Science and the Unknown

Because scientists have had so much success understanding our material world, they at times are tempted to “explain” our spiritual side.  When analyzing the important issues of life such as who we are, what values we should hold, and the meaning of life, the answers proposed by scientists have no more proof that those of the religious community.  Scientists like to point to experiments which validate their point of view on these issues but other experiments accomplished tomorrow or next year might negate the conclusions offered today.  Do we change what we believe is true about our value system every time science comes up with a different experimental result?  How do we know that what science tells us today is valid if tomorrow it might change?  Do we really want to base what we think is true or our values on “facts” that might change tomorrow and of which we are uncertain?

Another limitation of science is that it must start with the known.  Unless science has some information on a phenomenon, it cannot investigate that phenomenon.  However, just because science is not aware of a particular phenomenon, does that mean it does not exist?  Of course not!  The history of science teaches us that in the past science was not aware of certain phenomenon that now we believe to be real.  Did atoms, meteorites, quasars, atomic fusion, and DNA exist before the scientists “discovered” them?  Of course they did!  Just because science has no proof for the human soul does not mean we do not have a soul.  Science certainly cannot prove we do not have a soul.  Science cannot prove God does not exist.  A fundamental rule of logic is that absence of proof does not necessarily mean the premise is false. [1]

Science, of all our institutions, should understand there is so much in our world that remains a mystery but because something is a mystery does not mean it is a delusion.  The arts seem to be ahead of science in this aspect.  In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Hamlet states:  “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” [2]  William Blake says:  “For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern” [3] and “. . .he only takes portions of existence and fancies that the whole”. [4]  The history of science itself teaches us that scientific knowledge is not all there is to human existence.

The principles of science have been of an enormous benefit to humankind.  However, Gopi Krishna notes that science has:

. . .no satisfactory explanation to offer for my individual existence or for the infinitely complex creation around me.  Confronted by a mystery, which grows deeper with the advance of knowledge, it [is] not yet in a position to be a source of illumination on issues admittedly beyond its present sphere of inquiry. [5]

It should be obvious that science is not a reliable guide for what our values should be, for the ultimate meaning of life.  David Parks, emeritus professor of physics at Williams College states:  “. . .if you want truth you have to go to a theologian, not a scientist. . .” [6]  Science has performed in an extraordinary manner in dealing with issues within our space and time but it says little about the issues that lie beyond.


[1]   Robert J. Gula, Nonsense (Mount Jackson, VA:  Axios Press, 2002), p. 43.

[2]   William Shakespeare, Edited by Cyrus Hoy, Hamlet (New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 1992), p. 25.

[3]   Alexander Gilchrist, The Life of William Blake (Mineola, NY:  Dover Publications, Inc., 1998), p. 85.

[4]   Ibid., p. 86.

[5]   Gopi Krishna, Living with Kundalini (Boston:  Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1993), p. 80.

[6]   Dick Teresi, Lost Discoveries (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 2002), p. 395.

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