I have spoken to a great many people throughout my years and all those with depth to dwell on deeper questions are in some measure secured to sanity by faith. The religious believe it is God who engenders the cosmos while the stereotypical scientist believes there is an undiscovered explanation and that the revelation of such a paradigm will explain away all questions. The former exemplifies an epistemology founded on faith while the latter is demonstrative of an epistemology rooted in observation. Religion views the world as if its deepest and most hidden reasons cannot be known for they are beyond our understanding while the scientific mind appreciates the universal landscape as understandable if only we might stretch the boundaries of our thinking. It seems to me that both outlooks are fatally flawed for the former passes over that which can be observed in favor of speculation while the latter ignores speculative probes at deeper truth in favor of what can be observed.
The Two Natures of Truth
There are two natures to every truth. The first is the ostensible; can the truth be described? This is the question science begs. Mathematics and language are most adept at this talent of description. The second nature describes the purpose of the truth. For what reason is the cosmos governed by the principles scientists observe? Religion attempts to answer this question without consideration for observation. Science holds that this question will eventually be answered if the methodologies of principled observation are adhered to.
The Flaws of Science and Religion
The fatal flaw arises in the context of our understanding of truth. The human mind appreciates truth as linear. Truth proceeds like a child’s falling dominos from one cause to the next effect and so on. An object with mass is pulled toward the earth by gravity and gravity is caused by stretching space-time, etc. And yet, the question “why” is continually begged for the scientists can never uncover a new, deeper truth, without questioning that which engenders the newly discovered realization. Eventually, I suppose, science will find itself the discoverer of truths so minute that any further advancement seems impossible. Here, the scientist will end his journey for he will have become what he despises: religious. He will be forced to assume his scientific principles on no basis other than his own observations of the world. He has described the cosmos from its most ostensible principles to a depth that escapes him. He has discovered the order of the world only to forsake its causes. If religion stays within its proper sphere and outside of natural discovery, it seems to me, that the scientist is no more legitimate than religion-he is guilty of observing what can be observed and extending the logic of the discoverable principles to organize the world around him. Has he not acted out the same fallacy the religious man does? It seems the only difference is that the scientist deals with observable truths while the religious with the purpose of truth. Unfortunately, the scientist will discover that the observable truth will always lead him back to the purpose of truth and, like the religious man, he will fail to explain that mystery.
The mystery is unexplainable for it probes beyond that which can be known by the human intellect. Philosophies differ and epistemologies are debated, but the core human epistemology remains intact. Epistemology always, by design, appreciates truth in a similar light. The assumptions epistemologies make are always the same; only the methodologies differ. Causes lead to effects and truth can be reasoned. And yet, when we extend truth backward far enough we come to the realization that either there exist an infinite number of causes or a finite number. Both these possibilities defy the very logic from whence they are wrought. An infinite number of causes is both impossible in its magnitude and its application. A finite number of causes defies the logic from whence our reasoning extends. How can there be truth that has no cause? It seems clear that our truths, our methodologies of ordering the world are the effect of our environment which is, in some form, a simulation not indicative of deeper truth.
Holes in Epistemology
Religion deals with this question by prescribing a God that cannot be explained; science ignores the question completely. It seems to me that a break in logic and reason, in human epistemology, is not indicative of a higher power, although it does not exclude it, so much as it is indicative of an inconsistency. The cosmos in which we dwell, in which our reasoning was born does not exist in parallel to the deeper truth. If it did, our reason would reflect that truth and so we could ask and answer the most basic question: why? Yet, that power escapes us eternally. It is not because our reason and our perception is feeble; it is because it is wrong. There is a greater mystery from which we are kept and our jailer is not our frail minds but our mode of thinking.
The True Nature of Reality
A true epistemology will be able to explain all and forgo no complication. It will be able to explain itself with no deviation. It will be self-fulfilling and contained. Its own logic will not void it. The human epistemology is not endowed with these features for it is tuned not to reality but a falsetto cosmos that is our prison. Our prison is inescapable for it is ourselves; we cannot fundamentally change from something human to something else capable of higher modes of thought and truer epistemologies. We are doomed, by our nature, to eternal imprisonment. Perhaps this is hell; we are eternally questioning reality and searching for meaning, searching to escape this prison, only to find that we cannot escape it because our very nature is inconsistent with the principles we desire so strongly to understand.