Nowadays all people live in different communities, and various religions are spread among the population. During its history, humanity accumulated and explored a significant amount of knowledge about the world around. For people, it is important to learn more about the reality to appreciate it. Moreover, the world around is not constant; it is changing, and all these changes affect the population in whole and certain human beings in particular. It is important to learn more about the world around, using both religious answers and scientific knowledge. These categories could be considered as two parts of the whole. Three authors comment on the way to appreciate the natural world. Although all three cited works underline that people live in the world created by God and that this world should be studied and appreciated, particular differences existed in ways to do it. In Newman’s treatise, The Use of Knowledge, education, and science are considered essential for exploring the world, while Nostra Aetate and Gaudium et Spes highlighted the importance of religious answers for understanding, appreciating, and improving reality.
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The Importance of Education in Appreciating the Natural World
All people live in close connection to the natural world. This world is everything that surrounds humans. Humanity must appreciate and love it. However, due to human nature, people cannot appreciate the world around without understanding it. For them, it is important to learn the structure and laws of both the world’s and people’s nature and their relationship. From the beginning of human history, religious beliefs served for learning and, therefore, appreciate the reality.
In The Use of Knowledge (30), Newman underlined the importance of education for the common good. According to Newman’s words, “training of the intellect, which is best for the individual himself, best enables him to discharge his duties to society” (42). The main idea of the author is the following: each human being should do his or her best to serve the community. Education is the optimal way of personal development. Each growth inevitably leads to social improvement end evolution. Therefore, according to Newman, to explore the world, it is essential to get an education and to study different branches of knowledge. The author stated that all of them are equally important and connected. Thus, it could be stated that for exploring and appreciating the world of Creator, a human being should become a philosopher and obtain a wide range of knowledge.
A similar point of view could be found in another essay by Pope Paul VI Gaudium et Spes. According to the importance of knowledge, the author postulated (3) that novel data influence people and causes the evolution of society. This statement highlighted the author’s position due to the importance of education and exploring the world. It could be supposed that in his essay, Pope Paul VI expressed the thesis that understanding of the world around leads to its appreciating and, therefore, appreciating and love the Creator.
The third analyzed work, Nostra Aetate, also contained certain thoughts according to the importance of world exploration. It was postulated in the work that “Men expect from the various religions answers to the unsolved riddles of the human condition,… What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is a moral good, what is sin?..” (1). Therefore, Pope Paul VI postulated the importance of answers search and highlighted the role of religious beliefs as a source of true wisdom. Thus, all three works expressed the idea of knowledge and its understanding of the importance in the process of world appreciating.
Natural World and Religion
It is also important to mention that people live in the changing world. Besides, the human population is not homogeneous; it consists of different nations and nationalities with diverse cultures and religions. Despite all the changes that appeared in the world, religions were and remain an important source of knowledge. In his work Nostra Aetate, Pope Paul VI postulated that “People look to their different religions for an answer to the unsolved riddles of human existence” (1). In this essay, the Pope underlined the importance of various beliefs for people who are searching for answers.
In another work, Gaudium et Spes, Pope Paul IV highlighted the relation between knowledge expansion and religious beliefs crisis. According to his words, “Unlike former days, the denial of God or religion, or the abandonment of them, are no longer unusual and individual occurrences. For today it is not rare for such things to be presented as requirements of scientific progress or a certain new humanism” (5). Although Pope Paul IV accepted and expressed ideas according to the scientific progress and knowledge enhance importance, he underlined the leading role of religious beliefs for the human’s spirit. Only religion could lead people to God and help them to appreciate the natural world as His creation.
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In contradiction to this point of view, Newman expressed the idea of the leading role of education and scientific knowledge. The philosopher accepted the entire idea of God’s role in the natural world creation (Newman 1). However, he postulated that it is important to make the knowledge of the humanity wider because it is the best way to understand the laws of the reality, to appreciate the nature and to improve the weaknesses of the society (Newman 43). Thus, it could be stated that in all analyzed works the role of God as the world’s Creator, and the leading power of the reality is considered as doubtless. However, Newman especially underlined that to appreciate reality and God it is important for everyone to serve society and to develop oneself.
The Role of the Creator
All the main religions postulate that the whole world was created by God and that people should love and respect each other and everything around. Regardless of all the differences, people create one community and live in a shared world. Connections between people are stronger now than whenever else due to modern technology development. It was stated that all the people should be respected and treated equally because all of them are God’s creatures (Pope Paul VI “Nostra Aetate” 4). Thus, the differences in religious beliefs are not the reason for any discrimination. All people are equal, all of them are parts of the natural world. The main idea of the Creator is spread among people’s beliefs. It is the most important statement which is needed to be explored and appreciated.
In Gaudium et Spes Pope Paul VI expressed the commonly accepted idea about the Creator’s role in the surrounding reality. According to the author’s words, the church should focus its attention on “the world of men, the whole human family along with the sum of those realities in the midst of which it lives; … that world which the Christian sees as created and sustained by its Maker’s love…”(1). Therefore, the existing world was created by God, and it is worth to be learned and appreciated.
In the third analyzed text, The Use of Knowledge, Newman also highlighted the role of Creator in the Nature world, in particular, in the different knowledge spreading. Newman postulated that “All branches of knowledge are connected because the subject matter of knowledge is intimately united in itself as being the act and the work of the Creator” (30). Therefore, the author believed in the importance of all explored information according to the word structure because it is a way to be closer to God. Thus, it could be stated that, according to all three essays, the entire surrounding world was created by the Maker’s love. It is highly important to explore the world around and people’s differences with the purpose to understand and appreciate it. It is a way to accept and appreciate God.
It could be concluded that the process of real understanding and appreciating is a highly significant philosophical issue for all human beings. All three analyzed works expressed ideas according to the importance of the natural world exploring and appreciating. All three of them underlined the significance of both religious beliefs and scientific knowledge for this goal achievement. Besides, in both essays of Pope Paul VI and Newman’s treatise The Use of Knowledge, the role of Creator in the natural world was underlined. Everything in the surrounding world was created by God and with His love. Therefore, to appreciate the natural world means to appreciate the Creator.
Pope Paul VI. Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions-Nostra Aetate. Vatican, 1965.
Pope Paul VI. Pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world Gaudium et Spes. Vatican, 1965.
Newman, John Henry. “The Uses of Knowledge.” The Idea of a University, edited by John H. Newman and Leo L. Ward, Wiley-Blackwell, 1948.