Reconciliation of Science & Literature

I recently came across Planet Narnia by Michael Ward. Ward asserts that Lewis incorporated a deeper meaning within the Chronicles of Narnia, where each book represents the mythological characteristic of a different planet. There are seven books in the series and seven planets in medieval astronomy: the moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Some call it the Narnia Code. However laughable it may seem, the idea in itself is intriguing. Check out the above website for more information, but I’ve been thinking about this intersection of myth and literature. And our understanding of science makes it all ridiculous.

In pre-Copernican astronomy, people understood the heavens to consist of the above-mentioned planets. But the idea that planets have personalities is, by today’s scientific standards, laughable. We have proved the planets to be big balls of rock and gas, and the moon and sun aren’t even considered planets. Our scientific discoveries have taken the mystery and possibility of personality out of our galaxy. I realize that our galactic discoveries have led to more mysteries, but I wonder if we are better off solving everything we can get our hands on.

The idea of something inanimate having influence and (for lack of a better word) personality boggles my mind–I wasn’t raised to think this way. It’s a clear violation of my liberal arts college education, and some Sunday School teacher somewhere is rolling over in his grave cursing this work of the Devil. Regardless, our current state has erased our ability to imagine or consider something so…well…imaginative. This entire idea is child’s play, a mere myth. In terms of progress, this is a great thing because we don’t have to live under a veil of myth and superstition. We know what makes things tick and we solve more of the Rubik’s cube every day.

Get ready for a lane change. Blinker on…

I love magic tricks. I know that they are illusions, and I know that there’s an answer to everything. I went through a phase in junior high where I wanted to be a professional magician/juggler. I couldn’t juggle more than 3 objects and my slight of hand needed more practice than I cared to endure. But I learned quite a bit about the magic world in my short endeavor. And I still have some pretty cool trick decks. A fake thumb comes in handy for a good case of tom foolery as well. Even now, when I watch illusionists on tv or live, I know what to look for with certain tricks. The mystery is gone. Sure I feel smarter than those around me, but the pure thrill of seeing something mystify me is gone.

And I’m not talking about ignorance. I know the magic trick is an illusion, but it’s really neat to see. Ignorance would be thinking that the trick is real. Is myth merely scientific ignorance? Is science merely imaginative ignorance?

(Another lane change, more blinking…)

Women are another mystery in this world in that they are completely indecipherable. I know that my wife has 250,000 thoughts going on at once in her mind, and somehow they are connected. I have one thought in my mind, and often times she doesn’t want to hear about it (whether she has a headache or not). This is a mystery to me. In the larger scheme of life, should I go through each day trying to figure out why my wife thinks this way, or is there joy in understanding what I can and just experiencing the rest?

I love science–especially physics and origins of the earth stuff. I love literature. But I wonder if one of the reasons that the two seem not to dance well together is because they are fundamentally opposed. Nobody longs for ignorance, and nobody likes a know-it-all. I wonder how much we miss out on without a balanced dose of each.

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4 thoughts on “Reconciliation of Science & Literature

  1. I am not a scientist, but I suspect some of the greatest scientists have engaged their imaginations with gusto. And as I learned first from Madeleine L’Engle, the best myths/stories are absolutely true. (A few of my Sunday school teachers rolled over too.) Therefore balance is a good thing! As for the mystery, I thought it was my husband that had the 250,000 thoughts at once, all connected, while I struggle for my one thought to be heard. I enjoy learning from your postings. Thanks.

  2. Hi, Elaine. Thanks for stopping by. I do like L’Engle. I feel like The Wrinkle in Time is very similar to Lewis’ Sci-Fi Triology, but much more fun!! I wish I could come across a contemporary author that incorporates myth with the same quality as Lewis and L’Engle.

  3. I remember your magic phase. Glad you still have some things from that time. You were so fun to watch as you struggled to master the tricks, so serious. 🙂

  4. I always got so frustrated when my hands weren’t big enough to manipulate the decks of cards or correctly palm large coins. Oh well.

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