Scriptural cosmology, taken literally (3)

If the literal sense of Scriptural cosmology is that the earth arises from the waters, and therefore that the domain of life and intelligibility exists above a vast domain of chaos opposed to it, then Scriptural cosmology is not falsified by Copernicanism but by determinism or scientism. It is Einstein’s block universe, or Max Tegmark’s purely mathematical account of nature, or the hypothesis that a total science will give an exhaustive account of physical facts and causes that challenge the idea of the cosmos that the Scriptures tell us about.

If my account of the literal sense is right, I’m committed to rejecting certain views of the universe, or at least as seeing them as incomplete. I say this with some pain since I’m fascinated by eternalist, block universe schemes, and I’m not at all sure how to give an account of indetermination in things that isn’t just a report of my own ignorance of causes.

Many have pointed out that Scripture gives us a cosmos that is the work of logos, an so enabled science. This is right, but perhaps not in the first way we might think. Scripture did not give us a Platonic universe a la Timaeus. There is also a chaos, unintelligibility, and indifference to life in the universe, which finds its supreme expression even in Scripture itself in the book of Ecclesiastes. But this is precisely what we would need to sanction the sort of science that we developed. There is something intrinsic to nature itself that must be dominated, subdued, and brought into “the earth”, which Scripture calls “the waters”. Scripture could never allow for a Stoic, Daoist, Confucian, Quietist or New Age* “living according to nature”. Creation is not simply logical but also in need of being put right.

The Incarnation is Scripture’s paradigm case of man putting creation right, but this implies truths about the cosmos as well. The chaos of creation is not merely a moral chaos, and we can’t ever fully separate moral and physical action anyway.
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*I hope it can go without saying that I’m not drawing a simple equivalence between these things. Daoism is certainly not “new age”.

 

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