In the Arctic there lives a man, a tall thin man with a beard and a woolly hat.
He lives underground with a machine (which he made himself) and waits for it to go off. It’s been five years and nothing yet. It almost went off once, but then it didn’t.
He’s looking for dark matter.
If you need to know what that is, see my earlier blog on the subject.
A quick summary: Dark matter is very heavy, invisible, and can move through solid objects. It is a necessary building block of the acceptable model of creation and completely impossible to find.
But it is there. At least, the man with the machine thinks so.
But this blog is not about the man and his machine. And it’s not about dark matter.
Science as a religious belief is a common theme in my blog postings, but this, I think, is a wonderful example.
If, for example, your next door neighbour built a machine in his shed, buried it in his garden and sat next to it for five years waiting for it to make a noise…you would ask him why.
If he said it was a machine for finding God, you would think him mad.
If he said it was a Bigfoot detector you would laugh in his face.
If he said it went off when the ghosts in the air were angry, you would call the police.
But if he said it was for finding dark matter, he would get a research grant.
The big difference is: there actually is at least a little evidence that first three might exist.
It doesn’t take a genius to see the connection between the man and his dark-matter detector and Francis of Assisi in his cave, or a Buddhist monk and his vow of silence. An alien watching from space would be unable to tell the difference between him and the Hindu man in India who kept his arm above his head ’til his hand grew through itself.
The problem I have is when people refuse to see the similarity, and insist they are different. They should be different, but they’re not. Not anymore.
Darwin and Newton and Einstein were all geniuses. They were all inspired. They all arrived at brilliant theories. And they were all almost certainly right. But almost is a huge word, one that has fallen by the way side in the name of certitude.
These brilliant men have been raised above us to the level of gods because people find them reassuring. The supreme irony being they would have been the first to object to their places in the Rationalist Pantheon. Darwin and Newton would have found it blasphemous.
Human insecurity has turned scientific theories into security blankets. Instead of asking questions we look for the “right” answers.
That’s not what science is about. And in a hole in the Arctic lives a man who’s forgotten that.