The Limits Of Science

Are The Boundaries Of The Self

�No amount of experimentation
can ever prove me right; a single
experiment may at any time prove
me wrong.�

Albert Einstein

�Egotism is true modesty. In religious
inquiry each of us can speak only for

John Cardinal Newman *

[In a time when not only religions, but even governments try to legislate Gods (see the essay: "'In God We Trust'; Which God?"), and yet downplay the freedom of choice these very same Gods have given us, we must ask ourselves some very penetrating questions � like where did everything come from? The answers lie in us, and in the choice the freedom of the will gives us. "Where is God?"; not in the proclamations of governments, or the judgments of religions, but, very simply, inside of us, as Cardinal Newman hints above.]

Science has built the foundations of the physical world on the causal chain perception has given it. Every change must have a cause precipitating it. This "chain of change" is called �causality�. But, taking it back to the ultimate beginning � the origins of matter, and even energy, is a dead end called the �the first cause.�

This �first cause� is the enigma, the Gordian knot that seems to defy this venerable scientific edifice that has grown from it. For it presupposes what it is trying to explain � the explanation for what matter and energy are 1 . For if they did not exist before the first cause then how could the first cause come about in a manner science can explain? 2

There is no answer, because whatever the first cause is, by its very definition it lies beyond the human perceptual boundary within which all human knowledge exists. It lies outside what we can know through the senses, or, for that matter, ever even contemplate. What is beyond sensation and perception is unknowable � or is it?

What is intelligible is within the reach of the modalities of time, space and causality, the three dimensions of knowing. Now an effect without a cause is the same as this �first cause�, for nothing preceded it. It is a beginning without an explanation � in this case, something that gave rise to everything. Does this not sound like a God! �Big Bang� doesn�t explain it; for it only explains the process, not where the something before everything came from. What science really says is that an unknown produced all that is known. So here we see that science, in fact, leads us to something in the nature of a God � an unknown that produced everything! 3

So this �first cause� is unknowable. Yet what we do know, by default 4 , is merely that it exists. We haven�t a clue to its nature or character. The ancients cast it in various guises: some gave it a human intelligence, and even a human will 5 ; some cast it as a changeless process that embodied all change 6 ; others gave it the character of a force that brought the universe together through the wills of human beings 7 .

Yet what was actually known, was that it was this beginning that gave rise to all else � and that the human consciousness seemed to be its only knower.

What is beyond science is in the realm of a �something� that has the character of a God. Even a true atheist may not deny this, but only the �characterizations� placed on it � the name given to it, the nature proposed for it, or the purpose supposed for it.

Religions have monopolized it with these �characterizations.� And each religion shows a different speculation as to its nature � a belief.

Since it is the process that gave rise to all, must it not also be the substance that continues that same all? And in being this, must we not characterize it as that which sustains and nurtures the continuation of all? Since only the human will may contemplate it, through showing its necessity, and its existence, can we not characterize it in this way: that which nurtures the human will? If it nurtures the human will, it lives in all humans, and forms a part of what is truly human. Now, what is truly human, is what we call the �freedom� of the will. For no other species can control its will (except through instinct), but the human. And that process is what controls the desires, so it can only be love, for love is ultimately that which controls the will in a human. So we see there is a causal chain in the will, which connects it to that which produced the universe; it is that very same thing we call a �God.� I will proceed by calling it a �God�, in the sense that it is a universal potential 8 within the will, contained in all humans to further the species� benefit and survival.

A Parallel world in a Serial Universe

But who knows that God? Again, only the human knows God, for only the human can contemplate Him (see how we �characterize� Him, even language makes Him (perhaps, Her ?) into one of us!)

Yet no matter how much we talk about, and even live within the plurality of this world of ours, we really only know, in the singular � the self! We are, for all our lives, trapped in these bodies, and alone, within these minds. What is singular is real, while, what is plural is only an unreachable stage show, which we must watch for the rest of our lives. It affects us through the causality we see acted out on this stage before us, but we can never know it as a part of us, only its effects on us. The world of many, can affect us, but remains a personal world of many living within only one � the �I� or me!

The modality of time gives us plurality; physics calls this a parallel phenomenon. And the world, and the plurality it contains, is a parallel phenomenon we all experience as such. But the �I�, which experiences this world in parallel, is itself, a serial phenomenon (serial means a succession; one at a time, so to speak), which lives out its life and then dies, only to be born into another �I�. That is the serial, sequence of the �I� � a succession of �I�s that create a plurality in each of its parallel worlds.

Perception is parallel, but a human life is serial, in that it is alone the whole universe unto itself. When it dies the world dies with it, only to be reborn within the next �I� born.

So where can this God, or �first cause� live? But only in us, for the world we know can only be within us, for that is where plurality lives, within us.

But plurality affects us. If we hurt someone, an �I� feels it. Since there is only one �I� at any time (sic) experiencing reality, that �I� will feel the hurt. But religions postulate the simplicity of many identities, instead of this complexity of the many within the one. Every �I� is also every other �I�, for only one �I� exists within its parallel world of many �I�s.

The one within the many therefore has real meaning. A meaning that eludes the simplistic �club� of religion, with its human soul �identities�, �Heavens�, �Hells� and the guilt, rewards and punishments that they create to characterize their own God.

The God that lives in every �I�, is the same God that is the universe that lives there with Him. Every �I� creates his or her own Heaven or Hell, by continuing to hurt or love the other �I�s he or she experiences.

By learning to live harmoniously with all the others within ourselves, we create a Heaven for all; by continuing to hurt those others within us, we create our own Hell that will continue in every �I� that is born.

As St. John said: �God is love, he that abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him�.

The paradox is: God is another name for us!

In realizing this, we find an answer for what is the first cause � the �I� within all of us!

Each birth is the �first cause� creating the universe anew. Each death destroys the universe.

Only in the �I� is the universe experienced; only in the �I� is God known. And in the freedom we live, we create for all, a Heaven or Hell, by either accepting or rejecting the love that freedom can either know or spurn.

Science can know only the causal chain, so it can never know the �first cause�; but, we know motives, and the causal chain of the mind, therefore we can know the �first cause�, for that is the �I�, only, we can know. The same �I� that forms the destiny for all of us!


To return to note's origin click the footnote number at left

* Taken from �The Practical Cogitator�, Charles P. Curtis jr., Ferris Greenslet, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1945.

1 Where does matter and energy really originate (phrased somewhat differently, but really asking the same question is: how did the universe originate)? They (matter and energy) seem to lie totally within the bounds of the continuum, outside of our perceptual apparatus, because they affect the changes between existents within that continuum. So they are not a part of us, but a part of whatever world we hypothesize that gives rise to the continuum experience provides. Therefore, they would seem to lie within the realm of science, but only as given postulates that are in themselves unexplainable because their origins can never be probed by science, for the very reasons I give in this essay.

2 The origin of the universe is where science fails. It cannot deal with something outside of causality, and this origin is outside of it, because it describes how the �something� of matter and energy evolved from apparently nothing. This says that science can only deal with change from �what is�, not the beginnings or origin of �what is�.

At the deepest level this has to do with the two forms of causality I have mentioned in other writings: the causality of science, and the causality of the human mind. The causality of the human mind creates �objects� per se, from the existents the continuum of reality supplies. In this creation of objects, definitions of these objects are created, but do they perfectly fit the existents they are developed from? At the level of the atom and even beyond (e.g., sub-atomic particles), the realm of causation can be blurred as, for instance, in what science calls Heisenberg�s Uncertainty principle. Probability picks up the slack because of the uncertainty introduced through errors of experiment, theory, or even conception (the conception of just what kind of object we are dealing with, and if the definition conforms to the real thing studied). In many cases, objects may not be the objects they are thought to be, because their theoretical conception is not a duplicate of the existent reality presents.

Further, motives, the causes of the mind are totally unpredictable, because they are tied only to the particular human mind that generates them, and this is the very thing that only that mind can know, since the mind is open to no one but the perceiver who owns it.

3 Now the existence of a �God�, according to religions, assumes a purpose for this God; here, we are merely saying that �He� is an unknown entity that produced all there is. Purpose assumes a human-like mind behind it. But we can reach the attitude that a God exists as merely the �something� that gave rise to all else. The purpose lies in what we make of this, not in the entity we have come to find exists as an end point of our deduction from the necessity of a "first cause".

4 It exists because there was a beginning, as the universe shows us, since it continues to evolve.

5 Those we call theists.

6 This is �The Way� or "Tao" of those we call Taoists.

7 Those we call deists. Although deism is said to have developed around the time of the French Revolution, its ideas were around much earlier. For instance, some might say there is a deistic interpretation of the Vedic wisdom of the Bhagavadgita, which existed thousands of years before. As an aside, the first leaders of America were all deists (see: Formal Introduction To The Philosophy Of The GOOD).

8 �Potential� in that it generates the freedom of the human will, in giving it more choice to choose the path through which it fulfills its own destiny. In this sense it handles its own evolution through this freedom of choice.



Originally Published:

February 25, 2012


July 4, 2014