Existence, whether it be the existence of the universe as a whole or our own personal existence, poses a question we cannot avoid. “Not how the world is,” Ludwig Wittgenstein observed, “but that it is, is the mystery.”
Why? Why does the world exist? Why do I exist? This “why?” is not a scientific question, and therefore cannot be answered by scientists. Call it, if you like, a religious question or an existential question or a philosophical question. Personally I think it is best described as a human question—the human question. Humanity has asked this question for millennia and will continue to ask it, no matter how science advances. We ask “why?” because the question is posed by the mystery of the world itself.
Why is there something rather than nothing?
What is the meaning of it all?
Why am I here?
As Victor White puts it:
We do not know what the answer is, but we do know that there is a mystery behind it all which we do not know, and if there were not, there would not even be a riddle. This Unknown we call God. If there were no God, there would be no universe to be mysterious, and nobody to be mystified. (God the Unknown, p. 19)
The answer is given in the “why?” That we are the kinds of beings who find the very existence of the universe ultimately mysterious, infinitely wondrous, and utterly problematic provides all the justification we need to affirm the existence of “the one infinite source of all that is.” We may not know what God is; but we know he is the Mystery who answers the most fundamental questions human beings can ask. Because the world poses the mystery, God is.
In the words of C. S. Lewis: “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning.”
(29 March 2014; rev.)