I have picked up The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness and Bliss again, and it is still as satisfying. It demands a lot, and because it had been several months since I’d opened the book I thought I better go back and at least read what I had underlined. But I found that in order to fully refresh my mind I had to start from the beginning and read every word over. Just today I caught up to where I had left off, in the middle of the chapter, “Pictures of the World,” in which the author explains the development of modern assumptions about existence, and compares them with previous worldviews.
For the philosophers and scientists of premodern times, stretching back to the beginning of philosophical and scientific thought in the West, no absolute division could be drawn between physical and metaphysical explanations of the cosmos, or at least between material and “spiritual” causes. The universe was shaped and sustained by an intricate interweaving of immanent and transcendent agencies and powers.
In the [premodern] model, the whole cosmos — its splendor, its magnificent order, its ever vaster profundities — had been a kind of theophany, a manifestation of the transcendent God within the very depths and heights of creation. All of reality participated in those transcendental perfections that had their infinite consummation in God and that came to utterance in us, in our rational contemplation and coherent articulation and artistic celebration of the beauty and grandeur of existence. The human wakefulness to the mystery of being was thus also already an openness to the divine, because the world was an image of and participation in the God who is the wellspring of all being. Again, and emphatically, this was a vision of creation’s rational order immeasurably remote from the Deist’s or Intelligent Design theorist’s notion of the world as a wonderful machine, designed and fabricated by a particularly enterprising superhuman intellect.
— David Bentley Hart