The Seen and the Unseen

The limits of human reason and the knowledge of God

There is the seen, and there is the unseen, the material and the immaterial. That which is material can be scientifically examined and experienced, the immaterial can only be seen and experienced spiritually. These are two worlds that are only seemingly at odds with one another. If you attempt to examine that which is of a spiritual nature using a science that is by its very nature meant to explore the material realm, you will fail.

The things that are of God are far beyond the capabilities of our finite mind to comprehend. The divine can only be known through the nous, that place in the heart that is our true center. It, unlike the brain, is capable of knowledge that is beyond human comprehension, coming as it does from noetic knowledge.

When we try to apply words to the noetic form, we fail. We can no more explain God than we can explain quantum physics, since both are unseen. God is outside the realm of human intellectual understanding. The Eastern Church approaches things of God as holy mysteries, since God can only be known in His divine energies, not in His essence. If a scientist can believe in quantum physics, the unseen, why can he not believe in God Whom he has not seen? If we can believe in the concept of infinity, something that goes on and on without end, why can we not believe in God?

The science of the soul is noetic and can be examined and experienced only through the activation of the nous. The nous in Orthodox Christian theology is the “eye of the heart or soul”, the mind of the heart. God created us with the nous because the human intellect is not capable of knowing Him without it. The intellect alone can not know God, for human reasoning is limited to the things that are of a material nature. God is unknowable without His divine revelation, and only the nous can perceive this knowledge. God’s essence remains inaccessible without noetic knowledge. Science has it’s place, but only the heart can know God.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Sunday January 14, 2018 / January 1, 2018
32nd Sunday after Pentecost. Tone seven.
Sviatki. Fast-free

Sunday after the Nativity and before the Baptism of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ
The Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
St. Basil the Great, archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (379).
New Hieromartyr Jeremiah (1918).
New Hieromartyrs Platon, bishop of Revel, Estonia and Priests Michael and Nicholas (1919).
New Hieromartyrs Alexander archbishop of Samara and with him John, Alexander, John, Alexander, Trophime, Viacheslav, Basil and James priests (1938).
Martyr Basil of Ancyra (ca. 362).
St. Emelia, mother of Sts. Macrina, Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa (375).
St. Gregory, bishop of Nazianzus (374) and father of St. Gregory the Theologian.
Martyr Theodotos.
Venerable Theodosius of Tryglia, abbot.
St. Fulgentius, bishop of Ruspe in North Africa (533) (North Africa).
New Martyr Peter of the Peloponnesus (1776) (Greek).
St. Eugendus, abbot of Condatin the Jura Mountains (510).
St. Clarus of Vienne (ca. 660) (Gaul).
St. Fanchea of Killeany (ca. 520) (Celtic & British).

The Scripture Readings

John 21:1-14

Breakfast by the Sea

21 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself:2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately[a] got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”

They answered Him, “No.”

6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”

11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

Colossians 2:8-12

8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

Not Legalism but Christ

11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Luke 2:20-21

20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Circumcision of Jesus

21 And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:40-52

40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

The Boy Jesus Amazes the Scholars

41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother[b] did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”

49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

Jesus Advances in Wisdom and Favor

51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. The Monastery is under the omophore of The Most Rev. Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.

4 comments:

  1. Trying to find God with through the scientific method or through logical deduction/induction is like a doctor trying to find cancer with a telescope or an astronomer trying to find a distant star with a stethoscope. It’s like trying to measure air pressure with a thermometer. It’s using the wrong “tools” or senses.

  2. Father Bless, I remember listening to one of your lectures where you explained to the students that much (a percentage that I cannot remember) of quantum physics is theoretic and un-testable but the most brightest of minds continue in that field even though they cannot prove their theories. Can you remind me of that lecture. Thank you. Sophia

  3. Father Bless. Many thanks for these enlightening words. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about science (I am a Ph.D. Chemist since 1980) and the current national/international role of science in society. I have realized that the current science enterprise has become a religion with its own religious leadership and dogma. The science religious leaders now insist that people choose science over any other belief system, and insist that only scientific inquiry results in valid knowledge. Personally, I have no trouble with the concept that human senses (even when amplified using technology) only perceive the seen, and that other means are necessary to perceive the unseen, as you point out.
    Scientists hold dearly to their religious dogma. The dogma states unequivocally that knowledge can only be obtained via scientific methods, or conversely that only scientific knowledge is knowledge. Yet science can only perceive what it can measure. We know that scientific measurement capabilities are limited. Consider the case of dark energy and dark matter. These are hypothesized because observations (technological) of galaxy motion in various scenarios (such as the Bullet cluster) require the addition of dark matter to force agreement with gravitational lensing predictions. They are called dark because they are not directly observed, but are needed to reconcile theory with observations. I find it quite interesting that current cosmology requires the addition of something unseen to force theory and observation to agree! It is unfortunate that scientists don’t acknowledge the logical inconsistency.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *