The Creator: Just How Lo Can He Go?
Because God's ground and the soul's ground are one ground, the human intellect is not other than the Only-Begotten perfect Image in the Trinity... --Bernard McGinn
In Self and Spirit, Bolton discusses the influence of Greek thought on the development of Christian theology, which I think is often misunderstood, being that it was more a case of the latter "baptizing" the former (just as I bobtize Darwinism, big bang cosmology, neurodevelopmental psychoanalysis, or anything else that tries to get between me and O).
In any event, Bolton argues that Pythagoras, in effect, set off an epistemological revolution with deeply ontological consequences. If you learn nothing else today, just remember that last phrase, because you can whip it out during arguments in order to rattle your opponent.
The point is, the discovery of these mathematical theorems revealed "whole classes of problems capable of the same methods of solution." In turn, this began to liberate knowledge from the purely concrete, the result being that "problems which had once seemed quite different from one another could now be seen to be subject to a single principle valid for all of them." (Remember what we said yesterday about both science and religion reducing the world from multiplicity to unity.)
This new mathematical approach to reality had a "purifying effect" on on the mind, in that it allowed it to "contact," as it were, essences of things. Afterwards, Plato would expand and market this idea, which resulted in "a new meaning and value for the individual," what with man's unique ability to mediate "between two different orders of reality." Once this connection was made, a whole occident was just waiting to happen, what with the idea of the logos, which "signifies an absolute reality which is also inseparable from its productions and manifestations."
And here's the ontological part: the logos "is a reality in which transcendence and immanence are specially combined, and are fused but not confused" (emphasis mine). In short, we now have a kind of paradoxical duality, in that "the terms of the duality are united in the operating Logos itself," so that One is always two and two are always One. Again, if this were not the case, both scientific and religious knowledge would be strictly impossible, for they partake of the sophsame and selfsane principle.
Now, if Man is the being who knows the logos, this means that the logos must in some sense be recapitulated in Man. As a result, we now have the precursor of the idea that man is the "image and likeness," since it is clear enough that he is the microcosm that potentially embraces all levels of reality within himself. Each person is a microcosmos who is "in some sense equivalent to the world."
Here again, to affirm any scientific truth at all, one must implicitly have the underlying faith that mind = reality, otherwise there is no possibility of truth. And this is why it is so absurd for scientific fundamentalists to deny this implicit reality in order to discredit religion, being that the latter is rooted in the same idea that man may know the Real.
Here again, this logoistic balancing act is unique to, or at least uniquely emphasized in, Christianity (also in Aurobindo, but that's the subject for a different post). For example, Bolton points out that for Shankara -- the undisputed godfather of Vedanta and hardest working manas in moksha business -- "this idea of God as being a mediator between Himself and creation must be meaningless, because it recognizes no reality between the Godhead and the realm of Maya; it can thus have no place for the Divine Logos or for the Trinity."
In other words, Christianity brings with it a new dignity, both for the creation and for the individual, and therefore the finite, which is not some kind of accident or mistake, but a reflection of the Creator. The infinite implies the finite, which now gives us a context within which to think about the idea of how the Word could become flesh, God could become man, and the Universal could become the particular. Indeed, in a sense, the infinite would be less than infinite if it did not take on the finite, would it not? For this would mean that the finite possessed something that is lacking in the infinite, which is impossible.
In ether worlds, "if God were solely a pure spirit, man would in some sense be more than God, since he he is a spirit who is also united with all the material levels of being." This would be absurd in light of the idea that we are made in the image of the Creator. In reality, "what is a mediating function in man between the intellect and the natural order is, in Christ, a mediation between God and the whole of creation." Christ "awakens the Logos principle in the individual person, saving it from being a mere potentiality."
No longer is God an intrinsically hidden God who cannot be known so much as apophatically unknown. Rather, in the Incarnation, we have the very archetype of the Creator within the creation and the Absolute within the finite. We also have the eshcaton, or cosmic end, appearing within this "middle" that we call "history," but that's another story.
This antinomy of finite-infinite is not a pernicious dualism but "a generative principle by which the Good brings about all the lower orders of being without any direct or substantive transfer from itself." The ontological and epistemological consequences are "momentous," "since the supremely other-worldly reality now becomes the source of innumerable other realities... which are not simply the play of illusion, because all degrees of real being are distributed in them." The barrier between God and man is bridged, but in a way that avoids pantheism and/or materialism, even while allowing for the partial truths necessarily embedded in each.
Oops. Out of time. To be continued. (All quoted material taken from Self and Spirit.)