Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What's your excuse?

The problem with books, arguments and ideas that claim to explain everything is that they invariably explain nothing. I can't remember who said that originally but I remember Christopher Hitchens using a similar line in a debate with a religious apologist once, it was a powerful quip in that debate and certainly rings true with my experience of life so far.

The cartoon above illustrates this problem nicely using the Bible as the source of the "explanation of everything" but the same can equally be said of the Koran, the book of Mormon and many other so called "holy texts". As concious beings who have evolved to seek reasons for experiences, we crave the quick fix, the silver bullet or the fast-buck, life is short and most of the time we recognise the difficulty in finding the real solutions to hard questions; on the whole we would rather outsource stuff like that so that we can get on with the business of surviving, thriving and investing in our selfish genes.

Unfortunately for us Humans the best (as in most successful in history) way of finding answers to things is Science, but science is hard; it's also complicated, time consuming and sometimes very expensive and by definition incomplete. Because of this a lot of people view it with indifference and sometimes even resistance, they prefer the easy route, they "outsource" their answers if you will. Of course for some people the unexamined life works out just fine (in an evolutionary sense), for the rest of us the feeling of dissatisfaction with not knowing and more importantly not knowing how to get to know for ourselves is unacceptable and overwhelming.

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