Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Complexity of Reality

It is complained that the Christian idea of God is complex and hard to understand. But we need to realize that reality is complex, and the too simple solution is often the suspect one. It was once believed that there were four elements: air, fire, earth and water, and that everything was some mixture of them. Compare that to the variety of elements in the Periodic Table. It was once thought that atoms were tiny balls bouncing around or simple geometric shapes, like spheres, cubes, and pyramids. But they are really complex entities possessing various shells which it requires quantum mechanics to describe. It was once thought a cell was just a blob of protoplasm. We now know it is a miniature factory made up of complex elements.

Nor is reality always easy to understand. Take something as simple as light. It is both particles and waves at the same time. How this is possible is beyond our understanding. Or that there is a probability (on the subatomic level this is a meaningful probability) that a particle will pass through any barrier that is less than infinitely strong without breaking the barrier. Even Einstein's theory, that measurements of time, length, and mass change when objects are moving relative to each other, seems serendipitous. To refuse to believe something because we do not understand it is a denial of how the world really is.

Should we then really be surprised when God turns out to be three in one? If He becomes a man while still remaining God? If His death on a cross obtains our salvation? The very difficulties involved would argue this is something human beings would not make up. We like things we can understand. But we need to beware of too simple answers to difficult questions. For the world is stranger than we expect it to be.

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