Category Archives: Theology
Some things in the Bible are probably unknowable from our current state of knowledge – and conceivably, our future state, too. This may seem hard to accept since the Scriptures are God’s revelation to us, but then nature is also God’s revelation, and the limits of our comprehension themselves remind us to be humble before God. We see through a glass, darkly, but tend to forget that in our pride.
The Renaissance humanists saw the human being as a microcosm, because the mind of man can reach out to encompass the farthest reaches of the universe, or the smallest particles of matter. It can even raise itself to contemplate the things of heaven, and God himself. The last shows why the microcosm view, which gives man such a central importance in the creation, is both a glorious truth and a misleading half-truth at the same time.
Basil of Caesarea is not only one of the Fathers I cite in God’s Good Earth as a supporter of the teaching of an unfallen creation, but he wrote a complete series of homilies on the days of creation, expounding Scripture in conjunction with the science of his time. In other words, he was both deeply interested in, and a great admirer of, the creation. So I was struck by reading an apparent anomaly in his other writings yesterday:
The quotation from Calvin I cited here set me in mind of the equivalent situation in studying the Bible, as opposed to nature, and of a common accusation that “simple folks” make about scholarly investigation of, for example, the Genesis creation texts.
…Fortunately not from the seagulls, but the human sort, whilst I was on holiday last week. You know how hard it is not to pick up on words spoken at conversational levels from the next table in a restaurant, once they catch your ear. In this case one of the foursome who sat down next to us had already spoken to me when he nearly knocked over my cider with his rucksack and laughingly apologised.
When I was writing my forthcoming (promises, promises) book, God’s Good Earth, I added a disclaimer in the introduction that I was not going to attempt the kind of theodicy (following Leibniz) that is so often used to argue that the world itself must be evil through human sin, or through the autonomy granted by God to a demiurgic Nature.
One of my current research aims is to demonstrate that the Bible itself has an awareness of other people existing in the world at the time of Adam, despite being overtly silent about them. I approached this from the point of view of the “compositional strategy” of the Torah and Tanach here, and from the point of view of hints about people other than Adam in the text here.
On Thursday I drove two hundred miles across England to attend a meeting on Christian approaches to origins – only to find the meeting had been cancelled and the organisers forgot to tell me.
On the Genealogical Adam model – and indeed on any model dealing with an historical Adam – one has to account for the fact that humanity appears to have had some kind of religious or spiritual life almost as far back as artifacts can be found.
I want, again, to critique the notion that “God uses chance” in evolution, off the back of my last piece, whose main burden was that admitting such chance into the picture utterly destroys the already dubious ability of the laws of nature to achieve divine aims, such as the evolution of mankind. Now I want to consider “randomness” from the viewpoint of divine being. Consider, for a moment, what it means for us to exist, given the truth of Christianity – as far as we can consider what is a rather deeper matter than we are used to assuming it to be.