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As a child, I often heard “Curiosity killed the cat; satisfaction brought it back” and “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.”
Although I don’t remember who uttered these words—perhaps parents or teachers—I do recall them clearly. I also know that the second statement is false, because what you don’t know can hurt you.
What triggered these thoughts? I read the following observation from German-born physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955), who explained, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”
Holy curiosity! That’s a foundation of faith, too, and curiosity moves us forward in life.
Watching a baby grow in curiosity and experience is one of the blessings of parenthood. As the child matures and attends school, curiosity expands by leaps and bounds when teachers inspire the students and have good support from parents and family.
As children enter their teens, their curiosity expands. With proper guidance, most children will become adults who maintain a keen interest in how personal faith and relationships evolve and mature. If they have a solid foundation nurtured by family, friends and religious mentors, they usually continue to accept and cherish their faith.
However, families who have experienced adult children delving into or joining other types of worship understand how “holy curiosity” can also lead them down different paths. Although this can sometimes alienate family and friends, it can also add a special spiritual richness to family and friends’ lives as well as foster interdenominational understanding.
Einstein was a Jew and a genius. He took a different path, convinced that “a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.” Yet he could not acknowledge God as the center of Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Einstein often claimed that those with faith are naïve. I might be naïve for many reasons, but not when it comes to faith.
I know from experience and without a shred of doubt that there is an immortal God who touches our hearts and souls—and that there is life after death.
Einstein wrote, “My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality.”
I believe and acknowledge that “superior spirit” to be God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †