Final Answers

NOT LONG AGO I listened to an astrophysicist talk fascinatingly about the extraordinary strides science has made in understanding such things as the origin of the universe, the nature of matter, the relationship of space to time, and he spoke with such conviction and authority that I found myself asking him finally if he could conceive of a time, maybe a hundred years hence, when all his answers to these great questions might look as primitive and inadequate as the theories of, say, medical science a hundred years ago look to us now. His reply was unabashed. He said that as far as he was concerned, these answers that modern science has reached are final answers, and all we need now is time and money enough to continue research into their ramifications and implications. Nobody could be less qualified than I am to pass judgment on the findings of science at any level, but because I know that, like all answers, these scientific answers are expressed in words and in numbers, which I take to be only another form of words, I simply cannot believe them to be final. It is as impossible for me to believe that the words even of scientific genius can say all there is to say about the origin of the universe as it is impossible for me to believe that the words even of Sophocles or Shakespeare can say all there is to say about human tragedy or the words even of Jesus Christ can say all there is to say about God and about our lives under God. Part, at least, of what I believe the New Testament means by calling Jesus himself the Word of God is that in the final analysis not even the most authentic and inspired words he ever spoke could exhaust the mystery he came to reveal, and that when he proclaimed not "What I say is the truth" but, instead, "I am the truth," he meant, among other things, that the truth cannot be fully caught in any expression of the truth in words but only in the great eloquence and complexity and simplicity of his own life. 

-Originally published in A Room Called Remember

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