Brian W. Harrison enumerates three kinds of proposition in an article.*
The point he makes is that category one are faith (I added philosophy with intangible proofs like introspection) but not natural science or history. Category three are natural science or history but not faith (I added the last item to say why "Holocaust denial" cannot be heresy as such - though certain reasonings about events could be tainted with heresy). But category two are absolutely at one and the same time visible history and articles of the faith.
Some wish to understand II as either an empty category or really belonging only to I. That is impossible for Christians.
In the Iliad or Odyssey it is entirely possible. "Zeus hears Athenas complaint about Ulysses" has absolutely no human witness. What Ulysses was meanwhile seeing in the abode of Calypso is at least compatible with Calypso being an elf or a witch - a kinder witch than Circe, but still in magic arts. What happened at the killing of the suitors is at least supposing Ulysses had some kind of disguise so as not to be recognised immediately. Possibly also elfin or magical such. But none attached to Athena being a goddess born from the head of Zeus who had swallowed Metis when ashamed before Hera. None at all. Magic being real and materialism false is the kind of philosophical conclusion that can be drawn from that story. And if we say he did not lie about Polyphemus (though he was known to lie sometimes and there were not any other survivors along with him to check the story), it also involves monsters being real.
Which is why Atheists - but not historically speaking Christians - have attacked the credibility of the Odyssey on non-theological levels.
These would also get us into conclusions such as Resurrection of Christ, or Genesis, or whatever in the Holy Bible is pure faith without any visible corrollary accessible to any witness.
Now, bomb-shelter theology thinks there cannot in principle be any truths at all in Compartment 2 - that it must be an "empty set," as mathematicians say. It sees the whole of Circle B as a "danger zone" for theology, and as falling unilaterally under the autonomous domain of scientists. Its proposed solution, therefore, is simply to declare that only those doctrines found in Compartment 1 can qualify as revealed truth. Compartment 1 is in fact the bomb-shelter - safely out of range of any possible weapons, present or future, of the human sciences, by the very nature of its subject-matter.
But this is certainly not what the Catholic Magisterium implies when it speaks of the "autonomy" of human disciplines. The Church's "sworn testimony" (whether by her ordinary or extraordinary Magisterium) includes many assertions which belong in Compartment 2. The fault which Gaudium et Spes finds with Galileo's inquisitors, then, cannot be their insistence that there are in fact some truths in Compartment 2, but their theological/exegetical incompetence, which led them to think that a certain proposition (geocentrism) was part of the Church's non-negotiable "sworn testimony" (Circle A), when in fact it was not. So they insisted on locating it in Compartment 2, when in reality this proposition belonged in Compartment 3, along with all those other merely human hypotheses about physical/historical reality, which, enjoying no necessary guarantee of being true by virtue of being revealed, are under the exclusive jurisdiction of scientific investigation by scientific methods. And it was by those methods that (if we are to believe the great majority of scientists) geocentrism was proved false. In short, the inquisitors' defective awareness of the autonomy of science was the result of a prior defect in their understanding of the Bible.
I have not read Gaudium and Spes, but to me it does not smell like a Catholic Document. Especially not if finding fault with Galileo's inquisitors. If St Robert Bellarmine and Pope Urban VIII on two occasions (1616 and 1633, between which dates St Robert died and Urban VIII became Pope) declared that "earth moving" was at least an error in faith and thus "earth being still" at least a corrollary of directly revealed propositions (like the scenario in Joshua X), either they were competent or they were not. If they were competent, how could they be wrong on that one? If they were not competent, how could I presume to have confidence in the competence of Gaudium and Spes?
There is a Catholic Principle, invoked by BOTH Provaznik AND Palm, and cited from Providentissimus Deus, that God does not reveal such physical detail as is unimportant for salvation. And Providentissimus Deus is of course citing St Augustine.
But the question is, can any proposition in the Bible that seems pretty consistently over centuries to proclaim or even just imply one physical detail NOT involve that physical detail ... when EVERYTHING in the Bible is useful?
I am not at all defending Sola Scriptura. I am not saying nothing outside the bare text of the Bible is useful for salvation. I know too well that this is contrary to Scripture itself.
I am however defending Tota Scriptura. I am saying that everything in it is useful for salvation. That such and such a physical fact does not strike such and such a reader as immediately useful for salvation does not mean it isn't. Jacob and Esau were twins, born one holding the foot of the other. In other words horoscope did not change between their births. And yet their fates and characters are opposed. This helped St Augustine get out of one pseudo-science, namely Astrology, which was in the vogue with the Manichaeans.
My modest proposal is that Biblical statements involving Geostasis and an earth having an age of Millennia rather than Millions of Years might also be in the Bible because they are not unimportant physical detail never meant to be considered for itself but because they oppose the pseudo-sciences of Darwin and Galileo which are in vogue with, maybe not Manichaeans but certainly Modern Western Atheists.
Nanterre / Paris X UL
St Timothy, disciple of St Paul
* BOMB-SHELTER THEOLOGY by Brian W. Harrison