There are many truths that human beings hold close to, but despite if they are agreed upon or disputed those that are scientifically proven are those that people tend to rely upon throughout their day to day lives. Science is different when it comes to proving the absolute truths about the reality in which we live, while religion and similar matters tend to focus more on belief and the dogmatic doctrines that conflict with scientific theory. While both offer solutions and explanations of the reality in which we live, neither have yet to give us any concrete truth as to the origin of our reality, or how it was made to work so long ago. Science is the best guess that is based upon research, theory, and the conclusions that are drawn from them.
Reality is defined as the world as it exists, and not the ideal form that others might wish. It is the world we live in, that exists all around us, and is easily observed and measured. As human beings in an imperfect world we rely heavily on our perceptions of what reality is and trust in science and faith to set right the questions that we have concerning what is deemed real and what is not. At one time many things within our world were attributed to unseen deities and effects that were not fully understood. At one time mythology and theology defined reality, and were seen as the principles by which it was necessary to conduct everyday life.
Since the advent of science and its widespread influence that eventually explained away the reality behind the myth, reality has been defined and redefined as humanity has sought the true face behind the perception. Some might say that science has destroyed the perception of reality, but in truth it has merely stripped away the illusions that many still wish to believe in.
Thanks to such innovators as Copernicus it is now known that we are not the center of the universe, and that in reality the earth is just another piece in a much larger system. (Polanyi, 1967) In measuring and observing the natural world around us, science has given us assurances, but its truths are still quite elusive at times.
What can be measured is reality. What is observed and can be touched, felt, tasted, heard, and even smelled is real. Or so we are told. Brian Earp goes on to state that the definitive answers that we are given, the research and study that goes into affirming that the real world is as conclusive as it can be at times, proving that science does give us the truth concerning reality. (Earp, 2015)
It is very natural to assume that science, reliable as it can be, is not an altogether perfect method of discovery. This is more than proven as it has taken this long to simply develop the technology needed to advance humanity to the level at which it currently exists. In the past some things were taken simply on belief, or myth, or even legends that had been passed down from one generation to the next. In this day and age cultural legends still exist, but they are less and less the basis for what is deemed to be real. Instead science has stepped forward to claim its place as the arbiter of what is real and what is not, deeming that its findings are the absolute truth, regardless of popular belief.
Science is the making of, testing, and disproving of hypotheses in order to move on to better ideas. It does not so much tell us the truth as it works diligently to break down any established truths and then set up a new set of truths in order to prove those wrong. It is the process of changing the status quo of reality over and over again until the bedrock of what really exists is supposedly found, and the manner by which it comes to be is discovered. Reality is, quite simply put, reality.
To better explain this reality is by its very definition a very simple thing, and yet there are many throughout the world that would debate this in order to reaffirm their own grip upon the reality that they know. In essence the reality that one accepts is not always the reality that truly exists to others. This is where science tends to break down as it deals with mostly quantitative facts and provable hypotheses.
Science can give the “how’s”, “why’s”, and “when’s” in a very broad capacity, but when it comes to those who wonder about the truth that science delivers about the reality in which we find ourselves, the technology and the methods have not yet been reached that allow for more than the observational and current research methods can give to date.
Regardless of all the technological and theoretical advancements in the past several hundred years, mankind still seeks to rely heavily upon a scientific method that will change with each new generation. With each new and recycled perspective that looks upon the issue of what is real, new ideas open up and old ones are recycled and reused in different manners so as to find a new twist or turn within the old ways that might be used to discover yet another pathway that instigates a new facet of the reality in which we live. If one were to ponder every infinite path and meandering, theoretical trail that could lead from our beginning, our first self-realization of our own reality, to the current date and then onward towards future generations, it would likely take just a few quick, simple steps, or an entire lifetime depending on one’s perspective.
In truth that is all reality is, a matter of perspective. Science teaches us that it is the world we live, the tangible, measurable scope that we can control to a degree and alter if we see fit, but the reality that is seen is not always the reality that remains from one day to the next. If that were the case, if reality were the same with each passing day, then once it changed could we state with any certainty that it is no longer real?
If a dune of sand was to be present one day, in other words a part of reality, would its disappearance the next day mean it had never been real in the first place? Reality is a very subjective thing; it is to one what it can never be to another, and yet for both it is the exact same thing, only from a different perspective.
The argument to this is that of course the dune is real, it is there to touch, to the sight, and therefore it is a part of reality. That the winds that blow along a coastline will move those particles of sand is no less real, and therefore the mere act of reality acting out its normal, expected routine makes the appearance and the disappearance of the dune all a part of the same reality, again from a different perspective, but in no way any less tangible a force than it was from one day to the next. Confusing as such arguments can be, they are in fact very important and, to a point, very informative of the philosophical and realistic mindset that one must employ all at once when discussing a theoretical ideal as reality. As is stated by Howard Sankey of the University of Melbourne, “Science discovers the truth about the independently existing world in which we find ourselves.” (Sankey, 2010)
Through many differing methods and proven research we know that the sun will rise in the east each day, we know it will set in the west, and that our world will slowly spin on its axis to create differing periods of cold and warm weather. We know this based on scientific methods that were derived long ago in accordance with the observations and in-depth studies that were conducted to divine just how the world really worked. That is the essence of science, to never accept any one answer when it is possible that another might exist. In science there is nothing that can be proven, but much that can be disproved and even made to be utterly false.
To take a broader view, the very concept of reality can be expanded to the very universe we live in, one of the broadest views available that is measurable, observable, and capable of telling how we are here, how our world came to be, and what part it plays in the greater scheme of the reality that exists outside our control and overall knowledge. The reality of our world is a very controversial thing, but to think outside the box so to speak, considering the reality that lies beyond our scope is an interesting proposition that begs a virtual cornucopia of questions and suspect theories and even failed hypotheses that have sprung to life since mankind first considered the stars above.
For hundreds of years the general view of the dark skies above us have garnered intense and even heated debates, mostly to discover how we might find more information about said celestial bodies and the vast spaces that seem to lie between them. The dark matter that supposedly fills the universe, binding it and surrounding it all once, is a particularly interesting theory that is supposedly proven but yet is not a fully blown fact that has been kept mostly hypothetical to this point and has yet to take any real concrete root in the reality of which science tells us to be true.
There are observable and measurable facts that allow for this phenomenon to be noticed, and documented cases in which it has been seen to affect gravitational pulls and even the pull between planets, but again, it is a hypothesis, not a proven fact. What most people would allude to in light of this is that seeing is believing, and in truth science has trouble showing the average person much of anything outside of their own perspective that is taken as stark reality.
Science can’t explain away everything, this is a known fact to date, else it would have proven all there is to prove and become a defunct method long ago. (Connor Wood, 2013) As our world changes so must the scientific method, and as our reality shifts, it must adapt to that ever-changing environment and either reject its old hypotheses and truths or find ways to make them fit and conform to whatever new information has been given. There is no constant in science, hence its inability to ever offer any truly acceptable and immutable truths that will never change.
Earp, Brian D. Can science tell us what’s objectively true? Academia.edu. 2015. Web. 7 March
Polanyi, Michael. Science and Reality. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 18(3).
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Sankey, Howard. Science, Common Sense and Reality. University of Melbourne. 28 Sept. 2010.
Web. 7 March 2015.
Woody, Connor. A friendly reminder: Science isn’t reality. Reality is reality. Patheos. 18 Oct.
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