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The most important question that one can ask about the world that one inhabits, the most powerful and the most meaningful is ‘why’. I understand that its not the most common question to be asked, and in certain scientific circles the question is reviled as being redundant or even meaningless. I cannot accept this and I have no intention of doing so.

There are two implicit questions asked when someone says ‘why’. The first questions reasons, and asks why a specific event has occurred in a specific way, in specific form. It presumes a level of causality and coherence in the universe, that things have reasons, that cause precedes effect, and that from effect one may deduce cause. These are fundamental axioms of the macro world, that we can understand it. It is the only way that we can come to terms with the world that surrounds us everyday.

The second aspect that I think is inherent in asking why is that it asks what justification a certain position has, and implicit within that is the challenge to the outcome. It requires a certain critical awareness of the world around, the desire and the perspective to realize that it is not immutable, it is subject to frequent change, but that change may be directed and focused towards a particular end result. More then that though, it implies that one end is qualitatively better then another end, that there is a certain way that things ought to be. It reminds us of basic principles, the firsts from which all our other edifices grow and develop, and which must always be placed in the most prominent position.

The very power of ‘why’ is that it forces critical assessment of what we do and why we do it. It asks what things mean and within it subsumes all the who, what when where and how questions, they all being only tangents of the meta question. It is the question that is the catalyst for change in oneself, and which allows one to realize your full potential. It is a powerful word, but an even more powerful idea.

There is a certain shift in scientific thinking, especially after the development of quantum theories on the micro scale, that why is an utterly meaningless question in the quest of science. That why is indeterminable, that the question has no meaning because the answers are beyond our scope to offer. I think that is pathetic. If one cannot answer the question, the technique or the technology to solve it being non-existent does not mean that the question itself is invalid. There is nothing wrong in admitting that one does not know.

The further more disturbing implication I feel is that such a blanket denial of the why question seems to undermine the very nature of scientific investigation, or certainly what it should be at its core. The notion of Einstein of “wanting to know the mind of God”, the big plan, the big picture, is subverted by saying that the picture is unresolved by us in any form. It should be this noble motivation, this desire to the highest aspiration of knowledge that should motivate those who live on the frontiers of knowledge. Instead now we must turn to inferior motives of pride or payment to motivate, but these are selfish attributes giving rise to a selfish culture of learning.

I strongly feel that ‘why’, the ability to question the very base and foundation of every aspect of our lives, to draw our own conclusions to seek and understand properly the structure of all things, is within the scope of humanity. It may be that we have not the tools in our possession to do it now, and that tomorrow or the next day may yield no answer, but the quest is eternal and is not to be so lightly discarded.