Magic and Mystery
We have all probably been exhorted at some point in our lives to walk by faith, but why ignore the physical evidence? Why not use the tools we have? Why ignore all that we have learned?
The modern humanists would have us believe that we invented the idea of walking by faith as a way of dealing with our ignorance of the world. The unexpected makes us afraid and we need a story to tell ourselves. What else can we do when the world around us does not behave according to our predictions? When we experience pain as a result of walking by sight (navigating by what we see and what we know) we are forced to find another way, right? I don’t think the humanists have it right.
Our understanding of the physical world around us has gotten much better over the years. The models we use to predict its behavior have gotten more accurate. We have figured out how to avoid some of the pain that we previously endured at the hands of our own ignorance. We have made tremendous gains… at least for some of us… some of the time. Of course, all the models are wrong. They always expire sooner or later. As we learn more about the world, we realize that we don’t quite have it right. We are slow to accept data that doesn’t fit our models, but at some point there is just too much of it and we have no choice. Then we make a new model that fits the latest set of observations. These scientific revolutions have been going on for centuries and will continue on into the future (The Structure of Scientific revolutions – this book will change your view of what science is).
It turns out that we have always, and will always, be ignorant in the face of an infinite universe. That is as it should be. We can stop looking for a Theory of Everything, though it will have its day in the sun… before the next revolution.
We explore and learn and grow and sometimes we do some good, but the magic will always be found outside of our systems and models. There is something deeper that we are after. There is a magic that we have tasted here and there and it presents itself outside of our concrete knowledge. Walking by faith is the only way to discover it.
Predictable cause-and-effect relationships will never deliver. If they did, we would find deep satisfaction in spending time with simple machines. No, we would much prefer to spend time with collections of 100 billion interconnected neurons that can make 20 quadrillion calculations per second (AKA people). These walking mysteries are opportunities to tap into the wonder that can be found in this universe.
Mystery is the whole point.
Faith isn’t a coping mechanism, it is how we interact with the great mystery and it is the only way to live.