Facts and Mystery

photo by maryclare stfrancis

I ’ve never been able to focus solely on science as I’ve always had a deep and rich spirituality. A strictly academic and scientific explaination for everything in life has never fit my own experiences. Science is extremely important and deals in facts, figures, and the tangible, physical world. We need astronomy, geology, psychology, sociology, medicine, meterology, anthropology, and much more.

We also need writing, art, performing arts, our ways of storytelling. Myths, which are stories containing truth but that are not factually true, have informed the world, including the naming of much that is scientific. Humans have always had a concept of divine, spiritual beings, because it’s part of our nature. I, like many others, crave mystery and spirituality, and I, like everyone else, also needs the facts and figures of existence.

For example, this means that I know that the earth was not created in six literal days because that’s ridiculous and impossible. I know that it evolved because that can be demonstrated. At the same time, I still believe in a creative God who not only started but guided that process. Why did God even bother with making this happen? I think it’s because God himself is creative and wanted to do art.

The theories of Marx, and Freud, and others, are of value and worth studying and they explain much about why things are the way that they are. We learn a lot about the world and the society that we live in. In my M.A. I studied literature and had to analyze it within the framework of literary theorists, and while that was a valuable exercise, it’s not the only way to talk about literature.

When I read and analyzed The Awakening by Kate Chopin, I found much of value in the story, but not all of it was academic value. It is a story that has had a huge impact on my healing, it’s one of the books I call my personal canon of healing literature. I was able to discuss the story in an academic context of course, but the academic was so shallow compared to what that story did for me emotionally and spiritually. It spoke to some things deep inside of me, which for me was of far more value than all of the discussion I had with my peers in graduate school about the text.

The same thing happened with The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman. The slave narratives in my Black Literary Traditions class made me realize how much work the Church needs to do with racial reconciliation, and I am calling Christians to repent of the oppression committed in Jesus’ name. I studied basic lingustics and argued that the Harry Potter books are lingustically difficult for children, but linguistics isn’t why children (and adults for that matter) connected so deeply with the books.

We need our stories, and astronomy is as much of a story as literature, just in a different context. Science is the factual telling of the tangible world, while literature, or music, or art is a personal or even spiritual story of our world. Restricting ourselves to either science or spirituality is misguided and doesn’t give the full picture of the complexity of our own lives or those of others.

Science analyzes and explains things, while spirituality connects things. Science gives me the overview of the world and society at large. Spirituality gives me mystery, experiences and encounters with the divine. In my life, there are two main things that have kept me alive. Science, and Jesus.



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MaryClare StFrancis, M.A.

MaryClare StFrancis, M.A.


She/her. I write memoirs, feature articles, essays, poetry, and more.