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Posts Tagged ‘the problem of evil’

There can be no easily believable explanation for everything I’ve seen in this little ball-happy universe of ours. Occam’s well-worn razor will do us no good. There will be no “simplest” explanation. A single world combining galaxies, black holes, Jerry Seinfeld, over 300,000 varieties of beetle, Shakespeare, adrenal glands, professional bowling, and the bizarre reproductive patterns of wasps (along with teams of BBC cameramen to document them), precludes easily palatable explanations.

I have never read a book quite like “Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl” by N.D. Wilson. Wilson attempts to refresh our wonder in the world while crushing humanistic philosophy, the problem of evil, and the theory of evolution. He also managed to take a bite out of my own self-importance in the process. Wilson takes a look at ants having colossal battles on the sidewalk (and decapitating earwigs), wasps flying through underground tunnels, butterflies defying skepticism, sorority girls crashing their bikes, the beauty and yet lack of scarcity of snowflakes, and much more. Do I think about this crazy world I live in? Do I think about how I really shouldn’t be here? Do I think about the Narrator who speaking and holding all of it together by mere words from His mouth?

Ex Nihilo

In the Christian story, the material world came into existence at the point of speech, and that speech was ex nihilo, from nothing.

We live because He speaks. We breath because God gives us breath. That pile of dog poo that you just stepped in exists because God speaks it there ex nihilo. There are no accidents. There is nothing out of his hands. He speaks and gives live and gives children and barbecued steaks as well cancer and death ex nihilo.

Destroying my self-importance

Tell me what you want me to do, God. Speak to me (in English, please) and tell me if I should take this job in Des Moines or stay closer to my mother. Then, because their part in this story does not include cosmic voice-overs in English, they enter into an existential crisis. They begin to “doubt.”

What kind of story do you think this is? I have no problem with the pettiness of your Des Moines dilemma. The world spins on through space, bowled up by its Maker. The sun burns on, hot with His words, and yet He still crafts every snowflake without digital shortcuts. He knows that you want to move to Des Moines and yet you feel guilty. He wrote the story. He crafted your character.

How often do I get caught up in my own story, in my own life and struggles and disappointments and joys? How often do I try to craft my day around me and only me? I so often miss the context of this created world we live in and get in a rut simply because I woke up later than I wanted to or because the traffic is moving so unbelievably slow or even because my pizza was 1 degree too cold than I prefer. I need to wake up! I play a small part in a larger story! I live on a planet moving mach 86 around a massive flaming ball while also spinning a few hundred miles per hour around its own axis. Yet somehow I can walk around on it and breath and not fly off. Do I think about that? Do I think about God holding all things together by the mere power of His word? Ex nihilo.

The problem of evil

The existence of evil in Hamlet in no way implies that Shakespeare lacked control of his art, or that he was evil. The implication that Shakespeare didn’t exist is even more outlandish. No doubt he wept for Ophelia, and his tears were not false.

I appreciate how Wilson takes on the problem of evil in a way I’ve never seen before. The problem of evil is not a logical problem but a personal one. This world of wonder is both beautiful and terrifying, both delightful and dangerous. We view the incredible beauty of a mountainside at sunset only to then watch an avalanche crush everything and everyone in its path below it. But it is not random. The Narrator is not asleep at the typewriter or indifferent to His cast.

The problem of evil is a genuine problem, an enemy with sharp pointy teeth. But it is not a logical problem. It is an emotional one, an argument from Hamlet’s heartache and from ours. It appeals to our pride and our nerve endings. We do not want to hear an answer that puts us so low. But the answer is this: we are very small.

We are small but we are not ignored or forgotten and we have a Creator who not only speaks this world into existence ex nihilo but stepped into this world willingly, a lowering much more significant than even us going to the ants.

How much do I care for these ants? I think I care. I’ll stop to watch their wars. I’ll buy my children documentaries – insect tributes. I won’t crush them when I can help it. But if given the chance, would I be willing to become one of them? Would I be willing for them to drag me to the place of execution, taunt me, mock me, ridicule the gift I offered, a gift entirely beyond their comprehension? Would I be willing for the earwig, executed beside me, to add his insults to those of the ants? Would I be willing to die? Hell no. Never. I have more self-regard than God does. I have less love for the characters beneath me.

I could go quoting and discussing this book, but I’ll stop there. Read this book and be encouraged that there is God who made you, knows you, spoke this world into existence ex nihilo and is still speaking. Listen to Him.

UPDATE 4/22/11

They have put together a film based on the book that looks tremendous. They’re calling it a “bookumentary.” Check out the trailer: 

You can pre-order it now at http://www.notesfromthetiltawhirl.com/. I couldn’t help it – I ordered it as soon as I watched the trailer!

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