The Relative Nature of Absolutes

borrowed from elephant journal

Whether or not you are religious, there is a spiritual sense that you get by looking at the stars. The sense that there is so much more out there than meets the eye. The humbling realization that we know so little about the Universe that we are a part of, and even the planet we live on.

Most people see science as absolute truth, as a sure-fire, tried and tested way to understand our world. I would agree with them, but only to an extent. There is absolutely truth that is found through the scientific process, but science itself is not the absolute. Mostly because it is humans who are hypothesizing, predicting, experimenting, and analyzing. What I’m referring to goes beyond the problem of bias. Let me explain.

There is a story about the Native American tribes who lived on the land before Columbus sailed over. His ships were visible on the horizon, but the natives did not perceive them for days. The ships were something so far from what they knew and what they could imagine, that their minds unconsciously concluded that they did not exist.

Whether or not this story is true, it points out a flaw in absolute thinking. How we perceive a certain event, or situation is effected by a million factors. How can absolute truth be derived from our relative perceptive abilities? How much of what is in plain sight, do we perceive as invisible because it is not what we are expecting?

We see what we want to see. Two people can be part of the same conversation and walk away with very different views on what happened. Is one person more right than the other? The answer is that both people’s vision is skewed by their experiences, which has shaped their assumptions and reactions to otherwise neutral events. So what is reality? Is there any such thing as absolute truth, and if there is, who has access to it?

In order to understand the biggest picture of all, we need to zoom in to the realm of the ‘quantum’, to the smallest, most basic picture we can find. Knowing the micro mirrors the macro, what’s revealed in quantum physics may mirror the biggest, most profound absolute truths of the Universe.

5 Main Ideas in Quantum Theory

  1. Energy is not continuous, but comes in small but discrete units. 1
  2. The elementary particles behave both like particles and like waves. 2
  3. The movement of these particles is inherently random. 3
  4. It is physically impossible to know both the position and the momentum of a particle at the same time. The more precisely one is known, the less precise the measurement of the other is.4
  5. The atomic world is nothing like the world we live in. (http://library.thinkquest.org/3487/qp.html?tql-iframe – 5)

That last point drives home. Many of the findings that are being revealed by quantum physics go against our intuition and logic that has been conditioned by the world we live in. For instance, quantum physics has shown that a particle can be in two places at the same time. That should go against our logic and intuition because we’ve never experienced that. Does that mean that it isn’t true, or does it mean that our viewpoint, our perception on what we are, and what life is, is riddled with a whole lot of blind spots?

Some people who pride themselves as being scientific thinkers often do so because the burden of mystery is removed by their sense of knowing. But the deeper we go into exploring the micro and the macro, the more mystery there is and the less we realize we know. Maybe absolute truth isn’t found through observation, theories or formulas. Perhaps the most profound revelation of absolute truth is found in plain sight, right where we can’t see it, amidst the mystery itself.

Are you still here with me? Yah, neither am I.

“It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order – and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order.”  –Douglas R. Hofstadter

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17 comments

  1. Love staring at the stars and wondering what is out there. It makes you fell so small (in a good way) that you are part of something so huge and infinite.

    1. So true. Thanks for stopping by, J.D!

  2. Deepness. Me likes.

    1. It boggles my mind but I like it too!

  3. Great post, and comics! I love physics, it’s fascinating.

    1. I’m glad that you liked it. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Right up my street. Not only do I advocate and regularly practice star gazing (I have the neck aches to prove it) but I love pondering the universe in it’s enormousness and minisculeness (are they real words??). The whole Quantum paradoxes suggest to me that we lack some very fundamental understanding of dimensional space rather than things existing in multiple places. As with most theories, subsequent generations will move them on and make our own understanding seem primitive by comparison. I boggle at the idea that we are half way between the very large (Total Cosmos) and the very small (Planck length). Thanks for that. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I think you’re right. There’s just so much that we don’t know about our Universe at this point, that I’m sure in another 100 years we’ll look back and laugh at how primitive our understanding was. Have a great rest of your week!

  5. I love this entry…It is EXACTLY what I have been pondering for some time now. I’ve heard the story of the ships and the natives, and I believe it. We see with something other than our eyeballs. Quantum physics proves the unprovable and science is a mere part of the mystery. Scientists and doctors have only scraped the surface of the amazing human mind and how we are all physiologically connected to every miraculous occurrence within every realm…and how, yes, matter can be more than one place at once. Extremely advanced beings even know how to be 2 places at once in full consciousness! Amazing! Thanks for this post…perfect for today!

    1. I’m so glad what I wrote resonated with you! I’ve been pondering this for a while too. I’m writing a sci-fi that has a lot to do with the unseen connectedness of people. A lot of this quantum theory goes way over my head, but it also just fascinates me! Thanks so much for your comment.

  6. Reblogged this on LifeRevelation and commented:
    A balanced, well-written post about perceptions…please enjoy.

    Be encouraged!

    1. I am honoured by the reblog! Thanks so much : )

      1. You are welcome…Believe me you earned it…be encouraged!

  7. Nice posting, enjoyed the writing.

    1. Thanks for visiting my blog! Have a great rest of your week.

  8. Ah..leave it to Calvin and Hobbes to illustrate quantum theory!! Seriously this was a very thought provoking post..:-)

    1. I know, right? That Calvin is way too smart for his own good. Thanks for the feedback!

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