Monday, June 18, 2007

For what is Man in nature?

For what is Man in nature? A nothingness in respect to infinity, a whole in respect to nothingness, a median between nothingness and everything.

Blaise Pascal, Les Pensees

I have just started Our Cosmic Origins: From the Big Bang to the emergence of life and intelligence by Armand Delsemme. A fairly broad range of topics to address (and I expect in a typically reductionist manner). The above quote is interesting, and reminds me of Psalm 8

4What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty! (NASB)

Human beings are more than nothing but less than everything, well duh! Isn't every being that ever was somewhere on that continuum? Where do we sit? Is it flat? Are we privileged somehow? If so, how? The Psalm puts our significane in our election by God to be something more than the other creatures

You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

Does this promote arrogance? I'd think not when the Psalm finishes

9O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Of course one may counter that it promotes Divine arrogance, but if God is the creator, well then hubris seems less likely on his account.

One wonders too that while man (i.e. humanity) is more than nothing, given that we all move towards (and will, all other things being equal as a species) nothingness, where does meaning lay? For now, the last word to Job 19

26"Even after my skin is destroyed,
Yet from my flesh I shall see God" (NASB)

No comments: