Harun Yahya - Reality and Your Senses (1)

Reality and Your Senses (1)


Have you ever thought whether other people experience the same sensations of sight, smell or touch as you? Maybe you have, but have been unable to come to a definite conclusion since it is impossible for you to know other people's sensory worlds. If so, the latest scientific developments on this subject will make an important contribution to such conjectures.

It's an age-old question: "what differences are there between the way I perceive the world and the way you do?" We all agree that when we look at a red rose it is not blue or green, but is the red I see the same as yours? Or how do you perceive the scent that reaches my nose?

The internal nature of our sensory experiences prevents us from giving a definitive answer to these questions. However, experts in the field think that the results they have obtained from their experiments are sufficient to be able to answer the question "Are our perceptual worlds different?" in the affirmative.

There are major differences between our individual sensory experiences. "No two people live in the same sensory world," says neurologist Paul Breslin of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. "The world you see, the food you taste, the odours you smell -- all are perceived in a way unique to you,", he explains.

If you ask various people who tasted a drink with an unpleasant taste whether or not they liked it you will receive different answers. Most will say they did not. But not all. There will be those who say they did not find anything odd in it, and even some who say they enjoyed the drink.

Experts have also observed such variation in experiments on the other senses. There are significant individual differences in light and colour perception. Stephen Tsang from Columbia University in New York City says, "Our response to light varies from those who can detect a single photon to others who have a disease known as congenital stationary night blindness, which severely impairs their ability to see in dim light."

Samir Deeb, a researcher into differences in colour perception at Washington University in Seattle, sums up his findings in these terms, "Even among individuals with normal vision, tests of colour perception show a wide variation in how colours are seen."

Subjects also differed with regard to their reaction in tests designed to measure resistance to pain. One group exposed to contact with water that was gradually heated were unable to withstand even a slight rise in temperature, while others appeared to be very little affected. One person even said that he experienced no discomfort even when the temperature reached 49 degrees Celcius, the maximum that human skin can take without burning. Bob Coghill, from the Wake Forest Medical School, who carried out the experiments, attached the subjects to a magnetic resonance imaging device and determined a clear correlation between the level of pain experienced and the amount of brain activity that accompanies it in the cerebral cortex. "The perception of pain varies by a strikingly large amount," Jeffrey Mogil of McGill University in Montreal says, "and these experiments show that those differences are real and objective."

There is thus considerably individual variety in at least four of the senses. This means that your sight, scent, taste and pain receptors are definitely different to those of other people. Paul Breslin emphasises the profound nature of these findings: "If you consider that almost everything we learn from birth is dependent on our sensory systems, then our individual sensory differences are all the more interesting." In other words, "our lives are a whole produced by our perceptions."

This means a person coming face to face with life's most important truth.

But how is it that exceptionally complex, inter-related and detailed components of life can persist in such a realistic manner and without interruption in a world in which matter exists solely as a perception? To whom does all this information belong, and who is the Creator of events and lord of all?

Anyone who sincerely reflects on these questions will inevitably see the truth. God has created human beings together with all their perceptions, in other words their destinies, and God is the lord of their lives at all moments. He knows what is taking place at all times.

Two incidents cited by God in the Qur'an may indicate that sensory differences are not limited to minor variations in colour or pain perception. The first of these regards the way Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) perceived the flames to be cold. Almighty God issued the command "Fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham!" (Qur'an, 21: 69), and by His will Prophet Abraham felt none of the burning nature of the flames. Thus Prophet Abraham perceived fire, which everyone perceives as burning, as something cool. In another incident, God represented the community that was waging war on His behalf as double in number to the eyes of their enemies:

"There was a sign for you in the two parties which met face to face, one party fighting in the way of God and the other unbelievers. These saw with their own eyes twice their number. God reinforces with His help whoever He wills. There is instruction in that for people of insight." (Qur'an, 3:13)

The way that one person is described as being perceived as two people "with their own eyes" is striking, and suggests that the deniers of God may have experienced a sensory difference by seeing a believer as two people. (God knows the truth, of course.) These verses show that sensory differences are predestined by God with a knowledge that we cannot comprehend.

Should you wish to obtain further information about the world of perceptions, you can find this in Harun Yahya's books under the title "The Myth Called Matter"

1. The contemplations in this article in are based on the author Richard Hollingham’s article titled “In the realm of your senses,” that appeared in New Scientist, 31 January, 2002, p. 40.