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Science and negation of Transcendence

All errors concerning the world and God consist either in a "naturalistic" denial of the discontinuity [between God and the world] and so also of transcendence (1) -- whereas it is on the basis of this transcendence that the whole edifice of science should have been raised -- or else in a failure to understand the metaphysical and 'descending' continuity which in no way abolishes the discontinuity starting from the relative... [Understanding Islam, p. 109].

(1) It is mainly this "scientific" prejudice, going hand in hand with a falsification and impoverishment of speculative imagination, which prevents a man like Teilhard de Chardin from conceiving the overriding discontinuity between matter and the soul, or between the natural and the supernatural orders and so leads to the evolutionary outlook, which -- inverting the truth -- makes everything begin with matter. A minus always presupposed an initial plus so that a seeming evolution is no more than the quite provisional unfolding of a preexisting result; the human embryo becomes a man because that is what it already is; no "evolution" will produce a man from an animal embryo. In the same way the whole cosmos can only spring from an embryonic state which contains the virtuality of all its possible deployment and simply makes manifest on the plane of contingencies an infinitely higher and transcendent prototype.

It is not surprising that a science arising out of the fall - or one of the falls - and out of an illusory rediscovery of the sensory world should also be a science of nothing but the sensory, or what is virtually sensory,(1) and that it should deny everything which surpasses that domain, thereby denying God, the next world and the soul,(2) and this presupposes a denial of the pure Intellect, which alone is capable of knowing everything that modern science rejects.

For the same reasons it also denies Revelation, which alone rebuilds the bridge broken by the fall. According to the observations of experimental science, the blue sky which stretches above us is not a world of bliss, but an optical illusion due to the refraction of light by the atmosphere, and from this point of view, it is obviously right to maintain that the home of the blessed does not lie up there. Nevertheless it would be a great mistake to assert that the association of ideas between the visible heaven and celestial Paradise does not arise from the nature of things, but rather from ignorance and ingenuousness, mixed with imagination and sentimentality; for the blue sky is a direct and therefore adequate symbol of the higher and supra-sensory degrees of Existence; it is indeed a distant reverberation of those degrees, and it is necessarily so since it is truly a symbol, consecrated by the sacred Scriptures and by the unanimous intuition of peoples.(3)

A symbol is intrinsically so concrete and so efficacious that celestial manifestations, when they occur in our sensory world, "descend" to earth and "reascend" to Heaven; a symbolism accessible to the senses takes on the function of the supra-sensible reality which its reflects. Light-years and the relativity of the space-time relationship have absolutely nothing to do with the perfectly "exact" and "positive" symbolism of appearances and its connection at once analogical and ontological with the celestial or angelic orders, The fact that the symbol itself may be no more than an optical illusion in no way impairs its precision or its efficacy, for all appearances, including those of space and of the galaxies, are strictly speaking only illusions created by relativity. [Light on the Ancient Worlds, 36-37].

(1) This distinction is necessary to meet the objection that science operates with elements inaccessible to our senses.
(2) Not all scientists deny these realities, but science denies them, and that is quite a different thing.
(3) The word "symbol" implies "participation" or "aspect", whatever the difference of level may be involved.