Sunday, March 8, 2015

3/9/15—Separating Science From Reality

A little over a week ago, the world learned something about perception as debates broke out over whether a certain dress is blue and black or white and gold. I think it gave a lot of people pause.

Just in the past week or so since then, I've come across three other non-related stories (and from credible sources, too.) There's this one that says the Big Bang may not have ever happened and that the universe may have had no beginning at all.

Then there's this one that says it's possible humans may not have even seen the color blue hundreds of years least not as we know it. And they may not have even been capable of discerning it.

Then there's this one that says humankind may have now existed a half million years before we previously thought we did.

To one degree or another, all those stories fly in the face of what we KNOW. They fly in the face of what science has told us and what science is pretty darned certain of. And so we believe science. And, in some ways, as a result, we become the like the people who don't even know blue exists. Because if we accept one way as our reality, then other ways become harder to see. 

Which leads to today's post. I get frustrated with science sometimes because the whole point of it is to find an answer for every question, as if something is only true and viable if we, as humans, can contain it in our minds...understand and explain it...wrap our heads around it. We think we're so important and wise that we can determine the answers to everything using our scientific proof and, without said proof, we determine that it isn't real, just a theory, and not worthy of serious thought by anyone but the most passionate of theorists.

In essence, we put the universe and its workings into a box that we lord over with our minds and intelligence—a box that's only as large as the limits of our intelligence and, given how much we DON'T know, it's a pretty small box. We're arrogant. It never occurs to us that our minds are not capable of understanding all that is at work in the universe. We never consider that some things can't be proven by math or research...that some things might defy measurement by instrument. That humans may not have the capacity to solve certain mysteries...or the senses to even know that certain things exist.

I used the robin as the picture today for a lot of reasons. First, it's an awesome picture. View it full size. The dude is looking right at me! Second, I used it because birds can see way more colors than we can see. They can see sharper, too. Plus they can fly and sense vibrations we can't. There are questions birds may have about our shared "reality" that we would never dream to ask, simply because our senses and abilities aren't refined enough to even know they exist. Finally, I posted the bird because even he doesn't know the answers. If he were a TRUE robin, he wouldn't be perched on my tree in the midst of a snow storm, weathering temperatures in the single digits...because science/observation/experience tells us that with robins comes spring. And I think the expression on the robin's face confirms even that reliable "truth" observed all the way since cave man times is fallible. 

We talk about gravity, for example, as if we have a grasp on it. But we don't know what other forms of gravity may exist in other solar systems or in other galaxies. We only know what's true about our solar system and we make assumptions on others based on how ours works and what we can observe with high-powered telescopes. And then we say science "knows" or has proven certain things about gravity, as if we understand it enough to say that. The fact is, physicists thought they knew all kinds of forces of nature until they took a look at how those forces interacted with things on the quantum level. Turns out, they knew little at all. 

So who's to say other galaxies don't have additional forces of science and physics governing them that we have no idea exist? Who's to say that they don't have minerals we don't know exist? If that story about the big bang never happening is true, then there go all the assumptions we've made about what all matter is made of across the universe. There may also be forms of life that thrive in extreme conditions that we don't even know exist. Heck, we're continually discovering new elements and lifeforms right here on earth. Since 1950, 21 new elements have been discovered. Five since 2000. 

The thing that really chaps my arse is when they decide Jupiter, for example, has no liquid water so it can't sustain life. Who says all forms of life need water to be sustained? That's how it works on our planet. And no forms of life have been discovered that don't need it. But again, all we know is how things work here and we don't even know half of that. So why do scientists—and the general population—just assume that because it's the rule our reality lives by, then it's the rule all realities live by? Have you ever heard two sides of an argument tell different stories? Everyone and every thing we know of lives a different reality, so why do we assume that billions of solar systems and galaxies all live by the reality we deem as true?

Don't get me wrong, science is great and needed and a noble passion to have and pursue. It has unlocked many mysteries for us. I just think it's arrogant for us to reduce everything to a formula or law, as if things have to make sense to US, the mighty human, to be real. Our dependence on science is limiting. And our belief that we have the power to slap laws on/draw a box around things that are infinite and uncontained—things we don't even understand and discover new things about every day—is arrogant. And limiting. And for scientists to tell us something is "impossible" or that something unexplainable is not real until it's proven, is arrogant. 

If you consider us all "consumers" of science, I think we've been sold a bit of a bill of goods when it comes to the way the word of science should be revered. We take it as a final answer, just like those took it as the final answer that the world was flat. Or that the sun revolved around the earth. That was the reality of the day, but it wasn't reality. And, again, I think science is a critical pursuit. But I guess I'm just questioning the utterly sheep-like way we take what science says as definitive. It's just one reality...the one human beings on planet earth have the capacity to understand. But there are way bigger realities out there that may or may not bend to math or scientific laws. 

Just like with the color blue in the story I linked above, I think we need to broaden our field of possibility to explore the things we can't prove and understand that our human perspectives and laws and theories don't comprise what is real and true. Maybe if our scientists opened themselves up more...or maybe if we didn't cling to science as having all the answers...we may learn to see colors and possibilities neither we, nor the robin, can even imagine perceiving today.