Divine Selection or The Survival of the Useful/Chapter 10 - Wikisource, the free online library
IT IS universally acknowledged that God is infinite. That man is finite is equally clear. That the finite cannot comprehend the infinite is also beyond dispute. But no graver error can be made than to draw the conclusion that since man is finite and God is infinite, God is unknowable.
The essential nature of a rock is just as unknowable as God is, yet we have the science of geology. But because the essential nature of a rock is unknown no one of sound mind questions the existence of a rock. The essential nature of land and water is unknowable, but no one doubts the existence of land and sea, or questions the laws of navigation. The essential nature of the earth is unknown, but there is absolute faith in the science of geography. The essential nature of an animal is unknowable, yet no one doubts its existence nor does the fact interfere with the science of zoology. So of botany, chemistry, medicine, and all the sciences. Science and art are as infinite as God is, yet they are not absolutely unknowable. There is a belief in rock, the earth, the seas, the animal, science and art, because they are objects of the material senses. But there are faculties higher and more trustworthy than the corporeal senses. Intelligence is a mental faculty of seeing, and gives knowledge of surer kind than can vision, or any corporeal sense, for intelligence not only directs the senses, uses them, and corrects sensual impressions, but it sees in its proper light upon its own plane. Intelligence reveals the existence of God, a spiritual world, a soul, and a life after death, as surely as the eye discloses a sun, an earth, a material body, and a natural life. The assertion that there are "ears that hear not" and "eyes that see not" is not a mere hyperbole, but a real fact based upon the existence of a whole set of interior faculties, though they be yet undiscovered and undeveloped.
If the eye and ear set in the body are not used as a means of opening the inner vision and of unstopping the inner sense of understanding, human life cannot rise higher than animal life. The eye and ear set in the material body are primarily intended as the means of developing the inner, human faculties that beasts have not. When the inner eye of mental vision is opened and the inner ear of understanding is unstopped, the material senses become not rulers, but servants. But if the eye and ear of the body are not made to perform the office of opening the eye and ear of the soul, the human mind becomes blighted and closed to interior forces, and the man becomes a Sensist possessed of no higher life than that which flows in through the body. Truly he can then reason, but his reasons are as false as he is sensuous, and his conclusions are as lightless as his mind is sightless. Man is then simply an animal that thinks, or one whose mind is full of hallucination. Instead of regenerating into the image and likeness of God, man may degenerate below the animal, becoming first sceptical, then agnostic, and at last an Atheist. He is then lower than an animal because the animal never sinks below its instinct, always keeping in the order for which it is created; while man may, because of his free-will, fall out of his order and fail to realize the purpose of his creation, which is to know and to love God. He is then lower than an animal because he is out of the order in which he is created and has neither instinct nor intelligence to guide his life according to any order, while the animal, has an instinct that keeps it in its ordained plane and purpose.
Not only can we know God, but so fundamental is that knowledge that only so far as we know Him can any true philosophy be known. True knowledge starts with a knowledge of God, and only so far as He is known have we any definite understanding of anything.
A knowledge of God reveals His relation to His creation and the relation of one thing to another. Without a knowledge of God one would not know whether he were a man or a thought of a man. He would not know whether the earth were actually external to himself or merely projected from his imagination. He would not know whether disease were disease or a thought of disease. He could not tell appearances from facts or facts from appearances. All healthy knowledge rests upon such an understanding of God that His relation to creation is comprehended. This makes nature herself a revelation of God. Law, order, intelligence, power, beauty, grandeur, and use, that are seen in nature, then speak of His beneficence; they tell of His character, for then "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork."
Man created in the image and likeness of God is the special field of the revelation of Him. Animal forms increased in completeness until man, who is a form adopted to receive from God the divine nature and character that we call human, was produced. The word human is not used in the sense that "it is human to err," but as meaning that in man which distinguishes him from the beasts, and makes possible in him the image and likeness of God. The understanding is fashioned to receive wisdom from God, and the will is formed to receive love from Him. From wisdom and love unfold all the elements of the human, (the human form being the mechanism through which it is done,) just as heat, light, and power are derived from a single current of electricity.
Man is created for no other purpose than to know God. To regard God unknowable is to defeat the fundamental purpose of creation. God is a self-revealing Being, and the human mind is the particular plane of that revelation. Indeed, the sole purpose of human creation is that God may reveal Himself therein by the gift of divine wisdom to the understanding and divine love to the will, from which the kingdom of heaven comes within.
For centuries animal and vegetable forms were created. Matter was gathered together and material bodies were made. This was for a purpose. God is more than a mere potter of clay. He was working, as results show, to bring forth a being having so high a form of mind that His creative power might ascend higher than matter. The creation of varying material forms is now substantially ended, but creation continues on the plane of the human mind and is in essence the development of the divine character in man. The Garden of God is now composed of human hearts. Once creative forces were directed to the making of lands, seas, mollusks, fishes, birds, plants, animals. Now it is centered, as preparation has been made, upon the development of justice, reason, judgment, purity, honesty, understanding, righteousness, holiness, spirituality, love—in short, all that we know under the name of the Divine Human.
Man being formed in the image of God that God might give Himself to man and unfold His nature to him, makes all true advancement to be progress in the knowledge of God. Yet we should not regard such knowledge the mere intellectual grasp of His love and nature, but also the interior knowing of Him through sensating His Divine Human nature in our lives among mankind.
The godly loves for father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter, wife, neighbor, country, church, made hallowed by the consciousness of their sacred relations and uses, are God's love sensated in the human heart. As we experience these, attributing them to their divine source, God is known, for such are of God's nature.
Not to know God is not to know anything worth knowing, for the knowledge of God gives all other knowledge its value. Knowledge is permanently useful in the degree that it leads to and reveals God. For how much better is a white man with a gun than an Indian with a bow if his weapons are put only to the same selfish purpose? The superior knowledge of science and art is superior only so far as it opens the understanding to God and to the virtues that are of His Divine Humanity. To know God is life eternal, not only in the sense of life to come, but also of life here, and of the true life itself.