God, People, and Schrödinger’s Cat: Our Role in it All

Photo by Du01b0u01a1ng Nhu00e2n on Pexels.com

A friend recently said to me something like this: “If this is all there is [to a recent set of events], then it was all for nothing.” She went on to say that nothing good came of it. When it was going on, it had seemed so meaningful – that is, she felt it had been divinely intentioned – but in retrospect that was not the case.

This is a sentiment I have run across repeatedly. As far as I know, atheists do not experience it. It is theists, especially Christians with a robust belief in an engaged and sovereign God, who endure this theological dysphoria.

Because of the way things transpired, my friend had concluded that God was involved in the timing and engineering of certain events. That belief gave rise to a set of expectations. If God really meant this to happen, as it seemed he did, then certain results could be expected to ensue.

When the expected results did not occur, my friend was disappointed and confused. She was not only disappointed with the apparent lack of results, but she was also confused about God. If she had been wrong about God’s involvement in this case, when she had been so sure, how could she ever trust herself to recognize God’s activity in the world?

Some people see God at work in everything. The fact that they missed that pothole as they drove into work is to them clear evidence of divine intervention. If they catch cold, God gave them the cold. If they find a dollar bill in the sofa, God arranged for that to happen.

My friend doesn’t want to be one of those people. She does not want to be deceived. She believes in God, but she doesn’t want a make-believe God.

I think my friend is mistaken on at least two counts. First, she is mistaken in her belief that certain results would occur if God was involved and that if they did not occur, God must not be involved. This is to presume to know more that humans can know.

With rhetorical flourish, St. Paul joins prophets and apostles in dispelling the idea that any of us is capable of comprehending God: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”

Neither my friend nor I can know what good things may result from the events that transpired. Perhaps this article will encourage some reader neither of us has ever met to trust God in hardship. Perhaps the compassion my friend gains from her experience will one day encourage and support people not yet born.

We cannot know what things will result, but we can trust that they will be good. According to St. Paul, “all things work together for good for those who love God.” This does not mean that all things are good, but that God is so skilled that he can make even bad things achieve good ends for the people in his family.

The second count on which I believe my friend to be mistaken is her idea that the outcome of the events she experienced is now complete. This view assumes that God either foreordains a specific outcome or, like the Supreme Court, refuses to take up the case. Either way, the individuals involved are superfluous. But this, I think, is to misunderstand how God works. He frequently allows his creatures to interact in events in a way that makes them meaningful or meaningless, good or bad – even after the fact.

Physicists speak of a quantum system remaining in a “superposition” of states and its outcome indeterminate until an interaction occurs with an observer. God designed reality so that something like this happens. Some events remain indeterminate even after they happen, neither good nor bad, until we interact with them.

If we interact with them while trusting God, the outcome will bring good to us, as the apostle claimed. Either way, God dignifies humans with a (limited) role in bringing reality – it’s final state – into being, for good our bad.

(First published by Gannet.)

About salooper57

Husband, father, pastor, follower. I am a disciple of Jesus, learning how to do life from him. I read, write, walk, play a little guitar, enjoy my family.
This entry was posted in Bible, Spiritual life, Theology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.