If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear?
Does it make a sound, when no one is around?
That was, at one time, a great philosophical question put forth by many seeking to sound wise. How you answer the question, determines a lot about your worldview. In fact, asking the question also shows your worldview, as I hope to demonstrate.
If your view of life, the world, and all things that are in it dictate that man is the center of all that there is, that there is no supreme being, or even beings, behind it all, that all things are just random and without explanation, then no one heard the tree in the forrest unless they were within a good 75 yards of it. The tree, just fell.
Tree huggers everywhere are now lamenting the fallen tree. But why? Why lament that it fell and will now begin to break down, via weather and various insects and rodents? If things are nothing but random, then why show any emotion whatsoever to the fallen tree. It just happened. There is no explanation. There is no reason to ponder it. There is no reason to honor the tree. To do so, would be to give it some level of deity, and by doing that, we would no longer be true to our belief in a random universe.
I don’t hold this view.
If your view of life is that there is a supreme being, and that he set things in motion, and stepped back so that we could take care of everything, then it was our responsibility to hear the tree falling so that we could do something about it. In other words, all the ills in the world must be corrected by those who brought the ills into the world. Those who hold this view, try to say that we are responsible for the ills, but since we were born with some goodness, we then have the responsibility to fix those ills.
This is the predominant view today. This is why politics becomes religion for so many. We have the belief, on some level, that we can fix the things of the world with the right legislation, the right leaders, the right something.
How are we doing? Are our efforts in the world resulting in fewer trees falling in the forest all alone, and without notice? Not really. It seems we are reminded every year that our efforts to prevent the trees from falling, results in them being burned up through the yearly forest fires that would not have happened had we taken care of the forest, and the trees, properly.
Those who view the world this way should see their efforts for what they are: futile.
I don’t hold this view.
Then there are those who look to the God of Scripture for their view of the world. They don’t ask the question: “if a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear?” because they know the underlying assumption is wrong. The foundation of the question is that things happen in the world that no one notices.
Jesus, in talking about the need for the fear of God said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.”
The foundation of Christ’s statement is the God is sovereign over all things. He rules over all, and not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from His will. He had determined the number of days that the sparrow will fly, and when it will fall. There is no one square inch of the universe that He does not rule over, and direct, and govern.
This truth applies to the tree that fell. It fell in the forest exactly when He determined it to do so before the foundations of the world were laid. Before anything was set in motion, He planned the trees make up, its nature, its fruit, and the number of days it would grow, mature, and die.
These same truths apply to mankind. He has determined the number of days we will live. He knows exactly when we were to be conceived in our mother’s wombs, the number of days we would live, and the day in which we die. He is not sovereign over the trees and birds, but us as well.
Here is the reality that most would absolutely reject: He is our Creator. He can do with us as He pleases, and we, as His creation, really have no rights to question Him regarding this truth. We were all Created by Him, for His good pleasure.
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they [a]existed, and were created.” Revelation 4:11.
I do hold these views.
So what should we ask about the tree in the forest? There are a lot of questions? Why did it die? What caused it to fall? Why is there death in the world?
But to assume that the tree made no sound if no one was there to hear it, is to hold a faulty view of the world and the universe. It assumes that there is no God, no purpose, no order.
There is a God. He has ordered things as they will fall out with purpose, even though we may not see it or understand it. There is no randomness.
Since there is a God over all things, it would behoove us to learn His word, His way, and understand His righteousness because His declaration to us has also stated that He will judge us some day according to His standards of righteousness, not our own. Therefore, we should truly find out what that standard of righteousness is, and see where that takes us.
But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully… 1 Timothy 1:8