Science is an interesting concept. It tries to put a label on everything and to make the unknown features of human existence universal by applying it to a formula or equation. It looks for trends, predictability, repetition. It attempts to organize everything that we are onto neat exponential, linear, or quadratic curves. Outliers are whisked away in the name of probability. Individual numbers are pounded into a single figure because of statistics. We never think of ourselves as that data point that has strayed far from the line of best fit, but what if that is you?
Science strives to assign everything with a purpose, a meaning, a reason. That perfect autumn evening when you sat outside on your porch drinking hot chamomile tea and watching the sun set? Did the moment feel sacred? Well, that inevitably happens every year and every day, at this specific time and temperature. Where you happy then? Good for you, but that is the brain’s natural reaction to that type of sensory information in association a specific set of memories and with an evaluation of the physical state of your body, and it releases a certain chemical that allows you to feel that way. What about your first born child? Did you feel like the luckiest parent on earth when he or she was born? To the world of science, your precious child, your everything, is nothing more than a statistic. Science does not care about the gentle blue color of your baby’s eyes, or the tender way in which he held onto your finger. It only wants the weight, hours in labor, health complications, if any. What about that sadness that sometimes settles in your heart, that feeling that you are alone in the world and that no one understands you? Well, science can probably name multiple reasons, from your socioeconomic status to a small sodium deficiency.
In other words, science can explain a lot about the humans, but can it explain you? The one-in-a-kind you? The you, with all your quirky little likes and dislikes? The you that swears off pineapple on pizza but is part of the cilantro lovers club on Facebook? The superstitious you that refuses to step on the cracks on the sidewalk or walk under a ladder? The you that likes to talk about the weather with your dog or chat about the current health of the economy with you cat? It’s one thing to know science and another thing to believe in it. Because we don’t think about our emotions as chemical reactions or our children as statistics. The human consciousness, and the strong sense of self that we possess tells us that we are both unique and important. We can’t discount that feeling. We’re the ones that turn sensory information into memories, nerve impulses into feelings, responses into encounters, deficiencies into desires. We decide who we are, not science.
So if science says that objective reality exists, you can keep on believing in your own subjective one. If science claims that time is a universal measurement you can keep on giving your own value to the minute. If science tells you that you don’t have free will, you can still feel and believe that you do. If science will soon tell you that the soul does not exist, that everything about your life is just a physical process, nothing about who you are as a person would change. Science knows a lot about the human body, but how much does it really know about you?
You know that big old question? Are we greater than the some of our parts? I don’t know the answer, but what if science finally answers this question? The discovery of a few cells or biological processes might change what you know, but would it really change what you believe and what you are? We are not computers, always ready to change our programming whenever new information comes around. We are not only chemical and biological systems, we are also people. We are not machines, we are individuals.