All the scientists hope to do is describe the universe mathematically, predict it, and maybe control it. The philosopher, by contrast, seems unbecomingly ambitious. He wants to understand the universe; to get behind phenomena and operation and solve the logically prior riddles of being, knowledge, and value. But the artist, and in particular the novelist, in his essence wishes neither to explain nor to control nor to understand the universe. He wants to make one of his own, and may even aspire to make it more orderly, meaningful, beautiful, and interesting than the one God turned out. What’s more, in the opinion of many readers of literature, he sometimes succeeds.
John Barth (b. 1930), U.S. novelist, educator. “How to Make a Universe,” The Friday Book: Essays and Other Nonfiction, Putnam (1984).