"Is all science FICTION?" The professor looked out over a field of faces staring back at him like so many sunflowers. Most expressions indicated thoughtful bewilderment. But, "The Geek" (according to his T-shirt) in the front row caught Professor Stock's attention.
"Bradley." Stock pointed at the grinning face.
"Sir. Are you referring to the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum reality?"
"Continue!" The professor crossed his arms and began a slow pacing across the platform.
Bradley shoved his glasses back up his nose and peered at his laptop screen. "There is no deep reality."
"More! You're on the right track...."
"Well, the explanation here reads: 'first, there is no reality in the absence of observation; and second, observation creates reality.' In effect you create your own reality.... " Bradley leaned back in his padded auditorium seat and turned his eyes to the professor.
"Does that sound like SCIENCE to you?" The professor's growl produced a flutter of nervous giggles throughout the class. "What is the definition of science that you all learned in your elementary science classes? C'mon. I remember and I'm a lot older than any of you."
A gorgeous brunette behind Bradley raised her hand. "It's a method of investigation involving observation and theory to test scientific hypotheses."
"That is a definition for the scientific 'method,' but what does the word 'science' mean?"
"Okay, what is the definition for 'fiction'?"
The clattering of fingers on keyboards throughout the room produced a loud sigh from the professor. "Hey, that's cheating. You can tell me right off the top of your head, can't you?"
Nobody dozed through Professor Stock's Philosophy of Science lectures. From the first day of class, he demonstrated a knack for generating electricity among the students that involved them all in free-for-all discussion.
"Fiction is something made up, not true."
"Can anybody improve on that definition?"
"It's something from a person's imagination, an invention."
"Now, we're getting somewhere. Fiction begins to sound like 'theory.' Give me a definition for that."
"Speculation? Theory is an idea or possibility that needs to be investigated?"
"Bradley, what's the dictionary definition?"
"Which one? There's 'tentative theory'....Hey, I like definition number three 'a belief that can guide behavior.'"
Professor Stock wrote in a strong, impatient hand on the blackboard the words: science, fiction, theory, reality, observation. "Next definition: reality."
"Something that is true"
"The opposite of fiction!"
The professor dropped the chalk and whirled to face the class. "Ah ha! Did you all hear that? Reality is the opposite of fiction. Is it? Think, folks."
Retrieving the chalk he turned to a fresh place on the blackboard. First, he wrote the word 'Science,' underlining it. Below it he listed the words 'knowledge' and 'reality.'
"Any thoughts to share with the class?" Stock continued writing. Alongside 'Science,' he wrote the word 'Fiction,' also underlining and listing 'invention' and 'theory' below it.
Bradley had his hand up when Professor Stock turned back to the class. "What?"
"Fiction, on the right," Bradley pointed to the blackboard, "with invention and theory, that's all inside a person's head. Science," he moved his arm, "with knowledge and reality, is all outside the person. Right?"
"So, we have no knowledge or reality inside our heads?" Stock looked at the class with a mischievous grin, generating a twittering response.
"Sorry, I couldn't let that one get past me. What definition have we missed?"
"Taking notice, remembering."
"Paying attention to what's around you."
"Making connections between apparently unrelated things."
"Keeping records of phenomena...."
"Good, good. 'Just the facts, Ma'am!' Right?" Professor Stock smiled at the class, basking in the warmth of his smiling sunflowers.
"...You understand that we are laying the foundation for discussion of the controversies in science. I submit that the crux of the debate nowdays falls heavily on the 'fiction' side of what I term 'science-fiction.' The facts, what we can experience, examine, record, are not in question. It is the INTERPRETATION of this information that drives the arguments between say, evolutionism and intelligent design.
"By the way," Stock looked up. "Did any of you see the news about the six-legged calf born in Nebraska last month? Since it is equipped with both male and female reproductive organs, my observation tells me this is not a case of identical twins that failed to completely separate. Your assignment for next class, I want to hear your INTERPRETATION, or scientific explanation, of this phenomenon.
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