Tuesday, 29 July 2014

So, where are we coming from?

"There was a saying on Minbar, anyone who wanted to get a straight answer out of Ranger One was to look at every reply in a mirror while hanging upside down from the ceiling". 

Marcus Cole - War Without End (Babylon 5).

What determines your view of the world and its existence?
For most of us, what would be generally termed the view of science with regards to this has certainly had a major part to play, and that is understandable. In our times, we've gone from technology  that once filled a warehouse to something you carry around in your pocket, and that revolution is still ongoing, so why shouldn't we sign up science's views, especially when it comes to what we are?

There's a great episode of Gerry Anderson's classic TV show, UFO, called Close Up.
A new piece of kit - a radio telescope - promises to bring data back to earth and answer big questions, but, there's a glitch. A key component in the device is faulty, and as a result, vital parts of the data which provide definition and context to the images transmitted are omitted. The entire mission fails as a result.

Because of the immediate popularity and usefulness of technology today, very few realize that we actually suffer from the same kind of gap when it comes to our relationship to science.

It's pretty popular now to think that our scientific approach to things derives from a rational, modernistic approach to reality, probably birthed from the period of the Enlightenment, but this itself is a cultural glitch, adjusting our perception, inherited and suitably coloured from the Victorians and their confidence in the inevitability of progress.

The reality of how and why modern science came about is very different:

The theological reasons why empiricism was developed and employed in scientific fields of research has been dropped by a world which wants a progressive imperative which, first and foremost, emerges from and entirely embraces constant change as the reason, the purpose behind us and everything.

The result is startling, but so commonplace, it is barely given a second thought today. The creed which inspired science to be done, and done well, is now missing from almost every sphere of how we look at ourselves and our world, principally not because of science itself, but the ideological intentions of men like Thomas Huxley in the 1800's, and many who followed him, to detach science and its discoveries from any other source than those deemed natural and therefore, the obvious result of things readily determined and defined.

The 'camera' of our modern approach to life, then, clicks away, and we barely notice, at least most of the time, what's missing - the small matter of the actual answer to "life, the universe and everything". However popular technology makes what we deem to be 'scientific', the key issues that those who used science in its earliest days deemed imperative still remain, so perhaps we need to return to thinking about the questions and beliefs our pre-naturalstic culture viewed as imperative to what counts.

It certainly should generate some pause for thought.

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