Reflections on the Reality of the Miraculous
Jay B. Gaskill
Humanism is bankrupt, partly because of its parochialism, but more centrally because it lacks a spiritual core. So I find myself returning to the question of the miraculous, to the matter of prayer, in essence to the question of the nature of Creation as revealed in immediate space time. What, I ask my self, does this limited — but unlimited — vision of the emerging Creator permit? What real time connections between us as individuals and our Creator are possible?
There are no brazenly clear answers, but I can offer some insight, the first of which is that there are degrees or stages of consciousness. If the process of consciousness in immediate space time does represent “Godness” becoming awake in the world, then surely there exist states of consciousness that are closer to the transcendent. It follows that here will exist states of consciousness to which the existence and nature of the Creator are obvious.
I recognize that I have dragged you into strange, new territory here. Already, you say, we are far beyond the provable. I agree, in part. We are beyond that point, but just barely, and the distance is different for some than others. There in an ineluctable core of mystery in a vision of the-many-in-one / one-in-many relationship between the personal “I am” and a Creator whose essence and existence both subtends space time and inheres in all “selfness.”
There is deep mystery in the proposed nature of such a being, at once perfect and complete, yet — in relation to our time lines — incomplete, still becoming, both perfect and dynamic. And there is tension in the vision of each conscious individual remaining a separate reflection of the universal “selfness” while compelled to endure mutual separation in order to preserve the conditions for interaction, evolution, and further creation in space time.
Intriguing, you may say, even “beautiful” but valid?
I acknowledge that, for some, epistemology ends at the edge of spirituality; for others the leap required of consciousness is a matter of courage. This leap is of the same order as your recognition of the “I am-ness” of other conscious beings and of your recognition of the objective reality of a realm beyond the merely mechanical. You make such a leap — if you do — because you find the act more reasonable than paralysis, because, on deep reflection, you find such a reality model personally more compelling than the alternatives. This is not blind faith.
It is reasonable faith.
Scientific world modeling proceeds according to an epistemology that, in Carl Popper’s view, requires hypotheses which are subject to falsification. I believe in a sufficient epistemology in which our basic reality models have progressed to the point that the plausible falsification is possible – in some instances at the margins of human experience. Absolute certainty is not required; yet the core set of elements in our reality models remains largely valid. As we continue to refine and extend our grasp of the larger reality, we are in fact “seeing” reality with growing resolution.
But the Essence of Being itself, only partly revealed in mechanical space-time and only partly accessed by cognition, is not subject to falsification in same the empirical sense used by Popper and the scientific community generally. Yet we need not discard the same tools, the cognitive processes, the insights, the intuitions and the inspirations that have proven so successful in generating our “scientific” reality models. These tools are capable of assisting consciousness in accessing the Essence of Being even in the absence of immediate empirical verification.
What I am saying about miraculous events is that when analyzed and reduced to their causal elements, they will always appear to be consonant with the orderly processes of mechanical-physical reality (i.e., with physical or natural “law”) as opposed to instances of an arbitrary break with the “rules.” But they will also always appear to be consistent with Creative Purpose and they will be extraordinary examples of extreme improbability. Whether, for example, the evolution of life on earth is miraculous — or an instance of a more commonplace occurrence — requires a galactic frame of reference. And what I am saying about the existence of Deity (the Essence of Creator as Person) as revealed in space-time is that the case for and against will always be so finely balanced that denial is plausible.
Yet on deep reflection, affirmation will prevail because the Essence of All Being resides in your local version, your own consciousness in an aspect of All Being. Neither the reality of the miraculous nor of deity, as such, can be subject to formal empirical falsification in the classic sense.
I begin my exploration with the working hypothesis that God does actively interact whenever and wherever the process of Creation appears in space time. The deeper personal question, for me, is that of the personally recognizable nature of the God presence and the extent to which anyone can truly understand that Presence as one of a loving consciousness.
I have two more insights to offer. The firstt is that any developing consciousness will at some point in a sufficiently long and creative life have had a compelling Experience, strongly suggestive of contact with the Ultimate. It might have come in the form of a flash of extraordinary insight that seems to have descended unbidden from outside the mind’s resources; it might be a powerful sense of peace and sudden knowledge of the unity of reality; it might be the deep sense of grace. There are other instances. I simply identify these Experiences (as instances of conscious contact with aspects of the Essence) and place them in a meta-reality context.
My last proffered insight is that we cannot, by definition, begin to pre limit or rule out the ways in which the Creator may be in real time connection with me or any other conscious person.
So, having in mind a rational view of the nature of the miraculous, I have begun a list. This list will never be complete.
Creative inspiration, the appearance of genuine novelty to the conscious mind, however explained in trivial terms is a manifestation of Gods loving presence. Grace, which I can apprehend, but not understand, is the manifestation to a conscious person of the loving attention of God. Those touched by grace can change history. Sudden goodness. Sometimes in human affairs, a heart changes, a tide in the public consciousness suddenly shifts to the good, often driven by a “single act of powerful goodness.” However subject to trivial explanation, such events, are, at root, miraculous.
Copyright © 2006 by Jay B. Gaskill