Searching for reality while living a dream

I have been trying to get back in touch with reality. Unfortunately, he didn’t leave a forwarding address. For all I know, reality might be a she. Honestly, I’ve never actually made the individual’s acquaintance. I felt bad about that until I Googled him, or her, and found out that no else seems to be in contact with reality either. 

It’s important for a scientist to be in touch with reality because the world is counting on scientists to tell the world what is real. It’s obvious that science hasn’t done such a good job. For example, it is not real to suppose that someone else will always be there to supply you with money, food, water, transportation, warmth and shelter. It is nice that so many of these things are available for such a large population as ours, but having these things is not obligatory. As Stephen Crane once wrote:

A man said to the universe:

“Sir, I exist!”

“However,” replied the universe,

“The fact has not created in me

A sense of obligation.”

Reality is something like “the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or are imagined.” Personally, I think reality is highly overrated. I find love is far more important. 

There are dozens of books on reality. Most of them have to do with magic, philosophy, computers, economics, government and pornography — all of which are distinctly detached from reality. Like Richard Dawkins’ “The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True.” Personally, I think that title is an unfortunate choice. Perhaps not, considering that it’s Dawkins.

Another book claimed, “The goal of molecular structures is to plant the seeds of insight rather than illusion.” Yet another claimed, “Meditation makes the entire nervous system go into a field of coherence.” I understand these statements even less than I understand reality. I rejected the book where the reviewer said the book “was published more than four months ago.” Obviously, it is out of date.

Science now dominates our worldview and thoughts, as if anything that isn’t material isn’t worth, well, anything. However, that is blatantly untrue. There are all kinds of non-material things that are truly significant. In fact, many non-material ideas are more significant than science. Wars are seldom fought over gravity or quantum mechanics but are routinely fought over things like freedom, love, or political ideologies. I guess gravity and quantum mechanics can contribute to war once something non-material has started one. 

Now, I have made my living as a scientist, and I find the occupation to be pleasant and interesting. However, I am not sure that explaining love as a hormonal attraction, or that defining religion as a genetic defect of neural connections in the brain, really adds all that much to our understanding of reality. 

For that matter, the difference between a republic and democracy seems far more significant to my life than the tiny machines being built on a molecular level that received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this week. And I maintain that political science isn’t a science at all, although I still have friends who are political scientists. I’d tell you who they are, but they don’t want to be associated. 

There seems to be a question in some people’s minds about what reality is. They worry that what we think is real is only a dream or something. My experience has been that those questions, while interesting, largely disappear when a band saw rips into your left thumb. 

So what are dreams if they occur in real people, in real time, but aren’t real? Science would say that dreams can’t become reality, and someone who thinks they do is not in touch with reality. This explains my quest to get back in touch with reality because it turns out that my dream became a reality 50 years ago on Oct. 14, 1966, when my wife married me in Rossfeld, Germany. 

Gary McCallister, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), is a professor emeritus of biological sciences at Colorado Mesa University.


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