Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Nihilism Is Better than Nothing

Does the cosmos have a center? Well, either it does or it doesn't. I suppose on a strictly scientistic basis the question itself is absurd -- like asking what was "before" the Big Bang, when the theory goes silent at Planck time, prior to which there isn't any.

I have a vague recollection of having posted about this subject in the past. Oh well. Everything has already been said, but it can always be said in a more amusing or obnoxious way.

Ah yes, it's coming back to me. Something about the tenured cliché of how human beings have supposedly been rendered insignificant by various scientific developments. First there was the heliocentric theory displacing earth from the center. Then there was Darwinism, proving there is nothing special about human beings. Then came Freud, who proved that religion is just the Oedipus Complex writ large or something.

But such theories beg the question of how human beings could ever even know something as significant as their own insignificance.

The cosmos is not a flat circle, such that nothing is higher than anything else. Rather, it's more like a cone, or rather, a conical sensorium projected from a point. Each of us is dynamic spiroidal movement of which the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere.

Now, to say Christ is the Logos and that the Logos incarnated in man, is to say that the Infinite Center assumed finitude in human nature. We've said before that life is a predicament. A conundrum. A pickle even. In fact, it's such a quandary that nothing short of the Incarnation is of sufficient magnitude to address, much less remedy, it. I mean, death? C'mon, man!

Along these lines, Barron writes of how St. Bonaventure

maintained that all of the nontheological arts and sciences taught in the university find their proper center in theology, the science that speaks directly of Christ the Logos. As the rationality of God the Creator, Christ is the physical, mathematical, and metaphysical center of the universe and hence the point of orientation for all of the sciences dealing with those dimensions.

Another book I'm reading says something similar, that "there can be as many sciences as there are different kinds of knowable objects" -- implying no center -- but that "there can be only one wisdom" -- implying that it must come straight down from Celestial Central, the very source of unity. If not, from where does it come? C'mon man! All men are created, by the... you know, you know the thing!

"Following the inner logic of Christian revelation," writes Barron,

theology not only should be around the table but must be the centering element in the conversation, precisely because it alone speaks of the Creator God who is metaphysically implicit in all finite existence.

This is the coonologically correct position:

[O]nce theology is displaced, some other discipline necessarily takes its position at the center and thereby disturbs the proper harmony among the sciences, for no other discipline has the range or inclusiveness properly to hold the center.

Man cannot rationally think in the absence of a center, whether implicit or explicit. But there is necessarily only one real center without which your mind is anchored in nothing. Which doesn't even exist. Nevertheless, we are free to adopt any number of vacuous ideologies masquerading as the center, which I suppose is better than nothing.

5 comments:

julie said...

Nevertheless, we are free to adopt any number of vacuous ideologies masquerading as the center, which I suppose is better than nothing.

Like averting the eyes from an impending accident, it distracts from the reality of what is happening. You may be falling, but as long as you're not looking at the bottom you can pretend you're flying, instead; after all it is a long, long way down...

Anonymous said...

Dr. Godwin, great post. Thank you for this bit of soul-candy.

From the post: "We've said before that life is a predicament. A conundrum. A pickle even. In fact, it's such a quandary that nothing short of the Incarnation is of sufficient magnitude to address, much less remedy, it. I mean, death? C'mon, man!"

Well I can't resist tossing in my two cents from a time-tested weltanshaung ripped from the annals of recorded history:

Life is not just a predicament, it is a golden opportunity to make progress. It is a mistake to think the soul makes progress in heaven. Heaven is a bit static, which is why the Earth is here. Earth is where soul progress is made, and nowhere else. By "soul progress" we mean a progressive enrichment of the soul, where it becomes ever more complex, individualized, unique, beautiful, and powerful. This God wants, and why souls are sent to Earth. The experience of living chisels the raw marble of the young soul into the majestic sculpture that is the developed soul. The process can be painful, as flakes and chunks are forcibly hammered away by the exigencies of life and death.

Death: It has to be, because the chisel has to be moved about to work on new areas of the sculpture. We can't take all of the raw baggage from one life to the next, it would be deleterious, hindering. Hence we start each new life amnesiac. But the incremental results of the chain of lives moves forward, something is always achieved and kept.

Just as no 5-year-old wants to hear it is bedtime, we resist death, in fact we are programmed to resist it, because otherwise people might throw in the towel too early in the game because it so arduous. We are meant to love life and fear death. But the truth is, there will always be another day, another life, another sleep.

It is said "All life is Yoga." If you can't stomach that, you could say "All life is Jesus." However you formulate the concept, the center of all is always God. This you well understand and have said as much solidly in your post.

Fare thee well all. So say I Stephen Greybeard this day 25 March 2020 AD.

Anonymous said...

"Nevertheless, we are free to adopt any number of vacuous ideologies masquerading as the center, which I suppose is better than nothing."

I rotate vacuous ideologies, so that on any given day the center is bit different. Anyone else do this?

I have a roster of over 150 ideologies and I'm always coming up with new ones. It is a hobby I would say.

Today I'm heliocentric, yesterday Dionysus was on deck. What a life. Gosh it's sunny out. I think I'll get out for a stroll today.

There's a movie on Netflix, The Platform. Do not watch it.

Van Harvey said...

"Nihilism Is Better than Nothing"

[Blink] Bwa-HAH-Ha-hahahahhh...HAH!!!

Byron Nightjoy said...

Bob - for the benefit of the Christologically challenged, would you mind elaborating on how we get from the Jesus of the Gospels to "Christ is the physical, mathematical, and metaphysical center of the universe and hence the point of orientation for all of the sciences dealing with those dimensions". I have always struggled to make that link. Many thanks.