith and science through examples of universities in European countries in the second half of the nineteenth and in the twentieth century. The basis of the research is the University of Zagreb and its rectors, who had also served as priests and professors at the Faculty of Theology In order to provide insight into the situation in the wider European context, Slovenia, Italy and Romania are examined alongside Croatia. The link is that following the collapse of the Habsburg Monarchy, Croatia and Slovenia entered into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (from 1929 Kingdom of Yugoslavia) and then after the Second World War formed the communist Yugoslavia. The aim is to establish any similarities or differences through the exploration of the fate of faculties of theology in communist societies. For the same purpose, the case of progressive activities of Father Gemelli in Italy and his endeavours around the foundation of the Catholic University in Milan is investigated. The latter serves as evidence that natural sciences and the Catholic faith can come together, and points to the contribution of individual priests to the development of science. The examples of Bauer and Bujanović from the University of Zagreb support the thesis, as they had done the same, albeit in another field of science. The University in Milan is an example of a different solution to the relationship between the Church and the state in terms of education. While in Croatia the Faculty of Theology remained an integral part of the state university until the mid-twentieth century, and it remains a member today, in Italy, a country where the Catholic Church stood in the way of national unification and where direct conflicts between Pope Pius IX and the Italian authorities escalated to the point of prohibiting Catholics from participating in politics—a Catholic University in Milan was established. In order to present a case study different from Croatia, Italy and Slovenia, which are predominantly Catholic, we have introduced Romania as an example where, along with Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox religions are present. We seek to answer the question of how this fact affected the educational university system and scientific discourse. Since the research area is related to the countries of central, southern, and south-eastern Europe, we have collaborated with the Balkan History Association, which promotes the interdisciplinary and comparative study of south-east Europe at the national and international levels.
Several monographs have been written thus far on the relationship between faith and science or on the history of individual universities, however these proceedings seek to contribute to discussions by connecting different aspects ranging from the scientific activity of the individual to the impact of socio-political circumstances on the possibility of this activity to the broader contextualisation of European countries. Perceiving the topic of the relationship between faith and science from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives (historical, theological, philosophical) indicates the complexity of the investigated problem of the relationship between faith and science and contributes to the objectivity of the conclusions presented. While most contributors deliberate the relationship between religion and science through the philosophical and cultural field, we provide a background of socio-political circumstances at the university level. The research is attractive because priests who had served as rectors of state universities by habitus, vocation and occupation had to balance between faith and science. Researching their political and scientific work, attitudes towards other religious communities, and their inaugural speeches provides an example of how to live in “both worlds”.
Hence, Ana Biočić in her paper The Impact of Socio-Political Circumstances on the Position of Theology as Science Case-study: Priests as Rectors of the University of Zagreb and Professors at the Catholic Faculty of Theology establishes the legislative framework that had enabled the Church to function in Croatian society, and consequently the theology studies at a state- operated university. She undoubtedly determines that political power impacted the understanding of theology as a science and the position of the Catholic Faculty of Theology within the state university. While there had been no aspirations in the Habsburg Monarchy to exclude theology from the university, in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes the idea of excluding Catholic Faculty of Theology emerged as far as 1921, with the purpose of realizing cost savings. Additionally, the fact that after the establishment of the communist government in 1945 priests ceased serving as rectors of the University of Zagreb and the Roman Catholic Faculty of Theology was excluded from the University of Zagreb, serves as further evidence of the impact of politics on the position of theology at state universities, and an example of the breach of university autonomy. As elsewhere in Europe, university autonomy was not complete because universities depended financially on the state, and appointments of professors had to be approved by the government, usually with the consent of the competent minister. This precisely made it possible for the state to interfere in the work of the University and to breach the proclaimed autonomy that had been conceived in the Middle Ages. Thus, political affiliation impacted academic careers, and this reflected on rectors as they were either penalised or prevented from advancing within the University.
These proceedings explore the relationship between religion and science at the University of Zagreb, not only at the level of the status of the Faculty of Theology and its professors, but also at the level of student activity. The paper by Tihana Luetić The Catholic Youth and Student Conflicts at the University of Zagreb in the early twentieth Century analyzes the conflicts between liberal and right-wing student factions. Facing a strong penetration of liberalism among high school and academic youth, a Catholic youth group from the University clashed with two other student groups that were active in the period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Acting on the ideas of liberalism, the so-called progressive youth and a right-oriented group of young people, sympathizers of Starčević’s Party of Rights, strongly attacked any influence of the Church in society. Disagreements and conflicts between these three student factions were usually articulated through their magazines and brochures. The concrete struggles and the balance of power between these three factions were most noticeable during the election campaigns for the Croatian Academic Support Society which distributed student aid. Although the conflict is apparent, it could be reduced to one of a worldview nature, even in situations where the academic youth acted in unison in certain student actions.
The paper The Attitude of the Communist Authorities Towards the Faculty of Theology in Ljubljana in the Initial Post-War Period by Aleš Gabrič explores the relationship of the state authorities towards the Faculty of Theology in Ljubljana in the period of Kingdom of Croats and Slovenes, and through the prism of these relationships looks into the relationship between religion and science. A pattern similar to Croatia is established to have existed in Slovenia (in 1952, both faculties of theology were excluded from state universities) and it is proven that despite university autonomy, the state authorities largely dictated the fundamental elements of the relationship towards faculties of theology, guided by wider socio-political circumstances. Nevertheless, the scientific character of theology was not challenged in the context of its exclusion from public education in Slovenia.
The relationship between religion and science had to be reflected in the inaugural speeches of the priest-rectors of the University of Zagreb because of the very habitus of the position. In order to deepen the analysis of the relationship between religion and science at the university, Iva Mršić Felbar carries out a review of ten inaugural speeches delivered by priests from the Catholic Faculty of Theology who had served as rectors in her paper Inaugural Speeches of the Priest-Rectors, The Relationship Between the Catholic Faith (Theology) and Science. This analysis confirms the initial hypothesis that, regardless of the thematic diversity of inaugural speeches, ten out of eight affirm theology as a science equal to other sciences. This indicates that these priest-rectors, in addition to utilising their installation in order to promote science, which they themselves were engaged in, also disseminated the official teaching of the Catholic Church on this issue. The above confirms yet again that the status of theology as a science was challenged and there was a need for its defence.
In addition to considering the relationship between religion and science on the example of the priest-rectors of the University of Zagreb, it is interesting to observe the relationship of the latter towards other religious communities, as Slavko Slišković does in the paper Priest-Rectors of the University of Zagreb, Inter-Confessional Relations, and the Unity of Church. While they advocated their own rights, they often contested the rights of Old Catholics or Protestants. The actions and writings of the rectors of the University of Zagreb from the ranks of the Faculty of Theology towards Protestants and Orthodox reveal tensions. In this, priest-rectors did not deviate from the official teachings of the Catholic Church, which significantly changed its attitude towards Protestantism and ecumenism only at the Second Vatican Council, opening itself to the world and people of different beliefs. In the works and speeches of the priest-rectors of the University, we find closed-mindedness and polemics, and even criticism. Nonetheless, most of the rectors discussed in the paper had a much more positive attitude towards Orthodoxy than towards the descendants of the Protestant Reformation and Old Catholics. At the same time, they showed special affection for the Slavic Orthodox, whose churches were formed following the schism between Constantinople and Rome. They advocated for unification and as a possible means, they put forward the Cyril and Methodius heritage, which in Croatia testified to the possibility of preserving its tradition within a united Catholicism. The unionist efforts were also stimulated by the political circumstances that directed the South Slavs to co-operate on the path of national liberation and emancipation, but also to a more harmonious life in the consolidated nation.
An unambiguous piece of evidence that natural sciences and the Catholic faith can come together comes from the work and life of Father Gemelli, researched by Simonetta Polenghi in the paper Father Agostino Gemelli, Founder of the Catholic University in Milan: Faith, Science, and Education. It is precisely the example of Gemelli, a physician, and a renowned psychologist, who in 1921 founded the Catholic University in Milan, the first university founded by Catholics in Italy of which Gemelli was appointed rector, that corroborates the thesis of co-operation between religion and science. Gemelli saw no conflict between faith and science and firmly anchored psychology in biology and empirical evidence. All his work was characterized by science and religion operating in harmony: the experimental method in itself was not in opposition to religion. The theology and philosophy of Thomas Aquinas and the Franciscans allowed him to have an optimistic view of nature and mankind and to consider nature as a rational product of God’s creation.
A refreshing insight into historiography is offered by Alexandru Simon in the paper The Florentine Union and the Late Medieval Habsburg sin Transylvania on the Eve of the First World War: On the Institutional and Scholarly Impact of Augustin Bunea. The author points to the impact of complex religious circumstances on the notion of historiography from the medieval period until the First World War on the example of Romania.
A particular contribution to theology is made by the first systematic research of Bujanović’s Mariology and its input to systematic theology analyzed in the paper Mariology of Ivan Bujanović, Scientific and Theological Contribution in the Context of Time authored by Marija Puhar. This is exceptionally interesting because this is an author who wrote the first systematic marioological monograph in Croatian back in the nineteenth century, which helped develop Croatian theological terminology. At a time when theology was still being taught in Latin at most European universities, including Croatia, and when theological works were emerging to meet the growing need for domestic university literature, it was crucial to introduce systematic interpretation of certain dogmatic treatises and even fragmentary incorporation of the content of paternal, classical, and contemporary European theology in the Croatian language. Bujanović thus exhibits a strong sensitivity to national identity within the University and enables the proliferation and popularization of scientific theological thought beyond university circles.
An analysis of Bauer’s views on the relationship between faith and science contributes to the discussions in the field of metaphysics, as researched by Danijel Tolvajčić in the paper The Relation of Religion and Science in the Thought of Antun Bauer. Antun Bauer, Archbishop of Zagreb and professor of philosophy at the Faculty of Theology, was one of the most important Thomistic philosophers in Croatia in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century and a passionate polemicist with proponents of scientific and philosophical positivism and materialism in Croatia. Starting from the view that metaphysics is possible and rejecting positivism and materialism as philosophically problematic and ultimately unsustainable positions, Bauer advocated the classical scholastic thesis of the complementarity of faith and science by following Thomas Aquinas, and by holding that there could be no conflict between them as they both have the same source in God. The paper demonstrates how Bauer’s solution to the issue of the relationship between religion and science is still philosophically relevant today, particularly in our contemporary context when scientism imposes itself as the dominant epistemological paradigm, claiming that the only valid source of knowledge are the exact sciences.
- VI, 230
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- Publication date
- 2023 (October)
- University Science Religion Rectors Inaugural speeches Church Union South-East Europe Modern History Social history Political history Theology Ana Biočić Iva Mršić Felbar
- New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2023. VI, 230 pp., 1 table.