Yesterday I had the opportunity to watch the newly released blockbuster, Interstellar. Far from being a pleasantly diverting "science fiction flick," this is a 21st century movie that powerfully touches upon newly raised questions that are being explored by today's scientists-- questions about multiple universes, wormholes, quantum space, black holes, the relativity of time.
I came out of the movie with my head spinning over just how little we human beings actually "know" about anything, and just how great a mystery life really is.
There was one line in the movie yesterday that really stood out for me. Lost in the chaos of the great unknown riddles of the universe, something about the very nature of the human condition that emerged as a constant pattern running throughout all the chaos: "We human beings yearn for one another." We are genetically "wired" for transcendence. We pine and we long for connection to others and we are incomplete by ourselves.
Interestingly enough, so-called "primitive" people understood something about this innate human yearning far before the dawn of the new age of quantum science. Primitive human beings were tribal. They didn't see themselves as separated individuals, but rather defined themselves as a relationship with others. Primitive peoples understood that they all belonged to one another and to a world of nature, and that it was all a great unknowable mystery.
Burt today we have supposedly evolved into a more sophisticated species with knowledge far advanced beyond that of those primitive tribes of bygone days. The focus today is on the "evolved" individual, separated and distinct from other human beings. The ethic of our so-called sophisticated and advanced culture is that of self-gratification; and narcissism is often the order of the day.
Many of the New Atheists of our day have also concluded that because of our highly developed and sophisticated science, there is no longer need for mystery because science can figure it all out.
Evolved humans are those who can "go it" alone and figure it all out by themselves? Today's scientists might beg to differ.
Maybe that's why I found a movie like Interstellar so fascinating because it pointed me to a deep truth that the more we know, the more we see how much we do not know.
The greatest scientific minds of the 21st century have in fact conceded that they can make sense of about 5% of what makes everything tick, the rest is all "mystery" - wormholes, relativity, black holes, quantum space. And even scientists have figured out that the only constant in the midst of all this chaos is the "yearning of the human heart" - a yearning to be connected to other human beings.
There is an ancient Taoist teaching from many centuries ago:
The universe and I came into being together,
and I and everything therein are one.
We yearn for one another because we "are" one another. When we are separated from one another we are cut off from our true nature. We are all caught up in a great, spiraling, cosmic mystery that goes well beyond our human understanding. Everything that "is" is fueled by love and another name for "Love" is "God."
Primitive "tribal" people understood this eternal truth, the wisdom teachers throughout the ages understood this eternal truth. The Buddha understood this; Jesus understood it. Maybe the newly emerging scientists of our own day will help us all to see this ancient eternal truth yet once again.
Who knows, today's scientists may indeed be the new theologians of tomorrow?