Thursday, January 02, 2014


I just finished reading a book entitled Whole which examines, among other things, the atomization of our thinking. He calls it reductionism and is mainly concerned with how it affects scientific research. Personally, I see it as being larger than that; it affects the way we look at life in general.

For an example let's take theology. We like to break things down into manageable chunks, so we study "the doctrine of God," or the ordo salutis (order of salvation), or justification, or sanctification, or...well, you get the idea.

The same thing happens in exegesis; we examine a verse, then break it down into phrases, then do word studies. Now, each of those is fine in and of itself, but we need to synthesize these back into a coherent whole. But we don't usually do that. We leave them as independent snippets; soundbites, if you will. And we expect to live by those.

That, my friends is a problem. We need to recover a holistic (I hate that word!) view of life. We need to our life as in interrelation of spirit, soul, mind, and body (I'm not even sure those are legitimate parts, but that's another issue...). We can't live life as a secular/sacred divide, we need to see all of life as sacred and full of God's goodness. In short, we need to live "in Christ."

When I was in operations/warehouse management, we looked at things from a systemic view. That is, we didn't look at the operation as a set of discrete operations, we looked at it as a system. You could tweak individual parts of the system and still end up with a mess. What we were interested in was throughput to the customer. It didn't matter if the pickers (the people filling orders) were operating at an unbelievable rate. If the order didn't get out the door, we didn't make any money.

Further, it didn't matter if the pickers were super fast if they were pulling the wrong items for the order! It had to be the correct product. It gets complicated real fast...and that's just a simple thing like order fulfillment.

Once we saw the system as a whole, we could then zero in on a specific part of the system and tweak it. But, we always had to keep our eyes on the results those tweaks had on the whole.

That's one (of many) reason I'm against GMO foods and seeds. And why I am against using pesticides and herbicides. And the liberal use of antibiotics. We just don't know what the systemic results are. And we don't even bother (usually) to study those results. Funding is nonexistent—it might damage profits.

As much as it grates on us, we need to acknowledge that we are finite beings with finite understanding of a huge world. Sure, we know more than we did 50-100 years ago. But the old saw "Give a man a book and he is an expert. Give a man a library and he becomes a student" is true here. We have a book (scientific discoveries); we've read about 1/4 (at most!) of it and we think we're experts. I'm reminded of a Charles Schultz cartoon in Young Pillars. A teenaged Charlie Brown says to his neighbor, "I used to consider myself an expert on the book of Revelation. Then I met someone who had actually read it."

That's us. We think we understand how things work, so we play God. But we are like nursery school kids playing with an Erector Set and thinking we're rebuilding the World Trade Center. Nursery school kids can't even build something simple with an Erector set, let alone something as complicated as a high-rise...

Just an
</idle musing>

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