Is there any material difference between the terms ‘unknown’ and ‘unknowable’? Absolutely! The relationship between the two terms has metaphysical significance. It involves, as well, the relationship between science and spirituality. As science has proven its enormous value to uncover the secrets of the physical universe, there has developed almost a ‘religious’ belief that it provides ‘all the answers’ to the mystery of existence. Many have proclaimed, ‘if it can’t be proven scientifically, it does not exist!’
There are many problems with that metaphysical [and it is] belief. Do you love your child? your parent? your friend? Prove it! Of course this is impossible in the scientific sense. Yet would anyone deny the reality of feelings and emotions? It is the platform in which we live our lives. There are neuroscientists who believe that all thought and emotion are illusions, the product of neuronal electrochemical reactions. Perhaps so–but it IS reality to the rest of us and science cannot adequately explain it.
Science may presently describe the creation of the universe as the Big Bang. But what came before it? Did time exist prior? And if it originated with a ‘quantum fluctuation’, how did this occur before the laws of physics existed?
When the universe was a ‘machine’, it was easy to believe that the unknown would ultimately become the known. It was simply a matter of time before all would be laid before the mind of man. The 20th and 21st century science, however, has laid waste to that fantasy. Cosmologists, astrophysicists, theoretical physicsts have no idea what over 95% of the universe actually IS! The entire field of dark matter, dark energy has left them IN THE DARK.
Quantum and relativity theory challenge any notion that our minds can use ‘common sense’ to understand its deeply puzzling findings about the nature of reality. We are required to take a ‘leap of faith’ as broad as any religious adherent. Science writer John Horgan has listed several topics in science which are presently ‘dead ends’. Please feel free to investigate further, but Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, Goedel’s Incompleteness Theorem, quantum nonlocality, complementarity, wave-particle duality,multiverse theory, anthropic principle, virtual particles, quantum leaps are concepts which may ultimately prove beyond the ability of our minds to comprehend–in other words not merely unknonw, but unknowable.
Does this open up the possiblities for a mystical/spiritual interpretation of reality? Who knows–but it no longer rules it out.
One thought on “The Unknown vs the Unknowable”
I was thinking that the unknown is really beyond our comprehension, meaning we do not have the tool to understand with the linear mind. But we can experience it. What about the unknowable? Obviously we cannot know or experience the unknowable. If you can put it in simple terms, what is the difference?