I recently interviewed David Bentley Hart, my man-crush Mt. Rushmore theologian as well as my former teacher. You can find the interview here above from our podcast Crackers and Grape Juice. In it, I mention how DBH taught me as a new Christian and undergraduate that God is the most obvious thing of all.
This is a theme DBH picks up again in his latest book, The Experience of God.
In a nutshell, The Experience of God is a retrieval of the ancient metaphysical definition of God. Like all of his previous works, this is a significant book. Unlike his previous works, this book is accessible for the average lay person- that’s not to say it’s easy reading, just accessible.
Hart reminds the reader of the philosopher Richard Taylor with this wonderful illustration, which in turn reminds me of the Terrence Malick film, Tree of Life.
Here’s the quote from Hart. Imagine, he writes:
“a man out for a stroll in the forest unaccountably coming upon a very large translucent sphere.
Naturally he would immediately be taken aback by the sheer strangeness of the thing, and would wonder how it should happen to be there.
More to the point, he would certainly never be able to believe that it just happened to be there without any cause, or without any possibility of further explanation; the very idea would absurd.
But, what that man has not noticed is that he might ask the same question equally well about any other thing in the woods too, a rock or a tree no less than this outlandish sphere, and fails to do so only because it rarely occurs to us to interrogate the ontological pedigrees of the things to which we’re accustomed.
What would provoke our curiosity about the sphere would be that it was so obviously out of place; but, as far as existence is concerned, everything is in a sense out of place.
The question would no less intelligible or pertinent if we were to imagine the sphere either as expanded to the size of the universe or as contracted to the size of a grain of sand, either as existing from everlasting to everlasting or as existing for only a few seconds.
It is the shear unexpected ‘thereness’ of the thing, devoid of any transparent rationale for the fact, that prompts our desire to understand it in terms not simply of its nature but of its very existence.
The physical order confronts us at every moment with its fortuity.
Everything about the world that seems so unexceptional and drearily predictable is in fact charged with an immense and imponderable mystery.
How odd it is, how unfathomable, that anything at all exists: how disconcerting that the world and one’s consciousness of it are simply there, joined in a single ineffable event.”