The Limits of Human Reason 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 soul, or 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 its 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 the seen and the unseen, but at its root, the created and the 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.
Love in Christ,
About the author
Fr. Tryphon is the Abbot of the Monastery of the All-Merciful Saviour, which was established in 1986 by Archimandrite Dimitry (Egoroff) of blessed memory. The Monastery is under the omophore of His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.