The God-Shaped Hole

by Steven H. Cullinane

It may be that universal history is the history of
the different intonations given a handful of metaphors.
-- Jorge Luis Borges (1951), "The Fearful Sphere of Pascal,"
in Labyrinths, New Directions, 1962

This page offers two quotations in support of that view. One is from an advocate of Scientism -- the religion that worships Science -- and one is from an advocate of more traditional religions.

There is a hole in the universe.

It is not like a hole in a wall where a mouse slips through, solid and crisp and leading from somewhere to someplace. It is rather like a hole in the heart, an amorphous and edgeless void. It is a heartfelt absence, a blank space where something is missing, a large and obvious blind spot in our understanding of the universe.

That missing something, strange to say, is a grasp of nothing itself. Understanding nothing matters, because nothing is the all-important background upon which everything else happens.

-- K. C. Cole, The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything, Harcourt, 2001, page 1

Seen through the eyes of faith, religion's future is secure. As long as there are human beings, there will be religion for the sufficient reason that the self is a theomorphic creature -- one whose morphe (form) is theos -- God encased within it. Having been created in the imago Dei, the image of God, all human beings have a God-shaped vacuum built into their hearts. Since nature abhors a vacuum, people keep trying to fill the one inside them. Searching for an image of the divine that will fit, they paw over various options as if they were pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, matching them successively to the gaping hole at the puzzle's center.... They keep doing this until the right "piece" is found. When it slips into place, life's jigsaw puzzle is solved.

How so? Because the sight of the picture that then emerges is so commanding that it swings attention from the self who is viewing the picture to the picture itself. This epiphany, with its attendant ego-reduction, is salvation in the West and enlightenment in the East.

-- Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief, Harper-Collins, 2001, pp. 148-149

Make up your own essay questions on these passages.

For more ado, see Is Nothing Sacred?.

Page last modified March 3, 2001. Page created Feb. 21, 2001 shc759