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10 Theories about Reality and the Universe

Edited By: Krista Mc'Farlene
 Reality isn't all that plain and simple. There are several things we take for granted and assume to be true when in reality, they are patently false. So, let's take a look at what scientists and philosophers have to say. Here are 10 who have done their best to overthrow the theories of common sense: 
 
1. The Big Freeze
theories about reality and the universe

This is a scientific theory of the end of the universe, which spells disaster for everyone. The universe has a fixed amount of energy in it, and as this energy runs out, as the theory explains, the universe slows down. What this means is that there is a slow loss of heat, because heat is produced by the movement of energy particles. There is also a slowdown in movement, meaning that everything would eventually come to a halt. 

2. Solipsism 

This philosophical theory states that nothing can be verified except the existence of one's own mind. It may seem like a difficult concept to understand - after all, who would deny that the world around them exists? But, this theory says that it is impossible to verify the existence of anything except your own consciousness. If you're still having a hard time understanding this concept, take a moment to remember all the plausible dreams you've had in your life. Couldn't it be possible that what you see around you is nothing but an incredibly elaborate dream? 

3. Idealism
theories about reality and the universe

This is the belief that all things exist as an idea, in the mind, or more specifically, as an idea in someone's mind. Famous idealist philosopher George Berkeley found that his views were dismissed as idiotic by some of his peers. In fact, it is said that one of his opponents closed his eyes, kicked a stone and stated, 'I refute thus.' His opponent made his point that if the stone really existed only in a man's mind, he should not have been able to kick it with his eyes closed. Berkeley had stated that there existed an all-powerful and omnipresent God who perceived everyone and everything simultaneously. Whether this idea is plausible or not, we'll leave that up to you.  

4. Plato and the Logos

We've all heard of Plato - the most famous philosopher around. Like all other philosophers, he had something to say about reality. Plato claimed that in addition to the world we are all familiar with, there exists another world of perfect 'forms'. He states that everything we see around us here is merely a shadow, imitations of the real thing. However, by studying philosophy we can hope to catch a glimpse of the originals. In addition, Plato being a monist tells us that everything is made out of a subtle substance. This means that diamonds, gold, and dog poo are all composed of the same basic substance, but arranged in different ways. What's more? Science says that this theory may not be too far from the truth. 

5. Presentism
theories about reality and the universe

We take time for granted and divide it simply as past, present, and future. But, according to 'Presentist' philosophers, there is neither a past nor a future. These philosophers believe that only the present exists. In other words, your last birthday does not exist. To make things even more mind-boggling, as another example, every word in this article ceases to exist after you look at it - until you look back at it again. The philosophers hold the theory that the future does not exist, as time cannot be behind and ahead. Supporting this theory is the great scholar of Buddhism, Fyodor Shcherbatskoy who says, “Everything past is unreal, everything future is unreal, everything imagined, absent, mental . . . is unreal. . . . Ultimately real is only the present moment of physical efficiency.”

6. Eternalism

Presenting a sharp contrast to presentism, eternalism is the philosophical theory that postulates that time actually has many layers and could be compared with a sponge cake. It states that all layers exist simultaneously, but the layer seen by a particular observer depends on where he is standing. So, this theory holds that dinosaurs, World War II and Trump all exist at the same time, but can only be viewed from a certain point. In this theory, the future is hopelessly deterministic and free will is nothing but an illusion. 

7. Brain in the Vat
theories about reality and the universe

This thought experiment is a problem encountered by philosophers and scientists who propose that the external world is independently verifiable. But what exactly does this mean? Let's imagine for a moment that we are nothing more than brains in vats, with our perceptions being manipulated by aliens or evil scientists. How could we disprove the possibility of this situation actually being the case for us right now? This makes the same point that we cannot prove the existence of anything but our consciousness. However, it employs slightly different thought experiments. 

8. Multiverse Theory

You may have likely heard of the multiverse or parallel universe theory. Parallel worlds, as many of us are aware of, are said to be very much like ours, with only minor, or in some cases, major, differences. The theory states that there is an infinite number of these universes. But how does this affect us? This theory holds that in one parallel universe you've already been killed by dinosaurs, in another you are a powerful dictator, while in another you were never born. 

9. Fictional realism
theories about reality and the universe

One aspect of the Multiverse theory holds that superheroes are real. Logically, if there is an infinite number of universes, there must be quite a few which contain real-life versions of our much-loved fictional characters. 

10. Phenomenalism

Ever wondered what happens to things behind your back? According to philosophers who have studied this problem intently, they vanish! Sort of. These philosophers, known as 'phenomenalists', believe that things only exist insofar as they are perceived. This means that your cheese sandwich only exists so longs as you are aware of its existence. In a nutshell, it basically states that no perception is equivalent to no existence.

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