What do we really know about our world? What is fact and what is opinion? What is knowledge and what is belief, and can we know the difference? Isn’t science about facts and religion about faith? Well, not entirely. Science, with all of its trappings of mathematics, still is subject to interpretation, ie, belief, based on assumptions. There is as much faith in science as in anything else we do. Consensus and computer models do not change a belief into a fact.
DO WE KNOW:
- that there was a Big Bang that started the universe?
- that black holes, parallel universes, exotic dark matter or dark energy exist ?
- how all of the elements and physical laws originated?
- how the galaxies, stars, the solar system, planets, the Earth or the moon were formed?
- the true distances to other galaxies?
- the age of the universe, our galaxy or the Earth?
- that the universe, including space itself, is expanding?
- that the fourth dimension or multiple dimensions exist?
- that a dimension known as space-time exists?
- what gravity is?
- what time is?
- what life is?
- that life spontaneously arose from a soup of chemicals?
- that all species evolved gradually from a common ancestor?
- that the mind is just a program created by the brain?
- what consciousness, thought or memory are?
- what sleep is?
- what instinct is?
- why we have free will and are not just robotic slaves to our genes?
- why we have abilities and skills that are not necessary or are detrimental to survival?
The answer to most of these and many other questions about science and our understanding of our world is MAYBE, NO, or PROBABLY NOT.
The bad news is that we don’t know as much as we thought we knew.
The good news is that we don’t know as much as we thought we knew.
Bringing some accepted scientific “facts” or the evidence supporting them into question will not tear down our knowledge base. On the contrary, it will open doors to more exciting discoveries, unconstrained by fixed paradigms or established systems into which they must be fitted. By questioning everything, we can look at all things with fresh eyes and with minds open to all possibilities, regardless of established beliefs. This should lead to more scientific study and discoveries, not less. Robust scientific theories and real facts will be strengthened by such questioning.
Only the theories without proper basis or support will suffer. Even those will benefit from fresh approaches that may come closer to solving some of the remaining mysteries than is currently possible. It is to our benefit that true understanding can develop unconstrained by dogma. Fixed dogma tends to constrain and inhibit new knowledge, especially if the new knowledge does not fit neatly into the established picture.
“Michael Faraday warned against the tendency of the mind ‘to rest on an assumption’ and when it appears to fit in with other knowledge to forget that it has not been proved.”
W. I. B. Beveridge, The Art of Scientific Investigation
 Paradigm – A picture or view of reality into which all facts and beliefs must fit.
 Dogma –established opinion put forth as authoritative, especially without adequate grounds.