THE FRAMEWORK OF HISTORY
THE KEY to the existence of a universe such as we live in lies, I believe, in the fact that God wished to show forth that aspect of His Being which the angels have never comprehended, namely, His love, yet without at the same time surrendering that part of His Being which they do comprehend, namely, His holiness. God's plan was therefore to create Man with such a nature and in such a situation that he would need to be redeemed, and so to order events that this redemption could only be achieved by the Incarnation and Self-sacrifice of the Creator Himself on man's behalf. Only at such a cost was it possible for God to make manifest His love for His creatures without diminishing His holiness. Both the lncarnation and the Crucifixion were dependent upon the existence of a physical order, a time-space world in which the creatures to be redeemed were embedded and in which the Creator Himself could also voluntarily confine Himself for a season. Granted this plan and granted a natural order in which reasoning mind could exist and physical death could be a meaningful reality, then man in God opens to us the meaning of the physical universe, because this was the basic framework within which the plan of Redemption was to be worked out. Athanasius has these words about the Incarnation: (1)
So then, the
Incarnation and Crucifixion, on man's behalf, are the key to
the physical order in which man lives, and dies.
1. Athanasius, De Incarnatione, Chapter 54.
A RABBI WAS
explaining to his pupils how strongly God condemns the worship
of idols. One of them asked, "If God so abhors idolatry,
why does He not destroy the idols that men worship?" The
Rabbi replied, "Because some of them, the sun and the moon
for example, are an essential part of the fabric of God's economy."
After a moment's pause, the student said, "Then why does
He not at least destroy those that are not essential?" To
whicll the Rabbi answered, "Because it would then appear
He was condoning the worship of the idols He did not destroy."
2. Paul, Leslie, Annihilation of Man, Harcourt Brace, New York, 1945, p.154. 219
has thus come to be defined either in terms of size ‹ and
man is very small relative to the vastness of the universe ‹
or in terms of duration ‹ and what is man's life relative
to the four billion years or more estimated for its age? By every
standard of assessment of which science is capable ‹ and
its standards can only ever be quantitative ‹ man judges
his own worth to be virtually nil.
3. Sinnott, Edmund, "Ten Million Scientists," Science, vol.111, 1950, p.124.
If we cannot understand how readily people may surrender their liberty, it is because we have forgotten how stimulating dedication can be. Sinnott believes that the "adventure" of a scientific career can be compensation and stinulus enough, and in his article he is therefore appealing to younger rnen and women to fling themselves into such a vocation. Yet the evidence in England and the United States (where surveys have been made) seems to show that young people are opting out of science courses and turning to the arts and the humanities with renewed interest, believing that the pursuit of science stultifies man's life rather than enriching it. (4) And much of the blame for this impoverishment is the philosophy of science that inevitably creates a sense of purposelessness by reducing man's importance in the universe almost to zero. To many thinking people. it is becoming apparent once again that there is much truth in Dryden's view of man as "the measure of all things," and that the universe has meaning only when man is made the key. (5) The size of man;s body and the length of his earthly life cannot be used as guides
4. The swing from Science to Arts courses
has been reported from both the United States and England, where
it is causing some concem because it increases the shortage of
scientific and technical personnel (See "Dainton Report:
British Youth Swings Away from Science," Science,
vol.159,1968, p.1214). The situation in England has been remarked
upon several times in The New Scientist during recent
years. See for the U.S., a report in Scierce, vol.160,
But such a "purpose" must be with specific reference to man, or it has no power to affect his behaviour where selfish interests conflict, or to satisfy his mind in moments of solitary reflection when he comes face to face vith ultimate things. Mascall has written eloquently on this: (7)
Since it is now held almost without exception by modern philosopher-scientists that man has quite by accident heen thrown up in some blind and purposeless cosmic process, the unhappy consequences of such a view are at last being recognized and an effort is being made to engender some kind of ersatz purpose. Thus Julian Huxley speaks of the "glorious paradox" (8) of a process that through eons of time and quite without direction finally produced a creature, man, who by reason of his possession of self-consciousness and his ability to make delayed decisions is freed from the previous all-pervasive determinism of the natural order and can therefore undertake that which no creature before him had been able to undertake, namely, the directing of his own future. No goal has been set: only the promise that if he can think up a goal appropriate to his potential he can now do something toward the attainment of it and thus fulfill himself in a new way.
6. Aldis, A. S., "Science -- Its Own
Arbiter?" a paper published by The Christian Medical
Fellowship, London, 1967, pp.9-10.
Although the statement that no goal has yet been agreed upon is essentially correct when applied to individual effort, Huxley sees a goal "worthy" of the human race as a whole, and this goal is the ultimate production of a Super-race! (9) Huxley nevertheless woefully admits that his "new religion" is still in need of a prophet to whip it into compelling shape and shake the world with it. (10) Bertrand Russell appears to be quite unenthused. He wrote mournfully: (11)
The kind of
goal such men do foresee is entirely unlike the goal which moved
Augustine to write his City of God or Aquinas his Summa
Theologica or Dante his Divine Comedy. Theirs was
essentially a goal for man in God, as Bunyan's was a goal for
man in Christ, and as such both had the power to inspire ‹
which without a shadow of doubt the goal of Simpson, Huxley,
and a great host of other scientists of modern tirnes does not
9. Huxley, Sir Julian, "New Bottles for
New Wine: Ideology and Scientific Knowledge," Journal of
the Royal Anthropological Institute, London, vol.80, Pts. I and
2, 1950, p.20. Huxley's words are: "Man is enabled, and
indeed, forced to view his destiny as the trustee, spearhead,
or effecrive agent of any further evolutionary progress on this
planet. He has been thrown up by the cosmic process as an instrument
for the further carrying out of that process."
spiritual view of rnan
as an act of faith and allow thereafter that humanly derived
knowledge might illuminate or elaborate the details of that faith,
but never supply its foundations. Why should we fear to admit
that our understanding stems in part from what we believe? Contrary
to what rmany Christians suppose, science itself progresses by
the formulation of hypotheses which are nothing less than acts
of faith. The essential difference is that science demands that
a hypothesis must be subject to experirmental validation by the
uncommitted experimenter. The kind of faith with which a Christian
undergirds his philosophy is similarly experimentally verifiable,
but not in the laboratory sense, for the rules are not the same.
But this does not mean it is any less real or valid. The basic
assumption which he makes is that God exists as a personal but
purely spiritual Being, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.
The existence of God can be demonstrated by any individual who
is willing to accept the conditions which God Himself has imposed
upon such an experiment: but he can only make this denonstration
with absolute certainty for himself. In other words, there is
a kind of knowledge here which each man must gain personally
and cannot acquire vicariously. Hence demonstration is not of
the same kind that exists in a laboratory situation. But it is
real knowledge, and such knowledge is the key which gives meaning
to history, both the history of the individual and of the universe.
The world was created for man's body, man's body for his spirit, and man's spirit for God: the spirit that it mighlt be brought into subjection unto God, the body unto the spirit, and the world unto the body.
And let us see what evidence there might be for such a tremendous claim that in the final analysis the very universe itself was made for man.
12. Hugo St. Victor: quoted by H. O. Taylor, "Medieval Mind," in Bk. 2 Early Middle Ages, Macmillan, London, 1938, p.91.