Inexplicable Ascension

We do not know much about how the world works, or what is in it, so by analogy I guess that we know less about Heaven. None of my gentle readers have visited there, to my knowledge; though perhaps we have had glimpses from far off. Not one of us, I am fairly certain, has a clew how to get there, by any “scientific” means.

Mars may be in sight, but there is no programme of heavenly exploration in the SpaceX budget; only a few billions for getting to trackable places. We know a bit about celestial mechanics, from careful observation, but I for one don’t know what Gravity is, or Time for that matter, and have never met anyone who could explain them to me. Only their effects. It was an easy leap to the proposition that No One Can — explain what is inexplicable.

Even in my adolescent years as an atheist, when I was inclined to think that I knew it all, I was puzzled by inexplicable things. I have mentioned in some previous Idlepost an inspiring biology teacher, a Mr Henry, who implanted in my mind, at the age of just a few months past eleven, the notion that “life is a mystery.” All these years later, I am unable to shake it.

By this he didn’t necessarily mean it was a Catholic mystery (he was not a Catholic), but more simply that the origin of life on earth, like the origin of matter in the universe, was not something that could be accounted for. It wasn’t “difficult,” but plainly impossible, and while Mr Henry had formed the merry habit of ridiculing Darwinian Evolutionism, he’d get serious and mention that there was no place for any “natural history” to start. But, too: no way to deny that it had started.

And likewise with the human embryo, or to recall this biology teacher, any other animal embryo. (He could read Greek, and cite terms from Aristotle.) At what point does it become animated or “ensouled”? When does it become, in effect, a novel creation? To describe the mechanism of conception, in detail however tedious, is to advance our understanding a distance of zero. For the timing of it is of no consequence. It happens out of time.

Driven out of his last job in the Natted States, for his unflattering views on scientism, I had the luck to meet him in a private school in the third world. His wasn’t an uncommon fate, for in modernity there is no tolerance for persons with scientific qualifications who also develop philosophical skills, especially the ability to perceive logical contradictions. But Mr Henry was in possession of an extraordinary humility, in the face of nature. He never complained, in my presence, about the ridiculous behaviour of men. He took up his bag, and moved to where he was wanted. He continued teaching, to anyone who wished to learn, or was allowed to.

What can we know about the Ascension?

As in every other subject, only what we are told. We must, ourselves, judge of the authorities, for we are physically incapable of testing everything we hear. Our tests, themselves, we must review with scepticism.

Mr Henry had the gift to draw enthralling diagrams of cellular and molecular structures, and the power to make me check them against what I could see through a microscope. We carried our investigations to the periphery of a pond. He had also the power to pronounce himself powerless, to see beyond what he could see. He never spoke against prophets, but could be almost catty in rejecting what we have been calling “visionaries” for the last century or five.

That Our Lord came down from Heaven is incomprehensible to us. That He, of His own will, returned there, is beyond the farthest reach of scientific inquiry. That by His grace He has invited us to follow is something we can know, however, in our hearts.