Deus Absconditus

David Cowles

Nov 22, 2022

“First, pay the cancellation fee and cash in your first-class ticket to Lhasa.”

The Intellectual History of the West is a protracted game of hide-and-seek: God hides, we seek. The game can end in only one of three ways:


  • Eureka! I found Him (or at least, I see his reflection). (Theism)

  • I can’t find him; there is no God! (Atheism)

  • I haven’t found him yet. I’m still looking, but the bartender just gave ‘last call’. (Agnosticism)


God has not ‘absconded’; he is hiding, but he’s hiding in plain sight. God is here, right here, right under our noses. Some ‘see’ him; some don’t. God is like that, he’s a Gestalt. Magic says, “Now you see it, now you don’t!” Theology says, “Either you see it, or you don’t!” 


What is it that I’m supposed to see? Value. Do you see ‘value’ (e.g., beauty, truth, justice) in people, in things, in events? That’s God, or if you prefer, the reflection of God. It’s true, no one can see God face-to-face, but if I can see God’s reflection in the cosmic mirror, isn’t that just as good? Either way, I know he’s there.


What kid has not called out, “I found you, I see your reflection in the mirror?”


You see him…or you don’t. If you do see him, worse luck, because you can’t unsee him. Once seen, always seen! When you open your eyes in the morning, God. When you’re in your office, there he is. Watching TV, he’s there. Even as you slide into the dream world at the end of your day…et voilà! 


Every time you make a value judgment, you invoke God. The reflection of God in the world is what we call ‘value’. Whenever you experience ‘value’ in some object or event, if you do, you’re seeing God’s reflection. 


Everything has value. To be is to have value, but value varies. When you say that something is ‘better’ than something else, you’re seeing God’s reflection more clearly in the one than the other.  Better is a function of Good and Good is God!


Everything is good because everything reflects God. But “now we see (God) through a glass, darkly” (I Cor. 13:12). The Good that is God is more faithfully reflected on some surfaces than on others. We may surmise that Mother Theresa better reflects God than Josef Stalin.


May we turn to physics for an analogy? Just an analogy. God is the Higgs Boson of value (God : good :: Higgs : mass). If you like, God is ‘the cosmic field’ that imbues all things with value, just as the Higgs is a field that imbues some things with mass. To be is to have value, and God is the sole source of value, so to have value is to reflect God.


Nietzsche did not believe in God, and he was intellectually consistent about it; he did not believe in value either. 


According to the ‘standard model’, all mass is attributable to the Higgs Boson. According to Judeo-Christian theology, all value is attributable to God. But just as some particles are ‘heavier’ than others, so some experiences are ‘better’ than others. 


“… On earth as it is in heaven.” In heaven everything is - fully, completely, perfectly. And on earth? On earth, things are generally not full, complete, or perfect. Heaven is a permanent state of Being; earth is a perpetual process of Becoming…and Perishing


Either way, God is there. For believers, God is a supernova; his light floods the cosmos. Once you see it, you can’t miss it. For non-believers, he is a black hole. You can’t ever ‘see’ a black hole, but you are subject to its persistent gravitational pull anyway. Seeing may be believing, but believing is also seeing.


Where must I go (nowhere), what must I do (nothing), to see this supernova? First, pay the cancellation fee and cash in your first-class ticket to Lhasa; then make your spouse happy: tear down the dilapidated shed in the backyard that was ‘someday’ going to be your hermit’s cell. Then, “Do not move, let the wind speak, that is paradise.” – Ezra Pound; or “Be empirical, look!” – The Beatles.


 

Image: Flaring Black Hole Artist Concept: This artist concept illustrates what the flaring black hole called GX 339-4 might look like. Infrared observations from NASA WISE reveal the best information yet on the chaotic and extreme environments of this black hole jets. Secondary Creator Credit: NASA


 

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