Thinking with Einstein about truth and freedom

Here, with the author's permission, is an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Dr. John McKenna, faculty member at GCI's Grace Communion Seminary. John, a student of T.F. Torrance, has served as doctrinal advisor for GCI.

John McKenna
In general, we may say that freedom without truth is mere anarchy; truth without freedom is sheer tyranny.

The integration of freedom and truth is necessary if we are to grasp the reality of the nature of the Word in all of its depths with us. The freedom of truth and the truth of freedom fundamentally provide the ground on which we may stand and understand the reality of the space and time where we have been given our freedom to live and breathe.

The integration of freedom and truth is essential in the depth of the order we discover here. When this integration exists, we have the formation of the fundamental ground on which we may seek to know the nature of the Cosmos that is the Universe where we have been given our freedom to be who we are in God’s Creation. Without this integration, the meaning and significance of freedom and truth becomes lost upon us. But with their integration, we have the ability to grasp things as they actually are in a reality that does not allow us to escape their attention. Without integration, we soon fragment and alienate the two as parts without a wholeness to their exixtence.

The whole that is the Universe where we exist and subsist, with what is and what is to come, remains beyond our grasp. Without their integration, we know particulars in our experience with only a vague notion about the World as a whole, and we do not understand it as it actually is with us in our times. Our freedom is exercised without the truth. We know truth without our freedom. Here, anarchy and tyranny then command a complex of dynamical relations unable to penetrate into the depths of the reality in which we live and breathe. Meaning is lost. Significance is forsaken. We exist in a kind of Nothingness, well known to our existential friends here.

Essential for our knowing of the nature of this World, then, is the unique necessity for apprehending the purpose of integration in our experience. Freedom and truth in our lives must refer us to the meaningful significance of that to which we are bound from beyond our existence. We are commanded to seek to understand from beyond us that reality whose nature is created as the integration of freedom and truth in the times of our lives. We may envision here both our independence from and dependence on the integration of truth and freedom as they belong to a transcendent order established from quite utterly beyond ourselves. We are free yet bound to this order of truth---this truth of order---from that which transcends our lives. We say that we are free yet bound to God.

We must ask then what is the actual nature of the origin demanding the integration of freedom and truth in the nature of this World. Why does this World possess an order or truth with which real freedom is necessary to grasp in all of its depths the nature of this World’s dynamical existence with us?

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein
We may get help for such questioning from the great Albert Einstein. His wrestling with the independence of this World’s freedom and its dependence upon the ‘Old One's’ existence with us is famously recorded for us.

Einstein proclaimed that ‘Science without Religion is lame; religion without science is blind!’ The assertion of his saying commands the direction of all of his thought about the World and God. We may find an instance of the kind of resolution he sought to this problem with the way he wanted to conceive of the invariance in relativity theories as fundamental and foundational for any real grasp of the depths of this Universe.

Einstein actually preferred to call his thought an ‘Invariance Theory’ of the Universe. Here, the speed of light’s constancy in this World is observed in the space and time of a Cosmos the Universe subject to the motion of an observer. Physics of this World is to be understood as both independent of and dependent on a realty that cannot be divorced from the One he called ‘The Old One’. Progress in science is to be made in relations of the World as a Universe that comes from the hands of ‘The Old One.’

Because of this assertion,  Einstein left us quite clearly with his thoughts about God:

‘God does not play dice.’

The Creator is not a god of chance. He created with a divine freedom the rationality of which is inherent in His Being with His Acting as the Creator God He chose to become with us. That freedom and rationality is to be discovered in the sensible world of man’s experience in the Creation of God. To exist without it is to deny God his rightful space in this World, his place in His Creation.

‘The Lord is deep but not devious.’ 

Who can penetrate into the depths of the God who is with us, into the secrets of this Life of the Redeemer-Creator He actually is with us in our times? Only the one to whom He gives to know the secrets of His existence with the space and time and matter and energy we experience in the World that is His Creation. To believe our freedom is some absolute permission to travel an abyss of our own making to Him who is the One He is for us is to commit our lives to the self-destructive trip commonly experienced by men and women in our times. To know God is ever a Gift of God and not a deduction from the analytical knowledge that obtains with our existential efforts to explain the existence of this World. This World is not with us as its self-explanation. For the sense that is inherent in it, we must come to know what utterly transcends it.

‘God does not wear his heart on his sleeve.’ 

We do not see God. We do not see the clothes He wears in His relationship with us here. We cannot even penetrate on our own into the secrets of His Heart with and for us in His Creation. His possesses His Own Way of what knowing and being is in this World. He possesses Himself in relations with His Creation with a Divine Freedom and Truth of His Being and Acting as the Personal Reality He is, so that we cannot assume or with ‘a priori’ force pretend to know who He is. If we know Him as the One He is, we know Him as this One and not Another because He is who He is in His Acts with His Being and with His Being in His Acts in an integrity foreign to the sinful nature of men and women in this World. We need to know Him as our Redeemer if we are to know Him as our Creator. Belief understands, un-belief will not understand Him.

The most direct input of this integration’s demand upon us is to be read in the Judeo-Christian View of the World to be read in the Holy Scriptures as God’s Creation. Here, we are commanded to understand the space-time Universe is what  it is as both independent of and dependent on God, their Almighty Maker. The Universe is independent of the nature of God ‘s Being, yet it is dependent also on Him for its existence and subsistence. The rational existence and subsistence of the world is independent of Him yet dependent on Him.

What the Universe is and is not, does not provide us with self-explanation. We must look the Universe to understand the Universe in its independence and dependence. We need to seek to understand this difficult proposition as both independent and dependent in itself, for independence and dependence form a fundamental and rational ground on which we must learn to stand and know what existence and subsistence are in the depths of the nature of this World. We live in this World and no other, and we cannot allow it to escape our attentions. We are free yet bound to its God.

The complex coordination of independence and dependence may be found in the belief that God caused the world to possess, with it time and space, a beginning that is of Him in the Divine Freedom of the Creator He has chosen to become and to create. The belief in the ‘creatio ex nihilo’ of the World is the embrace of the doctrine that it is this Freedom of God, who is God before He is Creator, possesses the Power to give existence to something that He is not---a world that is from beginning to ending His Free Creation.

Corollary to this belief is the doctrine of the ‘Contingency’ of the World, a doctrine which asks us to forsake our Greek assumptions about the rationality of the World (A cannot be both A and non-A at the same time!) and to embrace the reality of that ‘Contingent Rationality’ that is the World as God’s Creation. It is with this concept of ‘Contingency’ that we may understand the justification and sanctification of the complex independence and dependence that is inherent in the nature of this World as the Creation of the Lord our God, the Great I-AM of His Revelation in our times.

Without God and with our created freedom, we are able to do much in this world. With our freedom, we are free to live and breathe and work and tap into the richness of the good the world has for us. We are free to be successful without Him, but we are not free to be who we are without Him. We are free to do this and that but we are not free to be this and that. We must be what we have been to be in a world that His Creation. The title of this essay, “Show Men This”, is a command to explain the way that we are free and yet bound to Him. Human freedom is not an absolute freedom. It is a contingent freedom, the relativity of which causes us to face reality in all of its depths as belonging to the person God is with us.

There exists, then, ‘Reality’ in which we are bound by our freedom to the Almighty Maker of ‘Reality’. ‘Reality’ thus possesses a relationship that justifies the World with us as God’s Creation. He has caused us to exist outside of Himself with a created freedom that given us to be who we are as ourselves in Him. ‘We are free yet bound to God.’ To show the rational nature and rationality of this existence between God and our freedom in His Creation is to be able to explain the created correspondence functioning between God Himself and the World that is made as His Creation. We may say in this case We are free yet gound to YOU!’ The connection is deeply personal.

With this kind of ‘Realtity’ in mind, then, we want to explore, as far as we may and as deeply as possible, that created correspondence giving us to know a relational veracity that exists between God and Man in the World, the World that is God’s Creation. We are free to do much in this World without God. But we are also free to face and follow Him here. We need to be to explain this relationship here.

Freedom’s purpose is to follow Him who is the only way to heaven for us. God as the Lord is our Redeemer and Creator. We are made to be free in His Creation in order that we might know Him in His Freedom to be who He is with us. The nature of human freedom is a created reality. It is a contingent freedom, possessed of a rationality (creatio ex nihilo), The singularity of which is not self-explaining or self-justifying. It is sanctified from outside of itself. It is to be understood and explained from beyond itself. It is what it is as bound up by its freedom with the God of Freedom. I will seek to show us that created freedom, as the contingent reality and rationality it is from God, has been made to bear witness to the non-contingent and uncreated Freedom God is with us.

Created freedom is to be known, independent of the nature of God’s Being, as that freedom which exists as it is, independent of God, in being dependent upon the Freedom of His Being as the Creator He is. The two, God and Man, together form a relational whole we cannot allow to escape our attentions. Our created beings are rooted in the ground that is His Divine Being.

The relationship between created independence in existence without God and the created dependence upon Him requires a logic the exploration of which we seek to make here. We would seek to know the knowing of the One who knows what He has caused to be and the One who would be known in the grasp of what He has caused to exist with Him. There exists a relational wholeness between two evidently opposite natures, God and Man, that makes them as one in the time and space that is the World where we have been given life and breath.

The assertion that ‘We are free yet bound to God!’ as it comes from God cannot sound with us as a paradox. There exists no contradiction in terms here. The statement would refer two utterly different realities as bound together at once into a new reality that preserves the individual character of their existences. How may we come to terms with this very real reference inherent in the statement ‘We are free yet bound to God!’? What is the reality in all of its depths of this occurrence between God and Man and the World in our times?

To understand in the light of the Truth that God is who He is as the One who is with and for us in this World is to believe that our knowing of the natures of God and the World, as different as they are and must be, is truly bound up with His actual Being and Acting in the spacetime of His Creation. We are thus free yet bound to this One! He is who He is within Himself and with us as the One He is as His Eternal Being and Freedom to Act here as our Redeemer-Creator. He is who He is for us in this way and in no other.

With the writing of this book, I will seek to articulate the actual relationship given to exist between the created freedom of the nature of the World as His Creation and the divine uncreated freedom of the nature of God not only with us but for us in the spacetime of a Cosmos we may come to understand as His Creation. This World possesses the generations that led to the Revelation of this One with us. Thus, created and creative relationships between the uncreated nature of God and the created nature of Man will consume our attention here. We seek in this way to come face to face with none other than the Face of God with us in the spacetime of a universe that is no other than the Creation of His Being and Freedom.

The reality that is the relationship between the contingent created nature and rationality the World is and the non-contingent rationality and divine nature that is God with us has proven a steady challenge in the history of our thought here. It exists as a reality of relationship upon which we may not presume. The concept of independence yet dependence of existence at the heart of the fundamental character of that which is between God, Man, and the World has ever proven to be difficult for us to grasp and explain. What freedom actually is and ought to be has been given both independence and dependence in a reciprocal relationship between the contingent and transcendent nature of the asymmetrical rationality making the two as one, and never allowed to escape our attentions.

We believe we ought to and therefore we must be able to resolve the problem of independence and dependence inherent in the real relationship between freedom and the order of reality upon which our life and breath depends, between created freedom and the transcendent freedom that is God with us. From Cave-Man to Civilized Man to Space-Man we can follow the development Man has experienced clearly in his history as Man in this World.

How best may learn to come to grips with the profound nature of freedom and order as we found in God? We may refer to one of the many sayings of Einstein to God. ‘Science without Religion is lame; Religion without Science is blind.’ When we fail to integrate Science and Religion in our times, we remain committed to be the lame and blind with our generation. Integration is fundamental for understanding the ‘Reality’ we must face today. What is the meaning of this saying with us?

The account of Genesis and the generations, read with Moses’ confession as the Prophet of Israel among the Nations under the Lord God, the Great I-AM of the Revelation with Israel as the People of God, gives us to understand in some detail, from the Beginning, the significance of His Presence for us in this World: Genesis 1:1 speaks of the Freedom of God and the Impetus of the Heavens and the Earth; Genesis 1:2 tells of the Spirit of God with the Inertia of this World; Genesis 1:3 claims that the Voice of God is the source of the light of this World; Impetus, Inertia, and Light of God, the Spirit and Voice of the Almighty form the foundation on which the making of a home for Man is accomplished here.

Freedom, Spirit, and Voice of God integrate as One for the generations of Man in time is the will of the Great I-AM He is as the Revelation of God even with us today. We remain the lame and the blind is we are unable to grasp the meaning and significance of this confession of Moses on the Beginning, about which there has been and thus remains much debate and discussion even as I write. We live in a culture whose society suffers greatly from its fragmentation and thus alienations in our times. I trust that our account of the Genesis given by Moses with help us move from being the lame and the blind into those who are able to believe in the walk that follows after our Redeemer and Creator with us now.

The Freedom, Spirit, and Voice of God as One with us, according to Moses, is the source of our Knowledge of God, even from the Beginning of time and space, in our generations. This ‘Reality’ remains with us even ‘Today.’