Friday, January 06, 2017

Empirical Epiphany

Here on the Feast of the Epiphany, we are presented with the facts. God reveals Himself to us in the historical record. He makes Himself known to the Magi, the Gentiles from the East, and to St John the Baptist, the last of the great Jewish Prophets. Here is a God who makes Himself known through a still, small voice, a burning bush, through the message of an angel, through a voice calling in the darkness, through dreams, through the words of the prophets. But why?

What really is an epiphany? It is a revelation: a passing on of knowledge hitherto inaccessible to us. There are many different academic arguments for the existence of God. All have strengths and weaknesses. However, there are two arguments for the non-existence of God: through the problem of Evil and through showing that the Divine Attributes are logically inconsistent. These have problems too. The arguments are not conclusive either way. 

However, academic knowledge is not the only type of knowledge. We know a person by interacting with them. To do so, there needs to be an introduction, a discussion, a learning of the other's language. We don't philosophise others into existence. There is no conclusive philosophical proof that your friend has a mind in the same way that you have a mind, yet it seems reasonable that they do based on your interaction with them.

However, God doesn't seem to be someone that you can meet face-to-face. 

God's existence is not self-evident otherwise we would all be theists. How can the Holy Uncreate ever truly manifest Himself to human beings? Even if He were to become incarnate, people would still be able to doubt that He is who He says He is. Why doesn't He reveal Himself to us as Christtoday, performing miracles and allowing us all to perceive Him as He is? Why has He stopped revealing Himself to us?

Or has humanity stopped looking?

Some Scientists have made up their minds. have declared that there is no way that they could be scientifically convinced of the existence of God, and have closed the door. It isn't exactly a scientific thing to do as even the laws of physics are subject to revision given evidence. The trouble is how one considers the admissibility of evidence. 

God doesn't reveal Himself scientifically, because we do not come to know people scientifically. His revelation to the Magi is initially a theoretical hypothesis, but they come to know God through seeing Him in the manger and thus recognising Him there. St John the Baptist knows Our Lord through having Him as a kinsman. What we call Science is not the complete way that we know things. There is also Recognition. We need to learn to recognise God, and His Epiphany shows us that this is possible. It comes from interaction, not through argument. It comes through living together, not by reductio ad absurdam. 

The Church has given her scientific case and defence for God's existence, knowing that this is not enough to know God Himself. We can only do so by coming to Him and seeing His Epiphany for us. 

Are we really looking out for His Epiphany? How do we communicate that?

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