“Dad, what is reality? does it exist?”Posted: April 28, 2013 | |
Wow, that’s a big one, kid. It’s going to be a little long, but it is Friday night, so we have time.
Let’s answer this by thinking about how we engage with reality as human beings.
You are born to this world as a human being. You have a body, you have a brain.You are separated from your mother when they cut the umbilical cord and soon you open your eyes. You have consciousness. You are a human being who has the ability to understand this reality in ways no other creature on this planet can.
You start crying because you are sensing something. There is something out there that is making you uncomfortable. You open your eyes. It is blurry, but there is something out there. You can feel and now see it. There IS something there. You know it. You sense it. You react to it.
Now ask yourself: “Who was here first? Was it you or the reality around you?”
I think that reality was here first.
Right. It was and it will be here after you and I are gone. It was always here and will always be.
But let’s continue our observation.
This is the first you understand as a child– you are a creature that is a part of something. Reality. It is all around you. You are a part of it and it is a part of you. You try closing your eyes thinking that it all disappears, only to find that it is always there when you open them up again. It never goes away. You are never separated from it.
That is why you shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that reality is only there because of your ability to perceive it.
Okay. I get it. But what IS reality? How does it work?
Well, it is everything. I know it is hard to grasp, but it is everything. And it has identity and rules.
Let me explain.
You grow up a little. You cry when you don’t feel comfortable and you start smiling when it feels good. You eat and you sleep because this is how a human acts. This is part of your identity.
And suddenly you start identifying things. This woman is someone who takes care of you. She is good. You smile to her. This is a squeaky toy. It makes noise when you squeeze it. It does it every time. And it falls every time you drop it. Never fails.
In reality, rules never change and things act according to their nature. The laws that govern them never change. They are always the same and that gives you a sense of control. You start to make sense of it. You start anticipating what’s going to happen next.
You mean like the fact that a ball will always roll when I kick it?
Yes, you kick the ball and you know it’s going to roll. You close your eyes just before something hits the floor knowing it is going to make a loud noise. The world starts to make sense. Things act according to their nature and every cause has a specific effect. You conclude that this reality has principles. Things work according to their nature and identity. ALWAYS.
You call things names. You need language to be able to categorize things in your head even before you are able to speak. A baby knows that a ball is this round thing that you play with. Long descriptions are not something you can remember – a word, a name, is. This is how your mind works. A table is table of any shape size, material or color.
A concept, a word, is much more powerful than one image of something. A word is worth a thousand pictures.
And I thought a picture is worth a thousand words… funny. So you are saying that there is only one set of rules in the universe?
Yes. And we get to understand them better and better through science.
That’s good. I like it that we can understand the universe.
Not only understand, but also control reality. It makes me happy to know that it responds and communicates with me in a knowledgeable way.
I think I’d like to become a scientist one day.
That’s a great career choice, but there’s a lot of time still to make that decision.
Sweet dreams kiddo.