Thanks to guest blogger Mike McFarland for the following reflection.
This article discusses God’s transcendence. The article’s viewpoint stays consistent with the viewpoint of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man.
God, the Creator, has existed eternally. We, created by God through His Son, Jesus, have existed, as individuals for less than a dozen decades, and as humanity for less than a quarter of a million years 1. God exists, however, in a realm of perfection, a term that, given its use today, needs definition.
God’s perfection, as used here, means possessing these characteristics, among others, without bound: love and justice; inerrancy and universal knowledge; power and intelligence; goodness and reality. God lives in a degree of something like goodness, so great that believers call it ‘holiness’, completely devoid of evil.
Each of these characteristics God possesses to a degree that is infinite. What does ‘infinite’ mean? Infinity refers to an extent or to a degree so great, that if a quantity consists of a number raised to any power, that quantity can also be raised to any power without approaching this extent or degree.
Only God is perfect. We are not. No combination of human consciousnesses will ever become more than finite or ever become an infinite or perfect consciousness, as is God. We live in a bounded, finite realm.
We worship God. Only God deserves our worship, our adoration. If we worship humanity, its institutions, or the combinations of its consciousnesses, then we worship created realities, and we worship them wrongly. Because of God’s transcendence and perfection, because of qualities infinite in degree, God deserves our respect. Conscious of God’s perfection in comparison to our limits, we see our respect of God becoming worship of God.
God’s justice, goodness and consciousness live on in the realm of perfection. Infinitely greater and more real than our justice, goodness and consciousness, they exist in God’s perfection.
Parenthetically: yet God did something incredibly phenomenal – “the true God and Son of God” became “true man”. 2
Teilhard de Chardin may have expressed thoughts inconsistent with these thoughts in some writings: letters to friends, articles, essays, books. It seems to me that thoughts expressed outside of The Phenomenon of Man do not lead us closer to the truth itself as much as they enlighten us about changes in the thought of Teilhard. All the thoughts expressed in this article remain consistent, however, with what he wrote in The Phenomenon of Man.
- “Of the Incarnation of the Word according to the Tradition of Holy Scripture”, Jacques Maritain, maritain.nd.edu, Jacques Maritain Center, GC4.27