Just read some preliminary findings of astronomers who have been blown away by their new observations–a massive hole in the universe. The report I’ve read on the internet seem quite fragmentary yet if they’re impressed, so should we by the magnitude and mystery of their findings.
What struck me immediately about this observation is that is seems to be following a trend in science, and in particular astronomy–the discovery that the universe is far more mysterious than we had dared to imagine.
It seems to be following on the heels of the exploration of dark matter and dark energy, those mysterious, poorly understood constituents of the universe [together nearly 94% of everything that is known to exist]. It leaves us, the planets, galaxies, and every atom of matter and energy we traditionally believe to be everything, only 6%.
Scientists are probably both thrilled and discomforted by these findings. They, by their very nature, seek to understand the nature of reality. They are, by my definition, metaphysicians. But I also believe that what they are finding is particularly surprising to them.
For the past four hundred years, from Copernicus, Newton, Galileo, Bacon,, and a myriad of other brilliant scientists and philosophers, the great mystery of existence was being systematically dismantled by the wonders of scientific discoveries and reasoning. The traditional human appeal to religion and the supernatural to explain reality was fading. The gaps in scientific knowledge were dissolving and with them, the need to postulate a spiritual dimension to reality.
The twentieth century saw a reversal of that trend. Relativity theory and quantum theory are still mind-bending approaches to scientific reality. The fact that they have still not been integrated into a ‘theory of everything’ is a disturbing mystery as well.
So scientists, so used to wrapping their minds around their subject matter have been forced to live with the mystery of the universe. Of course they continually seek to reduce that mystery. But the trend has been in the opposite direction.
What does this mystery tell the rest of us metaphysicians? Does it open the gates to a spiritual explanation for reality? Not necessarily. But it certainly does not rule it our either.