The human mind abhors mystery, for with mystery go unpredictability and fear; so its natural response is to devise explanations. In the process, new words are given, or acquire, meanings. Science describes its own attempts at giving meaning to words as ‘definitions’; religions simply rely on tradition – people maintaining a common understanding. The bad news is that inadequate definitions make shaky foundations both for science and for religions; they provide ammunition for their opponents and confuse seekers after their truths. The good news is that, as in archaeology, their very existence identifies the location of something hidden for years. Dig down beneath the definitions and traditions to find the original mysteries – it’s good to know what you don’t know.

In the beginning, the Word;
But were there some vital omissions?
If only God’s voice had been heard
Announcing some key definitions,

Like evil and heaven and hell,
Like God and the Devil and sin.
If left undefined, who can tell
What all of these terms really mean

Are angels gay blokes who can fly?
(Do birds work on similar lines?)
Do demons have horns? If so, why?
And could there be other designs?

The effects due to charge can be shown,
And those due to force can be bruising;
But what they, and mass, are, isn’t known.
The whole thing is pretty confusing.

Great edifices can arise,
Reinforced by unthinking traditions.
How vital it is, if we’re wise,
That we recognise duff definitions.

It’s a lesson to humble mankind,
Yet mankind has ignored it through history:
If something cannot be defined,
You have to accept it’s a mystery.

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