In my view, we all need to be humble in measuring what little we actually know against the vastness of what we contemplate. We need all the help we can get in our attempts to make sense of a vastness which a great and respected scientist has not long ago admitted may be beyond our comprehension. (He could be wrong, of course!) We need to co-operate with one another, as we all go about honing and sharpening the particular lenses through which we look out at mystery.
We need the perspectives of rationalist, reductionist science. But we also need the perspectives of those non-rational dimensions of the ceaseless human journey towards understanding where we came from, why we are here, and what, if anything, it all means. The great myths, the great religions, the arts – all these also give us a partial glimpse of The Big Why.
So my Really Big Why is this:
WHY can we not learn to respect each other’s different lenses/disciplines, instead of – as so often happens – descending irrationally to the primitive level of the tribal carnivores from which we have slowly evolved over the last 100,000 years, and taking up fundamentalist, tribal positions – in which the futile attempt to declare only one lens right and all others wrong, is doomed forever to utter failure?
An example of a body of knowledge which seems to attract such fundamentalist irrationality is the great and ancient art and science of astrology.
It has combined those realms of logos (reason) and mythos (imagination, story-telling, creating of metaphors which help us to live with our deep flaws as humans, as well as celebrating our wonderful creativity) for at least six thousand years, since, in Arthur Koestler’s vivid words from “The Sleepwalkers”:
“Six thousand years ago, when the human mind was still half asleep, Chaldean priests were standing on their watchtowers, scanning the stars.”
So I found it most refreshing, as a life-long appreciator of the wonders of science, to have read Lord Rees’ admission that we may never be able to decode the universe. But let’s pool all our knowledge, shall we, on both sides of the current mythos/logos divide, to enable us to concentrate on what unites us – rather than what divides us.
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400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page
6 thoughts on “My Really Big “Why?””
When I lift up my eyes
to the sky,
I see God’s creation
arrayed on high.
The stars and the moon
and the sun…
all made by God,
each and every one.
What else do
my eyes see,
when they look
through the galaxy?
God does exist,
He is all wise,
this is revealed
to my eyes.
Thank you Connie! Beautifully expressed….
8.11.11 – via LinkedIn:
Laurie Corzett (Independent Writing and Editing Professional) wrote:
“It is an expanding universe”
……..as far as we know, thus far…. The Greek philosopher Xenophanes wrote thousands of years ago, that even if we ever came upon Absolute Truth we would never know it, for ” all is but a woven web of guesses”. I wish some of our contemporary scientists exhibited that level of humility. Thanks, Laurie
Because incomprehensibility frightens people, therefore, they must use whatever reason they can come up with to explain what they don’t know. If someone disagrees with them, because they know their reason to have been a desperate reach, they get more anxious and fight the person with the divergent logic in order to maintain their fictional stance as unchallenged. Winning a fight makes them feel more secure.
Personally, I have always loved mystery…..it’s where we come from, and where we go….thanks for your insightful comment.