The Theology of Shuffling
One tradition at Pop’s House is the family poker game. Don’t get me wrong, I would never say a word in favor of gambling. But poker at Pop’s House is not gambling. If you win, you keep your winnings. If you lose, Pop won’t let you leave the table without getting your initial $5 stake out of the bank. Any shortfalls are covered by Pop’s private poker stimulus package. So, poker at Pop’s is a win-win proposition, more about the food and fun than anything else.
Before last night’s poker session, I happened to play a game of solitaire. I won. And because I won, all of the cards were in perfect order. The deck was organized into suites and the cards in each suite ran from ace to deuce consecutively. Now that’s a good result for solitaire, but not a good starting point for poker. So I had to shuffle the deck several times before the tournament commenced.
As I shuffled, it occurred to me that there was a theology (or at least a cosmology) behind what I was doing. And it all seemed so self-evident.
All of the cards were in perfect order. I had to impose a process to undo the order and impose randomness. No one would do the opposite, which is to impose a process on something that is random to accomplish order. That is, no one would take a deck of disordered cards and shuffle them expecting to eventually put them in perfect order.
Doesn’t that make the biblical account of creation more reasonable than the big bang theory? I mean, forget for the moment that this “scientific” theory argues that the nothing that was blew up and became everything that is. Forget that it holds that matter emerged spontaneously from the immaterial, or that life emerged spontaneously from the inanimate. Just focus on the one aspect of this theory that says this random cosmic explosion somehow resulted in the ordered universe we see today. Has there ever been an explosion that did that before? Aren’t explosions, by definition, destructive rather than constructive, chaotic rather than creative? Is there any chance that the local auto parts store might explode and produce a Ford Mustang? Is it scientific to believe that? Is that rational?
I read in this morning’s paper about the solar eclipse that was visible in Asia today. It was the longest solar eclipse since 1991. Scientists said there will not be a longer eclipse until 2132. Now, just how do they know that? They can only calculate such things because this is an ordered cosmos. And while chaos and disorder may occur from a random process, such processes do not result in ordered cosmoses. To achieve order requires deliberative, thoughtful action.
This is but one reason that the biblical cosmology seems reasonable to me. God created all things visible and invisible. He ordered it. He declared it very good. Humans imposed a destructive and disorganizing process on that ordered universe. God is now deliberatively and thoughtfully restoring order. All of that fits within a paradigm that matches what I know to be true. In other words, it makes sense. It makes my faith a reasonable faith.
To hold to a theory that this ordered universe emerged from cosmic chaos or catastrophe not only requires more faith than I have. It requires the kind of faith I don’t want—a faith that is unreasonable.
Father, the heavens declare Your glory and the firmament shows Your handiwork. Help me to hear and see.