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TRUSTING AN ENGINEER – Dec.28

December 28, 2015

“As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you.”  Jeremiah 44:16

Not every problem requires an engineer.

Many problems can be solved by substituting calculations with trial and error.  Most people have experimented with trial and error problem solving.  You try one solution, then check to see if it worked.  If it didn’t, you try again, making a small adjustment in the variables.  By this method, one iterates their way into an approximate solution.  We have all trialed and errored our way into the perfect cookie recipe or a parking slot.

While trial and error may work for some problems, it is frowned upon in the design of buildings, bridges, refinery plants, etc.  Therefore, engineers are called upon to calculate solutions for these problems whose failure poses too great a risk to lives and pocketbooks.

Engineers are the ones who have the task of applying the current theories and laws of science to the problems of our everyday lives while keeping everyone safe.  Every day, people drink water from faucets, drive across bridges, fly in airplanes, and enter elevators.  Every day people trust their lives to the calculations of engineers.  Engineers who are placing 100% of their trust in the science of cause and effect.

This is my world.

I am an engineer by profession.  My education has been in engineering.  My work experience has been in engineering.  Over half of my life has been spent learning and practicing the art of engineering – cause / effect.  I am a firm believer in the laws of physics.  It is how I see the world.  I am more aware than most of how often we trust our lives to engineered solutions.  However, I know the limitations of our knowledge.  I have never completed a design with perfect knowledge of all the variables.  Engineers are just really good at buffering our lack of knowledge with factors of safety.

Yet, engineered solutions require at least a fundamental knowledge of causation.  If one does not know the cause, then we are left with mere trial and error solutions; very risky.

The following passage from Jeremiah reminded me of the importance of correctly identifying causation.

But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour drink offerings to her…(f)or then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster.  But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.  ~ Jeremiah 44:17-18

The Israelites incorrectly identified the cause of their prosperity.  They arrogantly thought that they knew the source of the food, prosperity, and safety they had experienced while worshiping the queen of heaven.  Having lost those blessings, they logically inferred that the cause of their desperate condition was an abandonment of the queen of heaven.  They got the cause wrong.

The Israelites proved that you will never get the desired effect by starting with the wrong causation.

Their knowledge was limited.

Today, many will arrogantly criticize the Israelites lack of knowledge by substituting science into the “queen of heaven” role.  However, we know that our knowledge of the physical universe is limited.  We also know that our knowledge of the spiritual world is limited, if one will admit that it even exists.

The limited knowledge of science does not rescue us from inferred causation.  Therefore, we don’t escape the risky world of trial and error by putting all of our trust in science.

The Israelites got themselves in trouble when they went outside the revealed knowledge of God.  They entered a world of trial and error with deadly consequences.  Their error is still a temptation today; maybe even more in these days dominated by science.

It is the temptation in every undergraduate science class;
It is the basis of most philosophical urges;
It is in the desire behind “what does this passage mean to me” question;
It is the allurement in religious “gray area” discussions;
It is the error lurking in every comparative religions class;
It is the comforting scratch to that troubling “meaning of life” itch.

We want to think that we have all the answers.
Knowledge is a comfort.
Intelligent decision making is empowering.

The reality is that most of our elegantly engineered solutions are merely an iteration toward a solution whose consequence has yet to be revealed.  However, no one knows the number of iterations that they will get, if any.

As Christians, we believe that there is only One who has complete knowledge; there is only One who knows all causation.  We believe that our eternity is dependent upon the right solution to the problem of our lives – sin.  We believe that the risk is too high to place our trust in limited knowledge and trial and error solutions.  We believe that God has given us the perfectly engineered solution in His son, Jesus Christ.  We believe that all the knowledge that we need to live in His engineered solution has been shown to us in His revealed word, the Bible.

One of the greatest stumbling blocks of mankind is intellectual arrogance; that refusal to acknowledge our limited knowledge and the resultant implications.

Intellectual humility is a gift that keeps us from wandering down the path of false causation.  It does not mean that we cease to study or investigate.  However, it means that we study from a basis of faith and not doubt.  It means that we investigate the mysteries of God in order to increase the treasures of belief, rather than balance the scales of unbelief.  Intellectual humility enables us to receive the perfect engineered solution.  It is the basis of faith.

There are limits to every mind.
We have to trust an engineer.
The risks are too great.

The engineer you trust will be either yourself or God.

Just remember, we will live with the consequences
of the solution  we choose to follow.
I am not going to trust that to iterations.

I choose Jesus Christ.

“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”  ~ G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving us an engineered solution.   Thank you for not leaving us in our limited knowledge.  Thank you for saving us from our trial and error solutions.  Lord, keep me from sliding back into intellectual arrogance.  Keep me from the temptation of modifying your revealed Word based on my limited understanding.  Humble my intellect so that I will trust you in all things.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

12 comments

  1. […] https://devotedlife.net/2015/12/28/trusting-an-engineer-dec-28/ as he reminds us of the place that God should take in our intellect and faith. […]


  2. Reminds me of the song: Life Is Like a Mountain Railroad


  3. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    Beautifully written. I love how he paired science and faith. Each video was so fun and interesting to watch.


    • Thanks for the reblog!


  4. Loved you analogy. Loved your videos. Sad you quoted Chesterton who was a Catholic heretic. May we always be faithful to our Great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!


    • I am glad that you liked the analogy. I don’t agree with a lot of Chesterton but I think he was onto some truth in his quote.


      • The only problem is when legitimate believers quote false teachers they gain legitimacy in the eyes of others and are then considered to be a source of truth. Thus the enemy then has an audience for wending his lies into their hearts and minds. We must ever be vigilant to only present the truth by those who are true to protect Christ’s beloved children, our brothers and sisters, and preserve the dispensing of the truth by making sure it is never mixed with a lie or never comes from the mouth of liars. May Christ equip us to stand faithful in all things. Amen!


  5. Well, I suck as an engineer. Always love it when the choice is simple. 😉

    That’s making lemonade out of lemons right there. Chuckle.


    • I am always in favor of the KISS principle. I hope you had a great Christmas!


      • Indeed I did, thank you. I hope you had the same good fortune.


  6. Awesome! #ILoveScience



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