S GUIDE TO COVENANTAL THEOLOGY
of true responsibility and of free will from the Real World is no more than a consequence of its total
immersion in the necessary and the arbitrary.
The work done in Covenantal Theology is subtle in this regard. First, it demonstrates that this pessimism
is the inevitable result of the acceptance of any dehistoricized cosmology. Once the world is divided into
Cause and Chance, into the necessary and the arbitrary, pessimism is inevitable.
This anguished pessimism can only be assuaged by a flight to the time-less. Mr. Minsky and Ecclesiastes
are unusual only in that their pessimism is relatively undisguised. They both try as hard as they can to avoid
this flight to the time-less. Therefore, the pessimism that underlies all dehistoricized cosmologies is more
evident in them. By their unusually blunt and eloquent words, we realize more clearly than is typical that we
are in fact prisoners of the necessary and the arbitrary.
However, Covenantal Theology also shows that, ironically, the very division of the world into the
necessary and the arbitrary is already a flight to the time-less, is already a dehistoricized cosmology. This
initial flight to the time-less leads to the pessimism which prompts even further flight. Once things are 'true'
because they are necessary, logically or otherwise, and therefore once all that is not necessary is meaningless,
then not only all freedom and all responsibility disappear, but also all creativity, novelty, and surprise. None
of these can exist, for all reality depends on some time-less realm in which all implications already exist, in
which no question that has a meaningful answer can be asked whose answer is in principle not already
According to many scientists of both the nineteenth, the twentieth century, and now the twenty-first
century, this indeed is the project of science: to get to the point at which no question that has an intelligible
answer can be asked whose answer is in principle not already known. The project of science is taken to be,
exactly, the development of the Theory of Everything, which, once completed, would of course make all
further science pointless, precisely because it would be unnecessary.
However, Covenantal Theology notes that something like a Theory of Everything is not so much a special
project of 'modern science' as it is but the acknowledgement of the implications of any dehistoricized
cosmology whatever. The pessimism of them all really is pervasive. It's not just that all dehistoricized
cosmologies eliminate even the thought of real freedom and responsibility and instead give us Mr. Minsky's
and Ecclesiastes's Real World, enslaved in Cause and Chance. That Real World, given in all dehistoricized
cosmologies, with no room for real freedom and responsibility, has no room for real creativity, novelty, and
surprise, either. This is a major insight.
For this then establishes why it is that not only New Class Catholic thought but also traditional Catholic
thought has been unable to defeat the modern pessimism and to evangelize the modern world by preaching the
Good News to it: whatever the personal faithfulness of their adherents, both current manifestations of
Catholic thought intellectually and scientifically completely accept a world ruled by Cause and Chance -- and
therefore by the implications of their chosen intellectual and scientific method, both rule out the Good News
intellectually and scientifically from before the outset. Tortuous and unsatisfying rationales that attempt to
patch over the fundamental intellectual and scientific incoherence in the presentation of Catholicism become
inevitable. St. Thomas may have been the greatest mind to attempt this project, but he has not been the last,
and all who have attempted it, says Fr. Keefe, have failed.
For grace -- 'time-full' complete surprise completely intelligible -- is ruled out in advance within all
dehistoricized cosmologies, first because, in them all, the only intelligible things that can exist are intelligible
because they are necessary, Caused (and ultimately the Causing must be time-less), and second because, in
them all, any un-Caused thing must be arbitrary and thus meaningless.
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.