Binary Thinking: A Simple Lesson in Theology

Imagine you’re a robot with a binary brain, all 1’s and 0’s. 

Now picture yourself looking at a flower.

 You have two possible reactions: Either the flower means nothing to you—that would be a 0—or else you register some interesting fact about it: color, form, etc.—that would be a 1. Or course your reaction might be far more complex than that, yet it would still be coded as a series of 1’s and 0’s. 

Now imagine that, as a robot, you have a robot god. Like you, who are built in this god’s image, he (or it) also has a binary mind that makes simple binary choices which, however complex they may appear, are all signified by a series of 1’s and 0’s. 

At the end of your useful existence, your god will make one of these simple binary choices: whether to toss you on the junk pile—a 0—or else to rehabilitate you and so extend your life—a 1.

That’s how things would be in a simple robotic world. 

But wait: Isn’t that how things actually are in our supposedly complex real world? 

Try looking at a flower: Like it (1) or not (0)? Smell it (1) or not (0)? Admire its color (1) or not so much (0)? And so on. All this happens in the blink of an eye, creating an incredibly complex impression. Even so, it’s all 1’s and 0’s. 

Doesn’t this hold true for all of life? At any moment we have a choice, or a whole set of choices, as to how to think, what to do, how to feel, and so on. Life may seem far more complicated than this, but is it really? 

To be or not to be.
To do or not to do.
To forgive or not to forgive.
To believe or to doubt.
To love, or to stop short of loving. 

Similarly with God, in whose image we are made: In the last analysis He will make one final binary choice about us: eternal life (1) or junk pile (0). Up or down, right or left, sheep or goat. 

Isn’t it amazing what can be done with 1’s and 0’s? Theology, it turns out, is really quite simple, thanks to our Big Computer in the Sky. 

Next Post:  Practicing the Presence of People: An Introduction

free ebook
Posted in Blog and tagged , , .