How vs Why

Chrissy’s cousin David and I were climbing a hill to go deer hunting one November afternoon and we stopped to take a break.  It was a chance for me to catch my breath, and for him to smoke a cigarette.  He pointed out a tree that had a single stand of barbed wire running directly through the trunk.  I looked at it for a while, thought of a few ways people could have done this, and finally said, “Why did someone do that?”

David laughed and took a drag of his cigarette, but didn’t say anything.  I asked what was so funny and he replied, “I was standing right here this morning with another cousin.  He saw that tree, looked at it for a while, and asked me, ‘how did someone do that?'”

The answer, of course, is that nobody did that, they just ran the wire around a sapling 50 years ago, and over time it cut into the tree and tree healed around it.

I heard an interesting interview with Dr. Jeffrey Schweitzer, author of Beyond Cosmic Dice: Moral Life in a Random World on Point of Inquiry today.  At one point in the interview Dr. Schweitzer made the observation that science tends to ask “How?” while religion asks “Why?”  I thought about this for a while, and found it hard to disagree with.  I created an odd sort of dissonance in my head, as I’ve always thought of myself as someone who asks, “Why?”

Published by Brian

Grappling sometimes, but mostly just trying to get others to grapple.

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