Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. […] If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?

[Plerumque enim accidit ut aliquid de terra, de coelo, de caeteris mundi huius elementis, de motu et conversione vel etiam magnitudine et intervallis siderum, de certis defectibus solis ac lunae, de circuitibus annorum et temporum, de naturis animalium, fruticum, lapidum, atque huiusmodi caeteris, etiam non christianus ita noverit, ut certissima ratione vel experientia teneat. Turpe est autem nimis et perniciosum ac maxime cavendum, ut christianum de his rebus quasi secundum christianas Litteras loquentem, ita delirare audiat, ut, quemadmodum dicitur, toto coelo errare conspiciens, risum tenere vix possit. […] Cum enim quemquam de numero Christianorum in ea re quam optime norunt, errare comprehenderint, et vanam sententiam suam de nostris Libris asserere; quo pacto illis Libris credituri sunt, de resurrectione mortuorum, et de spe vitae aeternae, regnoque coelorum, quando de his rebus quas iam experiri, vel indubitatis numeris percipere potuerunt, fallaciter putaverint esse conscriptos?]

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Christian church father, philosopher, saint [b. Aurelius Augustinus]
De Genesi ad Litteram, Bk. 1, ch. 19 [tr. Taylor (1982)]
Added on 2-Mar-10 | Last updated 2-Mar-10
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