I can’t quite remember what I read that started this chain of thinking (this maybe), but I found myself doing a little bit of reading about dark matter. And by a little bit of reading I mean the BBC and Wikipedia. So there is the distinct possible that this is all based on thoroughly inadequate or just plain wrong information.
It struck me that at present (and of course this may change) dark matter acts for science in a similar way to how atheists say Christians use God in terms of explaining the universe.
Christians, it is thought, due to our refusal to admit the non-existence of God have in the face of the advance of science have put God into retreat. He is simply a god of the gaps (“The term “God of the gaps” is sometimes used in describing the perceived incremental retreat of religious explanations of physical phenomena in the face of increasingly comprehensive scientific explanations for those phenomena.” – Wikipedia).
The fact that theologians don’t do this doesn’t stop the accusation being levelled our way. In addition atheists will often point to our lack of evidence ‘proving’ that God exists and our reasoning from all the cumulative effects we see in the universe – order, the presence of good, beauty, love, miracles, the persistence of faith all usually fall on deaf ears.
As I read about our current theories on both the origins of how life began (no one knows how, when, where or indeed why; just that life did at some point begin) and on how the universe functions through the existence of dark matter, I wondered whether science is guilty (at least at present) of the same flawed thinking many accuse Christians of.
In order to explain the unexplainable the theory was that up to 80% of the universe consists of dark matter. Unfortunately for scientists dark matter has (so far) proved undetectable, untraceable, invisible, unknowable and also absolutely everywhere.
“As important as dark matter is believed to be in the cosmos, direct evidence of its existence and a concrete understanding of its nature have remained elusive.”
There are good reasons for thinking that dark matter exists, there are effects on galaxies, light and a whole bunch of other things I don’t understand. It’s effect can be seen. But then I argue that the effects of God can also be seen in the same kind of way although on a more personal level.
It’s a sign of our disenchanted times perhaps that we’re happy to believe science when many of their grander theories rest on something that so far seems to only have circumstantial evidence for it, but us religious types are conditioned to be OK with that.
Photo by NASAblueshift