Conflicting Theories: Understanding the Universe

Scientific (and philosophical) pursuits often run off in directions that create potential conflicts and/or contradiction with our existing understandings. (And the great revelations of science are those that undo or remake our current understandings. Finding that the world is round came as a great shock to many people.)

Conflicts and contradictions can be frustrating and discouraging. Consider, for example, the two theories presented below, concerning investigation of the true nature of the universe:

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy (1979)

The search for better knowledge and understanding are fundamental elements in the meaning of life (at least for me). Two distinct and separate elements are included in this: a) the result – gaining in knowledge and understanding, however incremental; and b) the action – undertaking efforts to search, independent of the success that may (or may not) result. Life needs both goals and actions.

The tricky part is identifying or assessing our achievements (both in our choice of actions and the value of our results). Maybe we are on the wrong path, getting bogus results. As the (possibly) conflicting theories above show – it may not be possible to know in some cases whether we move forward or not. My answers to this potential conundrum are: a) have faith and do the best you can; and b) always keep a sense of humor and never take yourself (or your ideas) too seriously.

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