Tuesday, May 28, 2019

On the Narure of Things

If you’re a determinist, you undoubtedly feel there’s a reason for everything. However, it doesn’t necessarily follow that there’s a meaning. This can be hard to absorb, if you’re someone who likes to believe that there’s a method to the madness and a larger sense of purpose, a divine order explaining the stars in the sky or simply, the fact that you got a parking space right in front of the house. The very thing that spirituality and science have in common—the search for order and meaning—is what ultimately tears them apart. How to reconcile the fact of the four laws of thermodynamics, general and special relativity (though no sign of the unified theory Einstein hoped to discover) and quantum mechanics with the absence of a telos or ultimate purpose? What’s left are fragmentary understandings of the makings of phenomena that are like non sequiturs—for instance the Solar System within the Milky Way. The fact of constants like Pi can create the hope for the notion of what religionists term “intelligent design.” Symmetry in nature can also be a source of awe, but it often produces little more than a dead end since what is explicable ends up making no larger and most importantly provable point. Lucretius' famous poem was called De rerum natura, On the Nature of Things.

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