Searching For Truth In A Bigger Universe
If you have read my first article about the nature of reality and subjective experience, and how science might never be able to explain it, you might be feeling quite overwhelmed. If so, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. Believe me, I was too, when I first came to this conclusion. In this article, I want to share some personal thoughts on the subject and make you see that being human, being able to think about one’s own existence and being able to understand complex subjects can be a curse, but that it is our task to learn to deal with it, and that all in all in all, life is worth living.
The stories that I have published thus far do not come out of nowhere. From the moment I was born, I have always had a mysterious and unfound desire to explore the world, which also means exploring what we know about the world. I remember my mom telling me that as a very small child, when we would go out for a walk, I would stop at every tree to look at every fallen twig and branch lying amongst the roots, carefully examining the shape, the color, how it bent, and so on. I would proudly present her an insect that I had found, then move on to the next tree. Often, I was so immersed in this exploration, that my mom and I didn’t make it past a few trees before the sun set. This tendency towards careful examination, towards careful thinking, has haunted me for whole my life. It has also led me to some dark paths that perhaps one day I will be brave enough to share. However, the thing that haunts me in my own story is something, I think, that haunts us all at some moment in time. It touches the very essence of what it means to be alive. To be “something” rather than “nothing”.
Thinking is a way of structuring the world, but it is also more than that. Thinking allows us to conceive things that do not yet exist, but can be made real with enough discipline and insight. For a large part, it is what makes science and technology possible. If we weren’t able to imagine a wheel or a microwave; if Newton wasn’t able to imagine an apple being influenced by a blob of Earth or Lorentz didn’t feel the need to carefully structure Faraday’s observations, much of the world today would have looked different or wouldn’t have existed at all. It is careful examination and experimentation and a lot of reflection that makes today’s world possible. At the same time, I am also convinced that sometimes, it makes the world a miserable place to live in.
Thinking and reflecting is something inescapably human
The source that causes all of that science and technology and “thinking” to happen is not so difficult to pinpoint. If we assume for a moment evolution to be true, it is not so difficult to imagine that the “law of the fittest” favours beings that can think and shape their own world to their liking. While certainly not scientifically proven, I personally believe this to be the case, or at least a part of the reason as to why we are able to think at all. Quoting myself from a previous article: “intelligence allows a preciser control over the environment, and, thus, increases chances of survival.”. For years I have taken this as an unquestionable truth, but now the only thing I can think of is: why? Either way, it cannot be denied that thinking and reflecting is something inescapably human.
The Road To Nowhere
I believe that thinking, besides other things, also is a means to escape the true essence of being. If you think, often times you are distracting yourself from the real questions in life. Questions you intuitively know have no real answer, and can make you feel quite uncomfortable. Experience is subjective, and the fact that no one else can ever exactly know what I feel in that moment in time, makes me very vulnerable. It can make me feel lonely, isolated, sad, even frustrated, to know that in this body I and nobody else will be sitting for the rest of my life. And yet there is nothing you can do. Nothing, not even uploading your brain to a computer, will come to change that fact.
The fact that science and technology keeps advancing at an incredible pace makes me feel very excited, but at the same time it alarms me. I know that it can be used to cure people of terrible diseases and protect them from terrible pains, but at the same time it is as if we forget all other things. Science, progress, and our jobs seem all that matter. If we do not know where to look for answers, science, in all of its splendour and rigour, provides the answer for us. It reminds me of recommendation systems on shopping sites, that with increasing accuracy are able tell you what to buy without you even having to think about it or inspect how you feel about it. Such systems will eventually aid you with your mortgage, your taxes, and where you should put your kids to school, which makes me wonder if we will ever have to feel another thing at all. Will we eventually forget we even exist?
Don’t get me wrong. I love science, and I believe it to be an invaluable tool to make the world a better place to live in. However, in my opinion, science, existing as an end to itself, is a road to nowhere. You cannot stop its progress, for we are unable to change our own nature. But even if we will have discovered everything there is, we will ultimately come back empty-handed. After all, life is not about truth or knowledge. Life is about living, about enjoying the moment and experiencing it the fullest way you can. That’s why I think it is very important we do our best to make it as enjoyable as possible for every human being. This might include science and experimentation, but it should never be the final destination.
Sam Vervaeck is a freelance writer living in Belgium, trying to find his way in life while exploring various philosophical questions. He loves programming, playing piano, and martial arts. He is in the process of writing a book about artificial intelligence and the future of society, which will be available on his website.