Why Science?

Why Science?

Because salt.

There is an unknowable multitude of molecules of NaCl in a single grain of table salt (about 10^18, give or take). That number exceeds comprehension, but through Scientific inquiry we can fully grasp every molecule of every grain. We do not need to explore deeply the impossible number of individual characters of each grain of salt. We have salt known.

Salt is a great example for this fact alone, and also because it once held a mystic reverence for its cryptic nature. Today it is so well known we can and do produce it in abundance. It no longer has any regal mystique. This is a positive thing. The loss of romanticism surrounding salt does not detract from the depth by which human beings experience the world.

As it went with salt, so it goes with countless other manifestations of the universe. From the steel in our buildings, to the oil that fuels our vehicles, to the fibers that weave our clothing, to the plants and animals that make up our diets, to the medicine that keeps us healthy, all things explored and added to humanity’s extensive knowledge. All things knowable now.

That knowledge creates a light of familiarity which clears the darkness of misunderstanding. This is a positive thing.

As it went with those countless aspects of the universe, so it will go with human creatures. Humans have an affinity for imagining themselves as impossibly complex, entirely unique beings. It is a romantic notion that each individual need be carefully studied before they can be known. It’s debasing to compare ourselves to salt. Rightly, understandably so.

But substantively the distinction is baseless and hinges only on scale and complexity. Humans are like salt in that they are knowable. The reach of humanity’s knowledge has only thus far failed to achieve that know-ability.

The reasons for past failure are two. One: it has taken time, and technology, to discern the countless subtleties that constitute a human being. Furthermore, it is trickier to establish objective truths about oneself than anything else. We are too biased, and too immersed in the immediate act of living, to study a human life.

And two: Objective inquiry is often driven towards the inanimate world around us. The nature of self, soul, and identity has long been the realm of religion and spirituality. So knowledge has been slow to develop in that region. Until recently.

Just like the superstitious mystique of salt, the superstitious mystique of consciousness will be blotted out by the light of knowledge. That is a positive thing. And just like salt, the loss of romanticism surrounding consciousness does not detract from the depth in which human beings experience the world. Just the opposite.

Objective explanation is often unjustly derided as a cold, shallow, sterile view on the universe. This is a prejudice that demonizes the facts of pure intellect as stabbing the heart of sentiment. Not a fair judgment.

Defense against these criticisms is difficult. They are often made emotionally, where the intellect holds least sway. And they are often made ignorantly, coming from a misunderstanding that is not easily dispelled.

But I do defend objective explanation.

Because intuition alone is blind. Contrary to what many believe, intuition is constrained to immediate experience. It is prone to the errors that afflict an imperfect brain. It ascribes undue significance to emotional judgment. And to our great detriment, it consigns the profoundest qualities of a human being to the inscrutably mysterious realm of spirituality.

But I have witnessed time and time again fundamental motivations shared by humans around the world. Beneath the veneer of culture, religion, class, and nationality there are fundamental questions they ask. There are fundamental behaviors they exhibit. And there are objective truths that explain these fundamentals just as religious dogma and spiritual precepts do.

The reason I hold objective truths in such high regard is because they’re so elegantly weaved into the tapestry of all human knowledge. The same method of inquiry that has allowed humans to dominate the planet can also allow humans to master themselves.

This ocean of objective truth has a titanic reputation for accuracy and honesty. It has an unmatched ability to seek out and learn about the universe far beyond the capacity of our intuition. And it explores these regions completely immune to bias.

It has the high ground of truth over all other belief systems.

That’s why I invest my faith there. Because Science makes the universe knowable.

Thank you for reading.


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