Our god, randomness
In the previous entry I explained how liberals reduce the number of Islamic terrorist acts:
If a jihad-believing Muslim, shouting “Allah is great,” slaughters infidels on his own, well, that’s just another random event in a universe filled with random events.That last phrase made me realize something about the modern Western world and its rejection of God.
As Eric Voegelin put it, all ancient civilizations, that is, the civilizations prior to the Hebrews and the Greeks, believed in a “cosmos full of gods.” Then the Hebrews made what Voegelin calls a “leap in being” and discovered the transcendent God who creates the universe from outside the universe. This leap in being is announced in the first sentence of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” It was the single most revolutionary transformation in human history. Instead of seeing the celestial bodies and animal and plant life and the cycles of the seasons and the phenomena of fertility as divine, which was the way all previous cultures had seen them, the Hebrews said that these things were created by a divinity who stood outside all of them. The things and phenomena of the universe were no longer gods themselves, but rather were the creations of God.
Furthermore, as the creations of God, they had an order that was intelligible to man, as explained in the opening passage of the Gospel of John, in which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is merged with the Word, the Logos, the principle of intelligibility:
In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God….The Son, born and entering the world in human form, makes manifest and understandable to men the invisible, transcendent Father. But the Son is not only the personal Son of God and the savior of men, he is the Word, the principle of intelligibility. And since all things were made through the Son, all things are intelligible. There is an order in all things that can be understood.
Thus the Hebraic-Christian revelation, supplemented by Greek reason, revealed not only the transcendent God, but the nature of the world as God’s intelligible creation.
But, Voegelin continues, there has always been resistance to the leap in being with its articulation of reality into the transcendent and the immanent. The replacement of the intra-cosmic gods, embodied in natural processes and knowable through sensory experience, by a transcendent and spiritual God knowable through faith and inner experience (“I am the almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect” [Gen. 17:1]; “Abide in me, and I in you” [John 15:4]) meant that a distance had been opened up between the natural man and the spiritual God, which inevitably brought about frustration, dry spells, a sense of one’s unworthiness, and even doubt about God’s very existence. In the early Christian centuries, the discomfort with transcendence took the form of a variety of gnostic beliefs, which said that there is a true god who can be completely known, completely embodied, and completely experienced by man, thus ending what for many people was the unendurable distance between man and God that biblical religion had unhappily introduced. In the modern period, the discomfort with transcendence has taken the form of an outright rejection of God. However, this rebellion against transcendence doesn’t mean a simple return to the primordial experience of a cosmos full of gods. It means the rejection of the divine altogether.
Further, as the divine is rejected, so is the notion of any intelligible order in the universe. This happens in two steps. First, the divine order is cast aside, as a false superstition and a deadening imposition on human freedom. Second, since any order that doesn’t come from man implies, ultimately, a divine order, it’s not just the divine order that must be rejected, but the idea of any inherent order at all.
We thus see the progression, taking place over the last 4,000 years, from a universe filled with gods, to a universe created by the transcendent God, to a universe filled with random events.
LA: “We thus see the progression from a universe filled with gods, to a universe created by the transcendent God, to a universe filled with random events.”Daniel B. writes:
“We thus see the progression from a universe filled with gods, to a universe created by the transcendent God, to a universe filled with random events…”Jeff W. writes:
I disagree somewhat that the elites of the West view everything as a random event. [LA replies: I didn’t say that all members of the elite have this view; I was describing a paradigm.] The New York Times article that you linked to yesterday showed liberals trying to fit the Fort Hood massacre into their absurd belief system.LA replies:
Very good comment.November 8
Here is the original version of a paragraph in this entry that I’ve substantially revised. I revise posted entries all the time, and have never before posted the discarded text. But in this instance I felt that it was called for, so that readers who are interested can see what was wrong in the original version and why I needed to change it.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 07, 2009 11:46 AM | Send