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Monday, January 3, 2011

The nature of a mystery

The very day violent storms hit Arkansas, thousands of birds--mostly red-wing blackbirds--tumbled from the sky. Elsewhere in the aptly nicknamed "Natural State," a major fish kill also has scientists and residents scratching their heads. Of course the media is in a frenzy, and the conspiracy theories are, well, about what you would expect.

While all available evidence points to "natural" causes for the rather spooky bird kill, the fish kill is still more a mystery--although a single-species fish kill is usually caused by disease.

The problem is, while qualified scientists seek answers, it's easy for the less informed and those prone to drama to see evidence of secret military testing, or alien invasions, or that illusive end time.

But a mystery does not imply a supernatural (or extraterrestrial) cause. Sometimes, very natural events occur in a sequence that is partially hidden.

That some of us seek to fill in the missing links with epic, sci-fi or conspiratorial details shows how deeply the human person is hard-wired for seeking transcendence. And this is a good thing. The quality of the human person that seeks to understand mystery also makes us open to it--and that makes us open to Revelation.

Not only that, but by adding reason to our searches of the great mysteries of the universe, we can better isolate that which is unusual but naturally occurring, and that which is naturally beyond our reasoning, but, out of love, seeks to reveal itself to us whenever possible.

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