Q: Is the human mind capable of grasping the universe?

A: I don’t think the human mind is capable of fully understanding it, but only because we were not evolved for such advanced thinking. It doesn’t make a difference in our lives whether or not we can grasp these concepts, so the tendency towards advanced mathematical or theoretical thinking isn’t bred into us. That’s not to say that we can’t begin to understand these concepts; we just have to use metaphors and other tricks to come to an understanding.

Try this. Imagine a rock in your head. Visualize it. Now imagine two rocks. Easy to see, right? Now imagine four. No problem. Now imagine eight. Don’t just imagine them, visualize them. Now imagine sixteen…now thirty-two…now sixty-four…lost yet? Can you actually see sixty-four in your head or do you see a six and a four next to each other?

Now consider how insignificantly small 64 is compared to, say, 6,400…or 6.4million…or 6.4trillion. We understand the concepts of these things but we can’t truly grasp them. And if we can’t grasp the number of starts in our own galaxy, how could we possibly understand that there are billions of stars in billions of galaxies across trillions of light years?

I don’t think we’re stupid, but we aren’t even capable of understanding most of what this universe has to offer. It shouldn’t be seen as a shortcoming, though. The fact that we are even able to understand concepts like a billion (even if we don’t fully grasp them) is a miracle of nature.