One of the most common cliches I hear in debates, etc, is that 'science doesn't have all the answers', followed by, invariably, some 'question' along the lines of 'What is love?' or 'Why do we exist' or some such. I am usually told that whatever mystic mumbo-jumbo the asker believes contains such answers, or even more commonly, that 'spirituality' in general is all that is needed, that the answers can found only by navel-gazing or heeding random voices. There's a major problem here.
While it may be true that science and reason cannot (YET!) answer questions such as 'How high is a mouse when it spins?', or 'What is the meaning of existence?', it is also true that neither can anything else.
Let me offer an example. At this point, science cannot answer the question "What is the googleth digit of pi?" I will, thus, answer it without using science. The googleth digit of pi is 9. The next four digits are 3865.
Do you feel satisfied with this answer?
Of course not. You're probably saying, "You're just making that up!"
Prove I'm making it up.
"Easy! We'll just wait until the next generation of supercomputers calculates pi to the googleth place. Then you'll see!"
(I'm not sure this actually can be done, since I don't think there's a google atoms in the universe, but that's beside the point.)
No one would ever accept an arbitrary declaration of the digits of pi to be valid. Why, then, do people accept arbitrary declarations of other things?
The answers to imponderable questions of life, the universe, and digital watches offered by religion are just as meaningless as my declaration of the googleth digit of pi. The fact someone can make up an 'answer' does not mean the answer is valid. (Ask anyone who ever filled in the blanks on a math test with random numbers in the hopes of getting some correct) Yet, people who would never accept an arbitrary answer on something which can even in theory be tested happily accept equally arbitrary answers which can't be tested at all!
Consider. We know there is a googleth digit of pi. While we have no means to determine it, we do know it exists to be determined. Maybe benevolent space aliens from the quantum dimension told it to me. Since the answer does exist, it is as least possible (however improbable) that I know it. (I have, after all, a 10% chance of correctly guessing any given digit of pi. A 'psychic' or 'prophet' or 'visionary' who was right ten percent of the time would be the most accurate one in history.)
On the other hand, there is no reason to believe there is an answer to questions such as "Why does evil exist?" or "Why do fools fall in love?".(OK, easy one. Fools fall in love because love is foolish. But you get the general concept.)
There is another aspect to this which must be remembered:Inability to prove something is 'x' does not prove something is 'y'. This is a common problem with religious nuts and flying saucer buffs. There is a bizaare, but all too common, mentality which holds that "I saw a light in the sky;no one can tell me what it was;therefore, it was a spaceship." Or, likewise, "No one can tell how the universe came to be, therefore, God made it." There seems to be a mindset which cannot accept an unknown, and which, further, lacks the capacity (or, more likely, the desire) to determine if an 'answer' is actually correct.
You will find many who claim that rationality and the scientific method cannot reveal all truth, that some truths can only be had by revelation. But who is doing the revealing, and who is it being revealed to? How does one separate those who have had true revelations from those who just had some really bad pizza before going to bed? One man's wisdom-spewing talking coyote is another man's chili pepper hallucination. While modern day advocates of mysticism, safe and secure in a society based on principles laid down in the age of reason, wax nostalgic for the good old days, the fact is that the answers to my questions are as follows:
Q:Who is doing the revealing? A:The god the High Priest told you about.
Q:Who is it being revealed to? A:The High Priest.
Q:How does one separate true revelations from false? A:The High Priest has a lot of friends with knives, clubs, and red-hot pincers.
When knowledge is revealed rather than learned, tests of truth becomes tests of endurance -- and few people are willing to have their fingernails ripped off in the name of pi.
What is wrong with "Damned if I know!" or "Haven't got a clue!" as answers to life's (momentary) imponderables? Why do people willingly accept answers which they know are arbitrary as opposed to accepting the fact that some things are unknown and currently unknowable?
Science does not yet have the answer to that question, either. But I have had a revelation. The answer is:"Because all you of Earth are IDIOTS!"
Works for me.
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