Legends of the Fall, Part 4: Scientific Prolegomena
OK–we’ve looked at the orthodox, Gnostic, and Evagrian views of the Creation and Fall, and at what science can tell us about the beginning and development of the universe. As I said, whatever religious, philosophical, or metaphysical system we ultimately decide to adopt, it can’t contradict scientific fact as we know it. For example, if a system depends on the Earth being flat, well, no matter how nice it is in other aspects, it will either have to be trashed or allegorized (if that’s possible in the particular case). Thus, let’s look at the scientific account and enumerate things that must be true of any system we may find interesting and of possible use.
1. The universe is about 13 billion years old, and the Earth about 4 billion. Any system that posits the literal age of the cosmos as a few thousand years is a non-starter; or the stories that posit such a young age must be regarded as allegory, myth, or metaphor.
2. Nasty things–evils–existed long before humans came on the scene. Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, droughts, tornadoes, predators, disease, pestilence, cancer, and so on have been around for eons. Thus, any system that posits their existence as coming after the Fall of Man is not going to work. There are a few subtleties here that I will save for a later post, but right now let’s just say that evils or Evil can’t be blamed on Eve’s apple.
3. Humans, beyond any shadow of a reasonable doubt, evolved from other hominids; any other account must be considered metaphorical, whether it be the molding of man from the soil in Genesis or the creation of man by a committee of demons in The Secret Book of John.
On most of the other issues–angels, demons, Aeons, Archons, God Himself, etc. science (contrary to extremists in both the camps of the believers and of the atheists) has nothing to say. “Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent,” as Wittgenstein said in a different context.
Therefore in the upcoming discussions, all these points must be borne in mind, and we must not allow any interpretations either explicitly or implicitly to contradict them or to be construed in such a way as to contradict them.
Part of the series Legends of the Fall.