Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Romans 4 -- the personal universe

I'm reading a rather strange novel now, The Dream of Perpetual Motion. Like the classic anime movie Laputa: The Flying Island, this book fits into the "steam punk" genre. Put yourself in the mindset of a Roaring Twenties lad, when amazing new devices created everyday miracles. Suppose progress really had progressed as anticipated -- what kind of new mechanical marvels could have emerged to environ us?

There are people who view the universe as a vast, impersonal mechanism. A favorite sage of mine, G. K. Chesterton, had this to say about them in his masterpiece Orthodoxy:
Take first the more obvious case of materialism. As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of the madman's argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out. Contemplate some able and sincere materialist, as, for instance, Mr. McCabe, and you will have exactly this unique sensation. He understands everything, and everything does not seem worth understanding. His cosmos may be complete in every rivet and cog-wheel, but still his cosmos is smaller than our world. Somehow his scheme, like the lucid scheme
of the madman, seems unconscious of the alien energies and the large indifference of the earth; it is not thinking of the real things of the earth, of fighting peoples or proud mothers, or first love or fear upon the sea. The earth is so very large, and the cosmos is so very small. The cosmos is about the smallest hole that a man can hide his head in.
So what is the appeal of the mechanistic universe? Predictability. Push this button, pull that lever, get the expected result. This is also the attraction of the magical world view -- the notion that everything is within the reach of our will. Perform the correct ritual, say the right words in the right order, and invisible forces will trot up and meekly do your bidding. As some would assert, we should exercise, rather than exorcise, the demons around us. But what says the man of faith? Let's look at a few sentences from Chapter 4 of Paul's letter to the Romans:
Rom 4:13 Çünkü İbrahim'e ve soyuna dünyanın mirasçısı olma vaadi Kutsal Yasa yoluyla değil, imandan gelen aklanma yoluyla verildi.
Rom 4:14 Eğer Yasa'ya bağlı olanlar mirasçı olursa, iman boş ve vaat geçersizdir.
Rom 4:15 Yasa, Tanrı'nın gazabına yol açar. Ama yasanın olmadığı yerde yasaya karşı gelmek de söz konusu değildir.
Rom 4:16 Bu nedenle vaat, Tanrı'nın lütfuna dayanmak ve İbrahim'in bütün soyu için güvence altına alınmak üzere imana bağlı kılınmıştır.
If we can, by our rituals, compel God to make things happen, then we are His masters -- a pleasing idea, but dangerous to one's sanity! In a mechanistic universe, we might be in control -- but there is no room for delight. For surprises. For things beyond our wildest imaginations to happen.

It's time to go back to bed, and rest up for the delights and surprises a loving God has planned for me tomorrow.

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