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The Secret of the Universe, by Nathan R. Wood, [1932], at

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Why is the universe what it is?—Is it really a universe?—What is its structure?—The basic things—Space—Matter—Time—"Is there a universal principle?"—The Equation of the Universe—How far does the structure of the universe extend?—How the being of God was presented to us—The Data classified—What Space is—What Matter is—What Time is—The Structure of the Universe—How the cause explains the structure—How the structure confirms the cause—The vision of the universe.

Why is the universe what it is? That is the riddle of the universe. Can we ever solve it? Can we grasp it at all? Of course we cannot with human minds reach out to the ever-receding infinities of universe beyond universe of stars. Neither can we reach inward to the equal infinities of world within world in the atom. This does not need words. We know that we can never do it. We cannot grasp what it really means that a certain island universe is millions of light-years away. We cannot grasp what it means that the electron moves in its orbit around the proton in the atom a quadrillion times a second. It is no shame to us that we cannot grasp such things as these. Our minds are not geared to the infinite. If they were, could we harness them any more to the ledger, the plough, the tool-chest or the cook-stove? What would it profit to grasp the nebula and the electron, and starve or freeze? But our minds do seem

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fitted to understand. They can apparently understand the quality and meaning of things whose immensity they cannot grasp. They are evidently fitted to understand everything which can be understood. That seems somehow to be what they are for.

Then can we understand the universe? Can we find why it is what it is? That surely comes first in understanding it. Can we find an organic reason in it, and see it as a whole? Some put it in this way:—"Is there a formula of the universe? And can the formula be known?" It is worth every effort to understand this force or that fact in the world around us. What then is it worth to understand the universe!

Why is the physical world just what it is, and not something quite different? Could the physical world have existed in some other form and order? If it could have been wholly different, why is it what it is? Or if it had to be what it is, why did it have to be so? Is there a reason? What is the reason?

It is not enough to say that all things evolved into this present form of things out of a simpler condition. For if they did evolve, why did they evolve into this order of things, and not into something quite different? That is our question. Or if they came at a creative stroke into what they now are, why was it into just this form and character and not into some other?

Is this really a universe, then? That is, has it unity? Has it a structure, with a reason for the structure? For we surely do want, if we can, to see the universe as a whole. If we cannot see it all, which is a more than doubtful possibility, we can at least see what it all means. Can we see it as a universe, a genuine unity, including the world of matter and the

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world of mind? Is it such a universe, with an organic pattern and principle in it all? In other words, is there a structure of the universe, with a reason for it? What is that structure?

If we had not asked these things before, modern science would drive us to ask them now. This physical universe, this vast fabric of forces, this interplay of laws and energies, why is it so precisely and accurately what it is? There must be a structure of the modern universe. And if there is such a structure, there must be a reason for it, a universal reason why it is just what it is. What is that reason?

To find the structure of the physical universe, we do not need more complicated knowledge. We need to simplify. We need to use what we have. We must find the basic things, which form the universal structure.

What are the basic things? Those things which lie back of all other things? Those things which are the basis of all other things, and include all other things, and exist in all other things? Those will be the basic things. They should not be very hard to find. When we have found them we shall be on our way toward understanding the riddle of the universe. We must find the basic things.


The first one may be agreed upon without difficulty. It is Space—the basic thing in the physical universe. It is back of every other basis of the physical universe. We may have many different views about space, and many speculations. We may think of space as an outward reality, or as our way of seeing the universe. But, in any case, space comes first. Upon one thing we

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can all agree. Whatever each of us may mean by space, this is, as we all know, a space universe.

What is space? Of what does it consist?

We may speculate much about this. But again we can without difficulty agree on the essential thing. Space as we all know it and live in it and use it consists of three things. We call these three things three dimensions, or three directions. We name them generally length, breadth and height.

Two words may be objected to nowadays, when we talk about "three dimensions." One word is "dimensions," and the other is "three." But for our simpler and basic purpose neither objection will be made.

It may be suggested, and rightly, that the term "dimensions," the term most commonly used, and which therefore we are using, means measurements, and therefore implies limited distances. "Length, breadth and height," too, may be taken as limited terms. "Length" may mean the distance between two definite points, which means a limited distance. "Breadth" also may be used as a term of measurement, rather than a term of unlimited direction. "Height" also may signify a limited distance upward. These terms are not wholly unambiguous when we would signify unlimited space. It would be more unmistakably accurate to say "directions" instead of "dimensions." Space has three "independent directions," the mathematician says. Those words do not carry the possible meaning of measurement, as "dimensions" do. But it is difficult to name the three directions. Shall we call them "north," "east" and "up?" Or x, y and z? These are accurate. But people in general are not accustomed to these terms. They are

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on the contrary accustomed to saying "dimensions" when they mean unlimited "directions," and to saying "length," "breadth" and "height" when they mean the three general "directions" of unlimited space. May we not, then, use the terms to which most readers are accustomed, so accustomed that these terms are second nature to them when they think about the directions of space. But may we mean by these terms, not the limited measurements of a box, or house, or geometric figure, but the unlimited "dimensions" of free space. That is what the mathematician means by "three independent directions," and it is what the ordinary person means by the "three dimensions of space," and it is what the mathematician means when he talks about a "fourth dimension."

In this sense of the terms, space as we know it and live in it and use it consists of three things. They are three dimensions,—length, breadth and height. As we have said, we may speculate about space. Mathematicians may demonstrate a fourth dimension and fifth dimension, and some profound realities may or may not reside in the demonstrations. But when we build a house we build it in three dimensions. No man in the world has ever raised a cabin or a cathedral of either more or less than three dimensions. No thinker would know how to plan a structure of more than three dimensions. Whatever the refinements, the subtleties, of space may be, it is clear that the basic space, the space of common knowledge and experience, is of three dimensions. It consists of those dimensions. It is length, breadth and height. This is the first thing in the structure of the physical universe.

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What else does the universe around us tell us of the basic things? What else is the structure of the physical universe? Of what else does it consist?

That too is a matter of common knowledge and experience. The man who moves about unthinking in the physical world and the man who spends restless days and sleepless nights in exploring the secrets of the physical world are at one in this.

Next to space is that which fills space and embodies space, and gives to us all the phenomena of the physical universe. We call it matter. But we know now that it is primarily energy. We can agree to call it matter, if by matter we mean that form which energy takes so that we can see it, or hear it, or feel it. We mean all of that which fills and gives outward reality to space. We all of us take this for granted in all of our daily thinking and activity.

What is the nature then of this which occupies space, and makes a visible, audible, tangible universe? Of what does it consist?

Here again we are among things which we know. For even if we avoid hypothesis and speculation there is much which now we definitely know.

Modern physics and chemistry find, first and basic in matter:—energy,—vast, unknown, unseen, a primal thing, out of which all things in the physical universe come.

We may, it is true, define energy as "mass multiplied by the square of the velocity." That is the technical description of it. But that does not mean that this energy is the result of the multiplication of mass by its

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velocity. Rather the energy is itself the cause. Mass may be, and doubtless is, simply a manifestation of that energy. And the velocity is surely a result, a manifestation, of that energy. "Mass times the square of the velocity" then is not what energy is. It is the way we measure energy. We measure energy by its manifestations, of mass and velocity.

Second, modern physics and chemistry find, growing out of energy, embodying energy,—motion,—that great, unceasing, unresting motion, which fills and which is the physical universe.

Third, they find all those infinite complexities and variations of motion, those varying velocities, into which motion differentiates itself, and which, when they present themselves to us as waves of light, of air, of sound, we recognize as physical phenomena, light, colour, sound, heat, cold, hardness, softness, scent, moisture, dryness. They are not dependent upon our recognition or experience of them. They register themselves upon mechanical instruments as readily as upon human senses, showing that they exist apart from human beings and human perceptions. They are probably not different "kinds" of motion. They are probably, as we know that light waves and sound waves are, simply different rates of motion, or different velocities into which motion differentiates itself. We call them phenomena. We think of them in connection with our senses, because that is the way in which we become acquainted with them. But they definitely exist apart from our senses. If we remember that they are in themselves differentiations of motion, which exist apart from us, we may call them, as we know them, phenomena.

This is that universe of matter or substance in which

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we are, and of which we are a part. It consists in the most literal sense of these three things,—energy, motion and phenomena.


Is anything else basic in the physical universe? Is there anything else which is of the very structure of the universe? Yes. There is one other thing of which we can be sure. There is one other thing which every thinker agrees to recognize as an absolute basis of the physical world. That is,—Time. Whatever our view of Time may be, we regard Time as basic. In eternity everything must doubtless be timeless. But in the world nothing is timeless. Time is of the essence of everything in the physical universe. This is, by universal agreement, a time universe.

When we ask what time is, and how we may resolve it into its component parts, the answer is simple. We need not speculate how far time is an outer reality, and how far it is our way of conceiving things. For whichever it is, or if, as is doubtless the case, time is both an outer reality and our way of conceiving things, the facts about time are so universal, so clear-cut and so familiar as to leave no practical question at all in any mind. Time, as a matter not of speculation but of simple experience, consists of three great constituents,—past, present and future. We all know them. We all live in them. They include everything, and make this a time universe.

Is There a Universal Principle?

Is there any other basic element in the physical universe? Is there any other thing, which is not to be resolved

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into one or all of these three,—space, matter and time? No. We know of no other. These are what all can agree upon.

This is a universe. Of that we feel very sure. Is there then any universal principle? Is there anything which space and matter and time have in common, beside the fact that they are in the same universe? We need not speak now of their relationship to each other. That is a profound and subtle question. We are asking rather the simpler question, Is there anything which these three,—space, matter and time,—have in common? Is there anything like a universal structure in all three?

To this there is an immediate answer. There is one thing which these basic realities have in common. It suggests itself at once. It is, that each one of these elemental things of the physical universe is threefold.

It is length, breadth and height, in one Space.

It is energy, motion and phenomena, in one Substance.

It is past, present and future, in one Time. That is truly a vast coincidence.

As a space universe, as a substance universe, and as a time universe, it is in each case three things in one. This is at once the most obvious and the most striking thing about this structure of space, of matter and of time. Different as these three elements are, they have this in common. Each is three things in one. The riddle of the universe now takes this form:—Why is the physical universe, in each of its basic elements, three things in one?

Where is the answer? How far in the universe does this vast coincidence extend? Does it include man, who

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is so much a vital part of the universe? Does it include God, who is the ground of the universe? Does it reach as deep and as high as that? Is the answer to the riddle of the threefold universe to be found in God?

We make no apology for speaking of God. A universe without God is meaningless now. For the day of the blind soul in a black universe has gone by. The stars and the atoms have taught us to see. The deepest instinct of one who lives in the modern universe reasons irresistibly. "The fool," it may be, has always "said in his heart 'There is no God.'" But the modern universe leaves scant footing for such a dance of the morons. Even when the mind does not analyze, the heart reasons, and that is the deepest reasoning.

We gain, too, when we do not overstate that reasoning. Little is gotten by claiming infinite conclusions from finite premises. It is better to put things within bounds, and to reach certainties. Shall we try to do that?

The Equation of the Universe

From time to time in these days the world waits for new equations of the universe to express the newest discoveries. In the nature of things such an equation is hard to understand and sure to pass when newer things are found. But it is possible, one may believe, to work out an equation which shall be simple, self-evident and ageless.

This universe about us is vast beyond our comprehension. New universes of stars beyond this universe are floating into our ken. Apparently it is infinite. Certainly it is inconceivably vast.

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The cause of it must be at least as great.

This universe, from the island universes quintillions of miles away to the electrons whirling in the invisible atom, is one immeasurably articulated, rationally working fabric.

The cause of it all must be at least as rational as that.

This universe contains personal beings, who think, who love, who hate, who hope, who fear, who choose, who determine.

The cause of such beings, of a universe which contains such beings, must be at least as personal as they.

The equation of the universe is clear. A vast, rational, personal cause of the universe = God.

How far then does the vast coincidence found in the threefold structure of space, the threefold fabric of matter, and the threefold existence of time, extend in the universe? Does it extend to God, who is the ground of the universe? Is the answer to the riddle to be found in Him?

There is an immediate and striking answer again. That is, that the greatest religion in the world presents God also as being threefold. It is the religion which coincides with modern civilization. It holds so great a place in the modern world that whether one agrees with it or not one cannot disregard it. That religion brings this striking answer. For the Christian religion, the Christian Bible and Christian consciousness present God as three in one.

Is it possible then that we have after all a vast structure of things which includes not only space and matter

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and time, but also, as it ought to do, includes God, who is the ground of space, of matter and of time? Is it the same threefoldness?

That is not a conclusion to be jumped at. This is no place for easy inferences. We need some very careful thinking.

Are the threefoldness in space, in matter and in time, which are the structure of the physical universe, and the threefoldness presented by the Bible and Christian consciousness as the being of God, the same kind of threefoldness? Are these two,—what we may call the scientific threefoldness of the physical universe and the Biblical threefoldness of God,—so much alike that they are obviously the same thing, in different terms? If they are, we must face the question of a vast structure of things which includes God. If they are not the same, we need not consider the coincidence of such threefoldness in the physical world and in that presentation of God.

And when we say "Are they the same?" we should mean "Are they exactly the same?" It is a case for scientific precision, not for metaphors and similes.

It is a dramatic question. The threefoldness so presented as the being of God is mysterious and purely a thing of the spirit,—not having, as presented there, any effort whatever at likeness to the physical world. How can it be in any real sense the same thing as the structure of a physical universe?

Yet that is what scientific exactness would mean,—a likeness so close and so complete that the two would be, in different realms, manifestly the same principle.

We ask the question again, then, in view of that presentation of God. Does the vast coincidence found

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in the threefold structure of space, the threefold fabric of matter, and the threefold existence of time, extend to God, who is the ground of the universe of space, and matter, and time?

We have sketched rapidly the threefold structure of space, of matter and of time. What now is that other threefoldness like, which is presented by the Bible and by the consciousness of Christians as the being of God?

Inductively, not dogmatically, we should find and phrase that threefoldness. We should go to the sources.

It is Jesus of Nazareth who presents the threefoldness of God in the Bible. What did he say? How did he bring the presentation?

The religion of the Old Testament had taught that God is one. That was a new message, a startling emergence, amid the sea of surrounding polytheism. Then, after many centuries, Jesus of Nazareth came, and began the presentation of God as three in one.

At the baptism of Jesus, at the beginning of his public life, the Bible declares, as the Son was praying, the voice of the Father spoke out of the open heavens: "This is my beloved Son," and the Spirit descended visibly upon him. In all his teaching and preaching, and in private conversation, Jesus constantly spoke of his Father and himself as two distinct persons, and yet declared equally "I and my Father are one," even naming himself first! At another time he said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." On one occasion he is quoted as declaring "All things have been delivered unto me by my Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; neither does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal him." In his last and longest recorded talk with his

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disciples, in the upper room, the evening before his crucifixion, he said, "The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you." Not many minutes later, in the same conversation, as he and the disciples walked out from the city to Gethsemane, before his betrayal, it tells us that he said, "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he shall bear witness of me." In his last command he directed his disciples, wherever they should win men, to "baptize them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," a name, but a threefold name. In these sayings he of course claimed to be God. That was why they crucified him. The fact that throughout his recorded ministry he made that claim, and that this assumption appears in everything that he said, is the basis of all the rest of the Biblical presentation of the threefoldness of God.

A third also is everywhere in the Bible represented as being God, and in the New Testament churches was treated, listened to and obeyed as a Divine Person. He is named there "the Holy Spirit," or simply in many cases "the Spirit." He is also called "the Spirit of Jesus." The Spirit was "sent," Jesus said, "by the Father," and was sent "in the name of the Son," and "by the Son, from the Father." Indeed everywhere in the New Testament each one of these three is represented as being God.

The thinking of many centuries has formulated the data found in the words of Jesus and the New Testament. It presents in logical form a thing so extraordinary and so mysterious that one may naturally question whether the threefoldness in the physical world can really have anything in common with it.

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The Data Analyzed

1. Absolute Threeness. It is apparently an absolute threeness. Everything in the Biblical description of the three called Father, Son and Holy Spirit presents definitely and absolutely no more and no less than these three persons in the Godhead. It seems to be an absolute threeness. In such an absolute threeness each one of the three is so genuinely distinct from the others that no one of the three can possibly be either of the others. Otherwise they are not absolutely three. And in such threeness, in which there absolutely must be three, no two of the three therefore can exist without the third.

2. Absolute Oneness. The Three in that Trinity are represented as absolutely one. They are not only called so in direct statements, but further than that is the fact that each one is represented as God. That means that each one is not a part of God,—each one is God. It means that each one is the Whole. For God is not divisible. Personality is not divisible. If God is Three in One, each one of the three is God, and each one is the whole of God.

3. It is very clear that, as personal beings, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are represented as three things which God is. In other words, they are pictured as three modes of being. They do not mean primarily three ways in which He acts, three modes of action or manifestation, although of course if they are three things or persons which He is they present three ways in which He acts. But primarily, if God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it means three things which He is, or three modes of being.

4. The Scripture makes it invariably clear that in some way it presents the Father as first, the Son second,

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the Spirit third. It evidently does not mean that one is first in deity, when all are represented as being God. Neither does it mean that one is greater, when all must be infinite. Nor does it mean that one is first in time, when all are represented as eternal. It can only mean that one is first, one second, one third, in a logical, causal order.

5. In the Scripture the Father is represented as the Source. The eternal Son is "begotten, of the Father." The eternal Spirit "proceeds," from the Father, through the Son. Jesus said, "the Spirit whom I will send unto you, from the Father," and "the Spirit whom the Father will send in my name." This relation is mysterious, but emphatic.

6. In that extraordinary Triunity of Scripture the Father is unseen. He reveals Himself in the Son. "No man has seen God. The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him." The Son is the visible embodiment of the Father, and of the Godhead. "He, being the express image of the Father,"—"he that hath seen me hath seen the Father,"—"In him," the Son, "dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." The Son acts. He does the things which are done. He creates. It is he who becomes Man. It is he who dies, and who rises. It is he who raises the dead, and who judges. The Son, the Scripture says, works now among men through the Spirit. The Spirit, like the Father, is unseen. He reveals the Son. That is His chief work. And He reveals the Father, in the Son. He works unseen, in other beings, as for instance in man. This is the presentation by the Bible.

7. One thing there is, with which we should not attempt comparison in the physical world. The Biblical presentation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in God

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means what can best be described as "three Personal centres of consciousness in one Being." That cannot possibly be paralleled in the impersonal physical world, and should not be sought there. But the other data which we have given include what the mind of man has fairly deduced through the ages from that presentation of threefoldness by Jesus and the New Testament.


How does the structure of the universe compare with this? It seems impossible that such abstruse, complex, mysterious, purely spiritual things could have a counterpart in the physical world. But such a comparison, and a very exact comparison, is the only way to answer the question whether that threefoldness of the physical universe coincides with the mysterious Triunity presented by the Bible as the being of God.

How Does Space Compare?

First, then, Space.

Space is height, length and breadth,—three things in one space.

Is it an absolute, necessary threeness? Yes. That answers itself. For, as we have said, in the basic space of common experience, in which all men move and act, there are three dimensions. There are no less, and no more. No one who builds, or runs, or flies, or who studies the stars, ever considers either more or less than three dimensions. Whatever there is of reality in the proofs of other dimensions, the elementary space is exactly and always of three dimensions.

Is it an absolute threeness by those deeper specifications, which would belong to such spiritual threefoldness as that described in the New Testament,—the

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specifications that no one of the three can possibly be either of the others, and that on the other hand no one of the three can exist without the others?

In the first place, are the three dimensions so absolutely distinct that no one of the three can possibly be either of the others? Yes, that specification is very evidently met. No one of the three can possibly be either of the others. Height cannot be length or breadth. Length cannot be confused with height or breadth. Breadth is not and cannot be either of the others. Thinking presents no clearer distinctions than these three. Indeed, the absolute, self-evident distinctness of the three elements in space is made a basis of the exact science of mathematics, and especially of that most exact science of geometry.

So necessary and so absolute is this threefoldness of space,—can we then apply to it the other test, a test almost spiritual? Are the three dimensions so necessary, is space so absolute a threeness, that without any one of the three the other two could not exist? That is readily tried out. That is the way to answer that query. Take away height. Then length and breadth become a plane surface. A plane surface is purely imaginary. It has no actual existence. Length and breadth as a plane surface, without height, do not really exist in the world of actual things. Mathematics may imagine them. But actual space does not exist unless it has all three directions or dimensions. With any one of the dimensions missing, space becomes imaginary and non-existent, and therefore its other two dimensions become imaginary and non-existent. To give existence to any one of them all three are necessary. Yes, even by these specifications, which seem more spiritual than physical, space is indeed an absolute threeness!

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Is space an equally genuine oneness? Can it so resemble the absolute oneness which would be in Three Persons in One, the kind of oneness in which each must be the whole? That is a spiritual kind of unity which hardly seems to belong to the physical world. Does space show any such thing as that?

We can test it in the laboratory of the mind. Think carefully for a moment of these three dimensions of which space is composed. Are they so much one that each dimension is really the whole of space? Picture to yourself that dimension or direction of space which we call length, or forward and back. There are in space an infinite number of parallel lines all running forward and back. Now manifestly all possible points in space, all the myriad points which make up space, are contained in those parallel forward and back lines. Those lines, that dimension or direction, include all of space. There is nothing in space, no point in all its breadth and height, which is not included in its length. In a very definite sense its length comprises the whole of it. The length, it is true, does not exist without the breadth and height of space. For space does not exist unless it has all three elements. But its length clearly includes all its breadth and all its height. In a very remarkable and real sense the length is the whole. But the same may be said of the dimension or direction of breadth or side-to-side. Every point in all the length and height of space is contained in the infinite number of parallel lines of space which run from side to side. There is nothing in space, no point in all its length and height, which is not included in its breadth, in its side-to-side direction. In a very real and remarkable sense its breadth comprises the whole of space. But the same is true of the dimension or direction of height-and-

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depth, or up-and-down. All of the points which make up the length and breadth of space are included in the infinite number of parallel lines running up and down in space. There is nothing of space and its length and breadth which is not included in its dimension of height-and-depth, its direction of up-and-down. In a remarkable sense the dimension of height-and-depth is the whole of space. It is true that no one of the three,—length, breadth and height,—can exist apart from the other two elements. For space itself does not exist unless it has all three. But in a genuine and remarkable sense each of the three is the whole of space. The three are one in that kind of absolute oneness in which each is the whole. It is the extraordinary kind of oneness which is found in the Triunity of Scripture, where each one of the Three is not a part of God, but rather each one of the Three is God. So space, in which each direction or dimension is not a part of space but is the whole of space, is an absolute unity. It is as absolutely one as it is absolutely three. It is absolute triunity.

We may say of this triune space, so wholly three and so completely one, that it is so much a triunity that it is nothing else at all. It is bare triunity, reduced to its simplest terms, with all the characteristics of absolute triunity, and with no other characteristics. It has no evident characteristics but its threeness and its oneness. It is as though the Creator has chosen to make one thing which is sheer, simple, essential triunity! And on it and in it and of it He built His universe.

One other question should be asked. In that Triunity of Scripture the Three are not three things which God does. They are presented as three things which God is. They are modes of being. Is that true of space? Consider

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that too. Are length, breadth and height three things which space does?

No. Length, breadth and height are of course three things which space is.

Then, like the Threeness in the New Testament Triunity, the three in this absolute triunity which we call space are three modes of being.

This is, beyond question, a very remarkable coincidence. As far as space has any characteristics, it is pure triunity exactly like that Triunity described in the New Testament. In threeness, in oneness, as modes of being, the likeness is remarkable.

How Does Matter Compare?

But space is not a very physical thing. The second great element in the physical universe, matter, is much more physical. How does matter compare with such Triunity as the Bible describes? We know the threefoldness of matter well. There is energy, the primal thing. All sciences recognize it. Then there is motion, coming out of energy,—motion of waves, of electrons,—all the universe of motion everywhere. Then there are phenomena, through which motion in its varying velocities touches the senses,—light, sound, heat, hardness,—all the multitudinous impacts of motion upon sight, hearing, touch. They are in themselves varying speeds of motion, existing wholly apart from human senses. But they touch us as light, sound, heat, hardness, texture. Does, then, that threefoldness of energy, motion and phenomena show any likeness to the mysterious, abstruse and purely spiritual Triunity presented in the New Testament?

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Only a very careful comparison will answer the question.

Is the threeness of energy, motion and phenomena such an absolute and inevitable threeness? That ought to be possible to discover.

Is it true that there can be no more than these three primary distinctions in matter? Certainly it seems to be so. These three cover the entire range of matter, from the energy in which it begins, to the final phenomena which strike upon our senses. They include everything which matter is. There seems truly to be no place for any other primary distinction, not included in these three.

Then is it true that there can be no less than these three? Are the three so distinct that no one of the three can be either of the other two, thus leaving two instead of three? That must be found by comparing the three. Is energy, for instance, the same as motion? Manifestly it is not. Energy is the source, the potentiality, the cause, of motion. It can pass into motion, and does do so. But it is not itself motion. Neither on the other hand is motion the same as energy. It contains energy, and embodies energy. But it is not the same as energy. Is energy the same as phenomena? That answers itself, too. Energy, always and inveterately unseen, is not the same as phenomena, by their very nature visible, audible or tangible. It issues, through motion, in phenomena, but it is not itself phenomena. Is motion the same as phenomena? It shows itself in phenomena. Its identification with them is close. But when we say "motion" we do not mean the same thing as when we say "phenomena." The idea is different because the thing is different. Nor, if energy

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and motion are neither of them the same as phenomena, are phenomena the same as energy or motion. No one of these three can be put aside, as being so much the same as one of the others that we do not need to give it a separate name.

Manifestly the energy-motion-phenomena substance of the universe, which we call matter, can be neither more nor less than three.

Then is matter such a threeness that no two of the three can exist apart from the third? Is that absolute threeness possible? It seems to be so. In the first place, while energy is not dependent upon motion as its cause, energy apparently cannot exist without begetting motion, and therefore, through motion, phenomena. It is the nature of energy to pass into motion. A world of energy which never begets motion,—is it really a world of energy? If it never begets motion, is it really energy? It seems a contradiction in terms. It is the nature of energy to beget motion. As for motion, it cannot exist without energy back of it. Neither can it take place without phenomena inevitably issuing from it. It can hardly be motion without being definite kinds of motion, and that means phenomena. And in turn phenomena of course cannot exist without motion, and back of the motion the energy, from which the phenomena issue. All of this is self-evident. Each of the three is inevitable with the others. None of the three can be without the others. No two can exist without the third.

By every test, matter does present itself as such an absolute threeness as we have been discussing in this comparison with the absolute threeness and oneness ascribed to the being of God by the New Testament.

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Is matter then an equally absolute oneness? Is it a unity in that almost spiritual oneness in which "each one is the whole?" It seems impossible in the material world. But we can only ask, Are energy, motion and phenomena such a unity, in which each one is the whole? What now do we find?

When we approach the physical universe, we find that it consists entirely of phenomena. We have never seen, nor heard, nor felt, anything else of the material universe. Everything around us, of light, of colour, of heat, of pressure, of texture, of odour, of sound, is phenomena. We find, by our senses, or by instruments, an entire universe of phenomena.

But we have found that all those phenomena are impact of motion of varied kinds upon our senses or upon instruments. They really consist of motion. We have found, therefore, that the material universe after all consists entirely of motion appearing to us as phenomena. This is not a contradiction. Anyone who knows modern science understands this.

And then we have found with equally absolute truth that the motion consists entirely of energy at work, and that therefore the material universe consists entirely of energy. That also is simple realism, to one who knows the facts of modern science.

Phenomena, motion, energy,—each one in turn is the whole. The impossible thing is simple fact. Matter, after all, is that kind of absolute oneness.

Well, there remains little to be said. Matter then is of the same extraordinary threeness and extraordinary oneness that is found in the mysterious and wholly spiritual Triunity presented by the Bible as the being of God.

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Then are these three,—energy, motion and phenomena,—three modes of being? How do they compare at that point with absolute unity? Are they three things which the universe is?

This needs no long examination. Manifestly these three are three things which the physical universe is. We cannot say that the physical universe acts through energy and motion and phenomena, but itself exists apart from them. These are what it consists of. They are not primarily three things which it does. They are three things which it is. They are, then, as much as the three dimensions in space, or even as the three personal distinctions in the Triunity in the Bible, three modes of being.

Then come the questions of the relationships between these three elements in matter. Nothing could be a more definite triunity than space is. Space is simple, sheer triunity, and nothing else. But matter, which gives substance and reality to space, is richer in content and characteristics. Matter has, we know, a series of further relationships between its three elements, which are of the deepest interest.

The first relation is the logical order of the three elements.

Energy is first. That is self-evident.

Motion, which embodies energy, is second. That is equally clear.

Motion issues in phenomena, which are third.

This is the absolute, causal order in matter.

Energy is the source. It begets motion. It begets it perpetually. It embodies itself in motion. It works and acts through motion.

Motion makes energy operative in the physical

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world. It carries out, and executes, the possibilities of energy. Motion acts. Energy acts, but it acts through motion.

Phenomena proceed from motion. They do not embody motion, in the sense in which motion embodies energy. For they are, more accurately, the ways in which motion itself touches human beings. They proceed from energy through motion. They reveal and interpret motion.

All of this is self-evident to one who knows science to-day. None the less it is most deeply interesting to an intelligent person in the midst of the physical world. But the thing of vital interest just now is the comparison of these things with the elements in that mysterious Triunity presented to us by the Bible and Christianity as the being of God, who is the Ground of the physical universe.

In that remarkable Triunity the Father is represented as first,—the source,—the Son as second,—the visible embodiment of the Father, and the Spirit, proceeding from the Son, as third, in a logical, causal order.

So, we have just seen, energy is first of the three elements in the triunity of Matter. It is the source in the threefold existence of matter. So also motion is second. It is the embodiment of energy. So again phenomena are third. They proceed from motion. It is an absolute, endless, unvarying logical and causal order.

The comparison up to this point is indeed very striking. We must surely go on with it.

In that mysterious Triunity presented to us as Father, Son and Spirit the Father, the Source, begets the Son, perpetually. He embodies Himself in the Son. He works and acts through the Son.

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Just so modern science presents energy to us as the source in Matter. Energy begets motion. It begets it perpetually. Energy embodies itself in motion. It works and acts through motion. These are the self-evident words which we used to describe the relation of energy and motion a few moments ago.

In that other Triunity the Son is presented to us as the embodiment of the Father. He is the executive. He carries out and executes the plans and potentialities of the Father. The Son acts. The Father indeed acts, but He primarily acts through the Son, whether in creating, or in "becoming flesh," or in living, or dying, or rising, or judging.

So also motion is presented to us as the embodiment of energy. It is the executive in the physical universe. It carries out and executes the possibilities and potentialities of energy. Motion acts. That is its very nature. Energy, of course, acts, but it acts, apparently, entirely through motion, whether in light, or heat, or electricity, or sound, or substance, or texture, or gravitation, or anything else which makes up the physical world.

So far the comparison produces an exact parallel. We must go on.

The Spirit, as that other Triunity is presented to us, "proceeds" from the Son. He does not embody the Son, in the sense in which the Son embodies the Father. He means not so much a concentration as a distribution of the activity of the Father through the Son. He is represented as a personal medium through whom the Son touches human beings. He reveals and interprets the Son. He is represented as proceeding from the Father through the Son.

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So also phenomena are represented as proceeding from motion. They do not, as we have said already, embody motion in the sense in which motion embodies energy. They mean more a distribution than a concentration of the activity of energy through motion. They are the media by which motion touches us in the physical world, through light, sound, heat, hardness, softness, pressure, or other things which reach our senses. They reveal and interpret motion to us. And obviously they proceed from energy through motion. Like Space, Matter is a triunity, an absolute triunity, by all the highest tests of threeness and of oneness, and in this, and in all these other characteristics and relationships of which we have been speaking, it is extraordinarily,—exactly,—like the Triunity of the Bible.

How Does Time Compare?

How does the third great element in the structure of the physical universe compare with that principle of Triunity so strikingly found in the Divine Triunity of the Bible, and in space and matter? We know that this is a time-universe. We know that time is threefold, in its past, present and future. How do these three compare with the Triunity described in the New Testament?

Is Time an absolute threeness? Must it be no less than three, and no more than three? That seems to be self-evident. For time consists of three things. There are just three. They are past, present and future. There are always these three. There are only these three. There can be no more elements in Time than past, present and future. On the other hand, there can be no less. For no one of the three can be either of the others. It is essential threeness.

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On the other hand, is time so essential a threeness that no two of the three can exist without the third? Clearly so. No one of the three can exist without the other two. No two of the three can exist without the third. For time cannot exist at all without all three. If there is no past, time has never existed until this instant, and a little later this instant also will never have existed. If there is no present, there is never any instant in which time exists. If there is no future, time ceases now, and indeed ceased long ago. Without any one of the three, time cannot exist. It is an absolute threeness.

Is time then an absolute oneness? Does it meet that really spiritual requirement of absolute unity? Are these three elements,—past, present and future,—so much one that each of them is the whole? It seems incredible that there could be yet another triunity in the physical world which should fulfill that almost impossible and spiritual condition. But does not each element in Time,—future, present and past,—include all of Time? All of Time is or has been future. The future includes it all. All of Time is or has been or will be present. The present includes it all. All of Time is or will be past. The past will include it all. At the beginning all Time is future. Between, all Time is present. At the end, all Time is past. Each one is the whole. They are as wholly one as that one is wholly three. It is an absolute triunity. Triunity could go no further.

Is this triune Time three modes of being? Manifestly. Past, present and future are three things which Time is, not three things which Time does. They are the essential nature of Time. Time is an essential triunity, as absolute, by all these tests which we have so far applied, as that simple, essential triunity which we

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call Space,—as absolute as that richer and fuller triunity which we call Matter,—as absolute as that kind of personal Triunity which the Bible describes.

Now Matter could be no more a triunity than Space is, as we have seen it. Nothing in the physical world could possibly be more triune than that. And Time could be no more a triunity than Matter or Space. Yet, because it is richer and fuller than Space, Matter has more relationships within itself. And we have found that these relationships are, as far as they go, entirely like those in the Divine Triunity described in the Bible. And Time, because it is, of these three primal things of the physical universe, the nearest to spirit, and is almost as much a thing of the spirit as it is of the material, has yet more relationships and characteristics within itself. Their analysis is of extraordinary interest, and will lead us into some untrodden realms, from which the mind may shrink, but which it will accept as reality.

The Relationships of Time

How does time exist? What is its source?

Here is where we must diverge from those who have heretofore discussed the nature of time. We cannot safely so diverge from all who have gone before unless the thing which we discuss can be shown to be self-evident. That is what we must show.

How does time exist? What is its source? Not the past. Carelessly we think of it so, as coming out of the past. Moralists, poets and scientists speak of it so. We speak of the stream of time as flowing out of the past. Even the upholders of the new Science, which makes much of time as a basic reality, along with space, of the physical universe, and strongly emphasizes

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the invariability of the movement of time, describe that movement as proceeding out of the past through the present into the future.

But time does not come out of the past! It comes out of the future. And it does not flow into the future! It flows into the past. This may bring a shock to one's habit of thinking. It has brought a shock to some who have discussed it as it is presented in these pages. We have never thought of it in that way. None the less it is the self-evident fact. We have but to take a definite date, a definite piece of time, and trace its course down the stream of time, to find at once whether that section of time moves from past through present into future, or from future through present into past. Consider, for instance, that section of time which we call "to-day," the day in which you read this page. For a long time this day was "next year," far in the future. Then it was "next month," still in the future. Then it was "next week," in the near future. Then it was "to-morrow," in the immediate future. Then it became "today," in the present. Soon it will be "yesterday," in the immediate past. Then it will be "two days ago," in the near past. Then it will be "last week," in the recent past. Then it will be "last month," in the receding past. Then it will be "last year," far in the past. Manifestly, that section of time which we call "to-day" comes out of the distant future, first into the near future, then into the present, then goes into the recent past, then disappears into the distant past. That is the unbroken order of the motion of time. That is its invariable direction. Never does it flow the other way, from past to future. Never does yesterday turn back in its flight and become to-day, or to-day become to-morrow. Never does the past pass into the present, or the present into

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the future. No. It is the other way. To-morrow becomes to-day. To-day becomes yesterday. The future becomes the present. The present becomes the past. The future is the source, it is the reservoir of time which will some day be present, and then past. The present is the narrow strait, it is the living instant, it is the flashing reality, through which the vast oncoming future flows into the endless receding past.

Why then do we usually think of time as coming out of the past? What is the reason for this common fallacy? The answer is simple. We get the impression that time comes into the present out of the past, because the human race and human history come into the present out of the past. The human race passes from past through present into future. Therefore we have fallen into the habit of thinking that time follows the same order. But it is not so. Time goes the other way. The human race comes to us out of the past, and time comes to us out of the future. We do not go with time. We continually meet it, instant by instant. That is why the present is always instantaneous, because we do not go with it, but constantly meet it, moving from past to future while time proceeds from future to past. This is the procession of time. The future is the reservoir out of which the present comes. The future is the source.

The Future is the source. The Future is unseen, unknown, except as it continually embodies itself and makes itself visible in the Present. The Present is what we see, and hear, and know. It is ceaselessly embodying the Future, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. It is perpetually revealing the Future, hitherto invisible.

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The Future is logically first, but not chronologically. For the Present exists as long as Time exists, and was in the absolute beginning of Time. The Present has existed as long as Time has existed. Time acts through and in the Present. It makes itself visible only in the Present. The Future acts, and reveals itself, through the Present. It is through the Present that Time, that the Future, enters into union with human life. Time and humanity meet and unite in the Present. It is in the Present that Time, that the Future, becomes a part of human life, and so is born and lives and dies in human life.

The Past in turn comes from the Present. We cannot say that it embodies the Present. On the contrary Time in issuing from the Present into the Past becomes invisible again. The Past does not embody the Present. Rather it proceeds silently, endlessly, invisibly from it.

But the Present is not the source of the Past which proceeds from it. The Future is the source of both the Present and the Past. The Past issues in endless, invisible procession from the Present, but, back of that, from the Future out of which the Present comes.

The Past issues, it proceeds, from the Future, through the Present.

The Present therefore comes out from the invisible Future. The Present perpetually and ever-newly embodies Lie Future in visible, audible, livable form; and returns again into invisible Time in the Past.

The Past acts invisibly. It continually influences us with regard to the Present. It casts light upon the Present. That is its great function. It helps us to live in the Present which we know, and with reference to the Future which we expect to see.

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All of this is indeed remarkable. But here is something yet more remarkable, which we can discover for ourselves by a simple experiment. It is possible to take the preceding paragraph, with its carefully detailed and self-evident setting-forth of what we all know to be the relations of Future, Present and Past, and to read it actually without change, substituting the word God for the word Time, the word Father for Future, the word Son for Present, and the word Spirit for Past, and have a detailed and exact description of the relations between Father, Son and Spirit as the Scriptures present them.

Let us try it. "The Father is the source. The Father is unseen except as He continually embodies Himself and makes Himself visible in the Son. The Son is what we see, and hear, and know. He is ceaselessly embodying the Father, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. He is perpetually revealing the Father, hitherto invisible.

"The Father is logically first, but not chronologically. For the Son exists as long as God exists, and was in the absolute beginning of God. The Son has existed as long as God has existed.

"God acts through and in the Son. He makes Himself visible only in the Son. The Father acts, and reveals Himself, through the Son. It is through the Son that God, that the Father, enters into union with human life. God and humanity meet and unite in the Son. It is in the Son that God, that the Father, becomes a part of human life, and so is born and lives and dies in human life.

"The Spirit in turn comes from the Son. We cannot say that He embodies the Son. On the contrary

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[paragraph continues] God in issuing from the Son into the Spirit becomes invisible again. The Spirit does not embody the Son. Rather He proceeds silently, endlessly, invisibly from Him.

"But the Son is not the source of the Spirit who proceeds from Him. The Father is the source of both the Son and the Spirit. The Spirit issues in endless, invisible procession from the Son, but, back of that, from the Father out of whom the Son comes.

"The Spirit issues, He proceeds, from the Father, through the Son.

"The Son therefore comes out from the invisible Father. The Son perpetually and ever-newly embodies the Father in visible, audible, livable form; and returns into invisible God in the Spirit.

"The Spirit acts invisibly. He continually influences us with regard to the Son. He casts light upon the Son. That is His great function. He helps us to live in the Son whom we know, and with reference to the Father whom we expect to see."

This is more than likeness! It is identity, not of substance, but of principle. "Analogy," unless in the deepest mathematical sense, falls far short of describing such repetition of every detail and every intricate, mysterious relationship. It is clearly the same principle, seen first in terms of God in the Bible and then in terms of Time in the world. This universe in which we live is a time-universe. All thinkers recognize that. Many scientific thinkers lay great emphasis upon it today. And as a time-universe it is, as a matter of simple fact, whatever our conclusions from it may be, exactly like that Triunity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit which the Scriptures called the Bible so fully describe.

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The Structure of the Universe

Out of our study of Space and Matter and Time emerges truly an extraordinary thing. We set out to discover whether we had before us a vast structure of things, including on the one hand space, matter and time, which are the fabric of the physical universe, and on the other hand God, who is the ground of space and matter and time. There can be no question as to what we have found. We have found a vast triune structure of the space-matter-time universe. It is truly a triuniverse. It is, in terms of space, matter and time, exactly like the Triunity presented by the Bible as the being of God. The likeness is so exact that it is clearly the same principle, first in the being of God, and then in the structure of the physical universe. It is not analogy. For it is much too exact for that, unless in the mathematical sense of analogy. For it presents much more than similarity. When two geometric figures cover exactly the same points, with exactly the same lines running between the points, they are the same figure, even though the two are in different places, of different sizes, and of different material. And when one of them faces the other in a reflecting mirror, they are clearly the same figure, the one reflected from the other. So these two, the Triunity of God in the Bible, and the triunity of the physical world which reflects God, are in that sense the same triunity. I do not think that anyone will misunderstand this. There is no intention of declaring that these two triunities, face to face, and so extraordinarily alike, are identical in the sense that the physical world and God are one. They are manifestly not the same triunity in the sense that

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they are the same substance. One is impersonal. The other is Personal. There is no trace of "three centres of personal consciousness" in the three dimensions of space, or in energy, motion and phenomena, or in future, present and past. Clearly the two are not the same substance. But they present the same triune structure, at every point, expressed in the one case in terms of Divine personality, in the other in terms of space, matter and time. They are the same, just as the image of yourself in the mirror is more than similar to you, it is exactly the same, in form, colour and movement, but in terms not of flesh and blood and spirit, but of glass and quicksilver and light. So it is manifestly at every point the same triune structure, in the one case presented in the being of God, in the other in the universe which reflects God.

All of this converges upon two great conclusions. Their value lies in the fact that they are self-evident. For this reason we will put them as simply as possible.

1. The Triunity shown in the Bible manifestly presents a vast and adequate reason for the triune structure of the physical universe. For the reason ought to be in God. The universe ought to reflect God, its Maker and Ground. That should be the reason for the general character of the universe. The structure of the universe ought to reflect the structure or being of God. Any theist will agree with this. Such Triunity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in God presents therefore an adequate original and reason for the exactly similar triunity in the fabric of space, matter and time. Whether one accepts that Triunity or not, one must admit that, in view of the exact likeness, it does present an adequate original for the universal triunity. It

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gives as a reason for the universal triunity simply this, that the universe mirrors its Creator. It means that the universe is essentially like its God. It declares that the creation reflects the Creator.

2. The fabric of space, matter and time presents a universal and exact confirmation of that Triunity in God. For the one vital and conclusive proof which the physical universe can give of that Triunity is that the universe should reflect it. This means that such triunity should be found as basic in the universe of which God is the Ground, and which in other ways reflects Him. And here is such triunity everywhere in the universe. It constitutes the very structure of the universe. It is at every point exactly such triunity in terms of space, of matter and of time as it must be to reflect that Triunity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in God. It is exactly the confirmation which the universe ought to give. This is, of course, the method of science. "If such a hypothesis is true, such an effect will be found in the physical world. It is found. The facts then confirm the hypothesis, and establish the law." So much is this the modern method, so decisive it is for us, that when infinitesimal deflection was found in rays of light passing near the sun, the entire theory of Relativity, to its remotest branches, was regarded by many scientists as fully confirmed. Here is such confirmation of the Triunity of God in the facts of the physical universe. But the facts consist not of minute and disputable data, but of the whole self-evident structure of the space-matter-time universe. And their bearing upon the case is not subtle and abstruse, but lies in their exact reproduction, at every point in

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space, matter and time, of every possible point in the Triunity of God presented in the Bible. It means that the universe reflects its God, and thereby attests that Biblical Triunity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which it so completely reflects.


It means, too, that in this general triunity the physical universe brings to us its strongest proof of the existence of God. The Bible presents God as all-wise. It describes Him as all-powerful. It depicts Him as holy. It shows Him as loving. And not only the mind of man responds to this. The physical world, also, seems to many to reveal something of these things. All-wise? Yes, the world shows that, as far as your eye or the microscope can penetrate. All-powerful? Yes, that can be found anywhere, and as far as you or the telescope can see. Holy? That seems to be embodied in the laws of nature. Loving? That seems to be reflected in part in the loveliness and the comforts of nature. But now comes a far more drastic test. The Bible depicts God, in His very being, as Three in One, with a marvelous and intricate group of characteristics and relationships. Can the physical world reflect even this, so elaborate, so complete, not vague at all, like a general characteristic, but precise, many-sided, articulated? Yes, as we have been seeing, the physical world parallels that Triunity, and all its relationships and all its functions, with an accuracy, a fulness of reflection and a precision which are impossible in any other thing about God. By this His existence may be recognized, with supreme clearness, from His world, whether we call it His reflection presenting Him face to face with

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the world, or His creative impress left upon the world, or His visible vesture revealing His moving presence in the world.

It is your great privilege as a thinker who deals with facts to have if you will a basic vision of the universe. It is a great thing to have that vision. It brings before one a transformed and illumined universe. No one can really know the world of Space and Sense and Time who fails to recognize this universal Fact of Divine Triunity. "Within its depths," said Dante of that central Trinity, at the climax of his vision of the universe, "within its depths I saw ingathered, bound by love in one volume, the scattered leaves of all the universe; substance and accidents, and all their relations, as though together fused, after such fashion that what I tell is of one simple flame." To see Him invisibly and yet visibly everywhere in triune Space! To recognize the mighty working of the Triune Master of the world in energy, motion and phenomena! To feel in the endless generation and procession of Time the presence of Him who is the Father, the begotten Son and the proceeding Spirit!

When you look up at the stars, as you often do, and see in them a million burning mirrors of the mind and will of God, remember that around them, through them, beyond them, is the greater, more absolute, complete reflection in Space itself, unseen, silent, everywhere, infinite, of His very Being, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the one God. And then remember that this moving, shining universe of Matter around you, with its balance of the Divine mind, its urgency of the Divine will, and its beauty of Divine love, is in its entire nature and structure of energy, motion and phenomena

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the absolute and complete reflection of the Divine Being itself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Three in One. And then remember that those vast pulsations and measures of Time, beating through the stellar universe, with the ancient past, the present and the distant future all visibly before you, are the complete and perfect reproduction of the Three in One who made and upholds this universe of wondrous worlds.

Next: II. The Inner Universe