We all want to be certain, we all want proof,
but the kind of proof we tend to want —
scientifically or philosophically demonstrable proof
that would silence all doubts once and for all —
would not in the long run, I think,
answer the fearful depths of our soul at all.
The problem, I’m told, with being a hammer is that everything looks like a nail. To the surgeon, the cure must always involve surgery; the insurance salesman has but one solution – more insurance. To the successful scientist, everything belongs in a test tube.
Is science the platform by which we should evaluate every aspect of existence? Science is a tool, and a useful one at that, but still just a tool. Many tools are useful, but no one tool can be used in every situation – we need a complete toolbox. Many scientists would have us believe that their field of study is the Swiss Army Knife of worldview tools; that every possible task and every possible situation can be evaluated with that one tool. But we know better.
The wooden, lifeless approach of science works fine for some matters. But the matters of our inner life, our yearnings, and our eternal importance cannot be evaluated with their tool, no matter how many pliers, blades, or toothpicks it has. We need more than their one tool in our toolbox in order to uncover the mysteries of life.
Why does a rose smell sweet? Science would tell us it is due to the make-up of the petals or some such nonsense. That is not why, it is how. It does nothing to give us the reason for the matter but only provides the mechanics of the matter. That is not a satisfying explanation and our inner self testifies to the fact that there is more to life’s questions than science’s wooden answer.
Science needs a reality check – it does very little to explain anything. While science uses some scientific sounding words to describe almost anything under the sun, really very little can be explained by science. Described, yes; Explained, no. An explanation, you see, is much more than overlaying scientific words onto a mechanic process. We must demand more.
Beneath our clothes, our reputations, our pretensions, beneath our religion or lack of it, we are all vulnerable both to the storm without and to the storm within, and if ever we are to find true shelter, it is with the recognition of our tragic nakedness and need for true shelter that we have to start.
It is God with whom we have to do. People go for long stretches of time without being aware of that, thinking it is money, or sex, or work, or children, or parents, or a political cause, or an athletic competition, or learning with which they must deal. Any one or a combination of these subjects can absorb them and for a time give them the meaning and purpose that human beings seem to require. But then there is a slow stretch of boredom. Or a disaster. Or a sudden collapse of meaning. They want more. They want God. When a person searches for meaning and direction, asking questions and testing out statements, we must not be diverted into anything other or lesser.
I wonder if this very hunger we have to be loved is a sign of another kind: not of God’s transcendence, but of His immanence, His being with us. I wonder if our lovesickness is, in fact, God’s image, broken, gaunt but still potent, within us. It is the footfall or thumbprint of Another, evidence of Things Unseen, rumors of a Visitor in the camp.