Evidently, I’m a New Mysterian. I came up with this philosophy completely independently, honest — I had no idea anybody else had ever professed it or even thought of it. I guess everything has already been done, huh? It wasn’t until I stumbled across its Wikipedia article five minutes ago that I realized it was an actual, existing theory with an actual, existing name.
The situation is pretty dire. For one thing, “New Mysterianism” is a surpassingly dumb name that makes me think, above all, of ? & the Mysterians. And it only gets worse. One of the most prominent proponents of New Mysterianism is notorious jerk and admitted homophobe and racist John Derbyshire. And look at this guy, the world’s leading New Mysterian. Does he look like someone you can trust?
It’s enough to make me want to dump the idea, but sadly, I can’t — it just seems so obvious to me. I like to talk about it in terms of cats and calculus. My cat is one of the smartest animals I’ve ever encountered. She’s affectionate. She often exhibits behavior that seems strikingly human. But try as I might, I could never teach my cat differential calculus. At her evolutionary stage, she just doesn’t have the brain power to come close to comprehending it. That doesn’t mean that differential calculus doesn’t make sense, or that it isn’t real. Everybody who has a brain advanced enough to understand it knows that it’s perfectly logical and it works, and that it can explain countless puzzling mathematical problems. But my cat, a member of one of the most intelligent of the millions of species in the world, will never even come close to being able to fathom any of it.
Likewise, it’s arrogant and scientifically specious for us humans to assume that we exist at the highest possible plane of evolution. We can understand calculus, yes, but there must be truths about the universe that we still lack the brainpower to comprehend and will continue to do so for another million years or so. If there were things we couldn’t understand back when we thought at a cat level, what evidence is there to suggest there’s nothing we can’t figure out today?
There is one major problem in the world that nobody has ever been able to solve, and I seriously doubt that anyone — anyone that we would rightfully call a human being — will ever be able to solve. It’s perhaps the only fundamental problem shared by adherents of religious and atheistic philosophies: What happened in the beginning? I once saw a great episode of Kirk Cameron’s The Way of the Master in which one of the atheists being harassed on the street asked his inquisitors that very question. The fair-minded editors took it as an opportunity to cut him off and display Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” But that’s not good enough, which is what the atheist was undoubtedly trying to convey. Let’s say God created the heavens and the earth. Well, who or what created God? And who or what created that entity — and so on and so forth? Now, this is hardly an original question, and it’s been answered many times by many religious people over thousands of years: Nothing created God. He has always been and always will be. But if God has always been, why couldn’t a godless universe be eternal, too?
But we have to ask what came first, what happened at the beginning. We have to ask it because our brains can’t comprehend another scenario. We can talk about infinity, but we can’t really understand it. Maybe something did come first, and maybe that thing just happened, just came out of nothing, but that’s an impossible concept to us, too. Either way, we’re left with something beyond the reaches of our mind.
The concept that there are simply things we’re not advanced enough to understand, questions we can’t answer and never will, is the only logical conclusion.
I find it interesting that in the rudimentary research I’ve done on New Mysterianism, it seems to be principally an atheistic philosophy. Why can’t anybody, hardcore evangelical or militant god-hater, be a New Mysterian? Science and religion both leave important questions unanswered. Genesis 1:1 aside, neither one can really answer the fundamental “in the beginning” question. I would think the philosophy would be just as compatible with religion as with science — if not more so, because science by design seeks answers to all natural phenomena, whereas religion tends to be more comfortable with the unknown. Maybe that’s my original contribution to this whole line of thought. If I can’t invent it, at least I can contribute something good.
So I guess I’m a New Mysterian. Ugh. That’s going to take some getting used to. I guess I’ll go out now to buy some crystals and flowing sky-blue robes.