Could the physical world be essentially non-physical? - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-07-2008, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
 
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Could the physical world be essentially non-physical?


I've had a lot of time to think about this, being that I don't talk to people. In the past couple of years I have completely denounced my previous religion, Christianity. I still believe that there could be a God, so I don't consider myself an atheist. I just don't buy into what the Catholics are trying to sell me. I definitely believe in a soul, though. Anyway, I started thinking about the nature of reality, and that maybe what we perceive as the material world is, in fact, an illusion constructed by our souls. This could be because we wouldn't be able to comprehend the dimension in which our souls reside. Up and down would have no meaning. Everything would be nothing and everything else at the same time. We needed something concrete, so we created the illusion we are all currently sitting in. There's plenty of evidence of this, like the fact that we can "reprogram" the illusion fairly easily. You can check out the movie "The Secret" for a deeper explanation, but think about the placebo effect. If you believe a certain medication will work, even if it's nothing but a sugar pill, it will usually work.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-07-2008, 04:53 PM
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Re: Could the physical world be essentially non-physical?


In a sense, what we perceive as reality is a bit of an illusion. All that we perceive comes through our senses, and our senses can be fooled and play tricks on us. Going from that to a postulation that all of reality is an illusion and is in fact constructed by us is a gigantic leap, however. We can't effect a wholesale change of reality on a whim. If we could, why not just turn gravity "off" and fly around? Why are we all subject to the same natural/physical laws, and those laws are the same regardless of who measures them or what we feel about them? I think it's absolutely true that there's an objective reality out there. The trick is finding out how to explore and describe it. Luckily we have a method that has worked out pretty well so far.

Oh and also:

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I still believe that there could be a God, so I don't consider myself an atheist.
I think you'll find a lot of atheists admit that there could be a god. Atheism simply means a lack of belief in one, not necessarily a belief that one doesn't exist.


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-07-2008, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Could the physical world be essentially non-physical?


We're subject to natural laws because they have been drilled into our heads from the time we were born. At this point, I don't know if there's a way to turn them off. It would be interesting, though, to raise a kid to think he can levitate, and see if he will actually be able to when he grows up.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-07-2008, 07:34 PM
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Re: Could the physical world be essentially non-physical?


These are fun concepts to play around with, no doubt.

You'd probably like the Silent Hill games, which are all about malleable shared illusion-worlds. (Actually, i rather suspect you've played them, because the ideas in those games mirror, very-closely, the ideas presented in this topic.)

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Originally Posted by AlexRusselburg
If you believe a certain medication will work, even if it's nothing but a sugar pill, it will usually work.
*Cough*

I'm just saying, your theories are full of holes. A person can buy into psychic surgery utterly, and they'll still die from cancer.

Really though, i hope you don't put too much stake in your fun little ideas. Don't be a crazy person who buys into dubious threads of logic to support their own beliefs.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-07-2008, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Could the physical world be essentially non-physical?


I actually almost bought Silent Hill today, but I got Beyond Good and Evil instead. And to answer your question, I buy into this theory about as much as I buy into the theory that Jesus walked on water. But it is an interesting thought experiment.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-08-2008, 03:01 AM
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Re: Could the physical world be essentially non-physical?


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Originally Posted by AlexRusselburg
We're subject to natural laws because they have been drilled into our heads from the time we were born. At this point, I don't know if there's a way to turn them off. It would be interesting, though, to raise a kid to think he can levitate, and see if he will actually be able to when he grows up.
That's ridiculous. To simply believe in something doesn't make it true. Even if you were raised from a baby to believe you could levitate, doesn't mean you would be able to. We are all subject to the same physical laws, regardless of what we believe.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-08-2008, 03:16 AM
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Re: Could the physical world be essentially non-physical?


Well, I figure that ... haven't they proven that (even physical matter is largely space and, more importantly, that) everything is just energy...?


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-08-2008, 03:40 AM
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Re: Could the physical world be essentially non-physical?


Can we ask Jeff Peckman?

On to concentrate on bright things Stuck around in hopes to help, didnt seem like there was much left I could do anymore ... good luck and comfort to those who are on their own path and hope for those yet to take their first step! Much Love
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-08-2008, 09:46 AM
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Re: Could the physical world be essentially non-physical?


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By DAVID VAN BIEMA
Jan. 10, 2008

Your nose is one of the less complicated parts of your body, and yet we credit it with considerable intelligence in the area of truth vs. falsehood. We “sniff out a lie.” We say “something smells fishy.” Now studies suggest that something more than metaphor may be at work here--specifically, brain science. The same research may also shed unexpected light on religious faith.

Believing or disbelieving something is always as much about feeling as fact. Sam Harris, a doctoral candidate at UCLA, wanted to see what that means in physiological terms. To many readers, Harris is best known for his antireligious book The End of Faith. But he is also a neuroscientist. In a study reported in the Annals of Neurology, Harris presented 14 people with 360 statements designed to elicit belief, disbelief or uncertainty. He tracked their brain response with a functional magnetic resonance imager (fMRI) and got some very revealing results.

Statements like “2 + 2 = 5” and “Torture is good” caused an area called the anterior insula to light up. True statements like “2 + 2 = 4” activated the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. The ventromedial is thought to play a role in judgment, memory, fear and, according to one study, soft-drink preferences. The anterior insula helps process fear, disgust and reactions to bad smells.

This is not the only study to have suggested that disbelief and moral outrage may be processed in the area of the brain that makes us go “Blechh.” Sam Bowles, professor of human behavior at the Santa Fe Institute, describes research in which an unfair business deal produced a response in the same region. How did disgust get involved in the belief-and-disbelief business? Some think it started as a fairly straightforward adaptation to enable a suspicious taste, smell or appearance--like that of vermin--to trigger the impulse to eliminate the source. We may have then generalized that reaction to ideas. “When someone says something you disbelieve,” Harris says, “it has a kind of emotional tone. Rejecting someone’s statement as illogical or incompatible feels like something.”

Harris guesses that if the anterior insula collaborates in prompting distaste for such disparate things as bad math, waterboarding and sour milk, it may also act when a religious believer recoils at the statement “God is dead.” His next trial will test religious belief and disbelief. Can he remain unbiased? He points out that it’s impossible to prove or disprove God’s existence just by studying what humans think is true or false. Faith, however, is more vulnerable. He admits that those who regard faith as a communion with the divine, at least partly independent of body chemistry, may object if he shows that it is “essentially the same as other kinds of knowing or thinking.” Pictures from an fMRI would not make that case definitively--but Harris knows that nobody is likely to produce competing photos of the divine part.

"To hell with reality! I want to die in music, not in reason or in prose. People don't deserve the restraint we show by not going into delirium in front of them. To hell with them."
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-11-2008, 07:49 AM
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Re: Could the physical world be essentially non-physical?


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This is not the only study to have suggested that disbelief and moral outrage may be processed in the area of the brain that makes us go “Blechh.” Sam Bowles, professor of human behavior at the Santa Fe Institute, describes research in which an unfair business deal produced a response in the same region. How did disgust get involved in the belief-and-disbelief business? Some think it started as a fairly straightforward adaptation to enable a suspicious taste, smell or appearance--like that of vermin--to trigger the impulse to eliminate the source. We may have then generalized that reaction to ideas. “When someone says something you disbelieve,” Harris says, “it has a kind of emotional tone. Rejecting someone’s statement as illogical or incompatible feels like something.”
That's pretty neat. I've often thought that beliefs are often as much about emotional feeling as dispassionate, rational thought. The trick is recognizing that what we want to be true isn't always so. This is why it's hard to argue against religious ideas or even more garden variety 'woo' because there's often a deep emotional investment on the part of the believer. You can argue with the head, but it's much tougher going arguing with the heart.


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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 07:23 AM
 
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Re: Could the physical world be essentially non-physical?


I have been interested in metaphysics for some time now. Have you read Jorge Luis Borges? He is one of my favorite writers and deals with metaphysical topics in many of his short stories. One example is "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" which deals with Berkeleian (or subjective) idealism. It's packed with so many ideas for a short story, so it's hard to summarize in a few sentences here, but what you said reminded me of it because in it there is a world that denies objective reality. The story also plays with how ideas are able to influence reality.
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