Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Top Ten Creatures I Can't Buy A Good God Created, Part Four

In Part One of this series, we saw that there is an ultimate standard of beauty, namely God, and many of the (so-called) creatures on this planet don't exactly conform to that standard. In Part Two, we looked at the group of animals I ranked at #10, what I called, "screwed up mammals." We talked about how Mankind and Nature have, since the beginning, been wedded to one another as husband and wife. When Man sinned, he brought punishment down upon not only himself, but also the natural world in which he lived. In Part Three, we looked at birds and reptiles, together making up group #9. We also saw how Satan (the Serpent) and his demons have been waging a war with God for the universe since before it was even made.

Well, coming in at #8...





and, of course, Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Lizard King.

That's right, dinosaurs. And yes, all of those are pictures from Jurassic Park. Tempted as I am to put them lower down on the list on account of their sheer size and ferocity, reptilian as they are, they're rightly included here, just below the other lizards.

Some of you are probably whining about me having included Brontosaurus. After all, it's a friendly plant-eater. Gentle giant and all. Here's the thing, he may not want to eat you, which is a plus. The downside is he'll squash you without even noticing, and that makes him not so great.

We talked last time about Tolkien's creation myth in The Silmarillion. In it, Melkor (his fallen angel) sings his own dissonant tune in contrast to the one of God's design being sung by the other angels and bringing about the creation of the universe. Later, as the angels are shaping the world, Melkor is present to march across the earth, knocking down mountains just as they are raised up, and filling up valleys just as they are hollowed out.

This idea is quite similar to Medieval Cosmology, which has the angels "moving the spheres." We Moderns  laugh at this idea. Before we do, though, we should think about what it was the Medievals really meant. Did they mean the angels literally caused the stars and planets to move across the sky? Yes, they did. But how did they go about this? Were the angels just supposed to be some kind of divine mechanism, actually pushing the planets around on their tracks? No. They were lords of their spheres, which for a Medieval meant they were their spheres. That is to say, their respective domains were intrinsically and essentially bound up in their very being.

We touched on this idea already when we spoke about the way in which the "dominion" of Mankind over creation has been traditionally understood. The Medievals saw the world as one big hierarchy, God at the top, the raw elements at the bottom, Mankind "a little lower than the angels," (Heb. 2:7). Now, we might conceive of this kind of system as being some kind of an arbitrary arrangement imposed on Creation by the Will of God. While it's true the Order in the world has its origin in God, it is not arbitrary. On the contrary, it comes about as a result of the very essences of things. From top to bottom, different beings participate more or less completely in God's own Being.

More than that, though, each being in the Grand Hierarchy, is actually dependent on the class of beings above him for his own existence. This is the sense in which Scripture refers to Man as the king of Creation. It is too easy today to see the effects that the neglect of this Divine calling can cause. This principle obviously extends to Man's political and social machinations as well, thus, Medieval Feudalism and social class system. As we have seen, Mankind was given this kind of hierarchical "dominion" over all the Earth. But what about the rest of Creation?

In Classical Mythology, Athena, for example, is not merely the Queen of Wisdom, she is Wisdom, Wisdom Incarnate, personified. The same is true of the other gods: Hephaestus is Craftsmanship; Aphrodite, Desire; Hera, Womanhood; Ares, Strife; and so on. The traditional view is that this is quite true in the angels. St. Thomas Aquinas, in his question on the angels' government of Creation quotes St. Gregory the Great as saying that "in this visible world, nothing takes place without the agency of the invisible creature." As Man's material body is caused to be and act by his immaterial soul, so the material world is caused to be and move by the immaterial world, which is the Angels, and God above all.

For example, we now know that planets move as a result of the gravitational force exerted on them by the Sun. This is unquestionably true. Is it impossible that there could be more going on with gravity than a lifeless force? Couldn't there be an angel, perhaps a Virtue, who is the supernatural, spiritual, divinely ordained, cause of this force in the material world--that member of God's Divine Order responsible for maintaining the operation of this cause throughout the universe? I would argue that this is not only possible, but, at the very least, probable. Let's call him Gravitas, and thank God for his continued ministrations.

Just as Melkor was present, from the beginning, to do his best to mar and corrupt the creation of Tolkien's God, so Satan was present from the beginning of our universe to inject his evil into it. As God's Creation was issuing into existence from his mind (at the Big Bang) through the mediation of the angels in their various "spheres" of influence, Satan worked to screw up as much as he could. How else could a universe have been produced which includes things like darkness and death? Contrariety itself?

A quick reminder, though, lest we stray into Mani's territory, that Satan too is a creature. There is no ultimate and universal principle of evil that coexists alongside God as universal good. Evil does not exist. It is the absence of existence. Satan didn't make anything; he merely corrupted what God created. As such, Satan is the ultimate evil, but only in that he is the least like God; he is still like God in part, because he exists.

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