Rational Religion

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The Great Unknown is not Unknowable.


In its Entirety it is probably beyond the collective investigational abilities of our species. 


There is so much of it and we have so little time. 


But portions of it; even profound and fundamental elements; have already yielded to our efforts.  So we may be encouraged to continue the search.


If one of our salient characteristics is curiosity, there is enough Universe out there to keep us busy as long as we last. 


Everything is there, potentially, to discover.  Invention is often misconstrued as the act of creating something which never existed before.   "Creating out of whole cloth" is an apter metaphor.   The "whole cloth" of the Universe is available to used in innovative ways.  Practical application of human wit and ingenuity to the Universal raw material which surrounds us produces new tools, techniques, uses; new to us.


"Potential" is a loaded word, however.  It is too easy for the constricted human intelligence to imagine that there are all these specific "discoveries" out there in the Great Unknown, just "waiting" to be liberated from the matrix of obscurity.


The infinite nature of the Unknown precludes any specific or "foreordained" outcomes, no matter how much the metaphysicists would like to believe so. 


"Everything" is "there," all right, for our investigation.  And so there is "potential."   But I think we have to use a metaphor from quantum physics to understand what that means.


It is a dictum of quantum theory that you can't pin down an electron; define its location and trajectory.  As soon as you "measure" it, it ceases to be an electron and becomes nothing but a measurement.  You can know it is there, somewhere probably in a given area and traveling at a certain speed, but actually tagging it is somewhat analogous to taking a high-speed photograph of a race car.  You can have the photograph to study,  or hang trophy-like on your wall, but at any subsequent moment the race car is somewhere else, doing otherwise. 


Reasoning from analogies within metaphors is a very slippery intellectual exercise, but that is the nature of "potential."  


We can make educated guesses that This  or That will probably be "invented" some time in the future, because these things lie along some line of investigation which has both a history and a continuing effort.


Human beings will probably live in space; some of them their entire lives without ever visiting Home Earth.  We already see the beginnings of this adventure.  The vastness of physical distance, even within this small corner of our crashingly ordinary galaxy, suggests that in order for the race to ever "get anywhere but here" some of us will have to be born and die - probably unto many generations - on the way. 


But this remains in the realm of science fiction until it is actually attempted; and in some measure accomplished; or not. 


That is "potential."