1. I hope we all agree that our information about facts is incomplete, and will always remain so, at least in the foreseeable future.
2. The only reality that makes sense to me is what Stephen Hawking calls ‘model-dependent reality’ (MDR).
3. Other uses of the word ‘reality’ (other than MDR) imply ‘absolute reality’. If you disagree with this statement, please try defining ‘absolute reality’ in a logical way, using words which mean the same thing to everybody. My belief is that you will not be able to do that, and that means that MDR is all you have for discussion purposes.
4. Naturally, there can be many models of reality. So which of the MDRs is the right one, and who will decide that? In view of (1) above, this is a hopeless situation, and that is why I avoid getting into philosophical discussions.
5. At any time in human history, there are more humans favouring a particular MDR over other MDRs. Let us call it the majority MDR (MMDR).
6. An MMDR may well prove to be wrong when we humans acquire more information; from then we have a new MMDR, till even that gets demolished.
7. I believe that materialism is a better MDR than its opposite (called idealism, subjectivism, or whatever). For more on this, please read my article at http://nirmukta.com/2011/06/19/stephen-hawkings-grand-design-for-us/
. Here is an excerpt from that article:
’ There are several umbrella words like ‘consciousness’, ‘reality’, etc., which have never been defined rigorously and unambiguously. H&M argue that we can only have ‘model-dependent reality’, and that any other notion of reality is meaningless.
Does an object exist when we are not viewing it? Suppose there are two opposite models or theories for answering this question (and indeed there are!). Which model of ‘reality’ is better? Naturally the one which is simpler and more successful in terms of its predicted consequences. If a model makes my head spin and entangles me in a web of crazy complications and contradictory conclusions, I would rather stay away from it. This is where materialism wins hands down. The materialistic model is that the object exists even when nobody is observing it. This model is far more successful in explaining ‘reality’ than the opposite model. And we can do no better than build models of whatever there is understand and explain.
In fact, we adopt this approach in science all the time. There is no point in going into the question of what is absolute and unique ‘reality’. There can only be a model-dependent reality. We can only build models and theories, and we accept those which are most successful in explaining what we humans observe collectively. I said ‘most successful’. Quantum mechanics is an example of what that means. In spite of being so crazily counter-intuitive, it is the most successful and the most repeatedly tested theory ever propounded. I challenge the creationists and their ilk to come with an alternative and more successful model of ‘reality’ than that provided by quantum mechanics. (I mention quantum mechanics here because the origin of the universe, like every other natural phenomenon, was/is governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. The origin of the universe was a quantum event.)
A model is a good model if: it is elegant; it contains few arbitrary or adjustable parameters; it agrees with and explains all the existing observations; and it makes detailed and falsifiable predictions.’