While the author appears to have a tendency to generalize and go overboard in applying this idea, I think at root he has made a valid observation. Our own bodies have this “antifragile” quality. The way they become stronger, for instance, is by being subjected to stress. Lifting heavy weights breaks down muscles and when the body builds them back up it builds them stronger than they were before. Another biological example can be seen in the use of antibiotics. The abundant use of these drugs has subjected some bacteria to stress. This has resulted in some of them becoming resistant to those antibiotic drugs. The little germs have been stressed and as a result have become stronger. They are antifragile.
This book is not gospel but I think Taleb is onto something, and I know the book surely has something to say to followers of Jesus. We who have experienced the grace of Christ should, of all people, most be marked by antifragility. In fact, the Bible specifically identifies this as a quality of God’s people. Romans 5:3-5 says “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us.” We who have God’s Spirit pouring his love into our hearts continually should be people who can actually rejoice even in our difficulties, hurts, losses and the stresses of life for they make us stronger. The same idea is found in James 1:2-4. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” Doesn’t that sound like the very definition of antifragility?
Sadly I find in my own life that when the stresses and hurts come I have a strange tendency to forget all that. I start acting as though God has forgotten me and feeling as though some horrible and unfair thing has happened to me. No one who is healthy enjoys pain or loss, but I think we can change the way we think about such events and about how we will deal with them. I believe it will help if I begin to view stressful times through an “antifragile” lens. Perhaps it will make a difference in my attitude and my spirit if I can remember that the Spirit of Christ makes me antifragile. I believe it will make me more hopeful and positive in such times when I recall that such things are actually benefitting me if I will trust God and let him work. They will only make me stronger and more useful to God. Yes, I think it is definitely time for those of us who know Jesus to see ourselves as antifragile through his Spirit.