Tonight, while watching a video of ISIS destroying 3000 year old artifacts in Mosul, Iraq, I found myself feeling sickened, wondering in what world could these actions possibly be justified? And the only thing I can conclude is that rationally, they cannot. I think the most common anti-science argument that I encounter is that it can be tailored for an agenda, or that the same evidence can look different in different context or from different views. Honestly, at this point I hardly have enough composure to put together a rational post, so please forgive me. I’m tired of war. I’m tired of senseless violence and people dying over cosmic entities and nationalism. There is no way the actions of ISIS can be justified without the use of a cosmic excuse. And yet, all the good in the world can be easily justified by science, by altruism and reciprocation without implementing arguments from faith. We cannot simultaneously excuse our own irrational beliefs and condemn those of another group. We need evidence for our actions. There’s no way around it.
Having recently ventured into the mystical land known as “the real world,” several ideas and curiosities have come to my attention. I am naïve in this world, distant from my previous home full of obnoxious party goers and dedicated academics. In this world, there are responsibilities and questions of the future. Two subjects keep arising that have grabbed my attention, that of marriage and that of having children. However, the questions are not whether or not to partake in these institutions and obligations. The questions are of when to marry, who to marry, how many kids to have, and what to name them. I started thinking, why would I get married and why would I have kids? Did I consciously decide to marry and have kids or did I simply follow social norms and biological urges? I want questions like that to be answered long before I undertake such dedicated steps in my life. Sure, the challenges are distant still, but why would it ever be too early to question these immense life steps?
I want you to just imagine for a moment. Imagine every word I am saying. Pause with each sentence and see the image I challenge you to see. I want you to separate yourself from this world and imagine yourself as god-like. First you are observing yourself from behind, watching you at your computer.
Then imagine the world. You are between the earth and the moon, floating in a black emptiness, looking down at our blue-green lush planet with white clouds swirling about. It is an amazing celestial body, surely one of the greatest. It is floating in this vast darkness just as you are, with no hand of Atlas holding it nor a web to keep it suspended. It simply floats, orbiting an even more massive body that illuminates our earth and provides it with the energy that allowed life to flourish.This is our home. This is where we and everyone who has ever existed was born, lived, and died. Alongside the young species of man are millions of other creatures. It is an extremely vast community, one that we struggle to see as a whole. Imagine for a moment that there are no Saddam Husseins or Osama bin Ladens or Adolf Hitlers. The world is peaceful and everyone is amazed with their predicament. We are united on this globe. Everyone, all seven billion of us are content for these moments in peace.
I was rereading the Wikipedia page “Interstellar Travel” earlier today and was very frustrated about their discussion of impossibility. I guess this could be a recurring theme in my life. The only thing that is impossible is that something could be impossible. Everything instead can be discussed in the range of probabilities. It is possible for me to walk through a wall. Seriously I can do it, it just is highly improbable. But the writers of this article talk about interstellar travel as if it should be relegated to science fiction. Why then are hundreds if not thousands of physicists and engineers around the world searching for better methods to accomplish such travel? Someone has hope and at the expense of increasing my rank of nerd, I am one of them. I almost wish Wikipedia was not ever changing so that we could reflect like a textbook on the progression from impossible to reality. Impossible has become a word that is illogical to use. Everything is a theory. At one point in time there was a theory that it was impossible for a human to pass the sound barrier. Since that belief we have created a commercial airliner that could travel faster than that. And now there are physicists (who may truly be insane) that believe that the “light barrier” is only fictional.