I am presently reading an enjoyable detective novel by A.D. Scott as well as the transcript of a lecture by Alister McGrath regarding the rationality of faith. The two fit together well. In his lecture, McGrath notes that Dorothy Sayers once said that
detective fiction appeals to our deep yearning to discover patterns, to uncover secrets, and to impose order on what seem to some to be an unrelated series of events, yet to the initiated are the vital clues that lead to the solution of the mystery. . . .
Sayers, one of Britain’s most successful and talented detective novelists, argued that crime fiction was a powerful witness to our yearning to discover patterns, find meaning, and uncover hidden secrets. For Sayers, the detective novel appeals to our implicit belief in the intrinsic rationality of the world around us, and our ability to discover its deeper patterns. . .1
McGrath, the 2009 Drawbridge lecturer, further says that longing to make sense of things is not limited to crime fiction. He suggests that
The question being asked, whether in science or religion or detective fiction, is this: What greater picture unifies our disparate observations? How can the threads of evidence and observation be woven into a tapestry of truth? . . .
It is a vision that captivates the imaginations of many, and it still captivates mine. The ability of a theory – whether this is a detective’s attempt to makes sense of the evidence in a criminal case, or the more general human attempt to make sense of life . . . 2
I like what McGrath is saying because this vision also captivates my mind. I find that I am still seeking knowledge that will help me piece together the universe in which I live and help me find meaning. I hope that all of my life I will continue to ask the big questions of life: How did this universe come to be? What does science tell us about our world? What are the best theories on the mechanics of how this universe came into being? What does the Bible and theology tell us about purpose and meaning? How do we make sense of God, the Bible, and science? McGrath quotes Michael Polanyi (1891-1976), the Hungarian chemist who also explored the philosophical implications of the scientific method as saying, “The pursuit of discovery, . . . is guided by sensing the presence of a hidden reality toward which our clues are pointing.” May we always search for truth and never fear it; for all truth is God’s truth. May we never lose the wonder of searching for reality. May we always be guided by the clues to the great truths of the universe.
McGrath, Alister E. “2009 Drawbridge Lecture.” Shipoffools.com. November 12, 2009. http://shipoffools.com/features/2009/pdfs/ces_2009_drawbridge_lecture.pdf (accessed August 5, 2012).
1 (McGrath 2009)
2 (McGrath 2009)