After significant calculation of the travel time of seismic waves, geophysicist and seismologist, Inge Lehmann published her research that the earth was made up of three layers. She noticed over time that seismic waves were bent, leading her to identify secondary and primary waves creating shadow zones behind the earth’s core. While she submitted these findings in 1936, it had slow traction and wasn’t proven true until computer modeling supported the same findings in 1971.
To really understand this blue planet requires a mix of curiosity and faith in what is well below our feet. Much of my appreciation for the earth has more to do with what’s happening on the crust. But, when I take time to investigate what’s deeper than my eyes can see, it grows my curiosity. The trees, hills, and lakes in my view are easy points of connection. What lies beneath the crust requires a faith-like acceptance from me of other’s research and study. While we scratch at the crust, developing gardens, carving out biking trails, and sailing on the water, we have never reached depths below 7 miles. And yet, we still study and measure and dig. We hold hope for future discoveries.
Our faith in what we cannot see pushes us to deeper curiosity. We all have big questions about our universe, and our purpose here in it. Science and faith are interwoven, demanding that we investigate what we don’t understand and hold space, with grace, for discovery. To me, faith is like a science experiment. We take the knowledge, tools, and experience of those before us, and we keep on discovering. We might have working lab partners, or we might be at the lab alone, depending on our project. But, the overall hope of the experiment is to expand the greater good for us and for all humankind.
There are many failures and explosions. There are long months or years of tedious work. There are struggles to clarify, to explain, to defy expectations. We may quit. We might get injured and need to rest. We might give up on the experiment altogether and pivot to another project. But the big questions still surround us.
I think about Inge Lehmann and the many boring, tedious days and months she spent documenting and digging and waiting. I think about the battles she took on defending her theories. She was bent on moving forward with the big question that lingered with her. She took her tools and knowledge and got to work. She failed, she discovered, and she held space for what was unknown. And because of her work, we have a united belief about our planet that we teach as fact.
My prayer for us on our faith journey is that we are able to withstand the pressure and time it takes to see our experiment develop. May we be the people who can wait, who can hold hope, who can encourage each other as we dig deeper like the generation behind us.