Certainty versus mystery: where do you stand?

As anyone with even half a braincell tuned into current affairs will know, we are living in an era where humans seem to need the strong seasoning of certainty even more than ever.

Militant atheism seems hell bent (pardon the expression, a tad inappropriate in this context, eh what?!) on ramming down our collective throats their conviction that religion is pernicious rubbish. And militant religious fanatics have been turning to their usual tools, honed to a fine art  over many bloodsoaked centuries, of persecution and/or slaughter in the name of whatever faith they aver is ‘the one and only truth’.

When I grow angry, and weary of those pointless, destructive posturings, I turn to one of my enduringly favourite quotations for perspective and comfort, from the scientist David Eagleman  :

” But when we reach the end of the pier of everything we know, we find that it only takes us part of the way. Beyond that all we see is uncharted water. Past the end of the pier lies all the mystery about our deeply strange existence: the equivalence of mass and energy, dark matter, multiple spatial dimensions, how to build consciousness, and the big questions of meaning and existence….good scientists are comfortable holding many possibilities at once, rather than committing to a particular story over others. In light of this, I have found myself surprised by the amount of certainty out there….”

Northern Lights Treshnish Isles

Northern Lights Treshnish Isles

200 words copyright Anne Whitaker/David Eagleman 2013
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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4 responses to “Certainty versus mystery: where do you stand?

  1. This is simplly a wonderful quotation, wise and marked with the kind of humility typical of those who’ve walked to the end of the pier. I think of Loren Eiseley, for example. I’ve been reading him for years, and find his work, too, a nice antidote for the… um… silliness that abounds.

    And then there’s the American marvel, Iris Dement. You may or may not know her. She’s a bit of an acquired taste, and not a slicked-up package at all. But she has a bit to say about mystery.

    Let the Mystery Be

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    • Thanks, Linda. I was so happy to come across this quotation since it articulated what I think/feel with such articulacy, depth, simplicity – and humility, as you say.

      Loren Eiseley was a great inspiration to me in my late teens/early twenties and I commend his writing to anyone seeing this post. I have just lifted his ‘The Unexpected Universe’ off my bookshelves: amazingly, it is still with me after the many wanderings of my restless twenties.

      And I LOVED Iris Dement. So good to find a characterful folk singer with a great song to sing who doesn’t feel the need for botox, etc. She does a great nose wrinkling accompaniment as she socks it straight to us!

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  2. Thank you Anne.
    There is manifold wisdom about us if we look for it.

    The female American researcher and author P.M.H. Atwater will be worth reading and study as well,especially the two books “Beyond the Light” and “Future Memory.”

    Atwater is very objective (as well as having experienced quite extraordinary circumstances herself).She connects science, spirituality,religion,metaphysics, etc., into the same “web” of existence.

    It seems that Love is “the binding force” nevertheless.
    What we perceive as Love is but a shadow of the original Creator(also perceived as God/Christ-Consciousness).

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    • Thanks for this, Inger Lise. I’m sure readers will appreciate the recommendation of the Atwater books. It sounds from what you say as though she is moving in the same overall territory as us!

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