Faith and Science
Creation’s Goodness and the Infinite’s Beauty
In Genesis 1:1-31 God tells us that everything He creates
is good. The Hebrew word (tov) used for good describes whatever enhances,
promotes, produces or is conducive for life and our acceptance of it. Creation’s
goodness, created by His Word, exists and acts through contingency. Creation is
not possible without change and contingency is necessary for change processes.
Contingency is responsible for indifference perceived in the absurd and
suffering which in despair humanity is forced to accept and endure. Can goodness
be found in the indifference of an existence that seems meaningless? Creation’s
goodness promises no more than to provide our needs. It is not for showing us
truth or values on our existence. Is God not good when His good creation
destines humans to suffer in a world that to them is an intolerably indifferent
reality? God gives us “thought” as the instrument of escape from suffering but
we hold on to self-obsession to withdraw into ourselves. Creation’s goodness
only partly describes God’s design. The glory of God must be seen in His beauty
in addition to the goodness of His creation. Divine beauty is God’s holiness and
human beings must be sanctified to participate, be united, in this beauty. Then
the Holy Spirit invites us to embrace God’s beauty. God’s plan through Christ
affirms the goodness of creation and reveals divine truth to be inseparable
from infinite divine beauty.
There is no greater spectacle than God's
creation; God displays it all. We begin to appreciate God through His creation.
He not only creates but sustains and restores all creation. God begins to reveal
His creative acts in the Holy Bible. Genesis, the first book in the Bible,
begins with “In the beginning God created the heavens and
the earth.” Divine providence is manifested in God’s transcendent
governance of everything beginning with His creative acts; through His grace He
orders all things toward His goodness.1 He wills all things toward
Himself to serve His transcendent purpose.2 To be is the first good
of God’s goodness, the first gift of His gratuitous love, and the completion of
the goodness promised is to be joined to God in the free movement of the soul.3
In the Beginning—the First Good
God Created Everything Very Good
Genesis 1:2 tells us more with “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” In verses 1:3-4 God created light: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.” Thereby God approves his work. Augustine believed we should understand that this sentence does not signify joy as if over an unexpected good but in approval of the work.4
For what is said more fittingly of God – in so far as it can be humanly said – than when Scripture puts it this way: ‘he spoke,’ and ‘it was made,’ it pleased him.4
Also Augustine said:
‘God saw that the light was good,’ and these words do not mean that God found before him a good that he had not known but that he was pleased by one that was finished.4
In Genesis 1: 9-10: “And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters he called ‘seas’. And God saw that it was good.”
In Genesis 1:11-12: “Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, each according to their various kinds.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
In Genesis 1: 14-19: “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights – the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.”
In Genesis 1:20-23: “And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.’ So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
In Genesis 1: 24-25: “And God said, ‘Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals according to their kinds.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”
In Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, and over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” In Genesis 1:31 God testifies that everything He created was “very good.” The human beings God created are an infinite good; it cannot be otherwise if He created them in His own image (Figure 1).
God the creator rejoices in His work of creation. Psalm 104:31 tells us “May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works…” His joy with creation insures its care and sustenance, as described in Psalm 104.
What is Good?
Do we know and appreciate what is good? In Micah 6:8 we are told that “He showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?” and in the revelation of Nahum 1:7 that “God is Good” as several of many examples in addition to those in Genesis. How should we understand what God means when He tells us his creation is good? The Hebrew word for good (tov), describing God’s creations denotes whatever enhances, promotes, produces, or is conducive for life.5 This word can also be found to describe something as appropriate, adequate, sufficient, beneficial, and desirable, and to express our acceptance.6 Human beings’ acceptance of something as good shows conformity to God’s will.7 Whatever enhances, promotes, produces, or is conducive is a “tool” or “instrument” for creating everything, not only life. If our being has the hope of becoming one with the Being of God, we must in reality become “tov” so that our goodness enhances, promotes, produces and is conducive for life.
Existence in creation’s world of things is imperfect, unstable, and transitory which makes it difficult to call creation good.8 What makes it desirable and justifies it being called good? God’s creation is described as good when it serves the purpose for which it is intended; it is good because it is an efficient means to obtain a desired result.8
In contrast to creation’s imperfect existence, Plato believed ideas are incorruptible, unchangeable, and truly existence; and among ideas the noblest and highest is the idea good: it is the supreme and sovereign idea. This sovereign idea, the Good, is identical with God.8 God, the essential and supreme good, can impart nothing that is not good. The supreme good is the source of truth. For Aristotle, good is not something added to being, it is being.8 Everything that is, is good because it is; the supreme good is the source of all creation’s being and goodness. God as infinite being is infinite good; what He does or creates can be nothing less than this.
With the Hebrew tov God tells us that His creation will lead to His desired result. God relies on the Holy Spirit to reveal His design for us, however, what the promise of goodness (tov) offers. Goodness attributed by God to His creative acts is not for producing a paradise—a word introduced into the Holy Bible at a later date.9 Hebrews did not describe the Garden of Eden as a paradise. Human intervention has given the garden that description.
Human beings have many problems accepting conditions of God’s creation as being good–we find it to be no paradise–and thereby conforming to His will. Does God’s creation serve the purpose for which it is intended? Do we have any idea of God’s desired result for His creation? Believers with deep faith in God have understandings of God’s intentions from the Holy Bible and from the Holy Spirit but with the acknowledgment that such understandings are partial, being far from complete.
Human beings live in and have knowledge of the briefest interval of time. If human beings lived millions of years ago could any of them have had concepts of what the results of creation’s activity would be in the present time? And what does creation hold in store for us for the next 1000 years or the next 100 years. It is even difficult to predict what might await us for the next few years. We must remain satisfied with what God chooses to reveal and continue to trust Him while depending on Him to show us with the expectation that He will show us much less than what we wish to know.10
God’s Instrument of Creation
God uses His word and speaks to create. God’s instrument to create everything (the universe and everything in it) “good” must be appropriate for enhancing, promoting, producing, and being conducive to accomplish His creative goals. Anything created has a cause or an origin and is thus defined as being contingent.11 Creation's space-time and any matter coming into existence in time is contingent. The universe is contingent upon conditions (God’s Word) that existed prior to the beginning of space-time. Therefore our contingent universe must have emerged from some prior condition which always existed, is self-sufficient, and is not dependent upon anything higher—something necessary.12 For any necessary, non-contingent universe one could find a single, consistent theory with which it would be possible to completely explain creation’s structure and function.13 A theory of everything is not possible in a contingent universe. A contingent universe does not contain within itself a sufficient explanation of itself.
The scientific explanation for the universe’s creation is the Big Bang theory which describes a creation from something or nothing (creation from a prior condition).14 This supports the belief that all material existence in the universe is contingent. Nothing in the physical universe is necessary, in that it must be and be in the form it is, there being no other way. Scientific beliefs hold that all matter, fields and forces within the universe either have a cause or at least originate within a quantum field. With everything having a cause or an origin science demonstrates that the universe is contingent (open). Being contingent gives the open universe and everything in it the ability to change; creation is not the same today as it was yesterday, and its space-time structure is not a necessary result of its existence. In ancient times King Solomon had “seen something else under the sun: …time and chance happen to them all.”(Ecclesiates 9:11) Time and happenings by chance mark contingency for the universe.
Human beings have wanted to maintain a belief that the universe is non-contingent. Until the 20th century scientific and religious belief held that the universe is non-contingent (closed, self-contained, and self-explanatory) but this
is essentially a religious or metaphysical view, in the sense that it rests only upon an unstated axiom of faith.15
The Being of our Creator-God is non-contingent, is necessary (must be and in the form He is) having no cause or origin and existing without ever changing. God in creating the universe out of nothing, which is from a pre-existing state, creates something that exists and acts through contingency.
Why a Contingent Creation?
God’s creation exists and acts through contingency in order for creation to be possible. Creation does not exist without change; it is possible only in a contingent universe. Creation changes are perpetual—changes in everything from the cosmic universe (from the Big Bang onwards) to the evolution of all inorganic and organic matter. Mechanisms for change are essential for human existence.16 Without contingency and its evolutionary mechanisms for change, God’s design for the cosmos and its development according to His plans would not be possible. Although goodness of our contingent existence allows for freedom, God’s providence assures that no misuse of that freedom will prevent him from accomplishing the good He intends in all things.17 God accepts that the freedom permitted by His creation’s goodness allows for sin, suffering, evil, and death but He offers to forgive sin, heal suffering, cast out evil, and conquer death.18
Contingency as the mechanism for creation began with God’s creation of forces and particulate matter with properties of no two created items being exactly alike.19 This is evident for all that we can perceive without any scientific instruments. Being consistent it should apply to all sub-atomic known and unknown particles. Each particle looks the same but is not—because the information each one contains may vary slightly and we cannot see or measure that. We measure particles by what they do, not by what they look like. Progressive evolution would not be possible if all particles were alike. With variations of forces’ and particulate materials’ properties throughout the cosmos, there can be regions where creation is limited because essential building blocks for change cannot be created.20 Variations in these properties do not allow for uniform distribution of all entities in the universe.21 Scientists believe that chance events determine everything and that should result in distribution uniformity and eliminate the chance for any constructive changes.22 God’s creation of all forces and matter to be not identical, and to have non-uniform distributions, gives them the ability to be part of a creative process. Through transcendence God is actively involved in giving particles and forces new or additional information to make progressive evolution possible.
Humanity’s Discontent With Contingency
As mentioned before humans have tried to hold on to a belief in God’s creation being non-contingent. Human beings are reluctantly and despairingly left with little choice than to accept their own contingency, however.23
Those who accept human contingency, and claimed that such acceptance is not desperate, do not speak the truth. The myth of reason cleanses us out of despair; it is a ratio against contingency that cannot itself have reasons.23
Our despair is that we must accept a contingent world which expends itself on each occasion in its impermanence state, which is what it is now and there is no reference to anything else.24 In our despair we search for security from the absurd, from contingency, from death and suffering, by maintaining a belief that we live in a non-contingent world. (With contingency the absurd is as possible and probable as the rational.) Our hoped-for security rests in a permanent, continuous world but we recognize a contingent world that is indifferent and this problem is greater than any suffering a human being bears.25 We often do not understand why human’s suffer but sometimes it is in God’s plans and timing to show us why we suffer. In Genesis we see how Joseph suffered the greatest indifference possible from his siblings. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery. He told them later in Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Good can come from “evil” in a contingent world.26 Contingency is the basis for the “good” process; it is the tool that God uses to build creation the way He designs it.
Goodness In a “Meaningless” Existence
Is it possible for God’s goodness to be evident in a contingent creation with the hallmarks of a meaningless existence? King Solomon is credited for writing the Book of Ecclesiastes in which he speaks of the meaningless of human existence. God told Solomon: “I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.” (1 Kings 3:12) With this wisdom Solomon describes the meaningless existence. The Book of Ecclesiastes begins with “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” Solomon continues in Ecclesiastes 1:12: “I have thought to myself, ‘Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.’ Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.” If we believe our existence to be meaningless we experience the world to be indifferent to us. Our
attempts to overcome this indifference constitute the crucial meaning of human struggle with faith, both in its everyday and in its extreme form.27
Our human struggle with faith compromises any belief we may have of goodness for God’s creation.
Ecclestiases 1:9 states “there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’”? Human beings still cannot discern anything new in creation. Scientific revelations can show us events in the cosmos that occurred eons ago, but we have little discernment with what they mean. We have no new and different understandings to show that our existence is no longer meaningless, that the world’s indifference has changed. But time-space changes over the existence of God’s creation do show patterns that reveal His goodness in the creative process.28 Unfortunately, we have not been around long enough to clearly see the forest for the trees. Are humans’ perceptions of indifference the result of us seeing only into a minuscule window of time in the history of God’s ongoing creation? We see the “trees” that show no changes in the world’s meaninglessness and indifference but the “forest” in God’s purpose is much larger and longer in existence and could reveal His goodness in a much fuller way than we can appreciate. Science will never reveal this goodness; it is revealed by God's revelations to human beings that are recorded in the Holy Bible and continue to be revealed by the Holy Spirit. Science also cannot show us by reason or experience that creation is flawed and is therefore meaningless and indifferent.29
Obligations of Creation’s Goodness to Humankind
We are all inclined to ask, or even demand, what does creation’s “goodness” do for me especially when we exist in a raw and unpolished nature that causes the environment to constantly intrude with unwanted experiences.30 We would like to believe that the goodness of creation allows us to regard the universe as a self-sufficient reality, that everything we need is here and we need not look for anything higher. Does God intend His creation to be something (a benefit), to do something for me? And what did ancient man expect God’s goodness to do for him? Goodness is realized in creation being able to meet human needs after which we can claim meaning for our existence. The goodness of creation is a witness to God providing humans with basic needs to sustain all life with food, shelter, procreation and security. With that goodness we can claim restoration, stability, and well-being.31 Human needs do not change but people include desires in what they consider needs. People believe that the lost paradise is regained when their “needed” desires are satisfied.
As mentioned earlier while goodness is described in the Bible, there is no use of the term “paradise” in the original Hebrew and its early translations. Paradise is meant to be simultaneously an experience of perfect satisfaction and unceasing love. The heavenly realms, let alone the world, cannot be a paradise of love and the same time a paradise of satiety—they exclude each other.32 The goodness of God’s creation can never promise us a paradise of satiety. Does the goodness of creation mean the world was created to love us? We might love the world but its purpose is merely to sustain us, not love us. Hence, we perceive the world is being indifferent to us and our wants.
Creation’s Goodness Explains Nothing
We seek to understand creation of goodness out of nothing but we cannot expect to learn its reasons.33 Creation from nothingness, by chance, has no reasons, can have no meaning, must be without obligations, and be the basis for no values. Human existence without any mythological basis is owed nothing; is not called to anything; cannot demand anything; is neither a true, less true or untrue human being; a person is what he or she happens to be. There is nothing that predestines to happiness, and there are no inhuman situations, that is, those that contradict the idea of a human being.
The goodness of creation is not provided for telling us or showing us the truth of where we came from, why we are here and where we are going. Creation's goodness also cannot provide the basis for promising and claiming human dignity. Creation’s goodness contains no provisions for human beings to claim “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The goodness provides us with a wealth of experiences and information we know by a plethora of contingent facts but this cannot be the source of truth or values. The experiences and information have a utilitarian significance that only allows a more efficient manipulation of things.
God is not obliged to reveal Himself only by the goodness of the works of His Creation; we rely mostly on His revelations through the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 1:1-3 tells us: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word....”
Perceived Defects of Creation’s Goodness
The goodness of creation presupposes the goodness of God as caring for all human needs and concerns. For some Genesis 1 describes a moral order for God’s creation by the goodness He describes it to be. But when creation shows a wretched existence because of all that humans are destined to suffer, where is that goodness?
But everything in our environment of things and people which frustrates our efforts or causes misery, reveals a world to us as an intolerably indifferent reality.34
What God creates is good and cannot be indifferent to Him. How can creation be good when it is indifferent to us and our existence? But if we are not permanent residents of this world, why should we be concerned that it is indifferent to us? The goodness of creation manifested in indifference prompts us to engage in endeavors that battle against our perception of that indifference. We wage that battle through technological achievements with which we ascribe to ourselves divine-like creative talents.35 By becoming like God we believe we can eliminate the world’s indifference to us. With creative empowerment of the mind human beings believe they can overcome the world’s indifference; some even promise that the indifference manifested by death will some day be vanquished.
Humans believe that suffering is the most acute manifestation of the world's indifference. That indifference underlies
what is common and identical in all suffering: in physical pain, in the sense of failure in life, and the fear of a task above ones powers, and grief at the death of loved ones, in fear of one's own death, in rejected love, in humiliation, in realizing the hopelessness of ambition, and the experience of impotence, and in unbearable loneliness.36
We ask how can the Creator's goodness allow suffering? Indeed God creates conditions that underlie indifference and suffering but He gives us a means for escape.
Thought is the instrument of escape from suffering; it is therefore
irreplaceable to the extent that it is effective. All its other meanings are an
arbitrary decision, are therefore mythical....Thought which remains in the
service of an escape from discomfort and suffering has no other support.37
But we run away to escape suffering rather than “face” it one way or another through our
thoughts. Are we able to have and call on effective thoughts?
“The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows they are futile.” (Psalm 94: 11) With
“futile” thoughts we try to escape
the experience of suffering, of the world's indifference.38
Human beings, using futile thoughts, have a number of ways to escape sufferings of the world’s indifference. Most of the ways are ineffective. We can escape suffering by seeking and loving all forms of distractions, mostly available now as a result of technological achievements. The include the time-passing release from boredom offered by television, films, concerts, music, ipods, cellular phones, video games, etc. Indifference is also overcome by obsessions to possess things so the world can be shut out; a person becomes disinherited from humanity and thereby perpetuates indifference. The “possessed” can include another person where someone wishes to possess another person’s body totally. The world’s indifference is also forgotten temporarily by satisfying appetite cravings for food, and escaping one’s existence with alcohol or other drugs.
The secular world strongly believes that science will continue to give us hope for eventual control of the world’s indifference. We have seen little hope for that. If the world’s goodness is not designed for removing the suffering of our meaningless existence in an indifferent creation, are we left with anything that can save us from the world’s indifference?
The Essential Complement to Creation’s Goodness
Creation’s goodness is for whatever enhances, promotes, produces, or is conducive for life, as stated earlier. Its goodness is not to satisfy human expectations for assurance, acceptance and recognition. Creation's goodness is not to show that God's character is trustworthy. That is shown by the Holy Spirit. Goodness makes possible a contingent creation and the perfect conformity sought by humanity is not possible in a contingent world. Something is lacking when human beings do not accept creation as good because it is found to be without that perfect conformity and is (perceived as) tragic, absurd, imperfect, transitory, unstable, contingent, unpredictable, non-continuous, meaningless, and indifferent. God's Biblical description of creation is not limited to chapters in Genesis. His design for the moral and ethical aspects of creation is found elsewhere in the Bible and is given by the Holy Spirit.
Good and goodness are values. Values cannot come out of a
contingent existence or where everything is determined by chance. If God clouds
or hides any understanding by our seeing events only as appearing by chance, He
is not giving us any information with which we can develop values.
Therefore creation’s goodness cannot give us culture, all of which is based on
values. Cultural values appearing when God created us as human beings replaced
instinctual management of life that the goodness of creation provided.
Understanding descriptions of something good in the Book of Genesis cannot be
made by human experiences; for that we need to know the mind of God. Thus any
value for good cannot be established or can come out of scientific experiences.
But science tells us that we live in a creation that is far from good because
experiences show that the physical world is benign (thus indifferent), diseased
and chaotic and that
scientific technology is our tool for making improvements. How does science believe that
it can show us a truth that creation is not good? Science can often predict what
something will do but that does not reveal the information imbedded in the
God perennially underlies the causal forces in the world, and God gives meaning
to the world, which science is incompetent to detect. Information, however, is
not a mere cause, not in any physicochemical sense; but a cause that puts
meanings into events.39
Psalm 19:1 declares the glory of God in a world that appears indifferent to
human beings. If the glory of God is revealed in His creation, it must include
manifestations that show us His Beauty in addition to His goodness.40 It is
difficult to perceive beauty in creation, in all of nature, however. Many
believe that all of nature is a shattered mirror of divine beauty, still full of
light, but riven by darkness. 41
But nature is really an incomplete rather than a shattered mirror of divine
The demonstration of God’s beauty with creation’s goodness must unite the two so beauty is evident in the rejected, the ugly, and the grotesque of creation as well as in all that is absurd and tragic. Our preconceived ideas of beauty from human experience and reason must be displaced and replaced by the divine beauty that unites the true, the beautiful, and the good.42 Beauty thus radiates as the bridge to God, with Christ being its wellspring. Without a belief in divine beauty we have understanding only from creation’s goodness and we must live dependent on an optimism that is at the mercy of creation's contingent happenings. With the Lord we have hope because in His eyes all His creation is beautiful as well as good, in which His beauty is the fountain of divine joy.
How can we describe divine beauty? Thomas Aquinas gave us three required conditions for the attribution of beauty to anything: integrity or completeness, right proportion or harmony, and radiance.43 It is evident that this beauty is different from creation’s goodness and is not to be expected to evolve in a contingent creation. Divine beauty is God’s holiness, and our sanctification is the most significant manifestation of our participation in this beauty.44 God’s holiness is the “the infinite beauty and excellency of his nature”44
How do we perceive or know divine beauty?
The Holy Spirit, being the harmony, excellence, and beauty of the Deity, has the
particular function of communicating beauty and harmony to the world.44
The communicating link between Spirit and recognition of beauty is silent when
the Holy Spirit is ignored or treated with indifference.44 But God is always
there to show us His beauty. His revelation of
beauty appears to be gratuitous in the same way that grace is. And so one can
respond either with gratefulness or with indifference. His glory was ‘full of grace and
truth,’ yet ‘the world did not know him.’...Christ, like art and beauty, is
revealed by grace.45
Creation is not merely out of His goodness but out of the overflow of His
fullness and beauty. It is out of God’s fullness, as a society of infinite
beauty, consent, and happiness, that God was moved to create the world.46 But we
do not see essential manifestations of God’s beauty until we see the beauty of
the Word incarnate, crucified, and resurrected; this beauty exceeds in eminence
and grandeur all finite forms of creaturely beauty.47 The beauty is the revealed
glory of God that is seen by those with a receptive spiritual posture necessary
to encounter God’s love, with an active faith that integrates goodness with
truth, moral decision with rational thought.
Accepting what God says about His creation being good and with the belief that God is beautiful, it is easy to conclude that life is beautiful because we exist in a good creation and that God our creator is beautiful. God’s creation is good and He is beautiful but we cannot see His creation being beautiful until we come to terms with God in a healthy faithful spirituality. Without the Holy Spirit we deceive ourselves on the beautiful and tragic aspects of our creation. With the Holy Spirit an authentic Christian spirituality centered on the Paschal Mystery can be united with an existential disposition of serenely courageous receptivity to the real.48 Serene courage helps to enable us for facing the indifference of creation.
When we live in a world that is perceived to be indifferent to our existence, that is absurd, diseased and chaotic we must become like Christ in order to declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). We can then see things as He sees them. Christ shows that the impossible can become possible and that our courage sees beyond the world's indifference to discover that
God’s beauty embraces death as well as life, fear as well as joy, that which we
would call ugly, as well as that which we would call beautiful.49
Responding to God’s grace we begin to gain a genuine spiritual knowledge of the
All natural entities have an form that is the unique expression of God’s word; God spoke and something was formed, an activity that science helps us understand.50 Creation by God’s word gives all creation a spiritual foundation with which there is a basis for all forms contributing to the world’s goodness and to an engagement with creation’s beauty that we discover in following the Holy Spirit.51 The Holy Spirit shows a glimpse of understanding of the mystery of the Creator God who dwells in all things (via His creative Word) and that through His grace we receive all of created reality as a gift of love; God created natural forms so that through their mysterious beauty they might write God’s law of love on human hearts.52 Humans fail to dwell in creation spiritually when they reject God; they see nature as only matter and have no ability to see creation as beautiful.53
Because goodness and truth are intimately intertwined with the ability to see
and love beauty in natural forms, the refusal of aesthetic vision is the refusal
to be human as God created us.54
Despite our world’s indifference with its reality of sin and death, the
Christ-form shows us creation is good and life on earth is a great blessing. The
Christ-form affirms our existence as God created us to “love courageously and
without restraint all worldly beauty.”54
The Christ-form not only reeducates humanity in its own nature but also heals it
and gives humans the ability to live their nature as creatures who were made to
be lovingly attuned to lovely realities. The darkness of a fallen world need no
longer cause people to refuse the existential disposition of doxological wonder
and the spiritual posture of adventurous love. Contemplation of the
‘Christ-form’ as it is rooted in the world after Pentecost, implanting its grace
into the aesthetic structures of created reality, will enable humanity to
rediscover the mystery at the heart of the world and in so doing discover and
come to love and share in the depth mystery of Trinitarian love.55
The Holy Spirit shows the Christian two realities, “nature” or creation’s
goodness as we know it, in its beauty and terror, grandeur and dreariness,
delight and anguish; and creation as an endless sea of glory, radiant with the
beauty of God.
To see in this way is to rejoice and mourn at once, to regard the world as a
mirror of infinite beauty, but as glimpsed through the veil of death; it is to
see creation in chains, but beautiful as in the beginning of days.56
We can not rely on secular thought, on human experience, that changes every
moment, for truth and reality. We must rely on Christian thought that is
revealed to us by the Holy Spirit..
...Christian thought, from the outset, denies that (in themselves) suffering,
death, and evil have any ultimate value or spiritual meaning at all. It claims
that they are cosmic contingencies, ontological shadows, intrinsically devoid of
substance or purpose...57
Christian eschatology affirms the goodness of created difference, reveals divine truth to be inseparable from beauty, and exposes the totality as false and marked with a damnable finitude.58
Without Christian thought we are separated from God, thereby existing in sin.
The soul, as Anselm laments, is rendered obtuse by sin, unable to see the beauty
of God, to hear his harmony, to perceive his fragrance, to taste his sweetness,
though God imparts some measure of his loveliness to all created things and
makes it manifest in them....It is this divine beauty that becomes visible again
in Christ. ....That the power of the spirit to communicate this beauty anew is
infinite is an article of faith; that human beings resist the Spirit with
indefatigable ingenuity is the lesson of history.59
God Revealing His Plan
The psalmist expresses the unity of the goodness of creation with the beauty of the infinite: “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.” (Psalm 85:10-13)
The progressive unfolding of creation according to God’s plan will ultimately reveal itself as progressive unity, solidarity and harmony among humanity until all will realize the good of creation is creation itself without need for any higher justification; the human potential (the true form of human existence) is fulfilled to truly reflect the image of God.60 The Lord promises us this in His new covenant. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)
The Doors of the Sea. p. 83.
18. Ibid., p. 87.
19. With no two particles being alike....regions with varied force and particle properties have limited number of building blocks for creation. See: A Scientific Basis For Reconciling Divine Foreknowledge and Human Free Will, http://biblemetaphors.com/metaphors5.htm#target_12
20. It is well-established that the conditions for life especially to develop are extremely well-defined and limited.
21. The building blocks for change may appear to be present throughout creation but that is apparent only because of our measurements that they are all alike. But our measuring capabilities are unable to measure or identify the information that a particle or force contains. Differences in properties result in distributions throughout space that would be unpredictable. Distributions would not result in a true homogeneity.
22. Contingency or contingent conditions cause changes but can they be creative changes if all particles were totally alike? Contingent conditions also cause all events to be caused by chance and where all changes are unpredictable.
23. Leszek Kolakowski, The Presence of Myth. (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1989), p. 41-42.
24. Ibid., p. 5.
25. Ibid., p. 69-82.
26. Chance happenings appear in a contingent creation and chance does not determine something good or evil. Evil is a value and rather than coming from a human experience its basis must be on mythological reasons.
27. Kolakowski, p. 70.
28. The definition of good as used in God’s creative activity was given earlier. We can only judge whether the goodness is being met with scientific studies. Such studies show us that the evolutionary development of creation meets the requirements of the definition and creation’s requirements to meet human needs have been satisfied.
29. Science cannot give us values such as something being flawed or meaningless. In a contingent creation the “flawed” and “meaningless” as well as everything else are changing–to another value? With reason and science human beings think they can understand the universe and develop values by being able to collect data on a minute period, one to two centuries, of history. This length of time is so short that it is meaningless compared with the length of time the earth has existed. Most scientists believe that the earth is millions of years old. Thus, scientists use very incomplete bits of data to theorize and because the data are so incomplete theories change often.
30. Kolakowski, p. 13.
31. Creation’s goodness is manifested in biological mechanisms that respond to environmental stimuli and maintain homeostasis. See: Divine Assistance For Healing’s Immanent Activity, http://biblemetaphors.com/metaphors8.htm
32. Kolakowski, p. 25.
33. Ibid., p. 2-3.
34. Ibid., p. 71.
35. Ibid., p. 74.
36. Ibid., p. 69-70.
37. Ibid., p. 64-65
38. Ibid., p. 69-82.
39. Holmes Rolston, III. Evolution History and Divine Presence. Theology Today 55: 415-434, 1998.
40. David Bentley Hart. The Beauty of the Infinite. (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Williams B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003)
41. Hart. The Doors of the Sea. p.102
42. Kettler, Christian D. The Vicarious Beauty of Christ. Theology Today 64:14-24, 2007.
43. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae 1a.39.8.
44. Sherry, Patrick. The Beauty of God the Holy Spirit. Theology Today. 64:5-13, 2007.
45. Kettler, Christian D. The Vicarious Beauty of Christ. Theology Today 64:14-24, 2007.
46. Mitchell, Louis J. The Theological Aesthetics of Jonathan Edwards. Theology Today 64:36-46, 2007.
47. Mongrain, Kevin. Von Balthasar's Way from Doxology to Theology. Theology Today 64:58-70, 2007.
50. God’s One Biblical and Scientific Revelation of Creation, http://biblemetaphors.com/metaphors13.htm
51. Mongrain, Kevin. Von Balthasar's Way from Doxology to Theology. Theology Today 64:58-70, 2007.
56. Hart. The Doors of the Sea. p. 60-61.
57. Ibid., p. 61.
58. Hart. The Beauty of the Infinite. p. 395.
59. Ibid., p. 339
60. Craig George. Review of The Beauty of The Infinite. http://catholicbooksreview.org/2007/hart.htm
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