On the Destruction of the Universe as We Know It

There's a concept in certain branches of (occasionally Christian, usually stoic) philosophy which is now referred to as “the best of all possible worlds.” (As described by Leibniz.) Basically, it's an assertion that, in spite of all the problems we face, we're still better off than we would be in any other situation. (This is related to a certain medieval outlook, like Augustine's, wherein most suffering in the world is actually a reason to praise God, who punishes the unjust and maintains a perfect order in all things.)

My truck is a good example of the best of all possible worlds. It's dirty and noisy and smelly most of the time, but it works.

In the summer of 2004, the truck started to have random and infrequent problems, where at high throttle the engine would lose power. I took it to a dealership, and they couldn't find anything wrong. Things settled down again, so I carried on. Fast-forward to a few months ago, and I started having trouble again. On the 2nd, the truck nearly did fail me.

It took me nearly a week of evening tinkering in Grandpa's shop, but by the grace of God I stumbled onto a solution. After trying everything except tearing apart the fuel pumps, I found several pinhole-sized leaks corroded out of the bottom of a sediment collector (a small canister in-line between the tank and the filter.)

RTV sealant has fixed my truck.

Now, to deduce an explanation from these results:
The problem started back in '04 when I was briefly experimenting with a diesel “conditioner” additive, which is supposed to make the engine “run better.” While it was cleaning injectors and lubricating pumps and so on, the additives dissolved some of the sludge in the bottom of the collector and loosened whatever was stopping those tiny holes. Air was then free to be sucked into the fuel supply, which puts a real damper on things for pumps and high-pressure injection. Fortunately, this unclogging wouldn't last long, as the canister was still full of dirt, rust, flakes of tank liner and other forms of fuel contaminant (that's what the sediment collector is for.) The most recent problems could have been caused by an enlarging of the holes through rapid corrosion, or perhaps from new winterizing additives that UFA (my fuel supplier) has been using this season.

My truck stopped working because the naturally-occurring balance of dirt, grime and mechanical force was disrupted by a human action with progressive intentions.
When we try to fix what isn't really broken, we only make things worse.

To make a sermon out of this comedic affair:
God isn't obsessive-compulsive. He made his creation very very good, but he did not make it in a way we would understand as “perfect.” So, the next time you see something in your world that doesn't look quite as optimal as it could be, reflect on your intentions and think twice before you upset the divine order of the universe.


Naomi said...

Hmmmmm... interesting theology to pull out of the truck incident... Would it be appropriate to sum up by saying if it ain't broke, don't fix it?
Perhaps not. On further reflection, I think I just broke my reflector & will have to get back to you. (Yes, my mind is still like lightning.)

Daniel Jackson said...

That's a good way to sum up the implications, but stoicism is most powerful when it changes the way you think about everything. It can also be dangerous for those reasons-especially when the things you do are very important, and there are real problems to fix.