The truth about facts
Facts are necessary but not enough. Facts are immutable but do not answer every question. Facts represent reality but not the full truth of life.
Here are some biological facts that live around and within me: Molecules form when two or more atoms form chemical bonds with each other, whether the atoms are the same or not.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide molecules (a carbon atom double-bonded to two oxygen atoms). As trees grow, the process of photosynthesis converts CO2 to carbohydrates, giving energy and life to the tree and releasing oxygen molecules.
All sentient beings on this planet require oxygen to live.
Only one illustration of the interconnected web of all creation, these facts of nature fill me with daily awe. So I stand face-up within the womb of trees to breathe and wonder: How did life evolve from microorganisms four-and-a-half billion years ago to the vast diversity of life of which we are a part? Then, arms outstretched, I turn my body in rhythmic connection with the turning earth, breathing and wondering more deeply yet: How did time, matter, and beauty create us and bring us to this place and this moment?
Upon facts I make meaning. With facts I live in wonder. In the laws of nature and nature’s God, I find a sun-filled clearing where human knowledge and songs of praise together seek truth together.
I believe inquiries of science and inquiries of the spirit ask the same questions: What can we discover? What can we know? What are the limits of our understanding? What is the larger, deeper truth of the material world?
Now I stand, now I turn, now I walk; and as I walk I am more than a physical body: I am a living, breathing soul walking upon the dark earth, facing the sun and drinking energy and life from below and above. Scientists quantify the earth, the sun, the air, and my body in wondrous facts and data. And I, a spiritual wonderer, discover in these the truth of my existence and the purpose of my being.
Photo: Hopeville Pond State Park, Griswold, Conn.