Thursday, December 11, 2014

Even science involves a leap of faith

Jack Miles, in The Atlantic:

"Science is immortal, but you are not. History is immortal: Earth could be vaporized, and on some unimaginably distant planet on some unimaginably remote future date, another civilization’s historians could still choose to use the terrestrial year as a unit of time measurement. But where does that leave you? You have a life to live here and now. “Tell me,” the poet Mary Oliver asks, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” We never truly know how to reply to that challenge, do we, since more knowledge—the knowledge we do not have—could always justify holding current plans in abeyance just a little longer. But when life refuses to wait any longer and the great game begins whether you have suited up or not, then a demand arises that religion—or some expedient no more fully rational than religion—must meet. You’re going to go with something. Whatever it is, however rigorous it may claim to be as either science or religion, you’re going to know that you have no perfect warrant for it. Yet, whatever you call it, you’re going to go with it anyway, aren’t you?"

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