Augustine of Hippo
|Born||13 November, 354 Tagaste|
|Died||28 August, 430 Hippo|
Augustine of Hippo (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430), also known as Augustine or St. Augustine, was Bishop of Hippo Regius (present-day Annaba, Algeria). He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province. His writings were very influential in the development of Western Christianity.
Augustine took the view that the creation account should be understood literally, for the most part, although he did believe that God had created instantly, rather than over a period of six days. This may have been because he understood the Latin term in "He who lives eternally has made omnia simul" as "everything at the same time", while the original Greek panta koinee more properly means "the whole world". Later in his life, he moved towards a more literal view of passages that he had previously taken symbolically.
Augustine believed that God created the world only thousands of years ago, and titled a chapter of City of God, "On the mistaken view of history that ascribes many thousands of years to the age of the earth."
Augustine also warned against ascribing ideas that are obviously false to the Bible, thereby impugning the credibility of the biblical writers, when the people making the claim don't in fact know what they are talking about.
Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the 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 holds 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. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. 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 on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion [quoting 1 Tim 1:7].— Augustine of Hippo