Hailed as the “queen of the sciences,” the field of mathematics has long been taken as the most objective and reliable description of reality. Recently Dr. Ofer Meged, a physicist and lecturer at Hemda, the center for science education in Tel Aviv, wrote an article exploring whether mathematics describes an objective reality after all.
“Why should we believe that objective reality is within the purview of the human mind?” he asks. “All of mathematics is the product of human creativity, but our insight and vision are the output of our brain’s structure. We receive inputs through our sensory organs, and our brain processes that sensory information in a particular way to make sense out of our world. But who is to say that the picture that our brain comes up with is an actual, realistic depiction of the external reality? Nobody can say for sure,” asserts Dr. Megged.
“The most rational, scientific thing that one can say, in essence, is that objective reality, whatever it may be, exists completely independent of the human mind and human experience,” concludes Dr. Megged. “Although we definitely are a part of objective reality, there is no way that our minds can encompass all of that reality.”
Megged admits, “We describe natural laws using mathematical language because we have no other choice. Our mathematics cannot negate the existence of other interpretations of reality, but we have no way to access them.”
Without addressing the underlying value of mathematics – which, after all, is not in dispute – the emerging humility among scientists is something that was predicted by our prophets thousands of years ago. They revealed that shortly before the era of Moshiach, the “independent reality” that exists outside our awareness will finally become accessible to us. The human mind will become refined and elevated enough to grasp that there is a reality greater than what we can understand.
This self-effacement will prepare our minds to be proper vessels to receive the full revelation of Divine wisdom. We will realize, as Maimonides puts it, that “all creations exist only through the truth of His existence.” We will finally grasp the truth of Divine through our physical senses, through the neurons in our brain, and feel the joy of G-d’s closeness in our heart of flesh.
To finally be able to grasp the truth of G-d through our human faculties is an unprecedented experience. For now our minds are still in “exile,” for there are limitations on what we can understand and feel. Soon we will experience the ultimate Redemption, when those barriers will fall away and the full glory of G-d will be revealed to us.