The Limits of Human Reason

The Seen and the Unseen, 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.

Quantum physics, while mysterious, is still part of the created material realm, and is fairly explainable now. The real difference isn’t between seen and unseen, but at its root, created and uncreated. It was the uncreated energies of God that Moses saw in the burning bush, or that the Apostles experienced in the transfiguration. A scientist will understand the properties of light (photons), but will have no clue about the uncreated light, which heals, deifies and casts no shadow. Fr. George Calciu of blessed memory experienced this light in the midst of the worst Romanian prisons, and the result is another effect that science cannot explain: incorruption of the body after death.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Monday April 5, 2021 / March 23, 2021
Fourth Week of the Great Lent: Adoration of Cross. Tone two.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Monk-martyr Nicon and 199 disciples, in Sicily (251).
New Hieromartyr Macarius priest (1931).
New Hieromartyr Stephen priest (1937).
New Martyr James, New Hieromartyr Basil priest, Virgin-martyr Anastasia and Barbara, Martyr Alexis (1938).
New Hieromartyr venerable confessor archbishop Sergius (Serebriansky) (1948).
Venerable Nicon, abbot of the Kiev Caves (1088).
Martyrs Philetas the Senator, his wife Lydia, their sons Macedon and Theoprepius, the notary Cronides, and Amphilochius the Captain, in Illyria (125).
St. Basil of Mangazea in Siberia (1600).
Martyr Dometius the Persian, under Julian the Apostate (ca. 360-361).
Venerable Luke the New of Mytilene, Mt. Athos (1802).
Venerable Pachomius, abbot of Nerekhta (1384).
St. Bassian, archbishop of Rostov (1481).
St. Gwinear of Cornwall.

The Scripture Readings

Isaiah 14:24-32

Assyria Destroyed

24 The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying,
“Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass,
And as I have purposed, so it shall stand:
25 That I will break the Assyrian in My land,
And on My mountains tread him underfoot.
Then his yoke shall be removed from them,
And his burden removed from their shoulders.
26 This is the purpose that is purposed against the whole earth,
And this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations.
27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed,
And who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
And who will turn it back?”

Philistia Destroyed

28 This is the burden which came in the year that King Ahaz died.

29 “Do not rejoice, all you of Philistia,
Because the rod that struck you is broken;
For out of the serpent’s roots will come forth a viper,
And its offspring will be a fiery flying serpent.
30 The firstborn of the poor will feed,
And the needy will lie down in safety;
I will kill your roots with famine,
And it will slay your remnant.
31 Wail, O gate! Cry, O city!
All you of Philistia are dissolved;
For smoke will come from the north,
And no one will be alone in his appointed times.”

32 What will they answer the messengers of the nation?
That the Lord has founded Zion,
And the poor of His people shall take refuge in it.

Genesis 8:21-9:7

21 And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.

22 “While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”

God’s Promise to Noah

9 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man.

6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood,
By man his blood shall be shed;
For in the image of God
He made man.
7 And as for you, be fruitful and multiply;
Bring forth abundantly in the earth
And multiply in it.”

Proverbs 11:19-12:6

19 As righteousness leads to life,
So he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.
20 Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomination to the Lord,
But the blameless in their ways are His delight.
21 Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished;
But the posterity of the righteous will be delivered.

22 As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout,
So is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.

23 The desire of the righteous is only good,
But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.

24 There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
And there is one who withholds more than is right,
But it leads to poverty.
25 The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.
26 The people will curse him who withholds grain,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.

27 He who earnestly seeks good finds favor,
But trouble will come to him who seeks evil.

28 He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like foliage.

29 He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind,
And the fool will be a servant to the wise of heart.

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who wins souls is wise.

31 If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth,
How much more the ungodly and the sinner.

The House of the Righteous Shall Stand

12 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge,
But he who hates correction is stupid.

2 A good man obtains favor from the Lord,
But a man of wicked intentions He will condemn.

3 A man is not established by wickedness,
But the root of the righteous cannot be moved.

4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.

5 The thoughts of the righteous are right,
But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.
6 The words of the wicked are, “Lie in wait for blood,”
But the mouth of the upright will deliver them.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. 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.

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