Archive for June 8th, 2008

Beyond Observation

by on Jun.08, 2008, under Spirituality


I spend a lot of time thinking about the true nature of reality. Is that weird? Probably. The thing is, reality is weird. First, there is observable reality. This is not so weird. Observable reality is basically the physical universe and the laws that govern it. Things like apples and trees, and apples falling from trees. Also, rocks, cats, mountains, beaches, the human body, etc… Nothing can compete with Science when it comes to explaining how the physical universe works. However, science can not tell us why the physical universe works. Most people don’t even think to ask why, but why is a really important question.

The physical universe consists of many different and apparently independent things. Things like galaxies, planets, animals, plants, cells, proteins, DNA, atoms, photons, etc… Science does an excellent job of explaining how these things work, but it is amazing that these things happen to work in such a way that allows life to exist. Planets and DNA do not have much in common, but both are required for life, and both are governed by the same laws of physics. If you really dig into the details, like those crazy scientist do, you would find that the laws of physics are insanely precisely tuned toward the existence of life. The most minute changes to the laws of physics would result in a completely different and lifeless universe.

Science has acknowledged the fine tuned nature of our universe and has struggled to explain it. Mainstream science seems to have settled on the concept of parallel universes. The idea is that there are actually infinite universes out there, each with unique laws of physics. Only an infinitesimally tiny set of these universes are capable of supporting life, but since those are the only universes we can live in, our universe is one of them. This explanation is probably true to an extent, but there is no evidence to support it, and personally I don’t find it to be a sufficient explanation for the uniqueness of our universe.

There are many other explanations for the fine tuned nature of our universe. Some people believe that conscious observation causes the quantum wave function to collapse, which in effect creates our universe. Some people believe that we live in a computer simulation like the Matrix. Other people believe that life is just one big collective dream, and of course many people believe that God created everything.

All of these explanations are possible, but the problem is they are completely untestable. I think the only thing we can say for certain is that there is a level reality beyond our observation, and in this unobservable reality, life and/or consciousness is fundamental. So while we appear to live in a reality where life is a mere fortunate side effect of the physical universe, the truth is that there is a deeper level of reality where life is fundamental. Since life is fundamental in the deeper level of reality, it is only natural that life is possible in the derivative levels of reality.

I think on some level we all know that there is a deeper reality. This is probably where religion comes from. I also think a lot of our fears are ultimately fears that there is no reality beyond the physical universe. We are in an awkward situation here. To get the most out of life, we need to have a connection to this deeper level of reality. However, we will never ultimately know what this deeper level of reality is. How can you have a relationship with something that is completely unknown? When you figure that out, please let me know :)

The image in this post is “Spring on the Prairie – Biplane” by Teo and is licensed under creative commons.

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