1. Buttress of Christian Reason:
When God created humanity He spoke within His Triunity, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . ." and after having so done, He conferred upon humankind the wondrous gift of higher reasoning. That is the meaning behind the mythologic language that followed: "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." (see Genesis 1: 26-28 and 2:15-24) [You will please note that the terminology "mythologic language" does not mean that something is a mere myth but rather that language is used that is divinely and unalterably true about those realities that transcend the common-place speech of time and space.] God created humanity in His image and after His own likeness, as reasoning creatures. We do not have the language to define what existence was prior to the fall into sinning and so we use the symbolisms of the supernatural that undergird the natural dimensions of existence.
When God fully incarnated into Humanity at Bethlehem, He assumed human intelligence as well as all of that which is human excepting sin. He is in and of Himself the new beginning for our race of beings. St. Paul considered Him to be the New Adam. And to the Church founded upon Christ's death and resurrection St. Paul spoke: "Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ". We are called upon to love our God, not just with our hearts but with our intellects, our minds. This is a buttress of strength for our cathedral souls: Godly reason. We are never instructed by God not to think, to take our heads off with our hats when we worship. (see 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4: 14-16; I Corinthians 15: 20-50; Philippians 1: 3-6; Matthew 22; 34-40; Romans 12: 1-2). Indeed, it is God who calls upon us to reason together with Him:
And God has promised holy wisdom to all who seek it from Him, for it is to be treasured greatly by those who would love God with all their mind and heart and soul:
[*glass was extremely valuable in the ancient world. **Abaddon is one of the fallen angels. *** "the fear of the Lord" means an holy and profound awe and reverence]
St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the greatest bishops in Christian history, stated this buttress of Christian reason (wisdom and godly reasoning) wonderfully when he spoke of the capacity for a spiritual intelligence which God has placed into our human intelligence:
"I will soar, then, beyond this power of my nature
also, ascending by degrees unto Him who made me. And I enter the fields and
roomy chambers of memory, where are the treasures of countless images,
imported into it from all manner of things by the senses. There is treasured
up whatsoever likewise we think, either by enlarging or diminishing, or by
varying in any way whatever those things which the sense hath arrived at; yea,
and whatever else hath been entrusted to it and stored up, which oblivion
hath not yet engulfed and buried. When I am in this storehouse, I demand
that what I wish should be brought forth, and some things immediately
appear; others require to be longer sought after, and are dragged, as it
were, out of some hidden receptacle; others, again, hurry forth in crowds,
and while another thing is sought and inquired for, they leap into view,
as if to say, 'Is it not we, perchance?' These I drive away with the hand
of my heart from before the face of my remembrance, until what I wish be
discovered making its appearance out of its secret cell. Other things
suggest themselves without effort, and in continuous order, just as they
are called for -- those in front giving place to those that follow, and in
giving place are treasured up again to be forthcoming when I wish it. All
of this takes place when I repeat a thing from memory.
"All these things, each of which entered by its own avenue, are distinctly
and under general heads there laid up: as, for example, light, and all
colours and forms of bodies, by the eyes; sounds of all kinds by the
ears; all smells by the passage of the nostrils; all flavours by that
of the mouth; and by the sensation of the whole body is brought in what
is hard or soft, hot or cold, smooth or rough, heavy or light, whether
external or internal to the body. All these doth that great receptacle
of memory, with its many and indescribable departments, receive, to be
recalled and brought forth when required; each, entering by its own door,
is hid up in it. And yet the things themselves do not enter it, but only
the images of the things perceived are there ready at hand for thought
to recall. And who can tell how these images formed, notwithstanding
that it is evident which of the senses each has been fetched by and
treasured up? For even while I live in darkness and silence, I can bring
out colours in memory if I wish, and discern between black and white, and
what others I wish; nor yet do sounds break in and disturb what is drawn
in by mine eyes, and which I am considering, seeing that they also are
there, and are concealed, laid up, as it were, apart. For these too I
can summon if I please, and immediately they appear. And though my
tongue be at rest, and my throat silent, yet can I sing as much as I
will; and those images of colours, which notwithstanding are there, do
not interpose themselves and interrupt when another treasure is under
consideration which flowed in through the ears. So the remaining things
carried in and heaped up by the other senses, I recall at my pleasure.
And I discern the scent of lilies from that of violets while smelling
nothing; and I prefer honey to grape-syrup, a smooth thing to a rough,
though then I neither taste nor handle, but only remember."
"All these things, each of which entered by its own avenue, are distinctly and under general heads there laid up: as, for example, light, and all colours and forms of bodies, by the eyes; sounds of all kinds by the ears; all smells by the passage of the nostrils; all flavours by that of the mouth; and by the sensation of the whole body is brought in what is hard or soft, hot or cold, smooth or rough, heavy or light, whether external or internal to the body. All these doth that great receptacle of memory, with its many and indescribable departments, receive, to be recalled and brought forth when required; each, entering by its own door, is hid up in it. And yet the things themselves do not enter it, but only the images of the things perceived are there ready at hand for thought to recall. And who can tell how these images formed, notwithstanding that it is evident which of the senses each has been fetched by and treasured up? For even while I live in darkness and silence, I can bring out colours in memory if I wish, and discern between black and white, and what others I wish; nor yet do sounds break in and disturb what is drawn in by mine eyes, and which I am considering, seeing that they also are there, and are concealed, laid up, as it were, apart. For these too I can summon if I please, and immediately they appear. And though my tongue be at rest, and my throat silent, yet can I sing as much as I will; and those images of colours, which notwithstanding are there, do not interpose themselves and interrupt when another treasure is under consideration which flowed in through the ears. So the remaining things carried in and heaped up by the other senses, I recall at my pleasure. And I discern the scent of lilies from that of violets while smelling nothing; and I prefer honey to grape-syrup, a smooth thing to a rough, though then I neither taste nor handle, but only remember."
Very early on in the history of believing Christianity, beginning with the Apostles themselves, this precious and heaven-sent reasoning of those minds renewed by Christ's redemption looked at some of the harshest of the old Hebrew scripture and breathed precious and inspired meaning into it all. The following is an example of that buttressing which keeps our minds reverent and sane and our souls cathedral-like. Origen was one of the greatest Teachers the Church has ever known. He was later nearly tortured to death for his love of Christ and, though he was not directly martyred by this cruel burning, he undoubtedly died a martyr from its results shortly thereafter. Hear the beauty of Christian reason in the following and adapt its beautiful ethos to those holy mysteries that can have no earthly explanation:
"Nobody can be literally said to be hated by God -- rather, they are enemies of His Covenant". -- Origen
To put it into modern parlance, if there is a wall, and I insist upon running head-long into it time and time again, the fault is not the wall's, nor the builders of that wall, but my own. God's holy covenant can be our friend or our enemy, the decision is ours at any given moment of life. Nevertheless, God and His covenant are Holy and I will either have godly reasoning in my head or a rebellious, unthinking, immature attitude. Holy wisdom in our reasoning contributes to our heaven or our hell both in this life and in the world to come.
(make these into your own prayers)
all of my ways are lawless unless Thou set Thy blessedness into my thinking.
when my old sins repay me their calloused visits let me rejoice in victory of your wondrous forgiveness of them all.
The following lesson I taught as a schoolmaster is quite germane to the wonderful possibilities God has placed within our intellects and souls of worshipful thought. It was taken down from a taped transcription that has, happily, survived all these years. How much I miss teaching only the dearest Lord knows:
We moderns are confronted with a universe that no longer fits the definitions of the mechanics of a former age. Nor, indeed, can the classical physics of a Newton always satisfy. I propose this morning to stimulate your thinking and your devotion with a number of propositions concerning the universe -- propositions that fit the emerging puzzle confronting us. There certainly is nothing all that new or revolutionary that I propose. To take any credit for these thoughts from astro-physics would be silly of me.
And God said, "Let there be light!" Our faith and modern astro-physics hold in common this wondrous mystery: it all started with a burst of unimaginable light. And this we observe, if indeed we may use the word observe, in its usual sense: from that blast came this microsecond of our ever-expanding, ever-moving universe. Rightly then, it should be noted, that the observation of universe in movement outwards and yet curving in upon itself ought to cause enough humility for both scientist and theologian alike to speak in hushed, guarded, and reverent tones.
If it is true, theologically, that "the fool has said in his heart there is no God" it seems to me just as wise to say of the scientist or the teacher "the fool supposes a perfectly rational explanation is possible when it comes to the shape and the dimensions of the universe."
One is surely struck by the dream-like quality of this universe where even mathematics and geometry become fish out of water. Where, with an Alice in Wonderland quality, up is not up nor is down really down; where time and space are the same thing (if the term "thing" is ever the sufficient explanation ever for time/space). I believe that there isn't any term that will suffice in this awesome realm of which we speak today, where time warps and curves and black holes and anti-matter make a bedlam of all our earth-bound physics!
Certainly the notion of a well-oiled machine, a lifeless thing following the laws of mechanics, is totally alien to reality if it ventures from our heads and we then try to apply it to the universe. No, there is a dream-like quality, a seeming irrationality to the emerging knowledge of our universe. Yet, if we leave it at this, we do violence to the complete truth. The better analogy for the universe is that of thought. Yes, the dream is a part of the thinking process. But the universe is not phantasmal as is a dream. It is rather thought because it defies our thinking: it is thought beyond our mortal thought! [pause] Clearly the words of Holy Writ -- " 'My ways are not thy ways, nor My thoughts thy thoughts!' saith the Lord." -- should be kept in mind when we try to think of His thoughts, His ways. Thought, other than mortal thought, is more applicable to the universe than any supposed theory that maybe the universe is some sort of dream that we are dreaming.
Now let me caution the class on what I've said. Don't suppose, my friends, that our language, our concepts, our comparisons of thought as we know it, is anything other than a very weak analogy to what I call God's thought of the universe. Whatever thought is to God, it is beyond our conception except insofar as we have a dim intimation, in our better moments of thinking, because we are created in His image. As thought is in a sense both part of us, and other than us, we are never saying that the thought of the universe is the same thing as God Himself. It cannot be.
Thoughts, even God's thoughts, are bounded. Only God in and of Himself is limitless. Thoughts, even God's thoughts, are finite. Only God Himself is infinite. God, we may reverently say, thought this thought or thinks that thought of the universe. Perhaps we could even restate it and say: God thinks this thought which is the universe. And so it is a wondrous thought but a finite one nevertheless. There is but one Infinite and that one is God. His thought, however wondrous, cannot be another God, cannot be infinite in and of itself. Scripture proclaims the ancient belief: "Hear, Oh Israel, the Lord your God is one God!"
We then launch out from these ground rules of reverent humility and understanding.
I have composed some formulae to aid our thinking, but let me warn you that your teacher is as much bound by human reasoning as any mortal. Our reasoning can do us in over and over again as we feel about and around the thought that is the universe.
U = TG ~. Universe equals the thought of God of the universe curved. Now what is this universe? A thought from God. As a thought from God, not matter how tremendous, it is curved and limited to its design, its designated bounds. I can, for example, think of a cathedral. Now no matter how fanciful my thought may be, this cathedral will have the form and the bounds of the classical concept of cathedral for me. Even so, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" by spoken thought: "Let there be!" And this spoken thought we know as heavens and earth -- the universe. He created the thought; He spoke it and it was realized, or became reality.
There is, of course, this difference in my thought of a cathedral and His thought of the universe. We both created the thoughts we have. God alone actualized thought by speaking. This, obviously, I can never do! In both cases our thoughts have their parameters. In God's case, however, the parameters defy description of any sort. My parameters for the thought of cathedral could be described to you and I don't doubt that my brilliant pupils could reconstruct that cathedral thought perfectly in their own minds. And so U=TG~. Universe equals Thought of God, curved. The universe is but a thought of God.
As a thought it is finite; it has limits even if those limits are beyond the combined intelligence of all the computers in this world! It is curved or curving in on itself. As all light bends, straight lights must curve in this universe. It is shaped, it is formed, it is not formless -- but beware! Beware of all of these familiar terms for they are woefully inadequate. We cannot view the form, we cannot know the shape for here our languages and our concepts flee us. What, after all is formless form? What is shapeless shape?
And before we throw our hands up and complain it makes no earthly sense, can we even say that human thought when it is most profound is always understood? Let's allow for this reality as we know it: thought is at once rational and paradoxical. A little statement like this will maybe serve us here: salvation is free but you've got to pay the price. Now any soul who takes the Savior at all seriously would say without much hesitation, "Yes, it makes eminently good sense either to say that salvation is free or to say you've got to pay the price." Each statement taken alone is true. Christ purchased our salvation by His sacrifice. There still is a cost in the price of self-denial in following this same Christ. They are both true in their own senses.
Life is full of paradox. Together two seemingly opposite statements can cause intellectual conflict. However, each opposing statement standing by itself can be rational and true in every respect. And an even greater, more profound truth may be learned when we are willing to embrace the contradictions together as a deep paradox, a mystery of the universe. Paradox is a seeming contradiction that can carry very important truths, truths beyond inductive or deductive reasonings. Wholesome thought, mature thought, can and does consist of both.
Thought itself, we will all surely agree here this morning, is at once rational and paradoxical. So U=TG curved over R+P. Now in all due reverence and adoration we formulate by dim analogy the Universe equals the Thought of God over R+P. What is this R+P? Well it is this: R=the rational, P=the paradoxical. The Universe equals the thought of God patterned into reality by the rational and the paradoxical. This universe is rational and it is paradoxical.
You can follow the reasoning of the universe and you cannot follow the reasoning of the universe. They're both true at once. It is, in a word: Thought! God thought!
I'll elaborate a bit here. We find ourselves somewhere or other in this universe. To be specific we are located on the planet Earth somewhere in this universe. [To a student who has fallen asleep I would say: "Most of us are located on the planet Earth!"] We are located then in God's thought of what is called the universe. We have location in this universe, in this thought of the Almighty. From where we are located we see the sun shining overhead at twelve noon. This is real to me, especially when it burns my bald head! But the speed of light shows us another reality. Actually the sun we see shining at twelve noon is the light emanating from that rather modest star at 11:52 A.M. We see the sun relative to our location in the universe. Both space and time are relative to our location.
We know we see the sun at twelve noon, this is reality! But the same twelve noon shine of the sun happened about eight minutes ago. And this too is objective reality. It is all paradoxical if, to paraphrase the poet's "A rose is a rose is a rose", we believe that time is time is time. Time is not absolute. Now leting our heads spin with this should sober us up. Really there is this very rational truth behind the seeming irrationality of relativity. Did we really suppose that we could think a God thought as simply as we could relate and reconstruct our own thoughts mind to mind? Well how then can we live with this?
We'll call our location "L". All we've just observed of relativity in the universe can be formulated with the letter L as location in the thought universe. So L=TU cubed. If I illustrate it on this board I draw a transparent cube. Inside I print all of these "L's" and on the outer walls of this cube I print the letters T U from the formula.
Now what does this mean? Look at the cube as an illustration of the formula L equal Location, let T U cubed equal T for thought and the letter U for universe -- equal Thought Universe or the thought of God we can call universe or the creation. Now notice all the L's in the cube, all over the inside of it everywhere -- all directions -- some of them are upright, some of them are upside down, some of them are side-wise, but all of them are within the interior of the cube. Everywhere in the cube are "L's"! Locations!
Now the outside wall of the cube we label T U. These are the parameters, the walls if you like, of "the thought of the universe", or perhaps we might write it this way, "the thought/universe". Perhaps! Inside the T U, inside the universe, all sorts of locations are seen. Theoretically, if we could travel at the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second, we could locate anywhere within the universal bounds. Depending where our L is, our location is, we would see the other L's, the other locations, as upright or sidewise or however. The cube itself represents the thought of God. Outside that cube is the Thinker: The Almighty God, the Thinker of the thought of the universe contemplating the cube, the thought itself. L = T U 3.
We can go so far as to pull in the reality of existence. We can call objective that which we know as three dimensionalism. At each L, at each location, we would use the three dimensions. Go where you will in the universe and probably at that location you shall get your bearings in this fashion: height, width, volume, up, down, etc. But goodness to mercy! The travel, the speed, the time, the arrival and the meaninglessness of these terms of the three dimensions would soon enough be with you in the relativity of each location. Curve where we saw no curve -- bent, warped, swallowed at speeds where time and space blur or seem to emanate from each other -- why H.G. Well's Time Machine would seem to be a kiddy car to us at this point.
Happenings that have happened ages before now happening before our eyes or maybe remote futures in what we thought was the now -- the future taking place before our startled eyes -- we begin to sense extra-dimensional characters to it all. Sense seems nonsensical to us. We cannot imagine what these other dimensions are, nor how many of them there are, for we cannot imagine God's thought. We suspect our three dimensional world is inside a fourth dimension (for want of a better term!) and that dimension, or better still those dimensions, are the particular bounds of God's visible universe. At this point with Hagar of old we cry out: "Thou, God, seest me!"
We tremble at the thought of the One who sitteth upon the ramparts of the heaven of heavens. We may begin to appreciate that we only know as we are known by the Knower. There is a word for this reverent fear. We have begun to realize the numinous, the totally Other, the Holy. And indeed, in a far greater sense than we've ever dared to imagine, we love Him because He first loved us. We are the beloved objects thought by the Loving Subject. And that He would borrow our humanity as Christ and love us up close is the profound truth of Christianity throughout the centuries.
From the parameters of God's particular universe/thought, all is seen as curving in upon itself and yet at the very same time expanding away from the Originator. No matter where we are our limited thought comprehends time and space as a parallel continuum. On the board I draw two parallel lines. T=time, S=space. Now the above line is time, T. It has this arrow point at its end. We see it as ongoing. We mistakenly think it to be infinite, and that is a dreadful mistake, class.
The bottom line is S or Space. Now I block its ends, for we suppose space to be fixed. So our concept of time is ongoing: present, past, future. Space is fixed. There is only so much space even in the universe. But our experiences about this universe with many locations make shambles of our parallel lines T and S, time and space. Relatively viewed they blur, they merge, they nearly disappear -- they only make our kind of human sense (three dimensional sense) when we can stand still at a location and view them relative to that location. If mentally we could somehow stand outside this all we'd still see something that we'd never understand. Time and space are indistinguishable, particularly when viewed from the outside of the universe. There is a view from eternity and it is God's view of His thought. Time is as finite as space. And the blackboard cube would seem like a circle and not a parallel.
Finally, in no way should you assume that this universe is an illusion: it is not! God's thought it is. God's thought however spoken into existence. It is not somehow or other a part of God nor are we mere puppets. Unlike our thoughts, again, God may populate His creation with all sorts of intelligences and creatures: embodied or ethereal. These creatures are perfectly free to develop as such. Humans, in particular, are meant to be free to pursue their lives. Humans are, and this is the frightful truth, are even free to accept or reject the Thinker Himself.
Class, God's thoughts are immense but limited in bounds. God's thoughts are not are not what God is in and of Himself, infinite iimitless! And thus the universe/thought is immense and limited. Therefore, the speed of light is not immediate everywhere in its effects, in its arrival, but it is in that sense limited within immensity. It is not infinite but bounded and curved by the universe. The galaxies are ever traveling outwards, if such a term as outwards may be used. The universe is expanding to God's thought of the shoreless shore. The ocean of the universe heads for the invisible shore and there awaits the One to whom it all travels. Even so, "Come quickly Lord Jesus!"
The student would best review for this lecture with the following notes
Class dismissed, see you tomorrow!
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