I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
- St. Paul, Letter to the Romans, 8:18-25 [NRSV]
She [Wisdom] enhances her noble birth by sharing God's life, for the Master of All has always loved her.
- Wisdom of Solomon, 8:3 [NJB]
" ... For whoever finds me [Wisdom] me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord; but those who miss me injure themselves; all who hate me love death."
- Proverbs, 8:35-36 [NRSV]
God permeates all creation with Wisdom. The pouring out of preexistent Wisdom over all creation points to the understanding that life-giving, divine Wisdom supports and sustains an orderly cosmos that is open to the imagination and perception (Perdue 1994, 249).
Before creation, Christ the Logos, the Word Was God in form, all ruler, truth and right: But in being God, did not so much delight That Christ became a human, love preferred, Whose holy words through the ages would be heard, Whose human touch would offer hope and sight And love and care relieve the soul's dark night, And suffered on the cross so death deterred. Through Jesus humbled, emptied holy child All things from A to Z came into being - And through the Christ is each and every created: Thus God exalted Jesus so decreeing This way and name to our spirit would be freeing And that all creatures here would kneel elated. -The Author.
But in our post-modern, technocratic, utilitarian society these realities are reversed. Our immediate experience is the really real. The really real is functional. Each act or thought is expected to produce a usable result. Eternity is a vague literary, poetic, mystical (devalued in our instrumented society) notion of little use and concern. The usefulness and significance of eternity is dismissed. What profit, what satisfaction, what healing will we find in this vague eternity that we will not find in the product of the real techno-society? Indeed, science has undermined our sense of the possibility and significance of the eternal. Science is the new efficacy and the new promise of paradise. What science cannot study, simply is not. Science's realm or domain is constrained within space-time. But science has argued that space-time is finite in extent. We, being constrained within it, are limited to it. In fact, if all there is is space-time, the notion of eternity may simply be meaningless. Nuclear holocaust and environmental destruction make the meaninglessness of eternity even more immediate as we face the reality of human annihilation.
Yet these very limitations point to eternity. Space-time is bounded. What is beyond it? The classical notion of eternity suggested eternity transcended space-time. Is eternity then, beyond the Einsteinian space-time and if so, is space-time contained with eternity? Thus, the Theories of Relativity have reopened the question of eternity. In the past we could consider space and time as absolute and integral in God's Ground of Being. God was temporal and spatial. Then God Everlasting was a God who existed in all of infinite time, without beginning and without end. The flow of time was endless. But now we know that the flow of time is finite. Though, prior to Einstein, we intuit that God Everlasting and Eternal must transcend space-time; we now know that space-time is not absolute and not integral to the Ground of Being. Eternity objectively can be viewed exogenously of space-time. Science so far has not been able to describe what is beyond space-time. But in combination with theological imagination and science, we can peer beyond space-time. Yet, why be concerned about eternity in a world in need of present healing? We are apparently of all of God's creatures known to us, not made to fit into our environment. We are always questioning our condition and our niche, and striving beyond. When we seek to fit ourselves into a world or society, humanity succumbs to malaise and dissolution and falls into decline. But if we can escape our drive to find or make our own salvation with a collectively instrumented culture and accept the challenge to move beyond ourselves with vision, we can soar again on the wings of the human spirit. The furthest that we can reach is eternity. To strive towards eternity, we must reach through science and mathematics to beyond the barriers encountered by science and soar into realms of vision. To envision eternity is to stretch and exercise our spirit. Thus so, we have develop a new metaphor.
The center of our story is the foetus of space-time. Our lives are played out in the flow of space-time within the womb of Sophia. Sophia, God's Wisdom, is eternal - outside of time - the firstborn of creation. If Sophia is first born and space-time is created, then Sophia proceeds space-time and must be outside of it. Space-time, including ourselves, is a foetus in Sophia's womb, sired by the Logos, the Word, preexistent with God, as God. Conception occurred when God spoke the Word and caused the Big Bang. The foetus in our present age is developing within Sophia, in the amniotic fluid of God's Wisdom, within the amniotic sac of light. The crucifixion and resurrection are the onset of Sophia's labor. All of space-time labors now to be birthed. When space-time at last passes through Sophia's birth canal, in the Apocalypse, it will emerge itself into eternity as the Commonwealth of God.
The story begins with nothingness, no-thing, not-God, total absence, total omission. God is creans ex nihilo, the creating out of nothing (Neville 1993). Nothingness is not inert, but is ontologically pregnant: it creates and this is God. Kenosis, the emptying of God of divine power and all other attributes, is the beginning, the center, the end, and the restart of eternity. Nothingness is preexistent, the uncreated that creates. It is the fundamental attribute of God. It is the Ground of Being that exists outside of, within, and all around reality. The Logos is the preexistent creativity of God; it is an ontological attribute of the Divine and, therefore, of nothingness. Sophia, God's ordering, is the first creation to emerge from nothingness. The mutual love of Sophia and Logos conceives the space-time foetus. The development of the foetus is the creatio continua, the continuing creation which emerges constantly from the creating out of nothing, from God. God who is love and who wishes to be authentically loved, endows the creation with freewill. As the foetus grows and matures, it exerts its freewill and troubles its parents. It risks miscarriage. Those individual creations within the greater whole that are seduced by sin must be healed or cast off. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit (Jn 15:1-2)[NRSV]." So God comes to the foetus in the incarnation and sets healing in motion with the ultimate sacrifice of the healer. And this is where we are in the story now. God has sent the Holy Spirit, the divine Ob/Gyn, to midwife the birth of the Commonwealth of God. Then, at that birth, space-time, the fetus, will be born as the Commonwealth. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem ... And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light and its lamp is the lamb (Rev 21:1-2, 23)[NRSV]." As the space of the old Jerusalem and the time represented by the sun and moon pass away, so the new Jerusalem, the Commonwealth of God is born.
This story repeats with variation on ever smaller scales fractally within the emptiness resident infinitesimally in every particle of creation. Reality is a society of individuals each of whom becomes and perishes instantly. This concrescence is infinitesimal and is like a pore of nothingness in a sponge. All of reality, all of creation, is like a sponge that soaks up the Ground of Being. Each pore, each becoming-perishing has the potential to rebirth reality. It is an infinitesimal eternity. Sophia is the firstborn of each pore and the Logos preexists in each, conceiving, gestating, and birthing continuously and ubiquitously. Thus, eternity is not just out there, beyond space-time, containing it. It is within space-time containing space-time.
Sophia is eternal since she is outside and containing space-time. Sophia herself resides in and is part of eternity. We must assume that Sophia herself is not the totality of eternity. Since when she births God's Commonwealth, the Commonwealth will emerge into an existence independent of Sophia. Our relationship to Sophia then will change, just as a child has a different relationship with its mother than does a fetus. We are nursed by Sophia, but more and more Sophia and Logos will encourage us from their nest to find our, the Commonwealth of God, own wisdom. Thus, the Commonwealth is not static, but dynamic. Creation continues even in the Commonwealth.
God is both immanent and transcendent. To capture the immanence of God, Peacock has suggested "a 'panentheist' position, meaning by that simply that the world is in God but there is more to God than the world (Peacocke 1989 p. 35)."
His hands so gently strong embrace his son, Unseeing eyes behold the depth of loss Of youth and age and every painful cross -- So Rembrandt poured his being through his art. O God, as Rembrandt shared his soul and heart, Your Soul embrues through everything as One. (No pagan godly cosmos here that finds The final hope and answer for our life In things and means evolved from natural strife; ÔTis not an autogenerated world Whose inner order on its own unfurled, But of Your holy mind beyond our minds.) Your zootic force compels the null to being; Without it there is neither form nor means -- Impossible would be humans and machines: O Jesus, You're the thread, the patterned tie -- Photonic rigging guiding earth and sky -- Our Christ, the cause and source of our perceiving. What matters family, job or friend? Via Negativa O God, what matters preaching Sunday morn Or e'en the blowing of the final horn? But only if you will, those will be so: One thing alone to Jesus do we owe: To tend whatever God would have us tend. For You from You we make machines to teach -- Via Positiva A hugh metallic ant, a star projector To show the public by a cosmic spector The Horseman made of a triple binary dance And Betelgeuse with a star inside its expanse -- And so extend Your revelation's reach. Lilac purple side by side with dogwood white: Via Creativa From Your creative blooming dynamo -- Animating spirit that denies its foe -- Out of inert and shapeless elements, We co-create superb developments: Threads of glass to carry sound and sight by light. We're coming home, O Lord, right here and now Via Transfomrativa Into your sure unfailing open hands, Unquestioned, naked, just as we can be To stand under the freedom and commands Of Yours arising from the world's debris. I have a vision of Your holy rule: A ring of light within the inner slum Of ports and ways for chances that will fuel Rebirth out of a pandemonium, Transformed: a light unto a darken world. O God whose breathing breathes in all creation, Through nature guide us to divine elation. Amen.
For in God, "we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)[NRSV]." This overcomes the long-standing notion of a distant, unaffected God who is external and aloof. Peacocke elaborates:
However, the concept of God as creator has, at least in the recent past, been much too dominated by a stress on the externality of God's creative acts. He is pictured as having created something external to himself, just as the male fertilizes the ovum from outside. But mammalian females, at least, experience creation within themselves, and the growing embryo resides within the female body. Therefore, female images of the divine are more helpful in this context than male ones. We should work with the analogy of God creating the world within herself. God creates a world that is in principle other than himself, but creates it within herself. (Peacocke 1989 p.36)
This moves us to knowing God intimately with us, among us, within us, and embracing us. God is a nurturer, caregiver, and intimately involved. "The feminine image allows us to have the concept of God creating within her own being (Peacocke 1989 p.42)." But in the metaphor of Sophia's foetus, we have not taken this approach. God creates Sophia and then the Word impregnates her. Together they conceive space-time. God is as much a parent as Sophia, just as any father is as much a parent as a pregnant mother. But during pregnancy, clearly the mother's connection is far more intimate.
If we had chosen to understand space-time as a cosmic egg in God's womb, then our metaphor would question that God is utterly other of a different substance than her child. Sophia, as an interface between God and creation corrects this error. "Wisdom personified as a goddess, became the intermediary between a transcendent creation and the human world (Perdue 1994, 41)." As has been mentioned before, Sophia in this metaphor is a distinct creation from space-time. Pregnant Sophia nurtures and embraces space-time in the most intimate way possible, by caring for space-time within her very self. And just as a mother's substance passes to the foetus, so Sophia's substance of divine discernment passes to us. We inherit her characteristics of ordering, patterning, discerning, and integrating. And finally, as pregnant, birth is anticipated. So Wisdom personifies God's purpose in birthing the Commonwealth of God. Where, then, the immanence of God? The immanence of God is the Ground of Being. Sophia, space-time, and all of created reality is a sponge soaking up God as creans ex nihilo. In this manner, God is within, outside of, and all around us, utterly other, but utterly close.
But what is the significance of Sophia as mother of space-time? Space- time along with its constituent physical laws and relationships is born of Wisdom and the Word. All of space-time, every bit of star dust, every atom, every creature, every human, Christian, non-Christian, rich or poor, gay or straight, righteous or unrighteous, sighted or blind are all part of a great, organic whole. We are all part of the foetal Commonwealth of God being birthed together. God, through the divine Word creates out of nothing God's own Wisdom. It is by the love of Sophia and Logos for each other, by the dynamic nurturing of creativity and discernment, by the passion of order and change, by the magnetism of originality and integration, by revelation of the Word and natural understanding of Wisdom, space-time is conceived. Space-time inherits these attributes. Discernment is possible and so the great wonder of scientific understanding occurs and creativity is possible and so we co-create ourselves in the divine embrace. We inherit from God both revelation and understanding. Not only does God speak to us from sacred scripture, but God also speaks to us through the creation. But not only is space-time continuously being created, once born, the Commonwealth of God will also be continuously created. Time would have passed away, so we cannot suggest that the Commonwealth will "develop." This implies temporality. But creation, in whatever manner, will continue and evolve. The Ground of Being continues to birth and rebirth out of nothing new creations.
The metaphor of Sophia's foetus integrates notions of eternity, creans ex nihilo and creatio continua, and the Commonwealth of God. In the next sections, we will look at the foundations for the metaphor, and at eternity, creation, and life. The foundations provide documentation of the origin of the metaphor. The sections on eternity and creation explicate the theology of the metaphor further. The final section raises up some implications of the metaphor.
Cosmology recognizes through the Theories of Relativity that this in-process universe requires that neither space nor time be absolute, but part and parcel of the evolving universe. Space and time are united in Relativity into the space-time continuum. The universe is finite with built-in limits. One of its primary limits is the speed of light, c, approximately 186,000 miles per hour, that no velocity can exceed. This fundamentally defines what a black hole is: an object whose escape velocity exceeds c, so that not even light can escape. Absolutely nothing physical can escape a black hole. The speed of the passage of time is relative. For example, time is slower close to a massive body, such as a black hole. "[E]ach individual has his [sic!] own personal measure of time that depends on where he is and how he is moving (Hawking 1988, 33)." We used to think space and time were unaffected by events, going on forever. But space and time are dynamic: when a body moves or a force acts, the curvature of space-time is affected. Being around a strong force slows your time down as seen by someone beyond the massive object.
But the universe is not only governed by Relativity. It is also governed by Quantum Mechanics. Whereas Relativity is a theory of the very large, Quantum Mechanics is a theory of the very small. According to Quantum Mechanics the universe is not entirely deterministic (Capra 1991; Hawking 1988). Subatomic particles no longer are conceived as having separate position and velocity, but as having a state which is a combination of position and velocity. According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, a particle's position and velocity both are not determinable. Determining one, leaves the other to chance. God does indeed play at dice.
Science cannot tell us what happened before the Big Bang, how the cosmic egg came into being, nor what is happening outside of the universe.
Hubble's observations suggested that there was a time, called the big bang, when the universe was infinitesimally small and infinitely dense. Under such conditions all the laws of science, and therefore all ability to predict the future, would break down. If there were events earlier than this time, then they could not affect what happens at the present time ... One may say that time had a beginning at the big bang, in the sense that earlier times simply would not be defined ... One could still imagine that God created the universe at the instant of the big bang, or even afterwards in just such a way as to make it look as though there had been a big bang, but it would be meaningless to suppose that it was created before the big bang. An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he [sic!] might have carried out his job! (Hawking 1988, 9)The domain of science is the created universe. It can only view the cosmos from within the cosmos. "...all scientific knowing is admittedly intracosmic knowing. It does not deal with the Beyond, with God (Peters 1989, 60)."
Science itself is described in terms of mathematics. The domain of mathematics is logic and can theorize beyond the universe, although it is limited by the laws of logic. Mathematics therefore can extrapolated to some extent a view of the cosmos from outside of the cosmos. Mathematically, space-time can be viewed as a four-dimensional entity consisting of the three traditional dimensions of length, height, and breadth, and of the fourth dimension of time. Given this view, then the cosmos is a hypersphere, where one pole is the original primordial singularity and the opposite pole is the teleodial singular point (here the Big Crunch theory is assumed).
This "outside" view allows us to see the cosmos whole. It allows us to transcendently view space-time. Eternity is out of time. It is from where or at when or by what we can see the whole of space-time. It exists beyond time; in eternity we exist in some preter dimension beyond the four of space-time. From eternity we can see space-time as a 4-D manifold with one axis (time) a vector, where we view past, present, and future, and the interaction of freewill and chance simultaneously.
Yet even the "outside" view cannot describe in what space-time exists, or from where it came. These theories point beyond themselves. They describe the birth and growth, or start and development of space-time as an organic whole. If we look only at scientific cosmology, we would view this as birth, development, and eventual death. But if we now look to religion, in particular the Judeo-Christian notion of Wisdom, we can also postulate the "ether" in which space-time exists, approach eternity, and see the progress of space-time not as birth, growth, and death, but as conception, development, and birth. Science can describe the physical nature of space-time and in doing so point to the spiritual. It is for religion to examine the physical and unfold the spiritual aspect of the cosmos.
Sophia is God's Wisdom, the divine origin of knowing and understanding, the interface of discernment between God and creation ... "the 'delight' of the proud parent [God] in the offspring [Sophia] and her own playful 'delight' in the world of humanity provide the intimate link between the creator and the created (Perdue 1994, 91)." Wisdom is not simply intellectual knowledge and understanding of facts, relationships, and principles, but she is deep insight, intuition and discernment. Human insight is inherited from her (Prov. 2:6). Wisdom is the radiation of God's eternal light permeating all things. "For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things. For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness (Wis 7:24-26, NRSV)." She is created firstborn before the cosmos. "Before the ages, in the beginning, he created me, and for all the ages I shall not cease to be (Sir 24:9, NRSV) ." She is therefore distinct from God and created before space-time and exists outside of time; she is eternal. She aided God in the creation thereafter and God delighted in her and she in the creation. "The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth ... When he established the heavens, I was there ... I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race. (Prov 8:22-31, NRSV)." and "The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew (Prov. 3:19-20, NRSV)." Wisdom is fertile; she integrates the tree of knowledge and the tree of life into a divine ordering of continuing creation "In [the] image of the divine architect, wisdom is the skill, plan, and knowledge God uses to secure and order the cosmos (Perdue 1994, 83)". Unlike the Yahwist writer of Genesis who sees knowledge as forbidden and its gain the truncation of life, Mother Wisdom sustains our life with knowledge, discernment, and insight.
She is divine knowledge and understanding and right-use of same. She is a teacher and a sage. "For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright ... (Prov. 2:6-7, NRSV)." and "Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; for wisdom is better than jewels (Prov. 8:10-11, NRSV)." Where on the divine side, Wisdom is God's means of Creation, or the human side, Wisdom is the practical application of this discernment. She is open and playful; seeking order and rationality. Wisdom relates creation to God's saving grace showing how God's divinity is reflected in creation; in this manner, she mediates God's revelation (von Rad 1962, 418ff). Through her, creation makes sense and is revealed as not arbitrary, but rational, contingent, and knowable. Wisdom teaches that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, i.e., to praise and respect the awesomeness of God is the first step to discernment. By this, Wisdom offers us life and salvation here and now by helping us see God's truth and justice. She is the "divine summons issued in and through creation, ..., and heard on the level of human experience (Murphy 1990, 25)." God speaks through Wisdom. God alone knows where Wisdom is. We know Wisdom only through God. She is distinct from the creation and only God knows the way to Wisdom and her location (Job 28:12-28) (Perdue 1994,186). The biblical texts tell us she is both created and distinct from creation. In the metaphor of the space-time foetus in Sophia's womb, we resolve this apparent paradox: for Wisdom is distinct and prior to the creation we can know, yet created herself.
Sophia is the consort of God. "She [Wisdom] enhances her noble birth by sharing God's life, for the Master of All has always loved her. (Wis. 8:3, NJB)." Wisdom is the consort and lover of God. She is the Queen of Heaven who brings life, fertility, and blessing to those who love her and follow her instruction. She is the instrument of creativity mediated between God and creation. "Through God's love of Wisdom, life in the cosmos originated and continues (Perdue 1994,330)." And the gnostics recognizing the Trinity, saw Wisdom as the consort of Jesus. The Sophia Jesu Christi says,
The Son of Man agreed with Sophia, his consort and revealed himself in a [great light] as bisexual. His male nature is called 'the Saviour, the begetter of all things', but his female "Sophia, mother of all', whom some call Pistis (Hennecke 1963,250).
That God has a consort in the creation is testified in the Hebrew scriptures. The Prophet Isaiah records God's words, "For as a young man marries a young woman,/ so shall your builder marry you ... (Is 62:5a, NRSV)." Ezekiel 13, 16 and Jeremiah 3 present God's consort as an unfaithful wife, but Hosea proclaims her forgiven and restored. But most significantly, the Song of Songs has been interpreted by Jewish scholars as an allegory of the love of God for Israel, and by Christian scholars as Christ's love for the Church (Graves 1973,1). In our metaphor, the Song of Songs is interpreted as the love of Logos for Sophia.
Wisdom theology seeks to understand reality as a historical process that develops through a dynamic relationship of humans and nature. God is active in creation: creation and creator, though distinct, are intertwined and interactive. Wisdom shows us the order and pattern of God's creation. This order seeks justice, righteousness, and dharma. Wisdom teaches us to discern God's active grace and sustenance in this order. Creation is continually unfolding towards God's goals; experiencing creation is experiencing God (Murphy 1990, chap 8; Perdue 1994, chap 3). Within the nurture of Wisdom, space-time, i.e., the creation distinct from Sophia, develops, not just happens, but proceeds on a definite vector towards God's Commonwealth. It is like a developing foetus floating in the amniotic fluid of Sophia's womb.
The Logos is the uncreated will and creativity of God, preexistent prior to any creation. He is generated from the godhead. Peters (Peters 1989, 75) distinguishes for us "generation" and "creation":
"Generation," coming from the root meaning to give birth, suggests that the begetter produces out of its own essence an offspring that shares that same essence. But terms such as 'creating' or 'making' mean that the creator produces something that is external, a creature of dissimilar nature. The patristic apologists applied the term 'generation' to the perichoresis within the divine life of the Trinity, not to the creation without.
Sophia is of a different essence from God, whereas; the Word is of the same essence, a member of the Trinity. Discernment may vary from cosmos to cosmos, whereas; divine creativity is essential to the godhead. Through the Word, God creates, "Then God said, Let there be light and there was light (Gen. 1:3, NRSV) ." Logos is that of God that creates with intent. It must proceed any creation. Wisdom, too, results from speaking the Word, "I [Wisdom] came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and covered the earth like a mist (Sir. 24:3, NRSV) ." The Logos is the divine creative principle or energy, "... so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Is 55:11, NRSV) ." Wisdom, on the other hand, is the primeval world order and integrating process. The creative energy of the Word and the integrating order of Wisdom are two aspects of the same unfolding of God's purpose. Ordering is creative; creating is ordering. Both Logos and Wisdom are incarnated in the Christ. Through Christ, Word and Wisdom, creating and ordering are the mutual background and foreground of the cosmos (Fox 1983).
The original creation out of nothing recurs within the kenotic transitions between becoming and perishing of the continuing creation. Thus, Wisdom is not just "out there" beyond space-time. She also emerges from space-time, distinctly, from within the concreascences as well. "[S]he is created with the faithful in the womb (Sir 1:14, NRSV) ." Creation is perpetually pregnant.
A fresh or transformed image may shatter existing meaning structures and lead to the creation of a new world view. Creative imagination may subvert orthodox conventions in order to usher into existence a new life-defining and life-orienting reality (Perdue 1994,51)
Sapiential imagination is especially at work in envisioning God, for the sages located God at the center of their historical and linguistic world of space, time, and action. At the same time, God stands outside this world and brings it into judgment. The wise believed that regardless of how compelling and meaningful their constructed world may be, God is still a transcendent, often mysterious deity, whose freedom cannot be constrained by the boundaries of a sapiential world view (Perdue 1994,55-56)
The biblical record and the natural record give these visions of scientific cosmology and Wisdom form; sapiential imagination provides the creativity to develop the metaphor of space-time as a foetus in the womb of Sophia. Paul tells us that "the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now (Rom. 8:22, NRSV)." The metaphor of Sophia as mother of space-time does not occur in the bible or tradition. Yet the model of cosmic birth occurs at least twice in the New Testament. The birth of Jesus to Mary and the birth of the son to the woman in Revelation 12. The woman in Revelation has been variously named as Mother Mary, as the cosmos, and as Wisdom. She is the Queen of Heaven, the mother of the Messianic Community (Grimsrud 1987) as Wisdom is mother of the divine Commonwealth. Mary, of course, gives birth to the Christ. A human woman gives birth to a son who is both fully human and fully divine. Interestingly, creation gives birth to the creator. We will see later that if we take a fractal or holographic view of space-time, continuing creation out of the infinitesimal becomings and perishings can lead us to the constant rebirthing of all of creation within creation. Divine immanence shines through such continuous rebirth.
If we now look closer at eternity, we will see that eternity is nurturing and creating, where in our metaphor eternal Sophia nurtures and God is primordial creator.
Eternity is beyond the conceptualization of scientific cosmology. The picture of space-time presented by cosmology gives us good reason to believe that there is something beyond and containing space-time. But we cannot ascertain scientifically its nature or structure. This is a theological question. Cosmologists have theorized what is beyond space-time, primarily in the notion of many space-time objects existing side-by side as alternate universes (Rucker 1984, 118ff). And we can theorize beyond this to envision space-time warps (Einstein-Rosen bridges) that bridge these universes. In the metaphor of Sophia's womb and space-time as a cosmic foetus, we can image Sophia giving birth multiple times, even to twins and triplets, to various alternate universes. In this notion, space-time is not so much transformed into God's Commonwealth, as into one denizen in it.
Biblically, eternity is viewed through the mirror of eternal life and resurrection, i.e., spiritual and bodily life after death or uninterrupted life. The Hebrew scriptures generally are not concerned with the afterlife. Only in postexilic times does the notion emerge from the exposure to Persian doctrines. It is then a matter of resurrection of the persecuted (Dan 12:1-1; 2 Mac 7). In the Wisdom of Solomon, Adam was originally deathless (Wis 2:23), but became subject to death because of sin (Gen 2:17; 3:19). The Wisdom of Solomon considers immortality, not resurrection. In New Testament times, the Sadduccees did not believe in immortality or resurrection, whereas the Pharisees did. But with the resurrection of Jesus, eternal life became an essential part of our beliefs. Eternal life was a vindication of Jesus' ministry (Mk 14:62), a new creation resulting from the erasure of sins and therefore of death (Rom 5:12-21), and an exaltation of heaven (Eph 4:6-8). Jesus offers us eternal life now (Jn 5:24), not in some future time, free from sin (Jn 3:15; 4:14; 6:40,47). Though aspects of eternal life are available now, full eternal life is a promise.
Eternal life is life in God's Commonwealth. As space-time evolves and develops it converges upon the ability to exist freely in eternal life without the mediation of Sophia. We shall see later that the metaphor is a fractal. Sophia is born of the creating out of nothing and within the continuing creation, creating out of nothing occurs in each infinitesimal perishing-becoming and, hence, fractally, Sophia is born again and again and impregnated again and again. Eternity is not only without, it is also within. Eternity is ubiquitous. Within space-time, we experience the promise of eternal life, the anticipated birth into God's Commonwealth, as well as experiencing eternity in our concresences.
Space-time is not some machine propelled by mindless law and chance. It is a living, breathing entity being nurtured and loved. The laws are designed by the Logos out of love. The quantum mechanical chances are Sophia's and Logos' opportunities to care, guide, and teach space-time without violating the consistency of God's creation. The death of space-time, whether in a big crunch or by heat death is no death itself, but merely the expelled placenta. For the essence, the spirit and flesh will be transformed from space and time into the eternal Commonwealth. In the big crunch, the substance is reabsorbed into Sophia, and she may conceive again. In the heat death, the placenta is expelled and remains in eternity. But fundamentally, we can once again expand our vision to eternity. It is not limited to space-time. There is life after cosmic death: life in God's New Jerusalem.
To understand eternity, Neville (Neville 1993) explores the nature of eternity in the context of the flow of past, present, and future time. This aspect of eternity is the womb of Sophia. These tenses are together in eternity, whereas; temporally they are separate. Within eternity, time as a whole in all of its tenses exists together simultaneously (although that temporal word has no context in eternity). The present is the moment of becoming, where change and spontaneous creating takes place. The past is fixed objectively in everlastingness. It is immutable. The future provides form to integrate potentiality of the past and present. All the modes are of equal necessity. But each mode conditions the others. The present is constrained to the actual possibilities opened by the past and the formal possibilities suggested by the future. The past is an integrated history whose context is defined by the actualizations of previous presents and the structure of the future. The future is given the plurality of possibilities opened by the past, but as the present becomes, the potentiality of the future is transmuted according to the possibility being actuated. From these interactions, time's flow emerges: the present actualizes future possibilities and puts into the past actuality. The past is added to, the future is changed, and the present becomes and perishes. Eternity, i.e., the womb of Sophia, then is the togetherness of the temporal modes. Time flows within eternity; eternity is the context within which time flows and within which the modes harmonize.
An individual in the past of two other individuals can influenced them both; they are connected by a shared past of actual individuals. According to the Relativity of Simultaneity, this shared past can vary according to our velocity. If two individuals are journeying at different velocities at the moment that they are simultaneous, they can observe two events differently. For one observer they can appear as simultaneously occurring in the past; for the other, one of the two events can appear in its past and the other in its present (simultaneous with it). This occurs because of the constancy of the speed of light. For everyone at the same relative velocity, time passes at the same rate. If a moving individual is moving relative at a speed close to the speed of light and two events are simultaneous for the at-rest individual, they are not simultaneous for the moving individual journeying at a great velocity. Thus, time is not absolute, i.e., the time-interval between two events is not independent of the motion of an observer and space is not absolute, i.e., the space interval (distance) between points is not independent of the motion of an observer. So even if two events are simultaneous at rest, they are not simultaneous in motion. We share a common past with all of those individuals that share our velocity, that are at rest with respect to us. But that common past is unraveled when we interrelate with an individual that is moving relative to us.
A metaphor of driving an automobile helps to understand this complex flow of time. If you are the driver cruising along the road, your essential present is marked by each infinitesimal instance of you piloting the automobile. But as your past accumulates from these instances, it is fixed and you can never recover it. Your future is open, but shaped by the fact that you are in a car moving along a certain road with exits and turns. Conditionally, the present is influenced by where you have been and where you intent to go. Each exit passed constrains the present position. You can see the past passing in the rearview mirror and that seeing influences the present decision. In a fashion you see in the past, for you can see the road over which you have already past and the development of the past will be decided with the present intent. The future is constrained by your present position on the road and the possible turns and exits you might take. The future changes as each turn or exit is bypassed. The flow of the automobile is the flow of time. A car following you, passes through your past and anticipates your present position. Each one of us is on a vehicle of present time within a different flow of time.
But if we can mystically transcend space-time, and enter the Grounding Now (then amniotic fluid in Sophia's womb), we can experience true synchronous relationships. David Bohm and Karl Pribram study of the implicate order (Talbot 1991,41, 197,205) suggest that the implicate order is the Grounding Now is the amniotic fluid that suffuses space-time. Like holographic film, any bit of the implicate order can reproduce the whole. Any given "object" exists throughout the entirety of the implicate order. The object is enfolded. Space-time and the objects therein unfold into the explicate order. An object moves through time in a continuous series of unfoldings and enfoldings. This is the flow of time and is analogous to process' perishings and becomings. Enfolded in the amniotic implicate order, every bit contains the whole and the whole contains every bit throughout distributively (non-locally) in a seamless holographic fabric of synchronocity wherein lives Plato's pure and perfect forms. In the amniotic fluid live the mathematical creatures, such as pi, phi, e that unfold into space-time.
Thus, the space-time foetus is developing as a whole. But like a fetus whose organs develop at different rates, each individual in the space-time foetus has the potential to develop at a different rate. Space-time develops within eternity as known in Sophia. Sophia provides the nurture of space-time in the amniotic fluid of the implicate order, but is not spatial or temporal herself. In some mysterious dimension, God exists alone. In some other dimension, God and Sophia alone exist; in this manner she is first born. In yet another dimension eternity has God, Sophia, and the foetus. In another dimension, there exists all this plus the Commonwealth of God. God originates all of this as the creating out of nothing. Pregnant nothingness births creation endlessly.
Eternity is rooted in the endless self-emptying of God, the divine kenosis (Phil 2:6-11). Eternity itself originates endlessly in God's kenosis. God is uncreated, prior to everything, beyond any superlative we can conceive; God is inconceivable. God is the source of everything and sustains everything. If God should cease to exist, everything would cease to exist. If everything ceased to exist, God, nonetheless, remains. But God is love. As God exists, so love exists. And love yearns for the other. But God being full of God was not other. So God, like a bottle tipped over, emptied the divine self of Godhead and became other, separate and distinct. Since God was all there was, to be other had to be nothing. The kenosis of God resulted in nothing.
In particular, kenosis is the utterly other within us in the concrescing of perishing and becoming. No matter how different something is from us, it too perishes and becomes; we have kenosis in common with the utterly different. It is the Other that knits us into the cosmic fabric.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross. Therefore, God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:5- 11, NRSV).
The mathematical notion of the empty set, provides a rich and insightful metaphor for kenosis. When we empty ourselves of every concern, every trait, every idol, every bit of selfness, what is left is the Other. In mathematical set theory, a set is a collection of things taken as a whole. The simplest, most fundamental set is the set containing nothing, called the empty set. It is the whole that contains nothing. In the algebra of sets, a subset of a given set is a set that contains some or all of the elements in a set. The empty set is a subset of every set; it is in or a part of everything, even of itself (since a set is a subset of itself). It is the only subset that is a subset of everything. The empty set is, therefore, ubiquitous. Since the empty set has no elements, it has no element in common with any set. Therefore, the empty set is utterly other. It is dissimilar to any set. Thus, everything has nothing in common with nothingness: though emptiness is within everything, we have nothing in common with it; it is utterly other. The empty set in everything and everyone is a thread that knits all creation together into one cosmic community. It is the trace of the incarnated Logos that holds the created universe together. "Because the Logos incarnate in Jesus was the Reason of God, it was also possible to see the Logos as the very Structure of the universe ... The identification of the Creator-Logos in Jesus as the foundation for the very structure of the universe and the belief that 'the Logos of God is in the whole universe' had its basis in the even more fundamental identification of the Logos as the Agent of creation out of nothing ... (Calvin 1537)."
Characteristically, the empty set represents the utterly other in us that we share with those that are different from us, even utterly different. In a similar vein, concrescence is our continuous emptying and encounter with the utterly other. Reality is porous. The pores are the concrescences, the empty set ubiquitously present. Eternity as the context of the togetherness of time's modes is also dynamic. Eternity is not the totality of everything and every time that was, is, and will be for this implies a static time without passage. This notion views time as a spatial, predetermined dimension. Rather eternity comprehends all past events and all future possibilities that may or may not be realized. If we view God, then not as an individual, but as a process of creating out of nothing (i.e., creans ex nihilo), then God adds complexity to a given event that revises the eternal comprehensive view. "The central divine reality, ..., is the creative act of which the world is the terminus and that itself constitutes God as having the characteristic of being creator (Neville 1993,142)." God's character arises from the act of creation. Departing from process theology, God is the process of creating out of nothing and in that fashion is within everything and every time, every actualization and every potentiality (Neville 1993). God is the eternal creating out of nothing; this is the Ground of Being. God is not an individual being, since a "deeper" creator would be needed to have created the "apartness". God is the creative act and its source, which is nothingness. God's eternal life, then, has all the distinction of the temporal modes together within the divine life and within the divine life every temporal mode has an eternal identity.
From this notion, emerges our metaphor's distinction of Sophia from God. God is utterly other, but ubiquitous; God is creating out of nothing. Among God's creation is Sophia and space-time. Just as with the rest of creation, Sophia is also developing, both in the creatio continua and in the creans ex nihilo. Sophia is not temporal, but provides the womb for space-time. God is eternally creating out of nothing and is essentially creative; hence the Logos is of the essence of God, while Sophia is of the essence resulting from God's creating. We are co-creators with God in the continuing creation. Our scientific achievements are visible signs of our creative inheritance from the Logos. But only God is the creating out of nothing. This is an utterly other process definitive of the divine.
Life began when God spoke the Word and the primordial singularity exploded. God continues to speak the Word sustaining the life and being of the foetus. Life began at the conception of space-time and each individual life organically is part of that. Our individual conception, gestation, birth, growth, and death are meant to be integrated into the cosmic life. We believe that a human fetus has freewill. Freewill is the potential ability to sin, i.e., to go against God's will. Humans as they develop increase in their ability to exercise freewill. A newborn baby has virtually no such ability, but we would agree that he or she has the potential and as the child develops, will sin more and more. Believing that life is continuous and that the fetus is already human, freewill is not instilled at the moment of birth, but is inherited from conception. Though we have freewill, space-time has yet greater freewill that influences us, and God, in turn, has the inconceivable, unconditional freewill above all of eternity.
We can choose to exercise our freewill either as a contributor to the development of the space-time foetus and the ultimate birth of the Commonwealth of God, or we can choose to attempt to go a separate way. The latter is sinning. And just as we can choose, the larger wholes encapsulating us, i.e., the powers and principalities, can choose likewise. Our acts reverberate throughout the cosmos, since our life is integrated into the whole as the potential to touch upon all other life.
God as the creating out of nothing is a process of love, relating us to each other and to creation. In relationship, we are in covenant with this process which is God. Righteousness, justice, piety, faith, and calling are ideals through which we exercise this ontological love. Yet because of freewill, we individuals, institutions, and nature have from time to time broken this covenant. Thus, every moment is under eternal judgment as past, present, and future acts. But viewing ourselves as part of a greater whole, we can transcend the temporality and spatiality of our being. We can touch eternity. We can know Sophia. We can discern the wider reality of God's creation. We can realize that we have life eternal now through the love and nurture of God's Wisdom and Word. For even in death, our being continues in the continuing development of the foetus. Death is overcome. Salvation is not attainment of eternal life, which we already have, but is realizing the eternalness of creation birthing the Commonwealth of God and living in that perspective. Resurrection is the victory of wholeness of body and soul eternally. Living in heaven is living now eternally, which is done through Jesus Christ. In the eternal perspective of God, every "organ" of the foetus is important. All of creation is a reflection of God's glory. Our life, therefore, no matter how seemingly small, is meaningful and significant, part of the glory of God. We are participants in a cosmic development directed towards the birth of God's Commonwealth in which we also will be born.
|||Jn 1:1-3; Phil 2:6-11.|
|||I use the term 'foetus' for the cosmic and mystical unity of space-time over and against the more common 'fetus' for the conceived and yet-to-be-born individual.|
|||Peters (pp59ff) expresses concern about developing theology around the notion that God started the Big Bang. He is concerned that such an assumption potentially leads to deism: God got it started, but now the forces of nature are sovereign. In our metaphor, God is constantly present and involved, both as the Logos and as the creating out of nothing. Another pitfall, is that following modern cosmology leads us to an eschaton that is just dissipation. Again our metaphor avoids this with its notion of pregnancy and subsequent birth. Most importantly, we must not be limited by the intracosmic boundaries of science. Theology studies the Beyond and as we will see, this metaphor goes beyond space-time to the containing Wisdom and ubiquitous nothingness.|
|||Space-time is circumscribed by the limits of the speed of light, c. Time dilation, the relativity of simultaneity, etc. all lead back to light as the harbinger of eternity. Below c is space-time, above c is eternity.|
|||I use the term creans ex nihilo instead of creatio ex nihilo to express the notion that God is the act or process of creating out of nothing. Creation out of nothing is static and separates the process from the result. Whereas, creating out of nothing connotes the dynamism and ubiquity of God as the One who is creating out of nothing.|
|||A hypersphere is a four dimensional "sphere". It is to a three dimensional sphere, as a sphere is to a two dimensional circle.|
|Neville 1993||Neville, Robert Cummings. 1993. Eternity and Time's Flow . NY: State University of New York Press.|
|Rucker 1977||Rucker, Rudy. 1977.Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension . New York: Dover Publications, Inc.|
|Rucker 1984||Rucker, Rudy. 1984. The Fourth Dimension: A Guided Tour of the Higher Universes . Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.|
|NRSV||New Revised Standard Version Bible; ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.|
|NJB||The New Jerusalem Bible; ©1985, Darton, Longman & Todd, Lt. and Doubleday & Company, Inc.|
|Einstein 1961||Einstein, Albert. 1961 Relativity: The Special and the General Theory; Authorized Translation by Robert W. Lawerance. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc.|
|Peacocke 1989||Peacocke, Arthur R. 1989. "Theology and Science Today." In Cosmos as Creation: Theology and Science in Consonance, ed. Ted Peters. Nashville: Abingdon Press.|
|Peters 1989||Peters, Ted. 1989. "Cosmos as Creation," In Cosmos as Creation: Theology and Science in Consonance, ed. Ted Peters. Nashville: Abingdon Press.|
|Hawking 1988||Hawking, Stephen W. 1988. A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. Toronto: Bantam Books.|
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|Capra 1991||Capra, Fritjof. 1991. The Tao of Physics; Third Edition, updated. Boston : Shambhala.|
|Perdue 1994||Perdue, Leo G. 1994. Wisdom & Creation: The Theology of Wisdom Literature. Nashville: Abingdon Press.|
|von Rad 1962||von Rad, Gerhard. 1962. Old Testament Theology; Vol. 1: The Theology of Israel's Historical Tradition. NY: Harper & Row, Publishers.|
|Murphy 1990||Murphy, Roland E. 1990. The Tree of Life; An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature. New York: Doubleday.|
|Fox 1983||Fox, Matthew. 1983. Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality; Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Company.|
|Grimsrud 1987||Grimsrud, Ted. 1987. Triumph of the Lamb. Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press.|
|Goldblatt 1987||Goldblatt, Robert. 1987. Orthogonality and Spacetime Geometry. New York: Springer-Verlag.|
|Calvin 1537||Calvin, John. 1537. Instruction in Faith (1537); Translated & Edited by Paul T. Fuhrman. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.|
|Hennecke 1963||Edgar Hennecke; New Testament Apocrypha; Volume One: Gospels and Related Writings; Edited by Wilhelm Schneemelcher; English translation edited by R. McL. Wilson ©1959 by J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tübinger; English translation ©1963 Lutterworth Press.|
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