Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spider Solitaire, Chaos, and Our Puny Minds

I have been having some difficulty lately that is becoming more of a problem than it should be, but I find myself obsessed with winning spider solitaire. Why is too great of a question to explore here, but it did start me to thinking. You know that moment when the cards are dealt out by the computer with that simulated shuffling sound, supposedly giving you a randomly dealt hand?

I got to thinking how it isn’t really random at all. Computers run through programs, mathematical algorithms that tell it what to do in response to set of predetermined commands employed by the user to accomplish a task. So in theory every hand is winnable if you know the sequencing and patterns that the computer is using to provide the player with the fake randomness.

The problem is I am not smart enough to determine this pattern, nor is my mind designed to grapple with the complexities of the mathematics that simulate randomness. I just can’t see it, the scope of the problem is too large for my mind. So the effect is good enough to accomplish the desired result. It appears random to me despite the fact that I know that it truly isn’t. As such I am forced to comply with the rules of the games in hopes that I might be able successfully bring order to the supposed chaos of the cards.

In a lot of ways life is like that card game. I look at it and I see randomness, chaos, and confusion. However, I know that behind it all is a program of sorts, running in the background providing order to what I can perceive, and the problem is never that the program isn’t working. The problem is in my inability to see beyond what is placed before me. To make matters worse, the program is so sophisticated that even the best of minds will never be able to unravel its sequencing.

Now some might ask how I could arrive at such a conclusion, that life has meaning and purpose when too often all we witness is chaos. I could tell you that it is simply a matter of faith, and to some degree it is. I could tell you it is because the Bible says so, and once again, to some degree it is. The thing is were given a mind and intellect for reason, we were gift with the ability to consider the mysteries that are laid before us, and when we shut it off simply in the cause of faith we are failing to live up to the potential that our creator placed within us.

He has given us key bits of information and startling revelation that he intended for us to use in a quest to know him better. He expected us to look for the meaning of our existence, why else would so many of us grapple with the question? He wanted us to look into this world and universe to evidence of his hand. Faith does not preclude asking a question, faith means asking even if you are scared of the answer.

And sometimes the answer does frighten me. I don’t like to think that my God is responsible for earthquakes, famine, or disease. I don’t want to believe that chaos that so often surrounds me is something that he is doing, but he tells that he is the one who causes it. But I have found that so many things that seem chaotic up close when emotion skews our perceptions have type of symmetry when viewed from afar. History when seen as a whole, and not disjointed snapshots of the human experience, attests to the planning and care that went into bringing this moment into being. I can see how great tragedy was the fuel for great achievement and triumph.
I can see how not one second is wasted, each event serves a purpose, and we walk in world that was wonderfully crafted with a complexity we may never fully appreciate. And when I can see that, when I can recognize that my God didn’t just allow history to unfold with undirected randomness, I can stop trying to figure it all out and allow myself the privilege of standing in awe of him.

There is sublime beauty in that moment, when I acknowledge him as the all knowing creator. There is freedom from fear and futility. And in it I find that there are answers, more amazing than I could have begun to formulate without his help, and I find that each answer leads me into deeper mystery.

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