REALITY

4. God


People everywhere and everywhen have broadly agreed that whatever happens should be attributed to a God, or gods. Over millennia, that phenomenon was exploited by the many men who thought they could speak for God, and it is still exploited by many today.


Seeing this, the idea took hold, quite recently, that Humanity could do without a God, and should do so. The new faith came along that the objectivist Science called Physics, could explain whatever happens. That faith is non-sensical, if only because it does not explain why that faith is believed by whoever believes it.


Reality is something like a God because it has Laws. The Laws of Reality are, however, misconstrued by those who think of them as causal. Just as the Laws of Civil Society do not determine what individuals do, but only limit what an individual is allowed to do (by Society), so the Laws of Reality do not determine what an “object” does, but merely limit what it is allowed to do (by Reality).


Here we face the long-standing divide between objectivist thinking and the subjectivist thinking I practice and commend to whoever hears these words. I think that serious thinking can bring you to a personal story of Reality which you will find profoundly satisfying. But you are the one and only individual who can experience that satisfaction.


The objectivist Laws of Physics fail to explain the movements of creatures like birds which have some autonomy. A cannon ball is unable to go its own way as a bird can do. When Newton announced the Law of Gravity he viewed it as “universal”, governing the motions of “objects” everywhere and everywhen, not only of cannon balls, but also of planets. This was plain hubris, because no human being could know what must happen in all places and at all times.


While Newton thought of the universe as the seat of Reality, what he could actually see was inescapably limited by the place and the time in which he lived. Subsequently Einstein spectacularly doubled down on Newton’s hubris.


So it remains for individuals like you that what you are able to see is limited to the place and the time in which you find your self. That is the same for me, of course. And for each individual bird.


What distinguishes an individual bird from a lifeless "object" like a cannon ball is that the bird has some choice about what it does. Whereas a bird has the autonomy which used to be called free will, a cannon ball does what it is made to do by whoever aims it. [Likewise, a computer does what it is made to do by whoever programs it.]


The great thinker Leibniz gave the name monad to those living creatures, like individual birds and individual humans, which, we may say, are the causes of whatever happens. To say that is no more than to enunciate a particular way of talking; or, indeed, a particular way of thinking, because to think is simply to talk to one’s self. In the privacy of one’s own unique mind!


To call your own mind private is not to deny that others may be able to see some trace of your brain/mind at work, as I think they do in the EEG scans that may be analysed by doctors and neurologists. Each such scan is a record of electrical activity in the changing brain/mind of an individual “patient”.


The underlying problem of objectivist thinking is the claim, inherited from Aristotle, that claims human beings make can be objectively true in the sense that they are are independent of their claimers. That claim is obviously false. To see that, look no further than the end of your nose! You change your mind, as we say, and you do that often. My mind changes too. But still we are able to talk constructively about our thoughts. I am doing that as I say/think these words in my immediately experienced now, hoping that you are as open to changing what you say/think to take account of what I think/say as I am to what you may say/think.


The God of our creation stories is both powerful and good. What a deceiver that God would be if It gave to Humanity both the singular Reality which is given to you (and, differently, to me) and the many conflicting stories about that Reality which are enabled by the special gift of Language which supports our telling of stories. Surely the one and only Reality should admit one and only one correct account of what happens, the singular account which is true. Which is not to say that any human individual can know that story. What you can know is limited to the place and time in which you find yourself; and that is the same for me. Neither of us can grasp the mind of whatever God there might be. Which is not to say that our talk of God is non-sensical; and not to deny and not to claim that prayer might be efficacious.


Having caught the attention of some/many readers with the one-word title of this page, I will now give up that word, and the baggage it carries, to call a spade a spade by calling it Reality.