Credo ut intelligam – Latin for “I believe so that I may understand” can be considered a mouthful. If you do some searching around you’ll end up settling on Augustine of Hippo. Another, albeit longer, Latin ditty you’ll find is nearly the same – Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam. Augustine was saying, “I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand.” So, you’ve got your latin lesson in for the day, but what does it really mean? Augustine was stating in no uncertain terms that we must believe in something in order to know a hoot about anything else. …And what can we extrapolate from that you ask? Faith, and belief in God are necessary for you to have any understanding of science, art, passion, and beyond.

Augustine lived from 354AD to 430AD and is considered a significant Christian Theologist and the whole of western culture has him to thank for being shaped. I really find him interesting the more I study him. I’ve delved heavily into Hippocrates this summer as well. Fascinating stuff I tell you. Absolutely fascinating. While Hippocrates preceded Christ by several hundred years, he knew some stuff. He was born 460BC and died 370BC.
What is Hippocrates best known for you ask? In my estimation the “Hippocratic Oath” tops the list. It’s interesting to note that nearly nobody in western civilization recites the oath any longer. Sure, they recite AN oath, but not THE oath. In Christian Apologetic speak via Dr. John Patrick, “it’s been ‘got at’ by the faculty or staff.”

Here’s the original Oath of Hippocrates:

I SWEAR by Apollo the physician and AEsculapius, and Hygiea, and Panacea, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation– to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further, from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional service, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times. But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot.

Did you notice anything in there that you didn’t expect to hear? You can bet your sweet patootie you’re not going to hear things like “I won’t perform abortions” or “I won’t sleep around” and so on in any medical school graduation these days… You should also take note that this oath was a pledge you’d give freely prior to learning medicine. Hippocrates was staunch that you ante up on the front end to these terms and adhere to them, or you weren’t going to be hanging your shingle with his blessing. If we put nothing aside, what did you glean from this? Hippocrates knew that in order to be a good physician you had to believe in a higher power.

Hippocrates was convinced, as am I, that if you’re accountable beyond your life in this here and now, that the basis for morals and ethics can begin to be understood. Void this rudimentary knowledge relativity would set in and ethics would go out the window. I’ve listened to Dr. Patrick speak about doctors that don’t have ethics. He uses the witch doctors from Africa he’s run across in his mission work as examples. “You have to ask yourself when dealing with the local witch doctor if you’ve paid more for your life than someone else has for your death.” Think about that. Doctors have it within them to save life. They can and do take life as well. A doctor that doesn’t believe is accountable to nobody, no matter what they may say. If they don’t understand God, then they truly cannot understand ethical behavior by virtue of the lack of basis for where and how ethics are derived.

So how do people like Hippocrates and Augustine fit in today you ask? It’s pretty simple the way I see it. Faith. Belief. Knowing. These two are great examples. One came 400 years before Jesus and one 400 years after.

Hippocrates paved the way for ethical medicine which was later transitioned into the monasteries, churches, and places of worship. He knew you were ‘bound’ to a higher power. As Dr. Patrick has stated, “You cannot bind yourself to anything. Any knot you can tie, you can also untie. You are bound only to God.” To take that a step further, I’d say you were bound by Him, not the other way around. The question then becomes, “Do you ignore that which binds you?” That’s very important for us, as Hippocrates is a good example for us, and especially for those in medicine who tend to run quickly from the Lord these days. I am bound to Him.

Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Augustine helped shine light on the need to understand through belief. The apostles appear to me to have had a different journey. Some if not most, were busy working with believers in God. The same God Moses worshiped. However, they weren’t believers yet in Christ. Fast forward to today. Our journey often isn’t converting or discussing much with the Jewish community. Rather, we’re discussing Jesus with a non believer. At least that describes the circles I run in. I think that makes Augustine especially relevant. If you grasp what he was after, you’re in a better position to show that Belief and Faith are cornerstones of life. So, “I believe so that I may understand” or “Credo ut intelligam” are basics we should master. For if we don’t understand basic premises like that then we certainly can’t explain them to others.

Romans 10:10 – For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 15:13 – Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
You’re accountable to a higher power, as am I. Believe so you may understand, NOT understand so you may believe. Be salt and light my friends…