St. Hilary now begins to meditate upon what awaits the ungodly:
The next point after the prophet had set forth the man’s perfect happiness was for him to declare what punishment remained for the ungodly. Thus there ensues: The ungodly are not so, but are like the dust which the wind driveth away from the face of the earth. The ungodly have no possible hope of having the image of the happy tree applied to them; the only lot that awaits them is one of wandering and winnowing, crushing, dispersion and unrest; shaken out of the solid framework of their bodily condition, they must be swept away to punishment in dust, a plaything of the wind. They shall not be dissolved into nothing, for punishment must find in them some stuff to work on, but ground into particles, imponderable, unsubstantial, dry, they shall be tossed to and fro, and make sport for the punishment that gives them never rest. Their punishment is recorded by the same Prophet in another place where he says: I will beat them small as the dust before the wind, like the mire of the streets I will destroy them (Ps 17:42).
Both the Prophet and St. Hilary are playing with contrast. One of the characteristics of God is that He does not change — He has no beginning and no end. Humanity, on the other hand, is changeable — we have a beginning (conception) and an end (death).
This understanding of humanity comes to vivid life when we look at ourselves through the lens of science. At a molecular level we are in constant flux. The very chemistry of our blood can change day to day based upon what we have eaten. We are always shedding skin and hair and both will have a different make-up depending upon the environment we have been in while that hair and skin was being formed. If we look at ourselves right now, there is nothing left of the building materials that were initially used to bring us into this world. From top to bottom every protein, every cell, every chemical that is our present form has changed countless times over the course of our life.
This ability to change is both a strength and a weakness. It is a strength because we can change to become like the tree at the rills of the water — we can choose to allow God to share His eternity with us. The weakness is that we and the world world around us are always in flux — and we can allow this reality to overwhelm our faith in the unchangeability of God.
One of the terrifying consequences of the modern incarnation of the ungodly — those that embrace to one degree or another Scientism (the false belief that science can answer questions that can only be addressed by theology and philosophy) is its total embrace of change. They claim that science is the answer to everything. Proper science clearly demonstrates that the world is constantly changing (as I pointed out above). Thus, Scientism must necessarily embrace this constant flux.
Unfortunately, those who cling to Scientism are actually seeking a permanent answer to the consequences to the very change that they cling to. Thus, when the world changes in unexpected and uncontrollable ways (as it always does), the one answer that is most temping is to try to grasp at more control. As we saw in the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century, such grasping at control can end up embracing change in a disastrous way — embracing death on a massive scale.
The ungodly, in other words, are doomed to being in constant flux, always changing — being like the dust and chaff blown by the wind. Those who embrace change for the sake of change, instead of change for the sake of becoming like God, are actually embracing the ultimate outcome of change — death.