Monday, 26 January 2015

Reality as a communication from God

18th Century Natural Theology was in profound error: Nature is not evidence of the existence of God; Nature is a communication from God.


The real world is a communication on behalf of God: reality is something which God wished to say... And we, as individuals and collectively, are those to whom God wished to say it.

Therefore, the significance of 'everything' - all reality, all events - is the response being made to this communication from God.

(That is: everything that is, is 'merely', or in essence or ultimately, communications.)

The communication of reality is like a vast book, or lecture, or a symphony - reality (like a book, lecture, symphony) communicates at many levels of detail and of generality.

These communications are rocks and landscape, tress and rivers, animals and people; also everything made and done by people. Properly understood, we would realize that they are all lessons.


(In practice, of course, we can never understand all the lessons; and even misunderstand what it is that is the lesson - or see a specific lesson when the lesson is more general - or vice versa.)


Reality is not the physical things of the earth, reality is not the physical human body.

What God is teaching is therefore not the explicit content supplied by the world, but something else of the nature of God; evil propaganda and pain are therefore not teaching us evil and falsehood. The teaching is always of Good.

Much depends on understanding the nature of the lessons which reality teaches us - but most of all depends on understanding that reality is a lesson.


Suppose we knew a book only as its shape, dimensions and colours; or a symphony only as the volume and frequency of its sounds; or the smell of a rose only as a molar concentration of specified chemicals - well that is analogous to the situation of modern Man in a world of which he denies that it is communication.


If we wish to understand our-selves as significant entities, as souls; then we must accept that the world and everything in it (including our bodies) is a communication from God which it is our job (or destiny, quest, task) to acknowledge and do our best to understand (understand by sympathy rather than striving).

This is a factual statement of why so many people find no meaning in life: because they have chosen (without realizing it) to deny any meaning to life - because meaning is consequence of communication; so if life is not regarded as a communication then life can have no meaning.

But when communication is acknowledged as happening, then we may choose to see our role as understanding, participating and cooperating with this communication.

To acknowledge reality as divine communication is the first step (but only the first step) to escaping the living-death of alienation, and knowing we are truly alive and part of the living, meaning world.


The above perspective is derived from A Geography of Consciousness by William Arkle (1974) - page 134 onwards.


Leo said...

A garment can both veil and reveal its wearer. So it is with God and his creation.

One said...

Isn't that the standard or at least very common New Age view?

Adam G. said...

I can see so many ways that this viewpoint could be abused. But I endorse it anyway, because it is so correct. It reminds me of the opening and ending of In Sunlight and in Shadow, which is a scene with no people in it, but the scene is soaked in the people and their story.

Nature is not a communication, or at least not only a communication, in the sense that it's primary purpose is to convey a message. Creation is a communication the way someone's house communicates their character, not the way a letter does. But because nature is not primarily meant as a message, it communicates much more thoroughly than a message could.

Wm Jas said...

If people have free will, that implies that not everything they do is a communication from God. But your overall point stands.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Adam - That's great, thanks.

The primary point of the post is to establish that there is communication - understanding the specifics of that communication is secondary, and (beyond a certain general minimum) grossly incomplete and not absolutely necessary.

@WmJas - Yes that is right; I tried to be careful to allow for that in what I said. In fact, the agency/ free will of each man and woman is what makes real communication both necessary and possible (there would be no reason for the world if it was merely God 'self-communicating', in some kind of circular fashion).