Problems like this extend beyond physics. Our political system is built on two alternative theories of government. And each claims to have the best blueprint for America. Yet at fundamental levels, they disagree. Generally speaking, Republicans believe in small government and low taxes. In theory, this allows entrepreneurial individuals to start small businesses that will maintain a flourishing national infrastructure, while lifting people out of poverty. Democrats tend towards larger government and higher taxes, with the understanding that the federal government is the only institution with the resources to maintain the national infrastructure and help people flourish. Both theories have evidence to support their claims, and we seem to swing back and forth between them with every election. But they are contradictory systems.
Or take religion (and non-religion): Whether it’s Christianity, atheism, Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam, every world system claims to have a comprehensive system that explains reality. Believers say, “This theory works, and I have the evidence to prove it.” But just like physics and politics, despite all the evidence in favor of each religion, the systems contradict.
What does this mean?
To quote Wertheim again, “We haven’t learned all we have to know about the world.” The problem is not with the universe; the problem is not with God. Reality is what it is, Truth is what it is. The problem is with us. We are the ones tasked with understanding, despite our finite minds.
I find this breathtaking.
Our freedom, our responsibility, is to discover. And discovery leads to wonder. In my tradition it is said, “The truth will set you free.” And “Seek and you will find.” The answers are out there. Never be afraid to ask questions. Never be afraid of the answers.