Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Interested in Space, or Science?

(Note 24 August 2015: This post has been edited. It's one of a few old posts that doesn't really warrant deletion, but I edited it a bit anyway.)

Let's get something straight: having an interest in science is not the same thing as having an interest in space. Liking rocket ships and running experiments on the moon does not mean that you are interested in the subject of space. A lot of people compare science to "discovery" as though conducting experiments in a room were ever "discovery". There is a lot to discover in space, but you don't learn about it by studying the effects of gravity in it, or how far manmade machines would need to go in manmade numbers to reach something, you learn about it by observing how vast it is firsthand, by observing the planets that have the systems of gravity, rather than studying how that gravity works. The workings of this world are nothing compared to the beauty of the world itself; if you study its behavior, you never see the beauty in all of it. Space is an infinite void, full of stars and planets, nebulae and solar systems, magellanic clouds and black holes, moons and landscapes, and a whole bunch of gravityless wonder in between. You could either observe that beauty and realize what a gift it is, or you could just scrutinize it, and ask questions about how such-and-such a moon was formed, or why it does what it does. It's knowledge, but it's useless knowledge.

If you want knowledge that space has to offer, stand out on a clear night under the night sky. Sit in the grass, and look up at it. Feel the air blowing on you. Take a telescope if you like. You don't need to make a starchart with the telescope, it's just a corrective lens for your eyes that can't see that far.

The beauty of space goes way beyond any science lab, or its understanding. Anybody who desires something more than what they can find in a classroom can at least get a foretaste of it in the night sky; it's not everything, but it's something. Science can never capture true wonder in a jar, or study it on a lab table; science can never capture the real beauty of space. It can create tools that help us to see it better, but its manner of scrutiny and mundane examination does not begin to do justice to the wonder of outer space.

A lot of people see that beauty, and then hear that our physical bodies were made from it, and are amazed, as though it were completely irregular. That's still getting away from the main point; it doesn't matter how it happens or why it happens. The point is that it happens, and it's something to behold, not something to scrutinize. That's missing the entire point of it. Realizing that is what it means to have an interest in space. It's what real discovery is. (Note 24 August 2015: I'm a Young Earth Creationist, so I don't agree that we are made from star matter anyway.)

Understanding space is a very non-scientific concept. Do not confuse a passion for one with a passion for the other.


Remember to always protest movements to put garbage in outer space. 

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