Why Are We Here? The One Question Science Can't Answer

Science thinks it has all the answers, but it really depends on what questions are being asked.

Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?

Those are the basic questions we all learned as children, and one of life’s hardest lessons to learn is there aren’t always answers to all of them. But an equally difficult lesson is understanding which of these six questions we are actually trying to answer at any given time.

All too often, scientists today make the mistake of believing they are philosophers in addition to scientists - capable of answering every imaginable question. They seem to believe science is akin to a philosophical worldview, holding even theological answers.

Science is a field that can answer many great questions about the universe. How does matter interact? What are the mathematical laws that the universe follows? When and where will a planet be in the future? And many others? But the two questions scientists cannot answer are “Who?” and “Why?”

Who made everything and why?

Physicist Don Lincoln of the Fermilab makes this mistake in a recent CNN Opinion piece. Most of the article is actually quite interesting if you find physics enjoyable. If you don’t want to read about neutrinos and particle decay though, I’ll roughly summarize it in a couple sentences. Basically, scientific theories about matter and antimatter don’t match what we actually observe in the universe, and science cannot explain these discrepancies. In the time following the Beginning of time, more matter came into existence than antimatter, and scientists cannot explain how. Reality doesn't match the theoretical model. But physicists in the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota may have developed the technology to measure specific particle decay that could begin explaining this discrepancy. Okay, that’s fine. I am not here to dispute any of the research. Mr. Lincoln is clearly brilliant, and I actually find most of his article interesting. But his ultimate conclusion is a bridge too far. He opens and then closes his article with the following paragraphs:

"Why is there something, rather than nothing?" could be the oldest and deepest question in all of metaphysics. Long exclusively the province of philosophy, in recent years this question has become one that can be addressed by scientific methods. What's more, a new scientific advance has made it more likely that we will finally be able to answer this cosmic conundrum. This is a big deal, because the simplest scientific answer to that question is "We shouldn't exist at all."

For millennia, introspective thinkers have pondered the great questions of existence. Why are we here? Why is the universe the way it is? Do things have to be this way? With this advance, scientists have taken a step forward in answering these timeless questions.

No, they haven’t. Not even close.

The realm of science is the study of the universe and everything in it through observation, calculation, and experiment. Thus, science expresses what mankind can calculate, observe, or test. In other words, science is restricted by man. It only expresses how things work in human terms; it cannot change or control the universe. And it certainly holds no power to explain why. That is beyond its scope.

This is one source for why atheists think science and religion are antagonistic. Some people think answering “How?” is the same as answering “Why?” And if science can answer how something happened, atheists think they don’t need to know who did it or who made it possible.

If the Bible says God created the Heavens and the Earth for His own glory, it tells us “Who?” and “Why?”

Investigating how Creation works through science does not nullify God's involvement or motivation.

As Wernher von Braun (the father of Rocket Science) once said,

“Science and religion are not antagonists. On the contrary, they’re sisters. While science tries to learn more about the creation, religion tries to better understand the Creator. While through science man tries to harness the forces of nature around him, through religion he tries to harness the force of nature within him.”

Here’s a thought experiment:

Imagine you live your whole life across the street from an empty lot. One day you wake up, and there is a strange, intricate structure in the formerly empty lot. It is massive and impossibly complex - unlike anything ever built before and without any clear purpose. No one knows where it came from or how it was built overnight. It just appeared. If scientists spend the following years studying it and finally discover the process of how it was built, would they then declare that it built itself? Would they claim to know why it was built? Or why it was placed across from your house? Obviously not. They would know “How?” but not “Who?” or “Why?”

Through observation and research, perhaps mankind gains some small insight into the mind of the builder. But the only way you could fully ever know “Who?” or “Why?” is if the builder knocked on your door and explained himself. Understanding Creation is not the same as understanding its Creator, but it can point you to Him.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalms 19:1

Comments
No. 1-12
RealConservative
RealConservative

I think you'll find very few scientists who claim to have all the answers. The scientific method is the continuation for searching for more answers, more refinement of answers. When a scientist makes a more declarative statement, it typically means that nobody has come up with a better, more testable hypothesis than what we already known based on some amount of testing. No scientist will accept a hypothesis as the end state, i.e., final answer on something, when it can't be tested. That's the big difference. I agree with you that there's faith involved in both cases, but how the faith is employed is not the same. The faithful (religious context) accept an answer as final based on faith. The scientist put their faith in the process to get more answers.

thefirstRowdyone
thefirstRowdyone

I certainly listen to scientists and respect the science in its various branches but I stop listening when they claim to have all the answers. There are certain things that Christians and scientists claim as either true or not true, that cannot be validated by evidence. If we accept those things as truth it is by faith that we do so. Many, but certainly not all, scientists don't like the word "faith".

Jack_Krevin
Jack_Krevin

Well strictly speaking the "How" is that atoms like to form and bond together creating ever more complex forms. The "Why" as in why this instead of something else is the random chance. Very easily could have been something else or nothing at all but then we wouldn't be here to discuss this. Accept it or don't as you wish but that answers "Why am I here" just as well as anything else does. And just because you don't like an answer doesn't mean it isn't one.

RealConservative
RealConservative

Random chance is shorthand for saying given enough time and opportunities, atoms and molecules interacted or didn't interact in multiple different ways. One of those ways led to simple organic compounds being created. Again given more time and opportunities other interactions led to more and more complex entities. Science would tell us it happens across an incomprehensible amount of time and opportunity - making the odds of winning Powerball seem good by comparison. Still tough stuff to swallow. The alternative is a Creator set all this in motion. It has the virtue of being a comprehensible answer. I can get my head around the idea of all this being some superbeing's tinker toys. But that simple explanation does run into some trouble when one is asked where the Creator comes from. If it's too difficult to grasp that all this is far too complex to have resulted from "random" interactions, how is it any less difficult to think a Creator complex enough to create this is also impossible to just always has been there? That's why it's called faith. You accept it for what is, but it is not provable.

cancerdoc
cancerdoc

No, sir. You are incorrect. I do not have to assume purpose to point out the difference between "how" and "why." "How" goes to to process, "why" to meaning or purpose. If the answer to "how" is "trivial, random chance" (although we must hasten to observe that chance cannot explain anything because it is literally nothing--just a mathematical term for randomness), then the answer to "why" is "there isn't any."