A Dent in the Universe – Steve Jobs

I’ve had some time to reflect on the passing of Steve Jobs and absorb some of the various eulogies.  Some better than others, of course.
Steve Jobs with white iPhone 4

People have been pulling about some of his best quotes and dusting them off. The most striking I’ve seen is the following:

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”

This is always followed by affirmation that yes, Steve did put a dent in the universe. And I concur. A true visionary force. He helped bring computing to the mainstream, helped bring smart phones into the mainstream, and then uncovered a treasure trove of buried demand for tablets that no one thought existed.

But that’s not all. Through Pixar, he gathered talent around him which resulted in the creation of movies with heart and soul when it seemed Disney had forgotten how, ushering in another golden age of animated storytelling. How long will these ripples last?

So yes, there is probably a part of the universe that is a little bit warped from the Jobs footprint.

And yet…

The only way these statements makes any sense is through some sort of Christian worldview. The only possible way you could classify anything as a “dent”, or even anything as an “improvement” is to have some absolute standard with which to measure things. So many of the people trying to affirm that Jobs’ made said “dent” have no way to actually define it.

If you believe that we live in nothing but a naturalistic universe, then anything you do, anything Steve Jobs did, is completely meaningless. There is no dent.  There is nothing. You can try and pretend that there is something that gives all these particulars meaning (and since you are created in the image of God, you certainly will try), but you are being inconsistent with your own presuppositions.

His achievements will eventually whither and be forgotten, both in memory and actuality. Everything was simply a series of chemical reactions that caused some other chemical reactions somewhere else. Even Jobs’ own pantheistic Buddhism reduces everything down to sameness. There is no difference between cruelty and non-cruetly. No difference between creativity and dullness. No difference between iPhone and Android.  There is no real meaning to any interaction of matter and energy. And so without the Christian answer, nobody leaves a dent in the universe, including Jobs. Including you. The question asked above simply becomes one of complete despair.

But I can affirm, with the Christian assumptions in my mind, that Steve Jobs improved lives and in many ways made the world a better place. I thank God for him, for his vision, and for the couple who adopted him. Yes, he did indeed leave a dent in the universe. He directly impacted people’s lives for the better.

Logically, can you really say the same thing?

P.S. As an aside, here is a recent quote from Albert Mohler that I think is important.  We all put dents in the universe everyday. That is part of what it means to be man in God’s image.

…that the mother tending her child, the farmer planting his crops, the father protecting his family, the couple faithfully living out their marital vows, the factory worker laboring to support his family, and the preacher preparing to preach the Word of God, are all doing even more important work.

 

No Room for a Romantic Answer

Christianity is realistic because it says that if there is no truth, there is also no hope; and there can be no truth if there is no adequate base. It is prepared to face the consequences of being proved false and say with Paul: If you find the body of Christ, the discussion is finished; let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. It leaves absolutely no room for a romantic answer. (The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, Book 1, p.45)

Worldviews and Sand

No matter your precautions when you go to the beach, you always take home unwanted stowaways. Sands gets in every nook and cranny. Of your clothes, of your bags, of your car, of your hair, of your teeth, of the places between your toes and fingers (whatever they are called). And then the sand seems to magically transport hundreds of miles to your carpet and dresser.

It gets everywhere no matter your effort.

Worldviews are the same way. They color everything about your perception and beliefs, and there is not a fence tall enough that will keep a fundamental worldview out of any part of your life.

For Christians, we have the blessing of having a worldview that is actually true. Christ is the Truth and everything was created through him.  He is the cornerstone not only of the church and the new creation, but of all of the old creation as well. And so from the bottom up, Christ colors everything. Both the bricks and the mud between them were spoken into existence with the Word . It is inescapable. Eventually every knee will bow and every tongue proclaim this Truth, but until that happens, it is still the Truth.

This is why reality is reality, why the world makes sense, why the laws of Physics are. It is based on Truth.

But there are other worldviews, most being frantically built and repaired on the…ahem…shifting sands of pure naturalistic philosphy and assumptions that everything that was, is, and yet to come is Chance. These worldviews also get into everything. But they must start from the top, and like a corrosive acid, begin eating through every notion. They dissolve and destroy. Western culture itself will be an eventual victim and finally the definition of man himself. Even Darwin saw the end result when he voiced his own horrid doubt:

With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has always been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?

This line of thought has been expounded and confirmed by such theorists as Stephen Pinker. Everything is just meat, including the brain, and, besides some type of pragmatic or hedonistic nihilism, who really cares about the purpose or destiny of meat? Certainly not the meat itself. Consciousness, and the resulting purposes and morality from such an idea, are just illusions.

But eventually the acid will get to the foundation and be turned back and neutralized by the blood of the Lamb. And thank God for that. We don’t have to accept sand in our brains.

There is No Neutrality

Michael Bull rails against atheists who complain about religious instruction in schools, because their naturalistic philosophy is supposedly neutral.

But as usual, they are blinded by their pride.

In the mean time, our culture itself is eroding, and its all a great mystery why the West is crumbling.

Some quick points from the article:

  • An atheist’s faith relies on their rationality.
  • Our “secular” culture results in great pragmatic wisdom. This has been a blessing in many ways, but if pragmatism is the greatest virtue, you also open the door to horrors unimaginable.
  • When it comes to the tough questions, secular culture is bankrupt.
  • True progress requires the Word of God and the Spirit of God.
  • Our problem is that we want the Word of God to be provable before we act on it. We don’t want to rely on faith.

An Act of “Christian” Terrorism? Not Even Close.

Once again we have the worshipers of Reason being unreasonable. The fundamentalist who killed 76 people in Norway is being regarded as another example of the horrors of religion when not kept private. See, Christians commit acts of terrorism too. Just like Muslims. They might as well be exactly the same.

Of course, the only basis for calling him a Christian is the guy’s Facebook profile, which is about as deep as most people looked. They see a piece of ice floating on the water, and then have faith that it is actually the tip of an iceberg 300 feet tall. They don’t have to actually look, though.  After all, they have reason and science on their side by default, so they don’t have to engage in any actual freethinking.

Breivik was a fundamentalist, no doubt. But as this article points out, he was an Enlightenment fundamentalist.

 In an on-line manifesto, Breivik makes it clear that he is not a “fundamentalist Christian.”  He prefaces one comment with, “If there is a God…” and says that science should always trump religion.  So in terms of religious convictions, he sounds more like Richard Dawkins than Jerry Falwell.

The article is insightful, and I encourage you to read it, as it also highlights one of the key problems with our culture: desiring the fruit of the tree (Christendom), while wanting to do away with the root and tree itself (Christ).