“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
Each year when I presented Einstein’s view on the “Mysterious,” at least one person was offended. “Who is he?” he/she would ask, “to determine who was fit to live or not.” They had been unable to comprehend that he was referring to a “spiritual” death.
When I presented St. Augustine’s original version of “The Big Bang Theory,” the students were understandably amazed by his brilliance. They were astounded that he arrived at his theory 1200 years before Galileo and 1600 years before Edwin Hubble discovered the “Big Bang Theory.” The boys were often so thoroughly baffled that they reacted with frustration, at times even a bit anger. Anger is often a response to things that we cannot comprehend.
In 1929, based on measurements on forty different galaxies, Hubble concluded that the galaxies were expanding away from each another. Einstein favored “The Steady State Theory” and his response was, “The circumstances of an expanding universe irritate me…To admit such possibilities seems senseless.”
Although Einstein reacted angrily at first, he finally conceded to his mathematical error and the evidence for a finite, expanding universe. NASA scientist Robert Jastrow observed: “Einstein realized that if the universe was expanding away from a point, then it had a beginning at that point. If the universe had a beginning then it must have a ‘Beginner’, he surmised. This discovery disturbed Einstein so much that for a time he included an imaginary mathematical ‘cosmological constant’ to his formula. He did this to make the effect of the expanding universe go away. He later stated that this was the biggest error of his entire career.”
Eventually, Einstein grudgingly abandoned his hypothesized force and acknowledged “the necessity for a beginning and the presence of a superior reasoning power.”
However, I suspect that there was something more troubling to the guys. They had attended school for nearly 13 years and had come to rely on books and teachers to provide answers to all of their questions. When I was asked how the universe was created, I responded that I didn’t have a clue. I reminded them that they had to memorize the “law” of conservation of matter/energy, which states that matter can not be created or destroyed. Therefore, either it must have always been here or some mysterious power, being, or process created it. When I told them that, on his deathbed, Einstein smiled and said, “But I still wonder, how can something come from nothing,” they were amused but not satisfied.
The girls, on the other hand, usually found the boys’ behavior puzzling if not humorous. They not only seemed comfortable with the “ultimate enigma,” they seemed to enjoy it. I don’t know if this is due to gender-specific, intuitive or learned behavior, or the result of females being better able to integrate both sides of their cerebral hemispheres.
Perhaps because of their deeply embedded connection to Mother Nature, it was easier and more natural for them to “stand rapt in awe” and translate and communicate the lessons Mother Nature had for them.
Excerpt: BOFAW. “She replied, “Aw, come on, Tom, can’t you see that EEE-ROW-SHUN made this place? ”The girls burst out laughing, locked arms, and skipped forward. Tom looked at us a little sheepishly and said, ‘Ha-ha, that’s pretty funny; erosion did it.’”