I’d kinda planned on skipping these points, or glossing them over, so as not to lose some of you completely (I’m looking at you, Kris). But, any meaningful philosophical discussion really does require a significant degree of intellectual honesty, so I’ll drop some on you.
I believe pretty much everything modern science claims to be true of the universe, is true of the universe. There! You’ve gotta love that. Evolutionary speciation, Einsteinian can’t-go-faster-than-the-speed-of-light-for-no-good-reason-really, Heliocentricity, all that.
I ALSO believe pretty much everything ancient science (often called “Mythology”) claimed to be true of the universe, was true of the universe. See? That’s where I lost you.
Today, the world is fifteen billion years old, or whatever actual number you want to claim. Four hundred years ago, the world was four thousand years old. That’s where I’m going. All natural matter may be constructed out of 136 elements, but two thousand years ago it only took four elements to do the same thing.
I honestly, seriously believe that our world is socially constructed. All of the rules that govern the universe, all natural laws (as well as all nature) are pieced together from the mind of Man. Everything that can be tested, everything that can be measured, everything that can be communicated by way of symbols is simply a manufactured (might as well say “imaginary”) expression of some Real Truth to which we have NO shared access.
Therefore whatever number we put on the age of the earth is just an expression of how we are currently interpreting the nature of the world. If it is more useful for our present-day scientists to believe in time-intensive evolution in order to construct a functional explanation for the nature of animals as we observe them today, then our universe is flexible enough to include a world that’s billions of years old.
All it takes to make it true is to say it, and convince other people to believe it.
I believe lightning used to be heavenly javelins, and now it’s static discharge. I believe birds used to fly because they had so much Air in their nature, and now they do it using updrafts and hollow bones. I believe heat used to be an invisible liquid-like agent that flowed between objects, seeking balance, and now it’s an expression of energy.
I believe margarine used to be better for you than butter, and then butter was better for you than margarine, and now margarine is better for you than butter (I think). And where do we stand with eggs? And coffee?
NONE of this is real. It’s all just a game that all of humanity is playing, every day, and we change the goal sometimes, and we change the rules sometimes, but for the most part, at any given time, everybody agrees to a basic set of rules and we all follow them, and keep playing. That’s what society is.
That’s constructed reality.
There IS something real out there, but it’s not governed by any Natural laws. It’s not accessible to science, or logic. It’s Other, it’s Outside. We encounter it all the time, but in the process of trying to explain it, communicate it, understand it, we make something not-quite-like-it, we make a symbol, and then we pass that symbol around for years, forgetting the original source that it was supposed to describe. We make up uses for that symbol, and modify it over time, until it is very much a part of our lives, but no longer CLOSE to the Truth it was supposed to describe.
And then we encounter that Truth again, and it’s entirely foreign to us, so we try to understand, describe, and we end up making a NEW symbol for it, which we adopt, and pass around, and use for different purposes, but neither one is the actual thing, see?
So we still have myths about lightning as the javelins of the gods (the old symbol), and we still keep those around, and use them for certain purposes (they make good poetic images, for instance), but obviously that’s not the REAL thing, lightning. We know that now, because we’ve encountered lightning on a different level. We have a new symbol for it, this static discharge idea…. But that’s NO MORE the real thing than the javelin image was.
ALL of it (everything we say is true of the universe) is just a symbol we’re passing around, and modifying with each iteration, until it’s not the same thing at all. In other words, the MORE accurate you make your description (through testing and discussion and professional journals) the LESS like the original impulse it is. Yeah, you hate this paragraph now that I’m talking about lightning as static discharge, but go back and reread the paragraph before this one. It’s a constant cycle. It’s HOW WE DO THINGS.
Do you see what I mean? Do you see what I’m saying? It’s basically what you believe, too, except….
Ehff. You tell me. That’s what comments are FOR.