For the second article in this august web site I felt I would jump straight into the deep end or drown in a state of frenzied madness given this particular topic.
The great why is just that:- why? Why do we exist? Why does anything exist? Why is it that the planet Earth is able to sustain life? If our planet had been any closer or further away from the sun we would not exist. This is the "Goldilocks Principal". Why is it that Hydrogen fills most of the Universe and not the next element in the periodic table Helium? A Helium universe would be totally inert!
A simulated event in the CMS detector, featuring the appearance of the Higgs Boson
For me Science is very spiritual. There is a regular stream of findings and discoveries that basically "do my head in". The notion of dark matter, the Higgs Boson particle, multiverse are all way beyond my understanding. Will the Large Hadron Collider under the French Switzerland boarder unlock more secrets about matter and the formation of the universe? On the "Sky at Night" on BBC4 here in the UK , I distinctly remember one of the astronomers saying there had been a series of solar systems in this relative position in our Galaxy, the Milky Way. The two sciences that seem to constantly throw up more and more "why" questions are Astronomy and Particle Physics. They deal with subjects at the ends of a universal scale , one concerned with huge distances the other extremely small particles, but they seem strangely linked. What ever might be discovered will lead to more questions which may well be increasingly strange. There may be one unified theory using mathematical modelling far beyond my feeble abilities that can tie all these physical phenomena together into one theory at some point in the future. I am no physicist, but I doubt this will really happen.
Once an area seems solved, then more will appear!
And us, humanity, this strange bipedal mainly hairless ape; we are conscious and have an awareness, so I think do other animals in different respects.
Scientists can explain how we have to our present state. We have evolved an amazing civilization, but 99% of documented species are now extinct (Wikipedia). We are really just a blink in the eye in geological time!
So how did life begin? Some amazing chemical reactions formed the first DNA that became the building blocks of life. Scientists have already gone some way to form DNA. Will they go the whole way? Will Science Fiction become Science fact? Where does leave the great "Why"? Because how and why did all these conditions exist on our planet in the first place?
Will we end up as a thin layer of carbon in a million years time? This was suggested by a biologist on BBC Radio 4 a few years ago. Due to war, global warming or the sad fact that our DNA may be hard-wired in such a way that in spite of seeming to have intelligence we will cease to exist. That is because we are unable to cooperate enough or change quickly enough! Maybe there is some truth in the Gaia hypothesis that the whole planet is a self-regulating system and we are a dangerous addition to the system.
So there are many puzzles and conundrums which could be explored. But the main point is how and why did this all happen.
GOD: Does God exist?
Professor Richard Dawkins denies the existence of God. I have read through a summary of his position on Wikipedia and have seen a number of his TV programmes here in the UK. He takes a hard-line. But my notion of the great "Why" does not exclude the existence of God or intelligent design. Again we do not really know why there is an existence and a Universe. I have alluded to the ever-growing complexity and sheer strangeness of many areas of contemporary science. This will continue and Sci Fi films and novels will have to race to catch up!
We tend to see God in the Christian tradition as an all-powerful male (yes male, there is another huge article that could be written on where are the women in some established religions!!)
As I have illustrated here by using images from William Blake and Michelangelo.
And an image of the supreme ruler I have always quite liked, showing a less assertive image is from the Monty Python Film:- The Time Bandits: Ralph Richardson.
I feel all religions attempt to explain the great why in their own way. Not necessarily relying on science but building up a comprehensive believe system to explain existence. Early humanity was asking the same question, why? So as a consequence they started setting up their own belief systems.
The start of The King James Bible chapter 1 verse 1
1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth
This could be the Big Bang. The Bible is not incompatible with theories of evolution, just shift the time line by a few million years! Great religious books were written a long time ago in very different cultures and societies. These were attempts then to come to terms with the mysteries of our existence. The Bible does this. I am sorry if I offend any one reading this who believes in a literal translation of the Bible. But unlike Professor Richard Dawkins I feel that there may be a God! Simply the great "why" is far too subtle and complex a notion for our existence. We may never fully encompass it. The more science discovers the more science discovers. So I certainly can not handle this wonderful existence and fully comprehend this, so lets call it God.