Existences Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
It is my conviction that, with the spread of true scientific culture, whatever may be the medium, historical, philological, philosophical, or physical, through which that culture is conveyed, and with its necessary concomitant, a constant elevation of the standard of veracity, the end of the evolution of theology will be like its beginning-it will cease to have any relation to ethics. I suppose that, so long as the human mind exists, it will not escape its deep-seated instinct to personify its intellectual conceptions. The science of the present day is as full of this particular form of intellectual shadow-worship as is the nescience of ignorant ages. The difference is that the philosopher who is worthy of the name knows that his personified hypotheses, such as law, and force, and ether, and the like, are merely useful symbols, while the ignorant and the careless take them for adequate expressions of reality. So, it may be, that the majority of mankind may find the practice of morality made easier by the use of theological symbols. And unless these are converted from symbols into idols, I do not see that science has anything to say to the practice, except to give an occasional warning of its dangers. But, when such symbols are dealt with as real existences, I think the highest duty which is laid upon men of science is to show that these dogmatic idols have no greater value than the fabrications of men's hands, the stocks and the stones, which they have replaced.

Thomas Henry Huxley
In the Christian tradition, there is a very decisive problem in distinguishing between the senses of the terms "Jesus" and "Christ." "Jesus" refers to a historical character; "Christ" refers to an eternal principle, the Son of God: the second person of the blessed Trinity, which exists before and after all the ages and is, therefore, not historical. The sense of our tradition is that the historical character Jesus is or was the Incarnation on earth of that second person of the blessed Trinity. Now, the main point that would distinguish our tradition in this respect from (let us say) Hinduism or Buddhism is that we would say that this Incarnation was unique. That has had a special force in our tradition. Yet the main point of the Christian religion is not, certainly, that the Incarnation was unique in the case of Jesus Christ, but rather that this miracle-the eternal principle of Christ's birth, life, and death-should have some effect on the individual human spirit. There is a wonderful line from the German mystic Angelus Silesius: "Of what use, Gabriel, your message to Marie / Unless you can now bring the same message to me?"19 Likewise, the great mystic Meister Eckhart states, "It is of more worth to God that Christ should be born in the virgin soul than that Jesus should have been born in Bethlehem."20 This point is tremendously important. Many of the images-which in our religion are dogmatically affirmed as having had historical reality-are very difficult today to interpret in historical terms. For example, the Assumption of the Virgin or the ascension of Jesus to heaven both lead us to a problem: where is heaven? Somewhere up in the sky? Our contemporary cosmology does not permit us to entertain that thought very seriously. We have a collision between these articles of faith and the historical and physical sciences, which we have to admit are ruling our lives, giving us everything that we live by from day to day. This collision has destroyed people's belief in these symbolic forms; they are rejected as untrue.21 Now, since the primary truth is not the historical but the spiritual reference of these symbols, the fact that historical evidence refuts these myths on the level of objective reality should not relieve us of the symbols. These symbols stem from the psyche; they speak from and to the spirit. And they are in fact the vehicles of communication between the deeper depths of our spiritual life and this relatively thin layer of consciousness by which we govern our daylight existences.

Joseph Campbell
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