Handbook of the Fellowship of Scientists

Readings 51-60


To one he gave five talents...

"For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master replied, 'You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

Matt. 25:14-30


"Prayer without ceasing"

That man "prays without ceasing" (virtuous deeds or commandments fulfilled being included as part of prayer) who combines with prayer the deeds he ought to do; and the prayer with fitting actions. For only in this way can we accept "pray without ceasing" as a saying which can be put into practice, if we speak of the whole life of the saints as one great unbroken prayer; of this prayer that which is commonly called "prayer" is a part.

Now if Jesus prays, and does not pray in vain, obtaining through prayer what he asks for (and perhaps he would not have received it without prayer), which of us may neglect prayer?

The Anglican Tradition, #14, before c.254


Members and Gifts

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.

We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.

Rom. 12:3-10


She will come to meet him like a mother...

Whoever fears the Lord will do this,
and whoever holds to the law will obtain wisdom.

She will come to meet him like a mother,
and like a young bride she will welcome him.

She will feed him with the bread of learning,
and give him the water of wisdom to drink.

He will lean on her and not fall,
and he will rely on her and not be put to shame.

She will exalt him above his neighbors,
and will open his mouth in the midst of the assembly.

He will find gladness and a crown of rejoicing,
and will inherit an everlasting name.

Sir. 15:1-6


The Moderate Anthropic Principle

(d) The Moderate Anthropic Principle

This is my own stance. It notes the fine-tuning of a potent universe as being an insight of significance that calls for some form of explanation. Since the explanandum is the laws of physics themselves--in other words, science's basic starting point for its discussions--we may expect the explanation to be of a metaphysical character.

John Leslie, who is given to discussing philosophical questions in a parabolic mode, puts the issue clearly in his story of the firing squad. I am due for execution by fifty crack marksmen. As the sound of firing dies away, I find that I am still alive. Here is a fact that calls for explanation. It is not enough just to say, "Here I am, and that was certainly a close run thing." There are really only two kinds of rational explanation of my good fortune: either there were a very great number of such executions and by lucky chance mine was the one in which they all happened to miss, or the marksmen are on my side. These two lines of thought correspond to two ways people have sought to understand the particularity of our potent universe:

(1) Many Universes

If there were a great variety of different universes, each with its own physical law and circumstance, then it would not be very surprising if within that great portfolio of possibility, there should be one that just happens to satisfy the right conditions for anthropic fruitfulness. Of course, that is the one in which we live, because we could appear in no other. It is very important to be clear on what kind of explanation is being offered here. Although it is sometimes tricked out as if it were physical (by illegitimate appeal to quantum theory; see above), nevertheless, since we have adequate scientific motivation only to speak of the one universe of our actual experience, it is in fact a metaphysical hypothesis that is being proposed.

(2) Creation

A theistic understanding supposes there to be but one universe that is certainly not "any old world," for it is a creation that has been endowed by its Creator with just those finely tuned laws and circumstance that will permit its evolving history to be fruitful. The potency of the universe is seen as an expression of the purpose of God.

In relation to the anthropic principle alone, there might seem to be equal coherence in a (1) and (2). The latter gains much greater economy and persuasiveness when one takes into account that there are many other lines of argument that converge on the insight that behind the world of our experience there lies the fundamental Reality of God. Moreover, the will of an Agent is a natural explanation for fruitful potency.

None of these considerations amount to a knockdown argument-there are no such arguments either for or against religious belief--but our scientific recognition of the special character of a potent universe finds deeply satisfying understanding within the intellectual setting of theism. A kind of anti-Copernican revolution has taken place. We do not live at the center of the universe, but the fabric of the world has written into it just those delicate balances that are necessary for us to have emerged from its history. If we have eyes to see, the anthropic principle will speak to us of the signs of God's purpose present in the remarkable potentiality with which our universe has been endowed in the basic ground of its physical process.

Evidence of Purpose, pp. 114-115


Out of the whirlwind

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:
"Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

Gird up your loins like a man,
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements -surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone

when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?

"Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb?-

when I made the clouds its garment,
and thick darkness its swaddling band,

and prescribed bounds for it,
and set bars and doors,

and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stopped'?

"Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,

so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?

Job 38:1-13


Grows towards growing, and growing green and clean

There's a real power here. It is amazing that trees can turn gravel and bitter salts into these soft-lipped lobes, as if I were to bite down on a granite slab and start to swell, bud, and flower. Trees seem to do their feats so effortlessly. Every year a given tree creates absolutely from scratch ninety-nine percent of its living parts. Water lifting up tree trunks can climb one hundred and fifty feet an hour; in full summer a tree can, and does, heave a ton of water every day. A big elm in a single season might make as many as six million leaves, wholly intricate, without budging an inch; I couldn't make one. A tree stands there, accumulating deadwood, mute and rigid as an obelisk, but secretly it seethes; it splits, sucks, and stretches; it heaves up tons and hurls them out in a green, fringed fling. No person taps this free power; the dynamo in the tulip tree pumps out ever more tulip tree, and it runs on rain and air.

John Cowper Powys said, "we have no reason for denying to the world of plants a certain slow, dim, vague, large, leisurely semiconsciousness." He may not be right, but I like his adjectives. The patch of bluets in the grass may not be long on brains, but it might be, at least in a very small way, awake. The trees especially seem to bespeak a generosity of spirit. I suspect that the real moral thinkers end up, wherever they may start, in botany. We know nothing for certain, but we seem to see that the world turns upon growing, grows towards growing, and growing green and clean.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, pp. 114-115


I am the good shepherd.

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away - and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father."

John 10:11-18


Help the poor for the commandment's sake

Help the poor for the commandment's sake,
and in their need do not send them away empty-handed.

Lose your silver for the sake of a brother or a friend,
and do not let it rust under a stone and be lost.

Lay up your treasure according to the commandments of the Most High,
and it will profit you more than gold.

Store up almsgiving in your treasury,
and it will rescue you from every disaster;

better than a stout shield and a sturdy spear,
it will fight for you against the enemy.

Sir. 29:9-13


A vision of the universe

And he showed me more, a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, on the palm of my hand, round like a ball. I looked at it thoughtfully and wondered, "What is this?" And the answer came, "It is all that is made." I marvelled that it continued to exist and did not suddenly disintegrate; it was so small.

And again my mind supplied the answer. "It exists, both now and forever, because God loves it." In short, everything owes its existence to the love of God. This is the meaning, as if to say, "See, I have done all this long before your prayers; and now you exist and pray to me."

He means that we ought to know that the greatest deeds are already done, as Holy Church teaches. From the time these things were first revealed I had often wanted to know what was our Lord's meaning.

It was more than fifteen years after that I was answered in my spirit's understanding. "You would know our Lord's meaning in this thing? Know it well. Love was his meaning." So it was that I learned that love was our Lord's meaning. And I saw for certain, both here and elsewhere, that before ever he made us, God loved us.

The Anglican Tradition, #103, 1373 and after

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