Saturday, March 31, 2012


As a recovering 24 addict, I found the new Kiefer Sutherland show, Touch, intriguing.  It further intrigued me when I discovered that Heroes showrunner Tim Kring created and wrote the show.  Kring has a unique perspective and a talent for storytelling.  While Heroes told the story of a unique group of superheroes revealed by means of an eclipse, Touch uses a similar element of fantasy.

In the Touch narrative, a little boy who refuses to speak explains the world by means of numbers.  He sees the elements of reality through mathematics and attempts to solve the inequalities or unbalanced equations through the agency of his father, who thankfully does not run around with a gun shouting, "Who do you work for?"

The worldview of this show fascinates me.  Kring posits a world ruled by mathematics.  A world of purpose, order, and meaning provided by mathematical mechanics.  Even the music of the show implies the underlying worldview with a background of ticking and mechanical sounds.  It portrays the universe as a great clock.  This young boy works within it to keep the gears running smoothly.

What this worldview does not ask, nor do I expect it ever to answer, is whether impersonality could possess intentionality.  Does a clock create teleology or purpose?  Certainly, the designer of the clock invests it with purpose, but that does not originate with the clock but with its maker.  The clockmaker defines purpose, not the clock.  I doubt that Kring would posit a deistic universe, but he seems to reach identical conclusions within a worldview without the originator.  This constitutes a serious problem for his perspective.

In a completely mechanistic universe, the perspective makes some sense.  After all, if personality results from mere mechanical processes and personality can produce intentionality, then it follows that mechanics can produce intentionality.  While logically sound, this argument causes serious complications.  Its assumptions are monstrous and cut at the very heart of morality.  If man is nothing more than machine, good and evil are mere fancies.  They bear no relation to any value within reality.  If so, then defining the purpose of the universe becomes impossible.  Is the end to which the universe travels good or evil?  The answer becomes moot.  The universe just is.  What is is.  One finally ends in extreme fatalism and the meaning one derives from the purpose of the universe vanishes away.

Kring is not alone in his optimistic worldview.  Recently, I have noticed other presentations of this same perspective.  "The universe has a plan."  People cry out for a purpose and intentionality without personality.  They want assurance that things are happening to them for a reason without someone designing that reason.  They want the universe to fulfill them without being demanding upon them.  They want to have their cake and eat it.  They require a universe with and without God.

Why so great an aversion to a personal God?  Why not simply posit the logical conclusion, that there is a personal God who has ordained whatsoever comes to pass, who does all things well?  Man rejects Him for one primary reason.  He makes demands.  He has rules.  He declares what is right and what is wrong.  He imposes upon human autonomy.  For this, man hates Him.

O foolish man, you would have a impersonal, unloving machine dictate your life rather than a loving person.  You would have an unspeaking clock grinding you through its gears rather than a God who explains to you how this universe works.  Did you not consider, that the clock cannot communicate to you nor tell you how it works?  It cannot warn you against the dangers of your behavior if you try to go against its workings.  A personal, loving, communicative God, the God of scripture, tells you those rules you hate for the purpose of preventing you from making mistakes within that purposeful working of the universe.  Those rules aid you in navigating the outworking of the divine plan smoothly.

None would ever know if Kring's mechanistic world would do good to him or grind him to a pulp.  He only believes that "it" intends the former, even though there is no reason to suppose such intentionality.  I know that God intends good to me.  He said so in His word. (Jeremiah 29:11)  His record of keeping promises is unimpeachable. (II Corinthians 1:20)  I choose that personal God I know over the unknowable impersonal machine.  But this is not entirely true.  Rather, He chose me.  He exists regardless of man's belief.

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