Bigger Than Infinite

I’m no doubt stealing from somewhere in what comes next, but I can’t think of the original source for anything. My apologies to you, unknown author(s).

Before Kepler et al came along and told everyone how big the universe was, they all thought it was pretty big. A massive cosmos in nine spheres, each filled with light and populated by angels of every rank and beatific creatures and sights of indescribable wonder. Earth, dark little realm that it was, must have felt more like the bottom than the center. But now we know that the universe, far from being the realm of endless day, is infinite and (mostly) empty and black.

I’m not saying the old guys were right about the cosmos, just because their vision was a little more lively. My point has nothing to do with the universe at all. It is rather that we (people) have the sort of minds which take in the Very Large a lot better than the Infinite. A long way seems a lot further than never-ending, or at least the imagination can go further with the former. I don’t know about you, but my brain fizzes out when it’s faced with infinitude (This, coincidentally, is why no one understands the national debt).

Why does Jesus tell parables? Why does he talk about the kingdom of heaven as a big tree? Why does he compare it’s matchless worth to that of a pearl? Why compare his Father to a manager, salvation to the finding of a coin, hell to a dung-pit? Because we wouldn’t understand him otherwise? Because we have no concept of the true nature of things? Yes and yes, and I would propose a third reason: Because being outside the party in the dark sounds/seems/feels worse than the worst, most unending and unremitting torment imaginable. Because finding a valuable coin you lost and have been desperately searching for brings home the taste of joy more than the idea that the infinite impassible God rejoices before the angels in heaven over the salvation of one sinner. Because we’ve all had exacting managers, but nobody who reads the words of Scripture has had to stand before God- yet.

We are creatures of earth, and God knows our language. Someday we’ll be able to see further than we can presently conceive, and in the meantime big is bigger than infinite.


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