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Emily Baker

The Institute of Art and Ideas

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Can science uncover the origin of everything?

I started thinking about this when I came across this quote by Einstein:

“It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.”

And then I found this talk about the boundaries between science and philosophy when it comes to explaining the universe and nothingness:

http://iai.tv/video/the-origin-of-everything

So what do you think? Can science satisfy our craving for knowledge about our origins? Or would it be too dry? Do we need to hang on to a part of mystery?

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  • Apr 24 2013: Some things exist of themselves.

    Math is not created, it is discovered - it is already there. Understanding of math can be built up, starting with next to nothing. There are awesome and beautiful objects in math, such as the Mandelbrot Set, which don't change and have always existed, and they arise from a few simple rules. We can look at these objects, but not fully understand or fully calculate them.

    Scientists have learned that much of our physical universe and its dynamics can be described by a few fairly short chunks of math. So perhaps the dynamic universe is like the Mandelbrot Set - a complex eternal object arising from fairly simple rules. So I think this "spirit of the universe and all its possibilities" exists already, just like the Mandelbrot Set, before we can see or discover it. I think this immutable, rich, universal spirit is "God", and the universe comes from and is a part of it.

    This spirit transcends the finite, and this might explain how it can be 'alive', although we would not say that simpler math objects are alive.

    We don't see the whole universe directly, we are a part of it, at a certain place and time in it.

    Several sacred texts describe God as an unchanging, immortal spirit, for example the Bhagavad Gita.

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