NATURAL LAW, BRIDGE TO THE SPIRITUAL REALM
F. M. Perry, March 23, 2001
Following are some notes of my thoughts generated by my reading of the book "Natural Law in the Spiritual World" by Henry Drummond, first published about 1890. These notes contain paraphrases or direct quotations from Mr. Drummonds's book with some past thoughts of my own and some thoughts which were being generated in my mind as I studied his book.
Mr. Drummond formatted his book by citing natural laws, examining the scientific backgrounds of the natural laws, and then showing how the Bible illustrates the origin of these natural laws to be in the spiritual realm and how the Bible uses these natural laws to illustrate spiritual truths. It occurs to me that the use of natural laws to illustrate spiritual truths was a method of teaching used by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry as He explained spiritual truths by the use of natural analogies. I find myself greatly interested in Mr. Drummond's approach to this subject matter. Perhaps I am interested because my training as an engineer prompts me to search for the basic elements and laws of the realm in which God has placed me, a realm which I now recognize to be essentially spiritual.
Apparently the spiritual realm is a non-material realm bearing a superior relationship to the material or natural realm. Can we learn the basic elements of the spiritual realm which are analogized by the elements of the physical/natural realm? Is there, for instance, a "periodic table of elements" for the spiritual realm as there is for the physical/natural realm?
The Holy Bible, God's gift to mankind, contains a vast store of knowledge pertaining to the spiritual realm which we pick up gradually as we study the Bible. But our human, natural biases seem to prevent us from consolidating these bits of knowledge about the spiritual realm into an organized whole. Mr. Drummond, in his book "Natural Law in the Spiritual World," seems to have made some progress in the task of understanding the spiritual realm into which the Bible leads our minds. So I have chosen to title my notes about Mr. Drummond's book, "Natural Law, Bridge to the Spiritual Realm."
THE NATURAL LAW OF CONTINUITY
and What It Reveals about the Spiritual Realm.
We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2nd Cor 4:18).
"The visible is the ladder up to the invisible; the temporal is but the scaffolding of the eternal. And when the last immaterial souls have climbed through this material to God, the scaffolding shall be taken down, and the earth dissolved with fervent heat - not because it was base, but because its work is done." (Henry Drummond, AD 1890).
As teenagers when we first started to study mathematics we used to speculate about the possibility of there being a fourth dimension beyond the boundaries of our three dimensional world. Our imaginations were spurred by some of the science fiction stories of the time.
Our first excursions into the mathematics of plane geometry early in high school gave us experience in visualizing geometric figures. In plane geometry all the figures exist in only two dimensions; that is, all figures can be drawn on the flat surface of a piece of paper. The geometric figures, like squares, rectangles, triangles, and circles can be defined with only two dimensions, length and width. It became fun to visualize the figures as if we were limited two dimensional figures ourselves, wandering on a planar surface and viewing the two dimensional world around us. From one angle of view a certain figure would appear to have length, but when one "walked" around and viewed it from different angles, there might be one angle of view where it's length would disappear and only a point would be in view. In that case one would have to conclude that the figure being viewed must be a segment of a line. In another case, a figure might appear as a segment of a line but as one walked around it, it did not change but continued to appear as a segment of a line. With this information and a few other measurements one might conclude that the figure was a circle. If the figure was observed to have three corners, it would have been a triangle. If it had four corners it might be a square, a rectangle, or another four sided figure. One would have to make careful measurements to determine which four sided figure it was. Thus we imagined ourselves going about exploring our two dimensional planar world until we became quite confident that we knew all of the possible two dimensional figures which could exist on our "flat earth." And we really began to feel like scientists when the "laws"of plane geometry governing our limited environment became evident to us.
But then our excursion into the real world of three dimensional solid geometry began to make us aware of how short sided and ignorant we had been when our environment had seemed restricted to two dimensions. For instance, our observance of a planar circle may actually have been an observance of the intersection of a three dimensional sphere with our plane. Yet, as beings of only two dimensions, we could not see the sphere. And other two dimensional figures we observed in our limited two dimensional observations may have actually been planar sections taken through three dimensional figures of which we were unaware because we could not see beyond our "flat earth." As a matter of fact it occurred to us that as two dimensional creatures existing on a planar surface, WE WOULD PROBABLY BE BLISSFULLY UNAWARE OF OUR ACTUAL THREE DIMENSIONAL UNIVERSE.
An apparent lesson was that, as two dimensional creatures, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for us to come to a realization of the actual three dimensional world around us. We had actually been a part of the three dimensional world, but, because of our confinement to one plane only, had been aware of only two dimensions.
Extrapolating this lesson to our actual situation of existence in the multi-dimensional universe of our Creator, we are prompted to ask ourselves if we are not, perhaps, ignorantly unaware of an actual reality of one or more additional dimensions we have not yet discovered. Is it not possible, indeed, is it not likely, that there is a reality with one or more levels higher than that of our apparent "natural" universe?
In our study of plane (two dimensional) geometry, we discovered axioms, principles, and laws which always held true in dealing with plane geometric figures. (For instance, the sum of all the degrees contained in the three angles of a triangle is always 180 degrees.) In our study of solid (three dimensional) geometry we discovered the laws which held true with regard to solid geometric figures. The laws of solid geometry turned out to be more general but otherwise identical to the laws of plane geometry. The laws of plane geometry turned out to be special cases of, or to have been derived from, the more general laws of solid geometry. Contemplation of this fact might lead one to the expectation that careful study of the laws of nature, of which we are aware, might lead us to a view of more general laws which bring into view additional dimensions of our existence.
Especially might people have this expectation who have faith in the revelations of the Holy Bible. Apart from the Bible, the realization of many truths have resulted from scientific inquiry into the material matter and the living creatures of the natural realm. These scientific truths are applicable in the natural lives of all people, However, at the same time that the Holy Bible reveals that God created people as inhabitants of the natural world, it also reveals that God created people as inhabitants of a spiritual realm. Therefore, other truths applicable in the spiritual realm also apply to the people of the world. Is there a relationship between the laws of the natural world and the laws of the spiritual realm somewhat like the relationship of the laws of Plane (two dimensional) Geometry to Solid (three dimensional) Geometry ?
Natural law (or scientific law) becomes known by revelation resulting from scientific investigations. Natural phenomena are examined until the laws governing the phenomena are revealed. After much examination of natural phenomena it is found that analogous phenomena are ruled by identical laws. In fact, this is known as the Law of Continuity, which states that analogous phenomena are ruled by identical laws. Pence said in 1898, "Continuity is a higher type of that which we know as generality. It is relational generality." Also Henry Drummond, writing in the 19th century, spoke of the Law of Continuity as referring to the "Reign of Law" in all natural or scientific fields.
Does the Law of Continuity, found to be true in the natural realm, apply in the spiritual realm as well? The Bible is full of analogy explaining spiritual phenomena in terms of natural world phenomena. Are spiritual phenomena governed by the same laws that govern natural phenomena?
The realization of a problem in extending the Law of Continuity into the Spiritual Realm was stated by Henry Drummond as follows: "The Reign of Law has gradually crept into every department of Nature, transforming knowledge everywhere into Science. The process goes on, and Nature slowly appears to us as one great unity, until the borders of the Spiritual World are reached. There the Law of Continuity (apparently) ceases, and the harmony (apparently) breaks down. And men who have learned their elementary lessons truly from the alphabet of the lower Laws, going on to seek a higher knowledge, are suddenly confronted with the Great Exception. Nature in the Supernatural, so far as Laws are concerned, is still an unknown truth."
In consideration of this question of the reign of law in the spiritual realm, let us first notice that knowledge of any truth, whether so-called scientific truth concerning the natural world, or truth concerning the spiritual realm, comes into our human minds through revelation from God, the originator of all truth. Scientific truth comes from study and observation under scientific discipline of the phenomena of our natural realm, that is, of the natural things which have been created by the Creator. Such scientific truth thus seems to be confined to natural phenomena and the laws governing such phenomena.. One might say that all scientific knowledge comes through God's revelation in His "book" of nature and that the scientific method of investigating nature is an organized way of reading God's "book" of nature. Furthermore, by definition, scientific observations are made only through the use of the five fleshly senses (or extensions thereof by instrumentation) upon matter which "can be seen" thereby. However, spiritual truth comes from study of God's spiritual phenomena and the laws governing spiritual phenomena revealed by God in another book, the Holy Bible. Such spiritual truth encompasses phenomena which cannot be confirmed by "scientific method" because it involves phenomena which "cannot be seen," that is, cannot be detected or investigated by scientific instrumentation. Spiritual laws must be confirmed by a totally different set of "measurements" utilizing totally different "sensors" from those of the scientific method.
Although God's Holy Bible is not written in the limited manner of a scientific treatise, it takes truthful note of natural phenomena in human lives while stressing the reality of spiritual phenomena in human lives. In fact, a major characteristic of God's Holy Bible is that it teaches understanding of spiritual phenomena through analogy to natural phenomena. It offers analogy of "things seen" to explain "things not seen." In the handling of natural phenomena, the Bible shows a great respect for "method", which became known as "scientific method" only many centuries after the Bible was written. In the handling of spiritual phenomena, the Holy Bible, taking note of the human reader's inability to measure and confirm spiritual
phenomena with only his five fleshly senses, gives exhaustive spiritual explanations by means of analogy to natural phenomena using the most expressive words of human language. Yet, since we are so deeply biased toward confirming everything with only our five fleshly senses, we miss the bridge the Lord has provided through His Law of Continuity. We charge right past the milepost which points to the bridge between the natural and the spiritual. The milepost says, LOOK TO THE LAWS OF NATURE. IF PHENOMENA ARE ANALOGOUS, THE LAWS BEHIND THEM ARE IDENTICAL.
Henry Drummond, in his book "Natural Law in the Spiritual World", concludes that the real dignity of Natural Law is its relationship to and identity with Spiritual Law. He said, "At one end they (laws) deal with Matter, and at the other end with Spirit. The physical properties of matter form the alphabet which is put into our hands by God, the study of which, if properly conducted, will enable us more perfectly to read the great book which we call the 'Universe'. But, over and above this, the Natural Laws will enable us to read the great duplicate which we call the 'Unseen Universe', and to think and live in fuller harmony with it. After all, the true greatness of Law lies in its vision of the Unseen. Law in the visible is the Invisible in the visible. And to speak of Laws as Natural is to define them in their application to a part of the universe, the sense-part, whereas a wider survey would lead us to regard all Law as essentially Spiritual. To magnify the Laws of Nature as Laws of this small-world of ours, is to take a provincial view of the universe. Law is great not because the phenomenal world is great, but because these vanishing lines are the avenues of the eternal Order."
Mr. Drummond goes on in his book to give us an inkling of how the natural and spiritual revelations of God together give us a picture of true reality. "The lines of the spiritual existed first, and it was natural to expect that when the 'Intelligence resident in the Unseen' proceeded to frame the material universe, He should go upon the lines already laid down. He would, in short, simply project the higher Laws downward, so that the Natural World would become an incarnation, a visible representation, a working model of the spiritual. The whole function of the material world lies here. The whole world is not a thing that is; it is not. It is a thing that teaches, yet not even a thing - a show that shows, a teaching shadow. However useless the demonstration otherwise, philosophy does well in proving that matter is a non-entity. We work with it as the mathematician with an x. The reality is alone the Spiritual. It is very well for physicists to speak of 'matter,' but for men
generally to call this 'a material world' is an
absurdity. Should we call it an x-world it would mean as much, viz., that we do
not know what it is. When shall we learn the true mysticism of one who was yet
far from being a mystic - We look not
at the things which are seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but
the things which are not seen are eternal? The visible is the ladder up to
the invisible; the temporal is but the scaffolding of the eternal. And when the
last immaterial souls have climbed through this material to God, the scaffolding
shall be taken down, and the earth dissolved with fervent heat - not because it
was base, but because its work is done."