Nothing proves more the limits of science than the scientist’s opinions about any topic that is not strictly related to his profession. --Dávila
Einstein said that the most incomprehensible thing about the world is its comprehensibility. Well, yes -- if one doesn't believe the world is created, in which case there is no principle that can account for all these layers of intelligibility, everywhere we look.
Of course, when it comes to the big wide world outside physics, Einstein was no Einstein. He became Einstein because of his preternatural ability to focus so narrowly on that little world. Or maybe it was just autism.
Wait -- little world? Let's see you make a revolutionary breakthrough in physics, Bob! Last time I checked, you flunked out of business school during the Carter administration because of "math and stuff." What makes you qualified to judge Einstein?
I'll tell you what makes me qualified: the same thing that makes you qualified, which is to say, common sense. For the plain fact of the matter is that the world is comprehensible. (Or to back up one step, either it is comprehensible or it isn't; and if it isn't, you may -- must -- stop thinking now, assuming you ever started, because your "thinking" will bear no knowledge-relation to the world.)
For those of us with common sense, the world is plainly comprehensible. Now, why is it comprehensible? The first thing you must comprehend is that this is not a scientific question. Rather, the intelligibility of the world is a scientific assumption, or an implicit axiom without which the conduct of science is impossible.
Here again, in order to even begin to answer this question, one must exit the narrow world of physics, because no answer(s) will be found there. Sure, you can pretend physics holds the answer, but mere physics can't even account for itself, let alone anything transcending it. Which is why this polemical sounding aphorism isn't really polemical at all:
Why deceive ourselves? Science has not answered a single important question.
This is literally true, in the sense that the very concept of "importance" is an extra-scientific value judgment. The other day I saw Fredo Cuomo on CNN, a man who pretends to be Catholic, aggressively insist that only science could (some day) determine the morality of abortion. Until it weighs the evidence and renders its judgment, it's like, just your opinion, man.
Here we see how science, far from answering (or even being able to answer) important questions, renders one stupid by attempting to rely upon it to answer those very questions. Again, don't believe me, believe the Aphorist:
Fredo vividly demonstrates to his airport audience how Nothing is more alarming than science in the ignorant.
For just look at how Fredo's Stupidity appropriates with diabolical skill what science invents.
Indeed, Fredo shows us how Scientific ideas allow themselves to be easily depraved by coarse minds.
And What is more irritating than [Fredo's] stupidity itself is a scientific vocabulary in [Fredo's] mouth.
Now, If good and evil, ugliness and beauty, are not the substance of things, science is reduced to a brief statement: what is, is.
THEREFORE, Whoever appeals to any science in order to justify his basic convictions inspires distrust of his honesty or his intelligence.
In the case of Fredo, honesty AND intelligence.
Hmm, I got a little sidetracked with the Fredo bashing. However, I think we're almost finished anyway.
I suppose we've left out one other possibility, that the world is comprehensible but not created. What would this imply, and why does it make no sense?
Well, for starters, the world's comprehensibility would be anchored in no principle; nor would its intelligibility to our intelligence have a sufficient reason. As Pieper describes it, this would reduce to a "total lack of orientation," because we would deprive ourselves of any and all possible support, whether from inside or outside ourselves, i.e., subjectively or objectively.
Existential freedom? Yes, "this is precisely that famous kind of freedom to which one is not called but condemned." It is not freedom as the Christian understands it but as the nihilist understands it: it is reduced to being irretrievably lost in the cosmos, as opposed to being given a teleological freedom, the purpose of which is theosis, or participation in, and assimilation of, divinity. "God becomes man that man might become God," as the Fathers say.
Freedom, truth, knowledge, intelligibility, virtue, science: each of these is impossible in a world that isn't created -- not "in the past," but in each and every moment. If the world isn't created, then not only are we all condemned to Fredohood, but inescapably so.
Although creation as a process and event necessarily remains inaccessible to our knowing faculties, still it can be said that it must be at any rate a non-temporal event which transcends all succession in time....
Our routine "awareness of going beyond the 'here and now'" will be dismissed "as unreal and poetic idealization... to those who do not see or admit to the true situation of man within the whole of reality." But for the restavus, this vertical awareness "is nothing other than the simple description of reality."
Bottom line aphorism: modern physics PROVES that the cosmos is vastly larger than we had ever imagined. And yet:
The distances of the physical universe are those of a prison.