There is a natural order of things. Nature works because, it has its own system. The most gigantic interaction of living and the nonliving makes up the system of nature. In this system, there are many parts and subsystems. We can discern, there is an order to the way all creatures interact with the environment and the way there are interdependence, natural cycles, and creature hierarchy. We may personally like or dislike aspects of the natural order, but we cannot deny its overall existence.
Human choice is not negated or canceled out by the existence of any order, even the order of nature. We are not helpless to blindly follow the order. In the grand scheme though, we are limited as humans. There are inevitabilities that befall humans, external powers that overcome human resistance – illness and death. In our specific actions and words, we are always presented with choice. We notice a tree, learn something from it. Perhaps we learn selflessness, generosity, and stability. We see a squirrel on that tree, and we could learn something. Perhaps it teaches us liveliness, joyfulness, and even agility. Then we see a connection – an order – that binds the tree with so many creatures; we learn some valuable lessons about living.
As humans, we can never be entirely objective. Maybe we can succeed for a period of time, but the notion of being entirely objective is actually a dehumanizing endeavor. As a human is completely stripped of the right or the ability to form subjective conclusions, the person is stripped of a fundamental, individual freedom. Any method of thinking or observation that completely discounts human subjectivity, leads to conclusions and possible implications that are also dehumanizing. Even the study of nature and its order is, subject to the same.
All of us observe nature around us, but we do not see the same things. The diversity of nature turns into a mirror, reflecting our own biases, preferences, and desires on the grandest scale possible. While some see the peace in the woods, the observations of another are centered on wild predators of the savannah. These observations may be entirely from across the barrier of a display screen, and hence the interaction may also be limited. Nonetheless, there is enough information to arouse specific interests, and define significant views about nature and its order of things.
With the increased knowledge opened to us about, what lies beneath the surface of the oceans and what lies in the distant universe, our observations have more options opened to us than ever possible. When the information passes through the senses of the observer our world is colored, brightened, or darkened by the very things that are within us. Our ability to focus and to sustain interest too is connected to the inclinations that have been there; and we don’t have control over many such factors defining our inclinations. Between every piece of information and the understanding thereof, the observer must stand in between.
Is there a natural order of things?
Yes, there is! Even then, it is humanly possible to deny what that order is. It is possible to perceive creation or evolution as entirely irreconcilable terms, and utterly disregard the ability of all creatures to adapt to changes. It is possible to conclude about creation with such severity and based on limited information, to even shut out any useful information found by those who research evolution. There could be a difference in interpreting the evidence, but information exists before all. By subscribing to extreme views for the sake of having a sense of absolute certainty, and neglecting the possibility of some reasons of intellectual agreement, we find ourselves shutting out the issues when emotions or morals are involved.
Looking at nature in a comprehensive way by standing at a distance is, the way to observe its order. The order appears to hold up even when we step too close to a part of nature, and subject that part alone to scrutiny. The entirety of the natural order cannot be understood in a creature or few creatures. We are then, no longer looking at the order, but only the function of one or more components of the machinery of nature. And to suppose, the machinery of nature should work according to our expectations or our concept of machines at every level is, only partially to be found correct. Nature in its totality is, the most complex machine system we can observe!
We need to take time with nature. Why does anyone have to rush to conclusions? Just as there is a place in nature for creatures, and a certain relation binding them with their kind and with other kinds, there is ample freedom open to humans.
We do not need to leave it to human interpretation to see, there is an order to nature. Had there been no order, it would have descended into chaos and subsequent destruction. On the contrary, nature is an example of resilience, recycling, and rejuvenation. Human interpretation may vary on what the order of natural things is, but nature continues to function regardless of our disagreements of interpretation. So yes, there is order in nature, and it works beautifully despite of humans.
There is an expression of justice in the natural order of things; it is at every level. This justice ensures that every creature has its place and its role. When this is interfered with, the balance is eventually offset, but the consequences do take much longer to present themselves. Human subjectivity can continue to ignore the consequences only for a time, but the consequences of interfering with nature will only continue to gain power with time. It may be surprisingly easy to disturb the natural balance in smaller measure, but the order continues to work as a whole.
Finding confidence in continuity
Nature insists on and persists in continuity. For this reason, intelligent creatures like humans have developed a confidence in its continuity. It might even be a conclusion in the minds of some that, the overall balance of nature cannot be disturbed, regardless of what humans do. While writing these words, I do recall the physical world and how scientists have shown concern for the effects of human activity on global warming. Others, totally disregard global warming as a hoax. And there are some who would say that science and its proponents are being extremely disingenuous by themselves being the real cause of accelerated human activities of production and then, taking the stance of being saviors of mankind from the calamity they themselves helped create in the first place. To put it simply: scientific development put to satisfying human greed is, the leading reason for global warming in the first place!
Thus far, this consideration is limited only to the causes and effects on the earthly realm, and there is no consideration of the “divine” factor. The divine factor – as variably as it is understood in different cultures and religions – is the most difficult part of understanding justice because it goes beyond the limitations of our physical realm. The assumption that, the divine has no interest or possibly no further involvement in the affairs on earth is an empowering notion to humans who seek power and freedom, but it does not reflect the truth.
The interest of the divine being, the Creator is reflected in the invested wisdom, power, love, and justice to set up the entire architecture of nature. Nature too needs sustaining power, just as it does need a creative power.
The truth that can be understood by observation is: the divine, the Creator, has interest in His creation, but He also does not have the insecurities of humans who seek to hold on to power. No one, not even nature – if it were an intelligent entity – can challenge the authority of the Creator, for nature is just a small expression of the Creator’s power. The nature around us does not have a mind or some conscious will, (Creatures, on the other hand, are capable of expressing instincts and ingenuity) but it does express the mind of the Divine Creator. For this reason, it is very hard to alter nature or throw it off-balance. The internal versatility of nature is one of its greatest defenses. But it begs the basic question: Why would we want to do that? We should be thankful for the continuity in nature.
The natural order continues, and that is how justice ought to be
Justice is often perceived as a disruption because we often think of justice as punishment. Justice could perhaps be better understood as that which, makes all things work together in order and harmony. To that end, occasional disruptions may happen or may be needed to be brought about – by the divine being, the Creator, or by His foremost intelligent creation on earth, man.
Some hope for divine intervention in earthly affairs, but would not rather look at the divine pattern in the natural order of things. There is the possibility that, the natural order of today among the creatures is, an adaptive response to the altered conditions on earth. (The Bible and other ancient texts speak of a global flood. And seeing the uniqueness of the earth in comparison with the known solar system and universe, a global flood makes good sense). We may not understand the way things were on earth and what the natural order of things was, but there is a fundamental ability within humans to imagine what it would have been like in the pre-flood earth. Human thoughts seem to go toward the narrative of Adam and Eve in Paradise.
It is of greater interest to see, why some humans are willing to imagine a peaceful, perfect beginning, while others are inclined to believe in chaos being the mother of present order. There is a fundamental difference in preference, in perception, in interpretation…and it is not free from personal desire.
And if we are inclined to believe in chaos and disorder in the beginning, we are also inclined to believe ourselves to be the products of chaos and disorder. This belief perpetuates in thoughts, words, and actions that redefine the passage to peace! As religions speak of judgment and destruction as the way to peace, human interpretation of life and the order of nature does not present a different option. The tendency toward violence and an appetite for destruction are seen as constants, be it from the Divine or be it from human. The objective of peace, and the method of achieving that peace also show resemblance. It is the ability where, the Divine and fleshly human stand far apart!
Somewhere beyond the act of justice is, the hope of peace. If an act of justice fails to establish peace, it will later be perceived as not justice, but as injustice. Going back to the natural order of things, there are examples. Predators hunt for food, and those very predators die and return to the dirt in which grows the food for the animals they hunt. The cycle of life and death makes all actions meaningful when, seen in their totality over spans of time. The justice is seen with eyes of patience.
Acts of justice cannot be examined on the scale of individualism, but they will be subjectively understood at the individual level. Even if it were possible, it is extremely difficult at the human level to find absolute agreement. As long as this disagreement remains in the realm of human interaction through dialogue, it is possible to have one kind of unity. This kind of unity has a fragmented society, joined together by individuals of common interests. It is not the unity of agreement. And that is why, in human society – given the freedom and thinking abilities of man – following the natural order of things is also a limited success.
The challenge from individual freedom to think
Individuals deserve the freedom to think. Individual freedom is a challenge to the order. And it based on general order, not on individual interpretation, that systemic justice is perceived as existent or non-existent. Social order, if attempted to be brought to the level of individual satisfaction of intelligent humans cannot survive. At the end of a matter, we find some humans broadly agreeing and some broadly disagreeing with the outcome, but how hard it is for every person to agree on every detail of the outcome!
The way of nature is designed, not to be specific down to the individual creature. In accord with the consciousness of freedom of each creature, it has freedom given to it. Humans are most aware of loss of freedom. A tree on the other hand, is rooted to the ground and does not share the human ability to consciousness; it is not conscious of what it is to walk or be free. How freedom is apportioned to each creature according to its ability and consciousness is a marvellous demonstration of the Creator’s justice!
It is easy to see, humans have greater awareness of freedom and also greater use of it. They are, by God, granted these freedoms. Human society and its limited understanding of order limits human freedom. At the same time, the level of human freedom and awareness thereof needs to be matched by a sense of responsibility. This sense of personal responsibility is crucial to maintaining order and peace. A good system of education will endow its members with just such a sense of responsibility, just such an awareness.
Seeing nature in context of the Creator
If nature is seen without the existence of a Creator, the entire understanding, the entire perception, and all the conclusions will be thus affected. Seen in context of the Creator, the sense of purpose and the awe for the entire order cannot be withheld.
The design, the expression of art, is evident in the natural world. A sense of justice is evident in the natural order of things. To consider it an accident, an accumulation of purposeless forces without any meaning is not reasonable. We are free to perceive, free to conclude, but we cannot objectively deny the existence of life as it is. Life is! Why, how, to what end?…these are questions each man must find opportunity to ponder. Our answers could be different, but nothing falls out of the realm of the One who created the human mind, and the natural order of things!