Theotokos Athos

Orthodox Christianity
for Absolute Beginners

Current Podcasts (Ancient Faith Radio)
Sermon Podcasts Archive (2009, 2010)
St. Aidan's Orthodox Church, Manchester, UK

Christ the Saviour
cross

 Print Friendly and PDF

Microcosm - Why We Are Here

Cosmos Solar System Earth Microcosm
  Divine Image Cosmic Christ  

Humanity's Place in the Cosmos

baby earth

from Kubrick's "2001 - a Space Odyssey"

The Hermetic tradition in Greek philosophy, some 200 years before Christ, taught that humanity was a microcosm, a "little-cosmos" mediating a unity and harmony for the whole Universe in its several elements.  Greeks who became Christians found, therefore, in their own tradition a belief that met its fulfilment in Christ, the New Adam. 

In Genesis, the Hebraic tradition had recorded that humanity had been placed in Eden for a specific purpose:-

15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.  [Genesis 2:15 NKJV]

Certainly St. Paul saw an intimate connection between a redeemed humanity and a liberated Cosmos, (Romans 8:18-22) and it is the Cosmic Christ who makes this connection work again as it should:-

9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. [Ephesians 1:9-10]

Thus, in Christ, the two beliefs became one.  The Greek fathers especially had a great attachment to this understanding of humanity's place in the Cosmos, notably, St. Maximos the Confessor and St. John of Damascus.  In their teaching, Christ enabled humanity once more to become microcosmic priests, in Him that is, bringing the whole Cosmos back into unity with itself and with God, a vocation first given in the mythic Garden of Eden. 

Today, when astronomers and cosmologists gaze into the heavens they see a Cosmos which seems uniquely programmed to produce us.  As the physicist Freeman Dyson said: "The Universe knew we were coming."  The Cosmos is so finely tuned for the emergence of life, (the anthropic principle), it just doesn't seem credible to many that we are just an accident of nature.  Science can't tell us what possible purpose we might have in being here but our being here does seem purposeful in the sense that it is so highly improbable that we should exist at all! 

The evidence though is not without ambiguity.  There is no knock down proof for the existence of God or the purpose of life waiting at the end of a telescope.  Indeed, some scientists feel very uncomfortable with the idea that humanity might in some sense be special or that the Universe which generated humanity might itself be improbably unique.  These take refuge in hints from the physics that there might be an infinity of Universes many of which are incapable of sustaining life.   That we should live in one hospitable to life is hardly remarkable.

So, dear reader, you have to make a choice in the light of this evidence.  This choice is reflected in a crucial question which we shall give in a moment below:-

baby earth

from Kubrick's "2001 - a Space Odyssey"

Key Principle  cool

There seems to be an intimate connection between humanity and the Cosmos both in religion and science ... even if we are not ourselves unique as intelligences in the Cosmos.

Key Question  ask

Which seems more credible and why ... humanity, a fluke of nature in an indifferent Universe?

or, humanity, a purposeful creation of God in a Cosmos suitably designed for life?

Resources  browse

1.  The Anthropic Principle (Wikipedia)

2.  "Human Being as Microcosm" in Orthodox Perspectives on Creation (WCC Inter-Orthodox Consultation, October 1987)

Your Own Questions Answered Here  help

orthodox@clara.net