1.8 Two Ways of Perceiving the Universe, Part II

EPISODE SUMMARY:

In Season 1 Episode 8 of The Eudo Podcast, Dr. Paul M. Gould will close out his discussion on the two ways of perceiving the universe by talking about the Platonic-Aristotelian-Christian Model of viewing the world and how we can begin to see and delight in the world as Jesus does.


EPISODE NOTES:

The Platonic-Aristotelian-Christian Synthesis, or for short, the Great Tradition.

The “Platonic” part of PAC emphasizes the participatory nature of reality.

  • The natural order participates in the sacred order; the real presence of God is manifest and mediated through that which he has made (Eph. 1:23, Col. 1:17).
  • All things are good things because they participate in God’s goodness.

 

The “Aristotelian” part of PAC emphasizes the teleological aspect to the natural order.

  • The physical universe is not just matter in motion. Rather, there exist fundamental wholes—Aristotelian substances—that develop toward maturity according to their kind (Acorns develop into oak trees. Human fetuses into adults).
  • Thus, substances—trees, dogs, humans, and more—are fundamental unities that have parts, properties, and powers in virtue of their nature or essence. As fundamental wholes, substances are not reducible to their constituent parts, properties, and capacities.
  • The whole is prior to its parts.Substances are genuine objects in their own right.

 

Finally, the “Christian” part of PAC emphasizes the hierarchical and rational aspect to the physical universe.

  • The substances found in the universe can be organized into a Great Chain of Being with God at the top and angels, man, beasts, plants, and inanimate matter dangling down.
  • Everything that exists has its place. Everything fits together as intended by God.
  • Moreover, since God exists and is the fount of all distinct reality, Mind is prior to Matter.

The philosophical foundation of the PAC model stands in stark contrast with the philosophical foundation of the neo-Humean model (discusses in the previous episode).

  • Instead of a rigid scientism, there is a healthy respect for empirical facts as well as other sources of knowledge.
  • In the place of materialism, there is a dualism of mental and material.
  • Instead of the reductionism, nihilism, and atheism, we find anti-reductionism, teleology, and a sacramental order.

CONCLUDING REMARKS: 

How can we begin to see and delight in the world as Jesus does? 

The answer is by entering into God’s story—the gospel—and seeing all things as part of God’s unfolding drama, a drama in which everything fits together in order to display the manifold wisdom, goodness, and power of God who is “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).

Theologically and Philosophically, we must reject materialism, scientism, reductionism, and nihilism and embraces a more sacramental view of the cosmos – “The cosmos is [God’s] place, and our privileged place in it is his gift to us.” [Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One, 146].

Imaginatively, we must begin to narrate our lives according to the Gospel story and learn to embody and inhabit the world as Jesus does.


RESOURCES MENTIONED:

  • Boersma, Hans. Heavenly Participation. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011.
  • Lewis, C.S. Miracles. New York, NY: Touchstone, 1996.
  • Walton, John H. The Lost World of Genesis One. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2009.
  • Wilder, Thornton. Our Town. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1998.

Our sponsors

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *