Top 10-#6 The World is Complex
Icebergs are beautiful. They can also be deadly (think Titanic). The thing about icebergs is that you only see a very small portion of the whole thing.
Things happen and we try to understand. It’s human nature to try to fit life into our mental schemata; it’s how our brains are wired. We categorize things based on our personality and previous experiences. When things don’t fit, we assign explanations.
We often assign false reasons (and reasoning) because the world is too complex for us to grasp. There is no way we can understand everything.
We say things like, “what a coincidence,” “the devil made me do it,” “it’s their fault,” and “God is punishing me.” We also say silly things like, “everything happens for a reason,” as if some force beyond free-will is driving the universe.
I once heard an analogy that not only do we not see the tip of the iceberg, but we don’t even see the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Of course that is a metaphor for the complexity of life.
There is a theory that to understand why any two cars pass on a road at any one time, you would have to understand the entire history of the universe. Why were they there? Why at that exact time? Why were they going where they were going? What kind of car were they driving? Who designed it? What kind of engineering limitations did it have? What was the condition of the road and why? Where did the weather come from? Why were those people even living in that place? Etc., etc., etc.
You get the point.
In my post, “Think Flexible,” I made an argument for viewing the world as flexible or open, as opposed to fixed. There is a world of possibilities and complexities.
For example, many people of faith pray. Then they assume the only influence on a situation is God (then blame God when things don’t go well). They fail to recognize other variables, like other people’s choices, spiritual forces, consequences of a sinful world, design flaws, poor timing, cause and effect forces in nature, your diet for the past 30 years, and about a million other things you can’t see. And we all know, sometimes shit just happens.
I think we can influence life, but not everything in life. Many people pray, but even prayer is not a magic bullet.
Out of the box thinker and author, Greg Boyd blogged about a car accident he was in with his wife. He wrote: “I do not believe these other variables are completely overridden because someone prays…If God wills what you pray for, in this view, he makes it happen: if he doesn’t will it, he won’t. By contrast, in the open view, prayer increases God’s influence in the world…but it doesn’t cause God to coercively override all other variables.
So next time something happens, or you pray and don’t get the answer you wanted, keep in mind the world is very complex and there are many variables.
I am not trying to be negative, but I am addressing our obsession with having to understand. I suspect that you already suspect this to be true.
How comfortable are you with uncertainty?
Though you try really hard, you will only ever see the tip of the tip of the iceberg.
Greg Boyd’s awesome article about his car crash can be found at: http://reknew.org/2010/11/my-car-crash-and-the-open-view/#sthash.IRtRWNx8.dpuf I highly recommend it!