David Bentley Hart on Existence

‘Physical reality cannot account for its own existence for the simple reason that nature – the physical – is that which by definition already exists; existence, even taken as a simple brute fact to which no metaphysical theory is attached, lies logically beyond the system of causes that nature comprises; it is, quite literally, “hyperphysical,” or, shifting into Latin, super naturam. This means not only that at some point nature requires or admits of a supernatural explanation (which it does), but also that at no point is anything purely, self-sufficiently natural in the first place. This is a logical and ontological claim, but a phenomenological, epistemological, and experiential one as well. We have, in fact, no direct access to nature as such; we can approach nature only across the interval of the supernatural. Only through our immediate encounter with the being of a thing are we permitted our wholly mediated experience of that thing as a natural object; we are able to ask what it s only in first knowing that it is; and so in knowing nature we have always already gone beyond its intrinsic limits.’ (David Bentley Hart, ‘The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss’, p.96)

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Nature and Grace

The dichotomy between nature and grace is an interesting one. As I understand it, it’s Augustinian in origin – grace held up, or supported nature before the fall, and with the fall, grace was taken away, leaving only nature. Through grace nature is restored. Aquinas developed this in much greater detail.

The Orthodox reject this outright- for the Orthodox the distinction isn’t between nature and grace but between created and uncreated. Grace is an uncreated energy of God that is at work in every part of creation. Where there is creation there is grace.