Conclusion: Divine Imagination

Iluvatar said to them, ‘Behold your Music! This is your minstrelsy; and each of you shall find contained herein, amid the design that I set before you, all those things which it may seem that he himself devised or added.’ – J.R.R. Tolkien

            I set aside in this short chapter my reservations here and say, I do believe in God. I believe in the Divine Imagination, the symphony of all truths on the spectrum from science to mathematics; I can see no out from it, no recourse from its presence in any corner of the universe. I grant to you readily that I may have, at some point, or more correctly, probably at many points, made errors. But I have tried to account for them as best as I could, and tried to show that, even in error, the concepts lend themselves to a belief in the truth of things even beyond my error. As I said at the outset, making a case for the existence of God cannot be like making a case for the existence of a species of frog, because God is not like frogs, or like unicorns, or like spaghetti monsters or perfect islands or any of those silly examples those hostile to the belief will posit. The case for God is not in science alone, but, as I have said, in the interdisciplinary function of all means of knowledge-making.

If this argument I have set down gets any kind of readership, I suspect it will be attacked in many different ways, both kindly from fellow believers in God, viciously from believers in another kind of God, kindly from good hearted agnostics and atheists, and viciously from other atheists. In the event that my argument is simply bad, it will probably get little readership anyway, and what can I do about that? Nothing, really. However, I do not think this argument should be treated like a children’s game where you stack sticks in a tall tower, and pulling out just a few, the whole thing collapses. I think it would be very rash, and missing the spirit of the argument altogether, to simply show some weak points and say, Ah ha, your argument is a failure! I see this argument less like such a tower, and more like a large raft. The raft may have some rotten or broken planks, but we should not cast ourselves into the sea on their account; we should, instead, hope to find better rafts and planks to put in their place. That is not to say that my argument should not be disagreed with; far from it. But I think that if you are going to take a raft away from some ragged sailors drifting out at sea, you had better think of a better one to give them, or in the end, you’re really not being terribly fair. If my raft isn’t floating, show me where the water is coming in, but don’t push me overboard, please!

It has not been my goal to “disprove” atheism, as it has been the goal, lately, of atheists to disprove Christianity or other theistic beliefs. I am not interested in disproving other people’s worldviews; I don’t think it is a very productive way to spend my time. This short work is not an attack, and not really a defense, though the language of defense has in some places been unavoidable (argumentation has that quality, I often find). It is instead, I think, a fairly good set of ideas which hang together rather plausibly, and show that those who believe in God are not merely anti-intellectual fools who have no care for evidence. They hang together conceptually in a way fitting as do colors in a painting, and as Ockham’s Razor tells us, fittingness does have something to do with reasonable belief. I think that any New Atheist (I am thinking of the particularly aggressive kind I have encountered mostly online or in the form of Dawkins or Hitchens) who reads this argument and simply dogmatically claims that I am wrong, hateful towards me for a position I hold and derisive of me for it, is the one with the problem, not I. Clinging to some little error somewhere that I have made doesn’t seem sufficient, either. Now, if a friendly atheist looks at my argument and intimates kindly that my argument doesn’t convince him, I can respect him for that, and I’ll listen with interest to fairly laid out criticism. I don’t dislike or disapprove of him for honest intellectual dissent. I commend him for his intellectual independence, and I’d rather like to hear his reasons for disagreeing. But I am not interested in attacking atheists for their beliefs, and I am definitely not interested in them attacking me.

I want to turn away from that issue, and say a few closing words about the ramifications of the argument I have laid out for theism, and for Christianity as well. The quest of mortals is, it seems to me, to reproduce the likeness of God through a balance of spirit and law, but due to our finite nature we can never reach a totality of balance between the abstract and the motive, math and philosophy on the one side and history, science, in short, energy on the other. There is a natural tendency to gravitate towards the one or the other, and this is not wrong. In even a prelapsarian state we would have inclinations; our fallen nature leads us to a deadlier quest to learn whether the mind or the body rules (and impinges upon that freedom spoken of in chapter 7). It is a futile battle which pits communist against capitalist, Christian against Jew, public versus private and man against woman. It is not the business of the abstract to rule energy; it is not the business of energy to silence the abstract, though this is what their imperfect spokespersons hope to do.

The imagination is that which creates a whole where nothing else implies such wholeness. Divinity is the purest imagination, the space of fullest possibility where all abstract and motive truths can exist without conflict. Here in our fallen, finite world, however, failures of imagination result in a conflict between the abstract and the motive. God’s first creative act was to bring the material into the abstract, and create spirit creatures. His second act was to bring the abstract to the material, creating the universe. An illusion of hierarchy between angels and men exist only because of our postlapsarian nature. In perfection, humanity is the spiritual capstone of the material world, much as the angel is the material capstone of the spiritual world. But for all moral possibility both had to be created, and so God created according to His own moral demands.

Reason and Passion are by nature irreconcilable, if taken separately. Imagination alone, in its mystic quality, can bring them together. Satan appeals to both, excites and feeds both, but he drains the imagination to mere fancy. He can twist reason and engorge the passions; to use the imagination to his ends he can only diminish it, for a stronger imagination is a shield against demons. Having lost the Divine Imagination, they exist now in Tartarus, in the fire of matter and the ice of spirit, which burns and freezes, for they are touched by both and comforted by neither.

This state they have hoped to thrust upon mortals, and it can be seen. Communism is an icestorm of mental attacks on the body; capitalism is a bodily revolt against reason. Freedom is not in regulation nor in rights; it is in reconciliation of rules with passions, and such reconciliation can occur only in the imaginative Divine. For God so imagined reality, that he placed the word in Flesh, for Christ is the holy ambassador of the worlds, and the holy spirit, the dove, the activity of the Divine Imagination which made salvation real.

So God is the highest imaginative union of the worlds, and as his creatures we can share, in a much lesser way, in this same divine activity. Yet as we learn in the scene of the tree of knowledge, our imagination must repose on God’s finer imagination and seek to explore His, not merely expand our own. We have a calling, as God’s creatures, to work together in an interdisciplinary appreciation of the cosmos, to better understand the beauty of the celestial symphony God prepares for us, day after day.

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