Certainty is the Devil


“Certainty is the Devil.” So states JD Richter, as portrayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, in the Halle Berry fronted series, Extant. Extant is produced by Steven Spielburg’s Amblin Entertainment. When Oscar winner Berry was attached to the series, it make a stir in the entertainment community. The sci-fi concept is set in the future, with Berry as an astronaut who finds herself connected with aliens, and possibly an alien invasion. Government conspiracies and threats of totalitarian rule soon ensues.

The show was a bit slow in its inaugural season, but the addition of Morgan and a revamped story line made it a must see this summer. The season finale airs tomorrow night. Morgan is his usual compelling self – this time a renegade bounty hunter with a better sense of justice than anyone in power. He has proved an excellent complement to the brilliant and heartfelt astronaut, Molly Woods. One aspect the series has relayed so well is the gray areas in the world, especially in regards to government, politics, protectionism, and what it means to be human. The near future, as many conveniences as it offers, is not an Eden where technology and science have made it easy to know right and wrong. If anything, moral certainty seems even further removed from reality. It is the people who have no room for doubt who make the biggest mistakes. And thus Richter offers the aphorism, “Certainty is the Devil.”

I can’t help but think of Kim Davis, the Kentucky Clerk of Court who has violated a court order to fulfill the responsibilities of her government position and issue marriage licenses because her brand of Christianity does not believe people of the same gender should be married. She is as certain as the day is long. This is the case in spite of being on her fourth marriage, and having conceived by one man while married to another.

Certainty is the Devil. Even Jesus seemed to realize this. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is that of the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30). She is a non-Jewish woman with a critically ill daughter. She begs Jesus to heal her daughter, but he tells her that he has come for his own people. Who cannot think of the refugee and immigration crises around the world today when reading these words? Yet, she refutes his lack of concern for her plight, and he changes his mind. Yes, the Son of God, recognizes this foreign woman as a child of God and changes his mind. Her daughter is healed.

Jesus himself understood certainty was of the devil.

History is filled with stories of people who are certain, who refuse to listen to the experiences of others. Their certainty takes precedence over law, social norms, reason, experience, or relationships. It is the story of men who knew they were created in God’s image and should rule over women, who were seen as only a poor imitation of men. It is the story of people who found verses in the Bible that justified enslaving hundreds of thousands of people due to skin color. It is the story of people who want to protect people like themselves, regardless of the dire situations of other humans. It is the story of people who believe they alone know right and wrong, and that others should follow their dictates.

Of what am I certain? I am certain that each and every person in the world is a child of God and should be treated as such. I am certain that not one of us is God and fully knows what God thinks. I am certain that each one of us will find ourselves surprised in the great beyond to learn about some of God’s ideas that we have chosen to ignore. I am certain I don’t have all the answers, but I am called to struggle with the difficulties of the human condition and the big issues in the world. Certainty is the Devil.