A scientific theory of everything... is it worth trying?

I wrote this on the Facebook forum of a former pupil of our school.


I think that above and beyond the question of whether or not the search for a theory of everything is realistic, a waste of time + resources, etc... is the idea (which I subscribe to) that it is simply an innate aspect of the human psyche to seek transcendence. This can be expressed in the desire to push back limits, to go beyond what one thought was possible, whether the limits be physical (ie. extreme challenges such as marathons, long-distance cycles, journeys to the South Pole...), scientific (space exploration, a theory for everything...), spiritual (seeking knowledge/proof of God's existence...). All of this I feel is a metaphor, founded in experience, for the desire for union with God.

Maurice Blondel, the French philosopher speaks of the in relation to the different stage of desire, starting from the most base and finishing in the most pure (= desire for union with God) and that even the lowest form of desire is a sign of humanity's desire for transcendence, and ultimately for union with God. Notice that the "satisfaction" of material desires (getting that new car, the latest iPod...) does not generally bring long-lasting satisfaction. Generally, that same desire will kick in to get a newer + improved car or iPod. When does such a chain of desire stop? Blondel says it will only stop when we are one with God after death, but that some people can get a glimpse of this here on Earth (spiritual illumination in prayer, etc...).

And so, to answer your question, no I do not think it is a waste to try and find a theory of everything. I think it is simply a symptom of the cosmic evolution of which we are a part. Greater understanding of Creation can help one to come to a greater awareness of God as Creator. Ultimately, the answers to such questions will only ever be partial due to humanity's materially limited intelligence. But as long as humans exist, I believe there will be people seeking to fine tune those answers.
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