Where to get Creation & the Heart of Man

Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Environmentalism, Scholarly | 2 comments

orthodox-environment-cover

 

You can get your copy of Creation and the Heart of Man, the new monograph by Dr Andy Morriss and me, by visiting the new landing page for the book, which is here: www.orthodoxenvironment.com. You can download a free sample of the text, or purchase the book in softback or e-book format. There will be a permanent link to the landing page on the right side of the page.

Thanks to everyone who took advantage of the free e-book download last week, and there were a lot of you. I am more than gratified by your response.

I look forward to seeing your comments about the book. I invite you to post them here.

2 Comments

  1. I’ve only gotten as far as the end of section II so far, but wanted to share a brief comparison with a programme I listened to on the radio last week. I was listening to ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’ on Radio 4 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/timc) and what Robin Ince was saying was so close to and so far from the bit of Creation and the Heart of Man I’ve read so far. He said (I paraphrase) ‘I don’t believe that the universe has an intrinsic teleological purpose or meaning. I can’t scientifically tell you why; I just find it hard to swallow. I do think the universe has meaning; its meaning is that which we give it. As the most advanced beings in the universe we have come across so far, we have the privilege and duty to ascribe meaning to the universe and things in it.’ He then proceeded to give examples of how we give meaning to the universe. He said ‘Taurus doesn’t really look like a bull, or Cassiopeia like a lady on the toilet – the stars aren’t even in the same galaxies, either – but they look like a bull or a lady because we say they do, and because we identify them we can navigate the sea.’ He also played a clip of Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ and asked why it means anything. He proposed it’s because we have been told what the sounds mean. He then played it backwards, and asked why those same sounds don’t mean anything, and proposed that it’s because they haven’t been ordered by having been given meaning by man. He then suggested that we listen for the phrase ‘Start smoking marijuana’ in the chaos, and played it backward again. He noted that we could never listen to that bit of that song played backward again without hearing those words, because he had just ordered that bit of the universe. He observed that it is mankind’s duty to the universe to order it.
    I found this almost what I believe about the universe, leaving out the small detail that I believe ordering chaos in the universe is man’s duty because of our God-given role as gods of creation on God’s behalf, if I may put it thus, and that therefore the universe does teleological purpose.

    • The question is a deep one and not one I’m sure I can do justice to before my morning coffee, but this much seems clear to me: What the Orthodox tradition says—and here I think we are simply expressing ourselves within the philosophia perennis of the Western Tradition—is not that we are assigning arbitrary meaning to things in the universe (such as finding a unity in a seeming cluster of stars like Cassiopeia), nor are we speaking of conventional meaning that comes from shared language (the song example you give would not make sense to anyone who doesn’t know the English words). I’m sure there are good, technical terms for the kinds of meaning I’m trying to distinguish.

      Rather, the Faith teaches that the universe, being created through the Logos of God, is logikos, rational, and because we ourselves are created rationally, we can discern something of the order and meaning of the created order that is inherent in all of creation. It isn’t a matter of imposing meaning on something that is meaningless, but rather of discovering the meaning that is inherent in something that is already meaningful to begin with. That is why we can speak of scientific “discovery,” because the structure of a benzene ring is not something we have imposed upon hydrocarbons, but found to be true. That the shape of a chambered nautilus shell is symmetrical according to mathematical formula is discovered meaning, not imposed. It is why we can speak of physical laws and mathematical truths, and, to a degree, moral truths (“good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided”), and these make sense to everybody everywhere regardless of language or culture.

      I suppose the man on the radio did not give these kinds of examples because questions about meaning come close to questions about design and questions about whether there is a Who who established the meaning. Questions of teleology open up questions of what the universe is for and what its ultimate meaning is, as well as the meaning of human life. It goes against the zeitgeist to suggest that meaning is anything other than what you want it to be.

      Forgive me, David, if that makes no sense. I’m still recovering for Thanksgiving festivities with the in-laws in Michigan, and the coffee is just beginning to kick in, but it’s the only time I have today to get back to you. Be well and say “hey” to the family for me.

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