Proverbs
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Complexity Curtails Clarity: Trust in God


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“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” ~ Proverbs 14:12

A-DNA,_B-DNA_and_Z-DNA

The science of complexity studies systems that contain interacting components. If the interactions among these components are non-deterministic/intractable and/or the number of components is large, it becomes mathematically impossible to predict exactly the outcome of any changes in the system. Indeed, such systems are so intractable that statistical/probabilistic approaches must be used, i.e., complexity scientists can only tell us the probability/likelihood of a particular outcome.

Human life is one such complex system. It is so complex that individuals cannot be modeled mathematically with any reasonable success. Counterintuitively, it is easier to predict the likely behaviour of groups/populations than individuals. The life of any individual just has too many undefinable parts that interact in undefinable ways with each other.

Though science is just discovering this, God knew this from the day He created us. Consequently, He warns us in this text, and elsewhere, that our view of what is right is precarious: human beings are predisposed to bad judgment, because our minds are simply unable to keep track of everything that goes on in us and around us. Moreover, there are supernatural forces that try to influence our lives in ways we cannot detect (Ephesians 6:10-12). Scripture puts it this way:

“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away… For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:9-10, 12

Consequently, just as a blind man must be led, the only sensible choice for men is to seek the guidance of The One Who knows all and sees all: Jehovah. We just don’t have the capacity to figure out life on our own. Much that we give ourselves credit for was really due to God’s direction “behind the scenes”: e.g., Nebuchadnezzar thought he was responsible for his own greatness, but God showed him that wasn’t true (Daniel 4).

Let us then determine not to trust in our own weak minds. Instead, let us determine to trust in God, to seek His will, His way and His guidance. Let us accept His Word as true and order our lives accordingly.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-7

“Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.” ~ Psalm 119:133

3 Comments

  1. Dear friend,
    That our self-understanding and our ability to predict consequences of our actions is severely limited is undeniable. Trusting God to guide us is a wonderful way to navigate complexity and uncertainty, but the question is: How does one do it? Right? You say we “don’t have the capacity to figure out life on our own” and so should not “trust in our own weak minds,” but this is how we were created, and these are the tools God gave us to use — and we don’t really have a choice, do we? Life must be figured out, partly, with our minds. Hopefully, with His guidance. Thomas Aquinas devoted much of his life to formulating Natural Law — the concept that, as intelligence is God’s gift to us, we use our minds to figure out the will of God. Yet we humans keep disagreeing on what that will, that guidance is: on interpretation of scripture, on the nature of mystical experience, on the particulars of moral laws…
    So when you say that instead of trusting our minds we should trust in God, what do you mean by that exactly? How do we know that we are accessing God’s will?

    • Hi Maria Catherine,

      It is so wonderful to hear from you again. And, as usual, you raise some excellent points.

      Now first of all, i must disagree with your premise regarding the inevitability of depending on our own intelligence; to wit, consider the following verses:

      “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct thy paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

      Yes, God did give us our intellect, but we must submit that intellect to Him, allowing Him to shape it and inform it and direct it.

      Secondly, we have more than our intellect to rely on: the Believer has the Holy Spirit (John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:7-14) and the “Mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) and is indwelt by Christ (Galatians 2:20). Therefore, we are well equipped, enabled to discover the will and purpose of God. The real question is if we want to. Do we want to submit our intellect to His? Indeed, this is the very question that lucifer wrestled with (Isaiah 14:12-15) and that Eve and then Adam wrestled with as well (Genesis 3:1-6).

      Finally, we do not understand/interpret Scripture by our intellect.

      “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” ~ 2 Peter 1:20-21

      Scripture came by the Holy Spirit and so the understanding/interpretation must also come by the Holy Spirit:

      “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” ~ John 14:26

      Nevertheless, having said all the above, it is still difficult, it is still a challenge; I believe most Christians struggle with finding God’s will and with doing it. However, it is important for us to recognize that the obstacle is not from God: He has made a way for us. the obstacle lies with our own frailty of mind, soul and spirit. The way has been made for us, but how do we appropriate it? That is where God’s grace comes in and (i believe) fuses with our wills; empowering us, thereby, to seek, find and walk the path laid out for us.

      Finally, i would just like to say, I am still struggling.

      God bless you my sister, your visits both warm my heart and wrestle my mind.

      Take care.

    • My friend, you make me think, as always, and I would very much like to continue this conversation. I am leaving now to visit St. Scholastica monastery, but I’d love to return to this topic when I come back. Blessings and virtual hugs. MC

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