1935: All those – scholars or ordinary folk – who are satisfied to accept, as answers to the big questions man asks about his purpose in the world, about the universe and life, about suffering and injustice, phrases like: the universe has and will always exist, life is a natural phenomenon, chance created everything, thought is the superior form of human consciousness, prove how very undemanding they are. These kinds of answers are stereotypical simplifications, and they’re the equivalent of: when you’re talking to me, you should shut up.
On the contrary, nothing is natural and everything is surprising and wondrous. Evolution is a mystery and a miracle. The questions that our conscience asks are mysteries. Nature and its implacable laws are a miracle. From all sides, mysteries besiege and assail us, uninterrupted and more persistent than cosmic rays.
And not even stupidity or indifference can constitute a strong enough magnetic field to protect us from them, the same way the earth’s magnetic field slightly amortizes the shock of cosmic mesons. Angst (or exaltation) will inevitably jolt every soul, even the most obtuse; in a prison cell, on the sick bed, at the moment of death, or all of a sudden on the street. Every event is anti-destiny.
Every work of art is anti-nature. Every decision is anti-nothingness. To love somebody is a mystery of faith. Love and forgiveness are not natural. Natural is the second principle of thermodynamics.
Shestov: the evolution of the universe is not in the least natural; it would be natural if there were absolutely nothing – no universe, no evolution.