Tuesday, June 4, 2013

the narrative that is

i've been thinking a lot about nature lately - innateness, characteristics - that kind of nature.

some writey friends and i have a fb group where we chat about our stories - our characters - the worlds we create.  we're kind of a diverse group, but one of the challenges we all face in creating our stories is crafting a world that makes sense within its own context.  i mean - the world in a story can be anything - fantastical and magical and wondrous in ways ours isn't - but it still must be true to itself in order for a reader to sink into the story and follow along.  readers can suspend disbelief while in a story-world, but if the story-world is false to itself, that strikes a jarring note and pops the reader right out of the imaginary world. 

(as an aside, i think it's interesting that truth and consistency are foundational concepts in narrative - and as a Christian, i see God's character woven into the very way we understand stories.  but i digress.)

so, i was thinking about evolution.  what this world would look like if it was formed by the big bang.  what kind of universe that would be.

and it made me smile, because it's kind of a funny fiction.  i think it's the kind of world where we wouldn't be surprised to open our cupboards and find our ingredients had turned into a fully formed cake.  where we could encounter a 30-storey brick building in the middle of nowhere and reasonably assume it had emerged from the ground as a result of rocks and solar energy and time.  the kind of world where i would open my purse at the end of the day and see that my pencils and notebook had jostled together in such a way that now the mona lisa stared up at me off the page.  the kind of world where we regularly pull letters from the scrabble bag and find they form a tiley copy of war and peace.  the kind of world where babies actually do appear in cabbage patches, and where logical things with laws and innate orderliness just form from chaos.  the kind of world where a bulldozer drives through a junkyard and a camaro forms in its wake from the scraps left behind.

but that isn't the world we see, is it.

we know it, we breathe it, we rise and sleep to its rhythms ... this is the world of creation.  things are made - built - created.  anything that is complex must be put together by intelligent intention.  the only thing that occurs without intervention is decay.  the very nature of nature goes against the possibility of a big bang as a creative event.  (i should note that i'm arguing against the big bang on its own - not as a tool in the hand of an intelligent designer.)

i'd love to go to sleep at night, reasonably expecting that the eggs and cheese in the fridge would appear as an omelette for breakfast.

if we lived in a world where bits and pieces arranged themselves into order, a big bang creation would make sense.  but ... we live in a world where bits and pieces tend only to decay. 
and i know.
i have a toddler.
he leaves a trail of crumbs and pieces after every meal.  but those crumbs don't reconvene into a bowl of fragrant, buttery mashed potatoes.  not ever.  no - they turn grey and mash and separate further.  (yuck.)

it's really obvious, isn't it, when we think about things we find in the wilderness.  say we're in the middle of absolute nowhere and we come across cave-drawings - maybe a few stick figures.  we know someone made those, because in the world we experience there is an obvious difference between untouched nature and nature that has encountered humankind.  if our friend looked at the same cave-drawings and insisted they spontaneously appeared due to the presence of some drawing material, possible energy in the cave, and the passage of time - we'd think our friend was nuts.  because in this world, basic elements are only ever made more complex by a do-er's hand.   

that's the narrative that is.
it makes sense within its own context.

God has woven His nature into the universe.  creation is innate.