Sunday, May 1, 2016
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
“Hello, I’m (fill in name), and I have some extremely important questions that I desperately need to have answered.”
This, it seems to me, is not an uncommon condition among living, thinking human beings. At some point in a thinking being’s life, the realization comes that one has a very limited time in which to find answers to some very important questions before one’s life is over. We seem to find ourselves deposited, for some unknown reason, and with no choice in the matter, in the middle of an on-going story in which we experience all too short moments of joy and happiness, interspersed with horrendous problems and dilemmas not of our own making, followed with eventual mental and physical decline, sickness and death. This situation, it seems to me, is unacceptable. Given our predicament, we desperately need to find answers to questions like: Who or what are we, and what did we do to deserve to be cast into this sea of joy and sorrow, uncertainty and eventual death? There must be more to the story than we know. If that is the case, then we need to find out what the story is all about. We need to know exactly what is behind this drama. Is there meaning and purpose, or is there nothing? Perhaps we can start with some very simple questions like:
Are there definitive answers to our questions? And, if so, how do we find them?
There are a lot of people out there who profess to have the answers. And it is tempting, and very convenient to accept their answers, and this is what most people do, because it makes life easier … at least in the short term. But I think it is a big mistake to accept someone else’s answers unless you can prove for yourself that they are true, because accepting someone else’s answers without thoroughly understanding them does not remove you from the dilemma: you still find yourself in a reality you don’t really understand, relying on someone else’s word to find your way through.
At some point, surely as death threatens, if not before, everyone must ask: Who am I? Where did I come from? What is my destination? What is the meaning and purpose of this existence?
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646 – 1716), considered by most historians of philosophy and science to be a polymath, an almost unparalleled universal genius, said that for every effect there is a cause, and thus for every meaningful question there is an answer. Certainly the questions posed above are meaningful; so how do we go about finding the answers? The great religions of the world rely at some point on divine revelations brought forth by one or a few special individuals. Historically, the majority of humanity has tried to live meaningful, purposeful lives by accepting and following the revelations of these special individuals as codified by organized religious institutions that sprang up after those special individuals were gone from this earthly scene.
But organized religions, like organized political parties, become corrupt all too easily, and those in positions of influence and power often seek to subrogate the founder’s message and control the masses for their own personal gain, under the guise that it is for the greater good of the people. Historically, institutionalized belief systems, religious on one hand, and political on the other, have competed to keep people from thinking for themselves. As rationalists developed mathematics and the scientific method of investigation and applied them to reveal answers to questions about the natural world, it became clear that many of the doctrines and dogma being taught by organized institutions were wrong.
Over the past 100 years, science has challenged the traditional religious and political institutions as a reliable source of truth. But, because of ego and desire for personal power and wealth, the purveyors of religion and government are loath to give up their authority and try in every way conceivable to maintain control. They even try to incorporate science into their doctrines, accepting scientific findings if they suit their agendas, and rejecting them if they don’t.
So, is science as we know it going to supply us with the answers to all our questions? Unfortunately, no. Why? For several reasons. First, science is made up of scientists, and scientists, who may be more intelligent as a group than the general populace, are still human beings. During my half century working as a scientist, I’ve seen many instances of scientists slanting their results to fit the agenda of those in power, in order to obtain more funding for their research. Second, and more important, science as we know it, has some severe self-imposed limitations. Mainstream science has been designed to answer questions about material objects moving in space-time, but has carefully avoided certain taboo subjects. Those taboos eliminate the very areas of investigation that can produce answers to questions more important than rocket trajectories. Can science be improved in some way to make it applicable to the important questions? To understand why modern mainstream science has limited itself in such a way as to be unable to answer the most important questions, and how it is improved by TDVP and TRUE quantum analysis, we have to return to the roots of modern science and investigate the ideas of some of the most brilliant natural scientists and mathematicians of the past.
To be continued.