Monday, February 13, 2006

Ong on 'Neo-Creationists,' Circa 1967

From the Introduction to Ong's In the Human Grain: Further Explorations of Contemporary Culture:
"The passage of time affects man's own thinking about God and thus the way he construes his own situation. This is the line of thought running through the third and last section of the present volume. In the past it was easy to identify God with what man did not know the universe. The argument ran: you cannot explain this phenomenon by your science, therefore it is caused only by God, who therefore must exist. Such a concept of God as a stop-gab, an 'x' accounting for what mind does not know, makes God only a temporary convenience, no more. It makes God only a substitute for physical science, with the result that, as our knowledge grows, God becomes less and less necessary. Such a God of physical explanation does not measure up to the Judeo-Christian concept of an eternal God, transcendent and immanent.

"The God of Judeo-Christian revelation manifests himself in what men know of the universe, not in what they do not know. I the Judeo-Christian tradition, for from being a religious liability, increase in knowledge of material and secular actuality, is a boon to religion. Every man's ignorance deformed his religious sensibility and, despite the sense of the sacred to which he had access, predisposed his religion to superstition and deterioration. The expansion of knowledge, with the concomitant break-up of the enclaves hitherto locking man in isolated groups across the earth's surface, sees Christianity more widespread and more truly catholic today than ever before. The Christian dispensation is closely tied to the evolution of the material world, and to its very materiality. For the Christian, matter changing in time, is a positive good, and the future is colored with hope" (xi).
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