Faith in Wholeness, Wholeness in Faith
Beauty is always a totality, or a radiant harmony between the parts and whole. So first of all, beauty presupposes the ontological category wholeness, which is a very special mode that the rank and foul generally take for granted. But as I explained in chapter two of the Coonifesto, wholeness is also a prerequisite for any kind of science, or material truth.
For example, natural selection presupposes wholeness, specifically, the wholeness of the organism. Neither evolution nor organisms would be possible in a cosmos of parts only. In fact, the very idea is absurd, because to say "cosmos" is to say "whole" -- not an "additive" or "exterior" whole, but an intrinsic one that discloses interior relations and therefore interiority. The cosmos has a deep interiority complex, to say the least.
The cosmos is not an agglomeration of parts, the ultimate pile of disjointed stuff. Nor could this interior wholeness ever somehow emerge in a cosmos that wasn't already whole, any more than intellect could appear in a cosmos that didn't already inhere in intelligence.
Rather, the cosmos is truly One, at least on its own level. Furthermore, -- and this hardly needs to be said -- we can only know this oneness because we ourselves are one, except on a higher level than the physical cosmos. Suffice it to say that other animals do not live in the "cosmos" but only in their own neurology, from which they can never break free.
Obviously, it is not necessary for us to travel the 14 billion light years of the cosmos to "prove" its spatial and temporal unity. That would be stupid. Not to mention a waste of eternity. Even materialists unconsciously know that the cosmos is one (since the statement is a tautology), even though, ironically, this oneness is proof that the cosmos transcends matter and that the materialist transcends his brain.
But no one ever accused atheists of metaphysical consistency. I mean, as soon as the atheist opens his piehole to say "I...," he should stop right there and think about the extraordinary metaphysical implications of this unified interior subject, which is the prior ground of making any true statement at all.
In other words, not only does science presuppose objective wholeness; it also a fortiori presupposes subjective wholeness. Unless you say that "one part of me knows that atheism is true, while another part knows that it's bullshit." No. If the whole of you can (potentially) know the whole of realty -- which is a fundamental assumption underlying science -- then you are simply a latecomer to what the mystic not only knows, but realizes.
Now, let us say, for the sake of argument, that the oneness of reality is an unavoidable side effect of the intrinsic oneness of the Creator. In fact, let's take this down a couple of notches, to the level of the human creator.
For example, when I wrote my book, I was attempting to explicate in linear form my own apprehension of the oneness of reality, i.e., to compose and play the Cosmic Suite. And as I pointed out in the introduction to the book, there are an infinite number of pathways through the great cosmic chords, some of which are "complete" and musically satisfying, others banal, predictable, and unable to explicate the musical potential implicit in the chords.
So, this journey to the one is not just guided by truth, but beauty, or aesthetics. If I am not mistaken, this is one of the points Walt was trying to make in his most excellent comment yesterday, when he spoke of sifting the data of his own spiritual experiences through a newly discovered "aesthetic sense" which "seemed to act like a guidance system when I paid attention to it."
Just as God is beyond-being, he is equally "beauty beyond beauty." How does this beyond-beauty disclose itself within time? This is one of the key ideas Balthasar explicates in his seven-volume theological aesthetics. The fact that it required seven volumes -- and some 3,500+ pages -- for him to write something adequate to this divine beauty, tells you something about its inexhaustible effulgence.
For example, even Christ does not just appear "out of nowhere," like an alien dropped from on high, with no context to understand him. Rather, he is situated within a temporal stream that manifests its own impossibly deep interior wholeness, radiating from the alpha of Genesis to the omega of Revelation.
Or, one could day that his appearance is the revelation of that much deeper unity, i.e., the unity of the old and new covenants, of God and man, of time and eternity, etc. Only after his appearance were some extraordinarily profound (and grace-infused) thinkers able to apprehend this vastly deeper atemporal unity -- i.e., the arc of salvation -- conditioning the events of time. As Balthasar writes, "Christ's existence and his teaching would not be a comprehensible form if it were not for his rootedness in a salvation-history that leads up to him."
So while scripture "points to" Christ, even more so does Christ point to scripture, since he is its organizing principle, so to speak -- its atemporal "center."
How does one begin to "see" such truth and beauty? Balthasar says that "only through form can the lightning-bolt of eternal beauty flash. There is a moment in which the bursting light of spirit as it makes its appearance completely drenches external form in its rays."
From this, we know in an instant that we are not in the presence of a "sensual," but spiritual beauty. And the apprehension of this spiritual beauty seems always to provoke the instinct of adoration, because it is to know that man could not have made this form.
Or, this is when a fellow knows he is a spirit who blazes through and shatters the constraining letters of physics, biology, and history. And the full realization of this earth-shattering faith in the beauty of truth and truth of beauty is "the theological act of perception," or the faith that moves mountains of BS.
It is not as if one could, by means of rational inquiry and argument, recognize [Jesus] to be a (perfect? religious? inspired?) man and then, following the pointers provided by this rational knowledge, move to the conclusion that he is God's Son and himself God.... Jesus' form can be seen for what it is only when it is grasped and accepted as the appearance of a divine depth transcending all worldly nature. --Balthasar