Book 2 - Part 9
What does all of this mean to my daily life?
Living day by day in a universe consisting of nothing but relationships
[April 6, 1996]
These two phrases describe essential characteristics of most natural systems. Electrical…chemical…physical activities of all kinds are described mathematically by equations of state which are "non-linear" and all of these systems are "sensitive to initial conditions."
In practical terms, this means that although these physical systems follow rigorous and experimentally verifiable laws, the fine details of any system of significant complexity can not be analyzed by any practical technique. For example, weather: although we know that the average temperature of a given spot on the surface of the earth will be warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter, that location's precise temperature at any given moment can not be predicted. We can construct computational systems which will predict that a weather system "has a high likelihood" of spawning tornados, but we are incapable of saying with any certainty when or where these exceptionally energetic and very obvious events will occur.
"Randomness within predictable systems" is universal in nature. It is sometimes called the "Butterfly in Beijing" hypothesis . . .
A butterfly fluttering its wings in a park in Beijing provides the initial energy which eventually cascades into a hurricane in the Caribbean.
Since God has constructed the universe in this manner, and since this is an essential characteristic of all physical processes, we may safely conclude that this is intended by the Creator to communicate something important to us.
In contemplating the significance of this, consider also the essential characteristics of our eternal, perfect Creator. This Being does not have "feelings" in any way we can possibly comprehend; human emotions and motives are unthinkable when applied to God. The physical reality of Christ notwithstanding, it is misleading, if appealing, to attribute such human feelings as anger, envy, love, jealousy, forgiveness . . . to God. It is necessary for us to think of God as having these limited impulses and motivations in order to deal with our own lives, and while this is functionally acceptable, it leaves humans with many problems which might be better seen in light of Technotheology.
Apply the concepts discussed here to the apparent injury caused by some "random" event--such as an earthquake or thunderstorm. In the first place, it is clear that these events are not random at all. They are simply not easily predicted by our limited capacity to think (compute, or model natural systems.)
As this document has been at considerable pain to make clear, every event possible in nature is/was/has been inherent in the creation of reality since/at/from the inception of time. "God knows" is not simply a trite phrase, it is the basis of reality.
In the second place, these apparently random (or "evil") events are actually very tiny components of enormously complex processes which we are incapable of seeing in their entirety. Perhaps it is these "megaevents" which are really important in the overall scheme of the universe? With that thought in mind, go back to "sensitivity to initial conditions." Even if megaevents and para-eternal times are the important components of reality, everything which God shows us about nature clearly indicates that although we may be "butterflies in Beijing" our fluttering free wills can be essential contributors to the forces which eventually determine the form those vast processes will assume.
Although there is no possibility that any limited model can give a detailed and clear picture of the consequences which follow upon even the smallest action of free will, chaotic mathematics offers proof that the hypothesis is correct. Operating on this presumption, it appears that the degree of individual responsibility we each bear (as agents of change) is truly enormous. In fact, it can be argued that free will is the only variable factor in the real universe. Contemplate paragraphs 355 and following in the Catechism(23) with this in mind: the significance of "…in His own image…" takes on truly fearful implications in terms of the individual's personal responsibility for the final state of mankind. I can not predict what my actions will eventually cause, but I am certain that I am intimately responsible for the state of the whole of mankind at some point in the future. In considering this hypothesis, please review sections 6.2.2 and 6.3.1 of this document.
The basis for my existence is my relationship with God. This would seem to make me "part of God" and in some way, it may indeed be so, but the "privileges" this participation in God's existence confer are precisely balanced by the "responsibilities" of free will with which the Creator has endowed intelligent humans.
The exemplar we are offered is Christ; the inspirer of the Bible is so intent upon making certain that we "get the message" that it is spelled out in very specific terms . . .
If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever -- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. .But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. (Jn. 14:15-21 [NAV])
"If you love me, you will obey what I command."
If you want to perfect your relationship with me, you will follow my commands (review these--they are all injunctions to perfect our relationships with God and our fellow humans.) This perfect relationship is a reality which is--as theorized earlier here--our souls.
" ... and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever -- the Spirit of truth."
When this linkage has been forged between us and Jesus (thus with the Holy Trinity) the Father will infuse us with the totality of the Trinitarian Presence. You will note that this relationship can occur only when there is created the link between our souls and Christ, and this can only be accomplished if we know Him, which we can only do by following His commands. It seems to me to essential that we understand that this reality is ours to accept or reject through the action of our free will. The Creator does not impose the relationship upon us because He exists outside time and any action of the Creator must thus preempt our activities; if God imposed the relationship upon our souls it would exist as an independent reality beyond our control and this would undermine the entire structure of the universe.
"The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him."
Those (the world) who do not establish the relationship with Christ are barred from "accepting" the Spirit because the essential reality of the linkage between them and God does not exist. This leaves the question of Divine Mercy toward those who have not had an opportunity open, just as it has always been, and the premises of this document do not restrict the actions of God any more than conventional theology has done--one possible answer is easily offered--standing outside time, God has no bar against providing any living, time-dependent being ample opportunity to establish that relationship which makes up the soul in the last picosecond of life. Infused knowledge is not unimaginable, and given that knowledge of the true situation, the living being could easily act from free will to accept (or reject) the relationship just as did the fallen angels.
"But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."
The use of the present tense in this sentence is striking. Christ does not say "…he will live with you when he comes [later]…" but "…he lives with you [now]." I see this as meaning several things: The Spirit is with us because Christ is with us, and The Spirit is with them and us because The Spirit is not time-limited, when we form the relationship it exists in the non-time-dependent reality in which immaterial beings exist. From our viewpoint, it begins at some point in our lives--from the immaterial viewpoint, when it exists, it simply exists--period.
"Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me."
The apostles and disciples apparently took this literally and expected to "see" Jesus. One can only imagine their consternation when, after the Ascension, He did not soon appear in the upper room to console them or come with heavenly armies to free Israel from the Romans. I think that Jesus--the man--was conscious of the timelessness of his divine nature at this point, and his words reflect that knowledge. "Time," he tells the disciples, "means nothing. Now and then are the same, and you see me because you are intimately related to me through the reality that is established by your acceptance [love] of me and mine for you."
"Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you."
How much more clearly can it be said? The immaterial souls that Jesus saw before him lived because he lived . . . surely you can not think he was speaking to the human bodies in the room? Read the second sentence with the certain knowledge that nothing in the physical universe exists except as a relationship, and ask what this implies for those who elect to establish a relationship with Jesus--not only their savior, but the very Creator of all. He is "in the Father" and we are "in him" and he is "in us." Fearful and wonderful words beyond all imagining! If I were struck by a sort of spiritual lightning, it could be no more shocking than this revelation. Do you realize that we are being invited to become one with the Trinity? Can you see what this implies for mere created beings? Is it less surprising now, to think that a vast intelligence such as Lucifer failed at the thought of this relationship; a bond as real as the floor under your feet. No! More real because matter is only an aspect of quons whereas this relationship is real at the same level as quons themselves--it is inherently real at the very foundations of reality.
"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
Now Christ returns to his first theme--perhaps to recall us to the needs of time-dependent life? I think Jesus is warning me that knowledge of the possible will do me no good unless I freely elect to form the relationship [my soul] with him, the Father, and the Spirit, and thence with all created beings.
[ September 8, 2002 / WJL]