26
Feb
14

In Search for Meaning (1)

Image

I was looking at a picture of myself earlier today and it made me realize once again how strange a human looks. I started looking at myself as if I, the observer, am an alien looking at a picture of an animal on earth. When I, as a human, observe an animal, suppose a cow, I have an idea of the intellectual limitations of this cow as I am intelligent enough to understand from the actions of this animal that this animal’s ability to think, imagine, reason, plan, assess, and learn are much limited than mine. Quite similarly when I started looking at myself as if I am looking at an animal, I was able to realize how limited a human’s intellectual abilities must also be compared to a creature who (hypothetically) might have evolved for a billion years more than humans. Some might argue that you can evolve only up to a certain stage, but that’s not the point. The point is that our intellectual abilities are limited, just like that of a cow, horse, or chimp. We might be able to perceive, reason about, categorize, organize, control, and solve the things around us a little better than some other animals, but still we have more similarities to the horse than we have differences, and however much we evolve we’ll still have limitations in our perception of reality. We perceive light because we have eyes; we perceived other forms of radiations or energy either because we felt it or have seen some sort of trace or application of it in nature in a form that we can perceive with our senses; we could theorize space-time curvature because we felt gravity, have seen its implications and could test the curvature using the bending of light or other radiations that we can capture. All of our advancements can be traced back to our perception through our senses, combined with our ability to reason which depends on the limit of our brain’s ability to make neural connections. If we had only one sense, suppose the sense of taste, and no other senses, things in nature would have seemed much different than what we understand now. I wonder how different things then would have looked than the way it looks now if our brain had evolved in a different manner, had become bigger and more complex, and if we had developed 50 senses instead of the 5 we have.

Because of our limitations, whatever those might be, we then must have been perceiving only a *limited version* of the universe. However hard we try, even with our latest science and technology, when we reach the limit of our current human brain capacity of understanding, don’t we just run in circles when we try to understand an event that we don’t have the full ability to understand? When a horse sees a rocket fly, it may try hard to gain an understanding of the event out of fear or curiosity, and it may even be satisfied with the explanation it comes up with in its brain, but would it be able to understand this elegant rocket mechanism even the slightest better than what it’s capacity allows it to understand? Suppose it goes near the rocket and starts somehow breaking down the rocket into elementary parts, would it be gaining any better knowledge about the rocket if it doesn’t have its curiosity in the right direction and doesn’t have the ability to ask the right questions? The horse might simply be understanding everything it encounters in terms of food, threat, toy/enjoyment, shelter or other needs of survival, but would it be able to perceive anything more than that? It makes me wonder what our limitations might be and at what point we will start running in circles. Do the questions we ask and answers we find actually have any relevance to how the universe truly is, or are they just more complex forms of the same questions and answers surrounding the evolutionary concept of *survival* that all living things concern themselves with, the same questions and answers that biologically living things have always pondered but now in more complex forms – about the issues of gaining power and energy  for achieving physical abilities and mental satisfaction – the things necessary for a healthy *survival*, questions and answers that are just a little more sophisticated (or maybe just different) than that of a horse’s, appropriate to be asked and discussed by a being who has developed a little bigger and a little more complex brain structure than a horse but still is a pile of genetic structures, a life form, always looking only to keep itself healthily *alive*/*surviving*, and that’s all. We might be able to build creatures just like us, these creatures might be able to perform calculations million times better than us and juggle data and make predictions billion times better, but these qualities are still human qualities. We humans experiment with everything around us. We build telescopes to look at distant objects, we go deep into the ocean wearing oxygen masks, but I wonder how much of the true universe this animal can Actually perceive regardless of its satisfaction level with its own explanations, and at what point do this animal start running in circles. It reminds me of this question that atheists often ask, “Can an omnipotent God create a stone that is so heavy that He Himself won’t be able to lift it?” Is this loopy question at all a question about God, or is it actually a question indicating the limitations of us and our reasoning abilities?


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