12 / CHRONICLESnhim that “we do not know the reasonnfor this” and that adherence to “mathematicalnbeauty and elegance” oftennconstitutes “a sort of irrational faith.”nBut why choose this irrational faithnover other faiths—say, theosophy ornMoloch-worship? Davies explains:nonly through mathematics are scientistsnable “to understand, control,nand predict the outcome of physicalnprocesses.”nHere then is the crux of the matter.nMathematical science is the icon ofnirrational preference not because itsnepistemological roots are necessarilyndeeper than those of religion or art.nRather, mathematical science is preferrednbecause it at once satisfies annaesthetic reverence for form and fulfillsna Promethean yearning for omniscience.nIf every power and element innthe cosmos can be circumscribed withinnthe predictable bounds of numbernand formulae, then man may hold thenuniverse within his mind as an intellectualnpossession, a conquest. Thenpatterns of human thinking then definenthe patterns of the possible, andnmodern scientific man may scoif at thenOld Testament Deity who archly de­nIn the forthcoming issue of ChroniclesnA House Dividednclared, “As the heavens are highernthan the earth, so are my ways highernthan your ways, and my thoughts thannyour thoughts.” Science furnishesnmodern man with guarantees againstnthe incomprehensible, with shelternfrom all spiritual agents, mysteriousnforces, and dark surprises.nNo wonder Davies rejoices: “Wencan at last comprehend a universe freenof all supernatural input, a universenthat is completely the product of naturalnlaws accessible to science.” This isna long way from the spirit of BlaisenPascal, who did his mathematical andnscientific work believing “It is possiblento know God so long as we do notninsist on understanding Him.” And asncomforting as Davies’ ghostiy materialismnmay be to rationalists, it does notnbear close scrutiny. Quantum nihilismnonly partiy accounts for the scandalousnInitial Conditions, for we still do notnknow what created the “false vacuum”npreceding the Big Bang. Even Baconnknew better than to search for thencause of causes. Nor can anyone yetnexplain how this vacuum acquirednsuch a surcharge of energy. Morenfundamentally, we must ask how then”When you’re alone and afraid and feel your culture isnslipping away even though you’re hanging on to yournmemories—memories of language, of poetry, of prayers,nof mathematics—hanging on with your fingernails as bestnyou can and yet, in spite of all your efforts, still seeingnthe bottom of the barrel coming up to meet you andnrealizing how thin and fragile our veneer of culture is,nwhen you suddenly realize the truth that we all cannbecome animals when east adrift and tormented for anmere matter of months, you start having some very warmnthoughts about the only life preserver within reach—thatnhuman mind, that human heart next door.”n—from “The ‘Melting’ Experience: Grow or Die”nALSOnby James StockdalenRussell Kirk on the perils of the new American ideologynBrian Murray on the lure of youthnWilliam Donohue on the wrongs of rightsnFred Chappell on George Garrett and Peter TaylornnnTnlaws of quantum physics got themselvesn”embedded” in high-powernnothingness.nWith laudable candor, Davies admitsnthese are problems not yet solved.nHe remains hopeful, though, that angroup of American theorists in Massachusettsnand New York will soon supplyna complete set of equations for “thencosmic bootstrap,” even if this doesnrequire the repudiation of the nothingfrom-nothingnpremise that has guidednWestern thought since Parmenides.nDavies is optimistic, too, that if scientistsnremember that their formulae describenprocesses that produced man,nthey will maintain a sense of purposenin a rationalized and atheistic world.nSteven Weinberg, a pioneer in GUTnformulation, feels otherwise. Recentlynhe wrote: “The more the universenseems comprehensible, the more itnalso seems pointless.”nSome other scientists reject godlessnessnin both Davies’ cheerful and Weinberg’sndowncast versions. They believenin the new GUT’s and God.nNewton would no doubt have belongednto this group and would probablynhave interpreted Weinberg’snequations—and any forthcoming refinementsnfrom MIT—as simply transcriptionsnof the first very high notesnthe divine Piper chose to play.nBut to make such a Newtoniannmove from mathematics to metaphornmeans surrendering hopes for scientificnomniscience. Forces not in thrall tonnumber and beings impossible to exorcisenwith formulae cannot be acknowledgednwithout undermining the theoretician’snaspirations for holding thenentire world in his hand. But if modernnman lays aside the arrogance ofnexplanation, what new posture can henadopt as he contemplates the galaxies?nIn a world of disease and natural catastrophe,nit is easy to agree with thenAzandes and many modern novelistsnin seeing nature as the mask of warringnspirits indifferent or hostile to man.nThe Big Bang then becomes a terrifyingnthump in the cosmic night. But ifnmen share with Newton the convictionnthat all natural forces—includingn”supergravity”—are manifestations ofnan incomprehensible goodness revealednmore fully to prophets andnapostles than to scientists, then theynmay face the loudest eruptions in thenpoised humility of faith.nccn