PRIME FORCES

7 Dec

These days, with terrorist organisations clinging to this or that archaic religious system in which old texts dominate rational thought, it might be proper for me to suggest that some people are deliberately or foolishly ensnared by the impossible. And that impossible has to do with their faith and not reality.
I sometimes wonder how some people see the Universe. I mean, we all see little bits of it, our environment, even the stars that are unthinkable distances away.
If we’d lived half a millenium ago we’d have been told all about the primum Mobile, a Universe with the Earth bang in the centre of everything and a series of spheres high in the sky above it, with holes in them through which we could glimpse pinpricks of heavenly light.
In medieval times (note: medieval times weren’t all that long ago – the sixteenth century was five hundred years ago and I’m getting on for 70, so five hundred years is just over 7 of my own lifetimes placed end to end) people were persecuted for suggesting that the Universe was anything but that.
In the interim bright people have suffered for pointing out that the primum mobile is a load of old hogwash. Even Galileo (1564-1642) was castigated by the Catholic Church, which was more powerful than governments, for daring to suggest that the Universe was anything but earth-centred, and placed under house arrest and forced to recant his views by the Inquisition.
If that august body of intellectual thought had continued with its views (and it committed murder in order to try to perpetuate them) then we’d still be scared stiff of saying anything that didn’t follow the teachings of the church in fear of death.
But then, the world would be a very different place. Most of the technological advances of the past few hundred years have been made as a consequence of understanding reality and judging it for what it is. There’s a long list of everyday domestic bits and pieces (non-stick surfaces in pans, for example, semi-conductors that make most things work, etc) which emerged from space science, and if we still held the primum mobile as sacrosanct then there would have been no space program and no moon landings and none of the little developments that have become part of our lives as a consequence.
Mind you, there are some who deny that there were any landings on the moon and cite terrestrial places where they were faked! Silly, of course, but some people have religious views that are contradicted by the actuality of walking on the moon.
There are even people who deny the possibility of artificial satellites, yet are quite content to trust their sat-nav equipment.
When we stare at the stars or gaze into the oceans we all see what we see, but some of us interpret that experience in very different ways. It is possible to argue that the entire nonsense of the Primum Mobile is real and accurate, that the stars are a glimpse into the wonders of Heaven, but if you do you’ve got to de-construct a lot of stuff that happens in your lives. For a start you’ve got to get off that computer, because in the world of primitive belief it couldn’t possibly exist. It depends on stuff discovered and developed as a consequence of the Primum Mobile NOT being real.
My views are quite well known. The world, the Universe, everything out there has a physical reality and that’s what we ought to be discovering. There’s no point in trusting in fairy stories as a guide to reality. At the moment scientists have barely scratched the surface of understanding, because in order to understand they’ve got to witness, and there’s a whole lot of stuff that for one reason or another is invisible to them – at the moment. It’s not that there’s any deity there showing them reality bit by bit in order to prevent their confusion, just that the whole of everything is so damned big and confusing and far away in both space and time and any other dimension you care to think of that there’s still one hell of a lot to see and work to be done.
These days we can scorn the sixteenth century zealots who persecuted Galileo (who was bright by any standards), and I dared say that in another five hundred years future generations may well scorn us for the smallness of our thinking and the limitations of our intellectual vision. I mean, by postulating there was a Big Bang that kicked things off we’re accepting that tired old notion of beginnings and endings, and maybe neither exist. The authors of the Old Testament tried to see a beginning and they placed an adult man in a garden and not once did he ask himself what the hell was going on. But to them there had to be a beginning and that, with all its inconsistencies, was as good as any other.
I reckon that the best words a thinking man can come out with are “I don’t know” because when he says that he knows he can’t quite see enough of reality, yet is obviously sensibly aware that there’s a hell of a lot beyond that old Primum Mobile.

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