This is My Father's World", Music of the Spheres, Maltbie Babcock, and Pythagoras, part 3
In part 1 of "This is My Father's World", Music of the Spheres, Maltbie Babcock, and Pythagoras, I looked at how Pythagoras intuitively understood the harmony and order of the natural world, and the cosmos. Pythagoras in effect discovered music theory, and within it, musical spacing, octaves, and vibrations. He extrapolated from his discovery that a similar harmony and order in the planetary cycles and orbits must exist, and named his astronomical theory Music of the Spheres because of the order and harmony within it. Pythagoras even thought the planets made music in their courses. When you sing Pastor Maltbie Babcock's hymn "This Is My Father's World, Babcock references music of the spheres and it is specifically to Pythagoras's concept Babcock refers.
This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
In Part 2 I looked at how Pythagoras is thought to the be the progenitor of string theory, the notion in physics that everything vibrates and strings are the elements that make up the universe. Pythagoras was very smart, and his experiments were carefully done. However, he was too smart for his own good, and wound up on the other side of God, promoting knowledge as the thing to be worshiped. More on that in a moment.
We looked at Kepler, the 16th century astronomer whose brilliance pushed forward Pythagoras's theories much further, and we ended up in the twentieth century by looking at modern string theory.
Al this to say that Romans 1:18-23 are amazing verses.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things."
Pythagoras, and Plato who brought Pythagoras's concept to the people, for that matter, had incredible intellects. Yet when the truth was shown to them, they went away from it. See what Pythagoras and his followers believed:
"Pythagoras conceived the universe to be an immense monochord, with its single string connected at its upper end to absolute spirit and at its lower end to absolute matter–in other words, a cord stretched between heaven and earth. Counting inward from the circumference of the heavens, Pythagoras, according to some authorities, divided the universe into nine parts; according to others, into twelve parts. The Pythagoreans believed that everything which existed had a voice and that all creatures were eternally singing the praise of the Creator. Man fails to hear these divine melodies because his soul is enmeshed in the illusion of material existence. When he liberates himself from the bondage of the lower world with its sense limitations, the music of the spheres will again be audible as it was in the Golden Age. Harmony recognizes harmony, and when the human soul regains its true estate it will not only hear the celestial choir but also join with it in an everlasting anthem of praise to that Eternal Good controlling the infinite number of parts and conditions of Being."
Pythagoras and Plato saw a creator, but not the God in creation. You see the almost in Pythagoras. he almost got it right. There is a cord which connects us to the Creator. Job 30:11 speaks of it, and Solomon speaks of our connection to eternity by God's setting it in our heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
You see the almost in the belief that all creatures have a voice and respond to the Creator. Jesus said in Luke 19:40 that we cannot keep silent, if we did, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” And we know from Romans 8:22 that "For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time" and that "all creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God." (Romans 8:19).
However, it is not true that 'Man fails to hear these divine melodies because his soul is enmeshed in the illusion of material existence.' We fail to connect to the 'divine' because of our sin, we are separated from God and in a discordant relationship with Him. We are His enemy and He is our judge. The material world isn't the enemy, our flesh and sinful nature is.
"Pythagoras was not only the first to call himself a philosopher but also a priest -initiate of a mystery religion influenced heavily by Orphism, which taught that the essence of the gods is defined by number. Numbers, indeed, expressed the essence of all created things." (source)
Out of Pythagorean cults came Gnosticism, which teaches based on Gnosis, the knowledge of transcendence arrived at by way of interior, intuitive means. This is exactly as Pythagoras said, we escape the material world by self-empowered actions.
Pythagoras suppressed the truth about his helpless state, and instead believed he could raise himself to a satisfactory level of spiritual attainment on his own power. God had made it plain to them. Yet they suppressed the truth in unrighteousness and worshiped the creation. In Pythagoras's case, he worshiped self, knowledge, and numbers. As far as numbers go, Pythagoras saw God's harmony but worshiped the numbers. Out of his teachings came Sacred Numbers and Occult Mysteries:
Pythagoreans ... believed that man can realise his divine nature by knowing the universal principle which governs the cosmos (a word coined by Pythagoras himself, meaning “world-order,” a world ordered in a state of mathematical harmony). This principle is Number, which is “the principle, the source and the root of all things”.
The tetractys, or tetrad, is a triangular figure consisting of ten points arranged in four rows: one, two, three, and four points in each row, which is the geometrical representation of the fourth triangular number. As a mystical symbol, it was very important to the secret worship of the Pythagoreans.
Plato was one of the three sources from which we understand Pythagorean theories, since no writings by Pythagoras survive. Plato said, “Geometry is knowledge of the eternally existent. Numbers are the highest degree of knowledge. It is knowledge itself.”
Out of Pythagorean mysticism came Rosicrucianism, a secret society still around today and which heavily influenced the Freemasons.
is it so surprising that one man who responded to the harmony and order of the world could go so wayward with the truth? No, for the bible explains it. In Genesis 3 when the serpent spoke with Eve, a few simple sentences gave rise to the false doctrines. 1 John 2:16 says "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
Johannes Kepler saw the same thing as Pythagoras yet he was a committed Christian. According to this essay from Answers in Genesis, "
During his youth, Kepler had become a committed Christian and dedicated himself to serving God. As he said shortly before he died, he believed ‘only and alone in the service of Jesus Christ. In Him is all refuge, all solace. Kepler intended to serve God as a Lutheran minister after completing his university education. However, God had other plans for this uniquely gifted young man. ... Kepler strongly believed that ‘The world of nature, the world of man, the world of God—all three fit together.’ In particular, Kepler reasoned that because the universe was designed by an intelligent Creator, it should function according to some logical pattern. To him, the idea of a chaotic universe was inconsistent with God’s wisdom."
Where Pythagoras, brilliant as he was, saw the logical pattern, he attributed it to Number, where Kepler attributed the logical pattern to God.
In the 20th century, plenty of scientists are born again but not one I mentioned who is an important contributor to understanding of string theory: Dr. Brian Greene. In answering an interview question whether he is religious, he said,
I think there’s a compatibility as long as your religious sensibility’s not literal. If you try to literally interpret teachings of the Bible you run smack into some pretty significant problems with what we’ve discovered in science. But if you’re willing to view religion more in a Spinozan or even Einsteinian way—that there is an overarching order and harmony that the laws of physics represent and reveal, and that order and harmony, if you want, ascribe it to some deeper theological origin—then I don’t think science has much to say about that.
As this writer at the University of Connecticut Physics Department stated, "Most of the founders of Quantum Mechanics started out with studying music. Strangely enough, the motion of the electron in a hydrogen atom actually does follow the Music of the Spheres, to a certain extent."
Yet many of them went the way of Pythagoras or Greene, and not Kepler. And lest one think that Pythagorean theory is old news, it is still influencing people today with its Gnostic appeal. This article from Psychology Today attests, "Can Pythagorean Philosophy Help You to Live a Better Life?"
"In keeping with these musical/mathematical aspects of the universe, a key construct of Pythagorean philosophy was maintaining personal harmony. In my book, How Plato and Pythagoras Can Save Your Life (Conari, 2011), I describe the Bios Pythagorikos (The Pythagorean Way of Life), whereby a person endeavored to "tune" themselves in order to be in harmonic alignment with the larger universal harmony via a healthy mind, body and spirit that are nurtured by rigorous physical exercise, a healthy diet, daily meditational walks, as well as deep contemplative meditations on math, music, cosmology and philosophy."
"Once a person was well-tuned and in vibrational alignment, they could then self-actualize and become fully engaged human beings. The mystic Pythagoras even believed that such a well-tuned person could raise their level of consciousness and awareness and thus be able to "peek behind the veil" and experience what some have called "ultimate reality".
When you hear that claptrap, of vibrations and harmony of the body and self-actualization and contemplative endeavors and alignment...now you know where it came from. Solomon, wise Solomon, said there is nothing new under the sun. All false doctrines, and all false reactions to true doctrines come from satan, who began his quest to divert us from the truth in heaven and then on earth in the garden.
Look at Maltbie Babcock's reaction to the creation. He responded to the harmony and order of creation and the progression of the planets and included the phrase 'music of the spheres' rightly in his hymn. Maltbie Babcock saw the creation, the order and harmony of the advance of seasons, the planets, and the natural world itself, and worshiped the Creator. Same knowledge, different reactions.
"When Maltbie Davenport Babcock lived in Lockport, he took frequent walks along the Niagara Escarpment to enjoy the overlook's panoramic vista of upstate New York scenery and Lake Ontario, telling his wife he was "going out to see the Father's world". (Wikipedia)
Babcock saw beauty and harmony in his Father's world, and praised the Creator for it. What is your reaction? Do you praise Jesus Christ, the sustainer and Redeemer of our fallen world? Our Creator who paints sunsets int he sky and twinkled the named stars for his own pleasure? Praise and worship of God is the only reaction acceptable. Not worship of numbers or intellect or the spiritual world or the body. God. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Creator, and He saw fit to create us and put us on our Father's world.
Don't be seduced by the Music of the Spheres, be entranced with the Maker of the heavenly harmony, which He has set in our heart.