The quest for truth is a human endeavor that crosses ages, cultures and millennia. It is the driving force that animates the lives of many.
It is this burning desire for truth that drives most scientists to ask "why?" after each discovery. This desire has launched humans both deep into space and taken us on a microscopic tour of the atom.
While this passion might seem fitting for a scientist, it is somewhat surprising coming from a 300-pound NFL superstar.
Last week, Reggie White, arguably the greatest defensive lineman in football history, passed away suddenly at the age 43. It turns out there was much more than just football in the life of Mr. White.
In his prime as a player, White was well known for preaching Judeo-Christian values, both inside the locker room and out. He was lovingly referred to by fans as the "Minister of Defense" -- a reference to his exceptional play as a defensive player, and his passion for religion.
What is less reported is that since his retirement several years ago, White underwent some life-changing experiences. He realized that all his presumptions about religion had been absorbed without questioning, and that he had never learned any teachings first-hand.
So Reggie White started questioning his beliefs. He undertook the study of Hebrew so he could learn directly from the Jewish Bible and decide for himself the meaning of God's word. This path took him on travels to Israel and led to speculation that he was converting to Judaism.
He insisted he was not converting to Judaism, but was simply searching for truth.
Just a few weeks ago, a story hit the newspapers of an announcement by a man named Anthony Flew that "God" is the only rational explanation for the origin of life. Typically, one person's belief in God would not merit headlines. But for the past six decades, Flew was internationally known as a leading atheist -- spreading his philosophy in widely-circulated books and in lectures at Oxford and other prestigious universities.
Now, Flew counts among his influences Dr. Gerald Schroeder, a scientist and observant Jew. Says Flew: "[Science] has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved."
It is said as well that Albert Einstein arrived at belief in God by seeing more and more the unity of the physical universe.
There is a power to one who sincerely asks the question "why?" over and over again. It seems that no matter what the starting point -- as a philosopher, sociologist, physicist or homemaker -- one will eventually reach the same conclusion.
Seek and Find
Life, for many, is spent looking for the truth. Some scientists spend their whole lives focused on this goal. In the words of Anthony Flew: "My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads."
We do not have to spend a lifetime confused and searching for answers to life's ultimate questions. For Jews the answers are in Judaism; we have the ultimate manual of life at hand. For as Kirk Douglas -- another philosopher of sorts who was drawn close to Torah later in life -- purportedly remarked: A mature adult should not go through life with "a 13-year-old's view of Judaism."
The Jewish drive through the ages is to pursue, with relentless determination, the very secrets of our universe -- the physical universe that surrounds us, and the spiritual universe deep within us. If we seek, we shall find.