Everywhere Present and Filling All Things

The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field image of the early universe.

eXtreme Deep Field

The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries. (Carl Sagan)

How can science and faith both be true? For the materialist, science provides the answers to life’s great questions; if it can’t be answered by science, it is not a valid question. Then there are those for whom faith provides all the answers; if the question cannot be answered by faith, or if science and faith appear to contradict each other, faith wins.

One way of resolving the difficulty is with assigning faith and science to different domains, allowing each to operate freely within that particular domain, but never the twain shall meet. To my mind this is no solution at all, as it is ultimately dualistic. The spiritual does not affect the material domain except by special intervention (i.e. miracles); the material does not affect the spiritual domain, being foreign to it.

The theological problem presents itself in the person of Jesus Christ, incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, who became man for our sake and for our salvation. In the person of Christ was united the material and the immaterial, the spiritual and the physical. The Son of God humbles Himself, took upon himself the form of a servant, and became man. Thus, in Christ, there is no division between the material and the immaterial, between the spiritual and the physical. The concept of a domain for science and a domain for faith falls apart when we contemplate the person of Christ.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Gen 1:1)

I believe in God the Father, creator of heaven and earth. How God created is not revealed to us in Scripture. Some claim the creation accounts are literal accounts of what happened, yet they are insufficient for that purpose. A purely literalistic reading of Genesis does nothing to explain the creation of the immaterial and material worlds, nor does it provide any understanding of God’s eternal purpose in creation. A literalistic reading does not answer the great theological question of why God created in the first place. A literalistic reading of the creation accounts is not profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God might be thoroughly furnished unto good works.

The world has its origin in the love of God. (Father Ilarion)

Some believe that God created so as to glorify Himself. But this is unworthy of God, for God needs nothing. God does not need us to glorify Him, nor does God glorify Himself. When God said “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26), this was not an expression of self-glorification, but rather a reflection of the inner life of the trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The three divine persons share an eternal communion with each other. As one scholar notes, “The Psalms are the language the Trinity uses when It speaks to Itself” (Dr. William Weinrich). It is out of this intimate communion, this overflowing love, that God creates.

Science gives us the literal understanding of the material world, but science cannot tell us what it means, or if it means anything at all. And yet the search for meaning is part of the human condition. If we deny the reality of the immaterial, of the God who is everywhere present and fills all things, we close our eyes to the deeper and higher realities that exist in intimate contact with the world perceptible to our physical senses.

Miracles pose a problem for the skeptic. The same God who creates the physical laws which allow the universe to operate is the same God who suspends those physical laws at will. This God, the skeptic tells us, cannot make up His mind about how the universe should operate. The real issue here is not the existence of miracles as the suspension of physical laws, but the existence of miracles as something that opens our eyes to the immaterial realities, to the God who upholds all things by the word of His power.

Miracles expose us to the spiritual realities that undergird our physical existence. They reveal to us our true nature as enfleshed souls. They create a yearning for God in our hearts. They expose to us the depths of our sin, and our need for repentance. Miracles are everywhere, if we but had eyes to see.

O LORD, cleanse me a sinner, for I have never done anything good in your sight; deliver me from the evil one and let your will be in me so that I may open my unworthy mouth without condemnation and praise your all-holy name: of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen. (St. Marcarius)