By Phillip Darrell Collins (August 1st, 2014)
Author’s note: The following is excerpted from the forthcoming book, Invoking the Beyond, which I am co-authoring with Paul David Collins.
In Romans 1:25, St. Paul pens the following comments concerning the practices of idolaters: “They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” St. Paul’s identification of the “creature” as the idolater’s surrogate for God elucidates a parallel between the ancient world and modernity. To understand this parallel, one must first examine the etymology of the term “creature.” “Creature” is derived from the Latin word creāre, which means “created thing.” The material cosmos qualifies as a “created thing” and, within the dominant cultural milieu of modernity, it is the material cosmos that tends to occupy the lofty status of divine. Today, the idolatry of the ancient world is expressed through the Weltanschauung of naturalism and enjoys pseudo-scientific sanctions with evolutionary theory.
Naturalism holds that nature brought itself into being without a Creator and continues to arrange itself through purely organic processes. Of course, structure and organization imply design, which, in turn, implies a Designer. Since the naturalist views nature as the originator of its own structure and organization, he or she is tacitly deeming nature a de facto designer. Essentially, the material world is hypostatized. Within the context of this discussion, the term “hypostasis” is being invoked to denote a fundamental, self-sufficient rational entity upon which all else is contingent. Ironically, those who advance the hypostatic depiction of the universe typically contend that their immanent surrogate for the Divine is anhypostatic. Yet, given the irreducibly teleological nature of their cosmology, such an anhypostatic characterization of the universe is not logically sustainable. Invariably, the elevation of the sensate cosmos to the status of the Divine results in the hypostatizing of the contingent universe, a reality tacitly underscored by the anthropomorphic terminology that scientific materialists tend to invoke in discussions concerning the material world. This hypostatic depiction of the universe provides the basis for the virtual apotheosis of material agencies and the enshrinement of immanentism.