Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Underlying Order

Have you ever felt like I do sometimes, that everything is changing, nothing is predictable and the world is falling apart? Chaos in the Mideast, chaos in politics and society, chaos in the market, and even chaos in the weather. Everything is changing and unpredictable. Even though weather prediction has become more reliable it is still a long way from perfection.

Back in 1960 a meteorologist, Edward Lorenz, was working on the problem of weather prediction when a sequence of equations led to what became a new theory in physics called "Chaos Theory." Lorenz illustrated how complex and unpredictable weather systems are by what he called the butterfly effect. Something as small as a butterfly flapping its wings can set off a sequence of events that changes everything. He said:

The flapping of a single butterfly's wing today produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. Over a period of time, what the atmosphere actually does diverges from what it would have done. So, in a months time, a tornado that would have devastated the Indonesian coast doesn't happen. Or maybe one that wasn't going to happen, does. (Ian Stewart, Does God Play Dice? The Mathematics of Chaos, 141). He concluded that it is impossible to predict the weather accurately.

The same kind of thing happens, not only in the physical world, but also in the worlds of economics, politics, and human relationships. We experience the changes as disorder in our world and long for stability and order. Scientists are trying to find the underlying order in apparently random data by applying chaos theory to systems in the world.

But there is another answer. There is a deeper, more fundamental answer to the problem of disorder than that provided by chaos theory. We can go back to the creator. Here is how Paul puts it in Colossians 1:16-17, "All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things and in him all things hold together." Or, as Peterson puts it in The Message, "He is there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment." Or, to use the language of scientists, He is "the underlying order in apparently random data."

Paul makes it even more explicit in verse 2 when he shows what Christ did to bring about order in our broken world. Peterson puts it this way: "All the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe -- people and things, animals and atoms -- get properly fit and fixed together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross."

It takes more than a scientific theory to explain how all things hold together in peaceful harmony. At the Lord's Table we find our peace. At this table we find the Christ in whom all things hold together. At this table we find the blood of Christ that "fits and fixes everything together in vibrant harmonies." Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.

1 comment:

Leroy said...

Hi George:

I am pleased to discover your blog and your reflections on the Lord's Supper.

Leroy at Winema