How We View Things

By:  Wendell Krossa

I responded to a conversation online a few weeks back with someone who could not understand how I could suggest there was unconditional love behind all (at the core of all reality, defining deity) when there was so much evident violence and suffering in the cosmos and life.

My response – we exercise choice in viewing reality and life . One way we express this is that some people see things in terms of the glass half empty while others see things in terms of the glass half full. It depends on what you choose to focus on. I would argue that the evidence predominates in favor of understanding that there is goodness behind all reality.  Unconditional love.  How so?

There used to be a trend that viewed the Second Law of Thermodynamics as dominant in shaping the universe and life.  Energy was being expended  and disorder was thus increasing, and so all was declining toward disaster (e.g. heat, death of the universe, or degeneration and collapse in life systems).  But others had problems with this view of the dominance of the Second Law for explaining reality and life.  Even Stephen Hawking waffled back and forth over this (see Julian Simon’s treatment of this in Ultimate Resource).  And others yet took a different approach to the Second Law. Huber and Mills (Bottomless Well) argued that waste of energy was virtuous in that it was necessary to increasing order, to creating ever higher forms of order. Entropy was subservient to something more prominent going on.  One can step back and see this in the overall trend of reality and life.  The cosmos as it cools has become increasingly ordered and complex to the point of suitability to complex biological life.  This has been a trend toward something better than before.

And so in life which becomes more complex, more ordered and something better than early life (see E. O. Wilson’s comment that biological life has progressed by any definition of the word).  And so also in human civilization which has steadily become something better than the earlier version (more complex human interaction in increasing freedom, less violence- more orderly, etc.).

I have always been quite fascinated by the historical Jesus and how he viewed reality and life. He lived in a time dominated by dark views of looming apocalyptic disaster. His contemporaries saw reality as controlled by angry, punishing deity always ready to violently punish human imperfection. And this is just how those people read the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, as a punishment from God.

Jesus did not accept such a read on life. He saw an Abba Father behind all life, caring for all things. Clothing each blade of grass in splendor, caring for each forgotten bird, knowing and caring for people in the details of their life (counting hairs on heads). He said that this good God gave good things like sun and rain to all alike, both just and unjust.  With his sunny view of ultimate reality he made history’s greatest breakthrough insight. He countered all past human perception that had viewed ultimate reality in dark, frightening terms. He changed everything with his view of God as unconditional love. He gave people an entirely new way of viewing reality and life. He freed them from apocalyptic terror, from the threat of violent punishment.

Think of how radically different his views were from all previous perception of ultimate reality (and yes, the prophets and others had made partial breakthroughs on this). Love, according to Jesus, was the defining core reality behind all other reality and life.  This gets us closer to understanding the remaining violence in life. Authentic love respects freedom. Authentic love and authentic freedom are both elements of the same whole.This helps to understand disaster, accident, and human cruelty.