The next large California earthquake has been referred to as the “Really Big One.” However, for many people, the really big one refers to the question about one’s purpose in life. Who am I and why am I here? Without the answers to those questions, life often seems pointless.
On the TV series What We Still Don’t Know, cosmologist and astrophysicist Martin Rees did a program entitled “Are We Real?” As Rees said, life is the most mysterious of all the wonders of creation because atoms have been assembled in such a way so that they can ponder their own existence. It’s important to note, though, that such a process requires intelligent design.
However, the question should not be are we real. Of course, life is real, at least on some level. The question should be “What is Life?” Quantum physicists like Einstein, Planck and Bohm have stated that life is an illusion, that atoms are energy rather than matter. However, even these great scientific minds have been unable to grasp the mystery of life.
In The Republic, Plato argued that the objects we perceive are not the ultimate reality, but more like a shadow of reality. Lincoln Barnett similarly wrote in The Universe and Dr. Einstein, “ Along with philosophers’ reduction of all objective reality to a shadow-world of perceptions, scientists have become aware of the alarming limitations of man’s senses.” So all that we feel, smell, taste and see has been created from the information we receive through our sensory system. All we ever know of the world around us are the images produced in the mind. We never experience the physical world directly; color, sound and smell are not qualities of the physical world as they exist only in the mind. That’s all that our perception of reality is then – the mind’s interpretation of electrical signals.
Why is the human race unable to use its brain power to deduce the answer to this illusive question? Well, for starters science is limited to things that have both a cause and effect in this physical universe. The so-called scientific method is a process of measurement and observation. So with respect to what lies beyond space and time, science can only theorize about such things (like the multiverse or the existence of God).
Many prominent quantum physicists have come to the conclusion that the real mystery revolves around the idea that matter does not create consciousness but rather consciousness creates matter instead. Physicist David Bohm has stated that our reality is the result of the interaction of what he calls the implicate and explicate orders. Michael Talbot, in his book The Holographic Universe, described Bohm’s theory this way, “Our brains mathematically construct objective reality by interpreting frequencies that are ultimately projections from another dimension, a deeper order of existence that is beyond both space and time.” The inference is that the quantum world is real and is creating the physical world as a virtual reality.
So, is Schrödinger’s cat dead or alive? If you don’t know, or care, just take the blue pill and go back to sleep.
From a scientific standpoint, Einstein stated that time and space are not natural (somebody constructed them). In a similar vein, philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that time and space are not inherent qualities of the physical world but rather a reflection of the way the mind operates. Bottom line: the entire universe exists within the mind, not the other way around.
“The universe does not exist ‘out there,’ independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators.”
– John Wheeler, physicist