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To Tame the World

I've spent hours frittering away in college philosophy clubs, alongside people who use words like prolegomena and quiddity. These intellectual dignitaries purse their lips and allow their brows to crease neatly above their noses. They express thoughts like men with tweezers trying to extract splinters from the marble toes of the goddess of reason.

If you want to know what I learned from them, I can count it on one finger: Thinkers are terrified of this world.

The truth is, I don't blame them. We—thinking, feeling, yearning life forms—are more than a little bit out of our depth.

We can't walk out our front doors into the summer air without tiny creatures trying to suck our blood, while the authorities do nothing. Or without a flaming star leering at us so brightly that our skin spots and burns if we don't coat ourselves in protection.

We're that vulnerable. That small.

The world that we live in is fundamentally at odds with human self-importance, the drive behind so much intellectual chatter. Mountains have no guardrails. County officials can ban spitting fireworks, but meteorites go unregulated. Clouds drench us whenever they like without fear of reprisal. Winds cheerfully vandalize and even demolish buildings that were appropriately permit- ted and approved. Birds fly. Tadpoles sprout legs and belch through the night regardless of noise ordinances. Monkeys are for real. So is what they fling.

We can understand why man, modern man in particular, would like to mop the floors and bleach the walls. We might not be able to tame reality, but we can tame our perception of reality. We intellectualize in order to feel in control.

But God's personality—his fingerprints— ...

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Mud Alive
N.D. Wilson
N.D. Wilson is a best-selling author, observer of ants, and easily distracted father of five. His latest book, Death by Living, is a creative nonfiction celebration of mortality.
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Christianity Today
To Tame the World
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2013

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