I’ve started reading “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking. In the first chapter he describes the goals of science and scientific theory. Unfortunately, I think he’s wrong about a crucial assumption. Here’s (a misrepresentation of) an excerpt from the book:

The eventual goal of science is to provide a single theory that describes the [construction on I-80]. However, the approach most scientists actually follow is to separate the problem into two parts. First, there are the laws that tell us how [the construction on I-80] changes with time. (If we know what [I-80] is like at any one time, these physical laws tell us how it will look at any later time.) Second, there is the question of the initial state of [I-80]. Some people feel that science should be concerned only with the first part; they regard the question of the initial [creation of I-80] as a matter for metaphysics or religion. They would say that [the government], being omnipotent, could have started the [I-80] any way that [they] wanted. That may be so, but in that case [they] also could have made [the construction] develop in a completely arbitrary way. Yet it appears that [they] chose to make [the construction move along] in a very regular way according to certain laws. It therefore seems equally reasonable to suppose that there are also laws governing the initial state [of I-80].

See? Sure, he starts off reasonable enough, but did you see how he thinks that the construction moves along in some way that actually makes sense? Sorry, Stephen, but if the construction is really done “in a completely arbitrary way”, then science can’t hope to discover any laws to understand it nor to predict when (if ever) it will be completed.

Ok, maybe Stephen Hawking wasn’t really talking about the construction on I-80, but if science can’t even make sense of the construction, there’s no way it can describe the whole universe.