Monday, December 01, 2008

The Black Swan

"Before the discovery of Australia, people in the Old World were convinced that all swans were white, an unassailable belief as it seemed completely confirmed by empirical evidence. The sighting of the first black swan might have been an interesting surprise for a few ornithologists (and others extremely concerned with the coloring of birds), but that is not where the significance of the story lies. It illustrates a severe limitation to our learning from observations or experience and the fragility of our knowledge. One single observation can invalidate a general statement derived from millennia of confirmatory sightings of millions of white swans. All you need is one single black bird."

~Opening paragraph, Prologue, from the book The Black Swan (The Impact of the Highly Improbable) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007)

I love this encapsulation of human viewpoint. Of life by sight. It's unreliable. Everything we think is true, by sight, by what others tell us, even by what science tells us, is unreliable. It can be changed by a single observation or experience.

Not so the Word of God. Our lessons of late, as I mentioned, have focused on challenging us to live in the truths of what the Word of God says we are: spiritual royalty, in union with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, possessors of everything He possesses. God is for us, so who can be against us. At salvation God made us new creatures and crucified the old man on the Cross with Christ. We have His perfect righteousness. God sees us as perfectly righteous right now, and He is perfectly satisfied with us Right Now because of what His son did on the Cross.

We don't have to overcome sins and failures, merely rebound them. They're already judged, already removed. It just doesn't always seem like it. None of what we are in Christ "seems like it" while we are living in this fallen world. But our position in Christ, the reality of His word and of His promises, are the only really reliable things we have. We must learn to live in those and not in the kind of knowledge that can be nullified with a single new piece of information...