The Questions Science Can't Answer – Yet

Most nights after putting my 7 year old to bed, we have lengthy discussions about life and reality. While he spends most of his day repeating silly nonsense from Sponge Bob, at night, when the lights go out, he changes. He’s a night person, his brain shifts into high gear in the darkness and silence… just like both his parents.

Some of his questions:

  • Where did everything come from?
  • Why is there something instead of nothing?
  • Why did the Big Bang happen?
  • How long ago did the Big Bang happen?
  • If we went back in a time machine and watched the Big Bang, what would it look like?
  • If everything is expanding, what is it expanding into?
  • Is there more than one universe?
  • Is time travel possible?
  • What is reality?
  • Where was I before I was born?
  • What was before the Big Bang?

For some of these questions, science does have an answer, and for some, it does not.

We once thought the Earth was flat and the Sun revolved around the Earth. Not that long ago many scientists adhered to the Steady State Theory that the universe had no beginning or end and was in a state of constant creation. And when I was a child science told us we were entering an ice age, while today they tell us the Earth is facing a catastrophic warming.

Sometimes the most important questions are the ones that offend the current culture.

In truth, we know little about reality, and the questions we do answer are likely to produce even more puzzling questions, but that’s no reason to quit asking questions and looking for evidence, and the closer we look the weirder reality appears to be.

I tell him, “Keep an open mind. The answers you read in books or are taught in school are what we think we know right now. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better explanation. Never quit asking questions and seeking answers.”

For more on the questions Science Can’t Answer Yet – check out Ten Questions Science Can’t Answer (Yet!): A Guide to Science’s Greatest Mysteries.

17 thoughts on “The Questions Science Can't Answer – Yet”

  1. What is reality? Man… I dread the day my 2-year-old asks me how clouds form and why rainbows are colorful. I’m sure I knew this at some point in my life, but knowledge moved away to make room for trivia. Hopefully by the time he starts asking philosophical questions I’ll know more.

  2. And the closer we look the “wronger” is the previous religious claim.

    It would be interesting to compile a list of scientific claims that religion got correct. Would it be more than the null set?

  3. These are some pretty profound questions that your child asks. Maybe he’ll be a scientist when he grows up. It is always interesting to find out what was before the Big Bang, what was before this universe, and what is the universe expanding into. Will we ever get the answer? I don’t know… but like you say, it’s good to keep an open mind.

  4. Tristan,
    Yeah, he asks some pretty crazy questions. He wants to be a scientist and video game developer. I think he’s got a shot at it.

    I don’t know if we’ll ever know either. When I’d ask similar questions as a little boy, my Sabbath School (kinda like Sunday School) would tell me there are somethings we aren’t meant to know. All I know is… that was a cop out. She couldn’t explain it, so she just discounted the question because it challenged her world view.

  5. I like the story and the questions but have not seen any updates to the blog in a long time. My questions are,hows the new store. Lessons learned with the move to the bigger place. Update on the business books you have read as of late. Any tips for the would be person starting a biz as far as the steps to take. By the way I also loved the MMA article as my son is into Kempo and has moved up in rank. Have a great week and hope toi see more post in the future.

  6. Paul,
    I’ll do some more posts soon and update you on the business. The business is doing well. We’re setting up for large liquidation sales right now. We plan to have a couple before Christmas. Glad you like the MMA article.

  7. These are great questions. I particularly love it when you ask those that are so very convinced that science has the answer for everything, sooner or later, and, therefore, the concept of God is fantastic. Universally, it is accepted that matter cannot be created or destroyed (but its form can be changed) and the related point that there is no such thing as the spontaneous generation of matter. To believe otherwise is mysticism, I’ve been told.

    But, these believers in science all say the universe was created by a Big Bang from the explosion of a spec of matter. Well, if you don’t believe in God, or at least an “unmoved mover of the universe,” that being that has no cause for its existence, then you must believe in the spontaneous generation of matter, that being the spec of matter that exploded into our universe and is ever expanding into, as your son asks, something but we don’t know what.

    You then get into a lot of response about string theory and the like, but it all comes down to where did matter come from. Somebody once told me that it’s matter/energy always was and always will be—it had not beginning or end. There is no God. Hmmmmm. No beginning and no end to matter. Not buying it.

    Great post.

  8. Hi, Steve!

    Just checking in and see that you have a very wise and wonderful son indeed. How amazing is it that his innate curiosity is cultivated and encouraged by his Dad…it will be squashed by some other misguided people (hopefully not but likely), so keep it up!

    Thanks for sharing this, Steve. It kindles another little fire of hope for humanity in me. With each person who grows in consciousness and awareness we broaden the influence of that awareness, and this wil llead us to our highest, best selves as a species. So exciting!

    Shauna

  9. I love the fact that your son gets profound at night after a day of watching Spongebob. It’s like that friend that everyone has that is a party animal but starts to ask deep life questions when he’s drunk.

    The Creator theory is a tough one to get around because of these tough questions. I think the dialog between Creationist and advocates of a self sustained universe should be an open one not a battle. Great post! Great reminder.

  10. I particularly love it when you ask those that are so very convinced that science has the answer for everything, sooner or later, and, therefore, the concept of God is fantastic. Universally, it is accepted that matter cannot be created or destroyed (but its form can be changed) and the related point that there is no such thing as the spontaneous generation of matter. To believe otherwise is mysticism, I’ve been told.

    Watch Naruto Episodes

  11. I like the story and the questions but have not seen any updates to the blog in a long time. My questions are,hows the new store

  12. Science won’t be able to answer everything because scienists (people in general) live within this world. Sometimes, to know the answer is to detach yourself from this so called reality and see things in a different perspective.

    It’s like sports – players need the input of the coach who sees the game from the bench. the coach is in the best position to assess the game and come up with the best plan to beat the other team.

    And as people living in this world, it’s difficult to see things from the outside.

  13. The one that keeps me up at night is, “If everything is expanding, what is it expanding into?” When I think of this I always see a black substance with white specks(The universe) moving into a pure-white, endless expanse. I think this mysterious expanse is just the empty space in my mind, waiting for the answer.

    The more than one universe thing is interesting too. I like the overlapping alternate-universe theory. I like to think there are an infinite number of me walking the same path. And then, when it’s time to make a decision, some leave and take a different path, and some stay until they change their mind. I introduced a game to my friends in which we think of alternate-reality scenarios. For instance, what if there is a reality where trees were gold and gold was wood. Then, people would have to mine wood and chop down golden trees. People would wear wooden rings and have golden doors. The possibilities are endless.

  14. * Where did everything come from?
    Matter and Energy
    * Why is there something instead of nothing?
    Matter and Energy evolved and created over time.
    * How long ago did the Big Bang happen?
    14.6 Billion Years Ago is the number the dating supports.
    * If we went back in a time machine and watched the Big Bang, what would it look like?
    Like one sexy supernova a million times larger
    * If everything is expanding, what is it expanding into?
    Infinity. It is believed that the universe will expand out to infinity and stop rejecting the idea of a Big Crunch Theory.
    * Is there more than one universe?
    Einstein showed that it could be entirely possible that there is another universe.
    * Is time travel possible?
    No
    * What is reality?
    “What it says on Wikipedia” -Stephen Colbert.
    * Where was I before I was born?
    Literally, you were in the womb before you were born.
    * What was before the Big Bang?
    Space. There was no time. There was only space. After the Big bang we have a space time continuum…before only space existed.

    If you are wondering if I believe anything I have just written…the answer is No.

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