I caught you with the title didn’t I. This is something that I have been thinking about for a while and that has elements which have been talked about in a number of areas, including at school by Dr. Mitch Stokes. The latest was a discussion of philosophy and whether numbers(for example) are abstract forms which all humans recognize ‘numberness’ in or whether they are simply abstractions or dare I say ‘fictions’ that we have constructed from the need to count apples or something.
Does the idea of numbers exist apart from me or does my understanding of numbers die with me when I die? Does everyone share the idea of numbers becuase it is a convenient framework to work from or do they truly exist outside of us? Plato believed the latter, and as a result developed the idea of the forms. Everyone can recognize a chair becuase they regnognize chairness from world of forms. But does anyone recognize a chair without ever seeing one before? A child might see a chair and ask what it is and then recognizes similar chairs thereafter. He has taken on faith what he has been told by those outside of him. He has been told that a chair looks like this and thus he believes that chairs have certain characteristics. We are presented with multiple apples and are forced to differentiate between them. This is one apple, this is two apples, this is three apples. We learn to count, and we learn so by learning to abstract numbers from things that there are many of. So numbers are a construct, albeit a helpful one, for speaking about things. Chair is a helpful construct for us to create for speaking about things that usually have four legs that we sit on. These are helpful fictions that reflect our reality conveniently, but for all practical purposes only exist because we agree on them, not be cause their neccessarily exist in some world of forms. They are an agreed fiction that everyone believes because of convenience and because we don’t seem to have any moral reason not to.
So, if the world is made up of this fiction, how do I get from this to ‘reality is fiction is reality’? How does this social fiction(or ‘story’ if you find the term ‘fiction’ distasteful) make reality into fiction? Well, perhaps we exist in history (in HIS-story, the story that God is telling) as similar constructs. God is the author, and we are his story. God is telling this fiction, which is reality, which is fiction. Even from this angle then, all of creation is truly general revelation. It is the part of the story that all of the characters have been given. We are created in God’s image and likeness, and it is no wonder that we have subcreated numbers and chairs and made them so real that we debate whether they are real or not. God has done the same thing, but has made things real in a way that we cannot. His story telling is utterly different but nonetheless amazingly glorious. As well as a storyteller, God is an artist and engineer and has painted and built this world in a way that we have yet to even begun to mimic.
All this makes me wonder then. If our own language is so nuanced that men can glean one hundred different interpretations from a poem, is creation not perhaps something of the same thing? A poem is beautiful from so many different angles and is complex like creation is which is part of God’s poem or story. So can we then say that all those who want to use reason alone to reach the knowledge of God can all discover facets of truth, but like any literary critic can explore a thousand reasonable interpretations of a poem and still not have understood the poet, it will take much longer to exhaust the full complexities in God’s methaphors, in God’s storytelling, or in God’s art?
I like this way of understanding reality, but I don’t know where the holes are in it. Feel free to shoot. I guess you could call it an aesthetic view of reality.