The Eastern Mind #8 — Metaphysic

There is a baseline truth to the way we see the universe. This is rooted in the worldview we hold. As westerners, we are Greek in our thinking, so it will be helpful to understand how Greek thinking has affects how we react to the world. It has fingers that I am sure we have not fully explored.

Metaphysics is a philosophical approach that wrestles with the questions of the fundamental nature of reality and being. In other words, what are the most foundational realities of the universe?

The Greek metaphysic is deeply rooted in our minds and shows up in all kinds of ways. The Greek understanding of the universe is that it is foundationally chaos. It is out of control and unpredictable. It is dangerous and can hurt you at any moment. Therefore, I must try to understand how everything works for the purpose of predicting and controlling outcomes.

This heavily influences us, even in how we understand God. Think about how it plays out when a surprise happens in the day. How do you respond? Tragedy strikes — how do you respond? This leads to panic that makes us cry out in fear to God, begging Him to solve it, and often feeling paralyzed to move forward until the chaos of that moment subsides.

Now, it isn’t all together bad. The insatiable need to understand for the purpose of predicting and controlling has led to some good things: medicine, understanding of diseases, DNA — much of the sciences come out of this drive to predict and control. But when it comes to things no one can control — natural disaster, famine, drought, even love — this need to control can leave us in a very insecure place.

The eastern view of the universe is drastically different. Rather than being chaos, the universe is foundationally ordered. And it is ordered by a God who in His very nature is good and loves us. He is not angry, nor does he need to be appeased to keep the chaos away. This also radically affects how we deal with the situations described earlier.

When chaos strikes our world, we do not have to panic. We can rest. We can rest in the truth that there is a God in the universe who is in control and He loves me. He is a good God who provides. This is very different than the pagan gods of other civilizations, which must continually be appeased and held at bay so they don’t wreak havoc in the world. But we are guessing about how to appease them, and they are not bound to honor their word, so they can still create problems even if we have done everything correctly.

This is the radical part of the creation story in Scripture. The writer of Genesis 1 is not trying to prove or disprove a certain scientific understanding of creation. The author’s desire is to show a whole new kind of God who is rooted in peace and safety, and one who has the universe under control and your best interests at heart.

That changes everything.

May you find rest in the grace of a God who has you safely in the palm of His hand. May you find the peace that passes understanding — not from letting go of caring, but from taking hold of the character of God.