The Secret of the Universe (Dr Nathan Wood)

Introduction to ‘The Secret of the Universe’ article

The secret of the Universe’ – what an intriguing title for a book, is it not? I bought a second-hand copy many years ago and made these notes as a summary of its remarkable subject. The problem with reading a condensed version is that it’s like eating desiccated food; it needs a lot of shewing in small portions, so please don’t try to swallow this article in one gulp. Or, if you do, then chew the cud with several re-readings.

 

The Secret of the Universe (Dr Nathan Wood)

  1. The Outer Universe

The outer universe has three basic ingredients – Space, Matter and Time.

  1. Space exists in three dimensions or three independent directions: length, breadth and height. ‘No man in the world has ever raised a cabin or a cathedral of either more or less than three dimensions’ [p.19].
  2. Matter – which fills space is ‘that form which energy takes so that we can see it, or hear it, or feel it’ [p. 18]. ‘(1). Energy is primal; Mass is simply a manifestation of that energy’ [p. 19]. (2). Motion. (3). Phenomena – light, colour, sound, heat, cold, hardness, softness, scent, moisture, dryness – which register objectively on mechanical instruments as readily as on human senses subjectively, are different rates of motion [p. 19].
  3. Time. ‘In eternity everything must doubtless be timeless. But in the world nothing is timeless’ [p. 20]. ‘Time…, as a matter of simple experience, consists of three great constituents – past, present and future’ [p. 21].

* We know of no other basic element in the universe. They have this in common: each is threefold – indeed threeness in oneness:

[] three dimensions of one space;

[] three manifestations of one substance;

[] three tenses of one time.

The universe is vast and rational and is inhabited (on earth) by personal beings. The Creator (Cause) of the universe must also be vast, rational and personal.

The revelation of God in Christ is threefold in unity. Let’s think things through, comparing the science of creation and the revealed theology of the Creator.

The Old Testament taught that God is one. At Jesus’ baptism: (i) the Son prayed; (ii) the Father spoke; (iii) the Spirit descended. Jesus spoke of himself and the Father as one, yet two distinct persons. He spoke of the Spirit as another (Greek allos) Comforter (= of the same kind) who proceeds from the Father. Baptism was to be conducted in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

  • Absolute threeness
  • Absolute oneness
  • Each is a personal being
  • The Father is first, the Son is second and the Spirit is third – not in time or infinitude, but in logical, causal order. The Father is source; the Son is begotten; the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.
  • The Father is unseen (‘No man has seen God’). The Son is the visible embodiment of the Godhead; the Son acts – he creates and becomes human, rose from the dead and judges. The Spirit is unseen – he reveals the Father through the Son, and is unseen in humans.

 

  1. How does Space compare?
  • Three dimensions – no less, no more = absolute threeness; no one could be either of the others; no one could exist alone. Take away height and you have a plane surface – not space. A plane is purely imaginary – it cannot exist of itself!
  • Absolute oneness. Space is filled by an infinite number of parallel lines; all possible points in space are contained in those forward and back and upward lines. Where these three exist, there is space. Length, breadth and height
  1. How does Matter compare?
  • Absolute threeness: Energy, Motion and Phenomena cover the entire range of matter – they constitute everything that matter is, not what it does. There are no more; there can be no less.
  • No one of the three can be either of the other two.
  • Energy is the source, the unseen potentiality, the cause of motion. It can pass into motion. Motion is not energy – it contains energy and embodies Energy is not phenomena which are visible, tangible or audible. (But phenomena do not embody motion.)
  • No two can exist apart from the third. Energy must beget motion and therefore phenomena. ‘A world of energy which never begets motion – is it really a world of energy?’ [p. 35]. Motion cannot exist without being definite kinds of motion – phenomena, which cannot exist without motion backed by energy.
  • Each is the whole. The world consists of phenomena – but they are energy via motion. Matter is absolute oneness.
  • And, there is an absolute, logical, causal order: energy, motion and phenomena. Phenomena interpret energy to us via motion.
  1. How does Time compare?
  • Absolute threeness, no less, no more – it is essential threeness.
  • No two can exist without the others. ‘If there is no past, time has never existed until this instant, and a little later this instant will never have existed. If there is no present, there is never any instant in which time exists. If there is no future, time ceases now, and indeed ceased long ago’ [p.41].
  • Absolute oneness. All of time is or has been future. All of time is or has been or will be present. All of time is or will be past. At the beginning all time is future. Between, all time is present. At the end, all time is past. Each one is the whole. They are not three modes of being. They are the essential nature of time.
  • The future is its source. Time comes out of the future and flows into the past. That is the invariable logical, causal flow of time. The human race comes out of the past, because we do not go with time! We continuously meet it, instant by instant. That is why the present is always instantaneous! The future is unseen, unknown, except as it continually embodies itself in the present and makes itself visible. The past acts invisibly and interprets he present.

[] In structure the universe is a tri-universe. It is not merely an analogy of, or similar to, a tri-unity. It reflects its Creator.

  1. The Inner Universe

[] Humanity reflects its God

  • God is omniscient: we remember and reason.
  • God is omnipotent: we exercise will.
  • God is omnipresent: in imagination we can be in various situations.
  • God is holy: we have conscience’
  • God is love: we also can love.

[] However, man is not love as God is love

[] The family can be of many members, not three centres of consciousness

[] Nor is intellect, affections and will this absolute threeness in unity; no one is the whole person (soul); but rather what the soul does; not three centres of consciousness.

[] Self-awareness and self determination are not the essence of the soul either. Personal life consists of persons, who are: (1) Nature; (2) Person; (3) Personality. These elements sum up who one is. They are distinct and cannot be less or more. One is not a personal being unless all three elements are present. None can exist without the others; no two of them can exist without the third – absolute threeness and absolute oneness. The personality is the whole man as he affects others. (A false personality is only a part of one’s self and one’s nature.) They are three modes of being, not of doing.

[] Nature is the source – unseen, revealed in the person, which embodies the nature and through his personality proceeds. We only know a person and his nature through his personality. The person acts through his personality. It reveals the person; by personality the person is felt and experienced by others. This is a logical, causal order.

III. Jesus

  1. First, we know Jesus as a person in the Gospels
  2. ‘Then as his friends got to know him better they saw back of the person his very nature … a divine nature… and back of that divine nature was the Father – “the Father in me does the works”’ [p,109].
  3. ‘And all felt the influence of Jesus’ marvelous personality. It extended into other lives. It gave them a new life. It made them over new – they were said to be born anew. … This spirit of his was more than a personality; it was also a person, his other self, the Holy Spirit. … When he, the visible person Jesus, was gone, this Personality of his proved to be a distinct, invisible person, the Holy Spirit, who spoke and directed, and acted, and said “I” and “me”’ [p.109]. ‘That seemingly impossible blending of the divine trinity and the human trinity becomes, in Jesus’ daily life and conversation, a simple reality’ [p.110].
  4. The Secret of the Universe
  5. Space is not the outspreading of primal nothingness, nor the outspreading of mind to perceive matter or motion. There never was a time when God’s omnipresent power was not outspread everywhere. Space then is the dimension of divine outspread power which precedes all energy and motion. God is Spirit. How then does divine power become physical? ‘As power to move, that outspread divine power becomes energy, which is the power of physical motion’ [p. 126].

Space then is logically and truly the basis and beginning of the actual, tangible universe. Omnipresence in a physical world must have dimensions. Nothing is inactive in the universe as we know it – not even space!

  1. Matter is the name we give to the tangible, audible, visible ways in which energy makes impact upon the mind through … the senses’ [p. 128]. ‘What are atoms? They consist largely of space, but within that space in each atom is a whirling galaxy of electrons. … The physicist says that the electron is a particle of energy and that it has no mass except its electrical number of particles or charges of electricity or energy’ [pp. 128f].

‘The whole tendency of modern physics leads us to where we see on every hand omnipresent power and energy passing into a tangible universe of immeasurable motion’ [p. 131].

The medium between spirit and matter is the omnipotent creative power, the source of the units of energy. It is the natural and logical medium between those units of energy which it produces.

  1. Time is the all energy ,and motion the third element. Its essential nature is its consecutiveness on successiveness. In eternity things may be largely simultaneous. But in the physical universe time is the successiveness of motion in space. Motion is space occupies one location after another – each location being later than those before it. ‘Time, then, proceeds from motion’ [p. 146].

[] ‘Space produces motion, then, and space and motion produce time’ [p. 147].

[] Time is invisible and inaudible. Yet it is time which reveals motion, and reveals space through motion, and makes motion and space visible and audible. The differences of colours or sound are differences purely in the time of the vibrations – a long wave-length is a slow one to us. Potential motion is space. Actual motion is the tangible universe. Successive motion is time [see p. 149].

  1. The tri-unity of the three
  • Absolute threeness – no one of the three can exist without the other two. Space, potential activity, comes into full motion only in actual motion and this motion exists inevitable as successiveness, which is
  • Absolute oneness – each one of the three is the whole. The physical universe is all space, the outspreading of power, realised in motion and successiveness. It is also all matter or motion, embodying space, and existing as successiveness. It is all time also. It is a tri-universe.
  • In the triune God the Spirit enters the very being of our souls, not just as influence but as a part of our very life. Similarly, time enters the very soul as space and motion never do – they stay outside the windows of the senses. It is possible to think thoughts that have nothing to do with space or motion, but the mind can do nothing without consecutiveness, successiveness of thought. Time belongs to the mind as well as the physical universe. So, the soul was created to be indwelt by the Spirit, who brings the soul to know Father and Son – and also was created with time inbuilt as part of its consecutive inner life – which brings the mind to know space and time.
  • As space issues from the mind and power of God into physical dimensions, so time passes again from physical successiveness into mental successiveness and the eternal mind of God. This is the vast outline: Out from the omnipresence of the Creator, back into eternity of the Creator. This is the vast circuit of the physical universe from the mind of God back into the mind of God. ‘Of him and through him and unto him are all things.’ It is a continuous process. It is not pantheism, but the universe is the absolute likeness of the Three in One.
  • What about relativity?

This cannot itself be made an absolute view of things. It does not mean that the world is one vast shifting irregularity, one infinite indefiniteness. Very much the contrary – there is an exceedingly definite thing in all this shifting interplay of space, motion and time. It is the constant, living, outworking of that absolute tri-unity which is the structure of the universe. It is not a rigid structure, but a living one, the image not of a rigid but a living God.

  • We use measurements such as ‘light years’ only because of the limitation of our minds, not because time is an essential element of space, some kind of ‘fourth dimension’! For the same reason we have miles and millennia because it would be impossible to imagine vast measurements of space in inches or of time in microseconds. If time was a dimension of space we would have to use it always even for short distances – except in tribal or infant speech as, ‘It is so many hours’ journey away.’
  • However, because space, motion and time constitute a tri-universe, and are commensurate, we can measure space my motion and express the result as time. Space divided by motion is time. E g 100 miles covered by a motion of 25 mph = 4 hours. But there is no direct relation between space and time unless there is motion which covers those miles in those hours and links the two together. Motion can only be expressed by both space and time at once. Space can be reckoned by itself (100 miles) as can time (4 hours). A rate of motion is abstract; a rate of motion of one hour means nothing; it must be a rate of motion of space and
  • Time multiplied by motion gives space – it doesn’t produce space, of course! (t x v = d; time, 4 hours x velocity, 25 mph = space, 100 miles).
  • You cannot: divide motion by time, or by space; not time by space or motion; and you cannot multiply space by motion, or by space; neither can you multiply space by time, nor time by space. Events occur in three dimensions of space and in three dimensions of time. (By contrast, thoughts can be disconnected from the outer physical world, and can be consecutive in three dimensions of time with no relation to space.)
  1. The real fourth dimension is reality/existence

Real space consists of the outspreading of creative power. The divine Tri-unity is not 1 + 1 + 1 (that is 3) but 1 x 1 x 1 = 1. Space mirrors this. Until you have multiplied length, breadth and height by each other you have no space – only an imaginary line (length) or an imaginary plane (length x breadth). The Trinity is 1 x 1 x 1. That is life, which is God. God is multiplied, infinitely intensified. Reality is revealed in active, living, intensified Being, in which each of the Three interacts, penetrates, intensifies, lives in the other Two, and each is the whole. ‘1 x 1 x 1 produces and intensive, multiplies Unity, deeper, greater, more one than simple Unity could be’ [p.181].

The secret of the universe is not evolution. God did not and does not evolve. Evolution cannot therefore be a universal law. Civilisations grow, and decay; nations rise, and fall. What is the divine law of progress?

[] First change the nature by regeneration.

[] Then, by that regeneration, change the person.

[] Then, from the change of nature, through the change of person, change the personality, the self as related to others, the influence, the environment. This comes about by allowing the Tri-une God and his tri-une process into a person’s life. The person accepts the Son, the embodiment of the Tri-unity and the Tri-une God comes in. The nature becomes that of a child of the Father, and the Spirit transforms, beautifies, glorifies the personality – in all lands, in all cases. This is the answer to the decay of civilisations. * To know truly the Tri-une God is life indeed.

  1. The deeper mysteries of the universe

What holds the universe together, so that it works as one immeasurable whole? What holds the atoms in order? ‘In him’ – the Second Person of the Tri-unity, the Son, the Creator – ‘all things hold together.’ What holds the mind together? He does – ‘things visible and things invisible’. Just as invisible nature and personality are known in the person; just as invisible future and past are known in the present; just as energy and phenomena are known in matter or motion. The second factor in each of these trinities is not greater than the other two components, but us the most vivid so that the others centre in it.

At the end the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, having abolished all rule and all authority and all power, including death (and destruction). Then God will be all in all.

The Son entered the life of the universe in a personal way, became human and overcame sin and decay by death and resurrection. He will bring forth the new heavens and earth. At last, God the Three in One, the One in Three will be all in all in his universe.

  1. The principle mirrored in processes of mind
  2. Reason
  • Concepts (general types)
  • Precepts (existences perceived in themselves)
  • Relationships to other things

Compare: nature (general concept), person (particular), and personality (relating to others).

Compare: matter (universal energy), motion (particular), and phenomena (relating to others)

Compare: future (general and universal time), present (particular), and past (the present as it has related itself to other things).

There is a progress from general to the particular and for the thing in itself to the thing as related to others. Each factor is the real whole, but not without the other two factors.

Compare: syllogisms – (i) major premise = universal, the nature of the thing under discussion; (ii) the minor premise = the embodiment in a particular form of the general nature; and (iii) the conclusion = application of the syllogism to life and conduct and environment In this we see the unity of the mind with the outer world – both reflecting the tri-unity of the Creator.

  1. Creativity
  • The source, the idea, the conception, the ideal, the inspiration;
  • The embodiment – the picture, poem, sonata, song, statue, building;
  • The work of art as it affects others who view, or hear it, or touch it.

With any component lacking there is no art, no life. The uninspired creation is dead at birth; the inspiration poorly wrought out is a failure; without contact with other minds it might better lie in a garret and never have been born.

  1. Aesthetics (beauty)
  • T he ideal; (b) the object; (c) beauty in the eye of the beholder.

Compare: (a) the Platonist; (b) the Realist; (c) the Pragmatist or Realist. All are right.

This formula of tri-unity naturally and inevitably coincides with the principle of the being of God, who is the Ground of the Universe.

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