My reflections on the nature of scientific truth begin with examining its history, not as a chronicle of progress but as a tale of replaced and discarded truths. The journey of scientific thought, from the heliocentric revelations of Copernicus and Galileo to the groundbreaking theories of Newton and onto the radical reimagining of Einstein and quantum physicists, is commonly seen as a noble path towards ever-greater understanding. Yet, a deeper contemplation reveals a different narrative — where each scientific ‘truth’ is a temporary placeholder, awaiting its inevitable replacement.
Take, for instance, the once unassailable truth of the Earth’s central place in the universe. This geocentric view, deeply ingrained and unchallenged for centuries, was upended by the heliocentric model. As it was understood, the truth shifted dramatically, not refining the previous understanding but completely overturning it. This pattern recurs throughout scientific history — Newton’s laws, long held as the definitive understanding of motion and gravity, were fundamentally altered by Einstein’s theory of relativity. Regarding scientific models of the universe, new truth may not necessarily build upon old.
This cycle of replacement and displacement in scientific theories raises a compelling question: Are we truly inching closer to the ultimate truth, or are we simply constructing and reconstructing our understanding to fit our current observations and beliefs? The essence of what we regard as ‘scientific truth’ seems not to be an absolute truth at all, but a human construct continuously reshaped to align with our latest observations and measurements.
Moreover, the instruments and methods we use to observe and measure the universe are themselves products of our current understanding and technological capabilities. They are bound by our senses’ limits and our prevailing theories’ constraints. Thus, the ‘truths’ we uncover are inevitably colored by these limitations. We are not so much discovering the universe as it is but as we are currently equipped to see it. For example, review theories about the ‘dark matter’ which does not interact with light or electromagnetic fields.
As I ponder these shifts in scientific paradigms, I am reminded of Thomas Kuhn’s concept of ‘paradigm shifts’ in his seminal work “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.” Kuhn argued that scientific progress is not a linear accumulation of knowledge but a series of intellectual upheavals that disrupt established frameworks of understanding. This perspective resonates with my growing suspicion that the truths we cherish in science are transient, contingent not on objective reality but on our time’s prevailing belief systems and observational capacities.
In this reevaluation, I am reminded of books by thinkers like Carl Sagan and Yuval Noah Harari, who, while rooted in science, acknowledge the vast unknown. Their writings have often hinted at the limitations of our understanding, suggesting a universe far more complex and mysterious than our current knowledge encapsulates.
In this light, the history of science appears not as a steady march toward truth but as a dance of shifting perceptions and replaced realities. This realization compels me to question the very nature of what I have long considered truth, opening my mind to the possibility that there might be more to understanding our existence than what science can currently reveal.
Limits of Human Perception and 5 Senses
A simple experiment further challenged my reliance on the senses for understanding reality – dipping fingers in varying water temperatures, only to receive contradictory sensory feedback. Such fallacies of perception lay bare the limitations of our senses.
I may see a water spring when traveling in a desert on a hot summer day. But when I get closer, it may disappear like a mirage or optical illusion.
When wearing green glasses, everything looks green.
The taste or flavor may appear different if I have a sore throat.
Systems are Driven by Energy and Intelligence
Consider an automated modern factory – a complex of buildings and floors with automation and machines producing and packing goods. A software bug in scripts/programming or a hard power outage suddenly stops the whole movement and production.
Studies show that events and situations affect human hormones, stimulating feelings and behavior. Who is the Creator behind new circumstances and situations?
The Ephemeral Nature of Modern Reality
In the modern era, we experience realms that challenge our very perception of reality. For instance, the advent of Virtual Reality and the Metaverse has created worlds so immersive, so convincingly real, that they blur the lines between the actual and the virtual. Yet, their existence is as fleeting as the electricity that powers them. When you remove the headset, the entire environment and moving objects disappear like a dream! Is the whole life just a long dream observed by the human soul? When the soul departs, the ‘external world’ disappears. Can we come out of our brains to scientifically prove that the external ‘world’ really exists?
This ephemeral nature of digital realities serves as a metaphor for the modern lifestyle itself, where assets and comforts are often virtual and transient. Consider the modern urbanite, who may not own a car or a home but lives a life of perceived affluence buoyed by credit cards and digital transactions. This seemingly secure existence is vulnerable, contingent on the very systems that uphold it. A sudden ‘cancellation’ by a government or financial institution could dissolve this virtual affluence, revealing the fragility of what we consider real and stable.
This fragility extends to the realm of sensory experiences as well. Future biotechnologies, potentially capable of simulating sensory experiences, might one day allow us to taste an ice cream without it ever touching our lips! Such advancements prompt a reevaluation of our understanding of pleasure and reality, nudging me to question the very fabric of the world I inhabit.
Beyond Senses and Logic: A Reevaluation of Understanding
But what of human logic, that bastion of reason and problem-solving? Despite its prowess, human logic is neither absolute nor sufficient. The annals of philosophy, filled with conflicting schools of thought, demonstrate that logical reasoning can be as divisive as it is enlightening. Moreover, logic fails to address the profound existential questions that haunt us – the ‘why’ of our creation and the ‘what’ of our existence beyond death.
The realm of logic, reason, intellect, and mind is the seen system of the universe – worldly life, cause and effect, science and engineering, math, geography, biology, technology, and invention. However, the following real questions are outside the realm of logic and science:
What happens to the soul at death and in the grave?
Are there paradise and hellfire?
Is there a Day of Judgment?
Can science guide morality and feelings?
Can science prove love, mercy, or charity?
Why the intellect is not sufficient in matters of faith?
The human intellect cannot lay down the principles of man’s felicity and wretchedness. This is due to four reasons:
 The knowledge a human’s intellect harbors, according to science, is derived through analysis of personal experiences and observations.
On the other hand, precepts of a human’s felicity and wretchedness can only be obtained through recognizing the special characteristics of certain beliefs, morals, and deeds. All these falls outside the paradigm of experiences, observations, and tangibility. These cannot be analyzed through observation or experience; no laboratory can be designed for such a purpose.
 Decisions based on human intellect tend to be infiltrated by assumptions, which may falter the decisions we make using our minds.
 Mindsets vary tremendously and can be poles apart. Instances of sound intellect are relatively few compared to Instances of unsound intellect, especially relevant to the things mentioned above.
 Intellectually based decisions are sometimes executed under emotional pressure, which is yet another factor that can cloud judgment.
This is exactly the reason why the ideological propositions of various nations are so contradictory when it comes to recognizing the Divine, the reality of prophethood, compensation of deeds, matters of the Hereafter, and actions being right or wrong.
In this light, I gravitate towards scripture, a domain I had acknowledged but did not study. Now, viewing it through a lens of respectful doubt about the absoluteness of science, scripture appears as a potential guide to understanding ‘The Unseen.’ It beckons with the promise of truths that might lie beyond empirical evidence and logical deduction.
Embracing ‘The Unseen’
As I stand on this precipice, looking out over the landscape of knowledge and belief, I find myself more open to the possibility that reality, as I know it, is not the whole picture. With all its achievements and wonders, science might be just one way of perceiving a universe replete with ‘Unseen’ truths.
I look forward to discovering these truths in the pages of scripture and the quiet introspection of the soul. When reading the Holy Quran, I feel the presence of God Almighty, revealing the truth about the ‘The Unseen.’ For example:
“We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth.” [Quran, 41:53]
“Indeed, We have created everything perfectly, preordained [Quran, 54:49]
“The creation and command belong to Him alone” [Quran, 7:54]
“And they ask you about the soul. Say, “The soul is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind has not been given of knowledge except a little.” [Quran, 17:85]
Say, “Who gives you sustenance from the heavens and earth, who truly possesses (your) hearing and seeing abilities, who brings the living out of the dead and the dead out of the living, and who regulates (the whole Universe)?” They will reply, “Allah.” Ask them, “Why, then, do you not have fear of Him?” [Quran, 10:31]
“The creation of the heavens and the earth, the alternation of nights and days, the ships that sail in the sea for the benefit of the people, the water that God sends from the sky to revive the dead earth where He has scattered all kinds of animals, the winds of all directions, and the clouds rendered for service between the sky and the earth are all evidence (of His existence) for those who use their reason. [Quran, 2:164]
“This is the design of the Almighty, All-Knowing” [Quran, 36:38]
“You will never see any imperfection in the creation of the Most Compassionate!” [Quran, 67:3]
“Certainly, you were heedless of it, but now We have removed from you your veil, so your sight today is sharp.” [Quran, 50:22]
Eureka! I have finally understood ‘The Unseen’ in the interplay of science and spirituality!