“Truth” Is in the Eyes of the Beholder – Farid Shirinfar

Monday’s class was particularly entertaining and mind stimulating for me.  It was interesting to listen to people argue their points of view.  It seemed that people who believed events are connected and mentioned god as the supreme source from which all events stem out were reflecting upon their religious, particularly Christian, upbringing.  I thought that they felt their beliefs were being belittled by the “atheists,” and they needed to clearly state how great god is. On the other hand, I felt that the “no connection” clique strongly believed that there is no spiritual or supreme connection between the events; what may make them seem connected are the universal laws of science.

My personal belief lies in the gray area in between the two.  I don’t believe that there is a god, described as a separate existence from us all, who plans events and punishes or rewards people based on their deeds.  I don’t rule out the existence of him either.  Simply put , at this point in my life I describe myself as an agnostic.I believe that a set of, finite or infinite I don’t know, laws govern this world. We humans have studied great many of them over the past thousands of years; i.e. the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology.  As a result, we can predict what should happen when we drop a ball from a high altitude.  Using what we already know, we can explain many of the physical events without needing to rely on the existence of god; for example, the existence of god doesn’t play a role in the falling of a ball.  On the other hand, we don’t know all laws that govern the universe.  As a result, what may seem as unconnected events with today’s knowledge may show a cause and effect relation in 20 years.  With this foundation, I believe that people who strongly believe that god coordinates seemingly random events argue so because they want to fill in the gaps where science is not fully developed yet.  As mentioned before, nobody talks about god when a ball falls down, but he is mentioned in the arguments revolving around the creation of universe because science doesn’t provide a clear answer there.

Another interesting point that came up in the lecture was the absoluteness of truth.  Having taken an introductory course in Quantum Mechanics, I’m familiar with the idea that “truth is in the eyes of beholder.”  For example, shooting electrons toward a plane punched at two places which is located in front of a wall, and assuming that electrons are particles, they can only pass through one of them at a time; treating electrons as waves would logically result in them passing through both holes at the same time.  So at this point, the question is whether electrons are particles or waves.  After many independent experiments, scientists came to the conclusion that the answer depends on whether we “look” as the experiments while it proceeds, or “don’t look” until the experiment is done and then look at the final results.  In other words, if we try to determine which hole an electron goes through as it is being shot, the electron goes through only one hole and thus exhibits a particle behavior.  However, if we only look at the final pattern developed over time on the wall, we see a diffraction pattern which leads to the conclusion that electrons behaved as waves.  Here observation is not an independent body from the truth, but it affects the truth itself.

Double Slit

I find this idea, currently supported by solid scientific evidence, quite amazing as it not only has significant scientific importance but also reminds how “unscientific” some of our basic assumptions are.

Links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mechanics

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