The natural world is mysterious enough for me

I recently had a conversation with a friend who is less skeptically inclined than I am. She, we will call her H, has recently become a fan of Darren Brown, which I think is great, because he has a habit of encouraging his audience to think, and exposes/debunks the paranormal. However she brought up something that I am skeptical of (NLP), and it sparked the following little conversation:

The focus of this post is not going to be about NLP and whether or not there is evidence to support it, but rather, about knowledge, mystery, and how they relate to humans.

Everything can’t be explained, everything shouldn’t be explained
When taken literally, the first half of this statement is true. At this point in time, the sum of human knowledge cannot explain everything. There are some topics that may never be explained, like what happened prior to the big bang, and really, that is ok. But to make statements such as “everything shouldn’t be explained” at this point is to essentially say that we should stop exploring our universe. I think that for the foreseeable future of humanity there will continue to by mysteries begging to be solved, why shouldn’t we continue to work on them?

Because some mysteries in life won’t hurt
Again, I agree and feel that mysteries, especially for a science minded person, are part of what make life interesting and fun. I think that the statement that was trying to be made though was that we should stop and not debunk all of the pseudoscience/religions/spiritual whatevers. This I cannot agree with, and it is also something I have heard from time to time in support of various peoples beliefs. Often times what I find though, is that the truth behind something is often even more interesting that the pseudoscientific/spiritual explanation given. To explore the natural processes behind something often offers insight into the vast and amazing way in which the world as we know it is so wildly interconnected, and can also open up the other mysteries that abound.

I also cannot settle for just any explanation for a phenomena. An explanation for a mystery must fit within our demonstrable understanding of the way the universe is. To assign supernatural cause to something, or to just leave it unexplained, in my opinion, makes for a very boring world and stagnates us as a society. It is the continuous pushing of the boundaries of understanding that drives us forward. If we want to progress, we must be able to demonstrably explain what is happening. There will forever be mysteries needing to be solved, and science provides us with the tools to get there. Science also provides a self correcting process for when we get things wrong. It is forever expanding our boundaries of knowledge, solving some mysteries and opening up new ones. This natural world is an amazing place, and provides fertile ground enough for mystery and wonder.


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