Monday, March 19, 2018

For fear of little men

Up the airy mountain,
   Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
   For fear of little men;

The Faeries,
by William Allingham

For St. Patrick's Day, John C. Wright posted this amusing video.

Mr. Wright gives credence to the possibility that the fellow is on the up and up.  And as I've said before, I'm the first to concede the existence of what people refer to as The Supernatural.   As the good visitor at that post demonstrated, we have people who have turned skepticism into its own blind faith, willing to grasp at anything - no matter how far fetched or demonstrably false - to avoid the easier solution that rests on there being more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our latest philosophies.

I do have a hard time jumping anywhere too traditional in terms of superstitions and little people.  I'll concede the probability of the nether regions, but not imagine them in cultural terms.  That something could be there that stands outside of science's rather narrow corridors is something I can believe.  Adding the terminology, born of culture and history of that particular society, is - to me at least  - just the trappings that try to make sense of that which stands beyond our five senses.

Nonetheless, with that said, I'll take the possibility of seeing the world through created eyes, rather than material ones.  I think the Church has conceded too much to the non-believer over the years.  In some ways, listening to religious scientists and even religious leaders speak of the universe and life and humanity is barely different than listening to an atheist speak of the same.  We just smack a God stamp on it and try to make it all religious.

Christianity believes in creation, not a universe.  We don't see it as 'Big Bang, evolution, monkeys and humans and, oh yeah, God made it happen.'  We see the 'universe' as a mere part of Creation, a creation that includes many things beyond the ken of the physical sciences.  To believe in the supernatural is not to accept a material model of the universe and then proclaim 'Sure, there are demons and spirits.'  It is to say the demons, spirits, angels, heaven and hell are the real parts of creation, with the atoms and molecules and cells that make up what we see being merely one part of that grander Creation that groans along with us for Christ.

This isn't to say religious leaders and scientists don't think the same thing.  I just believe that when we hit the stage to discuss our model of Creation, we begin using the terms, assumptions and premises of the secular model of the universe, and sometimes I think that ends up being a tough sell for the post-modern ear.

Because of that, even if I don't envision little men guarding their fairy forts, I much prefer a model that allows for that possibility than one that dismisses almost all such possibilities but tries to maintain the thought that God is still there and, oh yeah, Jesus rose from the dead.  After all, an empty tomb is easier to swallow when set next to a fairy fort than set next to molecules or cells under a microscope.  One seems to reduce Creation to nothing but the materials of the universe, one says everything science imagines about the universe is but a small part of Creation.


  1. A frequent mental exercise I practice is to wonder: how would we know or test the Beyond if it was real? Science is great at testing anything without a mind. You can drop a rock over and over and over again and it will act the same every time. Try to drop your wife over and over again and you will quickly find her behavior changes drastically.

    Yes a bit of humor, but that's the point. When a mind is added into the mix, scientific prediction becomes much harder (if not impossible). There is a lot about ourselves we cannot scientifically prove with rigor that is nonetheless true (like your favorite food). Therefore, if the supernatural out there have their own minds, trying to cram them into a scientific mold would be just as unproductive. Heck humans have some measure of predictability just from the nature of our bodies (like breathing). If the fae do not have bodies as we would recognize, their minds would be even more unbound and harder to study.

    Of course I did write a story once where the supernatural were rarer nowadays because humans had driven it to extinction (meaning there were more stories back in the past because there were more of them). I think the Dresden files works along that logic too. Another possibility to entertain.

    So do I believe in the supernatural? A little because of the faith. (I like to describe angels and demons as having cheat codes for reality.) But I try to maintain a willingness to consider new possibilities. After all, you can miss even scientific truths if you don't.

    1. I actually do, and am trying to believe more. I'm coming to the conclusion that, while science is splendid and technology good (though it seems to eventually be a give and take, blessing and curse), I think we've lost something in accepting a more or less material model of the world with the spiritual and supernatural as some sidecar or pregame to the material main game. I think it's making it tough to 'sell' the Faith to generations increasingly schooled in a material model of a material universe.


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