This is going to be one of those drink-fuelled theoretical rambles. You have been warned.
Whenever ‘religion’ and ‘science’ appear together, a fight always ensues. Even though it isn’t really necessary and neither side is quite sure what they are objecting to.
The public face of modern science is pretty much indistinguishable from the way-out wackos on the outer limits of most religions. What the public see are the scientific equivalent of men in turbans waving AK-47s and screaming ‘I keeel you!’. In the background, real scientists are the equivalent of the corner shop owner who shakes his head at the TV and says ‘Look at those idiots. They give us all a bad name’.
It’s true. The extremists are the ones who get noticed. They are almost always a tiny minority but they are the ones who get into the history books. Look at the Spamish Inquisition. They have entire history books all to themselves but there were millions of other Catholics around at the time who wanted nothing to do with torture and murder. They don’t get so much as a footnote.
The Westboro Baptist Church, led by that guy in the hat from ‘Poltergeist’ who might have died recently (it must be hard to tell) have a hell of a lot more news coverage than the Christians who run charity stalls to raise the money to fix up some community centre somewhere. Yet that bizarre ‘church’ is just one family!
Right from the start of my career in science, I had no wish to strut the world stage making great pronouncements. I was born to be a backroom boffin. If I had one hero in science, it was one of my former lecturers who could deliver the most astounding findings as if he was discussing the weather. It was just his job. He discovered things, that’s what he was paid to do. Nothing remarkable about someone delivering on what they are paid to do, right?
Unfortunately, when the cuts came, those who took the credit were kept on and all their backroom boffins made redundant. I wonder what they take the credit for now? I also wonder if the disposal of all the boffins might have led directly to the debasement of the public image of science. With nothing real to report, the ‘front-men’ are now just making shit up.
Still I had the last laugh when redundancy came my way. There was some equipment I had devised and built and nobody else knew how to use it. I rescued it from being scrapped and installed it in my new rented lab, next door to the one I was made redundant from. It’s still there – I still have the lab even though there’s been no science in there for years. The rent is cheap since the old employers now have far more labs than boffins.
It seems I am digressing again but all I am trying to show is that to the public, science is no longer any different to religion. The public believe in the Green God of Warm. They believe in the Demon Tobacco and the Hobgoblin Drink and the Poltergeist of Sugar and all the rest and they defend their beliefs by claiming that High Priests of Science have said so, therefore it must be true. They do not see that they are being drawn into a cult. This has been so effective that it must be deliberate. That is modern politics and where such things come from will be dealt with later.
Science has no idea where the universe came from. Let’s be honest, scientists. There is no way to be sure. You cannot even take a time machine back to watch the big bang happen. If you did, you would be inside the universe all the way back to where it was quantum foam in a point – and you would be, too. There is no way to ever determine whether the universe popped into existence on its own or whether a God did it.
If a God did it, that God would have been outside the universe when it popped (light the blue touch paper and stand well back) ands is therefore outside the universe now.
Okay, the universe looks pretty big to us, doesn’t it? If God has to go all around it then it will take billions of years before he gets back to the bit we’re in. But try another perspective.
The Bible says we are made in God’s image. I have a 1/3000 scale model of the Altmark, a German supply ship. It is the image of the real thing. Those more skilled than me have made models you can only appreciate with a microscope. They are made in the image of the original but far, far tinier – and we are not gods. God could be vast. To us, the universe is huge but to a God sitting outside it, it might be a benchtop experiment.
In that case, God could be everywhere at once. He would just zoom in on us and maybe poke a bit there or tweak a bit here. Or maybe just watch us engineer our own demise.
What is outside the universe? Nothing? Or something? It is likely we will never be able to know, whether there is a God out there or not. We are limited by our senses which are tuned to let us live in this reality.
But… is this reality real? According to astrophysics, around 80% of the universe is stuff we can neither see nor measure. Dark matter is not the anomaly. We are.
The reality we live in is weird. For tonight I’ll leave it at that and continue this tomorrow.