Writing and Science, Soulmates?


A lot of people look at my passions, and wonder how on Earth I even exist, someone who has such polar opposite pursuits. I am a biochemist, and I am a writer. I recently made a video about how I am a writer, and that is my job. At the moment, that is my job, yes. But so is science. And if I were to get really philosophical here, which I am, then I would say that writing comes down to the same thing that science comes down to: a curiosity about the universe. Science is curiosity about the natural world. Writing is curiosity about our souls. It’s the same mindset, taken from two different angles. Therefore, I think that I’m just curious. The universe intrigues me, and I don’t find nature nor souls more important or more mysterious. I will sit here and debate quantum mechanics with you in the same conversation that I will debate where I belong in the universe.

I was reading Carlo Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physicsseven-brief-lessons-on-physics-original-imae6yb8ecwy3drw when I came across this quote: “In the world of contemporary science, there are many things that we do not understand, and one of the things that we understand least about is ourselves.” As I read that, I thought, how true. My next thought was, and that is why I write. Writing is the soulmate of science. It completes, or attempts to complete that which science cannot fully answer. As a scientist, I want to believe that everything in the human body has a reason behind it–our mind, our goals, our hobbies, etc.–but I know that despite any knowledge we may collect, we will still remain a mystery. Rovelli puts this perhaps more eloquently in his book. I may take it even one step further than Rovelli, but perhaps in doing so I am wrong. Yes, our bodies work like a robot, each cog fitting together and fulfilling a purpose, but I am reluctant to expunge that part that we think of as making us human. And even if we can figure out the physiology, etc., I do not think we will get all the answers in the same way that chemicals are not the same thing as love.

Science may not answer the questions of the soul. Writing, however, is the closest we can, or have, gotten. Writing involves more than just putting words onto paper or constructing a plot. True literature, as Bret Lott says, is delving into the soul. I firmly believe that, and that is what I strive for in my writing. In this delving into the soul, a writer must take into account the natural world, must take into account philosophy, religion, and psychology, etc. Nothing is left unaccounted for in writing. Not even experimental results. Writers, whether or not they realize it, employ some form of the scientific method, and that also plays into their stories.

So yes, writing and science are soulmates. I think that’s why I am so drawn to them both.

Photo credits: http://intentblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/magic_mushrooms.jpg, http://img5a.flixcart.com/image/book/9/6/6/seven-brief-lessons-on-physics-original-imae6yb8ecwy3drw.jpeg



3 thoughts on “Writing and Science, Soulmates?

  1. I love the idea that both science and writing have to do with a curiosity about the universe. So true! The other day I was reading Austin Kleon’s book, “Steal Like an Artist,” and he mentioned that sometimes people feel like they have to stick to one hobby or one creative goal or topic, but that we come to realize that our seemingly disparate interests are actually connected over time. It struck me as similar to what you’re saying!


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