In 1880, the physiologist Emil du Bois-Reymond proposed seven riddles of the world that science could not answer and most likely never would. To wit:
- the ultimate nature of matter and force
- the origin of motion
- the origin of life
- the purpose of living beings
- the origin of sensations
- the origin of thought and language
- free will
Of course, Bois-Reymond means a scientific explanation, that is, the discovery of laws based on observation of phenomena, and not an a priori explanation from religious faith. Since it is difficult to conceive what such a scientific explanation would even look like, scientists simply accept the “big picture” of science (e.g., evolution, quantum theory, “big bang”) and instead focus on technological issues. This is especially true in a second tier class of intractable problems such as, the origin and elimination of violence, inequality, racism, and other socially destructive or undesirable aspects of human behaviour.
For example, the physicist Michio Kaku asserted in a recent interview that a thousand years in the future, the human race will have had sufficient time to solve and eliminate the conflicts resulting from religious, racial, economic or national differences. Given Kaku’s worldview, we have to assume that he means there is a scientific explanation for such conflicts and, hence, a technological solution.
We are perhaps give a clue when he asserts that there is a gene responsible for generating mystical of supernatural explanations of events. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no evidence for such a gene and his explanation of the survival value of an allegedly incorrect explanation of events is less than convincing. But given that thesis, the obvious conclusion to create a more rational (in Kaku’s sense) humanity involves genetic engineering or eugenics. If true, that would certainly solve the problem of religious conflict; does Kaku assume there are specific genes that cause the other conflicts he mentions? If it is desirable to eliminate those genes or their effects, given that the human race is genetically programmed, where does the impetus for that desire come from?
Well, early on, Kaku tells us that humans are “naturally” scientific, so perhaps the science gene will gain the upper hand. Unfortunately, Kaku inconsistently asserts that, unlike religious faith, doing science is actually not a natural activity. It requires study and effort, qualities far from natural (or even common, presumably). Now we are coming perilously close to the idea of science as a transcendent knowledge. Then the physicist takes on the role of high priest, asserting “just so stories” of evolution and satisfying our mystical urges with strange stories of quantum parallel universes.
So for what purpose? In order that humans, when no longer engaged in social conflicts, can focus on their real work of exploring other planets. Again, why? Apparently, according to Kaku, for that same reason that a single virus will infect a host organism and expand as rapidly and completely as it is able.
So even the physicist Kaku does not predict the solution to the seven enigmas in a thousand years. Now ValentinTomberg states that Bois-Reymond should has said: “given the current state of scientific knowledge and the scientific method, these enigmas are insoluble.” This leads us to these questions:
- What do we accept as knowledge?
- What do we accept as method?
Science only accepts, as knowledge, the experience of the senses and the proposed laws that unify such experiences. Tomberg instead proposes:
you know only what is verified by the concordance of all forms of experience in its totality — experience of the senses, moral experience, mental experience, the collective experience of other seekers for the truth, finally the experience of those whose knowledge has merited the title of wisdom and whose will has been crowned with the title of sanctity.
The method involves the observation of those other experiences that the scientist ignores, viz., one’s thoughts, desires, emotions, sensations. The multiplicity of such phenomena is not resolved by a unitary law or principle; rather it is necessary to become one in oneself and one with the spiritual world. Then a new kind of experience — spiritual experience — will arise. And a new kind of knowledge — cognition beyond discursive thought — will take place. Once there is recognition of the relationship of all things and beings, then the corresponding method knowledge, the Method of Analogy, will be understood.
This is the beginning of Hermetic Science and the enigmas will reveal their solutions.