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Exists: It exhibits gross physical regularity. We are aware of it. We can perform experiments which are internally consistent and verifiable by predictable results.If you deny the reality of the physical universe, you may as well get off this bus right now. The sensible universe is the basis for what I plan to investigate.
This gets a bit tougher than Chapter 1.
The existence of God can not be proven experimentally. However, we may use St. Thomas Aquinas's "ultimate cause" rationalé . . .
There is nothing in our experience which is its own first cause. Therefore we can accept that the physical universe we was (or has been, or is being) caused. Furthermore - that which causes something is by definition greater than that which is caused, and cannot be internal to that which is caused. God therefore has to be greater than the universe, outside the universe and is not subject to the rules and regulations that govern the universe.
These are not St. Tom's exact words but my paraphrase … look `em up if you care to here to do your own Thomistic research.
If you will go along with this reasoning, we can proceed; if not, you may as well join those who got off at the last stop, because this bus is not going where you are going.
Acceptance of the line of logic above, however, begs the question . . .
What are the necessary characteristics of that which can cause the universe?
This is the central theme of this work; and the basis upon which I hope to discover:
What does the structure and functioning of the observable universe reveal us about the Creator? I also hope to gain some insight on how we can use that revelation.
If you've come along this far, I hope that you will not balk at the premise that science and theology can not disagree. If they seem to do so, it is because one or the other is misunderstood or misinterpreted. Any knowledge of the universe cannot help but reveal more of the nature of God, and vice-versa. I mean this in a very real and practical way; if you are a plastics engineer, I am certain that a better understanding of God will allow you to develop better plastics. If you are a priest, I am certain that a better understanding of particle physics will lead you to a deeper love of God.
A very large stumbling block may be language. We must deal with scientific and mathematical terms, and we will also be using terms from Thomistic Metaphysics.
If you've never studied formal theology, I ask you to be very careful as you read words such as "accident," "essence," or "ultimate" in these pages; they are largely derived from Aquinas and his successors' definitions. These terms have meanings which are much more precise than the same word used in street-English. I will strive to italicize and define such terms the first time they appear here.
Many years ago I had the happy opportunity
to study the Metaphysics and Logic of St. Thomas Aquinas under the Jesuits at
Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio.) Those hours left me with a deep appreciation
for Saint Thomas (a genius ranked with Newton and DaVinci) and the unshakable
conviction that a person fully trained in his methods can not be lied
Knowledge of the universe which leads to a greater appreciation of our place in it can only come into our minds through our senses, and it can only be used by our intelligence. If this seems self-evident, that is only because you are not a nit-picking instrumentation technologist -- which I have been. As one of these, I know that nothing is as it seems to be, and that "knowing" the universe is hardly a task which we can leave up to our senses.
There many things too small to be seen, to faint to be heard, to weak to be felt. Our senses themselves are merely phenomena at the end of long and unlikely chains of chemical and electrical activity. Take sight, for example: the sunlight you "see" is the result of a series of complex electrochemical transitions taking place in one small area of your brain tissue. Those chemical changes result from chemical reactions that occur when cells in structures lining the backs of your eyeballs react to the impact of photons - which originated in the radiant surface of the sun and struck those cells at nearly 186,000 miles per second. If you think that's unbelievable, wait until you try to figure out what a photon really is!
Therefore, the "fact" that you sense things is far less certain than you might at first think. But we all accept it because otherwise we would have no basis for communicating and understanding the world we live in. That's OK; but when we begin to examine the fine structure of that world we are going to have to put aside many of the "habitual" beliefs we have been constructing since we first began to live an independent existence.
And that brings me to the second operative term in the title of this chapter; "intelligence." My definition includes just two elements …
(2) the ability to deduce related
facts from existing information.
Whether you believe that God "intends" for us to know him through the material universe, or you feel that you are sneaking peeks through His living room curtains, this universe must reflect some elemental truths about its Creator. (Digression--I will use the masculine pronoun for God herein without prejudice to the female half of the race, recognizing that God has no gender or sex. One has to write something and I can't stand awkward constructions like "his/her".) Personally, I don't think that psychoanalysis of God is a productive use of time. Having established that, I am going to try to avoid quoting from the Bible (also the Quran, the sacred books of India, the scrolls of the Buddhists, etc.) because I do not want to spend 400 years debating the meanings of words and pharases, and I do not pretend to be a scholar of any of these sacred writings.
That said, I'm immediately going
to make a psychological thrust into the "mind of God":
He put the universe here…
He put us in the universe…
He must, therefore, have meant for us to observe it…
He gave us intelligence and curiosity…
He knew we'd exercise both intelligence and curiosity.
So let's get on with it.
If there is a Creator, it follows that the universe reflects His Plan. Is there such a being - or force - as "God"? - Here is Aquinas's reasoning. We are part of that universe; the application of our intellect to a better understanding of the universe must therefore be part of that same plan … if it were not, we would not be in a position to discuss the issue. It is foolish, or worse, to attempt to use science to prove the existence of God: The realm of science is physical reality, but I contend that God's mode of existence, spiritual (or immaterial) reality, is outside of, and superior to the physical universe, and is therefore not subject to scientific proof which relies on physical instrumentation and gross devices operating under the restrictions of Newtonian physics.
The entire basis of this present work is philosophical and logical examination of God the Creator, using observations of the physical universe in an effort to deduce God's purposes and intents. Do not attempt to force physical reality and spiritual reality to coincide . . . doing so leads either to superstition, or to atheism, and neither of these extremes are necessary.
Since we can only think about that which we perceive, and since we can not perceive God physically, our only rational path to an understanding of God must be through the universe. This does not eliminate the need for faith (Note 1), and Scripture (inspiration.) Conversely, if you accept the need for faith and the reality of inspiration, this does not mean that the TTP is valueless. Willingness to humbly accept our limitations and beg God for enlightenment doesn't mean that we should refuse to exercise the intellect which God has given us. It may be difficult to know where lies the borderline between reason and faith, but I do not see this as a problem in relation to this study.
If, as discussed in section 126.96.36.199, the primal moment of creation establishes the limit of physical existence, there can be no knowledge beyond that point. The term "prior" is meaningless in this regard since, as the space-time continuum did not exist, time was not.
The need to determine one's personal relationship with God is the realm of faith; although reason can provide valuable infsights and guidance in this.
For the basis of my interpretation of certain "technical terms" in the realm of theology, you may see the Catechism of the Catholic Church; Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City Italy, 1994 - United States Catholic Conference, Inc.; Pp. 26, 142, 146, 150, 155, 176.