Bob Schwartz

Tag: chaos

Chaos and Order in the Bible

The most important section of the Old Testament, even for non-readers and non-believers, is the beginning, the stories of creation up to the appearance of people. (Stories plural, because there are two different versions of creation in Genesis.)

The second thing that happens in the Bible is that God brings order. But the first thing is the chaos from which that order is brought, chaos presumably also created, and created first.

For most of our religions and their histories, this task of putting matters in good order has been a primary mission. Protocols, hierarchies, calendars, rules. In imitation of God. Orderliness is next to godliness. Order, though, in religion and in our lives, can take on the color of compulsion.

Chaos not only preceded order in the Bible, it became a continuing theme. People are constantly getting lost and tossed around, in floods, in deserts. Being found or finding a way is presumed to be the highest value. And yet the very first moment is not just chaos, but created chaos. Not just a necessary predicate, but a necessary ongoing and perpetual element. No lost, no found.

Craving Chaos

There are those who crave chaos, and some who create it when they don’t find it. Often they are those with low tolerance for boredom and regularity. They are like explorers and adventurers, who go places and do things that others question: Why are you doing this and why does it always have to be the hard way?

This isn’t good or bad. We need such people, because their constant engagement with challenges can result in remarkable learning, insight, and progress. That is, chaos is the nature of things, and dealing with it is a highly valuable skill. But it remains that those who find value in at least modest regularity and order might find all that occasionally troublesome.