Friday, September 7, 2007

868 Pursuing Perfection

Message no. 868[Branch from no. 862] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Tuesday, April 24, 2007 10:55am Subject: Pursuing perfection

Well said, Michelle. As you state, since the makers of technology are not perfect, it would be impossible for the product to be perfect. Now we get to a curious theological question: If the technology (i.e., the world of useful objects or "tools") is imperfect because the "maker" (humanity) is imperfect, is humanity thus imperfect because OUR maker (God) is imperfect?

The thought upsets us, because we are taught to think of God as perfect. We then assume that God's creation must be perfect. Many so-called environmentalists claim we should "go back to nature" because they think that "nature" is perfect becuase it was created by a perfect God. This would imply that only we humans are flawed and imperfect (which then begs the question of why God would create only one "mistake", and why He would make a mistake at all if He is "perfect". We talk about original sin as a mistake of Adam and Eve, which got them thrown out of the "perfect" eutopia of Eden -- after which they came into the "imperfect" world of earthly nature. From the perspective of Genesis, then, the earth is not perfect. So it would seem that God created imperfect people and an imperfect world of plants and animals and geology for them to struggle through their imperfections.

A scientific analysis of "nature" reveals many imperfections, despite the beauty with which ecological systems work. It turns out that STATISTICALLY SPEAKING ONLY can we say that nature works very well -- it has fostered life on this lonely little planet and sustained it for 3.5 billion years, which is amazing, but it could be wiped out or driven into extinction at any moment by many forces -- asteroids, meteors, population explosions of pests or predators or parasites or diseases, wars, weapons, climate change etc. The only perfect paradise exists in our imaginations and in Heaven.

The IDEA of perfection, in my belief, comes from a Perfect God whose perfection is manifesting only at the scale of the entire universe, where every equation balances out in perfect symmetry. But in local pockets of the universe, like our galaxy, the equations are unbalanced. There are localities filled with life and localities filled with emptiness. There are hot spots and cold spots. There are places of joy and places of sorrow. Add them all together and you get the perfect sum: A UNI-VERSE -- a "single story" (by definition, UNI - one, VERSE - story).

With our minds we can perceive the IDEA of perfection and struggle to realize it on earth (eutopia). But we must know from the beginning that it is unacheiveable. AT BEST we can create moments in time and history in certain places (such as you have been describing in your assignments) that feel "perfect" on a local level. But we can't create perfection for everyone and everything and for all time. Not with the tiny corner of the universe we inhabit and its fragmented bits of matter and energy. No, perfection is not acheivable here on this smallish worldly scale. The idea belongs only to God, and can only be manifested on an even smaller personal scale -- you build your own eutopia for as long as you can maintain it. When you vanish, the ebb and flow of matter and energy will consume it and subsume it and recycle all its parts and another being will have to come and struggle to rebuild our monuments to the idea of perfection.

That is how I see it.

For support of this idea, I encourage you to read the astrophysics/philosophy book "The Life of the Cosmos" by physicist Lee Smolin (see here for quotes:

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