Raphael's School of Athens

Updated: 15 Feb 2007

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Raphael's School of Athens

Raphael's "School of Athens" is one of my favourite paintings. In it the artist depicts the many philosophers and their thoughts. In the middle are Plato and his student Aristotle, each pointing in a different direction. Plato, who was more concerned about the realm of the spirit and the "universals", points up to heaven. Aristotle was more concerned with the specifics, the realm of the body and nature, and points down to the Earth.

From the vantage point of the Bible, there is not, and need never be, any controversy, between the two realms; between soul and body, God and Man, creation and nature, eternity and time, beauty and labour. Man is made in God's image, he loves truly, he thinks, he sees and knows and creates beauty. They are real, not the mere result of mechanics and blind chance. The Bible tells us that man is fallen, and that the image is marred, yet love and beauty and communication are still real, still truly knowable, though not fully.

Francis Schaeffer, one of the great thinkers of the 20th century, wrote:-

Modern man is deeply plagued by the question, "Where to love and communication come from?" Many artists who pour themselves out in their paintings, who paint bleak messages on canvas, many singers, many poets and dramatists are expressing the blackness of the fact that while everything hangs on love and communication, they don't know where these come from and the don't know what they mean. The biblical answer is quite otherwise: something was there before creation. God was there; love and communication were there; and therefore, prior even to Genesis 1:1, love and communication are intrinsic to what has always been. ("Genesis in Space and Time", p12)

see also Life, the Universe and Everything

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