Back in 2006, I called my post about it "The best one-sentence metaphysics ever written." I still feel that way. But if anyone has another contender for this honor, share it in a comment.
Dick's adage came to mind today when I gave some thought to another quotation by Gregory Bateson that I see mentioned fairly often in science books.
Information is a difference which makes a difference.
So let's ponder the notion of "God" a bit from the perspectives of what Dick and Bateson said. Or, if you like, of supernatural religiosity in general.
What difference does the divinity so many people believe in make in their lives? I'm not talking about their belief in God/divinity, but the reality that "when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
I talked about this in my original post about Dick's quote.
Out of the corner of my eye I can see a white hold-the-newspaper-down rock on the patio table where my laptop sits. Whether or not I believe in the rock, it’s there. My wife senses it too. So does everyone else who walks onto our deck. The rock is real, no doubt about it.
On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve thought once about God today. Certainly not this evening. I was focused on playing ball with our dog, eating dinner, and then watching a recording of the Oregon State—Boise State football game.
God hasn’t been in evidence, unlike the rock. Ditto for Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Krishna, Holy Spirit, Tao, Big Foot, Godzilla, King Kong, and every other entity that requires a thought to bring it into existence. Beliefs are sustained by thoughts. No thoughts, no beliefs. (Or so I believe; I could be wrong; but even if there is such a thing as a thoughtless belief, I’ll bet that it was born through thought).
Religious believers sustain their faith through (duh...) believing. Without concepts, thoughts, ideas, emotions, and such, God or some other form of divinity fails to exist.
So when religious people talk about God making a difference in their lives, that actually isn't true. Their believing brain is what makes the difference. No beliefs, no difference.
Sure, religious believers feel good when they worship; they are uplifted by their rituals; they get consolation from the words in holy books. And so on, and so on. All of these positive feelings arise from thoroughly worldly experiences.
Being in a church. Taking part in a ritualistic action. Reading books. Sensing a supposedly sacred object or person.
These are part of the reality Dick speaks of which doesn't require belief to exist. These things don't go away when belief does (though the inner experience associated with them likely will change). God, though, does go away when believing in divinity disappears.
There's nothing wrong with believing. We all believe in things that aren't objectively true, because doing this makes us feel subjectively good. Believing is part of being human.
However, we should keep in mind that everything within our mind isn't part of objective reality. That's the beauty of Philip K. Dick's one-sentence metaphysics -- perhaps better termed ontology.
It reminds us that not believing in something is the best way to determine whether it is part of the reality outside our own head.
For example, stand on a first-floor balcony and get yourself to believe that an invisible floor extends beyond the railing. Which is equivalent to not believing in falling through empty space. Then jump off the railing. See what happens.
If you fall to the ground, hopefully without breaking any bones, you've learned something about the reality that doesn't go away when you stop believing in it.
You can do the same with God, of course.
Stop believing in God. I've done this, as have many others. What I've found is that nothing changes. Nothing went away, other than my belief in God. Because, I'm quite sure, there is no God outside of human belief.
If this is what is ingrained in You since 2006
It's called intuition ( mixed with nice serenpendities and synchros )
So you are perfectly capable to grasp
the idea of a GIHF with perfect intuition and perfect nice-i-ties
Much better than this old comment
:It is horror, horror, horror all the way. Not terror. Be there rebirth, heaven or hell or simply nothing, there is no consolation.
Posted by: Elizabeth W | June 27, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Posted by: 777 | March 20, 2015 at 03:47 AM
"Doesn't Go Away" not "Remains in your limited human visual range of perception."
Some people see God and hear God every single day. Wherever they go. They see Spirit eminating from everything. They see that all matter is largely empty space filled by fields of energy held together at nodes we call "particles" and those perceptions are more stable than their own physical sensory perceptions. In some ways they ARE physical sensory perceptions, but entirely undetectable by gross means of physical measurement.
And a few of them have the identical experiences. They know that within this dimension are several others that can be perceived. Sitting where you are now, you are actually existing in a few places but are unaware of them. Some have called these "regions". And they write of those identical experiences, and have for thousands of years.
I tell you one good thing. Most of science today is all about discovering stuff you can't see or hear. That's real faith! Faith to do a little work, to get the lab built, to run a tightly controlled experiment. Not just to perceive, but to push the variables and test.
Brian, you put a lot of effort into second guessing the basis for people's belief in God. You are trying to mind read them. It's bad enough your senses are limited. You are trying to extend your consciousness way, way beyond, into other people's minds. As if you had some divine omniscience.
Pretty interesting coming from an atheist. And while you may hold claim to not being particularly spiritual, neither is your approach scientific.
But you could be putting that remarkable and often lucid mind to work with a little discipline in actually conducting some science, with a little persistence, and time. And really understanding what that stuff is that you perceive as thoughts, and where it comes from.
You could be consumed with your own science, like an artist consumed with the experiments of their art, or a true scientist, happy to work diligently day and night in their highly limited chosen sphere of investigation. The sphere of their passion.
You quote a lot of psuedo science. But why not actually conduct science?
The human mind was never meant to reach far beyond factual information. At best you can get more of that real data, and test it and keep on testing it to confirm for yourself.
So there is belief, real belief based on something that never leaves you and is entirely testable.
And there is conjecture, which is very flawed.
And worse still, projection, trying to fix and formulate those who hold different views into some inferior, less than rational, less than human, specimen status, like pinning a butterfly into a glass display for your own enjoyment, next to other sample butterflies.
Brian, there are more honest ways of expanding your consciousness than to presume you know what someone else is thinking. First understand your own being. Start there.
Here's one for you:
"Your idea is bizarre. But it's not bizarre enough to be true."
Posted by: Spence Tepper | March 20, 2015 at 04:37 PM
Some people see God and hear God every single day. Wherever they go. They see Spirit eminating from everything. They see that all matter is largely empty space filled by fields of energy held together at nodes we call "particles" and those perceptions are more stable than their own physical sensory perceptions.
If I was one of those people I wouldn't tell anyone about it. Just being so special, so privileged, so chosen, would be so wonderful I wouldn't spoil it by braying like a jackass...not mention misspelling "emanating".
Posted by: x | March 20, 2015 at 06:05 PM
X there is something about not telling..I am with you.. I also see peoples weird faces when I tell them that after weight training I feel even better than after orgasm and it lasts longer..but I guess I will have my mouth shut now. Thanks for advice bro.moon
Posted by: moongoes | March 21, 2015 at 02:05 AM
"If I was one of those people I wouldn't tell anyone about it. Just being so special, so privileged, so chosen, would be so wonderful I wouldn't spoil it by braying like a jackass...not mention misspelling "emanating"."
Dear X, everyone handles their experiences differently.
I don't think you should try to describe what another person is thinking or "should think". People rarely behave the way you or I think they "should."
Some folks who have great wealth hide it. You might say they are very wise.
Others brazenly put it on display. That might be labelled foolish.
And a few package it and hand it out to their neighbors. Whether foolish or kind matters little.
Each of us follows our passion, X.
I hope yours extends beyond passing personal judgement on others.
It's an individual thing, X. There is no right or wrong.
As for testimony, anyone with a scientific mind is not going to censor their experience. Rather, they will acknowledge it and never fear withering criticism.
Getting up every day and seeing the sun is a miracle, but there is nothing special about it.
Truth invites inspection.
That's the problem with the religion of Atheism. It's all about trying to read people's minds and to tell them they are wrong for reporting a different experience. It's all about discounting the views of others who don't agree with you. It's all about trying to predict how truth "should look".
Rarely does it turn out the way you think it should.
The Church got into a bit of trouble doing this to Gallileo. They thought that anyone who understood the truth would never question that the Earth was the center of the universe.
Why do the practioners of the religion of Atheism think they will fare better through the same practice?
As for what I wrote about, Atomic Physics has verified this for well over one hundred years. Are you unfamiliar with that branch of science?
Posted by: Spence Tepper | March 21, 2015 at 04:50 PM
Spence, I don't understand how you can switch the roles of religion and science. The Church "got into trouble" as you put it by denying the facts about reality, which showed that the Earth revolved around the Sun.
Likewise, modern day religions get into trouble in the same fashion. Where are the facts about God, soul, spirit, or other forms of supernaturalism that science is denying?
I'm not aware of any. If you can point these out, a Nobel prize may await you.
Sure, the human mind can produce all sorts of mysterious experiences. Psychedelic drug use, sensory deprivation, and various forms of intense meditation demonstrate this, as do many forms of altered consciousness.
But to mistake a personal experience, or a personal belief, for objective shared reality is the Big Mistake the Church made in Galileo's time. And which religious minded people continue to make today.
Posted by: Brian Hines | March 21, 2015 at 04:57 PM
Each of us follows our passion, X. I hope yours extends beyond passing personal judgement on others.
So sorry to disappoint you, Spence Tepper, you preachy prick.
Posted by: x | March 21, 2015 at 07:32 PM
Note to those lacking an irony-detector.
I usually don't like to approve comments with profane personal insults, but "x's" comment above uses irony to make his point: not disappointing someone who accused him of "passing personal judgement on others" would have been less persuasive without some added edgy insulting.
Posted by: Brian Hines | March 21, 2015 at 09:32 PM
"So when religious people talk about God making a difference in their lives, that actually isn't true. "
This is what I referred to as passing judgment on people you don't know and haven't met.
That's no longer science. It's the religion of Atheism.
"So sorry to disappoint you, Spence Tepper, you preachy prick."
You haven't disappointed me. Had you avoided insult, that would have surprised me. But you are acting true to form. From one reactive, thoughtless exclaimation on to the next. So, no, I'm not disappointed.
I'll take a sermon about using scientific evidence any day over the finger pointing and wrong-making which religions, including the religion of Atheism, resort to. Polemic and rheteroic are just excuses for accusing people who don't agree with you of being inferior.
I only suggest that to claim this is scientific or science based is just self-flattery. It's like wrapping yourself in a photocopy of money then claiming you are rich.
Science is so far from Atheism, and your comments, you might say they are divorced.
It's like a theif calling herself a queen.
You may proceed, but it impresses only the other thieves.
Now, that thief was meant to be a queen, and not of the thieves.
We are all the same, under the skin. So what is the point of pointing fingers at anyone?
But she will have to let go of the bigotry that leads her to accuse people she has never met. And to let go of trying to psychoanalize and denegrate others simply because their religious affiliations are different from hers.
Religious affiliations are superficial at best, whether Christian, Jew or Atheist.
I'm past the age where swearing insults impresses me as cool or edgy. It's just another vehicle for the same poorly articulated hatred that separates humanity.
Some use a club to beat their opponants, others a rhetorical argument. It makes no difference.
It is all the conceptual BS people create in their dark prison cells and little connected to the reality they are in fact emmersed in, but entirely unconscious to.
That reality is no greater for one or another. You can't build yourself up over others with that reality. It brings us all to the same place.
So, I can't make you wrong. I can just say you are disconnected.
Science could help you there, if you chose to be a scientist.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | March 22, 2015 at 11:19 AM
Spence, I stand by my words. And reject your attempt to make atheism (the absence of theism/religion) into a religion.
So tell me: how do you know that God has made a difference in your life? Please be specific. What experience have you had that convinced you God was present in it, and not something else?
Now, that "something else" could be mysterious, awesome, mind-blowing, emotionally profound. I have experiences like that fairly frequently. Most people do. The question is, should these experiences be regarded as evidence of God?
You seem to believe that your experience is. Fine. If you'd kept this belief to yourself, obviously no one could challenge it. It would be yours alone.
Instead, you are claiming a ontological superiority over me and other people. You profess that you know something about the cosmos, God, that others don't. So show us your evidence. Reality is too important for one person, you, to lay claim to knowing what it is like.
It isn't egotism for a non-believer to ask questions of a believer like yourself. Rather, it is humility.
I'm saying, in effect, "I don't know what you claim to know. Give me reasons why you feel that what you know is correct. Maybe then I and others can come to know what you know, if it makes sense to us."
I eagerly await your description of how you came to know God. And how you are so sure that what you experienced truly was God, and not something else.
Posted by: Brian Hines | March 22, 2015 at 11:50 AM
Any experience that you can test, such as that of your senses, becomes the basis for what you call reality. But if you have access to even subtler senses, you no longer call what your senses or your brain conceives as reality. You call it a reflection. Just as we call a motion picture merely a picture, and not reality.
Physiological Psychology has proven this to be so. Your occipital lobe paints the picture you call reality. It's adding "digital enhancements" all the time. The screen you are looking at appears rectangular because your brain makes it look that way. The sky looks perfectly clear, even though your brain is covering over a huge area, your blind spot, with other pieces of the sky to make you think it's all evenly blue.
Therefore you are setting up a straw man when you ask about personal experiences.
My point is that you are using concept as the basis for concluding what other people are thinking.
What you should do is see if you can base your own notions of reality on a firmer foundation.
That's your science. And you can indeed swap notes with others working at the same thing.
It's a full time job.
But you aren't doing any of that.
No one who really sees their limitations in understanding reality ever tries to presume what others are thinking.
And yet that is what you are doing.
You are reading other people's research, other people's conceptual constructs, and using their stuff to accuse folks of being ignorant (at least more ignorant than you): people you've never even met.
That aint science, Brian. It's a new form of religion, at best. And bigotry at worst.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | March 22, 2015 at 12:18 PM
From one reactive, thoughtless exclaimation on to the next.
It's like a theif calling herself a queen.
And to let go of trying to psychoanalize and denegrate others
Jeez, Spence, you preachy prick, what have you got against spelling? Does your religious righteousness put you above such trivial concerns?
Posted by: x | March 22, 2015 at 07:00 PM
Spence, some of what you said above is accurate. It's true that human senses don't accurately perceive reality "as it is" (assuming that phrase means something).
However, the same is true of the human brain/mind in general. The mind creates meanings, stories, and patterns out of everything we experience.
Science does have its own stories. But these are based on attempts to understand the nature of the physical world, in part through multi-mind critiques, discussions, debates and such.
This is what I'm trying to do in this blog: subject spiritual and religious claims to some of the "peer review" science engages in. So I ask questions of you.
So far, you haven't been able to provide any demonstrable evidence that the "subtler senses" you claim to be able to access either actually exist or, if they do, aren't entirely physical/brain-based.
I have no idea what you mean by me, and by extension others like me, engaging in "bigotry at worst." What I'm doing is trying to figure out what's real, and what isn't. That isn't bigotry. It is being an open-minded questioning human.
Posted by: Brian Hines | March 22, 2015 at 08:54 PM
" Out of the corner of my eye I can see a white hold-the-newspaper-down rock on the patio table where my laptop sits. Whether or not I believe in the rock, it’s there. My wife senses it too. So does everyone else who walks onto our deck. The rock is real, no doubt about it."
There's plenty of doubt that the subjective appearance of a white rock is underpinned by a real, non mental white rock, in the minds of solipsists, idealists, etc.
If it hasn't struck you to doubt your belief in an external world, and it doesn't strike most people, then it may not have struck you how "dangerous" the Thirteen Words are,... where the Via Negativa leads.
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing it, it doesn't go away" -- PKD
"I can doubt anything but myself " - Descartes.
"Aham Brahmasmi - I am the ultimate reality" - Upanishads.
Just follow steps, one, two and three.
Posted by: TheAncientGeek | March 24, 2015 at 01:22 PM
'...reality "as it is" (assuming that phrase means something).'
'What I'm doing is trying to figure out what's real, and what isn't.'
How is 'real' distinct from 'as it is'?
I wish you luck in your quest to understand, but I wonder, after the intellectual jostling and exchange of sensibilities are over, do you ever feel that you are constantly returning to the same old conclusion: show me the physical evidence?
Your examination of religion and belief makes me think of a law court. What is admissible evidence in court? A fraction of reality. Are the verdicts a reflection of the truth? No, they are merely a reflection of the evidence presented.
It's a cold way of living that feels like a nightmare of paperwork. but if it brings you some solace, fair enough.
I guess some people like to let go of thoughts and some people like to indulge in them and most are somewhere in between. My point? I don't really have one, and neither does this blog or anything else for that matter. Admit it, it is an endless quest / distraction that has no destination. So why not let's save some electricity and meditate instead eh Brian?
Posted by: Matthew | March 24, 2015 at 01:50 PM
Matthew, you seem to assume that meditation is the best way to know what is real, and what isn't.
That's one assumption. Another is that meditation tells us something about the subjective personal human brain, the "inner" aspect of us, while little or nothing about the objective universal aspect of reality.
In my view, science and experience go along together. We need both, objectivity and subjectivity, to make good sense of the world. Just sitting in a room with eyes closed leaves us clueless about a lot of important stuff.
Posted by: Brian Hines | March 24, 2015 at 01:58 PM
I agree, science and experience, objectivity and subjectivity, an inner life and an outer life; both are needed. Isolating one aspect at the expense of the other gives a narrow and unbalanced perspective.
Even if it were possible to just sit in a room with eyes closed, and nothing else, it would create a very unbalanced human being. On the other hand, I personally find that your writing celebrates objectivity a little too much (although in a subjective way), but that is my own subjective view.
In my un-schooled view, reality exists on many levels, some of which can be shared and corroborated (within the realm of science), others of which are subtle and transitory. There is a certain smugness in valuing shared reality only, although for sure it has a different significance, being of a different, perhaps more practical, order. Yet the idea that reality is what is left when belief is extinguished doesn't hold up, because it implies only material things, and nothing material is eternal. In this sense, all of reality is transitory, and nothing is 'left', so why make such distinctions?
I didn't mean to imply that meditation is the best way to know what is real (or 'as it is', perhaps the concepts are interchangeable?), only that given an array of ultimately fruitless options (in that we are never entirely satisfied with the results of our endeavours, and our experience is never definitive) it is the most elegant.
But perhaps writing is the best pursuit for you? I am interested, I know that you have come to regard religion and spiritual organisations as inconsistent, hypocritical and manipulative, but do you still believe meditation has a meaningful role to play in life?
Posted by: Matthew | March 24, 2015 at 05:52 PM
Almost each and every theory which was ever discovered by the Science has been modified to something else now.
So the scientists who earlier discovered the theories were actually living in the big delusion?
And they treat that delusion as The Truth, which off-course was not as the modern science has been able to prove numerous of the theories as no less than a blunder.
They call it evolution.
I think it's Lame.
One process, irrespective of the science and irrespective of the religion, which has not seen any change is the birth and the death.
One theory, irrespective of the science and irrespective of the religion, which has not seen any change is the philosophy of the saints.
If something is Truth, it will remain the Truth till eternity.
To me it's a non-sensical view what Stefan Hawkins share when he articulated that "There is no soul, the human being and every being is a machinery just like a Computer. The hardware turns old and eventually reach a state of death, and similarly every being."
Just by changing the RAM and/or Processor brings the brand new life to an old Computer, any part can be replaced and it can be brought back to life.
About the Living Beings ? Once dead, it's dead.
As the saints have always said:
"Life is illusion, Death is real"
Why? Because life is changing and finally ending when it meets the death. Death, once there for a being, it will be eternal.
And surely, we are all heading towards meeting this reality.
Is there any change to this theory?
I am super sure that every single reader here will agree with this reality !!
Die with Love.
Rest in peace, everyone!!
Posted by: One Initiated | March 25, 2015 at 06:47 AM
One Initiated, you're wrong about science not making progress. Just think about this: isn't it true that science has learned a lot more reality in the past several hundred years?
Can we say the same about religion? No. Religions still can't agree about the nature of God, or even if there is a God (Buddhism and Taoism, for example, don't have a god).
Yes, scientific knowledge continually changes. But overall science moves in a positive forward direction.
Newton's Laws weren't overturned by Einstein; they were supplemented and enlarged. Likewise, Darwin's theory of evolution is still regarded as generally true, but with the rise of genetics, DNA testing, and such, science now knows much more about how evolution operates.
Regarding the unchanging teachings of "saints," this also isn't true. I'm quite familiar with the teachings of two so-called modern saints, Charan Singh and Gurinder Singh. Those teachings haven't stayed the same; Gurinder Singh, Charan's successor, has modified them considerably.
Yet unlike in the case of science, no one can say that the new teachings represent progress toward understanding reality better. They are just changes.
Like, previously it was OK to smoke cigarettes; now, it isn't. This is good from a health point of view, but its difficult to understand how using tobacco can be a new "sin," if the "teachings of the saints" never change.
Posted by: Brian Hines | March 25, 2015 at 11:09 AM
It's all relative - 200 years ago if you got a bad cut and it got infected you were fkd. Nowadays you pop a pill and you right as rain. 50 years from now, our current understanding will seem positively backwards.
Noones got a gdam clue how we got here. We still don't even have the foggiest clue how organic life came into existence from inorganic matter let alone how matter came into existence.
No point patting ourselves on the back - we all came into this works naked and clueless and the only that will change when we leave it, is some of us May still be in clothes - I'm hoping to go as I came, clueless and naked.
Posted by: George Poergie puddin 'n pie | March 26, 2015 at 02:51 PM
"I have no idea what you mean by me, and by extension others like me, engaging in "bigotry at worst.'"
When you presume what's going on in someone else's mind. When you try to claim you know what someone else's experience is. And when you go beyond further to discount that experience.
Now you've stepped way outside anything like science.
That's Pseudo Science. Just like Eugenics. Just like ethnic cleansing.
It's using very limited facts way outside their scientific range of applicability to draw conclusions about other people. As if you had ESP.
That's the religion of Atheism.
No, you are not going at this with an open mind.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | March 26, 2015 at 04:02 PM