A Leafy Green Plant, Imperialistic Aliens, and the Lorax: How We Make Sense of Our World

A Leafy Green Plant, Empirial Aliens, and the Lorax: How We Make Sense of Our World

I found myself standing at my back door this morning staring at this big monstrosity of leafiness next to my garage. I’m not sure what you call it; its some kind of banana leaf looking thing. I don’t particularly care of for it, but my wife loves it. So, there it stays.

As I was standing there, coffee in hand of course, I found myself thinking about how this leafy green spectacle got there. I certainly didn’t plant the thing; nor did my wife. So how’d it get there?

Perhaps the Lorax sneakily transplanted it there in the middle of the night. Better yet, an alien beamed in from outer space and placed it there as some sort of a bio-mechanical homing beacon. Perhaps he was planning to annex my garage as the base of operations for his planet’s next phase of inter-galactic conquest.

Or maybe a seed blew in from my neighbor’s yard.

Clearly, two of those explanations are out to lunch. But why? (Mind you, I’ve not been out to the thing in order to verify wether or not it is either a Truffula tree, an alien antenna, or just a big green plant.) You might say I’ve thrown out those two options a priori, or prior to any sort of in depth investigation.

“But that’s not fair,” you cry in an insensible and argumentative tone.

Why would I be justified in doing such a thing? Well, everything I’ve learned about nature, plants, biology, and the like tells me that the process by which plants grow has more to do with seeds and germination than it has to do with mythical creatures or alien visitors.

“Duh?”

I’ve got this story, informed by my own experience and what people have taught me, that allows me to see the plant and come up with a reasonable explanation for its existence while excluding potential explanations that simply do not fit into that worldview.

“You’re losing me. So what?”

We’ve each bought into a story that helps us to make sense of the data of our everyday experiences, from the varieties of foliage in our back yards to the normal happenstances of everyday life. Wether you’re conscious of it or not, everything that hits your eyes and ears runs through this inconceivably complex filter and is shaped into something that makes sense within your experience.

As a Christian, I believe that God created everything. Everything in this world, in one way or another, bears witness to His beauty, power, and perfection. When I look out upon the ocean, I’m given a glimpse of the vastness of His unending power. When I stare up at the mountains, I’m provided with a shadow of His steadfast faithfulness throughout all generations. When I look at a human being, I’m privy to the very image of God in the flesh; right before my eyes in all its splendor.

But how do I know any of that? Why is the ocean not merely a product of an innumerable number of years of atmospheric mojo (supremely scientific terminology)? Why are the mountains not simply the natural by-product of immense geological forces? Why can’t a human being be nothing more than the spectacular sum of a grand process of evolution?

Because I believe that God has spoken in the Bible, what the theologians call his “special” revelation. In it, He provides us with the interpretative tools we need in order to make sense of our everyday experiences, or what they call “general” revelation. His is a story of beautiful creation, cataclysmic corruption, glorious redemption, and perfect restoration. The best part? It’s a true story.

That’s how I make sense of the world. That’s my story.

Perhaps yours is different. Maybe you’ve been taking generous sips off the kool-aid of today’s culture and you don’t think there’s any overarching story whatsoever. Maybe this is how you see it: “Life is about living and our actions count for little more than the moment. From indiscriminate organic matter I came and to indiscriminate organic matter I shall return.” That’s your choice and I respect it.

Of course, you do realize that the “there’s no story” bit is in itself a story, don’t you?

The question, then… what’s your story? Click here to tell it.

[This has been a reflection a principle to be observed from the following excerpt from the Westminster Confession of Faith.]

“Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church…” WCF 1.1

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