Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Job 38: Job and the Matrix

This essay is #46 of an ongoing series on the book of Job. Click here to start at the beginning.

Of Architects and Oracles

I must ask you to humor me on this one. To see the third installment of the Matrix and to revisit the beginnings of Job 38 has had my mind spinning all day.

Imagine lives of humans in the matrix. They experience a world far different from the world in which they live. The two could not be more different. While they search for meaning in a simulated world, their real life provides power for a cadre of machines creating and maintaining the simulation.

But the designers, an architect and an oracle, of this programmed world do not have the wisdom to create a world that works. They began with utopia and the system crashed. They introduced pain and the survival rate was better, but unexpected anomalies appeared and the system crashed again. Do not think that the Neo of Matrix Reloaded is necessarily the Neo of the original Matrix. The failure rate is evidence that the creators continually meet one more fact or interaction they had not considered before.

"Who is this that darkens counsel with words without knowledge?" You may not know this, but science is discovering how unusual the universe is. There are many workings and properties in a just so delicate balance. Change any, even slightly, and life cannot exist. Gerald L. Schroeder puts it this way:

What does it take to make a loaf of bread? When I ask this question in my classes, the list usually begins with flour, water, yeast, sugar. With some professorial prompting soil, sunlight (an extraterrestrial input), a stove (engineering), and recipe (intellect) are added. We're getting more complex. Still more prompting elicits a desire for bread (choice), a nurturing climate, and finally in a cosmic sense, a nurturing universe. To make a loaf of bread you need a very special universe. Our universe has been special since its inception. [Schroeder, Gerald L. The Science of God, the Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom (New York, Broadway Books, 1997) 177]

The Jews have a prayer, "Blessed are you Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth." Slight imbalances across dozens of variables would ruin all possibility for life to be, and scientific research adds more to the list all the time.

Who set its measurements—if you know—or who stretched a measuring line across it? (Job 38:5)

Do you know the laws of the heavens, or can you set up their rule over the earth? (Job 38:33)

Today we know more about these measurements than ever before. But we have not the power to alter a single law or constant that governs the universe. In this, the world of the matrix is quite fictitious. Neo might be able to fly, but we fall. We happen to fall at a rate fine tuned for life as a whole, but at a rate that can hurt or kill if we fall from too high a place.

The Matrix, fictional although it is, represents an achievement beyond the reach of mankind: A simulated world fed into the brains of its citizens, reading and sensing their responses and feeding these into the programmed lives of all other inhabitants in their chambers. But it fails and fails again for lack of wisdom.

The questioning of Job by the Lord leads Job and us to admit our complete ignorance about what makes a universe that is able to have men and women made in the image of God--a universe where there is bread from the earth.

Thursday--Back on Track, Lions and Ostriches

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

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