Requirements of existence. In the last couple of decades -- mirroring the new atheist movement -- there have been any number of books on the numerical coincidences necessary for humanness to have emerged, both on the biological (intelligent design) and cosmological (the anthropic principle) planes. Each of these uses numbers, i.e., quantities, to deduce the impossibility of randomness or coincidence explaining our existence; therefore GOD.
Eh. You can't actually get from quantity to quality. Or, maybe it's just because I'm a wordman and not a numbergeek -- a logovert -- but why not begin with qualities, instead of pretending numbers can take us to ultimate reality? It's just a matter of determining which qualities are fundamental, and which are secondary and derivative.
By the way, numbers aren't completely futile in this area. For example, One. In a very real way, if you truly understand the meaning and implications of One, then you've not only proved the existence of God, but you are "in" God, so to speak. Certainly no other animal can understand, enter, or participate in oneness from the inside. (Which also proves that One has an exterior and interior; and that the former can never account for the latter.)
As alluded to above, two of our most important qualities are Being and Beyond-Being. Obviously these are not quantitative realities. At the same time, standard issue theology often gets bogged down in cosmic heteroparadox or absurdity because of the failure to distinguish between these two. Frankly, mosts religious folk don't seem to like the idea, since it seems to contradict, or interfere with, the Godness of God, which is fine. This blog isn't addressed to them.
Schuon lucidly breaks down the distinction between Beyond-Being and Being; the former
is "absolutely infinite" whereas the second [Being] is relatively so, which, while being tautological and even contradictory, is nevertheless a useful expression in a necessarily elliptical language; the gap between logic and transcendent truths permits the latter occasionally to override the former, although the converse is clearly excluded.
Check it out: he's essentially echoing exactly what was said above about quality and quantity: there is an inevitable gap between these two, but only from the bottom up. In other words, quantity cannot "reach up" to quality, whereas the converse is not only possible but necessary. Otherwise we wouldn't be here, let alone be here thinking about these qualitative realities.
You might also say that to conflate the conventional understanding of God with Beyond-Being is likewise "a useful expression in a necessarily elliptical language." Really, this goes to the time-honored distinction between apophatic and cataphatic theology. You can't go too far astray with the latter, even though -- somewhat like numbers -- it can only lead to the threshold of the unKnowable Godhead.
More clarity from Schuon:
If we set Beyond-Being aside, we are entitled to attribute Infinitude to Being; but if it is Beyond-Being that we are taking into consideration, then we shall say that the Infinite is in truth Beyond-Being, and that Being realizes this infinitude in relative mode, thereby opening the door to the outpouring of possibilities endlessly varied, thus inexhaustible.
Why is any of this important? Oh, no reason. Which is to say, the most important things are for their own sake -- human persons, for example. What is more useless than a baby? And yet, everyone short of a leftist knows babies are infinitely precious.
In another book by Schuon, I came across an intriguing and no doubt controversial claim, that "To understand a religion in depth, one must understand religion as such."
Here again, many religious folk will resist this idea, but it is "somewhat" inevitable (can anything be a little bit evitable?). For example, by what criteria does the Christian determine Christianity to be true? Protestants try to confine themselves to the letter of scripture, but still, someone has to decide what qualifies as scripture. Catholics will of course say the Church has determined what qualifies, but if you're following me, this leads either to an arbitrary stop or an infinite regress. Was man made for scripture or scripture for man? And how do we know, unless the truth is built into us?
I don't think it's useful for the average man to ask such questions, but again, this is a useless blog aimed at useless people.
Can we bring this discussion down a couple of notches, into more familiar territory? Sure, no problem. Let's turn to The Roots of Christian Mysticism, and see if we can come up with anything. I'm just going to thumb through and rely on providence.
"A life without eternity is unworthy of the name of life. Only eternal life is true" (St. Augustine).
"[T]heologians praise the divine Origin for having no name and yet possessing all names.... They declare, moreover, that this divine Origin is simultaneously at the heart of the universe and far beyond the sky, sun, stars, fire, water, wind, dew, cloud rock, stone, and in a word all that is and nothing that is" (Dionysus the Aeropagite).
"The infinite is without doubt something of God, but not God himself, who is infinitely beyond even that" (Maximus the Confessor).
Infinitely beyond infinitude -- which is to say, the absolute infinitude of Beyond-Being contains the relative infinitude of Being.
"God's transcendence eludes even our very idea of transcendence. God transcends his own transcendence, so that he may not be lost in abstract nothingness, but may give of himself" (Clement).
Which "is why the Fathers also speak of God as inaccessible, of God beyond God, in terms of a springing forth, a creative and redemptive leap outside his essence, following the eternal movement of the divine energies, but also in order to communicate these to creatures..." (ibid).
O --> (↓). Being marches forth from Beyond-Being!