There are three types of galaxies: Elliptical, Spiral, and Irregular. We know galaxies are held together by the gravitational pull at their center, but what is most fascinating about Spiral galaxies in particular–like our own Milky Way–is that we don’t actually know what holds together those beautiful, reaching tendrils. There isn’t enough mass at the center for those outer stars to be kept together, and yet there they stay. There are many theories, such as the mysterious and unseen Dark Matter, but ultimately we cannot find what holds the stars together.
We know life has a beginning point, an initial spark–or maybe you prefer bang–but we cannot explain what started it. Sure we have complicated theories, but we cannot prove how life began.
We know an incredible amount about our bodies: how our brain processes love, how our sweat glands react to fear; yet, we also know there is more to being human than just our physical being. We recognize in another person…something…a certain spark that only exists in other humans: the soul, if you will. We have theories of what it may be and how its connected with our physical form, but we cannot reason our way to its existence.
With all our advances in knowledge and technology we still cannot find adequate proofs for some of life’s greatest questions.
Humanity tried to create our own humanistic answers for those big questions by telling tales. Myths of gods and goddesses, epic wars and stolen fire, greed and infinite vice and power. But we found these myths unsatisfactory.
Homer’s gods are corrupt, vain, and self-serving–exactly the kind of human invention that a later age would find childish and embarrassing
-The Twilight of Atheism By Alistair McGrath
Later we explained away our questions through a new god: Reason. At the height of the Enlightenment men believed everything true would be known through reason alone.
But this left us dissatisfied too.
We tend to vacillate between proclaiming human-like gods (made in our image), or the god of our mind. We say we either can know nothing and we try to satisfy our desire for truth by creating our own fairy tale versions of reality, or we say the truth is attainable, but it only exists in what we can touch and see.
We have drawn imagined lines between our heads and hearts, claiming we can know things only by one or the other. It’s a crime really, for in so doing we lose half our ability to understand. This is the mistake we make when we stratify learning, creating false hierarchies between science and stories, physics and poetry, math and music.
Our imagination is limited, science is limited, but that doesn’t mean we must be limited by them. We are drawn to science and study because this world is complex and glorious, the natural world calls to us not because it holds all the answers, but because it points us to the greatest truth. Good stories call to us, but not because truth is relative and all stories are true, or because we shut out reason, but because they work with our reason, and even fiction can point us to truth, sometimes better than non-fiction.
Fiction takes an idea we know and makes it fresh in our minds, it brings things alive in a way bare facts can’t.
We need facts and stories.
We see and touch the world around us, but the world is also a story. It is one story in particular, a story told not by humanity, but by God.
What is most compelling about Christianity is that it is a worldview that speaks to these components of who we are and how we know things simultaneously. No other religion offers such a philosophically intriguing composition, with rich historical support, relevant across centuries without altering doctrine, while also singing to our hearts with compassionate and compelling answers to our biggest questions. Christianity gives us a story, and most glorious of all, it’s a true story. All the mythical, fictional stories we love give us glimpses of how much our hearts desire hope. A hope that is not disappointed by the true story given to us by God. As C.S. Lewis wrote in a letter to his friend,
Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with the tremendous difference that it really happened.
Christianity gives us something different from other religions or the religion of Science. It tells us that God holds the universe together, he began the spark of life, and he is the only way to navigate the deepest, and darkest trenches of our souls. He gives us the answers to humanity’s greatest problems by giving himself. He doesn’t explain this with a step-by-step illustration, or bullet points, rather he gives us poetry and prose, history and letters. He speaks to every facet of who we are as humans, from our heartbeats to our firing synapses, because he’s the one who designed our hearts and minds to work together.
God tells us a story from our beginning to eternity. A story that weaves through the facts of the universe, from the mathematically precise spiral at the center of a sunflower or shell of a snail, to the spiral of our expansive galaxy. A story greater than any other story we’ve ever known. A true story. The only true story.