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.
There are big questions science doesn’t answer, such as why is there something rather than nothing? There can’t be a scientific answer to that because it’s the answer that precedes science. There are all sorts of questions like that which at the periphery of scientific inquiry but which wiggle in the mind like worms: the question “what am I, what is this word ‘I’”? Does it refer to anything? If you try to capture the “I”, you don’t capture it, you capture the object, in which case it’s a nothing, but it’s a nothing on which everything depends. But this nothing on which everything depends thinks of itself as free. This is a philosophical question that worries everyone, but you can’t formulate it.
Science is wonderful at raising questions. Some can be answered immediately; some will be answerable in the future through technological advance; and some will lie beyond its capacity to answer—what my scientific hero sir Peter Medawar (1915–87) referred to as “questions that science cannot answer and that no conceivable advance of science would empower it to answer.” What Medawar has in mind are what the philosopher Karl Popper called “ultimate questions,” such as the meaning of life. So does acknowledging and engaging such questions mean abandoning science? No. it simply means respecting its limits and not forcing it to become something other than science.
The Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955) put his finger on the point at issue here. Scientists are human beings. If we, as human beings, are to lead fulfilled lives, we need more than the partial account of reality that science offers. We need a “big picture,” an “integral idea of the universe” . . .
Scientific truth is exact, but it is incomplete.” We need a richer narrative, linking understanding and meaning. That is what the American philosopher John Dewey (1859– 1952) was getting at when he declared that the “deepest problem of modern life” is that we have failed to integrate our “thoughts about the world” with our thoughts about “value and purpose.”
So we come back to that haunting and electrifying sense of wonder at the world . . . I gradually came to realize that we need a richer and deeper vision of reality if we are to do justice to the complexity of the world and live out meaningful and fulfilling lives. So just what are we talking about? The quest for God.
An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or Practical reason is idiocy. If a man’s mind is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut. –C. S. Lewis
Art Galleries capture
His life in paintings
Libraries are lined with books
Exploring His thought.
Hospitals and schools
Are dedicated to His memory.
He is focus of controversy,
The rallying point of unity,
The object of love,
The subject of debate,
A basis of hope and the goal of lives.
No man interested in
The meaning of life
And its ultimate question
Can ignore Him.
He towers above
The giants of history.
To some He is an uneasy feeling
In times of silence;
To others He is a sunrise of hope
In a night of darkness.
To all, He is a challenge.
Jesus is the still point in a turning world
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.