Mystical theology and science share a common understanding in regard to the limitations and hindrance of language in unlocking reality. Both would agree that language falsifies reality. It falsifies it by imposing limits to the real. It falsifies it by imposing human categories and classifications to the real. For both realities is beyond words and human concepts. Reality transcends language. Language in fact hinders a true understanding of the real. What language does is create what the Hindus' call Maya. Namely a conventional reality based upon language -a world of appearances and forms of illusion or deception generated by a falsifying language which an unenlightened mind takes as the only reality. For the physicist Bohr language is a barrier to understanding reality Dante like Lao Tzu, Pseudo-Dionysius St Augustine (354-430), St Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) Zen and many forms of Eastern mysticism knew the simultaneous inapplicability and inevitability of human language when talking of reality or God and his attributes and domains. Whether the reality as investigated by science is really just another name for God or the reality investigated by science is just a reality and not the God of religion. In other words is God just another name for reality or is reality just another name for God is by the by. What is important is this reality/God as understood by both science and theology is beyond the ability of human language -and thus intellect to grasp
A basic point is that if you postulate an ultimate reality which is beyond our reach then it is just that - beyond our reach. Meanwhile we have to get on with living our lives in the reality which we know and which is within our reach. As a matter of survival we are forced to build up a knowledge of reality as it is known to the senses and for this task the methods of science are unquestionably superior to those of theology.
Hi peter. I agree that what you said makes plenty of sense. I'm not trying to say one way or another right now, but I just wanted to point out that science will only be proved "unquestionably superior" if indeed there is no God/Creator, or he doesn't expect us to believe in him. This doesn't prove you wrong of course, it's just the other side of the coin.
Thanks for the comment, NeitherExtreme. I don't think I can go along with it. I said that the methods of science are unquestionably superior for the purpose of building up knowledge of the world which is revealed to us by the senses and in which we live. You could believe in a transcendant God while accepting that investigation of the physical world is best done using the methods of science.
Talking of "unprovable assumptions", I have found that those who proclaim loudly that ultimate reality is beyond our understanding are often pretty quick to make definite assertions about it - if not a grey old man with a beard then at least that it consists of an intelligent designer prone to intervening in the processes of the universe. There seems to be a strong urge to fill in any gap in our knowledge with an anthropomorphic projection of our own priorities and ways of thinking. We should resist this urge until evidence becomes available. It is better to admit our ignorance than to proclaim an error.
I was especially interested in your comment: "If there is an "outside source" that in essence created the universe and life, it must be very powerful, and fully capable of making itself known in any way that it chooses."
The trouble I have with these kinds of ideas is that if we invoke an outside source to explain "the universe" or "our universe" then we still haven't addressed the fundamental problem - that is the origin of everything that exists. Immediately you posit an outside source you are of course assuming that it/he/she exists. It then becomes part of the general concept of everything that exists - and requires an explanation just as much as any other part of the totality. By definition, everything that exists can not have an explanation outside itself.
It looks as if we just cannot handle the idea of a totality which is not sourced outside itself. The reason for that, I would suggest, is that our mental processes are geared up to (have evolved only with the capacity to) understand and explain the events of immediate experience in terms of other specific events which we identify as causes. However, as I've just demonstrated, if we are seriously talking about the totality of existence then it seems that we need to get used to the idea of no outside origin. Perhaps this, like quantum physics, is a concept which goes beyond the capacity of a brain which has evolved to deal only with a specific range of terrestrial processes.
After thinking about it some more, I decided that looking for natural explanations is in essence what science is all about. If people had always attributed to God what they didn't understand, we would have very little scientific understanding indeed...
I am strengthened in this view by the history of mankind's aquisition of knowledge in which a pattern is revealed of primitive thinking which ascribed supernatural, animistic causes to natural events, being steadily replaced by the development of rational, scientific explanations. Because our growth of knowledge is cumulative, it is to be expected that it will be incomplete and that there will therefore be gaps. But I don't see any reason to assume that these gaps are essentially outwith the limits of reasoned explanation.