I like this quote from one of America's most distinctive literary voices, Annie Dillard. I've read it many times and not sure exactly what makes it appealing to me, but I think it has something to do with the off-road slant she boldly considers when reflecting on nature. In the "Koran," from which she quotes, we are invited, challenged, and politely requested to ponder God's creation, as if pondering is the seeker's pick, the instrument through which we mine gems and insights. Secrets never give themselves up easily (or are they always gifts?). So we look, think, and supplicate that we are moved in ways that bare empiricism is so utterly inept in achieving.
In the Koran, Allah asks, “The heaven and the earth and all in between, thinkest thou I made them in jest?” It’s a good question. What do we think of the created universe, spanning an unthinkable void with an unthinkable profusion of forms? Or what do we think of nothingness, those sickening reaches of time in either direction? If the giant water bug was not made in jest, was it then made in earnest? Pascal uses a nice term to describe the notion of the creator’s, once having called forth the universe, turn his back to it: Deus Absconditus. Is this what we think happened? Was the sense of it there, and God absconded with it? . . . “God is subtle,” Einstein said, “but not malicious.” Again, Einstein said that “nature conceals her mystery by means of her essential grandeur, not by her cunning.” It could be that God has not absconded but spread, as our vision and understanding of the universe have spread, to a fabric of spirit and sense so grand and subtle, so powerful in a new way, that we can only feel blindly of its helm.
Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, winner of the Pulitzer Prize 1974.