General versus unique

General events are those which can be accounted for by laws of nature. They are contextually unspecific, e.g. an object will fall at the rate of 9.8 m/s2 no matter what object it is, and no matter how much that object might complain about it, or be confused about it.

Unique events on the other hand, are those events which fall outside general events. Clearly naturalism does not believe that there are any such things as unique events. All events are general, even if they are rare. Still they are just one of an indefinite number of other events of a similar nature. In fact, the similarity of events is critical for the naturalist understanding. In a sense naturalism is a metaphorical way of looking at reality, A is like B in ways C, D and E and unlike Q in ways X, Y, and Z.

The Buddhists talk about interdependent co-arising , which is a really neat term which says that there is nothing unique, everything is interconnected in a web of causation.

This insight is central to Buddhism, and its solution to the problems of suffering. It is also central to science in its goal to derive principles and laws to explain events. I think this is one reason that Buddhism and science work so well together.

And it also explains why Christianity is so at odds with science at a deep level. Christianity relies on a series of unique events as the basis of its understanding. There is the uniqueness of Creation, the Incarnation, the Resurrection.

In an interesting way these three are interdependent! But their interdependence points to the absolute uniqueness of Jesus. There is no other event which can serve as a metaphor for Jesus, and Jesus is not a metaphor for anything else.

The attempts by Frazer, Campbell, and the more histrionic Hillman not withstanding, Jesus is not a type of sun god myth, dying and being reborn. Jesus is not a type of Osiris, Zoroaster or any others.

Even if the general pattern of worship, and the trappings of commonplace belief would end up making them look similar. The religions of men will tend towards a common point, precisely because they are the responses of finite humans.

Also, the attempts by the Jesus Seminar and other agnostics (or downright atheists) who usually claim an enlightened liberal theology not withstanding, Jesus is also not a type of Hebrew prophet. Jesus is not a type of prophet, healer, or magician.

Even if some of his teachings dovetail or are in line with other wisdom teachers, and his healing powers on par with other shamans and healers, and his prophetic utterings echoing other prophets. The wisdom of humanity will tend towards a common point, precisely because they are inklings of truth.

The claim of Christianity is that He is absolutely unique. Everything about him is absolutely unique.

The miracle of his birth, the miracles he performed, and the miracle of his resurrection, are not magical. Magic would imply some sort of general principles, either as a form of proto-science or even as a form of meta-science which taps into a grander view of reality. Either of these do not explain the miracle which is Jesus. The birth, life and resurrection of Jesus are signs of his absolute uniqueness.

This should be clear, painfully clear. It is probably quite offensive, I know I was offended by it for a long time.

As Aslan said to Jill in The Silver Chair:

Remember, remember, remember the Signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the Signs.

And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly. I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the Signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances.

Remember the Signs and believe the Signs. Nothing else matters.

Pay no attention to appearances, look deeper into the Signs. That is the work: to remember and to believe in spite of, or better through, the appearances to the contrary.


About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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