How Much Does Science Know?
There was a time when people believed that the world was flat, and that the sky was a bowl turned upside down. How much more do we know now, than we did then?
Today, through our telescopes, we can photograph galaxies at the edge of the visible universe. With our super-colliders, we can extract the tiniest known particles from the core of an atom. We have sent men to the moon, and through mathematics alone discovered black hole stars.
When the Greeks first calculated the size of the earth using geometric measurements of sunbeams, they correctly concluded that the circumference of the earth is about 25,000 miles. Having achieved this amazing feat, they immediately discarded their results as being too preposterous. The earth could not possibly be that large.
Now we know that it is that large. But how far have we really come?
We congratulate ourselves on having advanced from a table-top world under a bowl, to living in a universe that is a hundred million trillion (100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) miles in radius. The number of stars has multiplied from the few hundred we see at night, to more than the numbers of grains of sand on the beaches of the world. We can even discover what the stars are made of.
Our reach has expanded more than a million fold. And some scientists have even said that we are on the very verge of knowing everything.
We have progressed from living in a drop of water to occupying an entire lake. But the lake is not all that there is. There are many oceans of reality yet unexplored. And they may be very unlike any lake.
According to some indications, the universe may be not just unimaginably large, but it may actually be infinitely large. And there may be infinite numbers of infinitely large universes. We cannot begin to imagine that.
It has long been a tenet of science that the universe is the same everywhere, at least in the sense that the laws of nature are everywhere the same at all times. But at least one team of astronomers has found clues that there is a region of space which is fundamentally unlike our own region, a place where natural law, as we understand it, no longer applies. (See Dark Flow theory for details.)
Indeed, even in the interior of a black hole star, the rules are drastically changed. And none of the known rules of nature could have generated themselves by any known process.
Even if we were to multiply our knowledge a million times, our science would have grown from the size of a pebble to the size of a boulder — but as nothing compared to the size of Mount Everest, which in turn is as nothing compared to the size of the earth.
It is not that science is futile, nor that we should diminish the quest for truth. But if our quest is to give us progress rather than carry us to destruction, we must maintain our humility.
Science can dissect for us what it is that composes a house, but not music. Science cannot distinguish between a house and a pile of rubble. No natural law makes that distinction. Only in our minds is there a difference.
The universe is not a pile of rubble, but our house. It is not a cacophony, but a symphony. It is not a roll of the dice, but a work of art.
No matter how smart we ever become, we must never lose sight of those fundamental truths, or else, we are lost.