I'm rereading a book I remember really liking, "A Song for Lya and Other Stories," by George R.R. Martin. I just finished the first story, called "With Morning Comes Mistfall." It's about the human need for knowledge, versus the need for some mystery in our lives. I don't see a "literature" or "sci-fi" category so I'm going with "Not News" - if I've miscategorized this, please let me know. It touches on science and religion in a way, but I don't think it fits into either.
There's a planet called Wraithworld, where the mists basically cover everything and nobody has every really explored much of the planet. One man built a castle on a high mountain, where tourists could come and watch mistfall and mistrise (where the mountain peaks are exposed during the day) - but the mists never leave the valleys. There are long standing rumors of wraiths in the mists who kill people, from the earliest expedition who discovered the planet. Tourists love to explore the forests, thinking they may see a wraith; the mystery of it all is what brings them.
The story is about the conflict between the man who built the castle (and a successful tourist hotel) and a scientist who came with a bunch of devices to finally map the planet through the mists and find out whether the wraiths exist.
The hotel owner said, to explain why he doesn't want the scientist to either prove nor disprove the existence of the wraiths:
Each guy who touches down here is secretly hoping he'll have an adventure with the wraiths, and find out all the answers personally
And if the tourist doesn't:
The dream is still there, and the romance, and the mystery.
And in another paragraph:
He's touched a little bit of creation that hasn't had all the awe and the wonder ripped from it yet by Dubowski's sort.
Dubowski, the scientist's, answer is:
But even if you were correct, it's just too bad. Knowledge is what man is all about. People like you have tried to hold back progress since the beginning of time.
This made me think. I'm all for science, and knowledge. But I have no problem with admitting that there are things that I just don't know, and I guess sometimes I'd rather have a little mystery. I don't have faith - I don't need to say "a god did it" if I can't explain it - so that isn't it. I kind of like not knowing everything, even though I'm always seeking more knowledge.
This is a book well worth reading. I found myself leaning toward the hotel owner, who wanted to leave some magic and mystery for people (and yes, having that mystery gone would affect his profits, but I still rooted for him). Who do you think you'd side with? And if you have a chance to read the story, even if it's a month or so later, please come back and discuss what you think about it.