The Impasse of Explaining the Whole Scientifically or Theologically

It seems that no concept that the mind can hold within it will be able to explain the nature of Ultimate Reality.

No symbolic simplification of reality in any form, whether scientific or theologic, whether mathematical or theoretical, will ever be totally explanatory of reality as a whole.

If that were possible it would be like a map could contain the totality of the detail of the territory, which is impossible. You would need a map the size of the territory to do it, as in Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “On Exactitude in Science,” which is useless, of course.

Maps are useful because they are simplifications that help us navigate the territory, but they aren’t to be confused with the territory itself. We aren’t navigating the map, we are navigating the territory. Yet we often confuse them, thinking that some theory or theology will finally explain everything in the universe. No, I don’t think that will ever happen.

There is no such thing as a theory of everything, that will unify all physical laws, or a theology or philosophy that will finally reveal the Absolute or God, etc. If we want to know what the nature of everything is (i.e. God), the best we can do is to realize that everything, as it is. Only reality is reality as it is. Nothing in reality can substitute for reality. This seems self-evident.

We could potentially consider a part of a hologram as representative of the whole of the hologram, and not only representative, but actually depicting the whole, an image of the whole in every part. This is a kind of fractal that is recursive within itself, infinitely. But what theory or theology would itself be holographic of the whole?

Every part of reality could potentially be considered holographically an image of the whole, as in William Blake, seeing “a world even in a grain of sand,” and “infinity in the palm of your hand.” Perhaps this is what the scripture means that humans are made “in the image of God.” We are perhaps all and each reflections of that whole, that Absolute, that Ultimate Reality.

But we can never understand everything as something separate from that everything, as a reduction, or simplification, or symbol, or concept in the intellectual mind. These are all shadows on the cave wall, but not reality itself (see Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5, 10:1).

Only reality is reality. Only God is God. Knowing God means being God, and in no other way is God known, it seems to me.

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2 thoughts on “The Impasse of Explaining the Whole Scientifically or Theologically

  1. Here is a quote by a Christian mystic which I like:

    “Who is God? I can think of no better answer than, He is who is. Nothing is more appropriate to the eternity which God is. If you call God good, or great, or blessed, or wise, or anything else of this sort, it is included in these words, namely, He is.” Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

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