I invite you to look at--

My Website where you will find: ordering information and chapter summaries for The Beauty of God for a Broken World; audio sermons; a few poems and hymns; and some other essays.

My Videos where you will find a few two-minute videos on various subjects related to The Beauty of God for a Broken World.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Esse est percipi

Warning. This posting is more philosophical than most of mine. Feel free to skip it.

Esse est percipito be is to be perceived. If you can’t see it, hear it or touch it, either with your senses or with instruments, it doesn’t exist. That is not exactly what idealist philosopher George Berkley meant when he penned those words, but his aphorism has spawned plenty of whimsical offshoots. For example:

If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one around to hear it, is there any sound?

If a man is in the forest by himself, and there is no woman around, is he still wrong?

I don’t call myself an idealist (in the philosophical sense) for two very good reasons. First, there may be as many kinds of idealism as there are idealist philosophers. Second, many idealists deny that matter really exists. They say that spirit (or Spirit) is the only true substance. The first verse of the Bible says that God created the heavens and the earth; it doesn’t say He just imagined them.

Nevertheless, I am attracted to certain aspects of idealism. Everything that exists outside of God was first an idea in the mind of God, and He is the one who holds all creation together. If He stopped doing that, everything from stars to starfish, including ourselves would cease to exist.

For by Him [Christ] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:16-17).

How does Jesus Christ hold all things together? Well, by His power, of course, but because He is omniscient and omnipresent, He sees all things (Psalm 139). If it were possible for God to stop seeing His creation, it would no longer be here.

The all seeing eye of God may lie behind one of the greatest mysteries of modern science. According to quantum mechanics, two particles or photons born together out of the same subatomic event are entangled. No matter how far apart they may travel, what happens to one immediately affects the other. Einstein thought that this consequence of quantum mechanics demonstrated that the theory must have a serious flaw. However, the fact of entanglement has been demonstrated in the laboratory.

How can widely separated twins have instantaneous communication with each other? I am not a physicist, but I suspect two factors at work. First, I think it may be possible to devise a theory that provides a suitable explanation for entanglement. I hope so, because that would be very interesting. But second, I believe that God’s perception of all creation—the perception that allows the world to continue existing—is also the perception that enables this entanglement to work. He is always everywhere, so instantaneous communication between widely separated parts of His creation is no problem for Him.

Notice what I am not saying. I am not claiming that God fills in the gaps of our physical knowledge—thunder, for example, used to be God’s voice, now it is just the sound of a big spark passing through the air. No, the biblical picture of God is not that simple. Rather, in every event, certain natural and explicable causes are operating, but at the same time God is at work upholding and sustaining those processes and bringing about His will through them.

As Psalm 104:21 says, “The young lions roar after their prey And seek their food from God.” The lions have to hunt; that is nature. God feeds them; that is His secret work, of which the lions are totally unaware. So God speaks powerfully in the thunder, which is the sound made by a big spark. God sees entangled particles as one and upholds the physical process by which entanglement occurs.

1 comment:

  1. It's no more philosophical than your book. The answer to your first 2 questions is yes!