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The Arrogance of Learned Men

Posted by Nate

Science is a wonderful thing.  Science led us to space travel and the human genome.  Science is the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.  Science is computers and cell phones.  Science changed our civilization, our life and our understanding of the world.  Science proved to be a very effective and efficient tool to help people to discover secrets of the universe and to improve lives.  So, it is no wonder that many take science as an indisputable and omnipotent realm. For those people science is the only way to obtain knowledge and an understanding of the world.  Are there any limitations on what we learn by using scientific research?  The short answer – we do not know.  Do we know a better approach, a better way to gain the understanding of the Universe?

Is there a better or perhaps a different approach?

Every new theory, every new physical law, every new discovery is a closer approximation to the truth.  But, in my opinion, we will never know the whole truth.  Can humanity gain the ultimate knowledge, the full understanding of the world?  The Universe is a dynamic system, it is constantly changing, developing.  We have to admit that a full understanding of the Universe by applying the Scientific Method may be impossible.

I tried to put our limitations in numbers.

Our Universe

Matter distribution in the Universe.

The universal horizon is about 13 billion light years away.  By some calculations, the size of the Universe is about 158 billion light years, which means that we can see only 0.05% of the Universe.  In addition what we are able to see are the images from the past.  The farther we look, the more distant the past is.

But even what we can see, the matter we can detect, is just a small part of what is out there.  The visible matter in the Universe, one that our instruments can detect is just 4% of what is out there.  The rest, the other 96% is what we call Dark Matter and Dark Energy; in other words, we do not have a clue what it is.  So, all together we possibly may be able to see only 0.002% of the Universe.

“We are at the very beginning of time for the human race.  It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems.  But there are tens of thousands of years in the future.  Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.” Richard P. Feynman

 Now what about Evolution?  Is it a complete theory?

Here are some excerpts:

Natural Selection

Not complete.

"Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and paleontology does not provide them"  (David Kitts, paleontologist and evolutionist).

"The curious thing is that there is a consistency about the fossil gaps; the fossils are missing in all the important places" (Francis Hitching, archaeologist).

"But as by THIS THEORY innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we NOT find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?"  Charles Darwin

 Yes, scientific accomplishments are impressive.  But it is very humbling to realize how little we know.

“It is necessary, I believe, to accept this idea, not only for science, but also for other things; it is of great value to acknowledge ignorance.  It is a fact that when we make decisions in our lives, we don't necessarily know that we are making them correctly; we only think that we are doing the best we can – and that is what we should do.”  F

 There is another aspect to the scientific methods of today.

In order to discover deeper qualities of matter we smash things into each other.  We build giant machines to smash matter into smaller and smaller pieces.  Is there a possibility that the whole is more then the sum of its parts?  Take the computer for example.  What will we discover by smashing it into small pieces?  Will we know about the electricity and software that makes a computer a computer?  Do we need a different approach to understand Nature not from inside out but from the outside in?  Should we look for the software?

What irritates me a lot is the condescending, all-knowing attitude of many learned people toward any ideas and philosophy that is outside today's main stream scientific dogmas.  Mysticism, Eastern philosophy, New Age, religion - each one following a different path in the eternal quest for knowledge, for understanding the world.  I think that part of the problem is the way science is taught in schools.  Kids are given a boring set of facts or dogmas to learn and memorize.

Kids and Science

Natural curiosity.

But science, our world, is a wonderful mystery, an adventure.  Science is the quest to open new horizons, new secrets, a new understanding of the world.  Kids love mystery, secrets, adventure; and that is what science is to real scientists.

 "The scientific spirit of adventure – the adventure into the unknown, an unknown which must be recognized as being unknown in order to be explored; the demand that the unanswerable mysteries of the universe remain unanswered; the attitude that all is uncertain; to summarize it – the humility of the intellect.” F

A question: can anything move faster than light?


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