Science and mystery

2008/01/20 at 08:35

In his latest essay in The Christian Century, Gordon Atkinson explains why we need both science and mystery. As usual, Gordon expresses my sentiments more eloquently than I ever could:

Some people see the boundary between mystery and science as a battleground with barbed wire and trenches on either side. But I think that the place where our searching and empirical minds meet the mysteries of the world is the realm of worship and poetry. Before Adam and Eve, the world was chaos, like a vast unconscious mind with no boundaries and no definitions. The world itself hasn’t changed, but our human perspective is continually solving mysteries and creating new ones as fast as we can.
Our love of answers has always been nicely balanced against our penchant for awe and worship. Reality is both a thing to be conquered and also something to be worshiped. This is the human way.
I wonder when it was that science and religion stopped seeing each other as ancient twins of the human mind and started seeing each other as competitors. While I and others like me slog it out in the worshiping world of mystery, brother scientist is observing, collating and solving mysteries as fast as he can. I don’t want him to stop. I like the way he slays ancient gods. What I want is for us to embrace each other and walk though life together. He can solve old mysteries and I can celebrate the new ones.