Science has long been controversial, which has always baffled me. Galileo’s sun-centered heresy, vaccines, eugenics…even Einstein rejected the Big Bang theory for years in spite of growing evidence, all because of the theological implication of a beginning to the universe. Science has often been distorted in attempts to prove or disprove a particular worldview.
But I’ve always struggled with what feels to me like a misuse of science. Its purpose is to explain the world around us–not unlike philosophy or religion–though its primary question is more “what” than “why”. I struggle with any assertion that science represents certainty…even as science itself, but let alone as the final answer to one of life’s big questions. Ironically, as someone who’s wired utterly logically, I’m completely comfortable knowing we’ll never have all of the answers. I view scientific theories as simply our best guess at the time, with some theories simply having the benefit of more time and evidence.
Maybe that’s why I’m even more comfortable knowing I’ll also never have all of the answers that I want to the big “why” questions. It even seems logical that could be the biggest answer of all…that our entire purpose here is simply to wrestle with why: why are we here, and what are we going to do about it? Science can tell us how photosynthesis works or how to build a smart phone, but it can never fully explain why the monarchs migrate or how the Earth landed at just the right distance from our sun to sustain life. The cool part is how science and philosophy each inform the other. Which is perhaps why science is so controversial, when to me, it is instead simply wondrous.
“By denying scientific principles, one can maintain any paradox.” –Galileo Galilei