Heaven is the Theosis of Nature

That a phenomenon seems to be wholly explicable in natural terms does not, of course, mean that it is not due to an ingress of Divine Grace. Thinking so is a common error of the naturalist bent – or rather, what it is more accurate to say, of the bent naturalist. But natural explanations do not rule out supernatural explanations. There is, indeed there can be, no conflict between natura and supernatura; natural explanations are all in the final analysis also supernatural explanations, because natura presupposes supernatura.

After all, the whole system of natural causes upon which mundane phenomena supervene is itself supervenient upon, and continuously provided by, Divine Grace. You need Grace in order to get a world in the first place. Natura is a process of supernatura.

“There is no conflict between natura and supernatura.” But is there not a War in Heaven, and on Earth? Indeed. But the Adversary and all his minions, demonic or not, are both natural and supernatural. The conflict is not between natura and supernatura, but within both. Parts of both have Fallen. Parts of both now fail to achieve the beauties they might otherwise have enjoyed, had they never Fallen.

The corrigible defects of both shall be corrected at the eschaton, when Christ shall in the end be all in all. In that Day, Earth shall be at last again what she was first meant to be: a domain of Heaven, and all her citizens saints.

11 thoughts on “Heaven is the Theosis of Nature

  1. This reminds me of Henri de Lubac’s conflict with the manualists. There is no ultimate separation between God as creator and as savior. The reaction against the manualists was overdone, but this was one place they got it wrong.

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    • Indeed. My first title for this post was “Supernatura is the Theosis of Natura.” But then I realized that wasn’t quite right, for there is a supernatural Principal of evil, too.

  3. “But natural explanations do not rule out supernatural explanations.”

    I suspect if you defined ‘supernatural’ as, say, being-itself (as an uncaused cause, say) from which natural beings get their existence, you wouldn’t get much of an argument from most naturalists (although perhaps a shrug).

    I imagine a typical response would be something like “Yes, but what does the supernatural explanation add to the natural explanation? It’s just philosophical blathering.”

    • I’m sure you are right. But then, that’s not how I would define “supernatural.” Angels and demons are supernatural, but are not God. When I made that clear to naturalists, I bet most of them would snort with incredulity.

      • Perhaps.

        So, why are angels and demons considered supernatural, as opposed to natural? What is it about the phenomena attributable to them that separates them from natural phenomena?

      • Those are really interesting questions.

        Angels have natures, like any other entity, so in that sense they are natural. Indeed, in that sense, nothing is supernatural, even God.

        The main reason angels are categorized as supernatural is that they are supramundane; their natures are not natural to this world (bearing in mind that they are not unnatural to this world, either).

        Part of the confusion that so often arises in this respect is that we use “nature” as shorthand for our world. So “supernatural” as we customarily use it means really “supramundane,” properly speaking.

        I’m not sure there is necessarily anything about the phenomena attributable to angels and demons that separates them from mundane phenomena. They can operate within our world, obviously. Their natures are not unnatural to this world, and so they can interact with it, and it with them. That being the case, it would seem that any event, even those that seem the most unremarkably mundane, might at the same time be a result of their operations.

        One clue from ancient Hebrew angelology is that the angels are the principals – the actual archetypes – of the formal principles embodied in the entities of our world. So, wherever a form is at work in the world, the angel of that form is there operant.

  4. Kristor, apology for being off topic. I found that it is not easy to understand the concept of creating “ex nihilo”.

    So what does it mean God created world out of nothing? I imagine it means there was no substrate, no prime matter or first chaos (as other religions or mythologies seem to suggest) out of which He created world or order. But there was still Him, an omnipresent Being. However, He did not make the world of Himself. So was there *nothing* but Him and out of that *nothing* He created world? I don’t know if it makes sense.

    Thomists seem to say that there “is” Prime Matter as sort of Pure Potentiality. The “is” doesn’t mean “exists” in this case but somehow “being real but not having existence”. If this is true is it compatible with the “ex nihilo”? Prime Matter is no-thing and yet is still seems to be something…

    • Prime Matter is an abstraction. It is the perfectly general capacity of all actual things to take on forms – to be one thing or another. Take any actual thing, and in your mind abstract away all its peculiar properties, that make it just the thing that it is and no other. What you will be left with at the end is Prime Matter. This can be done in the mind, but not in reality. As not having any particular form, Prime Matter is not any particular thing. But the only way to be actual is to be something in particular, something definitely formed. So you can’t ever get an actual instance of Prime Matter.

      Creatio ex nihilo is indeed hard for us to understand. Indeed, it is probably impossible for us to understand it, even in principle. All we can possibly do is re-arrange what already exists, so arranging (rather than the re-arranging to which we are accustomed) is outside our ken.

      When you think about it, re-arranging isn’t so easy to comprehend, either …

      But we can be sure that creation out of nothing is what God does. Eternity is prior to all contingencies whatever. Say that God wants to make the First Contingency. If he does not, then there is nothing other than God. Ergo, all that God has to work with in creating the First Contingency is … nothing.

  5. Pingback: The Ivory Tower Has Replaced The Throne of God | The Mitrailleuse

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