an infinite tower of tortoises supporting the flat earth is such a picture, so is
the theory of superstrings. Both are theories of the universe, though the
latter is much more mathematical and precise than the former. Both theories
lack observational evidence: no one has ever seen a giant tortoise with the
earth on its back, but then, no one has seen a superstring either. However,
the tortoise theory fails to be a good scientific theory because it predicts that
people should be able to fall off the edge of the world. This has not been
found to agree with experience, unless that turns out to be the explanation
for the people who are supposed to have disappeared in the Bermuda
[...] if we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be
understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists.
Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able
to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the
universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate
triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God.
Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, 1988.