Knowing And Mystery

Apr 1 2012 @ 8:44pm

From a review of Marilynne Robinson's new collection of essays:

The scientific exploration of the apophatic—the dizzying study of 'dark matter, dark energy, the unexpressed dimensions proposed by string theory, the imponderable strangeness described by quantum theory'—is seen as a partner of religious devotion. After all, 'to say that the universe is extremely large, and that the forces that eventuate in star clusters and galaxies are very formidable indeed, seems deficient—qualitatively and aesthetically inadequate to its subject.' The stronger language of 'God' and 'the soul' and 'the miraculous' is required.

Along these lines, Robinson offers some notes on a theory of fiction, a poetics. Fiction, done well, is an effort to participate in this religious attention to 'the integrity and mystery of other lives.' …

Whatever else these new essays are—and they are many wonderful and interesting things—they are Robinson's determination not to diminish mystery, not to make foolishness of the world or the human person by forcing theories to limit our wonder at God, the human brain and mind, the cosmos. The essays are tonic for our adoration-starved religious and scientific cultures, bracing in their critique and hope-giving in the alternative way of seeing that they open up for us.