‘The Theory of Everything’

Recently I had the fortune to watch a rather pleasing film. My daughter had urged me to watch it for some time, but I had resisted because the title of the film left me thinking it was likely to give me a headache. I refer to the very surprising, pleasant and interesting film based on the life of Stephen Hawking called the ‘The Theory of Everything’. The reason for my reticence is that, ‘The Theory of Everything’ is, I believe, an idea that is conceptually rather misleading. Pursuing or claiming you have a ‘Theory of Everything’ implies first that it is possible – which is uncertain, if not impossible. The ‘Impossible Theory of Everything’ would be better. And secondly, to have a ‘Theory of Everything’ would imply that everything is predictable, as it would have to be to include everything – Quantum Mechanics kind of fuddles and messes with any theory that predictability is possible. In fact the need for an uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics predictably shows that everything needs to be thought of as unpredictable. Am I being over sensitive?
I spent months as an undergraduate trying to remember, to not much avail, equations and formula. I spent years trying to understand mathematizable principles of the forces of nature – the fundamental quantities of things like light, gravity, ideas about relativity (special/general), universal constants, time…. blahdiblah. I remain traumatized by those supposedly informative, yet almost entirely content-forgotten years. I need to stop because I’m rambling ………
I wonder though if you can guess at my glee when I discovered that there is in fact a Lent course named and based on the book/film ‘The Theory of Everything’? well I can tell you I was very excited! The course is in fact called what I would consider a far better name theologically and scientifically ‘The Mystery of Everything’. I love this name. This is what, as we approach Easter, floats my boat, so to speak. I expect someone out there has an equation for floating boats, but keep it to yourself.
As we approach Easter the course explores this Divine Mystery – not a mystery in the sense of unknowable or even inexplicable, but rather in the sense of awe and wonder. Human beings, as St Paul points out in ‘Now we see in the mirror dimly’, cuttting to the chase in theological as well as scientific understanding – no one is a know-it-all. Human beings search for truth. They do this through exploration and experience as well as spiritual revelation – spiritual revelation being of course, among others, the Easter event. In fact, there is no other more significant event bigger, theologically, than Easter: God Breaking into the world, humbling Himself on the cross and being raised again so that we might know Him, and know that through Him we have salvation. Twenty-eight words that can be seen as so radical and amazing it might just save your life, and so optimistic it might just also save your soul. Ask yourself what are you optimistic about? Try being optimistic about Easter – it is/was all for you.

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