Do our scientists have the slightest idea what they are talking about and why I am an agnostic.
Here are 11 bizarre mysteries:
1. In the beginning there was nothing and something somehow appeared. This conundrum remains even if you believe in a creator (how did the creator come to be?).
2. The universe is currently thought by most scientists to have started in a ‘big bang’. It expanded out from a ‘singularity’ – a term physicists use euphemistically to describe regions of space that defy the laws of physics.
3. Time is relative. It goes relatively slower for things that are moving fast. Experiments have shown this to be true despite the fact that it seems intuitively absurd.
4. Some small objects appear to be both waves and particles at the same time. Yet the two are mutually exclusive.
5. Particles do not have precisely defined positions and velocities, but are, to quote Stephen Hawkin: “‘smeared out’ over a small region by the ‘uncertainty principle’ of quantum mechanics.”
6. Pairs of small charged objects can be connected over large distances. Twiddle one and the other also twiddles. We have no idea how this effect happens.
7. We think that small particles behave differently only when we are observing them. We have no idea how they know we are observing them or how this happens.
8. We think that a large proportion of the universe is ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’. Without this the theories about the mechanics of the universe don’t reconcile. Yet we haven’t been able to independently measure or confirm the existence of either dark matter or dark energy – we only think they are there by inference.
9. The strength of many of the forces in the universe are just right for life – the goldilocks effect. Small changes in values would have rendered life impossible. Is this a remarkable coincidence or did it just have to be that way because if it had been any different we wouldn’t be here to observe it? And is the last statement more than a tautology?
10. What exactly is life? From the inside it appears to be more than the sum of its parts. What exactly are we? Did we exist before we were born? Will we exist after we die?
11. We think that we have free will, but we also believe that all things are caused. If our choices are caused then how can they be free? If freedom is an illusion then how come it is so convincing?
I am sure there are others – do post them if you think of any.
Personally I find these mysteries profoundly wonderful and reassuring. They are so much more interesting than if everything was understood, awesome reminders of our profound ignorance. We are still in the dark ages and don’t know the answers, we really don’t.
So, is science better at explaining things than religion?
Hardly. I don’t believe the scientists understand the universe any better than my pet cat or a slice of salami. Current scientific explanations are no more credible than an ever receding tower of turtles holding up the world, or God creating it just a few thousand years ago in only 6 days.
All of which is profound support, in my view, for being an agnostic.