Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Uncertainty Principle

Life is uncertain. We would rather it wasn’t, but it unavoidably is. We live in a society that invests huge amounts of resource into trying to make things reliable. But not matter how hard we try, the uncertainty remains. For many centuries, we have had a fantasy of a perfect world where all uncertainties are brought under control. Within Christian cultures, we have tended to think of heaven as such a place. We would be wrong to do so. Uncertainty isn’t an expression of things going wrong; it is a fundamental feature of God’s creation.
Nearly a hundred years ago, a german scientist called Werner Heisenberg came to an understanding that uncertainty is woven into the fabric of the universe. Some things, he concluded, simply cannot be known. It is known as Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.
A very long time before Werner Heisenberg, Jesus’ disciple, Thomas, was having his own uncertainty dilemma. Thomas’ colleagues were telling him that Jesus - who had been expertly executed by the Roman army - was alive and well. This contradicted everything that Thomas knew and understood about the world. He was justifiably uncertain about his friends’ claim.
Nine days after Jesus’ undoubted death, Thomas met him in person - alive and well. Jesus did not criticise Thomas for his uncertainty. Instead, he urged the confused young man to take a different approach: to trust. “Don’t be suspicious,” Jesus said. “But trust.” Trust is a positive response to uncertainty.
God has not created a predictable universe in which we can rely on everything running to some unchanging plan. God’s creation is not like that, and neither is God. God created an uncertain universe and has given us intentionally unpredictable lives. He has done it because uncertainty is the crucible in which we learn to trust. And trust, like love, is the stuff of God.
Jesus wanted Thomas to trust him. Trusting Jesus is not a random spiritual mental twist. Trust is always specific. We trust that Jesus is God’s message to humanity. We trust Jesus that God loves us and cares for us (even when things seem to be going wrong). We trust Jesus that loving other people is always the best course of action. And we trust Jesus that there is another life beyond this one.
And that other life, which we call ‘Heaven’, will be uncertain too. You may not want to hear that! But without uncertainty there would be no room for trust. And trust is the stuff of God.

Recently published:
the life and loves of a disciple of Jesus 
by Robert Harrison