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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Order in Chaos

As I was lying half asleep in the back on my vanpool on the ferry today, I was thinking rather grand thoughts...well at least as grand as my thoughts get, anyway. It occurred to me that the human body (and indeed all of nature) is an amazing thing and what prompted this thought was how my back has, time and time again, healed itself with little to no help from modern medicine (though it certainly helped to make the process less painful!)

At the macro level we are all familiar with the healing of a wound or the recovery from illness, but on a molecular level the process of fixing errors, injuries, or defects is both a common and remarkably complex process. That we have a propensity toward self-repair is pretty amazing because in a way there seems to be this unseen (some would suggest) organizational principal that guides us away from chaos toward order. Many scientists warn us against anthropomorphizing and seeing things like order or design in the universe, sometimes smacking our hands with rulers and chastening us like insecure parochial school nuns: "You must not do such a thing!" But I think we ought to throw caution to the wind in rejecting this advice and wholly free our minds from such tyranny - becoming "free-thinkers"!

Those trapped in their delusional boxes will be quick to point out all the places where the "design" ought to be better or where order could be more orderly as a means of suggesting such appearances of design or order are mere examples of a cosmic luckiness, whereas I am more inclined to ask why there should be something as odd as "order" to begin with! That the universe is inclined toward order to ANY degree is miraculous in my simple little mind. That the universe should organize itself and take form - that any forces should exist to inspire such - and that when form is disrupted there is a tendency toward a prodigal-like return to normalcy. More than that, that the universe should spring into a state of self-awareness...a knowledge of being other than that which surrounds it, well, that is nothing short of being worthy of awe and reverence.

Now, before I wax overly eloquent, of course, I realize this body of mine did not fully repair its back injury and in reality nothing is ever truly "as good as new." Many of us have tasted of the serious limits of "nature's" ability to return itself to a state of order from whatever instituted chaos came upon it. And so in this world there would seem to be a battle between order and chaos and if scientists are right then chaos via the law of entropy will eventually win...but if Christ is right risen, then order will ultimately prevail...or, in a way...it has prevailed if now fully realized at the moment.

I wonder, aloud here if you do not mind, that if perhaps in the grand return to order that we see from to day to day, we are not given signs of the Kingdom. The symmetry and organization that we see around us, are the perhaps icons for us? Sometimes, perhaps in moments of being overly tired, I can see in the world around me such wisdom, beauty, order, and design that I am overwhelmed...and then the fleeting sense is lost. Some would say it should never have been there to begin with, that it was simple imagination. But, I wonder if there is perhaps an unseen - or most difficult to perceive order - in the chaos around us. (That chaos that would lead some to assume that any semblance of order is imaginary.) It is that place where the easy to comprehend and enjoy lamb gives way to the fearful symmetry of "the Tyger?" The place of being where we we confess our inability to see order by saying: "Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."

We must not underestimate the notion of "order" for to do so could lead one, I suspect, to that very intense Job-like conversation with God amidst a whirlwind. Should it surprise us that it is sometimes easy to mistake order for chaos and vice versa? Perceiving order may sometimes be very difficult and will often require a radically changed perspective, perhaps even a transcendent perspective. I am reminded of the Transfiguration and the fact that nothing in Christ was really transfigured as much as the eyes of the Apostles who were present were simply opened to see.

Perhaps it is a nothing more than a dreary eyed commute home in the back of a van, but I sensed a bit of connection with and a greater comprehension of an orderly universe. In the world around me, whether it be the structure of snowflakes, the colored patterns of a butterfly's wings, the geometric order of a seashell, the commonality of animal bone structures, the beautiful shimmer of green amidst the black of the australorp's feathers that can only be seen in certain light, the DNA's double helix with it's nearly unfathomably complex system of molecular mechanisms and machines, the seasons, the weather and climate with its unquantifiable and unknown variables, that Pi with its seemingly unending chaotic length that none-the-less leads to such geometric and universal uniformity in its utilization, the leaves of the trees, or the whole of the universe whose unseen unifying factors and laws makes all of this and so more possible, I can see design albeit not always in the classic sense of the much limited human means of design. Indeed, there is in my mind a rather large elephant in the room where Darwinists and IDer's choose to argue, and that is the simple fact that God's designs are perhaps a tad loftier than ours. Most theists, I should think, would know this.

But this does not mean we cannot yet see design (in the classical sense of the word) around us through good old fashioned scientific observation, I'm just suggesting a further step. May I also suggest that beauty, however or wherever it may be, is an artifact of intelligence in this universe. Love too. As surely as an archaeologist in finding a clay pot can infer intelligence in its existence, I believe we can see intelligence in the universe by way of almost all that is. Further, where it is harder to see it, I would claim that we have just not had our eyes opened widely enough yet.

The bigger picture will always be Christ. Whatever explanations we may offer, whatever explanations science may offer...they will always be at worse wrong and at best not wholly adequate unless they hinge on Christ. He is the Grand Unification Theory.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

There are somedays when the Psalms sorta fall into your head and as I relaxed and listen to the hum of the ferry's motors propelling us through Puget Sound...this is the Psalm (32/33) I recalled and later dug up:

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the LORD with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

For the word of the LORD is right,
And all His work is done in truth.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;[a]
He lays up the deep in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;
He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.

No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 6:41 PM [+]
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