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BY Mark Shea
As the existence of everything from SETI (Search for
Extraterrestrial Intelligence) to “Star Trek” attests, our civilization is
fascinated with the question of the existence of non-human intelligences.
The faith says that we already know of at least one such
class of creature. It is called an angel. However, our culture’s response to
the existence of the angelic is deeply confused.
Materialists have long scoffed at angels in their knee-jerk
way, but now are (unwittingly) placing themselves in a bit of a bind in their
effort to go on scoffing at God.
It’s like this: The universe science is discovering is
fantastically fine-tuned. If the strong nuclear force constant were not just
so, either no hydrogen or nothing but hydrogen would form after the Big Bang.
If the gravitational force constant were not just so, stars
would be too hot or too cold for life. If the electromagnetic force constant
were not just so, chemical bonding for life could not occur. If the expansion
rate of the universe were not just so, either no galaxies would form or the
universe would collapse back to a singularity.
And on and on this goes for more than 30 variables, all
requiring fine tuning of such a degree that expressing the odds of getting them
all right would require writing more zeros than I can fit in an 800-word
Because of the immense fine-tuning of the universe, sensible
theists are rather understandably reminded of Paul’s remarks in Romans 1 that
“Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature, namely, his
eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have
But fallen man is nothing if not ingenious, so not a few
materialists have lately attempted to lick this problem of the fine-tuned
universe by positing what is known as the “multiverse” theory.
According to this evidence-free theory, the
ultra-super-duper fine tuning of basic physical laws that strongly suggests
that You Know Who might have had a hand in the creation is just a statistical
illusion. Based on absolutely no facts at all, some materialists insist the
reason the universe looks ultra-fine-tuned for life is that we just happen to
be lucky enough to live in the one-out-of-an-infinite-number-of-universes where
all the physical laws happen to be fine-tuned enough to produce us.
According to this theory, there are, in fact, an infinite
number of other universes with other physical laws tuned to other variables.
This is not the sort of thing that would keep you from getting shot in
Deadwood, S.D., in the 1880s (“Wal, pardner, I cain’t hep it if every hand I’m
dealt is four aces. We jes’ happen to live in the multiverse where I always git
four aces!”), but it is a consolation to atheist materialists desperate to
avoid You Know Who.
The problem for the atheist is this: If, for the special
purpose of getting rid of God, you can say there are an infinite number of
natures out there, why can’t the Christian say the same thing?
Christianity does not really posit a three-story universe
(hell, earth, heaven). It posits a universe with (potentially) any number of
natures — and even the possibility that such natures can interact.
In Tradition, “earth” refers to the creation we can see: not
just the planet on which we live but the whole field of time, space, matter and
energy to the farthest reaches of the farthest galaxy.
Similarly, “heaven” refers, not simply to God (the “highest
heaven”), but to the realm(s) of the angels and even of the demonic “powers and
Such natures are “higher” than we are in the order of nature
and so the angels are traditionally pictured floating around in heaven next to
God. But, of course, there is an infinite gulf between the Creator and his
angels just as there is an infinite gulf between the Creator and us (in the
order of nature).
Revelation speaks of these “in-between” angelic natures only
insofar as it concerns us so we know only a little. The angels, which are pure
intelligence without corporeal bodies, exist to praise God and to help us in
The demons are angels who have refused an affirmative to the
fundamental law of existence: to worship the Triune God who is life, love,
truth, goodness and beauty. They are the enemies of creation because they are
the enemies of the Creator. For the purposes of our salvation, all we need to
know is that.
Unfortunately, the devil being a liar, we have been fuddled.
So rejecting atheistic materialism is not enough.
Next week, we will look at the opposite problem from
atheistic materialism: the New Age tendency to love angels more than angels
want to be loved.
Mark Shea is content editor