Several space agencies on different continents are planning missions to Mars. Why would anyone want to go there? Many find a reason for off-world exploration in the aspiration voiced by the speculative physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking: “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”
Exploring the meaning of creation is an endeavour of philosophy and theology, as well as of the other sciences. Theologians, philosophers and scientists alike are inspired and motivated by the question “why is there anything?” Properly speaking, only Christian revelation as elucidated by Catholic theology can give a coherent answer.
Fr.Wilfrid Faber (1814-1863) of the London Oratory never claimed “a complete understanding of the universe” but he did have many penetrating insights into the magnificence of God as revealed in the complexity and diversity of His creation.
“What are all sciences but sparkles of the life God leads in the world of nature and of matter? Every phenomenon is a transparency in the many-coloured mantle in which He has arrayed His immensity. Every law is but a fraction of His will, and therefore a partial revelation of Himself. Yet the sciences are many, and each science has many kingdoms, and each of those kingdoms many provinces, and each province its subdivisions and departments; and the mightiest intellect, in the activities of a long life, is unequal to the exhaustion of one of these departments. Discovery advances with gigantic strides, and at each step rather destroys all limits to our conjectures of our ignorance, than widens the horizon of our knowledge; while at each step it is always adding to the bulk of those beautiful revelations of God, which are the treasures as well as the records of the sciences.
The symmetry of each whole science is another kind of divine revelation, and the connection of the sciences another, and the unity of all collective sciences yet another and more magnificent. God has a life in the wayward uniformities of each wild-flower in the fields, in the inexplicable instinct of each variety of animal and insect, in the quivering orbits of rolling worlds, in the stately stepping of the clouds which march to the music of the upper winds, in every sight and sound and fragrance and taste of nature. All comes, not merely came at the first but comes now, for ever comes out of the mind of God, and is a disclosure to us of His life, holding undisclosed in every atom more mysteries of that life than the countless ones which it discloses.”
Faber, Frederick William. Bethlehem (1860).