The concept of nature between science and theology. The need for epistemological mediation.

Author: Rafael Martínez *
Lecture given at: Paper presented at the Fifth European Conference on Science and Theology (ESSSAT VIII), Freising-Munich (Germany), 23-27 March 1994. Published in English, with the title "The Concept of Nature Between Science and Theology. The Need for an Epistemological Mediation", in: Niels H. Gregersen, Michael W. S. Parsons and Christoph Wassermann, editors, "The Concept of Nature in Science & Theology", Part I (Geneva: Labor et Fides, 1997), pp. 66-77.
Date: 23-27 March 1994

topic "The Concept of Nature", the theme of the Fifth European Conference on Science and Theology, is undoubtedly a fundamental study site if we wish to develop a fruitful dialogue between science and theology. In both fields of study the idea of nature occupies a central position. The study of nature is almost the essence of what we call scientific research. It is in fact an attempt to understand nature (including human nature) and to achieve, through this knowledge, a certain mastery and practical control over it1. Religious faith, on its part, sees nature as a creation and gift of God, and as a manifestation of his greatness. The theological reflection must necessarily be based on the notion of nature in order to try to understand the role of the human being in the divine plan and to value the mission that God gives to the human being. The reflection on the relationship between nature and grace, between the natural and the supernatural, will always be one of the fundamental questions of theological research.

However, it does not seem easy for science and theology to conclude a dialogue on the concept of dynasty. Throughout history, misunderstandings are not rare. The Galileo case is a paradigmatic example. Galileo would have tried to assert the rights of an ideal of scientific research based on the intrinsic values of nature, against those of the philosophical-theological schools of the time, which still had their own preferred schemata2. Today we still find similar conflict situations. Sometimes, however, the ruins seem to be capovolti. This is the case, for example, in the systematic rigidity with which the demands to nature made by theology in the field of ethical normativity are often met.

What is the root of these misunderstandings? Once upon a time in the West, around the 13th century, philosophical and theological reflection reached a substantial agreement on the fundamental categories by which the world was understood and judged by the human mind. But the birth of science, experimental science, and the evolution of modern thought, seem to have opened an ever wider gap between the ways in which science and theology make nature the object of their own reflection. It seems at times almost as if science and theology had in mind radically different conceptions of what nature is. And this results in the impossibility of establishing a true dialogue between the two. The concept of nature, therefore, still requires a profound clarification.

Certainly, the way in which science and theology approach the study of nature is and always will be different. However, this should not be an obstacle to the dialogue between the two, as long as a common reality can be identified underneath such a diversity of perspectives. In the face of "nature" science and theology must necessarily elaborate different "objectives "3 , because the aspects of the physical world that are of interest to physical or biological theory are different from those that are significant for theology. However, this is a condition of interdisciplinary dialogue, and not necessarily an obstacle. The thought can rise above these different "objectivations", in order to reach the reality from which they constitute the "tags" or conceptual "sections".

This could be the role of mediation played by philosophy in the science-theology dialogue. It will be in the philosophical field, and more particularly in the epistemological one, where science and theology will be able to find the points of collision between their respective visions of nature.

This does not mean that philosophy must now constitute a kind of unifying science between experimental science and theology, a kind of "metascience", with its own particular objective. If philosophy is simply seen as a science of greater generality, we will be condemned to an infinite ricorso. It is necessary instead to admit the "reflective" capacity of philosophy. Essa è in Degree di riflettere sulle proprie conoscenze. This reflective capacity, which clearly distinguishes philosophy from experimental science, is based on a particular subject of astrazione or concettualizzazione of reality, which certainly reflects the minor activity of philosophy compared to science, but which constitutes the reason for its role of (relatively) ultimate knowledge. In fact, theology is also responsible for a similar approach to reality, subject . For this reason the science-faith dialogue leads us more generally in a theological ambit, rather than in a scientific ambit, even when it is conducted by scientists, rather than by theologians. In other words, in the dialogue between science and theology the scientist-theologian is always doing (or trying to do) theology, or at least philosophy, but not science. Even science can obtain benefits, insofar as its vision of the natural world will find itself engaged in a longer and more comprehensive vision4. On its own, however, these benefits will be less immediate.

Vorrei in queste pagine riflettere su alcune questioni epistemologiche riguardo all'uso del concetto di natura nel dialogo scienza-teologia. I will consider in particular what is the epistemological content and value of the concept of nature in scientific and theological research. The question will be articulated in three points: 1. What methodological role does the concept of nature play in science and theology? 2. What particular concept of nature is in Degree able to assume these roles? 3. Will the resulting notion of nature be a notion acceptable to science (as well as to philosophy and theology), and in particular, is it a knowable reality?

1. What methodological role does the concept of nature play in science and theology? Nature as a source of questions and as a guide rules and regulations

The diversity of perspectives with which science and theology approach nature is not an obstacle to their mutual dialogue. Beyond this diversity it is possible to see nature as a reality that accompanies the reflection in both fields. In particular, it is possible to discover a double role developed from the idea of nature, both in the scientific and theological fields.

In the first place, nature appears, both in science and in theology, as a source of questions. In scientific activity, this dimension of nature is evident. Man questions himself by seeking answers to the problems that the observation of nature proposes to him. These problems are presented to him both on a theoretical and practical level. Man questions himself in order to better understand what nature observes (theoretical or speculative level) but also out of the desire to make nature more "docile" to the needs of his own activity (instrumental or practical level). Ma la natura non limita solamente alla scienza questo suo ruolo di fonte di questioni. Also in theology nature develops this same role, which we can call "problematic". Obviously, the questions that nature poses to theology, both on a theoretical and practical level, will have different aspects from those that science deals with. At the theoretical level, for example, science and theology question each other about the comprehensibility of the phenomena that nature presents to us. But science will be more concerned with the meaning that the processes and events revealed can have within an explanatory framework of the physical world, coherent and as comprehensive as possible. Theology will, instead, close the sense of natural realities in the light of a higher intelligibility, in relation to the revealed data5. Also on a practical level, nature questions theology, insofar as man is called upon to orientate all created realities towards God: "lacreazione stessa attende con impazienza la rivelazione dei figli di Dio; essa infatti è stata sottomessa alla caducità non per suo volere, ma per volere di colui che l'ha sottomessa e nourre la speranza di essere lei pure liberata dalla schiavitù della corruzione, per entrare nella libertà della gloria dei figli di Dio. Sappiamo bene infatti che tutta la creazione geme e soffre fino ad oggi nelle doglie del parto"6.

There is, however, a second dimension of the relationship between "nature" and science or theology, which we can call rules and regulations. Nature appears not only as a source of questions or problems, but also as a source of meaning, that is, as a guide to confer its true meaning to reality. Thus we can say that nature does not only "dominate" man, but that it also "offers answers" and guides human research.

This "rules and regulations" dimension of nature appears clearly in the different levels we have considered. The understanding of nature that science demands can only be achieved through the attentive study that scientists make of nature itself. The knowledge of the physical world cannot be achieved a priori, but is the result of the discovery of the answers found in nature itself, and which it offers us, even if not easily. This is the Galilean idea of the "Book of Nature", which questions us, but in which we can read the answers to those same questions7. È vero che l'epistemologia recente ha insistito particolarmente nel ruolo attivo dello scienziato. This is not limited to costing the data of nature, nor does it proceed through a linear induction. But this does not mean to affirm the subjective or autonomous character of scientific constructions. What current epistemology requires is rather the awareness that we are faced with a nature of remarkable complexity. The many levels on which it is structured require man to engage creatively in dialogue with it.

Even when it comes to the practical dimension of science, it is important to recognise the rules and regulations dimension of nature. Science has not only an ethical dimension, but also a pragmatic one. Science tries to exercise a certain mastery over natural events, through its predictive power, which allows it to control, and each time more and more, numerous environments of the physical world. However, this is not a dispositive or external domain. The control of physical phenomena can only be achieved thanks to the knowledge and adaptation of our forces to the needs of nature itself. Moreover, the need for nature to develop this normative role is also clear from the experience of the serious alterations that the immoderate action of science and technology can cause in the physical environment. Scientific progress must be accompanied by the constant search for a real harmony with nature.

In the theological field we can also explore the dimension rules and regulations of nature. On the one hand, starting from the practical level, we can remember that "nature" has traditionally been considered in theology, and particularly in morality, as a rule or rule of action. This century has certainly seen a crisis of what has been called in a somewhat speculative way the ethical "naturalism". Perhaps a reflection on the meaning and the bearing of nature is lacking in such criticisms. But in any case the role of the concept of nature in theology cannot be limited to the practical dimension, because then we would easily find ourselves without a clear foundation of such a normative character. È quindi necessario assume e riflettere sul ruolo normativo che la natura possiede, riguardo alla teologia, anche a livello teoretico. Nature, creation and at the same time manifestation of God, can be seen in some sense as a sign of the revealing of divine designs. It is worth remembering Galileo's words:

né meno meno eccellentemente ci si scuopre Iddio negli effetti di natura che ne' i sacri detti delle Scritture, il che volse per avventura intender Tertulliano in quelle parole "Nos definimus, Deum primo natura cognoscendum, deinde doctrina recognoscendum: natura, ex operibus; doctrina, ex praedicationibus" (Tertulliano, Adversus Marcionem, I, XVIII)8

Approaching in epistemological terms this double dimension of the relationship between nature and science or theology can be a concrete way to favour the understanding of the unity to which science and theology are called. But in order for such unification to be possible we must examine the second of the proposed questions: which concept of "nature" can effectively satisfy these needs?

2. Quale concetto di natura può essere in Degree di assumere il doppio ruolo di fonte di questioni e di guida rules and regulations della scienza e della teologia?

È necessario quindi tornare sul concetto stesso di natura, per vedere in quale modo esso possa presentarsi alla scienza e alla teologia odierne, come una no zione valida a questi scopi. Qui ci sembra necessario, anche si tratta di argo menti elementari, riflettere brevemente su alcuni dei sensi che il termine "natura" ha adottato nella storia del pensiero. In fact, this reflection could lead to a narrower imposition of the terms of the problem.

The sense that is most frequently adopted today identifies "nature" with the "totality of bodies", with the "totality of material reality", or rather with the whole of the physical universe. This does not necessarily mean considering nature in a purely materialistic sense, even if this has been very frequent in some riduttivist views of science in recent centuries, particularly in various types of positivism. Today, however, it is not unusual that this notion of nature also embraces the psychological, rational and social dimensions of the human being in a non-Riduttivist way, but by accepting their specificity. Nature appears, insomma, as the system formatted by all the reality accessible more or less directly to our experience. Outside of this, there remains only the realm of the supernatural, and perhaps the more specifically spiritual characteristics of man, such as his freedom, his liberty, and the aspects more directly derived from this, such as, for example, certain cultural and artistic phenomena, etc.

Now, nature considered in this sense seems to be fundamentally a "fact", a simple "fact", which can have two consequences that do not seem to us to be opportune. On the one hand, it is difficult to understand how a simple "fact" can have a dimension rules and regulations, or how a fact can give rise to a certain "will". If a similar notion of nature is accepted, its dimension as a "guide rules and regulations" would be limited to constitute, at most, a kind of "constructive" guide. Certainly, "the facts" cannot be ignored or contradicted, but per se they are not even capable of indicating a path to follow. They do not "guide", but only "limit". Secondly, if we were to accept this concept of nature, its meaning in a theological (and also simply anthropological) sense would be greatly diminished. For this reason, the contents concerning the more human dimensions are systematically excluded.

The concept of nature as "totality" or "system", which is particularly characteristic of the mechanistic vision of science, is therefore too lacking in content to constitute in reality a motive for the reflection of science and theology. For this reason, it has sometimes been tried to give a greater content to the concept of nature, seeing in it not simply an inert unit of bodies and entities, but a totality of organic subject , an entity that appears as personified and almost divinised. This was the approach followed among others by the "Naturphilosophie" of romanticism. Even today this concept of nature recurs with some frequency in the pseudo-philosophical treatises that are often present in works of scientific or scientific-theological popularisation.

From a speculative point of view this concept of nature does not seem to have a particular importance, since from rule it appears rather as the result of some philosophical or ideological pregiudizio (naturalism, pantheism, etc.), than as the fruit of an authentic reasoning research based on experience and on the human capacity to grasp the intelligibility of reality. Ultimately, this notion of a vaguely pantheistic nature can be seen as one more manifestation of the attempts, periodically repeated throughout history, to transform the relationship of man and reality with the divine. There is an ultimate reason for the real, which, however, is immanent in the world.

Di fronte a questi due significanti contrapposti può essere utile ricordare che per secoli il termine "natura" ha avuto un terzo senso, che non si non si limitava a pre sentare il raggruppamento della totalità delle cose, ma nemmeno cercava di sosti tuirsi al ruolo radicalmente fondante di Dio: la natura nel senso aristotelico di un "principio intrinseco" delle realtà naturali9. In the Aristotelian perspective, collected later from the medieval metaphysical and theological reflection, "nature" means above all the principle that determines the way of being, and from which proceeds the specific way of acting of anyunnaturalphysical reality.It is a way of being and acting characterised by a strong intrinsic unity,but also by its own autonomy.

From an epistemological point of view, the fundamental point is that this perspective allows us to understand that man is not simply faced with a set of "facts" which he can question, but with a "reality" (living person or physical system) which possesses in itself an intrinsic principle of intelligence and therefore a "source of sense" in to illuminate it, vivente o sistema fisico) che possiede in se stessa un principio intrinseco di intel ligibilità, e quindi una "fonte di senso" in Degree di illuminare le varie dimensioni della razionalità umana. The "nature" is placed by Aristotle in opposition to the artificial, the accidental, the casual, that is, in opposition to what appears as "devoid of sense" or as endowed only with ameaning conferred by man himself (ars). Natural reality cannot appear simply as a "machine" or as a mechanical system, composed, in the last analysis, of an ultimate substrate of subject without meaning (vuoto di senso), and of an impulse of inspiegabile matter, added strictly to the first. Nella prospettiva goal fisica dell'aristotelismo, il naturale si presenta, sia nella sua strutturazione che nel suo dinamismo, come una realtà a sé, dotata di senso e quindi di intelligibilità10.

The current development of science seems to demand more and more the return to a more content-free notion of nature, like the Aristotelian one. It is now clear, for example, how the conceptual schemes of the nicist mechanical vision of the world turn out to be insufficient for the understanding of organic, living systems and, more generally, of complex systems. Even the same analytical methods appear to be insufficient, and we are aware of the need to find new conceptual tools to obtain a deeper understanding of the reality that surrounds us. A notion of nature as a principle intrinsic to every reality, more in line with the Aristotelian sense, as a starting point for scientific clarification, could favour the programmes aimed at an integrative understanding of the physical world, which could overcome the limited understanding offered by the overly simplistic models of classical mechanics. Some attempts along these lines have now produced results that are worthwhile.11.

3. Risulta possibile il dialogo scienza-teologia sulla base dei questo concetto di natura? Is Aristotelian nature a principle acceptable to science?

However, this programme does not seem to be fraught with difficulties. The ari stotelica notion of nature ("essence as a principle of operations", or "intrinsic principle of the activity of entities") seems sterile or vague to a large part of modern science and philosophy. Even in theology there are few who today seem to see in this notion a concrete content capable of illuminating the reflection on God and on the world.

At the basis of these assessments there is, however, a certain misunderstanding of the Aristotelian-Thomistic sense of nature. It has been verified, very often, a certain inability to grasp the metaphysical content. Inoltre, non sempre si è saputo eliminare da questa nozione, all'occorrenza, le connotazioni erronee derivate dall'insufficiente conoscenza dei fenomeni fisici, propria dei particolari momenti storici in cui essa è stata formulata. Non voglio però voglio però soffermarmi in queste valu tazioni. It will be more useful to consider the question whether the concept of nature, in the Aristotelian sense, can still be valid to promote the dialogue between science and theology.

From this point of view, it seems to me that a fundamental question arises. Se essa viene intesa in senso aristotelico, risulta possibile raggiungere una qual che conoscenza della "natura"? Si tratta di una questione importante sia per la scienza che per la teologia. In fact, the modern rigidity of the concept of nature in the Aristotelian sense, and its almost total substitution by a cist mechanical conception of nature (a mechanical nature, or rather an essence of nature), was largely motivated by this problem. The difficulties to consider Aristotelian nature as a reality with an effectively knowable content, and not as a purely hypothetical notion devoid of content, were almost insurmountable in the new comprehensive schemes of reality, introduced by modern (Galilean) science. This assessment was certainly influenced by the confusion between the physical and metaphysical levels, to the point that "quota of content" stood for "quota of empirical content". But the need then felt, to have what to do with a really knowable notion of nature, was, and still is today, valid. Is the notion of nature considered only as an interpretative or quasi-ideological category, or can it be seen as a reality that we can choose in some way?

This question is also fundamental for theology. If we want to admit that the notion of nature can have an effective role in the theological-logical reflection, it will be necessary to conceive of nature not only as a more or less arbitrary way of conceptualising or reassuming the empirical contents of science (as it used to be in the mechanical notion of nature as "totality"), but as a real content capable of conferring meaning to empirical reality, as a carrier of such meaning. Instead, however, it is conceived only as an "ideological" content or as some kind of objective conceptualisation without real content. It is essential to recover the character of strong reality that Aristotelian nature possessed. The only alternative would be to renounce to a unified understanding of natural and supernatural reality, and thus the impossibility of dialogue between science and theology.

Let us return then to the question posed: is it possible to achieve an effective knowledge of nature (in the Aristotelian sense, i.e., "the nature of things")? Giving an answer is not necessarily simple. To affirm itself means first of all to admit the existence of a metaphysical dimension in reality. Things are not reduced to being an ensemble of empirical contents. Esse "sono di più", di quanto il livello sensibile o empirico della nostra conoscenza ci permette di cogliere. And it also means to admit the capacity of the human mind to go beyond this empirical level of physical reality, and to reach a real understanding of its metaphysical dimensions.

To admit the reality of this metaphysical level is very often obscured by considering that the metaphysical dimensions of reality would be nothing more than a "second level", equivalent to the empirical one, but situated beyond the reach of our senses and our knowledge (a kind of Kantian noumeno). This misunderstanding is still very frequent today, especially among those who want to accept the existence of the transcendent and the supernatural, but who consider "our world" as purely empirical. But the metaphysical dimensions of reality are not "another world". It is the result of recognising that the "empirical content" does not hide reality or the intelligibility of the physical and material world.

A correct understanding of this fact is necessary in order to admit that we can know the nature of things, and to understand how we can know it. In fact, the question posed is actually divided into two others. To understand if I can know the nature of things means, on the one hand, to ask myself if I am in Degree to understand what that nature is: what subject of reality it possesses, what sense it has, what role it plays in relation to the various dimensions of reality. Ma significa anche, in secondo luogogo, domandarmi se posso comprendere quale è (o "come è") la natura di ogni realtà fisica che io possa conoscere. It means, therefore, to understand what "the nature" of this particular entity or subject of entities consists of, what characteristics it has, and how it can be distinguished from the other natures that we can know. And also, in some Degree, ask me why this nature is such, and why it is the principle of the action of this reality.

In a coherent conception of the Aristotelian-Thomist philosophy, but rather simplistic, the two questions (what it is and what it is) came to be considered as a set of both to the philosophical or metaphysical reflection.This was partly due to the historical inexistence of a distinction between science and Aristotelian philosophy, which only in the last century, in the neotomist movement, has been tried to explain. Consequently, among many thinkers open to metaphysics, the idea that science should concern itself only with the purely phenomenal, without being in Degree of achieving an essential knowledge of reality, has been adopted.12. In a scientific or naturalistic perspective, on the other hand, only the second demand has some sense, but it is only on a purely material level.

Una corretta prospettiva metafisica vede le due questioni strettamente colle gate. Both are important for science as well as for theology and metaphysics. Without a doubt, the first one is much more directly related to the reflection of the metaphysical mind itself, which will try to discover the meaning and the necessity of such an essential principle of the real things. Science will also have to recognise it, not so much as part of its own research, but in order to achieve a wider vision and a possibility of dialogue with philosophy and theology.

The decisive question, however, is to consider the second demand. If we accept an Aristotelian notion of nature, understood as an intrinsic principle of things, is it possible to arrive at a knowledge of what is the concrete nature of things? Is it possible to say what is the nature of the different realities that make up this world?

It seems to me that a correct understanding of the science-theology relationship means admitting that it is possible to achieve such knowledge. And also recognise that it is science itself to achieve such knowledge, when it studies the physical, chemical or biological phenomena and obtains concrete results in any of these sciences. The increasingly more precise knowledge of the fundamental structure of subject, for example, is a way through which we achieve a deeper and deeper knowledge of the nature of the various constituents of the physical world. In the same way, perfecting knowledge of the genetic heritage of living species, or achieving a more precise understanding of the neurological processes that coordinate the various vital actions, are ways of knowing better what is the nature of these living beings, what is, and how is, the intrinsic principle that guides and coordinates their operations.

I do not wish to claim that the knowledge resulting from the different physical or biological theories, accepted by the scientific community at a particular moment, i.e. the concrete contents of these theories, constitute the "nature" of things, or should be considered as a metaphysical content. The different scientific theories certainly operate at a different level from metaphysics. But it cannot be forgotten that these are authentic theoretical contents, and therefore intelligible, and are not simply seen as "empirical data" as if they were indirectly known. What I am trying to say is therefore that in the knowledge acquired by science, the knowledge of the ontological dimension of reality is also acquired at the same time. Therefore, through science we know more perfectly the nature of things. And to achieve a knowledge of nature in dependence on science does not seem in any way possible.

It is clearly not a question, in any case, of a total or complete knowledge. Conoscere la natura non può significare ottenere una comprensione di subject geometrico o matematico, che solo il razionalismo meccanicista si illudeva di po ter raggiungere. The knowledge of the natural world that science gives us will always be partial, and in a certain sense, conceptual, because scientific theories will never be definitive or absolute. However, science is in Degree to achieve a true knowledge, and through this it also progresses our understanding of reality on its various levels, including the metaphysical level.13.

For this reason, it will always be particularly necessary to properly evaluate the results of science from an epistemological point of view, before trying to assume them as part of a deeper, philosophical and theological vision of reality. There is also the risk of presenting as ametaphysicalcontentof reality something that is nothing more than a false generalisation of some elements ofscientifictheories, as is often the case, unfortunately, in the popular scientific-theological area.Anadequate epistemological evaluationwill allow, besides recognising the limits of the scientific models,to recognise also the positive increase of intelligibility achieved by the science, and will thus allow us to discover in it the opportunity of a knowledge that is not limited to the purely empirical level but is also meaningful in epistemological,metaphysical andtheologicalterms.

The rejection of the Aristotelian notion of nature as a principle intrinsic to every reality of thephysicalworld ,irriducibileto the phenomenal data, and the adequateintegration of is a post-professional perspective that takesinto account the epistemological value of current science, canthusunderstandthe encounter and the dialogue between science and theology around the notion of nature, both as asource of questions for research in the two fields, and as a source of meaning that canalso have a guiding and guiding function rules and regulations .


(*) Faculty of Philosophy. Pontificia Università della Santa Croce. Piazza di Sant'Apollinare 49, I 00186 Roma.

(1) Cfr. M. Artigas, "Objectivity and Reliability in Science", Epistemologia, 11 (1988), p. 102. Perun'analisi più completa di questi due aspetti, si veda M. Artigas, Filosofía de la ciencia experimental, Eunsa, Pamplona 1989, pp. 13-20.

(2) Si tratta di un caso superato da tempo. However, its study can still be useful in order to impose the science-theology relationship. Cfr. R. Martínez, "Il significato epistemologico del caso Galileo. Due diverse concezioni della scienza",certificate Philosophica, 3 (1994), pp. 45-74.

(3) I use the term "oggettivazione" fundamentally in the sense in which E. Agazzi presents it. Si veda E. Agazzi, "L'objectivité scientifique", in L'objectivité dans les différentes sciences, ed. by E. Agazzi, Editions Universitaires, Fribourg (Switzerland) 1988, pp. 13-25. Si veda anche M. Artigas, "Objectivity and Reliability...", p. 103. Sono chiare le difficoltà esistenti per applicare questo con cetto alla riflessione teologica, le cui caratteristiche sono assai diverse da quelle della scienza spe rimentale. In referring to theology, therefore, we use this term analogically.

(4) Cf. John Paul II, Message to the Rev. George V. Coyne SJ, of the Vatican Observatory (June 1, 1988). Coyne SJ, Director of the Vatican Observatory (June 1, 1988), in Physics, Philosophy and Theology: a Common Quest for Understanding, ed. by R. Russel, W. Stoeger, and G. Coyne, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1988, M1-M14.

(5) In these pages I will use the term "theology" in the characteristic sense of the Christian tradition, i.e. as the rational reflection on the revealed fact (fides quaerens intellectum), and not simply as a reflection on the religious dimension of man, which would constitute a "philosophy of religion".

(6) Rom. 8, 19-22.

(7) Cf. O. Pedersen, The Book of Nature, Vatican Observatory Publications, Notre Dame (Ind.) / Città del Vaticano 1992.

(8) Galileo Galilei, "Lettera a Madama Cristina di Lorena, Granduchessa di Toscana" (1615), in Opere, vol. I, a cura di F. Brunetti, UTET, Torino 19802, pp. 559-560.

(9) Cfr. Aristotele, Metafisica, V, 4; Fisica, II, 1. A complete treatment can be found in the classic studies of R.G. Collingwood, The Idea of Natura, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1964; A. Mansion, Introduction á la physique aristotèlicienne, Vrin, Paris 19452.

(10) Si veda M. Artigas, La inteligibilidad de la naturaleza, EUNSA, Pamplona 1992; M. Artigas, "Three Levels of Interaction between Science and Philosophy", in Idealization IV: Intelligibility in science (Poznan studies in the philosophy of the sciences and humanities, 26), ed. C. Dilworth, Rodopi, Amsterdam 1992, pp. 123-144.

(11) Si veda ad esempio il contributo presentato alla Forth European Conference on Science and Theology, "Origins, Time and Complexity" (Albano-Rome, March 23 to 29, 1992), da G. Basti and A. Perrone, "Time and Non-Locality. From Logical to Metaphysical Being. An Aristotelian Thomistic Approach", in Studies in Science and Theology, 1 (1993) (forthcoming).

(12) An example of this can be found in Duhem's formalist conventionality. Si veda, ad esempio, P. Duhem,Sózein tà phainómena. Essai Sur la Notion de Théorie physique de Platon à Galilée (1908), Vrin, Paris 1990.

(13) Sulla capacità della scienza di raggiungere una vera conoscenza della realtà, si vedano le re lazioni presentate da yciski, Arecchi, Artigas e l'autore, nel III Convegno di studio della Facoltà di Filosofia dell'Ateneo Romano della Santa Croce, "La verità scientifica. La scienza attuale di fronte all'intelligibilità del reale" (Rome, 24-25 February 1994) (in preparation).