07 Jul Totem44
What is the universe made of?
You’d think we have an answer to this.
Instead, what we have is a menagerie of theoretical oddities. The combined efforts of centuries of great thinkers, and brightest intellects, toiling endlessly with unimaginable penetrating genius, giving us:
the uncertainty principle
The Big Bang
The Big Crunch
The list goes on and on, worryingly so. Yes, the history of science has totally spazzed out trying to answer this question.
Then there is consciousness.
Science cannot explain this either. What is matter? What is consciousness? Are these enigmas somehow connected?
Quantum theory (particularly the Copenhagen interpretation), seems to make this puzzling connection, but then crosses the line apparently, as it is now, ’Quantum Mysticism’ and is deemed un-scientific.
OK, perhaps our most fundamental questions do not apply to scientific scrutiny. But I am not saying that religion is the answer, either.
Frankly speaking, the Abrahamic religions are products of Bronze Age philosophy, essentially the musings of mostly illiterate and superstitious people. People that lived not knowing why there were earthquakes, what caused an eclipse, or what a shooting star was. This was a time when terrible cults would use sacrifice as a method to protect themselves from what were natural events. I’m not being mean; it is a fact. Besides, claims of talking snakes, virgin births, and walking-dead people (although undoubtedly entertaining) are not a reasonable basis for understanding the universe. That’s just me, though.
And so, I respectfully put religion aside (I said respectfully).
And no, I cannot disprove god; I don’t wish to.
Hitchen’s said it best. “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
Please don’t think ill of me, for I am an equal opportunity disbeliever, as I consider science as a flawed belief system as well. Although I criticize it much less because at least it has come basis in reality, it is empirical after all.
But even science has its own talking snakes; I am referring to mathematical logic.
Kurt Gödel, a famous mathematician from the early twentieth century, had shown that the foundation of mathematical logic was based on core axioms that could not be proven. Yeah, wow. That snake is deep in the grass.
Then in the same century, quantum mechanics discovered the limitation of observation within the atomic world. So our takeaway here is the foundation of mathematical logic and science, in general, is underpinned with cracked logic and the limits of rationality. Great. Perfect.
But before you sink into existential despair, my feeling is this:
Where we lack an answer is perhaps where we learn that the ultimate is more than an answer. Which is inspiring in a spiritual way.
Long ago, we thought that the earth was the centre of the universe, then we thought the centre was the sun, now we know there is no centre. And perhaps ‘knowing’ is not central either.
Okay, just one more Christopher Hitches quote, then I’ll stop. This one comes from a closing remark from a debate in 2010, “Take the risk of thinking for yourself; much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way.”