Why Mystery Is Necessary

By David Valentine, co-founder of Rethink and partner/practitioner of the Veritas Lifestyle and Veritas Life Adventures


A couple years back I was talking with a dear friend who claimed to be an agnostic for years. I asked him if he had come to any conclusions? He said, "I've actually come to the conclusion that I'm an atheist."

"Well...that must be comforting to have figured it out," I said.

His response was unnerving, "Actually it's quite depressing. There's nothing beyond this, and I've figured out how the universe works."

What was so interesting was…I, as a Christian, had come to the exact same spot. I believed in Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, Church, the resurrection, and I was miserable. I believed I knew how the universe worked.

Life had lost its mystery. I was depressed, and slowly the pendulum began to swing the other direction—questioning everything I thought was for certain.

Mystery, it seems, is a necessary element for the human soul to thrive. When we fall prey to the idea that we have this world figured out our soul begins to shrivel and die. It doesn't matter if we come from a religious perspective or non-religious perspective—this belief system is toxic.

The philosopher from Ecclesiastes says of God, 'He has put eternity into mankind’s heart...

An infinitude of time and space are dwelling within the finite beings of men and women. So of course we become depressed when we believe we have it all figured out, because it goes against an intrinsic voice deep in our being that whispers, "There is more.

This is why my parents used to set a place at the table for my imaginary friend when I was 3. For a child there is most certainly something or someone more than meets the eye. The universe is a great mystery, and they are just scratching the surface.

The problem is we ‘grow up’, our creativity wanes, and awe for life shrivels.

The solution to my depression was subatomic particles.

The world had lost its wonder, until I began to further examine how the world works at its smallest levels. Growing up we are all indoctrinated with Newton's understanding of the universe functions. An object will stay at rest or remain in motion until an outside force acts it upon. A + B = C. The world is predictable and acts in a certain set of predefined ways.

Which generally works in our every day lives. However, at the subatomic level, Newton's laws don't apply. Electrons do not rotate around the nucleus in defined rings, but rather appear in one location and then appear in another location. They do this without passing through the distance in between the two locations where it was seen. Not to mention the location in which it appears has no predictability.

Atoms are made up of 99.9% empty space. So if all of the empty space in atoms were removed the entire universe (Every living thing, planets, solar systems, galaxies) would fit in a sugar cube.

If two subatomic particles are merged together and then torn apart they would maintain an awareness of the other after their separation. They would mimic—it's hypothesized—one another's movements.

The universe is more bizarre, out of whack, and crazy than our daily lives would like us to believe. When brilliant subatomic physicists say things like, "Yea....we don't know why it happens that way" it tells me something about God.

God is bigger than our conceptions of him. We can use very specific language about Him and yet, we need more poetry than specifics. Because we don't know everything about Him, the universe, or the subatomic world.

I found myself walking out of depression this Spring as I slowly began to embrace the overwhelmingly beautiful truth that I don't know everything.

The universe, and God, is bigger than that.