Series One: Post Three
There is not one greatest accomplishment in the history of science, because knowledge does not exist in a vacuum. The natural world is a complex organism where all things are connected in some way. From the furthest single star from our location in the Universe to the billions of bacterium going about their business in my colon, everything that is has something in common with everything else.
Biology and Physics
We collectively would know nothing about my colon or the physics of that distant star without the accomplishments brought about by Enlightenment Ideas and the Scientific Method. We would know nothing about the development of our tiny island Earth, and we would know nothing about the amazing, yet improbable events that brought about our opportunity to know in the first place.
As it happened, we turned knowing into probability and consensus. This seems right to me; with our limited access to ‘everything’, and our limited time to observe, no one individual could possibly know everything. Yet, there are those who think they do. Start to finish; past, present, and future; they have all the answers. “Yep, I am sure you do, guy. Have fun with that. I’ll pass.”
To Not know is Better
I enjoy the history of how our modern ethos arrived. Because a single one of us can’t do it all, we share and we specialize; we learn what we can based on our personal interests and abilities, and we share our findings. Then, we hear from others and imagine new ideas based on what we have learned and go testing. All the while, if we are to know, we follow the rules of the game—data and consensus.
Looking back, or an appreciation for history, is how we attempt to answer that fundamental question we all ask which is, ‘Where did I come from?’ That is a fascinating question, for sure, but I don’t know if looking back is the best approach.
If we may look forward, we may gain a greater insight into that question as well as so many others. I give you the reader permission to go Wikipedia creation stories and choose the one you like best. There are many; some seem awful and mean, some seem pleasant and satisfying, and others seem completely ridiculous. For goodness sakes, something came from nothing…BANG…stuff followed physical laws and here we are. Are you kidding?
Really, Are you Kidding?
Okay, that last one is actually supported by data and consensus if you happen to be a physicist. Thank God for Brian Green, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and my favorite, Lawrence Krauss. These guys are helping us with the really ‘out there’ ideas, and I think that is wonderful. We need their help to give us insight that allows us to gaze freely and admiringly at our current place of residence.
Once we look forward though, we see a story unwritten. A virgin history so to speak. Will she be a subservient toy controlled by the past, or will she be an unchained freak determined to carve a new course?
Will we always look back for advice about the future, or will we create the world we think is best for us now and best for those who follow? Maybe looking backward is not the answer.
I appreciate so much the impact on me from learning from the past; looking backwards and respecting the accomplishments and failures of the generations that left us this. I can’t know this, so I say that I believe, I am a product of past thinkers that guided the development of the world that I now live in. Because I am here now, and you are here now also, at some point people will look back on us and say, “I am a product of past thinkers that guided the development of the world that I now live in.”