From the editor: January 30, 2015

Consciousness Cause

"What manner of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?"

Jesus Calms the Storm

Thus ask Jesus' disciples in Matthew 8:27, Saturday's Gospel reading in the St. James Daily Devotional Guide. The power of Jesus over nature causes them to marvel.

We live in a marvelous age in which man's technologically developed power over much of nature is manifest. But it is an age so taken with its own power that it no longer marvels at the power of Jesus—nor asks, "What manner of man is this?"

But the secular-materialist mind goes further in its lack of curiosity. Not only is the Son of Man simply a product of his times (and natural selection, it would seem), but Man himself is nothing special. In fact, we are told that we are mere specks of dust on a tiny rock floating in some obscure corner in the cosmos.

You could liken this materialist view of man's place to realizing the insignificance of a fruitfly on a bleacher seat in Yankee Stadium. However, the real situation is not like this at all. A correct view of the cosmos is more like seeing the significance of Yankee Stadium as being constructed to hold spectators.

The cosmos itself, compared to its human spectators, isn't all that complicated. True, it's vast and massive, but only compared to our physical size. Dark energy and dark matter make up, it is said, more than 90% of the cosmos, and we don't really know what they are. The rest of it, the visible part, is a lot of helium and hydrogen and other elements scattered about stars and in the various objects that comprise star systems and galaxies, including planets, comets, asteroids, radiation, and so on. Because of the size and distances involved, it will take a lot of time and data storage to map it all out. It seems feasible to catalogue all of it—except for one thing: Man.

The really interesting thing is that the extent of the cosmos, including its ancient history and even its predicted future, can be contained and marveled at somewhere between the two ears of a man. Even a child. And the marveling can be reflected inwardly: "When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers; what is man that thou art mindful of him?" Within the human mind and heart is a cosmos of another kind, which cannot be mapped by mortals. We do not understand ourselves. Nor can someone fully grasp another person. Just look at the endless stream of films and novels produced annually. Add to it the thoughts, inspirations, fears, longings, and imaginings of those who watch and read them. What materialist theory explains all that?

Man is at the center of the cosmos, as Yankee Stadium was not made for the sake of seats and concrete but for people to observe a drama. I believe science may be an ally here. Quantum physics stops dead in its tracks at the reality and mystery of conscious observation of what appears to be reality. This is all explored in Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness (2nd Ed., Oxford). Just one quote:

Useful as it is under everyday circumstances to say that the world exists "out there" independent of us, that view cannot longer be upheld. There is a strange sense in which this is a "participatory universe." (John Wheeler, quoted, p. 219).

Many who say that man is an insignificant speck intend their assertion to be taken as significant, as showing themselves to have acquired superior knowledge. They thus tower above puny religious believers, placing us beneath mere matter, as mere products thereof.

But Christ stands with and above matter, shaping it for his purposes and for our benefit. So even winds and waves obey him. But does man obey him? Only if we choose! What else in the cosmos makes choices? Yet those who have faith, under Christ, can even move mountains! Heed not the voice of that serpent telling you otherwise, whether it be, "You are mere dust (or lust!)" or "Be your own god." All lies! The truth is, "Yet thou hast made him little less than God."

Yours for Life, Christ, Creed & Culture,

James M. Kushiner