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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Progress

"So the purpose of life is not in the far future, nor, as we so often imagine, around the next corner, but the whole of it is here and now, as fully as ever it will be on this planet. It is always a 'Now' that is in direct relation to eternity -- not a far future; always immediate experience of life that matters in the last resort -- not historical constructions based on abridged text-books or imagined visions of some posterity that is going to be the heir of all ages. And neither do I know of any mundane fulnesss of life which we could pretend to possess and which was not open to people in the age of Isaiah or Plato, Dante or Shakespeare. If atomic research should by some accident splinter and destroy this whole globe tomorrow, as we are told that some of the scientists have apprehended, I imagine it will hurt us no more than that 'death on the road' under the menace of which we pass every day of our lives. It will only put an end to a globe which we always knew was doomed to a bad end in any case...

"But supposing all this were to happen it would be an optical illusion to imagine that God's purposes in creation would thereby be cut off unfulfilled and the meaning of life uprooted as the the year A.D. 2,000 or 40,000 had a closer relation to eternity than 1949. Supposing the the time is to come -- as I always understood that it would -- when the world in any case will be no more than a whiff of smoke drifting in desolate skies, then those who rest their ultimate beliefs in progress are climbing a ladder which may be as vertical as they claim it to be, but which in reality is resting on nothing at all." -- Herbert Butterfield, Christianity and History, p. 66

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