Science

Science has resulted in the steady accumulation of knowledge about the biophysical world. It tells us about the nature of the physical universe, about the evolution of life, about the ecological and physiological processes that keep us going.

Science, of course, is not infallible. Early scientific findings may be faulted in some way, or they may paint an incomplete picture – leading to wrong conclusions. But over time, step by step, the truth emerges.

Personally, I have much more confidence in the sciences as a source of reliable information about reality than I have in the various dreams and visions that religious people refer to as revelations. This holds as much for the quite recent revelations of people like the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and ex-President of the United States, George W. Bush, as it does for those of individuals who lived thousands of years ago.

I recognise, however, that science has two important weaknesses.

First, science tells us nothing about morality. The findings of science do not tell us whether it is right or wrong to needlessly cause pain or distress in humans or other animals. It does not tell us whether it matters if the human species trashes the living systems that gave rise to it and on which it depends, or comes to an early end through its own activities and arrogance.

The second important limitation of science is that it does not explain everything. Although, through science, we progressively understand more and more about the biophysical world, we cannot, on the basis of existing knowledge, comprehend the ultimate origin of all the processes which underpin the universe, life on Earth and our own existence. There must be an explanation – but we are ignorant of it. 

Thus, science still leaves an unexplained mystery – the mystery of existence – the mystery of the origin of the natural phenomena and laws that gave rise to the living world. This underlying mystery is ultimately responsible for me, and for all life on Earth.

In my view, it is unscientific to deny the existence of this mystery, just as it is rather silly to dream up an explanation in the form of an all-powerful supernatural human-like god who has created each species of plant and animal separately, and who monitors our behaviour and who will, if we believe in him or her, take us up to heaven when we die.

I am content to accept the mystery as unexplainable at the present time, and I suspect it will always remain so.  The nearest I can get to resolving this mystery is to observe, listen to and learn about Nature.

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