On the Difficulty of the Cosmos

Twenty years or more ago someone I care about gave me a couple 3D wooden puzzles. I forget how I got them, or from whom, but I remember I care about them. So I kept them on a shelf in my study. Here is one of them, disassembled:

Here is the other, ordered on exactly the same principles, assembled:

A couple weeks ago, my granddaughter took them both off the shelf where they had been … resting … for 20 years or so, and took them apart. Which is rather the purpose of grandchildren, no? One of them, anyway. So while I was not at all unhappy with her for their disassembly, I have as a neatnik been irritated ever since thereat, and meaning to get around to fixing it.

OK, here’s the thing. It took me 25 minutes of fashing to put one of them together just now. And I’m pretty good at 3D visualization. That’s what everyone tells me, anyway. Put it this way: I’m good enough at it that the geometry of knots fascinates me.

Consider then: every moment in the history of our cosmos involves a coordination of disparate parts fantastically more complex and variegated than just the one iteration of putting one of my puzzles together again.

Think about it. What finite intelligence could put untold googols of googols of events together coordinately and coherently *at every moment of cosmic history*? Consider then this: those disparate googols of googols of events that had just transpired at the bleeding edge of cosmic history would not all, in the nature of things in our Fallen world, naturally agree. On the contrary, they would naturally disagree, at least a bit.

You see the problem for Divine Providence.

That the cosmos does not at every moment disintegrate and vanish in chaos and nonbeing suffices as warrant for the conviction that it is held together from each moment to the next by an intelligence infinite in power.

4 thoughts on “On the Difficulty of the Cosmos

  1. I suspect that a chief source of atheism is the inability to imagine an intelligence that powerful coupled with the unwillingness to accept that inability in oneself. All men are likewise incapable of imagining or comprehending God, and that weakness annoys men who enjoy understanding. Yet, the believer is one who accepts, though not always humbly, the limits of his nature.

    This leads me to wonder how this pious acceptance of finitude differs from Kantian humility? Of course, there are thinkers who do both (perhaps the old, fastidious Kraut himself) . . . but we have seen not a few Kantians who champion the Enlightenment but reject the Enlightener. They’re quick to acknowledge the limits of reason — limits that we would be wise to mind so that we would stop worrying about all that metaphysical stuff and turn our attention instead to phenomena (and politics) without and ethics within. This wariness of stepping over the line into antinomies-land may (for some) have nothing to do with humility (in acknowledging the limits of human reason) but rather serve simply to direct human attention to worldly considerations . . . reason as razing — to make way for the brave new materialistic world. For others (Husserl???), we may find genuine epistemological humility. I wonder whether we’d be more likely to find religious men with such disposition. I bet we would. Such minds would see a little bit better just how awesome God must be — beyond the veil of our ignorance — and recognize much more frankly that very veil.

    • Just so. It is remarkable how often atheists imagine that they are talking about God when in fact they are talking about something infinitely less. Some of the arguments Russell proposes in his Why I Am Not a Christian are just embarrassing.

      Whitehead captured the difference between the religious mind – the mind that gets what theism is about – and the irreligious. Speaking of his friend and colleague Russell, he remarked:

      Bertie says that I am muddle-headed; but I say that he is simple-minded.

  2. Exactly! Christ is cosmic—changes everything!—and eternity extends in all directions.

    Salvation/theosis is what we were created to experience in every moment, not something that awaits some of us in the great hereafter.

    “Arise O God,” by Andrew Stephen Damick, summarizes this clearly and concisely.


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