To say that the underlying assumption that we live in a materialistic reality is a belief shared by 99.9% of the people in the western world is probably understating it by several orders of magnitude. Only in the eastern religions will one find the belief that reality is an illusory creation of consciousness. Poetically, it might best be expressed as each of us living as a thought in the mind of God.
The debate between materialism and idealism is a centuries old metaphysical discussion that moved into the science of the physical in the 20th century. Experiments in Quantum Physics began to give results that could not be explained in terms of an objective material reality. Reality is a construct of consciousness. Even stranger is that it appears that we each create our own reality.
We assume that “we” are all in the same reality; when, actually, “we” are experiencing a purely subjective experience. It is the high degree of consensus between each of us “conscious entities” that fools us into thinking that our reality is objective and deterministic. Physics experiments have proven this beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you have a problem believing that trees falling in the forest don’t make a sound unless some conscious being is there to hear it, you’ll really have a hard time with the concept that without a conscious observer there isn’t even a tree. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a fallen tree the first time a conscious being trips over it.
Don’t feel bad. Most physicists are still having trouble accepting the idea, too. Even though Materialism has been falsified by repeated experiments showing that objective reality doesn’t exist to a certainty of 80 orders of magnitude (probability of being false due to error or chance = 1E-80).
This is not the first scientific discovery fundamentally impacting our idea of physical reality that has been ignored by the masses. Einstein laid waste to the Newtonian idea that time is absolute, consisting of a cosmic past, present and future. Even so, the majority of physicists have been slow to give up the ordinary assumptions we make about time, let alone the ordinary citizen.
But, why should they give up the idea that trees exist “regardless,” and time passes sequentially? What would be the benefit of realizing, as Einstein put it, “…. the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.”
In the virtual reality of idealism would your Special K be less crunchy? Would a foul ball to the head hurt less? Nope. Not at all.
Then what difference does any of this make? None… unless you are heavily invested in the Christian religion. Then, in my opinion, it changes everything. Here is a short list of questions, the answers to which are fundamentally different in a subjective reality.
If past, present, and future are illusory, wouldn’t it mean eternity is NOW?
If life is just conscious experience, then what is death?
Doesn’t the idea of a “physical resurrection” depend heavily on a materialistic reality?
Is consciousness created? And, if so… from what?
And a couple of conclusions:
If I am consciousness, and time is an illusion, then I exist in the past, present, and future.
That would mean I am eternal. In both directions of time. I’ve always been and will always be.
When my search for truth left me without the concept of a “heavenly father,” (and almost every Christian, admit it or not, envisions God anthropomorphically, and male) for a time I was lost. I had no concept of God. Nothing to “hang my hat on,” even though I still believed in some creative “energy,” for lack of a better word.
I no longer prayed because, frankly, there was nobody to pray to. I still don’t, and haven’t, for 35 years; but, I do commune with the “ineffable.” Call it prayer if you like; but, what it is for me is just thought. I think… and think… and think. I contemplate the mysteries of life. My dad used to critically call it “pondering the imponderable.” Which, of course, is an oxymoron. And, probably why he liked saying it. Personally, I think he should spent more time on the imponderable and a lot less time pondering Fox News.
I digress. As I pondered the imponderable – or ineffable – an analogy popped into my head. Many religionists would shmarmily say “God spoke to me.”
Well “He”didn’t speak to me; but, one of his little messenger angels covered in twinkle dust struck me in the head with her tiny wand… no. None of that. It just came to me like thoughts do – complete from beginning to end with no words. Though, repeating the thought will take a few.
The human body is made of trillions of corpuscles – cells which go about their assigned tasks of whatever it takes to be you (or me). I imagined two of them – skin cells on the end of my nose – having a religious discussion during a break from work (whatever work nose-skin-cells do).
Cell number one asked number two, “Are you religious?”
Number two answers, “Yes, actually I am. I am a devout believer in Mike.”
“Really,” replies cell number one, “Orthodox?”
“Yes,”says number two, “Born and raised Mikean.”
“Where do Mikeans believe Mike is,” asks number one. He’s curious to know whether number two is of the First or Second church of Mike.
Number two raises a finger. (Yes I know, skin cells don’t have fingers. They can’t talk religion either.) Points outward, away from my nose, and replies “He’s up there. In heaven.”
God had not spoken to me in a loud voice. However, it was very plain to me, nonetheless, that just as the religious skin cell number two was unaware that he was Mike, I am, you are, we all are the God of creation. And, we are just as unaware of it.
Science is verifying that the idea of a physical creation, as embodied in the materialistic philosophy, is simply false. That we are nothing less than conscious beings; and, perhaps, as I believe I was shown with a simple analogy, we are all individual aspects of ONE consciousness.
Thomas Campbell claims to know it’s true, and has written a book describing the details.
It’s called My Big TOE (theory of everything)
Tom’s work has one of the hallmarks I use to determine the truth or falsity of any ideology I come across. It’s the duality of fear and love. Tom echos other great authors I’ve read in stating that our goal in life is to overcome fear. Without fear, only love remains. Returning to God has nothing to do with what we believe. It is only accomplished by becoming fearless. Being pure in our love.