Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Particle or a Wave?

We have to take things to where the evidence leads us. When people studied light they came up with conflicting models as to what is light. Some evidence would give us the impression that light is a point, a photon. Some experiments would seem to prove this. Other experiments seem to prove that light acts like a wave by traveling omnidirectionally. But something cannot be in two places at the same time, can it? Yet the facts about light merely expose our presuppositions and our ignorance as to what light really is. To our way of thinking it acts like both a wave and a particle, yet also in our way of thinking that is not possible. But it is, so we must be ignorant of something.

Many of the teachings we get from scripture are like this. So when we add up all the evidence we get a picture of something we have a hard time conceiving. Like is Jesus actually a true human in every way, or is he God's only son, the exact image of God Himself, eternal creator and Lord of all? All the evidence points to the inescapable conclusion that the answer is yes. But that conclusion takes us beyond our past experience to something that looks like a contradiction. It is not truly a contradiction, it only appears so because of our ignorance.

What about the trinity? How could one be three and three be one? All our analogies look weak. The water vapor, water, ice trinity has only one point of correspondence - three different modes of the same molecule. But the Father - Son - Spirit are not three different modes of God. They are three different beings who are individually and corporately the one God who made it all. That stretches our understanding a bit, doesn't it.

This kind of thinking is not knew. Most world views have some way of unifying contradiction. Yin-Yang is well known as the two sides of the same thing. Though what the thing is is hard to explain or imagine. Explaining it as in evil the seeds of good are sown and in good the seeds of evil are sown is inadequate. It is inadequate because the fields of good and evil must be defined by some objective standard which is assumed. This relates to the eating of the fruit of the tree of good and evil as seen in the book of Genesis. Human nature is defined by its drive to put everything into the categories of good and evil. The most you can say for the Yin-Yang concept is that it clearly defines human nature after the fall.

Yet the scripture keeps pushing us further than where our experience has gone. This is how we grow in understanding. I do not intend to say that contradiction is the evidence of truth, as some mystical world views would have it. I say that contradiction, by itself, proves nothing. This is because contradiction can either be the proof that something is not true or the evidence that we have misunderstood something. How can we tell which it is? By how much faith we have in our evidence. (Just because we have faith in our evidence does not, by itself, make something true. Yet we have no other option open to us. So the perception of truth becomes an hermeneutical issue. It becomes an issue of how we understand, how we interpret, evidence.)

So is receiving the Spirit a particle, a single point in time, or a wave affecting many points at the same time? Yes. We receive the Spirit when we receive Jesus. Yet can we receive the Spirit at another point too. It seems our understanding of the Spirit needs growing.

2 comments:

mamma said...

Once again you have confused me and enlightened me at the same time. Good job!

Stephen said...

One of my favourite quotations: "Mystery explained is no mystery at all." I wish I knew who wrote it, but it speaks volumes. I have kept that quotation since high school -- a millenia ago.

I like the answer yes to your questions...