Thursday, December 22, 2016                                                        Dreadful Joy

Science Fiction

We live in a world not of science but of science fiction. Consider gravity. Newton’s law of universal gravitation took people to the moon and back several times – more than a half century after Einstein’s general theory of relativity made that law fiction.

Even Einstein’s view of gravity becomes fiction inside black holes and at the first instant of the Big Bang. And the enigmas of dark matter and dark energy in this century have moved physicists to suggest that gravity may actually leak from other dimensions (String Theory) or perhaps emerge from the thermodynamics of spacetime (Entropic Gravity).

Observational experimentation, even with something as fundamental as gravity, can only ever offer us fictions. We’re biological, after all, and most of the universe is not. Categories like time and volume, which define the parameters of our world, turn out to be illusions in reality.

Science, then, is a creative way to represent reality, but it isn’t reality. Our individual experience is real. Like gravity, we emerge spontaneously from the universe as a mystery that simply is.

This flips the common assumption that science defines reality and we live as subjective beings precariously estranged from the objective world. We are not estranged. We’re simply strange! We’ve invented a remarkable genre of fiction called science – a narrative that accurately reveals how to make motors, computers, cell phones. We are the author of the manufactured world – the greatest science fiction story ever told!

But who are we? What does science say about the author of science? Cognitive research, psychobiology, and neuroscience tell a tale of an illusory self, an “I” whom the brain hallucinates – and yet treats as if real.

What generative powers within the psyche collude to create you and me? And what do these cryptic powers have to say about our humanity, our imagination or the emotional logic of the human heart? Science fiction brings real contact between the energetic narrative of science and the beautiful illusion of being human.


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