The pride of scientific discovery is typically based on the ability to shift hard data from the realm of the vague unknown into the realm of the tangible understood. The predominant modus operandi is that ‘everything will be eventually known,’ yet this bold trajectory is more of a hope, than a fact; indeed, even greater mysteries paradoxically explode with each new data point. To be sure, each valid scientific endeavor starts with immersion in the unknown—a theory, an educated guess. And, no one faults the humble scientist who desires to sift through the unexplored. Respected explorers initially wrap themselves in a cloudy question, albeit surrounded by knowns. They explore the query, until the mystery is uncoded. The good scientist doesn’t rest in the unknown for too long, however. It is unnerving, like sitting in darkness, or a quiet room with other people; disquieting.
More unnerving to the honest scientist, however, is that fact that the more information is discovered, the less is truly understood. The prime origin of the big bang, for example, creates a cognitive dissonance reverberating in the scientist’s mind, since the root cause is inescapably undiscoverable. Experiments cannot honorably extrapolate backwards, nor neatly test forward by creating ‘something from nothing’ in the lab that even closely resembles life. Additionally, the speed of development of the birthing universe can never be recorded by science in an honest way, in forward-testing scientific method. The methods are, by nature, unidirectional and are rooted in the vague at their most basic level. The amazing discoveries of the electron, proton, and neutron are perhaps are embarrassed by more recent discoveries of fermions, bosons, leptons and quarks, that beg for even greater philosophical explanations of world order. And, check yourself, the world is far more organized than not. Honest physics is moving toward a complete, unified fundamental structure of the universe that screams order and intelligence. Order screams planning. Planning screams planner—a higher intelligence. There has not yet been a Boston cream pie that evolved out of a bakery explosion in the North End. It is delusional to think a simple dessert is random, never mind the human cell.
Today, the modest doctor knows that the Unknown is playing a role in healing and the cure can never be attributed fully to intelligence, given its obvious limitations. Does the physician form clots at vascular breaks, or call the white blood cells and interleukins into action? Does the doctor understand more than maybe 1% of how the brain actually works? No. Only the great Infinite Creator can. The contribution of the doctor may at times fall into the role of critical catalyst, but it is far from the final word. Many drugs today have prominently displayed as their mechanism of action, “Unknown.” This perhaps should frighten the secularist who administers such a medication, like metformin, since the drug works—but no one knows why. Similarly, many anti-epileptics and antipsychotics simply ‘work,’ but we’re not sure why. They just do, and not always. Yet you find lots of faith in medicines in the secular world.
However, as many scientific ‘advances’ are made, Jews should feel comfortable basking in the Undefinable. The Rambam, the most prominent Jew who successfully combined faith and science saw no issue in full surrender to the Infinite, while pursuing an earthly truth for his patients and surroundings. He was considered the greatest physician and rabbi of his time. And thus, the ultimate medicine that the Rambam proposed is emunah, which is often translated as faith. Yet, English cannot fully express the depth of the Hebrew word, emunah, which is composed of the aleph, mem, vav, nun, and hei. It is beyond ‘faith.’ It attributes every iota of existence to the Infinite. Each letter of this profound word points to the true medicine—the Ineffable; Hashem.
Aleph implies the ultimate expert on high. Mem—the primordial first creation of water and physico-spiritual medium between the worlds, Vav—the connection of the upper worlds with the lower worlds, Nun—the pure fish in the lower worlds, pointing to the near redemption stemming from the higher worlds, and hei—the letter of breath with which the universe was created. The Jew, like the secular scientist, thrives in the pursuit of hard knowledge. Yet, those hard facts do not create more questions in the mind of the Jew—they always create more answers. The facts strengthen the Jews knowledge of the works of the Unfathomable Creator. They cry out amazement of inner workings of an inescapably inscrutable. This aspect strengthens the emunah, which is a higher level of human intelligence. The Jew is comfortable sitting in the domain of this Unfathomable in peace, nursing a strong emunah, where the secular world is remarkably uneasy. All comes from the Original Source, and thus remains ultimately unclear. Yes, this spurs the Jew on to discover more facts, but the goal of discovery is to ultimately strengthen and affirm the higher form of intelligence–unadulterated emunah— that amputates neurotic sophistication.