An assumption of Post-modern thinking is that “reality” is not something objective which we each experience but rather we each create reality, deciding ourselves what is right and wrong, good and evil. Such post-modern thinking embraces the autonomous individual and rejects a notion that there is one over-arching story (meta-narrative) that ties all of humanity together and makes the world comprehensible.
Many find such post-modern thinking to be unsatisfying because it does not reflect what it is to be human. Each of us is born into an already existing world, and we are not able to resist the influences that come into our hearts and minds during our childhood or impressionable years of life. So we are trained to see the world from a particular perspective and our personal narrative is thus shaped by and linked to the past. Both personal and collective history shape our thinking and the reality we create – we are not as autonomous as we like to believe.
That the world exists prior to our coming into being challenges our sense of our selves as autonomous beings who by the choices we make shape each person’s reality. We are born into what is for us the pre-existing world. Our challenge is to understand how we fit into the on-going meta-narrative of whose unfolding we are but a small part.
The order to the universe pre-dates our own personal existence and we enter into it at our conception and birth. That something existed before our own consciousness facilitates contemplating the possibility of a Creator who gives order and meaning to all. This can be a comforting thought – I’m not brought into existence as a helpless being with no one caring for me, guiding me, giving me purpose and direction. Rather I am brought into an orderly narrative which it is possible to understand, to enjoy, and to give thanks for. Before I start willing anything, an order exists, which allows me to understand and explore the universe. The mystery and the challenge is to find that order and its meaning. Ken Myers in the Mars Hill Audio Journal, Vol 112, says:
“Submission and obedience to some order of things that proceeds our willing is known as a delight and a blessing.”
The “order of things”, that world which we are born into for many believers tells us that we are not alone in the universe but exist as part of a greater whole. We exist as part of a created order which also intentionally exists. We may feel autonomous, but we are actually connected, relational, social beings who share human nature, a planet, genes, and a social history. Our minds are shaped by a shared language, symbolic thinking we learn from and share with others. Without these others we would not have ordered and organized thoughts, we would not be able to communicate and even imagination would be impossible.
Myers notes that some, being uncertain about the order of things, are afraid to commit themselves to something – a marriage, a theological doctrine, or a political position – because of a fear that might mean we are giving up our freedoms.
It equally might mean that we are allowing ourselves to enter into that order of things, which can help us in fact understand ourselves and the universe around us by giving us place and direction.