So, births within births within births. This is an important point, for it seems that there are unforeseen and unforeseeable Easter eggs hidden in the cosmos, and indeed, that the cosmos itself is just such a fertile egg.
What I mean is that no one could have looked at the lifeless cosmos of 10 billion years ago and have predicted that it would suddenly come to life 3.8 billion years ago, nor that one of these life forms would become self-conscious and begin producing art, religion, and culture 50,000 years ago; or that the Creator would reveal himself to these self-conscious beings two or three thousand years ago.
Of that above passage, Balthasar writes that "When Paul refers to an indefinite and tense straining of all nature, it means in the first place that nature unconsciously strives toward man" -- not just the form but the substance, toward the fullness and fulfillment of human nature. Which is why we hope the groans and pangs of labor will end in liberation, redemption, sanctification, etc. You know the old gag: "work out your salvation with fear and trembling."
Of course, if Darwinism in particular and scientism more generally are correct, then "hope" is purely illusory, perhaps even a species-wide defense mechanism to prevent us from appreciating the gravity of the situation and just committing suicide.
If the atheist does not commit suicide he has no right to be thought lucid (NGD).
So, hope is either a genetic hope-a-dope strategy to trick us into keeping the circus going, or it is a kind of persistent "evidence of things unseen," i.e., the temporal shadow cast down and back by the fulfillment we hail from afar.
In the absence of this palpable evidence of things unseen, progress would be impossible because unthinkable. Hope and change always go together, except in the faithless liberal who forgets that beneficial change is only a hope and not a certainty, and certainly not something man can accomplish unaided. For the second part of Paul's crack about working out our salvation with fear and trembling is that "it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his purpose.” So relax and let God do the driving.
If Obama had proclaimed the other two theological virtues -- faith and charity -- his message wouldn't have been as resonant. For his kind of hope isn't evidence of unseen things but of things insane, like throwing away 15 million dollars on a coastal palace that will be under water in ten years:
AOC doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.
To back up a bit -- like a hundred thousand years or so -- think of the poor proto-human, sitting around and hoping for things to get better. But in a strictly Darwinian framework, what is he hoping for, besides the next meal?
One thing: a random mutation that doesn't weaken, sicken, or kill his spawn, but somehow results in a beneficial change. Note that even then, the change can't occur in him -- for his genetic destiny is fixed -- but only in his descendents. Strictly speaking, this isn't hope for improvement, only hope for a nonlethal change somewhere down the line; Darwin himself "jotted down as a stern reminder to himself the note 'never use higher and lower'" (in Purcell).
Which is why an intellectually consistent Darwinian would be the last to suggest that a Darwinist is somehow "higher" than a creationist -- unless the former are more successful at getting their genes into the next generation, which is not the case, otherwise secular Europe wouldn't be undergoing slow motion demographic death. Supernatural selection in action!
If reproduction is the point of natural selection, then atheism is wrong by the only conceivable criterion.
Now this business of becoming human, of evolving, of giving birth to ourselves. The thing about it is, unlike any other creature, it cannot just happen on the species level, as if the species does all the dogged, trial-and-error work of evolving, from which we passively benefit.
No other animal has to participate in his own psycho-pneaumatic birth -- to learn how to be that animal, notwithstanding a limited repertoire of tricks the mother might pass along to her brood. And certainly no other animal needs to be born twice in order to undertake post-biological evolution.
But for human beings, each generation needs to fulfill the human journey anew. In the old days, philosophers and metaphysicians spoke of man as the microcosm who mirrors the macrocosm. That's true as far as it goes, but it implies a kind of static view, as if humanness is a once-and-for-all fact instead of an ongoing attainment and acquisition.
Here again, Clarke's idea of reality as "substance in relation" is helpful, for with it we can posit the microcosmology of man in more dynamic terms, as a movement or action, such that evolution itself redounds to the self-revelation of being. Who knows what goodies -- what colorful Easter eggs -- lurk in the heart of being? Even time takes time, to say nothing of eternity. Or, time takes an eternity to get it all out.
Bearing in mind the above, when we say that man is the image and likeness of O, it means, in the words of Clarke, that "all finite beings, which are imperfect images of the Source, bear within their very natures this same divinely originated dynamism of active self-communication to others." In this way, we are simultaneously rich and poor -- or, contra Darwin, high and low, -- in that
every finite being insofar as it is... rich, pours over to share its perfection with others; but insofar as it is poor, deficient in the full plenitude of being, it reaches out to receive enrichments of being from others, sharing in their riches (ibid.).
This is just another way of saying that man is an open system, both vertically and horizontally, and that God, the Absolute, O, the toppermost of the poppermost, must be understood in the same onederful threeway.
For what is the Incarnation but God "making himself poor," in which context we may understand certain paradoxymorons regarding the meek inheriting the earth, the last being first, and the blessedness of holy poverty?
Now, this interior activity of the Godhead, how to describe it?
Sorry, can't do that. That's well above our praygrade. We can, however, undescribe it, which we might symbolize something like (↓ ↔ ↑) to convey the total circulation of metacosmic energies in the perpetual now. And evidently we can participate in God because God participates in us.
If I were to reduce it to plain English, I don't think I could do better than Schuon:
If by "science" we mean a knowledge that is related to real things -- whether or not they can be directly ascertained..., religion will be the science of the total hierarchy, of equilibrium, and of the rhythms of the cosmic scale; it takes account, at one and the same time, of God's outwardly revealing Manifestation and of His inwardly absorbing Attraction, and it is only religion that does this and that can do it a priori and spontaneously (emphasis mine).