We are all looking

No matter the tribe, no matter the time our minds have invented stories to explain who we are and why we exist. It is science that has enabled us to do away with humano-centric stories and slowly walk a path that talks about existence without making it all about humanity.

I think thats why so many religious people fear science, because they are scared of being meaningless given that meaning to them means making them something individual and special. They want the story to make them something more than the are not show them how more everything else is.

Science has a magnificence that eludes the vain

London Lights

I am staying with my great cousin Simon and being enlightened about the way in which scientists are in the pay of politicians and feeding us nonsense about a round earth and the planet not being in the centre of our universe.

It’s all fund stuff which I have come down to a few principles of my own;

Science is a series of theories to be proven, each one can build on others, but we still know less than there is to be known.

Politicians and those in power want to keep the masses under control in many ways but scientific expression seems to me to one pace where they have no power.

There are many ways of lying to people but good mathematics cannot lie. If it is mistaken it will be shown to be at some stage.

The Science In Religion

There are many books looking at belief vis-a-vis science and trying, desperately at times, to marry the two together. Only because so many people cannot bare to be without their belief. But there are a few very important ways in which the two are similar.

We do not know if other animals have as intricate thought processes as we do, but we do know that we have the greatest ability to shape and change our environments. That sets us apart. The ‘being apart’ from all other life as the basis for self-examination is shared by religions and science.

The idea that we are the only animal that is self-aware offends anyone who works or lives with animals and is rather ridiculous – a fox eating off its foot in a trap to get away must obviously be self-aware otherwise it wouldn’t know it was trapped. But this self awareness gives us an idea we are set, or placed, in the universe. Although they differ on that place radically this is also an idea shared by religion and science.

Being apart and having self-awareness suggests to the religious that we have a destiny and to scientists that we are ‘a way for the universe to know itself’. Both see value in our being able to do something significant.

I am of course highly agnostic,  and if pushed would say I am atheist, but even I believe in knowledge and my ability to interact with the descriptions of nature that we have created. That interaction is what life, science and belief are all about.

Science Affliction

I have to admit I love the ideas in science, even though the mathematics leaves me failing badly, the whole idea that things are related at the particle level, that there are laws and rules to chemical actions and physical objects no matter how large, is fascinating. Like many people I do not think it takes away from the beauty of the world  and I am sorry only that I will  not live long enough to know everything we find out or all the machines we will make to take us out into the solar system and beyond.

I cannot point to any particular idea that got me started but I think it fair to say scientific ideas have always attracted me more than religious ones. I find the incremental way science has tried to build up pictures of how things work t be very compelling, and even more so the advance of knowledge of living things into medicine and veterinary science. if i had my life over again I would study science more deeply.

There is something wonderful  about how much a part of everything we actually are which makes it all the more depressing to see how people try vainly to think themselves apart from everything.

Magical Science

I am sure we can all point to thing in our thinking that at first glance appear to be opposites, but none-the-less we have an affection if not a high regard for both. For me these two things are an deep love of the magical from the childhood spells to the adult awe in the magnificence of things I see  hear or find out ( I still look at a rainbow as something magnificent and the eyes of animals as something wonderful) and a respect for and abiding fascination with science. The whole conceptual intelligence behind creating experiments that prove something about the way life works is not at all magical, and yet is.

And that’s the point because magic is supposed to be about an underlying arcane energy you can filter into your being if you have the knowledge and then affect the world around you, whilst science is the world around you.  They are not different as much as the first is a wish fulfillment and the second is reality.

But the reason I love them both is because in many ways the wishes of those who described magic across the world have been fulfilled by science: we fly, we create elements from raw materials, we can swim under the water, we can travel to other planets.  It is as if the imagination of those who wrote about magic in a million different stories were actually trying to presage scientific achievement.

In their own way.

Understanding Gracefulness

When you watch a large bird in flight almost lazily flapping a wing and gliding across the sky even with their slightly ungainly landings on tree tops you can fully understand why people have wanted wings. And even more when you see the size and noise of the machines we have built to fly in do you see how ungraceful we are and even the quiet ones have a rigidity about them because after all they are after-thoughts to our being and not a part of who we are.

Flight is to the bird what using tools is to humanity – something we don’t even think about. In their world we are copyists and in a strange way for all our brilliance, we are players on the field of nature. Nothing we make is truly ‘unnatural’ because the laws of science either enable something to exist or not and many of the things we things we have found we later find have antecedents in nature only perhaps on  a smaller scale and by copying their techniques – spiders walking up walls for example – we find we can do the same (well almost). What insects are teaching us about how to glue things together at a molecular level will change manufacturing.

What we are creating are the toys children play with, the adult world of science is yet to come.

The Body Beautiful

Mapping the human genome project finally finished two years ago, and now we can map our individual genetic make-up. Giving medical science the ability to tell us what is wrong with so much as a single cell in the next few years. I am sure the Greeks of the sixth century BCE would view this with some interest, as they were keen upon perfection in the body and saw the human body rather akin to a temple that you treated with respect and tested to the full.

Prolonging healthy life has always been a key determinate of human activity, decrepit old age being the repeated reason why some people have chosen to live hard-and-fast and die young before they became dependent. But I wonder if anyone, even those researching, is any more than an observer in the wider game.

We will genetically engineer children. We will use genetic techniques in the most vile tortures. We will use genetics to create new poisons for use in war.  Long ago I once heard a scientist say designing space ships for people was difficult as they took up a lot of space and legs are not necessary in space.

Legless astronauts?  Tireless soldiers? Dipnoan humans? The energy of a twenty year old at a hundred years of age?

Science is taking us to places religion only ever imagined.

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