Friday, September 23, 2022

The Endless Beginning

The usual Friday free association. Or at least it always seems to happen at the end of the week. 

Back to the questions at hand: 

Should we suppose that God accepted some limit on his freedom when he created man, by whom his world could be brought either to perfection or destruction? Is he powerless in the face of autonomous man's "No"?

And how is this divine powerlessness related to the Godforsakenness of his Son on the Cross?

Revelation only gives us what happened, and it is up to us -- if we are so inclined -- to puzzle out the hows & whys of it, that is, to deepen our understanding and to seek the principles by which it is both possible and necessary. In so doing, there are clearly a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous, and certainly a lotta strands.

To be perfectly accurate, Christ founds a church and promises it a means of assistance -- a power from on high -- to both guide us to all truth and to pass it along. This is just my opinion, but I suspect this friendly vertical helper is given corporately, not individually per se; or rather, individually to the extent that the individual is part of the body.

Now, before modern science elbowed itself above the epistemological pack and elevated itself to the now discredited metaphysic of atheistic scientism, theology was considered a science. Back in the day, science referred to any organized body of knowledge, with its conclusions susceptible to demonstration via causes and principles. 

Indeed, principles themselves are causes, in that they are that from which other things come to be. In the Catholic philosophical view, this is how God is to be regarded: as the first principle from which creation -- AKA everything -- flows. This principle is, among others, first cause, unmoved mover, necessary being, the Intelligence of intelligibility, the Person of personhood, the Giver of law, the Reason of reasons. Logos for short.  

But this understanding has an objective and a subjective side. Knowing it is not the same as assimilating and understanding it, which of course takes a lifetime & thensome. Knowing is comparatively rapid and easy, while understanding is -- curiously-- a never-ending & ever-deepening process. 

This is because the Absolute Principle is of necessity Infinite (you could say that Infinitude is the first entailment of Absoluteness, even though they are only separable in the abstract). While we can conform ourselves to the latter, we can never do so completely, since we are finite.

Somewhere Schuon reflects upon the above in terms of a or the Trinity; can't remember the details, but let's say the Absolute is Father. If so, then Infinitude is the Son. In between is Perfection of every kind. Whatever the case may be, I don't think the Creator goes to all the trouble of revealing himself as Trinity, only to leave it as his own Personal Mystery completely inaccessible to us.

Again, from our side of manifestation, it isn't all that difficult to reason ourselves up to the First Principle. But it is very much as if this Principle comes down to correct us and let us know that He is actually a Three. (I want to say that God's pronouns are I, Thou, and Perfection.)

That's not something we could have worked out on our own, at least with certitude, but once given, not only does it make more sense than the alternatives, but it resolves a lot of absurdities and enigmas that arise if we regard the Principle of principles as an absolute monad. 

Among other things, if that is the case, then it is very difficult to figure out where we fit into the cosmic picture. My son and I enjoy watching Cops on TV. Whenever the Cops roll up on some crazy situation, they separate the parties and question them. Inevitably the question arises: Okay, who is he/she to you? 

In the ultimate cosmic context, I suppose this is the Question of questions, or certainty one of them: Okay, who are you to God? Now, every philosophy or theology or science asks precisely this question, and probably even exists to answer this question, whether explicitly or implicitly. 

For example, the village atheist will say, There is no principle and I mean nothing to it. But without nonlocal principles, nothing means anything to anybody, nor can there be anybody to know it. 

However, it is self-evident to me that everything means something, and I mean this literally. Some things admittedly don't mean a lot, but they are certainly not without meaning, because otherwise we couldn't even know of their existence. In other words, an "unknowable object" is strictly unthinkable -- which shows the close relationship between being and knowing.

This is one of the first things that will strike the curious primate: whence this infinite intelligibility? By virtue of what principle is it entailed?   

To be continued... because there can be no end. For

Religious thought does not go forward like scientific thought does, but rather goes deeper.


Every beginning is an image of the Beginning; every end is an image of the End (Dávila).


julie said...

Every beginning is an image of the Beginning; every end is an image of the End

Which explains in part why mourning is so painful, even when we believe beyond doubt that death is simply a different kind of beginning. From this side of things, it may as well be The End.

Gagdad Bob said...

Weird you should say that. Just learned a few minutes ago that Leslie's elderly aunt died. Not an acute loss, but nevertheless an image of the End.

julie said...

Wow, that is weird. I'm very sorry to hear that; I know when someone is elderly it's not as painful as when we lose someone young, but still it is as you say. May God grant her soul peace.

ted said...

Sorry to hear that Bob.

BTW, I haven't seen Cops in a while. Do they go after only crime-ridden white conservatives now?

ted said...

Oh wait, that would be the FBI and IRS.

Gagdad Bob said...

Surprisingly, still a lot of blacks along with the rednecks. But you can only see it on Fox Nation. 99 cents a month, but well worth it for Cops alone. They have the last three seasons, and every episode is funnier than the last.

julie said...

Live PD is back, too - same show, but different name & channel. Now it's "On Patrol: Live," on Reelz, & airs most of the weekend. A&E really stepped on their own feet when they dropped their most popular show. Whoopsie!

Gagdad Bob said...

You'd think criminals would come up with a better alibi than "these are not my pants," but it's surprising how often they offer that one.

Green Boots said...

Speaking of crime-ridden white conservative Christians…

The old comeback used to be: “Well, Christians aren’t perfect!” I always saw that bit as part self-rationalizing, part other-gaslighting. As if non-believers always think that a human can ever actually be perfect. The truth is, that most over the age of 6 actually believes that a human can ever be perfect. Most know that proselytizers who proclaim such, like Jong-un, Trump and Chopra, are just grifting confidence men.

What they do expect, is that Christians be more Christian. The logic is thus:

We don’t expect somebody who always reads math books to be the perfect mathematician, just noticeably better at math than the average joe who doesn’t read math books.

We don’t expect somebody who always studies MLB stats to be the perfect baseball historian, just noticeably better at being a baseball historian than the average joe who doesn‘t study MLB stats.

Why can’t this same logic apply to Christians who regularly attend church and Bible study? Or is there a TV channel which might better explains all this?

Nicolás said...

Only the Church considers itself a congregation of sinners. All other communities, religious or lay, feel themselves to be a confraternity of saints.

John Venlet said...

I think our "friendly vertical helper," as you refer to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is the key to enabling our understanding of all the ins, outs and what-have-yous you mention. And though I cannot unequivocally state that the friendly vertical helper has hit me upside the head with a specific answer/guidance to the questions we seek answers to in regards to the Logos, I take heart in the fact we are promised in Scripture that if we must answer to worldly authority for our faith, the friendly vertical helper will give us the words.

Dougman said...

‘’...,not individually per se; or rather, individually to the extent that the individual is part of the body.’’

Not to be confused with the Remnant that is with us all through the ages.
But with G_D, it can as easily have been a few days.
If I’m not mistaken, this is the beginning of the third day.

I’m sure the opposing forces to the L_RD would like to get their hands on the Remnant.
As if that would ever happen. lol!

Van Harvey said...

Nicolás for president! (Joking, but not just).