Forum: Arts / Philosophy

Philosophy
Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By maureensiobhan Comments: 4726, member since Wed Dec 24, 2003
On Mon Sep 27, 2010 07:45 PM

That's something I've wondered for a long time.

One example would be completely understanding the brain. Of course, neuroscientists are learning more and more about the brain all the time. It's likely, though, that they may never be able to completely figure out all of the inner workings of the brain. That may be something we were never meant to fully know. The best and brightest epileptologists (neurologists whose main focus is treating epilepsy) may never be able to figure out what makes certain motor neurons in the brain become epileptogenic (what causes them to start misfiring the electrical signals in the brain and cause a seizure). It may never be fully understood how the brain works to make some people right-handed and other people left-handed.

Another example is cancer. Of course oncologists are learning more and more about cancer all the time, and are all the time devising newer and safer ways to detect it and treat it. Thanks to research and development into cancer, more and more people are surviving it. Oncologists may never know, though, what causes the cell changes to become cancerous. That, too, may be something we were never meant to fully undetstand.

A third example would be the whys and wherefores when a desparately ill family member is in the final stages of a disease. The day before my uncle died of cancer, I had been sobbing literelly all day. I managed to stop crying for a short time, then I would burst into tears again. All day, I was thinking, "What did he ever do to deserve this? He never hurt anybody. What did he ever do?". I suppose we were likely never meant to be able to answer that question of the whys and wherefores.

What do all of you think?

17 Replies to Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?

re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By Ballerina1878 Comments: 74, member since Thu Aug 12, 2010
On Tue Oct 05, 2010 03:21 PM
I think one of the biggest things that we aren't meant understand/never will fully understand is death. Sure, we hear stories and people have theories of what will happen when we die, but we never really know until it happens to us.

Another big one is outer-space. Is there a whole other planet with a whole different kind of life? How far away is that planet? Does space ever have an end? Right now, we don't have the technology to find those things out for sure, but they're really interesting to think about.
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know? (karma: 2)
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 15032, member since Thu Feb 14, 2002
On Tue Oct 05, 2010 03:39 PM
I disagree. I think this kind of thinking is quite narrow-minded. You're thinking in terms of lifetimes, instead of the entire human experience. Imagine the world a thousand years ago. They would be saying the same things about things we teach elementary-schoolers now.

This might be unseemly, but this is what I thought while reading Job in the Bible. When God responds to Job's complaints, he says:
----
Have you explored the springs from which the seas come?
Have you explored their depths?
Do you know where the gates of death are located?
Have you seen the gates of utter gloom?
Do you realize the extent of the earth?
Tell me about it if you know!

Where does light come from,
and where does darkness go?
Can you take each to its home?
Do you know how to get there?
But of course you know all this!
For you were born before it was all created,
and you are so very experienced! (hey look, God's sarcastic!)

Have you visited the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of hail?
(I have reserved them as weapons for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war.)
Where is the path to the source of light?
Where is the home of the east wind?

Who created a channel for the torrents of rain?
Who laid out the path for the lightning?
Who makes the rain fall on barren land,
in a desert where no one lives?
Who sends rain to satisfy the parched ground,
and make the tender grass spring up?

Does the rain have a father?
Who gives birth to the dew?
Who is the mother of the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens?
For the water turns to ice as hard as rock,
and the surface of the water freezes.

Can you direct the movement of the stars -
binding the cluster of the Pleiades
or loosening the cords of Orion?
Can you direct the sequence of the seasons
or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?
Do you know the laws of the universe?
Can you use them to regulate the earth?

Can you shout to the clouds
and make it rain?
Can you make lightning appear
and cause it to strike as you direct?
----

These were the mysteries of life when the Bible was written. (Or inspired by God, whichever.) How many answers do we know now?

We've been to the depths of the ocean, we know what light is, we know the water cycle, and what makes water turn from ice, to liquid, to vapor. We know what stars are and what laws govern their movement. We even harness some of those laws to fling our probes farther into space, or our astronauts to the moon.

We can make it rain. We can manufacture lightning.

I think that some day, far in the future, humans will know the answers to all the questions you asked.

In doing so, though, we'll just think up more questions.
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By Merfi Comments: 3099, member since Wed Jan 18, 2006
On Wed Oct 06, 2010 04:31 AM
I really think of it as us being 'meant' to know certain things... Obviously it's possible that there are things that we won't ever figure out. There are plenty of things that are difficult for humans to comprehend, like the enormity of space, or the way our emotions work. That's all well and good, but in my opinion has more to do with our capacity for understanding rather than any kind of cosmic intent for our knowledge.
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By maureensiobhan Comments: 4726, member since Wed Dec 24, 2003
On Wed Oct 06, 2010 08:15 AM
As well as the enormity of space, I don't think we'll ever know and be able to comprehend the enormity of time.

As for our being able to make it rain, I don't know about that. Weather scientists have tried cloud seeding, but even that hasn't always worked. So, not always can we humans make it rain.

One other thing I don't think we humans were meant to know is why the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. We'll likely never be able to understand why weather systems (cold fronts, warm fronts) move from west to east.
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By Merfi Comments: 3099, member since Wed Jan 18, 2006
On Thu Oct 07, 2010 03:26 AM
^The sun rises in the east and sets in the west because of the direction in which the earth rotates. Solved! :)
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By maureensiobhan Comments: 4726, member since Wed Dec 24, 2003
On Thu Oct 07, 2010 08:11 AM
I know that that's because of the way the earth rotates. I learned that in school. My point is that I don't think anybody will ever be able to figure out what makes the earth rotate east to weat instead of west to east.
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member Comments: 8688, member since Sat Jul 10, 2004
On Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:28 AM
^ I think we studied that in Physics class. I am waiting for the nerd crew to come in here and answer it for me ;)
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 8949, member since Sat Jul 19, 2003
On Thu Oct 07, 2010 01:52 PM
We only know as much as we learn. I honestly think we'll know most things before people die out. Think of how many things changed between 500 AD and 1900 AD? Think of what's happened in the last 100 years...even the last ten years! I think there are some things we won't know, like exactly how evolution started. However, I don't think that's because we're not "meant" to know them, we just can't unless we invent a time machine.
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By reel_faerie85member has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4130, member since Mon Mar 08, 2010
On Thu Oct 07, 2010 01:57 PM
I don't think that we ever know anything we just come up with an answer and make it fit to how we want it.
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By maureensiobhan Comments: 4726, member since Wed Dec 24, 2003
On Fri Nov 05, 2010 09:00 AM
I wanted to reply to the thread before it gets too old.

As for completely figuring out and completely understanding the deepest inner workings of the brain, once again, we may never find all of those things out. The brain is the control center for the entire body. It controls absolutely everything, from the physical to the mental activity. It controls life itself. Perhaps we human beings were never meant to completely know and understand what controls life.
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Fri Nov 05, 2010 09:12 AM
The word "meant" implies that not only is there a creator, but that it knows everything we are yet to know/discover/unravel, and wants to hold us back from that knowledge. I can't get on board with that for any number of reasons.

I think we'll eventually figure everything out - I think we do have an infinite amount of monkeys and an infinite amount of typewriters. But there's one exception - I don't think that humankind on Earth will ever figure out what happens to us after death, and therefore we'll never know what the meaning of life is. I think it's a total impossibility for us to expect to work that one out and I do wonder at people who spend their lives agonising about it. I think ones of the things that drives humans is mortality - it's what makes life exciting. If we worked out that we were immortal in the afterlife (with no conditions), I think that'd cause big problems on earth.
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know? (karma: 1)
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 15032, member since Thu Feb 14, 2002
On Tue Nov 16, 2010 02:02 AM
Edited by Heart (21721) on 2010-11-16 02:03:14 spoilered for huge image size
The word "meant" implies that not only is there a creator, but that it knows everything we are yet to know/discover/unravel, and wants to hold us back from that knowledge. I can't get on board with that for any number of reasons.

Second this, but anyway...

I know that that's because of the way the earth rotates. I learned that in school. My point is that I don't think anybody will ever be able to figure out what makes the earth rotate east to weat instead of west to east.

Oh for the love of God. GOOGLE.

Wiki:
It is theorized that Earth formed as part of the birth of the Solar System: what eventually became the solar system initially existed as a large, rotating cloud of dust, rocks, and gas. It was composed of hydrogen and helium produced in the Big Bang, as well as heavier elements ejected by supernovas. As this interstellar dust is inhomogeneous, any asymmetry during gravitational accretion results in the angular momentum of the eventual planet. The current rotation period of the Earth is the result of this initial rotation and other factors


In other words: the Big Bang* went boom, and everything went outwards. Most of space is empty, and what is there is what is referred to as "interstellar dust" - gobs of various elements in whatever vague form they've taken as they travel outwards. Because of the random formation and impurities of these dust-gobs, they're not going to be perfectly symmetrical. One gob hits another gob, making it spin, and that gob hits another one, and so on until everything is spinning. But then one of those gobs hits another asymmetrical gob, which has a bit of a denser element on one side as it hobbles along. It starts spinning the other way, and the cycle begins again.

The rotation of the solar system (and also Earth) is fueled by angular momentum. I'm not going to try to explain that. But that initial hit that started the rotation is what makes us spin the way we do. This spinning forces the denser materials towards the center, creating a star (or, in a galaxy, a Black Hole) and planets and so on.

The Milky Way, our galaxy, actually rotates in the opposite direction that we do.


* Yes, I do believe that we will eventually discover what caused the Big Bang. I'm not sure if it will happen in my lifetime, but we have been able to discover what was going on in our universe up to 10–43 seconds after the Big Bang.

Pause and re-read that line. Up to 10–43 seconds after the Big Bang.

Here's what it looked like:
Spoiler: Show
Image hotlink - 'http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2d/WMAP_2010.png/800px-WMAP_2010.png'
That's an image of the microwave background radiation.


So yeah - I have every faith that one day, we will figure everything out!

I leave you with some photos of atoms. Yes, atoms.

Image hotlink - 'http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/08/28/article-1209726-063617DB000005DC-474_468x241.jpg'
a molecule of pentacene

Image hotlink - 'http://aautar.digital-radiation.com/blog/uploaded_images/carbon-atom.jpg'
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By schuhplattlerPremium member Comments: 3037, member since Sat Dec 23, 2006
On Tue Nov 16, 2010 03:17 AM
reel_fairie85 wrote
I don't think that we ever know anything we just come up with an answer and make it fit to how we want it.

Would you want to cross a bridge built by those who operate on that premise?
I doubt that there is anything that humans were not meant to know - not even tax law.
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By JackC Comments: 33, member since Fri Dec 10, 2010
On Fri Dec 10, 2010 09:53 PM
I am sure there is a variety of things we should not know. Number one on my list is how to kill someone else. However your post which seems to focus more on will we or can we know these things. Certainly, given an infinite amount of time, I believe that we will figure out everything.
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By panicmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11592, member since Thu Dec 16, 2004
On Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:46 PM
We know for certain there are truths we can never confirm to be true. Check out Goedel's incompleteness theorems. en.wikipedia.org . . .
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By Lev_Nougol Comments: 23, member since Mon Dec 20, 2010
On Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:51 AM
I don't know that I can add much that hasn't already been posited into the discussion, but I must say, I'd love to be around long enough to see some of the "ultimate" questions answered.
re: Are There Things We Human Beings Were Never Meant To Know?
By Shnaynaymember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 9967, member since Sat Aug 03, 2002
On Sun Feb 06, 2011 06:00 PM
I think human beings have the amazing capacity - and, more than that, the NEED - to question EVERYTHING. Therefore, there will always be things that we human beings do not know, because it is the art, the practice, the need to question, that is the essence of being human. We do not trust, and we must know more.

There will be answers to the few questions you've posed. There will be multiple answers, no doubt. Every question can be answered in a thousand different ways, as there are billions of people in the world, and as many ways of looking at life, and solving problems, answering questions. Oh, yes, there will be answers.

There will be those who base their answers in science, those who trust religion, those who put their faith in Nature, or technology, or rituals, or drugs ... there are those who will throw up their hands and go with the flow. But there will be answers.

And with every answer, there will be more questions. We will never know everything, or even close. There will always be more about which to wonder.

And at the rate humanity is going ... I don't think human beings will exist for thousands of years to come, or even hundreds. Yet another thing that we'll never know.

peace out
sh'naynay

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