CHRIST AND THE INCARNATION
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Some of these deserve a fuller treatment, which we will consider under the five marks that theology ascribes to creation —its temporality, freedom, goodness, rationality and finalism. In the first place, the physical world, paradigmatically recapitulated by the humanity that Jesus Christ took on, is in some way united to his paschal mystery. The invitation addressed to every human being, created and redeemed in Christ, to enter into communion with the Trinity, as sons in the Son, involves the material universe too.
This ordering of creation to being present in Christ beside the life of God, is a consequence of the ordering of the whole of creation to Him cf. The humanity of the Risen One is the sign of the presence of all of creation in the glory of its Savior. Therefore, by his incarnation, the Word enters a world and a history which already belong to him.
In this respect, the miracles of Jesus are not interventions of a wonderworker, but rather demonstrations of the submission of a nature which exists in Him and by means of Him. The awaiting of the Messiah by the people of Israel, a Messiah whom Christian believers identify as Jesus of Nazaret, has been the expectation of all creation.
The fact then that the humanity of the Word experiences the mystery of suffering and of death , reveals that creation is also subject to frailty and weakness. Within creation there is a kind of incompleteness and the possibility —historically evident— of a disorder introduced by human sin, that will be overcome by the definitive lordship of Christ.
The logic of the paschal mystery has a cosmic importance: the limitation, pain, and inadequacy remain present in creation until it is renewed by the coming of a new heaven and a new earth cf. The future participation of the created world in the eternal life seems to foretell its mystery of awaiting and of travail, of death and of resurrection, its capability of being transfigured.
The importance of this renewal doubtless exceeds the forces present in the material universe —the subject of the final recapitulation will always be Christ victorious over death— but the physical cosmos is also involved in this renewal. From a general point of view, it is true that the unity of the universe and the coherence of its overall design depend upon the uniqueness and personal nature of its First Cause, i.
Nonetheless, to realize that such an overall divine plan has found its fulfillment in the advent of human beings and, even more, in the Incarnation of the Word, strengthens its unity and its global significance. In a universe esteemed on account of Christ and for Christ, matter is for life, life is for man, man for Christ, Christ for God cf. Notwithstanding the great extension of spaces and times, one can reasonably affirm that nothing occurs by chance, nothing is superfluous.
If the historical and hermeneutic center of the universe is the incarnation of the Word, then evolution is better understood as a global phenomenon, capable of giving coherence and intelligibility to the entire universe on a cosmic scale, and no longer solely as a simple attempt to explain or morphologically interpret that which has come about on a relatively local scale such as that of the earth. In such a broad evolutionary outlook, we are better able to perceive purpose in the universe, from its beginning towards its fulfillment, leading us to reject the idea that life is a phenomenon resulting solely by chance processes and local coincidences, originated in or depending upon a space-time realm of limited proportions.
Among the contemporary authors, French paleontologist P. Latourelle, , ch.
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As his works The Divine Milieu and The Phenomenon of Man bear witness, in considering the progress from inferior and simpler forms of life to superior forms, especially the continuous growing of nervous system and brain, finally arriving at the human being, the French scientist placed biological evolution within the context of a physical evolution that should be active on a cosmic scale, having thus an intuition which anticipated by several decades the results of contemporary cosmology.
Teilhard de Chardin thus conceived a science of the universe that would re-join cosmology to anthropology: the human being is placed at the center of the universe, because man and woman constitute the crown and summit of its evolution. This evolution is progressive and irreversible, bearing witness to a plan which from matter leads to conscious thought and then to the highest manifestations of the spirit and love: evolution finds its meaning in Someone who gives consistency to the whole process, who constitutes its finality and its highest expression.
The first is to have offered a non-materialistic understanding of evolution.
He provides a paradigm to interpret evolution profoundly different from the one employed by H. Spencer and C. Darwin , which had strongly conditioned theology until then, to the point of distancing the latter ever more from the analysis of the sciences. In opposition to an evolutionism which sought its answers backwards in time, in the ever simpler forms of life and in matter, Teilhard proposed an evolution which gazes forward, to the human world and to the spirit, and, at the highpoint, to Christ.
We can find traces of this proposal many centuries earlier, in the Christocentrism of Maximus the Confessor Maximus was a strenuous defender of the perfection of the two natures of Christ. The gradual loss of cosmological and philosophical centrality that the image of man experienced during the modern and contemporary eras also called into question the Christian world-view, which had been the principal supporter of that centrality in the cultural and spiritual synthesis of the Middle Ages.
However, once we acknowledge with Teilhard that the incarnation and resurrection of Christ possess universal attributes capable of unifying the meaning of the whole cosmos, the Man-God is once again placed in a privileged situation. If cosmic and human evolutionary phenomenology point towards an apex, only Christianity can place in this apex an historical and personal subject, a life which has triumphed over death.
For example, how is one to harmonize the natural, material continuity of evolution with the discontinuity represented by the appearance of life, of consciousness, and also of the Incarnation of Christ, without ending up by proposing a simple deterministic process. A better clarification of the relationship between the history of the cosmos and the history of salvation is thus required; moreover, his view is open to further improvements, which should not ignore the role of sin in history.
This is the reason, I guess, why a declaration of the Holy Office, years after the death of the scientist, pointed out that several aspects of his thought contained serious errors, without however specifying which ones cf. AAS 54 , p. Nevertheless, theology embraced several intuitions of his cf. Physical cosmology has recently revived some of his thought within the philosophical discussion of the Anthropic Principle , in order to interpret what might be the logic and final direction of cosmic evolution cf.
Barrow, F. A world created through the Word is essentially dialogical in character. The universe is capable of putting forth and transmitting, therefore, a meaningful content. The human person, created by God in his image and likeness, is able to recognize this meaning and decipher it. In this way, the universe becomes a privileged place for the dialogue between God and human beings; the scientist fully participates in this dialogue, perhaps frequently unaware of it, every time he or she acknowledges an objective intelligibility in nature.
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In the logic of research and discovery, scientists often perceive in the universe the existence of a rationality a logos ut ratio , understood as reason , and at times they consider that this ordered reality is something given , that it is objective and speaking in an intelligible language a logos ut verbum , understood as word , and thus making them feel attracted to the search for the truth.
From a philosophical point of view, the possibility of a natural knowledge of God starting from created things has its foundation in the relationship between creation and the Word, as well as human capacity to speak at least something of God by making use of our knowledge of creatures. Not a few historians of science have pointed out that the Christian faith in a Logos-Creator favored the development of Western scientific thought.
Belief in the rationality of the world and in the objective and universal meaning of the laws of nature paved the way for scientific research. This conviction is also shared by a good number of scientists. Nevertheless, one might think that this development was merely the product of a functional association.
In other words, a particular order of ideas, coming from a Christian view of the world, was able to nurture a gnoselogy better fitted to the analysis of the sciences without demanding that such a view have any objective foundation in reality. However, the Christian theology of creation does not limit itself to making note of this functional success, but upholds that this view of the world is rooted in re , i.
To place the Word as the foundation of reality, including physical reality, does not concern only the possible flourishing of scientific activity, but also intends to reveal the intimate structure of reality as such, that of being the effect of a rational, divine Word, and thus maintaining a constitutive openness to the dialogue between man and nature, between man and God.
It is always possible to hypothesize an universe which does not have the property of being so easily mathematized as our own, where the basic laws of physics do not possess integrals which converge, or which can be represented with simple scientific formulas; a world in which, for example, the geometry of space does not allow radial potentials to decrease according to the inverse of distance, or the law of gravity to attract following the inverse of its square distance. The language of scientific rationality, that of logic and mathematics, is not a completely conventional idiom, one among many possibilities.
If all of creation abides by the logic of a Word, source of rationality and of intelligibility, then there ought to exist cognitive categories capable of embracing the whole of the world, thus giving the cosmos a strong gnoseological unity, with relevant consequences on the level of our global understanding. Only in such a universe do the categories of identity and of universality, so important for the analysis of the sciences, become truly meaningful.
The process of deducing large scale properties from observations of local properties —as, for example, in the methodology of contemporary cosmology— takes on new significance, as well as the desire to conceptualize the universe as a whole, searching for unifying properties such as the principles of symmetry and of invariance, or for an all-encompassing methodological approach, such as the principle of Mach. All have the same electric charge, the same spin, the same mass, to the accuracy of measurement.
They all behave in the same way in interaction with other particles [ We do not know why particles are identical in this way.follow site
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We could imagine a world in which electrons were like footballs — everyone slightly different to all the others. Barrow, Theories of Everything. Generally speaking, we should say that, because of its dialogical nature, it is reasonable that the cosmos should express, or even embody, a project. If the universe is the effect of an intelligent Word, its development points toward an end, embodies a meaningful history, and it is the Logos who expresses this plan.
The world possesses a positive quantity of information that is preserved, developed and disclosed throughout cosmic evolution: the history of the universe bears a true meaning. In its privileged relationship with history, Christian Revelation seems to have a specific originality when compared to other religious traditions. The biblical vision differs considerably from those conceptions of time typical of Greek thought or of Eastern philosophies in general. Theology as well as the history of science have noted the importance of such a view in the formation of Western philosophical thought cf.
Jaki, Science and Creation. It has already been pointed out that the rationality associated with the Christian Logos presents itself simultaneously with the characteristics of transcendence and immanence, with all the solemnity of the mystery of the divine plan for the world and with the concreteness of history and of the flesh. It is not a rationality confined to the Platonic circle of the world of ideas, but it intersects the physical nature with all the actuality of the earthly event of Jesus of Nazareth. It is not a rationality totally immanent in matter, as that of the Logos of the Stoics, nor totally immanent in the subject, as that of the philosophical a-priori categories proposed by Kant.