The Love of Science and the Science of Love
Yeah, you heard me, all of creation. For if human beings are the most precious things in all of creation -- which they are -- then nothing has destroyed more of us (not just physically, but mentally and spiritually) than intellectuals and the lies they propagate. So we're being quite literal here, not at all polemical.
A very quick google search leads me to this site called Necrometrics, estimating that in the 20th century, 203 million were killed as a result of war, genocide, and man-caused famine, 87 million alone from communism. By way of comparison, he calculates 8.5 million other murders worldwide in the same period.
And "3.5 million people were killed in 20th Century disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and volcanos," but even there, ideology has a lot to due with it, because a 7.0 earthquake in California may kill a handful, whereas thousands will die if it occurs in some craphole like Iran. It's the same with diseases. Relatively few people in first world countries die in epidemics, unless liberals get their way and everyone stops vaccinating their children.
It also says that exactly 34,075 people were killed by tigers in India between 1875 and 1912, but c'mon. I would file that under the general heading of Failure to Handle Your Bidness. Some things are just basic, like clearing out the snakes, bears, and malaria-bearing mosquitoes. (By the way, thanks again to liberal intellectuals, millions have died in Africa as a result of the ban on DDT.)
So, ideas have consequences, often deadly. At present, the most evil force in the world -- Islamism -- is an intellectual movement.
But let's get back to the main topic at hand, the sanctity of the intellect. What is it? Very simply, it is truth -- or, more precisely, reverence for truth. To paraphrase Schuon, nothing is more privileged than truth. If man is composed of intellect, sentiment, and will, then it is because we are proportioned to, and converge upon, truth, beauty, and goodness, respectively.
Just as "good" is what we are to do, truth is what we are to know, and beauty what we are to create. Each has its own special penumbra of sanctity. Each is loved for its own sake, not for any utilitarian reason. Like family and friendship, each is its own sufficient reason.
"Sanctity should provide the inner form of the intellectual life, in a way that affects both the methods and the content of the modern academic curriculum" (Schindler).
Just waiting for the laughter to die down.
Here is how Schuon defines sanctity: "it is the intuition of the spiritual nature of things; profound intuition which determines the entire soul, hence the entire being of man."
Now, truth is nothing if not spiritual. How's that? Because it is obviously immaterial, immateriality being one of the defining characteristics of Spirit. When I so much as see a tree as a tree, it is because -- recall the Helen Keller example last week -- the mind is able to perceive the abstract form in the particular substance. If we couldn't do this, we would be animals, precisely. Or, man is the animal with a rational soul, as Aristotle quipped. (But we are more than this as well.)
More Good Stuff from Schuon: "Metaphysical truth is in the first place discernment between the Real and the unreal or the less real." This implies that truth is hierarchically ordered from top to bottom (for it could never be vice versa, as per scientism, which literally elevates appearances to truth).
Truth is not what we make but what we discover. But this does not imply that truth is passive. To the contrary -- especially in the Christian view -- truth "offers itself" as a gift, so to speak, to the intellect. Reality is generous, self-giving, open -- but only to the mind that is similarly generous, self-giving, and open. As applied to man, these three go to the sanctity of the intellect.
A sanctified intellect is humble, open to the gift of truth, and even self-sacrificial, for clearly, in order to know any truth, we must "sacrifice" the interests and preferences of the ego.
Properly understood, science is most definitely a spiritual practice, something which virtually all scientists once knew. It clearly requires a kind of kenosis, or self-emptying in order to be properly filled by truth.
What scientism forgets is that it is rooted in this metaphysic of love. For what else do you call this mutual self-offering of truth and intellect? You could say, as Schindler does, that "all creation is dynamically ordered from and toward the love revealed by God in Jesus Christ." Yes, this is what you call real Christian science. Or just say science.
You know, the reason why the intellectual life is so rewarding is because it is this continuous gift of truth to intellect, right? It is a love affair. How can this be, if it is not built into the nature of things?
Oops. Just got called into work early. Let's abruptly conclude with this:
"[I]n Jesus Christ, God has assumed human nature, and, indeed, through human nature, in some sense all of nature. Nature from the beginning finds its integrity and freedom in obedience: in a relation of service to the Father, and thus in love.... Thus every created being in its depths exhibits an orientation and movement from God, and in this way... 'images' God" (Schindler).