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Table of Contents


Chapter  1

Part I
Chapter  2
Chapter  3
Chapter  4
Chapter  5
Chapter  6
Chapter  7
Chapter  8
Chapter  9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12

Part II
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17

Chapter 18


Part I: Embodiment — and The Incarnation

Chapter 2


No Body = 'Nobody'

     A justly famous paleontologist, one of America's most informed protagonists for the evolution of man, wrote a few years ago: "There was no anticipation of man's coming. He responds to no plan and fulfills no supernal purpose. He is a unique product of a long unconscious, impersonal, material process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned." (15)
     So thought Professor George Gaylord Simpson. But Simpson was wrong. The appearance of the human body upon this world scene was no accident. Scripture tells us that man was very deliberately planned and created in God's image after what amounts to a divine conference in which God said, "'Let us make man in our own image after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created Adam in his own image, in the image of God created he him" (Genesis 1:26, 27). Thus the biblical view of the introduction of man makes him very much the result of a plan.   

15. Simpson, George Gaylord: quoted by John Pfeiffer, "Some Comments on Popular Science Books" in Science, vol.117, 1953, p.403. See also G. G. Simpson, The Meaning of Evolution, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1952, p.344, 345.

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      Bertrand Russell, like many other notable individuals of this age, shared Simpson's dismal view of life and wrote quite as eloquently about the destiny of man as Simpson did about his origin: "All the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system. . . .  No philosophy which rejects these (certainties) can hope to stand." (16)
     Such is the logical conclusion of a forthright and consistent materialism which sees man as merely a physical phenomenon among the millions of other physical phenomena which have no more and no less significance in the scheme of things than man. All are by-products of pure accident.
      The Universe itself will continue to cool as it has done for billions of years until it dies from loss of useable energy and passes with all its contents into oblivion, unremembered in the unthinkable darkness of the total absence of all consciousness. It will go out, like a match struck for a brief moment that flares and dies as though it had never been. Only silence and cold will remain.
      This prospect was accepted without qualification by the Nobel Prize winner and world renowned French scientist, Jacques Monod, who quite recently stated the case in poignant terms: "Man knows at last that he is alone in the universe's unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. Meanwhile he is left with nothing but an anxious quest in a frozen universe of solitude."
     The pathetic sadness and loneliness and pointlessness of human existence lies at the end of this philosophical trail. It is a philosophy of despair. Such is any evolutionary world view when it is projected with complete consistency to its logical conclusion.
      Gresham Machen observed, correctly, that the validity of any system of thought is best evaluated by pursuing the logic of it relentlessly to its ultimate conclusion. The conclusion expressed by these profound scholars speaks for

16. Russell, Bertrand: quoted by J. W. N. Sullivan, Limitations of Science, Pelican Books, England, 1938, p.175
17. Sullivan, J. W. N., ibid, p.33 and Lealie Paul, The Annihilation of Man, New York, Harcourt Brace, 1945, p.154.
18. Monod, Jacques, Chance and Necessity, translated by Austryn Wainhouse, London, Collins, 1972, p167.
19. Machen, Gresham: quoted by J. I. Packer, Fundamentalism and the Word of God, London, InterVarsity Press, 1958, p.26.

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itself. Such candid remarks made by highly informed and intelligent men point up the unhealthiness of any philosophy which renders the individual's life totally insignificant. In the evolutionary world-view, apart from his functions or skills, the individual has no personal worth. He is effectively cancelled out as a person.
     Such a tragic view stems from the reduction of man to a mere body, a thing, a physical organism essentially nothing more than a machine which will soon wear out to be thrown on the scrap heap.
     In an odd way Christians have contributed to this denigration of the whole man. What we have done is to place so much emphasis upon the spiritual welfare of man and so little upon the importance of the body that we have emasculated man. We have tried to make him essentially "angelic," a spiritual being who, however, just happens to have a body, a body which we shall be only too happy to slough off. This has had the effect of divorcing two things, body and spirit, which should never even have been separated. To many people it has ceased to be of much importance where the body came from. The origin of his body was left to those who scarcely believed that man had a spiritual side to his nature. We have largely surrendered "to the enemy" all concern for the body, so that effectively, by a joint effort, we have annihilated man as man.
     We have failed to preserve as part of our Faith any frank acknowledgment of the enormous importance attached, from Genesis to Revelation, to the possession of a body. Not just a body of any kind, since all animals have a body and so do plants. No, not just the possession of a body, but the possession of a HUMAN body, a unique house for a unique spirit both of which are of God's creating.
     This body is fully one half of our identity as a person. The world was formed in the first place for its very existence and continuance, as Isaiah 45:18 makes clear. "Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens: God himself formed the earth and appointed it; he hath established it, he created it

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not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited." It is no wonder that the astronauts, viewing the earth against the blackness of outer space, saw it as a gem and were deeply moved by it. It seemed to them so beautiful, as home always seems to be when viewed from afar, whatever it may be when examined more closely.
     The Medieval theologian, Hugo St. Victor (1096—1141) described the close inter-relatedness of things in a characteristically succinct manner thus: "The spirit was created for God's sake, the body for the spirit's sake, and the world for the body's sake: so that the spirit might be subject to God, the body to the spirit, and the world to the body."
(20) Now there is a framework for a philosophy of meaning! The body forms the intermediary between God and the physical world through man's spirit.
     To complete the sequence, he might have added in the light of what we now understand, "and the Universe for the world" — for such it begins to appear. Revelation 4:11 furnishes the reason why: "For You have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created."
     This is even more pointed when it is realized that the phrase "all things" means not merely "everything" in common parlance but more specifically the Universe, since this is what the Greek (ta panta) signifies. The Universe, and man for whom it was created, was created for his pleasure and still exists for his pleasure — in spite of what man is doing to it.
     This present order, however, is temporary. It is to be replaced in due course by a new Universe, not merely by a new heavens only but by a new EARTH also! And this replacement is to be permanent. Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22 as well as Revelation 21:1 give us every assurance of the fact.
     If the essence of man is not merely in his spiritual nature but in his physical nature as well, the continuance of man's body is made meaningful by the promise of a new heavens and a new earth. In harmony with this promise we are assured that there is reserved for us the prospect of a

20. Hugo, St. Victor: H. O. Taylor, Medieval Mind, London, Macmillan, 1911, p.65.

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a new "house" for our spirit, a new body which is to be "eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:l).
     We have so spiritualized this new Universe which is to be our eternal home that we see man's future as essentially a spiritual one. The spiritual becomes of overriding concern. And yet Colossians 2:17 tells us that we should look upon this present world as a mere shadow of the ageless Universe which is to replace it. And this ageless Universe includes something called a new earth with a formal structure such as will accord with our new bodies. We shall not be ghosts flitting from cloud to cloud: in contrast to the angels we shall be real people with bodies as real as his resurrected body (Philippians 3:21). And He categorically denied that his body was a mere ghost of one.

     But why is a body so necessary for man? Angels do very well without them, so why can't we?
There are a number of reasons why man has a body, though it is obvious enough that God can create angels whose existence is just as real despite lack of embodiment. So, allowing that God did not need to create man in such a way that he had to have a body, why did He create man thus? Let me suggest five reasons.

      (1) One of the most obvious reasons is that God created a Universe which is physical. He must have had a reason for doing so and I suppose the best reason has to be simply: because it suited his purpose. Granted this, we might go one step further and say that He had from the beginning every intention of putting "someone in charge" of it, not in charge of the earth only but ultimately in charge of the whole thing. That someone was man, starting with responsibility for the earth (Genesis 1:28). But how could we "take charge" without a body? It does not seem that we could.
     Now even though God equipped man with a body for this reason, a body having hands and eyes and ears and feet

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and a brain and so forth, there was still no guarantee that man would take charge successfully — because he was given freedom to obey or to disobey his mandate. But at least it seems clear that to exercise any kind of dominion over a physical world we had to have these physical appurtenances. Even angels need some temporary embodiment when they are called upon to act on the physical world: not always perhaps, but certainly on occasion — as we shall see later.
     Thus, to put the case in a nutshell, man can exercise his will upon the physical order of things only because he has these physical properties, i.e., because he has a physical body which is extraordinarily well designed for the express purpose of "taking charge." It is obvious that I can will to move my hand, and it moves. We don't really know how this comes about but it does respond to my willing, and with this ability, we can manipulate material things with a remarkable degree of success — for good or ill. The body is thus a mediator between the will and the world.
For example, I can't simply will the hands of the clock to move forwards one hour in the Spring or backwards one hour in the Fall, but I can cause it to happen by making my feet carry me to the clock and making my hand reach up and change the setting to Daylight Saving Time. Indeed, we can act on the physical world — even to the extent of beginning the conquest of space — only because we have a body as our own personal effective instrument. That is one very good reason why we are given bodies.

     (2) But there is a second reason. In order to carry forwards this government of the world, and I suspect of the whole Universe in due course or at least of the New Universe, we must somehow multiply our numbers. There are only two ways by which this increase can be achieved: by direct creation or by procreation.
     Let us suppose it is done by creation. Angels are individual creations. Each one, as Thomas Aquinas astutely observed, is a separate creation and therefore is a separate

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species. (21) Each one stands entirely on its own. There are no relationships between them. No angel is father to another angel. They do not multiply by marrying and bearing offspring (Mark 12:25). Thus "to fill the jobs available" in governing the earth, God would have had to create individuals as the tasks developed in order to fill "the positions available."
     But now a new problem arises. In the divine plan, these agents, whether pure spirits or embodied, were created with a measure of moral freedom. That angels are not robots is clear from the fact that they do indeed have some measure of freedom, freedom at least to hold contrary opinions.* Furthermore, a number of the angels were disobedient and fell (Jude 6) and these are to be punished for their failure. But then the question arises, If they can be punished, can they also be redeemed?

     As far as we can see, they cannot be redeemed. Why not? Well, if we take the Word of God as our guide in all matters of salvation of either men or angels, redemption requires a substitute redeemer, and the redeemer has to be one in form and nature with the subjects to be redeemed. But if each angel is a separate species by the very fact of creation, it would seem that not one redeemer but thousands or perhaps even millions of redeemers would be required, one for each angel.
There can be no "first Angel" whose fall involved them all so that they could all be incorporated and redeemed as members of a single family. Since they did not arise by multiplication from a single "father Angel" corresponding to a single "father Adam," the Plan of Redemption which

21. Aquinas, Thomas, Summa Theologica, Book I, Question.4: An Aquinas Reader, Mary T. Clark, New York ,Image Books, 1972, p.89.
* The evolutionist says that one can have a brain without a mind, and this is certainly true. The brain of Einstein has been preserved in a container since his death, though the rest of his body "lies a moulderin' in the grave." But they then add: "but not a mind without a brain" — and this is certainly not true. ["Brain that rocked physics rests in cider box", Science, vol.210, 1978, p.696]. In Daniel 10:12, 13, 21 it is said that the angel, though bodiless, clearly "had a mind of his own." The passage is quite unequivocal about this!

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works for man cannot be made to work on the same principle for angels. As the prophet Malachi wrote, "Have we not one father?" (2:10) and as Paul re-affirmed in Acts 17:26, "God has made out of one all men for to dwell on the earth." A single redeemer who stands as a second Adam can act as a redeemer of the whole species of man. But no such situation is possible with respect to the angels.
     The very essence of the Plan of Redemption, substitute of one Head for another, can only be applied to the single species, Homo sapiens. To redeem the angels which do not constitute a family at all, would involve as many redeemers as there are fallen angels. This is an inconceivable thing.
     Thus, if the appointed government of the material Universe was to be formed of free moral agents who were therefore fall-able* and consequently in need of a redeemer, the only conceivable way to allow for their increase in numbers was not by a direct creative process but by procreation from a single racial Head, Adam. For procreation, embodiment is essential. And therefore, if man was to be morally free, he must also be redeemable: and to be redeemable, he must be able to multiply by procreation: and to procreate, he must be embodied.

     (3) Now a third consideration enters the picture. It does not appear from Scripture that angels "grow up". They do not start as infant angels and grow up to be adult angels, because they live in a world outside our world of space and therefore presumably outside our world of time. So they do not increase in size nor mature with time as we do.
     Angels do not occupy space but only position. That is to say, no two angels can overlap as it were, by occupying the same position and so confuse their identity. Moreover,

* The theologians say "fallible," but for most of us the word has a slightly different connotation.

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since they do not occupy space, they do not need to cross the intervening space to pass from one position to another. The passage is instant. This is no longer such an unimaginable situation (even for a scientific person to imagine) because modern Quantum Theory sees certain "particles" which are centres of energy as apparently shifting position in just such a manner. These "particles" do not have dimensions and so do not have to pass between the different positions they occupy. The movement from one level of energy to another (it is difficult to express it in any other way than a movement) does not occupy time, any more than these particles occupy space.
     So we have no new-born angels, no infant angels, no adolescent angels, no aging angels, because by reason of the very timelessness of their existence we have to suppose that they are created already mature. It takes time to mature, and the maturing process seems to depend on an aging process. There can be therefore no such thing as the development of character "on the job" though for the fallen angels there is obviously a sudden destruction of character.
     Clearly it has been God's intention that man's role as governor of the Universe is to engender a maturing process as a by-product. It is our interaction with the physical world and with one another (physical beings, all) that is to result in "the perfecting of the saints." For this interaction we must have bodies that mature even as we have spirits that mature.
     Because interaction with the world is so essential for the process of maturing, it would appear that even the Christian is called upon to react with the world and will not be taken out of the world (John 17:15) until he or she has matured. For this reason it is important that we do not forget to assemble with other Christians not merely in spirit but in body (Hebrews 10:25). It is not good to go it alone (Genesis 2:18) though circumstances sometimes dictate it.
     In short, "we are in our relations"
(22) both with other things and with other people and these relations need to be

22. Taylor, John, Man In the Midst, London, Highway Press, 1955, p.21.

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physical as well as spiritual. We speak of making contact with people without realizing that we are tacitly acknowledging the importance of embodiment. Without embodiment we apparently could not be "made perfect" as God has planned, even as the Lord Himself was "made perfect" in his incarnation (Hebrews 5:9), where "perfect" means mature.
In total isolation from human contact, such as happens now and then with feral children deserted by their parents in infancy and adopted by animals, there is no advancement into humanness if the isolation continues for long enough. All strictly feral children remain non-human in personal development until they begin to interact with other human beings.
     In a similar way, fully humanized individuals deprived of all sensory (i.e., bodily) input from the physical world can so disintegrate as persons that it proves to be one of the most damaging modes of torture so damaging that virtually all nations have outlawed it, though unfortunately the agreement is frequently honoured only in the breach of it.
     We thus conclude that embodiment is essential for the perfecting of the saints.

     (4) Then there is a fourth consideration. Granted that embodiment is a practical necessity, we must also have consciousness of our physical environment through the senses — seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling, and of course all locomotive and manipulative faculties. These are mediated from the will to the hand, foot, tongue, and so forth via the brain. It is clear from neurophysiology that the brain is the physical link between the will and the world.
     Indeed, there is no unequivocal evidence either from science or Scripture that man can retain consciousness without an actual brain, either in this world or in the next. Angels can, for they were so fashioned, but man was not so designed. The most cogent argument for this must surely be the tremendous emphasis in Scripture on the promise

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that we shall be "reclothed" in a new body (2 Corinthians 5:1—5). What need of a body if we can function and be perfectly effective persons without the body? And what need for the Lord's resurrected body if He, too, can remain truly MAN without it?
     True, it will operate on a different principle (as we shall see later), but it will be an embodied existence that we shall enjoy. Just as the Lord deliberately set out to demonstrate to his disciples after his resurrection that He had a body of flesh and bone, so shall we have a body of flesh and bone. He was not a ghost; nor shall we be, for we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2) and we shall have a body like his glorious body (Philippians 3:20, 21). This body will be our conscious link with the new heavens and the new earth; and the source of our "personal awareness", just as it is the source of our personal awareness in this present universe.

      (5) And then there is a fifth reason relating to our personal identity, the matter of recognition. We have no idea how angels are recognizable to one another. How would one identify one angel from another when meeting one on a street in the new Jerusalem except they have some formal individuality of shape or size or visible mannerism?
     We establish our identity in a dozen ways — by facial features, body shape, size, mannerism, walk, voice, colour: one could probably think of many other characteristics. The common factor is embodiment! All such means of identity are bodily: even voice, for we have no voice except we have vocal chords, lungs, throat, tongue — even teeth! Nor could the other party be seen or heard or felt but for the fact that we too have the means to feel and hear and see them, and they us.
     The resurrected Lord used his own body, transfigured though it was, to establish his personal identity. It is difficult to think that we who have matured in a physical body and will be punished or rewarded for the "deeds done in the body," could suddenly appear without any shape or

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form that would enable us to identify one another. I think it safe to say that embodiment is essential for the preservation of personal identity.

     We have considered five of the reasons why it was necessary for God's purposes that we should have bodies. It remains now to consider very briefly three reasons why it was necessary — both for us and for God — that He also should assume a body.

     (1) God Himself must become incarnate first, and most obviously, because man needed a Redeemer. A Redeemer must experience physical death in man's place. And such a Redeemer must be of infinitely greater value than any one individual, if his sacrifice is to be sufficient for many individuals needing salvation. No one man, however perfect, can be of sufficient worth to redeem more than one sinner.
     On the simple principle of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life, the cost of sacrifice for the millions who need redemption had to be, accordingly, far in excess of the sacrifice of one single human life. Only the sacrifice of God Himself could suffice.
     But as Luther put the matter very simply, "God cannot die."* As a pure un-embodied Spirit God could not experience the death of man except by becoming Himself "embodied man." Thus it was not sufficient that God should simply create a perfect man and then send him as our Saviour, because such a one, though he might sacrifice himself for the sins of one individual, could not by this means pay the penalty of the sins of countless millions.
     Therefore God Himself came as an embodied Man in the Person of Jesus Christ who is the express image of the Father's Person (Hebrews 1:3), supernaturally conceived but naturally born of a woman and therefore in the likeness of man. The very fullness of God thus dwelt among us bodily

* Luther: "According to his own nature God cannot die, but since God and man were united in one person, it is correct to talk about God's death when that man dies who is one thing or one person(with God." Formula of Concord, translated and edited by Theodore Tappert, Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1959, at Article VIII, section 44.

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(Colossians 2:9) in his Person, in order that He might bear our sins in his own human body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24) and as Man, "taste" our death. Such was his worth that the death He tasted was sufficient for every man (Hebrews 2:9).
     This was one basic reason why God for man's sake was embodied as Man: that God in Christ might experience death for man. Hence it is proper that Scripture should speak of God laying down his life for us (1 John 3:16), thus purchasing the Church "with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).

     (2) But there was another reason. God wished to reveal Himself to man. And how better could He achieve this than by embodiment in the likeness of men to share the vulnerabilities of our humanity — hunger, thirst, fatigue, wounds, and the whole gamut of human emotions save those arising from our fallen state.
     And so He came among us, a Man among men, and after three years had so revealed Himself, personally, intelligibly, intimately, that He could say to Philip who asked Him to show them the Father, "Have I been with you so long a time, Philip, and yet you havet not known Me? Whoever has seen Me has SEEN the Father" (John 14:9). As Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, put it (in 449 A.D.), "The invisible became visible."

     (3) And, finally, a very important reason lies in the fact that embodiment subjects man to stresses, fears, hurts, and limitations that entail temptations quite unknown to purely spiritual beings like angels. Nor can even God Himself have experienced these things. How, then, could He fairly be a judge of men's actions, not knowing first-hand the nature of man's temptations?
     For this reason, the Father has committed to the Son all judgment "because He is the Son of Man" (John 5:27). Had God, in the Person of Christ, not shared the human experience, He could not have acted in complete fairness in judging man's sin because the meaning of our temptations would be experientially quite unknown to Him. But in Christ they were known to the full.

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      As a supreme example, consider one instance referred to in Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23. It was customary for a drink of vinegar and myrrh to be offered to men condemned to be crucified if they were felt worthy of this mercy. The drink was a palliative, and according to Alfred Edersheim it was prepared by a kind of Ladies Society in Jerusalem. (23) It was usually offered to the victim just before the actual elevation on the cross.
     Apparently it had been found to bring significant relief against the first terrible pain and shock of crucifixion, and many must have thanked the women for their mercy as the body was wracked by the agony it entailed.
The Lord Himself must certainly have been aware of this merciful provision, but even so as a man He had first to taste the drink to know for sure what was being offered to Him. And He certainly would know what it was by tasting it, since apparently it was bitter to the tongue. Even in the agony of those moments, having identified its nature He resisted the temptation to find relief and refused it (Matthew 27:34). It is true that He accepted vinegar which was later offered to Him (John 19:30), but vinegar was not a palliative and it would almost certainly be needed to enable Him to speak and say the things He had yet to say from the cross. The fluid loss from his body resulting from all the scourging wounds He had received would have placed Him in a state of terrible dehydration and probably well-nigh speechless. The temptation to take the previous palliative must have been almost overwhelming.
     It is therefore perfectly in accord with divine justice that the judgment of man should have been placed entirely in the hands of One who was both the Son of God by eternal generation, and the Son of Man by embodiment in time, and who was tempted in his human condition in a way quite impossible for Him in his divine nature.

     Thus we have reviewed briefly five reasons why MAN is both blessed and burdened with embodiment. (1) To be an

23. The Society of Jerusalem Women: Alfred edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, New York, Herrick & Co., 1886, second edition, vol.II, p.590. See also Thomas Horne, Introduction to the Scriptures, Grand Rapids, Baker reprint. vol.III, p.163.

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effective manager of the physical world; (2) to enable him to increase in numbers as he takes over his responsibilities increasingly; (3) to make the resulting experience of physical interaction the basis of a maturing process for his spiritual perfecting; (4) that we might have a full consciousness of our world and self-consciousness of ourselves; and (5) that we might have a means of retaining our personal identity.
     And we have looked briefly at three reasons why God Himself assumed embodiment. (1) that He might by the sacrifice of Himself secure man's redemption; (2) that He might reveal Himself to man in all the beauty of his Person; and (3) that He might be man's Judge with perfect fairness when the day of reckoning comes.

     We shall in the chapters which follow have occasion to return to some of these points in more detail. My object will be to underscore in every way possible the fact that man is not embodied by accident but by design, and to show that his body is as essential an element of his very being as his spirit is.
     It is literally a fact that having no body is tantamount to being a NOBODY, and that apart from the existence of these millions of 'somebodies' the Universe is nothing more than a gigantic but pointless display of wasted and wasting energy. It is the embodiment of man that gives meaning to the present Universe and will give meaning to the New Universe which is yet to succeed it.


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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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