Questioning the Cosmos
So, I clearly still need to practice blogging as a regular exercise. It’s ironic that my admission essay for law school was a two-page self-congratulatory exhortation on the virtues of regular mental (self-)stimulation and discourse. Ah well, nothing to do but recognize the irony and move on, with apologies to any audience remaining.
Here’s something to wonder about: does the phrase “ignorance is bliss” more accurately pertain to religion or science?
Had I read that question an hour ago, I might have automatically responded that religion is ignorant of many more facts about ultimate reality than science, as science keeps unveiling more precise information about the way the universe works, in fields ranging from physics to chemistry to genetics to neuropsychology. One feels that science is palpably searching for some notion of The Truth, whereas religion still rests on its laurels of having found the “best” answer in millennia past. So doesn’t religion seem to be the one blithely confounded to ignorance while science is filled with the existentially unsatisfying knowledge?
Though this accounting is mostly accurate, I think the picture is incomplete. What’s missing is the epistemological direction of each field. By that, I mean to say that religions have basically come to all of the answers they’re going to reach. That’s why people turn to religion; for answers to questions.
On the other hand, science rarely provides an answer without simultaneously raising ten new questions. And theories that are considered bedrock truths can be upturned in a matter of decades with additional tools of research and analysis, (maybe) e.g., the (ex-)truth that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Science is still possible because of the myriad unknown answers to (unknown) questions that continue to pop up and seem unlikely to ever stop. When was the last time a religion came to a major “discovery” or new “answer” about one of life’s questions?
So, which discipline is really professes more open “ignorance”? Science is content to be restlessly searching for answers, and religion seems to have closed the book (pun intended) on any new discoveries. Maybe the axiom is more accurately read as “ignorance of the questions is bliss” if you don’t feel like changing your own answer.