“What If”: The Most Futile Statement

“What if” is the most useless statement in the world. It can be followed by the most outrageous statement or more often, a seemingly reasonable, subtle basis to prove a pseudo-theory. One comment I received on a post of mine, stating that consciousness was a brain function, which dies when the brain dies, stated: "What if consciousness was the literal fabric of space" and then built a scientific sounding “theory” based on quantum physics, explaining why it was then possible for the existence of transfer of our consciousness to the “fabric”. It is a great idea but not based on any observation. It is just an idea, not a theory. Unless there is a tentative connection to reality, it is just a suggestion. Many people start with a suggestion like that and then use it as a basis to argue what the consequences could be. First of all, one must have some observation for such a base assumption.

I have no objection to wild guesses. Sometimes one of them might hit the mark. However, until that happens, i.e. some observation might indicate that by further research it might be true, we must not use it as a basis to expand the "theory". An example of the above is the acceptance of the Near Death Experience (NDE) as a visit to the hereafter, by claiming the person was dead for a while and visited heaven during that time and then use it to “prove” that there is life after death, ignoring the fact that “Near Death” isn’t actual death. Deepak Chopra, the guru of alternative medicine, is also a great example of making a wild guess by building a theory, using a misunderstanding of Quantum Theory as a basis for his assertions. His conclusion that an afterlife exists and his attempts to integrate Ayurveda, a system of medicine historically used in India, with Quantum Theory is pseudo-science and a “belief”.

We all have encountered the statement by Theists that Atheism is also a belief.  But Atheism is a lack of "beliefs". It is the acceptance of the fact that if there is no evidence for a claim, the claim is invalid. Naturalism is not a belief. Nature is what we observe. When we still do not understand something, we propose suggestions; these can sound, very good or outlandish, but accepting these suggestions as true without any scientific proof is a belief and must be rejected. If any of these suggestions are based on real observations, then it becomes a theory, which will be confirmed or rejected or refined. That is the only logical method to follow. That is the scientific method. There is no other substitute.

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