When we consider the monumental issue of reality we need to distinguish between ultimate reality and perceived reality. Do we exist in a single universe, or in a matrix of multiple parallel universes? Are there merely three dimensions, or ten as proposed by String Theory? Is the cosmos the creation of a divine being, an evolving universal consciousness, or merely a random accident? What are black holes and dark matter?
Undoubtedly, there is a single reality that lies in the answers to these questions and many more that we have not even conceptualized. It is incredibly humbling and rather unsettling, but the truth is that we dwell on the surface of an insignificant planet in a vast ever-expanding universe. Consequently, our ability to comprehend this ultimate reality is severely limited. The only certainty is that our understanding is continually changing as additional information becomes available.
Of course, we cannot live on a daily basis with this unfathomable uncertainty, so, we settled for our perception of reality. Whether or not we are causing micro distortions in the space-time continuum as we drive to work is irrelevant. Our sensory receptors only register a fraction of the available auditory, visual, tactile, and olfactory spectrums. Though our concept of the world around us is partial, it has proven to be generally adequate for our day-to-day activities.
Unfortunately, much of the social conflict we currently observe is due to the intolerant manner in which many affirm their perception of reality. Some adamantly proclaim outdated world views that were conceptualized in pre -scientific cultures. Similarly, modern society too often summarily dismisses the wisdom and relevance of religious traditions regarding our human experience because they are conveyed through myth and metaphor. . If we hope to progress beyond our current awareness, we will need to remain open to alternative ideas which may completely transform our current perceptions.
Given the unfathomable vastness of the cosmos and our miniscule finite place within it, I think a heavy dose of humility is in order. To dogmatically impose our limited perspective on others is a clear indication that we are ignorant of our own ignorance. Neither religion, science nor atheism holds a monopoly on the understanding of ultimate reality.
Instead of boldly proclaiming our knowledge, perhaps we should be like children seeking their way along a forest path in the middle of the night. If we all just join hands, we can share what we discover with one another and reach the end of our journey with a collective understanding of what we find along the way. What is really important is that we all stick together and nobody gets left behind. Maybe that is the most important aspect of the ultimate reality.