152
NORMAN LAMM
EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE
153
a universe from which teleology and value have been abolished, a world as cold as it is vast and as lonely as it is crowded.
The key to this paradox of man's view of himself is his thought about God, provided he concedes His existence in the first place or, more accurately, what he thinks God thinks about him. When he holds to a conception of a personal God who creates and reveals, who seeks man out and invites man to seek Him out, man is, despite his frailty and intrinsic worthlessness, endowed with significance by his Maker by virtue of His personal nature. When, however, man deper­sonalizes his God, he dehumanizes himself. No matter how much power he acquires over his environment and beyond it, no matter how much he tries to read his own values into his life by right of his own existential autonomy, he remains desperately alone. His whole scientific armory cannot forge for him a weapon with which to win more than physical signifi­cance; and as long as he remains without metaphysical worth, he regards himself, in his heart of hearts, as a nothing, a cosmic accident, shrieking his utter loneliness against the infinitely empty and unresponsive heavens.
The relatively new theological talk of a "developing" and an "evolving" God, are not only not a solution, but the core of the problem. They are a deception, nothing more. A deity subsumed under the Theory of Evolution is no more than an abstract animal. A God who is not supernatural is not Holy. The metaphysical becomes, in such a context, an illusion, and man a spiritual blank. In fact, this conception of an emerging, imperfect, totally immanent God striving for self-realization is, for all its alleged sophistication, strangely primitive, especially when compared to the supposedly naive idea of the God of the theists. Biblical man, fully conscious of his own natural limitations and frailties, conceived of a God who was perfect, omnipotent, supernatural. No one could, indeed, accuse him of creating a God in his own image. But some contemporary men, themselves imperfect, well-intentioned but flawed in prac­tice, see mankind as a link in the evolutionary chain, a species whose origins were exceedingly lowly, but who strives for advancement in the same chain; and they posit a deity who
fits this very description. It is nothing more and nothing less than a modern version of a graven image.
The anticipated shock from the possible discovery of extra­terrestrial intelligent life has thus served, even before such dis­covery has yet been made, to enlarge the gap between man and God. It may take one of two forms: an exaggerated transcendence or an extravagant immanence, either a God who is only "far out" or One who is not "out there" at all. But by whatever route one travels, he reaches the same theological dead-end: a God who really doesn't matter. Immanence and transcendence, divorced from each other and taken to an ex­treme, ultimately meet in a God without personality; and a God without personality inevitably must lead to a humanity without character.
What we have attempted to show is that such conclusions do not necessarily follow from the premises. A God who can exercise providence over one billion earthmen can do so for ten billion times that number of creatures throughout the universe. He is not troubled, one ought grant, by problems in communications, engineering, or the complexities of cosmic cybernetics.
Concluding Remarks
Understanding the Anthropocentrists
The new conceptions are incompatible, Eugene Rabinowitch asserts, with a belief "in the Creator of the world as concerned primarily with human affairs."42 Can we indeed any longer accept such a theology in the face of these new theories? The question, directed to a committed Jew, is of the when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife variety. The key words are "any longer" and "primarily." Not only not "any longer," but not even here­tofore did Judaism (in the teaching of all its major ex­ponents) maintain that God was "primarily" concerned with man. Maimonides, as has been explained, did not consider man that important in the larger universe, and would have regarded such a. statement, that He is primarily concerned with man, as an instance of anthropocentric presumption.
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