Top Bottom Home Site Map Topic Previous Next Top
philjohn.com
philjohn.com
home \ essays & papers \ by topic \ philosophy \ general discussion, page 2
 

THE FABRIC OF REALITY

Section Index


  1. Why this question?
  2. Forms and Images
  3. Fact and Fiction
  4. Science, Philosophy, Theology
  5. A Much More Personal Quest
  6. Revelations of the Moment
    Interlude
  1. Spacetime
  2. Connections
  3. Cause and Effect
  4. Religion Again
  5. Circle of Life
  6. Resignation?

  What's Related  
  Subseq. Pages - Essays & Papers  
 






caveat: As can be inferred from the date of publication, this article may no longer represent my current views and style. It remains here for archival purposes to provide a sense of documentation and should be treated as such.

1: Why this question

We all know what reality is like. We all know what is meant by this term, we live within reality, we ourselves are real, what we see and hear and perceive is true, there can be no doubt, our life is our own, our decisions are ours, our lives are independent, what we say and write and make is our own doing, there is a beginning and an end.

I used to think this way, too. But then there seems to be this rule that the more we try to know and learn, the less we understand. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle can illustrate this to some extend: The action of perception modifies the object to perceive. In physics this means that when one tries to determine location and impulse of a particle, one has to use other particles, e.g. photons, to get the information. But when the messanger particle, the photon or whatever, collides with the target in order to reflect back and tell us what we want to know, it changes the target by exchanging energy. So we might get to know the location of the target, but the target particle has moved again and our information is useless. The only thing that we can do is to assume the target to be in a certain probable area.

There's another point. The so called chaos theory is based upon the fact that there are systems that cannot be predicted because they are too complex. Those non-linear systems just have too many variables one cannot define, and the slightest modification within the system can result either in nothing or in a drastic change. For instance: We can tell how our Solar system looks like (at least the parts we know of), but we cannot determine how it looked like some million years ago, or even how it will look like in some million years. This is because there is not just the gravity of the sun being the only factor for planetary movement as Galilei suggested. The planets themselves have gravity and can effect each other, not to the extend that the sun does, but those small factors could add up some time. And even the planets that have moons behave different than those without - they rotate around themselves for gravity is never one-sided. Each moon attracts each other and the planet, just as the planet attracts the moons - now try to calculate the result! It's not possible, one can perhaps just calculate a probability or a range of error. But then I haven't even talked about comets...

I'm no natural scientist, I just used to read a lot about those things and am still interested in it. But I don't like to handle equations and things like that, perhaps I'm too impatient for this. And then the probability that we might not know anything definite, just again probabilities, isn't that disturbing? I'm looking for answers - but where to find them? Amongst my spelling mistakes, among equations, among religion? Is it a question of finding answers - or isn't it much more a question of trying? A question of exclusion? To determine what the fabric of reality really is like will never be possible for us as long as we are ourselves part of the system, part of this universe (are we?) and both subject to and cause for some of its influences.

Why this question? Why trying to explain something that cannot be explained? Why trying to fight uncertainty when there might not be a result? Is it worth the effort? Sure it is! Because even if we do not get the final answer we are looking for, we might arrive at some conclusions that would help us find our place within creation. And perhaps there's even gonna be some fun...

PJK
May 29th, 1998







2: Forms and Images

We are bound to our body. All our perception, may it be sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, balance; all the known and unknown senses are bound to the laws of chemistry and physics. Over centuries, over millennia mankind has tried to reconstruct what modern philosophy tries to deconstruct: the laws and forms our body consists of. Why deconstruction? Why this approach to alienate things that we have grown comfortable to, why these attempts to make the world appear even crazier and even more unknown than we suspected? Why this - seemingly - pessimist approach?

It is a matter of confronting one's own self with its own limitations - it is a way of defining the variables involved. As previously stated, science might want to explore everything from any possible angle, but there are limits to our knowledge, limits to our efforts, limits to what we can endure, limits to what we can understand, limits of perception. We have to rely on technology so much that we often seem to trust it blindly (And while I'm saying this, I assure you that I'm very fond of technology and don't hate it at all - I can prove that by the bare fact that I'm obviously working with a computer). But that phrase in brackets reminds me of an example for what I've just said.

Imagine writing a program or text in Pascal, Basic, TeX or just plain HTML code. At some time you'll definitely arrive at a point where you begin to curse this damn machine in front of you that's obviously not willing to do what you just said. There has to be something wrong with the thing, you've checked and double-checked all you've written, your dreams consist of nothing more than this silly mathematical code language. But it still isn't working. So perhaps the result is the right one, and you just didn't realize this possibility existed? Do computers lie? But then, when you try to calm down, and you will, except you're running amok out of this reason, you'll perhaps begin to say that this is just a machine, a servant made by the means of human technology, which will do everything you told it. (Or him or her? When you talk to your computer, how do you address it?) And after examining all possibilities, you'll perhaps discover that there is a bracket missing, an "end;", a semicolon, an HTML tag not properly closed, or something like that. Always close your tables first with this /TABLE tag, otherwise Netscape wouldn't display it. But Explorer would.

So, what was the point? Reminding oneself of the basics can help to understand a problem more completely. It's no use trying to fix something that won't work even after hours; do something else, relax, calm down, sleep, count to ten - however. Tell youself what it is you're dealing with: Forms and Images. For - as strange as this might sound - the solution never existed before, you tried to solve the problem with means of whatever force, but then tried to view the image from a different angle - and the form looked different. How much can we rely on images? Those 3d pictures of the type "MAGIC EYE" - I admit, I've never really seen them, perhaps one or two, but this was probably just dumb (?) luck - they look completely different when viewed with this certain approach. One has to draw some silly face, but then (so I've been told) one can see the image behind the form. Or the form behind the image?

When you're through reading this article, consider it being an image itself - it is just an attempt to capture reality that always has to be incomplete, but when you've sensed some confusion between the lines, you're quite right - for I do not pretend to know anything. I'm just trying.

PJK
June 2nd, 1998







3: Fact and Fiction

One claim of science is to get hold of reality "as it is". The true nature of reality - can it be captured? This is not about a view of the world that doesn't want humans to do so. This isn't about this "back to nature" - thing. This isn't about religious taboos. Not about sets of rules that would not allow us to proceed further although we could. This is about our ability to do so. The question: Can we capture reality to its full extent?

We have proceeded further and further in time. We are about to proceed into space. Right now we are testing, trying to check out the Solar system, but in some decades we might have colonies on Mars and Luna. We will develop some kind of subspace propulsion system to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms and new civilizations and to boldly go where no man has gone before. We will make contact with civilizations off this planet. We will even do things not even science fiction could imagine. But what will we find? All the answers at once? Or peu peu?

Truth reveals itself never completely. We might make some progress, we might learn so many things in one year for which we would have needed decades or centuries in the past. Just think of the speed of technical revolution in the 20th century compared to previous times - the victory of science has made us so fond of it that we might lose control at some time.

But what is it we are exploring? Is it reality - or is it just some fictional world we are living in? How real is it? We can't determine that, because we will always stay within this system - until we die. But at this moment we won't be able to tell the world what reality is really like, because we would have lost contact to the physical world. That's called death. But when we can't see through our prison bars, what can we do? Perhaps we are locked up in these limited surroundings for our own and for our neighbors' safety. Just think about it. Our problems have always been vast, but somehow we have always been able (enabled?) to solve them in a way - but the risks will be greater the further we proceed. The stakes are raised with every step we make towards the future. That could be simply demonstrated by the means of destruction man has developed so far. Raised stakes mean raised responsibility. Back to nature often means nothing else but a fear of such responsibility, kind of a fear of growing up.

Am I talking about pre-determination? Don't pretend not to have realized this already, but this whole complex is clearly a religious issue. So if I were to continue, I would have to "introduce" this aspect into the discussion.

PJK
June 2nd, 1998







4: Science, Philosophy, Theology

Before the exploration of space, of the moon and the planets, man held that the heavens were the home and province of powerful gods, who controlled not just the vast firmament, but the earthly fate of man himself; and that the pantheon of powerful and warring deities was the cause and reason for the human condition for the past and the future, and for which great monuments would be created, on earth as on heaven.

But in time man replaced these gods with new gods and new religions that provided no more certain or greater answers than those worshipped by his Greek or Roman or Egyptian ancestors.

And while we have chosen now our monolithic and benevolent gods and found our certainties in science, believers all, we wait for a sign, a revelation. Our eyes turn skyward, ready to accept the truly incredible: to find our destiny written in the stars. But how do we best look to see - with new eyes, or old?[1]

The above quote of course is no statement about ethics or morals or matters of charity. Those fields are clearly covered by religion, and religious authority on that terrain seems to be undeniable. No, this statement focuses attention on the description of the world. That is, to say it straight, a matter religion answers in an extraordinary way: Again, no clear answers but parables are given. It seems to me that the message of the Bible says to conduct whatever science or exploration one wants to, but to stay within the ethical frame given by the single commandment of love and charity[2].

At the early stages, science, philosophy and theology were one compound field of research. But during the late Middle Ages, this changed. Today, all fields of research are mostly strictly separated from each other. But recent trends have shown that there is again a tendency of interaction - just read the final passages from Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time". Those are clearly religious issues that are being discussed. Or Robert M. Watkins: Black Holes and Tepee Rings, or even Tim Allen: I'm Not Really Here. Those are not religious books, they combine physics and philosophy with some kind of interfaith aspects. It seems that the search for the truth is in itself a religious issue.

PJK
June 2nd, 1998







5: A Much More Personal Quest

This is the point where I have to focus attention to some questions I rather would not have to consider. But do I have a choice? Does any one of us have a choice to think or not to think about the obvious question? Why are we here? Where did we come from and where do we go to? Where are you going - where have you neen? There is always the kind of possibility to assume that we came from nowhere and go to nowhere, that there is no reason behind this all than mere chemistry and physics, that there is no need to become absorbed in thoughts and chains of thoughts that can cause so much confusion and resignation.

I have thought about the possibility that there could be nothing more than nothing, nothing more than chance. But then, to assume that this could be true would be to ignore all my instincts, all my semi-knowledge, all my faith - for it is faith that makes us get up every day. Faith that there is something out there that would be worth living for; even if it is just tv or surfing the net. Faith is not something that can be described by religious writings; those writings can help finding new aspects of faith, they can help to understand certain aspects of creation. But it remains our very much personal task to decide whether to follow those rules or not. We have to decide whether to follow one path or another. By this I do not want to ignore the importance of "established" religions - for I think I have clearly stated my belief previously - but religious communities always consist of people who have made a decision to join this or that belief. No one has the same belief because no one of us has the same history.

I've said that we are the ones who decide. That might sound a bit too straight forward. In fact, I think that we have some kind of a free will, but that there is also some kind of a larger agenda within history and also withing the private lives of every being. I don't really believe in fate, not in a truly predetermined path that we just have to follow. But there have been certain events that make me realize that we might not be as alone as one would think. As this is a site that's to a great deal centered around television, I want to choose such an example. Of course I realize that this is just plain fiction, but it is fiction that might reflect some truths.

There has been a television series named Strange Luck. A guy who has named himself Chance Harper has luck almost all the time. His strange luck is mostly presented this way: Something minor happens that makes him do something, and because of this he witnesses another, this time not-so-minor event and can solve some kind of problem. It is as if chance guides him through certain events to help him make a difference. Hasn't that happened to every one of us already? Not to such an extent as Chance Harper is affected, but on a smaller scale? Just think about it.

But who would be the cause of such guidance? God Himself? Well, one should never underestimate God, but there could be additional possibilities, which I am going to explore in the following articles, but I haven't yet answered all the questions I asked in this one. That's because I don't have them, that's because nobody of us has them. We can have some clues, but to have an answer means to have proof. Why are we here? To learn something, I suppose. Where do we come from and where do we go after death? It would be the same place, and maybe we are much more related to each other than one could imagine. But no material being can answer those questions for another - it is our personal quest to find our answers. It would be logical for the infinite diversity in infinite combinations to be explored in infinite ways.

PJK
June 5th, 1998







6: Revelations of the Moment

Life consists of a sequence of moments, each moment following another, each moment differing slightly, may it be concerning time/space (=matter), emotions/thoughts (=psyche). One may consider a certain moment more important than another, one might feel more comfortable in one moment and less in another, personal perception in any way alters the image of the moment, alters the moment itself. But what exactly do I define as a moment, and why the heck do I come up with something like that?

The moment I'm writing this, I'm sitting at my desk, typing the words that you're just reading into my computer, listening to the final movement of Bruckner's eighth symphony, my room being darkened, just the window at my desk, the window in front of me, allowing me to glance into our garden. As it is summer, my fan is working in the background, so it is a noisy mixture of Bruckner, fan rotation, me typing on the keyboard and the birds outside singing, maybe sometimes a train passing by. You might call this the description of a certain setting or situation, and yeah, that's true. But in addition to that comes my state of mind. I'm trying to put phrases together, words first, find passages that not only make sense but also sound a bit nice, and I'm trying to put some contents together while writing. I usually combine the process of brainstorming with the process of writing; I might correct something of what I've written afterwards, I might add or delete or rearrange some words, but the basic input is derived from the moment of thinking. This special moment, setting, thinking and feeling, allow me to explore the world around me. I call this a productive moment.

Either way, when I were not writing but had imagined something I hadn't imagined or thought of before and would take notes to not forget it, so this moment of revelation as one could call it would not get lost. But why again do I refer to moments? Haven't we invented a way to make a more exact chronology and geometry, to measure time and space exactly? But this would mean not to think of the mental aspect. Isn't there this saying that one can experience time differently every day? Hours seem like minutes or minutes like hours? Well, you could say that this depends on the view of the perceptor. Definitely it does! And that's what I mean with 'moment'. We ourselves might let our clocks and watches dictate our daily routine, but we experience time in another way, in a more personal way.

So this moments-concept is just a relative approach? Yes and no. But what exactly do I want to say? Well, it is not that I want to say anything, I just want to explore this topic a bit. This piece of writing is a moment in itself, a moment that made me write this, and thus transfer this moment into written text which can be accessed by a reader, who will then relive this moment again, but in a definitely different way from that way I'm writing it. A moment changes its form, but the image behind it, the concept, might be the same. What have I done?

Have I really created this text? Or didn't I just absorb ideas that would be revealed to me in that special moment? I wouldn't be the author of the text any more, just some kind of processing mechanism, a thinkig machine transforming reality into some reflection of it with the agenda to create a somehow fitting description of what it looks like that I wanted to describe. (But there is still copyright!) Personal history - experience, interests, knowledge - lets me view a certain topic from a specific point of view, I try to add one combination to the infinite amounts of combinations of infinite diversity. You may call that inspiration.

PJK
June 7th, 1998







Interlude

After having come this far, I thought it would be useful to stop the pace a bit, to draw some conclusions first, to summarize before we continue. I mean this as a diversion, to give us an opportunity to think about what we have discussed so far. First of all, why 'we'? Isn't that me, the "author" who has written this? You might say so, although some postmodern literary theories don't use this concept any more - not in the conventional sense. I've been trying to explain it, tried to make clear that an author is merely a writer or scriptor, someone who just describes concepts and ideas that were just waiting to be described. But - aside from those author-neglecting theories - there should be a task that is left to the scriptor which makes him an author again: He or she chooses what ideas, what materials to include, it is their perspective from which it is shown. The ideas mightn't be new, but the view on it.

But then again, why 'we'? Because a written text has to be perceived by a reader or listener, and the text changes its character within the perceptor's mind - that's a point that really kills the author again: Whatever perspective the scriptor might have had, it gets somehow lost within the view of the reader. This is because we all have different opinions and views; that's what makes life both interesting and difficult.

That's also the problem I wanted to discuss within this whole essay: The fabric of reality cannot be described by an absolute formula which would serve all needs, it can just be described from different angles. There is no absolute truth that would be accessible for us. We can just try to guess, to trust, to have faith. That's all I want to say, basically.

While the first six parts were to introduce the topic and the problems, the next parts will continue to explore the subject from different angles, but this time trying to go into more detail. Again I want to make sure that this is my personal view which I do not want to be seen as absolute or defining; I invite you all to think about it yourselves; that's again a reason for the use of 'we'. Well, let us continue...

PJK
June 10th, 1998







7: Spacetime

Imagine being a two-dimensional being, just able to move in two dimensions, just able to perceive two dimensions. You would not be able to realize that there is yet another dimension; you would not be able to imagine this other dimension, in fact - if it were possible to exist that way, in just two dimensions - you would feel very comfortable about it, not at all missing the missing third dimension. But then, we are used to three dimensions: width, height and depth describe the physical world outside very well, this being neither a microscopic nor a macroscopic description but just describing our range of vision. But then there is time as another dimension. Well, just call all those three physical dimensions X, meaning width, height and depth together, and you could create a history for that certain set of coordinates: Like point X at the time t1, point X at the time t2 etc. You would get a mathematical function that would describe the point X in how it depends on the factor of time: X=X(t). That means that there would be a whole bunch of data describing that point X, in fact it would be an inifinite bunch of data: As we cannot determine the start or end or measure of time to count the sets of data. That would mean that you would integrate X over a period of time. OK, I promise I'll finish this mathematical stuff soon.

What I wanted to point out in the preceeding paragraph was that there is a way to try to imagine how space and time can be seen in that you think of each portion of space existing at one special point of time; that past and present and future are different. But that would be just one approach, it would just define the view of that special point X(x,y,z,t). But what is a dimension? This is a question of algebra: In 3d space, three bases, three directions, allow us to navigate: width, height, depth - x, y and z. The number of possible directions is the dimension of that mathematical space. Those directions are independent from each other; a combination of all these directions (may it be 2, 3, 4 or 23 or whatever, depending on the system) defines a point in that system (I sincerely hope that if there was a scientist out there thinking that I'm talking nonsense, they would speak up). So this would be a much better description of spacetime, all four (basic) dimensions working together but independently to determine the position of a certain element of spacetime.

What is the point, you might be asking. Well, in my humble opinion that means that if each dimension is working independently, there is nothing special with time. We are just used to the three 'local' dimensions, we are used to travel and live within them, so why shouldn't it be possible to some day have time-travel? Perhaps it is us, and not spacetime, that's the problem - the solution might be simple, we just have to find it. As mathematical and physical sciences have developed during history, every new theory added a piece to the already known, always fitting in perfectly, always seemingly being the ultimate and up-to-date knowledge, laughing about former inadequacies of description. Science Fiction has added another perspective to that approach: There will always be scientific progress if there is research, and the result will always be somewhat unexpected but so logical and easy that one would wonder why it hadn't been figured out before.

There are certain "theories" within sf about spacetime, all of them accepting that you should expect everything: subspace, hyperspace, jumpgates, warp technlogy, particle transmitters, time travel, time control, parallel universes - a future to come true or not? It would seem logical for it to come true in one way or the other. Why? Because our knowledge about spacetime, about the universe in general, doesn't allow us to say what would be possible and what wouldn't! Is the truth beyond our comprehension? Or is it just necessary for us to grow, not to already be grown-ups? Isn't that process of growing part of the "game"? The "real" fabric of "reality" will even exceed our craziest imagination.

The complicated thing with the "fabric" of things is that we don't even really know what this physical fabric would consist of. What started with the model of the elements developed into nuclear physics, with atoms - particles which one would not be able to split up any further - forming the basis of all matter. This obviously being disproven in a drastic way in 1945 at the latest, scientists had already discovered other elementary particles, electrons, neutrons and protons. A whole zoo of elementary particles was made visible, basic forces (strong and weak nuclear force, electro-magnetic force) proven to be just one force with gravity still not (yet?) included. But even this model of elementary particles faded away with theories about strings and even sub-quark components, that means: What we perceive as particles and matter is just a flux of energy, held in form by electromagnetic fields. Sounds a lot like Voyager's holographic doctor, or what? But this would be just matter-energy (or anti-matter energy), not even including temporal (or anti-temporal?) energy. And what about mental energy? How could all of this be connected?

PJK
June 16th, 1998







8: Connections

I just thought about what this essay would aim at, be it physics, be it philosophy, be it religion, and you know what? I still don't know. That's perhaps there cannot be a separation between the sciences at a certain point - a point where physics and philosophies have to hesitate in unison, trying to find answers but having to admit that there can just be guesses, educated or not. But science is just a way of exploring reality, and each branch of research has its own methods and its own agendas, neither of them being any more advanced than another.

Do we have to stop thinking because we just can't know whether or not the answers we think we have found are correct? Isn't it more a question of trying? Of trying to put the pieces together? There has been the argument that everything is connected. As general as this might sound, this has occured throughout Eastern, Native American and even Christian philosophy/religion for some centuries now, it is a general concept which even science may have accepted with chaos theory.

Of what connections am I thinking right now? You might have noted that I tend to quote physics very often to approach problems of reality. So let me do this first. In the previous part I've spoken about different kinds of energy, most of them (except the 'normal' positive matter-energy) being highly hypothetical, even more science fiction than science. But this is a site on sf, not on hardcore science, as I am no physicist or mathematician, in fact, I chose not to be one. But that's a personal matter, let's keep this aside for a while. Look at your hands. What do you see? A surface structure? A solid piece of matter? If we deconstruct this image, there is no solid matter (well, in the face of biology and solid-state physics, there is). But then there are just molecules rotating or spinning around a certain place; they might also move in another way if they are forming a fluid like blood or water or lymph. But even those molecules consist of ions or atoms, bound together by electromagnetic forces; and there are also ions and atoms not forming molecules. So, that's it, one would want to think. Wrong! Atoms have a nucleus and an electron hull, ions look the same but don't just have the 'regular' number of electrons in their outer hull. This hull is giant empty space compared to the small nucleus, it is empty space filled with energy - this energy mostly consisting of the electrons moving around the nucleus, with us not being able to detect their exact position, just a certain probability where they would be (see also Part 1). So what we think of being a surface is just a structure created by electromagnetic forces. The so called negative electric charge is carried by the electrons (each -1), the positive by the nucleus. Well, partly. The nucleus consists of protons (each of a positive charge of +1) and (unless it's hydrogen) neutrons (each of a charge of ±0). End of story? No! When dividing protons and neutrons we'll find quarks of charges like +2/3 and -1/3. (for anti-quarks: -2/3 and +1/3). For scientists: Please don't be offended when I simplify things that much.

This is not yet the end of the story. What happened in this awfully long paragraph above was just what has come to be established science. Quantum physics, deconstructing everything down to the level of small packages of energy, quanta, but creating a horrible amount of particles. But then this would all have to be energy of some kind. And there are even theories about yet smaller units. If consequently reduced to an extreme minimalist description, one would arrive at strings of matter=energy at a constant flux, with particles and all the visible world being just projections and images, created by perception! Would our other hand be 'out of phase', that means the energy of this hand having slightly different properties, we would be able to penetrate one hand with the other without harm. That's not science fiction any more, perhaps technical fiction. What to call this lowest (?) level of reality? A level beyond space? Subspace? That would make sense - and it would be quite exactly the definition Roddenberry gives in his novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in Chapter 11.

So in a very real way all matter would be connected at a basic level. But this statement about matter-energy would have to be true for temporal and mental energy. Why? Because of a simple assumption of assuming a simple but clever idea behind everything. This could very well not be true - it is some kind of hope that aesthetics and mathematics are the same, a belief on which most mathematical theories seem to be based upon. What rules would such a universe have to follow? That would be the theme of the next paragraphs. And then I haven't even talked about philosophical or literary deconstruction, but that's because I think that science is some sort of a reliable set of concepts that can be used as examples.

PJK
June 18th, 1998







9: Cause and Effect

The question of cause and effect is not a question of whether the 'usual' concept of an effect created by a certain cause is wrong. It is about certain changes, certain modifications in this system, about another viewpoint. Of course our thinking is determined by what we see and hear or otherwise perceive, and what it is that we get to know is that there are actions causing other actions, that there is causality all around us. What you are reading now, in this very moment, is the result of my typing this text into my computer on June 19th 1998 at 1700-1745 CET and uploading it some time later onto the internet. A simple cause, a simple effect.

First, is this the initial cause, the process of typing? What made me type it? There has to be a volition to do so, I would have to want to do so. This wish of mine could originate either from a possibility, a necessity or any other, different cause. And it could also be a combination of different factors. The possibility: My computer with access to the internet, the existence of the Geocities Free Home Pages Program, access to a telephone connection box, technology itself. The necessity: The human need to express oneself, curiosity, learning by doing. Other factors: Just to have a homepage etc.

So this would be a complex set of causes to make me do it, would it? What if I never had known about the existence of homepages? I certainly wouldn't have said to me, hey, I think I could build a homepage, whatever that might be. No, knowledge would have been necessary. But for a wish of mine, the very act of volition would need an image to do so. In fact, the motivation for me creating my homepage was the homepage itself! An image of a possibility in the future caused me to do exactly what is the result of my work since January 1998, the cause for the homepage was a state of the future, the effect (=the creation) an event that actually happened in the past. First effect, then cause?

Not yet exactly. For cause and effect may be different in their temporal location, but is this a criterion? Is time a criterion? When you have an idea, a hint of what you might be doing, it doesn't seem far away in the future, it is something so real that you would want it to become real right in the moment of thinking. It is a connection between past, present and future - the chosen effect causes itself. The act of doing it - if this act really existed - would be done by a messenger with the intention to shape reality after the proposed image. If you have no dreams, no wishes, no intention to do something,if you do not envision things you could do, you wouldn't do them! Volitional passivity means mental passivity means actional passivity.

Turning away from the mental aspect, science itself cannot any more assure cause and effect - the search for a first cause of the universe, the act of a very first creation, a creation from nowhere, from nothingness, from dust shaping the world as it is, would such an act be able to exist? Is there any reason behind it? A first cause would create something, but who would create a first cause that would then cause creation? Would this first cause have a volition of its own? Is there something like a beginning and an end? Or don't cause and effect not only have to follow in another order but aren't they one and the same? I cannot answer this question - I can just observe. But doesn't observation again change the nature of the object being observed? If you think about stuff like that too long, you'd probably get mad some day. But if we weren't thinking about it, if we hadn't been thinking about it, about virtually everything, we would still be sitting in the dark.

PJK
June 19th, 1998







10: Religion Again

Sitting in the dark, without having created anything, just waiting - what would that be like? Well, last paragraph I used this as a symbolic description of mankind not having developed civilization; but now I'm going to refer to something completely different. This is about creation, about Genesis, about a topic I discussed some time ago on Extraterrestrial Life 3: Religious Aspects. Creation being created by a very first act of creating - a kind of first cause, spoken scientifically, or an act of God - creation from nothingness?

Christian belief states that God Himself has always been and will be forever. Genesis 'states' that God created the universe from voidance. Does this mean that God would have waited for, say, some eons or more until He finally realized He could create something? This is not really what Genesis says. Genesis speaks of the creation of the material world. But with the creation of matter-energy there would inevitably follow the creation of temporal energy, as both are connected. The creation of physical space and matter, the creation of a four-dimensional space would mean the very creation of time. Time has no meaning outside a physical universe. Eternity is not really a vast amount of time, it would in fact be a vast amount of no-time; of a condition beyond time - and accordingly beyond space.

This model of thinking would explain both the initial act of creation and the state 'before' - and the ongoing process of creation. There would be no nothingness, there would just be no physical universe - and then, again, it would be present all the time - being itself the cause for its effect. The universe as a thinking unit, being able to think itself? Or, following the principle of trinity, creation being a part of God?[3]

All those modifications of the 'traditional' way of thinking would present nothing new - Native American and Eastern philosophy has stated similar ideas for some time. In Western philosophy this thinking was just not that much popular, but even Christian theology includes some of these ideas. Does this kind of belief deny the possibility of the existence of God? I don't think so. But it creates a much more complex view, it isn't any more just us and a judging God, this is much more complicated, but it seems to be much more logical.

So this material life we lead would just be an episode, just be a part of our greater life - with not only an open end but also an open beginning? This is again a matter of speculation - something we can neither prove nor disprove. It is a personal model of thinking and believing, creating both answers and confusion. We will never be able to understand this completely as long as we are part of the system, but we should never stop thinking.

PJK
June 20th, 1998







11: Circle of Life

We are part of the system as stated above, but what system would that be? Our knowledge, scientific and provable knowledge, doesn't exceed the borders of birth and death. What we know, what we can rely on, what we think we can rely on, is material life - everything else would be impossible to prove. There is no real certainty of what precedes or antecedes this knowledge; we cannot get reliable information about life outside the given frame.

But this scientific view is just one aspect of experiencing the world - the scientific view assumes that everything can be measured, everything cataloged, everything proven, that everything can be subject to our perception. To provable perception. To perception that would grant us proof undeniable. Funny - this assumption is in itself a belief, based not upon facts but on a kind o faith, faith and hope that we would be able to explore and understand the world completely and that we could share this information with everybody. How boring - and how wrong, for this is not the world we live in - on the contrary, we live in a world of differences and infinite diversity and infinite combinations. To state that there would be just one 'true way', just one true interpretation of life, would not only be arrogant but would also deny further progress.

Belief cannot be proven - there is no proof that Christianity is the only way, nor Buddhism nor any other religion - nor the belief in science. Every idea, every concept of understanding the world is kind of a model, a construction that within itself would be a temple of logic and consequence after having accepted the initial conditions. For me, being a Catholic, I can say what is true for me - but denying other possibilities, denying scientific progress, denying other ideas that could enlarge my belief, such denial would be a fatal mistake; it would mean to restrict me and my self without necessity. Why should we limit ourselves deliberately to just one perspective? But don't take me wrong - everyone has to have their belief, because without an opinion and faith of one's own we could not survive. I'm not talking about tolerance, that's a much too simple and easy issue for it could very well mean ignorance, no, I'm talking about acceptance. Accept the other as an equal and try to learn and exchange ideas instead of imposing your own thoughts onto them or just benevolently tolerating their presence.

Accepting other possibilities, accepting the idea that truth is a concept we are not capable of capturing, but without losing principles of morality and ethics, without losing humanity - it's a difficult way, but a path we seem to be destined to take if we want to survive. Am I trying to reduce it too much? Am I simplifying? Am I generalizing? Of course I am! I couldn't discuss these issues without attempting to keep it short - for anything else would look much more like pretending to know the whole truth - which would be a ridiculous idea for a human being, for any material being.

The circle of life - our frame of life consisting of birth and death; in between our material life - but where to start, where to end? I tried to state that this cannot be an issue of science - our possibilities are too limited and will (perhaps) always be. But we can speculate, can believe, even in a way know intuitively about what comes next and what was before - both questions are very much the same. That doesn't mean that everybody who claims to have ben Iulius Caesar or Cleopatra in their former life is true. But let us go back to the idea of eternity as said above in Part 10. A first cause being in itself its own effect and its own eternal state of being with creating areas of spacetime, giving existence to material life, this life being part of Himself, all souls connected, materializing into physical life (birth) and leaving this form of existence at a given time (death). The purpose? To get another perspective or whatever. Anyway, truth would be a concept so complicated and easy at the same time, but always impossible for us to grasp completely.

PJK
June 27th, 1998







12: Resignation?

With reality consisting of a fabric that is much more complicated, much more undeterminable than ever expected, our chance of complete comprehension is vanishing a bit more every moment, the more we know the larger gets the picture we are to see. It is a matter of science, philosophy, art and religion to chart the unexplained, to get access to it, but with what chance of uncovering the truth? The common belief of all those approaches towards reality is that there must be a truth - otherwise it wouldn't be worth searching.

With all that is given to us, a final explanation is always missing. This is the chance for a personal choice of our own - for if there were a complete theory of everything, there wouldn't be so much doubt and disagreement. No, personal belief can never become the belief of the general public; if someone tries to enforce their personal views onto others, no matter how elegant and noble they would be, there would be nothing created but oppression and terror. During the history of mankind this has been proven so many times, with results that make clear that this path is not the right one. How could it be! A path that negates the very basic foundation of all evolution and progress: Diversity. Babel.

But how to grasp a concept that is not supposed to be grasped? Not destined to be grasp? But do we have to grasp it completely? We can arrive at a truth by trying to divide reality into categories, by developing models that would represent a certain aspect of reality. But we must not let these models take the role of truth - we have to be aware that they are nothing but that: Just models.

One could say that resignation would be the inevitable consequence of the awareness that we are not able to grasp the truth completely. But then, again, as nice as it would be to know just everything, what would we do with that kind of knowledge? Mankind has survived this far, that's for sure, but at what costs - and with what future? There is no certainty. As nice as sf ideas like Star Trek might sound, we haven't arrived there yet. And even this universe of the fictional future has its problems - there is still war, there is still injustice, still hatred, there are still tears. What would we do if we knew everything? Be bored? What if there were nothing else to discover? If all space and knowledge were known?


"I want to understand."
"Understand what?"
"Everything," said the boy.
"Everything?" The adult was momentarily taken aback. Perhaps the boy did not quite grasp the entirety, the breadth, of what he was saying. "Everything as in ...?"
"Everything as in everything," said the boy firmly. And there was something in his voice that the elder noticed for the first time. A hint of stubbornness, a taste of intransigence.
"Everything," echoed the adult once more, studying the child as he would a microbe. "Very well, then ... everything it is."
"And what shall we do after we understand everything?"
The adult did not hesitate. "Die, most likely."[4]

But if we wouldn't know everything, but at least a lot more than today, would we continue forever as material beings of this kind? Or develop into a stage of the Q or the Vorlons or the Shadows? Energy beings, powerful and mighty, but also arrogant and with psychoses that could make them kill millions of beings? What our search for knowledge, for the ultimate knowledge, aims at, is often not relevation but apotheosis. Why reach for something we will never get, what we shall never get? Why not accept that there are limits to our knowledge? Limits that are set not by other material beings, but by the universe, by creation itself? Those limitations to our knowledge might prevent us from consequences we could never imagine. But besides limitations, there are opportunities: We might be limited to a certain degree, that's what defines us as material beings for a definition is always a limitation, but we are not the only ones that are bound to restrictions: We share that fate with the whole universe. And then, who knows - it is a question of belief, this is not everything. What awaits us at the end of our voyage will exceed everything we ever dreamt of.

PJK
June 28th, 1998

(The entire essay was minimally reworked by January 15th 2001, concerning spelling and minor corrections, while the substance of it was left intact.)






Endnotes

[1] The X-Files, ep. 5x13 'Patient X', Mulder's introductory monologue
[3] Corinthians I, 11
[4] Peter David. Q-Squared. (Star Trek - The Next Generation) N.Y.: Pocket Books, 1994. 2.

For a bibliography, please check the Selected Bibliography page.





© Phil John Kneis. all rights reserved   ·   philjohn.com - internet diary · poetry · serial photography

philjohn.com
pjkx.com
The Arts Circle