To ordinary people on Earth it just seemed like a normal meteor shower, nothing different from the Persieds and such. But to the astronomers behind their giant telescopes and polished lenses, the objects were much more than mere meteors. They were, in fact, the countless flotsam that mankind had put out into atmosphere over the past seventy years – satellites, probes, you name it, from the size of a washing machine to that of a school bus, they came raining back down on their origin, as if drawn in by some mysterious force.
Gravity. It was the only explanation, and the scientists of the world were suddenly in a chaotic uproar. Everyone, from the learned professors to the ardently religious priests to the sly conmen, all at once offered their own take on the explanation. Heads of States rushed to meet their counterparts, discussing the implications of space travel and exploration. Around the world, people huddled in prayer, or looked with awe at the sky that was lit up with the streaks of re-entry, or stood blankly in front of the television, hoping that the next news flash could perhaps cast some light on the nature of this phenomenon.
But nowhere was the fallout felt more strongly than in NASA – humanity’s nerve center for all things space related. As crowds started gathering outside the NASA headquarters, the chief scientist and a collection of staff and researchers barricaded themselves deep within the complex as they discussed the possibility that hundreds of years of science – since Newton and the apple, no, perhaps even before Socrates and the Greeks – had been wrong. Twelve old men, seated round a large mahogany table, engaged in a low discussion on laws that they had once held as universal truths but were now shown to be defunct and inept.
Opinion was split. There were multiple camps. Some believed that the current theories were lacking certain items, others claimed that the entire foundation of modern science from relativity and calculus were wrong through and through. An aged scientist clutched at the remaining tufts of white hair on his head, buried his face in his arms and collapsed on the table sobbing, unable to come to terms with the fact that his entire life’s work had been proven utterly useless.
Theory built on theory, assumptions based on assumptions. The entirety of modern science – based on several fundamental laws of nature, created and elevated to that status by none other than men. Science is a process of trial and error, of hypothesis and verification, countless experiments can never prove it right, yet only one experiment is needed to prove it wrong. When the apple is thrown up for the 100th time and it doesn’t come back down, in the midst of all the chaos and disbelief, there is a sharpening of the scientific knowledge of the world, and science is improved. We scientists put our faith in science because it is a pursuit of progress. When contradictions arise, the community scrutinizes past assumptions, questions what was taken for granted, finds alternative explanations, and defends it through logic and reason. That is the beauty of the scientific method. Can the same be said for religion?