Do facts distract us from the big questions?

Answer by Jim Ashby:

“Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth.” ~Ludwig Borne

The Big Questions have never been answered. We've gone from almost no facts, centuries ago, to our modern state of information overload. The relative absence or presence of facts doesn't seem to make a difference in answering the Big Questions.

Why is there something rather than nothing? Why am I here? Is there anyone else out there? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

Bob Dylan said that, “All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.” And George Carlin said that, “By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth.” It would appear that the truth is not all it's cracked up to be. Everything we know is built on assumptions: our meager perceptions of reality are processed by brains that take shortcuts and are prone to illusion. Our models of the universe might last for centuries for somebody comes along and makes the observations that everybody else missed because they held the same assumptions.

“Fight for your opinions, but do not believe that they contain the whole truth or the only truth.” ~Charles A. Dana

Quantum mechanics and Einstein's relativity are two paradigms that work remarkably well on their own but can't be made to play nice with each other. If we were to somehow wed these two paradigms together will we be closer to, or further from, answering the Big Questions?

“The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” ~Niels Bohr

Many Big Questions deal with purpose, meaning or morality: I'm not sure such Big Questions can be intellectually decided at all. They imply value judgments that put them beyond the scope of mere facts. As for the rest? It may be that the more we learn, the more mysterious the universe becomes. The Big Questions may never be answered.

Do facts distract us from the big questions?

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