Thursday, November 09, 2006

Working It All Out; Phase 7: Science Redux

I’m not anti-science. Of course there’s nothing wrong with the grand endeavor to understand the workings of the universe. Yet there’s a couple of things that get lost in the dust of experimentation and theory and amazing discovery.

The first concerns the workings. It’s an amazing organism, this creation of ours, but science only looks at the surfaces, or the surfaces beneath the surfaces. Because when it nears the essences it discovers a paradox that’s only a paradox if you consider the universe a mere machine. The observer effects the observed. At some level, the universe becomes one with our consciousness.

The second concerns knowledge itself. It isn’t necessarily a good thing. And why that sounds like an ignorant thing to say is in itself an ignorant thing. Knowledge is neutral. Our pursuit of it alone is like the pursuit of distance alone. Without a destination, without an ethic, without some truth, it’s a lot of wasted space. And god knows where you might end up. Atomic theory anyone?

There’s a third thing and it isn’t really about science but the popular perception of it, and the resultant loss of wonder and the accompanying adoption of hubris. As if we actually can understand creation. Here we live on this speck of a planet and we can actually insist we know it all. That there isn’t something greater, further, deeper, more hidden, more wondrous, more essential. Odds are for it.

But somehow our culture thinks there was an argument won by science. When it was never really fought. Maybe fundamentalist religion made their argument and seemingly lost. But that was really a stacked deck. A straw dog. Creation isn’t some words in a book. It’s not superstition or literal interpretation. It’s the essence of things. And science will never come close to that.

3 comments:

Rob Mackenzie said...

I suppose pop-science writers like Richard Dawkins would claim that they haven't lost their wonder for things, that their pursuit of knowledge and the feeling they will soon understand it all gives them an even greater sense of wonder.

Unfortunately an arrogance accompanies his thinking - an arrogance that leads him to make bigger and more dogmatic claims than he is entitled to make and that leads him simply to dismiss anyone who questions him.

Wonder and arrogance don't sit together happily in the same room.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is an amazing creation - but why is it "our creation"? That is pretty anthropocentric and leads to human excesses... But I guess, on another level, that science (as well as religion) is "our creation" which becomes our reality, and thereby our creation.

And yes, your 4th paragraph is so true: all human searching materially or spiritually seems to lead to still greater and more wondrous mysteries.

Not only science but also man's religion will never be able to come close to "the essence of things".

Greg said...

Rob, I'm not sure if wonder and arrogance can sit together at all. This universe isn't big enough for the 2 of them.

Anon, I'm only saying 'our creation' because we're part of it. Not because we own it. And I agree with you wholeheartedly about religion not coming close to that essence. Religions have a tendency to codify the essence. And the essense can't be organized.