The rationalists used to be able to laugh at us believer-types, when we stood together and confessed our belief in “all things visible and invisible.” That was before astronomers and physicists discovered “dark matter.”
When we look up at the moon and the stars we assume we are seeing all there is in the universe. Yet now science tells us that, even with the most powerful telescopes peering into deep space, the visible universe is only about 4% of all there is. The rest they call dark matter and dark energy. They know it has to be there because of its obvious effects on the visible world–they just can’t see it.*
4%. Think of that. If you’re a materialist, someone who believes only in the material world of stuff–things we can see and touch and measure–you are only talking about a fraction of the real, scientifically confirmed cosmos. And yet the materialist will say that this is the only real world. Anyone who posits some “invisible reality” is a feeble minded ninny.
This 4% universe is, for me, an astonishing realization: most of the world is unseen and unknown. Swooshing from interstellar space down to the human heart, I am immediately reminded of Freud’s blockbuster revelation of the unconscious. Most of what controls our lives, Freud discovered, is not conscious, as we all assumed. There was, just below the surface, a vast reservoir of thoughts, urges, feelings and memories that maintain majority control of our behavior and experience, even though we’re almost totally unaware of its influence. (It was the inner-cosmos version of the 4%.)
I’m not smart enough to know what all this science means for life in this crazy now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t world. All I know is, I don’t have to apologize for believing in “all things visible and invisible.” The point of faith is not certainty, though some small-minded versions would have it so. The point of faith is simply awareness without fear. I want to be able to look into that dark 96% and be simply flabbergasted at all that cannot be known, only felt. I want to trust that the whole creation, even the shadowed part, is what God pronounced it: good. I want to be able to peer into that vast reservoir of my own unconscious–fractured video clips of childhood memories, strange thoughts, crazed intentions–and not be afraid. I want to trust that there is an invisible and real power beyond myself called Love. I want to try once more to lean into that unseen but palpable power, which is another way of saying that today I want to practice falling in Love.
* The 4 Percent Universe by Richard Panek (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011).