Certainly science has, in the past century, validated the notion that what we see is far from all there is. We cannot directly see electrons but we now know that material objects we can hold in our hand are actually, at an atomic level, largely empty space, and that it is the electric fields associated with the electrons that keep them from falling through our hands....
Thus, it is perhaps not too surprising that when one approaches the limits of our knowledge, theologians and scientists alike tend to appeal to new hidden universes for, respectively, either redemption or understanding.
The apparent complexity of our universe has compelled some evangelists, and some school boards, to argue that the natural laws we have unraveled over the past four centuries cannot be enough on their own to explain the diversity of the phenomena we observe around us, including the remarkable diversity of life on earth.
For very different reasons, but still without a shred of empirical evidence, a generation of theoretical physicists has speculated that the four dimensions of our experience may themselves be just a grand illusion - the tip of a cosmic iceberg....
Religious belief ... may itself have an evolutionary basis. There has been talk of a "god gene": the idea of an early advantage in the struggle for survival for those endowed with a belief in a hidden patrimony that gives order, purpose and meaning to the universe we experience.
Does the same evolutionary predilection lead physicists and mathematicians to see beauty in the unobserved, or unobservable? Does the longstanding human love affair with extra dimensions reflect something fundamental about the way we think, rather than about the world in which we live?
November 8, 2005
Physics and astronomy professor Lawrence M. Krauss writes about science and religion: