Friday, January 23, 2009

What I learned in Astronomy

I am currently in the Astronomy program at Nipissing University as my mandatory science credit. I never considered myself much of a scientist but I do like to think that I am an amateur philosopher; with that reasoning I took Astronomy in an attempt to better understand the universe.

I understand people who find the course to be a bit confusing because of all the physics and chemistry involved. I actually had to take high school science twice because of subjects like those so I want to clarify that I don’t want to pass astronomy off as being simple. If you can get past those hurdles though and start to notice some of the recurring patterns and simple geometry in our own solar system, it brings some interesting ideas forward. 

One of the fundamental concepts of Astronomy states that the laws that govern the universe apply equally to us here on Earth. The gravity of the Sun provides the momentum and energy which have allowed the planets to form around it. While we humans are governed by the laws of nature, planets and stars are governed by the laws of physics.

I find room for a religious viewpoint in my philosophy because I find it hard to imagine that pure science, limited as it is by human reasoning, can explain the grand perfection and balance inherent in laws that not only keep planets in orbit, but also govern feelings such as love and hate. I like to believe that there are facts about the universe that we shall never understand given our limited span of intellect. I also believe that the power of imagination allows us to appreciate that which we don`t know and fills the void in our consciousness with the sensation of magic. As long as we don`t try to appear as though we know the unknowable, we can get down to the more important business of understanding what we do know.

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