By: Howard Cole
3 Theories of Everything by Ellis Potter. Destiny Media. 111 pages. 2012
Children love to ask really hard questions. “How small is small?” “How far is far?” “Why did God make bees that sting?” Do you still ask big questions or have you grown up and given up looking for answers?
One day Jesus called to a child and put the child in the middle of his friends. He said in Matthew 18:3-4 3 …"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Ellis Potter, the author of 3 Theories of Everything, is like a little kid asking big questions. He wrote this profound, short book to ask what he calls “absolute” questions. These are questions that make you think down to the bottom and out to the edges. He acknowledges that many adults have lost their confidence in how everything fits together so they settle for a smaller reality that fits into a narrow cultural context.
His goal for the book is for the reader to understand three absolute realities: Monism, Dualism and Trinitarianism. He makes a strong case for Trinitarianism as the absolutely best theory of everything.
An absolute is category so big that everything else fits into it. Absolutes are theories of everything. They each offer a story that explains how reality was once perfect, how it got broken, and then reveals the solution for how to fix the wreck of reality so that it is perfect again.
Many of your friends may not want to think about absolutes. Maybe you don’t want to either. They are uncomfortable for our selfish egos. If there is absolute truth, then we are responsible to something or someone outside of ourselves. Absolutes challenge the myth that we invent ourselves, our identities and our meaning. Even the person that says dogmatically “There are absolutely no absolutes” has used an absolute to deny absolutes! That’s absolutely ridiculous.
And yet, we are to love our neighbors and love means we must first understand how they see reality.
Here’s a taste of Potter’s three theories of everything. Maybe the taste will tempt you (in a good way!) to read the whole book and start asking questions again. You might even better understand your neighbor and love them with the love of Christ.
Monism: The belief in one One. Don’t mix this up with monotheism which is the belief in one God. Monism believes that there is a total unity that is the ground of everything. In other words “All is one.”
- The world does seem to have a strong sense of unity: One sun, one moon, and one cycle of four seasons
- Diversity and differences seem unstable
- Original reality was unity, we suffer when we live into the illusion of diversity so the solution to suffering is to realize perfect unity again.
Potter agrees that this theory of everything is attractive and even has a thread of truth in it. But he points out that with this absolute theory, relationships are an illusion. If relationships are an illusion then love is impossible because love needs of lover, a beloved and love.
Dualism: Absolute reality consists of opposites in harmony.
- The world seems to display opposites in harmony: Light-dark, up-down, pleasure-pain, hard-soft, male-female
- Suffering comes when we allow an imbalance in this harmony
- But do we always want there to be kindness and cruelty or love and hate? Have evil and good always existed or did good exist without evil at some point in history?
- When we look at the world we see both unity and diversity
- The Christian Scriptures reveal a God who is perfectly unified as one God and yet God is perfectly diversified in the three persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
- God alone is God and God is not alone
- Relationships matter, especially relationships within a hierarchy of love (parents and children, husbands and wives, elders and the members of the church)
- A hierarchy refers to relationships of love and authority (authority is the power and responsibility to define reality)
Potter concludes that Trinitarianism is the best theory of reality. The original perfection is a unity of three persons who are other-entered in a relational reality of love. We suffer because we have turned things around and have become self-centered dead people. Salvation is God coming into creation and giving Himself in order that people can receive the power to be re-created as other-centered living people.
The book concludes with 45 intriguing questions and answers about the three theories of everything.
What do you think? Can I ask you one last question? How about considering to read this excellent book so that you can grow up by becoming young again? I’d be absolutely overjoyed it you did!