Why the WHY Question Matters

I once heard about a conversation between the brilliant evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins and Prince Philip (the Queen’s husband). The Prince approached Dawkins after a lecture and complemented him on his delivery. The Prince smiled, “I’ve always thought you science chaps are strong on explaining HOW the Universe works. But you are not so clear on the answer to the WHY question.” Dawkins – without drawing breath – shot back, “That, Your Highness, is simply because the WHY question does not matter.”


Why is there something, rather than nothing?
Why is there a Universe?
Why do I exist?
Why am I struggling with this stuff, right now?
Why is life so blasted hard!
Is there any real purpose to it all?

Ever found yourself asking those sorts of questions? If so – we are in good company. Mankind has wrestled with ’em for millennia! We can see it in the writings of the ancient Philosophers, thru the birth of Science in the 1600s, all the way up to the artists of the 21st Century today; Sir Ridley Scott – take a bow for the science fiction movie “Prometheus”.

Bad news – I cannot give you the answer to “Why?” in this blog (or explain all the story threads in Prometheus, for that matter) But I can tell you this. Human Beings are hard wired to ask the “Why?” question. It is in our makeup. We have an insatiable appetite for asking it. The movie Prometheus is a good example – it is a human origins story – and it took 50 Million US Dollars from the audience on its opening weekend. People have an appetite for anything asking “Why?” in a spectacular way.

Asking “Why?” has resulted in hundreds of years of Philosophical and Scientific discoveries…which seem in no hurry to slow down.

But there’s another reason the “Why?” question echoes through human history.

Think of it like a radar ping out into the unknown. Or like a hopeful cry into the darkness – “is there anybody there?” If we are sending the radar ping – He is the object our scanners detect. If we are calling into the darkness – He is the faint response we strain to hear.

“Why?” is part of the machinery that allows us to locate our creator, God.

We ask “Why?” because God’s built us to seek for him. Someone once put it like this. “You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we think.” The Bible puts it like this. “Seek God while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand.” Isaiah 55:6, The Message

Sure – look around. Do your seeking where you must. But can I encourage you to also send out your radar pings in the direction of the Bible…the Church…and Jesus?

And finally a request to Professor Dawkins –
By sticking to your guns, propagating the tight lipped doctrine that says “Life is the result of the blind forces of nature – and nothing else”, I can see why you avoid the “Why?” question. It threatens to undermine your theory. Yet you are denying the cry of your own heart. Is that what makes you sound so uptight? And you are intimidating others into suppressing their own need to ask “Why?”! Not very public spirited of you, sir.

“Why?” matters. Don’t be afraid to ask the question, sir. Who knows where it may lead you.

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I live in the UK, I'm married to Janet and I'm passionate about proposing a case for the historic Christian faith. You can find me on Twitter at @stuhgray.

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