Many of the temporal troubles of mortal man grow out of his twofold relation to the cosmos. Man is a part of nature—he exists in nature—and yet he is able to transcend nature. Man is finite, but he is indwelt by a spark of infinity. Such a dual situation not only provides the potential for evil but also engenders many social and moral situations fraught with much uncertainty and not a little anxiety.
The courage required to effect the conquest of nature and to transcend one’s self is a courage that might succumb to the temptations of self-pride. The mortal who can transcend self might yield to the temptation to deify his own self-consciousness. The mortal dilemma consists in the double fact that man is in bondage to nature while at the same time he possesses a unique liberty—freedom of spiritual choice and action. On material levels man finds himself subservient to nature, while on spiritual levels he is triumphant over nature and over all things temporal and finite. Such a paradox is inseparable from temptation, potential evil, decisional errors, and when self becomes proud and arrogant, sin may evolve.
The problem of sin is not self-existent in the finite world. The fact of finiteness is not evil or sinful. The finite world was made by an infinite Creator—it is the handiwork of his divine Sons—and therefore it must be good. It is the misuse, distortion, and perversion of the finite that gives origin to evil and sin.
The spirit can dominate mind; so mind can control energy. But mind can control energy only through its own intelligent manipulation of the metamorphic potentials inherent in the mathematical level of the causes and effects of the physical domains. Creature mind does not inherently control energy; that is a Deity prerogative. But creature mind can and does manipulate energy just in so far as it has become master of the energy secrets of the physical universe.
When man wishes to modify physical reality, be it himself or his environment, he succeeds to the extent that he has discovered the ways and means of controlling matter and directing energy. Unaided mind is impotent to influence anything material save its own physical mechanism, with which it is inescapably linked. But through the intelligent use of the body mechanism, mind can create other mechanisms, even energy relationships and living relationships, by the utilization of which this mind can increasingly control and even dominate its physical level in the universe.
Science is the source of facts, and mind cannot operate without facts. They are the building blocks in the construction of wisdom which are cemented together by life experience. Man can find the love of God without facts, and man can discover the laws of God without love, but man can never begin to appreciate the infinite symmetry, the supernal harmony, the exquisite repleteness of the all-inclusive nature of the First Source and Center until he has found divine law and divine love and has experientially unified these in his own evolving cosmic philosophy.
The expansion of material knowledge permits a greater intellectual appreciation of the meanings of ideas and the values of ideals. A human being can find truth in his inner experience, but he needs a clear knowledge of facts to apply his personal discovery of truth to the ruthlessly practical demands of everyday life.
It is only natural that mortal man should be harassed by feelings of insecurity as he views himself inextricably bound to nature while he possesses spiritual powers wholly transcendent to all things temporal and finite. Only religious confidence—living faith—can sustain man amid such difficult and perplexing problems.
Of all the dangers which beset man’s mortal nature and jeopardize his spiritual integrity, pride is the greatest. Courage is valorous, but egotism is vainglorious and suicidal. Reasonable self-confidence is not to be deplored. Man’s ability to transcend himself is the one thing which distinguishes him from the animal kingdom.
Pride is deceitful, intoxicating, and sin-breeding whether found in an individual, a group, a race, or a nation. It is literally true, “Pride goes before a fall.”