|Dr. Peter Higgs|
The recent news concerning the breakthrough by CERN in finding the Higgs Boson particle is not only remarkable but a real step forward in our understanding of the cosmos. This discovery will help us understand how the universe functions at the sub-atomic level. What scientists and researchers do next with this information will help us to learn in ever more detail about the true nature and physics of the universe.
It is funny that news reports discuss how science is unlocking the “secrets of the universe.” The reality is that there are no fundamental secrets in science.
Secrets are defined as consciously hiding some idea, knowledge or information from another individual or group to either maintain a social situation, for personal gain or to avoid a negative consequence. A secret ultimately is an act of intentionality. But the universe does not intentionally keep things from human understanding. The challenge for humans is to grow and do science to uncover what is plainly in the open. So the onus is on humanity to discover what is real and natural rather than wait for something to be magically revealed to our species.
Secrets are essentially the work of gods or those who peddle god belief to dissuade individuals from gaining any knowledge which would upend supernatural faith. The main human contrivance which asks us not to question reality rests in the realm of faith.
Faith requires us to remain ignorant about ourselves, each other and the universe. It either directly asks or implies that we not change for the sake of keeping the status quo. Ultimately the real power of all religious institutions remains in their ability to subvert humanity from joining together for the maintenance of power of the elite – those few who wear the religious robes of spirituality – these men (mostly men) push secrets over facts.
The reality is science works to uncover the laws of nature that already exist. We do this by building theories which prove or disprove, validate or invalidate, show or fail to show something or some process is real and can be both measured and known. Science works to identify, study, and grow human knowledge by discovering the new or verifying what is already known.
This is done by following methodologies and conducting studies to learn and understand what is true or untrue about the nature of the universe; how it functions and operates. And the wonderful thing is if something is proven false, science has no problem discarded or discrediting it. Scientists are happy to revoke an idea or concept if it is proven to be wrong – religion offers no such equivalent.
Therein is the ultimate distinction between science and religion. Science allows us to remove from our intellect any ignorance related to the workings of the natural world when we conduct experiments to prove or disprove theories, faith does not. This comes as no surprise to those who accept science and understand its workings and its limitations. But it is surprising to people, especially non-science writers in the media, who attempt to sensationalize the research and work done by really smart people.
Under the auspices and appropriate funding from universities, corporations, foundations or governments, science will and frequently does change the world for the better. What science does in theory, research and application is show the world that it does not need the supernatural to explain natural phenomena in our lives, on the planet or within the operation of the natural universe.
Science also shows us that we don’t need prayers or miracles to suggest how we should live our individual and collective lives.
Prayer and the belief in miracles are concepts which operate through either fear or ignorance. We pray for what we fear we cannot change, we believe in miracles because we require supernatural guidance or assistance rather than owning our actions, or lack thereof, to change our lives or the lives of others.
Science and faith are incompatibility schema. Ontologically, they exist as matter and anti-matter. Science expects one to live a rational and evidenced-based life while faith and religious spirituality begs us to remain ignorant of the world in favor of ancient theistic dogma. It is ironic that as humans uncover and learn about the universe that political and often violent religion still attempts to plummet humanity back into the Dark Ages. But I am, if nothing else, an optimist and conclude that this is the first time in human history that a global movement of scientists, non-theists and secularists can actually make a difference to secure a safe and smart humanity.
Secular and non-theistic understanding of ourselves and the world indeed allows us to promote an alternative to common religious assumptions about the need for faith. We can love, be emotional, moral and enjoy life by exploring and learning the nature of the universe and each other without god. It is science, not religion that will finally build a world of peace.
To somewhat quote the late and great Carl Sagan, “Knowledge is (ultimately) better than ignorance.” So in the service to humanity, we must not allow faith to subvert the truth of our growing rational knowledge of the universe.