What is the universe? Is it a great 3D movie in which we are the unwilling actors? Is it a cosmic joke, a giant computer, a work of art by a Supreme Being or simply an experiment? The problem in trying to understand the universe is that we have nothing to compare it to.
A good simulation, be it a religious myth or scientific theory, gives us a sense of mastery over experience. To represent something symbolically, as we do when we speak or write, is somehow to capture it, thus making it one's own. But with this appropriation comes the realization that we have denied the immediacy of reality and that in creating a substitute we have but spun another thread in the web of our grand illusion.
Science is not the enemy of humanity but one of the deepest expressions of the human desire to realize that vision of infinite knowledge. Science shows us that the visible world is neither matter nor spirit; the visible world is the invisible organization of energy.
Science is expanding, and with it our vision of the universe. although this new and constantly changing view may not always give us comfort, it does have the virtue of truth according to our most effective resources for acquiring knowledge. No philosophy, moral outlook, or religion can be inconsistent with the findings of science and hope to endure among educated people.
The capacity to tolerate complexity and welcome contradiction, not the need for simplicity and certainty, is the attribute of an explorer. Centuries ago, when some people suspended their search for absolute truth and began instead to ask how things worked, modern science was born. Curiously, it was by abandoning the search for absolute truth that science began to make progress, opening the material universe to human exploration.
It is unlikely that we will ever see a star being born. Stars are like animals in the wild. We may see the very young, but never their actual birth, which is a veiled and secret event. Stars are born inside thick clouds of dust and gas in the spiral arms of the galaxy, so thick that visible light cannot penetrate them.
We surely stand at the threshold of a great adventure of the human spiritó a new synthesis of knowledge, a potential integration of art and science, a deeper grasp of human psychology, a deepening of the symbolic representations of our existence and feelings as given in religion and culture, the formation of an international order based on cooperation and nonviolent competition. It seems not too much to hope for these things.