Friday, July 23, 2010

The Unknown

The unknown frustrates me. I am a curious guy, I want to know! But alas, the unknown does not care about my insignificant irritation. The unknown does not reveal itself on its own, knowledge and understanding must be sought after by curious minds. This principle applies to all unlearned knowledge, but specifically, I would like to focus on Creation—I use a capital “C” to identify this creation as the famous First Cause, the Beginning of Everything, not just the Earth or the Universe but Everything.

Naturally, no human observed Creation. Therefore, empirical knowledge of Creation becomes extremely difficult to acquire. Scientists have their Big Bang Theory, but it is an unsatisfying explanation. The Laws of Physics break down when so much matter and energy is concentrated on so small a point. Therefore, physicists are seeking a better understanding of the Laws of Physics, but a unified Theory of Everything remains out of reach. Perhaps it will always be out of reach. Current explanations raise more questions than they answer. String Theory, arguably the most elegant theory available, cannot be directly proved. The alleged strings are too small to observe. Without going into sundry tangents, it is clear enough that science currently falls short of understanding Creation.

Religion, on the other hand, claims absolute knowledge concerning Creation. The Bible itself starts with the words, “In the beginning.” Every religion has its Creation story, or stories. They tend to be very similar. In monotheistic religions, an all-powerful Supreme Being creates Everything out of Nothing. In polytheistic religions, there tends to be one or two original supernatural beings that create the heavens and the earth and/or give life to more supernatural beings—which, in turn, give rise to more supernatural beings and so on down the line. Both explanations do not satisfy me.

The logic does not make sense to me. Creation needs a Creator, but the Creator can just exist. Is it just me, or is that a double standard? Let me bring the scale down a tad. The chicken cannot exist without being born from an egg. The egg cannot exist without being made by the chicken. So which came first? It is an infinite digression. In this case, evolution solves the digression. However, in the case of Creation, I am not aware of any satisfactory scientific solution to the digression.

I reject the God Hypothesis, to use Richard Dawkins' terminology, because having a Creator create Creation initiates an infinite digression. Who created the Creator? Who created the creator of the Creator? It just gives me a headache. I next turned to science, but science also failed to provide a satisfactory answer—for the aforementioned reasons.

After religion and science failed me, I turned to philosophy and to imaginative thought. Perhaps we are all living in a computer program, designed by some unknown superior intelligence, not God or gods but aliens or machines (like in the Matrix). Of course, this invokes the same infinite digression as the God Hypothesis—who created the beings that created the computer program we inhabit? Maybe there are forces beyond our perception at work, not God or gods but spirits, ghosts, etc. However, I do not like to go beyond the empirical. Since I cannot know if such forces exist—I cannot know if they exist by definition: they are forces beyond human perception—I disregard the option as pure imagination. Maybe there was no Beginning. Maybe we, as humans, want to give Everything a Beginning because we have a beginning ourselves. This is my favorite explanation, although it falls short of satisfying my curiosity.

After carefully considering all the aforementioned possibilities and being no closer to the answer, I fear I must bow down to the power of the question. It seems there currently is no way of finding the answer. I hope the answer will one day be found, but even if it is never found, the fact that I enjoyed searching for the answer made asking the question worthwhile.

Yours truly,
Gabriel Gethin

1 comment:

Tay Darramont said...

I believe your last sentence captures the essence of philosophy. If you have read the excellent book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (and if you have not, you must do so straightaway), you will know what I mean when I say your last sentence reminds me of the two philosophers' objection to the computer Deep Thought. Basically, they object to the idea of a computer calculating the meaning of life because that is their job, and the point of philosophy isn't to find the answer, but just to seek it.