“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.”- Albert Einstein
Even as a child gazing out at the night sky, I felt the pull of the stars. I used to spend hours thumbing through my parents’ copy of National Geographic’s Picture Atlas of Our Universe, absolutely mesmerized by the book’s illustrations of stars, galaxies, black holes, and nebullas. I watched Carl Sagan’s COSMOS, longed for a high powered backyard telescope, and dreamed of going to Space Camp.
Later I attended a liberal arts college which required me to take courses across various disciplines (linguistics, humanities, sciences, mathematics, etc.). Remembering my childhood interest in the stars, I enrolled in an Astronomy and Space Physics class…and struggled. It quickly became apparent to me that while the cosmos ignited my imagination, I couldn’t always wrap my head around the math involved. Instead of feeling amazed, I felt bogged down. I continued to marvel at the universe, but my wonderment was intensified not through the study of science or mathematics but through the exploration of religion and philosophy, arts and humanities.
Einstein said, “It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.” Unlocking the mysteries of the universe requires a multidisciplinary approach. Humankind is wonderfully diverse, and as such, we interpret, describe and engage the mystery in different ways. Scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, theologians, linguists, and artists alike contribute to our ever-expanding understanding of the world, and the contributions of each are both valid and necessary. When we blend our collective creativity with our collective intellect…when we engage both our hearts and our minds in the pursuit of truth…we produce a much deeper, richer understanding of the world than we would by relying on only one way of seeing or knowing the truth.