Progress Report: Mwah

35,433

Mwah. That’s all I’ve really got to say.

Here’s the end of the chapter on science:


BUT THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN SCIENCE, I HEAR YOU CRY

Myself, I’m not so sure that’s true anymore.

I used to subscribe to the idea that science explained the how while religion explained the why, but science is getting closer to why all the time. Religion used to have the monopoly on morality, for instance – the big question, why are we moral? Well, science has an answer for that, now: reciprocal altruism. Did you know that chimpanzees display a moral sense? It’s because being moral is the only way to get along in a group. We evolved a moral sense because those individuals who didn’t get along with others, couldn’t be trusted, and were such selfish little bastards that nobody would share with them anymore didn’t survive long enough to produce a lot of offspring.

Science will one day explain why I love mythology and allegory, but don’t believe in gods at all, whereas you believe one book contains the literal truth of God and all others are useless bunkum. I have no doubt of that. Science has a proven track record of explaining things that people swore it never could, so there’s nothing I put past it now – except proving that Bob the Invisible Unicorn lives under my bed. Still, science is closing in on the reasons I why might believe such a thing, even if my Bob hypothesis is one of those that science can’t do a damned thing with.

A lot of people think that science is a cold, clinical thing. Nothing to do with art, imagination, or mystery. It solves mysteries, it takes all of the intrigue out of life. It’s sad that people think that, because it’s not strictly true.

Science is gorgeous. I do a weekly feature on my blog called Sunday Sensational Science, and I’m never short of material. I can always find something sensational, awe-inspiring, or intriguing. There are still plenty of mysteries to be solved, and once we solve one, another pops up – we’ll probably never run out of mystery. And the thing you discover is that the mysteries get more interesting as you go along.

More and more art is being inspired by science. Just recently, an opera called Doctor Atomic finished a successful Broadway run. It’s all about a physicist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and the creation of the atomic bomb. The music is just fantastic. Another one, The Origin, came out in time for Darwin’s two hundreth birthday, and was inspired by The Origin of Species. Both of them have all of the passion, humanity, and drama you could ever want. It’s not just God or mystery that inspires great music.

Science has been the driving force behind great works of art in painting, sculpture, literature, philosophy, and theatre. Science not only informs, but entertains, invigorates, intrigues, and impassions.

One of the most beautiful books I have ever read was The Dancing Wu Li Masters, which tells the story of quantum physics mixed in with a bit of Eastern philosophy. You can indeed merge the sacred and the scientific. Ask Ken Miller, who recently wrote Finding Darwin’s God. Science itself isn’t religious, and the scientific method doesn’t allow religion to dictate the answers science gives, but that doesn’t mean that you, yourself, can’t let science become part of your religious experience. Listen. If you believe God created the world, and science shows us just how incredible that world is, how can you not stand in awe when the true scope of that creation is revealed by science?

I’m not the person to help you reconcile science and your religion, but I hope I’ve at least encouraged you to try.

Don’t yell at me for not trying to convert them to atheism here, or taking the purist view that science and religion can’t coexist. This book is not a manual for conversion, and that goes both ways. If they’re not going to throw off religion and become dyed-in-the-wool atheists, I’d at least like them to see science as something other than the enemy of their religion.

Right, then. I must go collapse. I feel like the walking dead.

Comments

  1. says

    I have always found attempts to make parallels between quantum physics and Eastern mysticism to range between pointlessly vague and absolutely fucking dreadful. If they’re not promoting some Californian New Age mindbarf, they’re trying to shanghai quantum mechanics to support ESP or homeopathy. Or, they’re rabidly nationalist Hindutva ideologues who want to prove that all modern science was foretold in the Vedas.Even in the best possible case, they’re promoting an obsolete view of quantum mechanics, by taking the most speculative statements of a select few physicists who were pondering the matter decades ago, when we knew significantly less about the subject than we do now. No, you do not create the world by observing it. No, not every measurement “collapses the wavefunction”. Yes, you really do have to learn mathematics to appreciate what the open questions are and where the frontier of knowledge lies.

  2. says

    Only 15,567 to go.Never took the correspondence between Eastern religious beliefs and modern science all that seriously, either. It always seemed like another case of selective attention – look only at the things that agree and ignore all the differences.Still, I’m sure people inclined toward religion would, and it might be nice that they could think of science as not being hostile to their beliefs.