This paper looked at contending creation myths and concluded that they are unsatisfactory to pure reason; it presented a synthesis that it says could meet peopleâ€™s yearning for a universal creation story that unified them, gave them a sense of connectedness and oneness, which it says is a critical condition for human beings to feel happy and peaceful.
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
How did this universe come into being? We all, I think, want to know but do not know. Where there is ignorance folks rush in to provide answers.
Alas, none of the current stories of creation stand up when subjected to pure rational evaluation. We still do not know how the world, and by implication us, came into being. In this paper I will review the dominant stories of creation found in the Western world and show how they are not satisfactory. Building on them, I will provide my own story of creation, obviously not true, just another myth of creation and leave it to you to make of it what you like.
The Two most important stories of creation in the Western world are the Christian story of creation and contemporary science story of creation. There are, of course, other stories of creation.
Virtually every human group has its own story of creation, of how they came into being on planet earth. I will review some of these creation mythologies but my primary interest is extant astrophysicsâ€™ story of creation and alternatives to it
THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN STORY OF CREATION
The Judeo-Christian story of creation is found in the Bible. The first book of the Bibleâ€™s sixty-six books, Genesis, contains a story of how the world came into being. Whereas in that creation story many sub-stories can be inferred, one dominant story runs through it. It is said that an agent, called God, created this world. The agent said: let there be light and there was light; let there be water and there was water, let there be trees and there were trees, let there be animals and there were animals, and on the sixth day of creation he said let there be human beings and there were human beings (actually he first created a male, called Adam, and seeing that he was lonely created a female companion for him, Eve).
It does not take too much reasoning to figure out that this story of creation is a myth, that, at best, it is ancient Jews efforts to posit an explanation of how they and their world came into being. As it were, the Jewish God used a magic wand to conjure the world into being. That kind of creation is not satisfactory to our reasoning faculty. In fact, it raises many more questions than it answered.
One such question is this: who created God? As long as we are going to understand origins we must also understand the origin of God; so how did God come into being? He has always existed? He said: let us create man in our image. Who was he talking to, the â€œweâ€ he was referring to?
In first chapter of St Johnâ€™s gospel the writer said that the word was always with God and that the word was made manifest in flesh as the son of God. So, there was always somebody with God, the word of God, and that word of God later became human beings?
The Greeks had creation mythologies, as contained in Homerâ€™s Odyssey and Illiad, but somewhere along the line decided to use their reasoning to figure out how the world came into being. Aristotle reasoned that in our world things move other things; he extrapolated from that empirical observation to posit that there must be a force that got the entire world moving. He traced the chain of movers, causation, to what seemed to him an unmoved mover which he called God.
When in the thirteenth century Thomas Aquinas tried to provide a rational theology of Christianity he borrowed from Aristotleâ€™s views to say that God is the unmoved mover.
The concept of unmoved mover merely states that we have stopped trying to understand the chain of causations, a chain that could go on to infinity.
Neither Aristotle nor Aquinas proved the existence of God; both did not improve on Plato who, like most people, assumes that God exists.
In the meantime, the Judeo-Christian God created Adam and Eve; Adam and Eve had three children, all males: Cain, Abel and Set. How did these three boys procreate? Did they have sex with their mother, incest, to produce their own children and if not where did they find already existing females to marry, and if there were already existing females who created them since God created only Adam and Eve?
It is not really difficult to see that the Judeo-Christian story of creation is at best a primitive attempt to explain the origin of human beings and this world. That story does not make sense.
HINDU STORY OF CREATION
In the Hindu story of creation a God is also posited. God, called Brahman, felt lonely and needed company. God feels lonely? If so is he still God? That God created a son, called Atman. Brahman and Atman share one self; where one ends and the other begins is nowhere. As it were, they are a coin and one side is Brahman and the other side is Atman; they are not distinct from each other.
Heaven, called Brahmaloka, is the home of Braham and Atman (there are infinite Atmans; each of us, called Jivatatman, is one of those sons of God). Somehow, Brahman/Atman cast a magical spell on himself, Maya, and went to sleep. In his sleep he came to believe that he is no longer one self but many selves. The two (and then three and four and infinite selves) came to see themselves as separated from each other.
In their separated state they created the three gunas, matter (sattva, tamas and rajas) and used them to form bodies and entered bodies and now live in bodies. In bodies they have the illusion that they are separated from each other and are now called Ahankara (ego). Ahankara, the separated self, is a false self, a deluded self, a dream self.
The goal of Hinduism is for the sleeper, dreamer, who is Brahman/Atman to recognize that he is not the Ahankara, the separated self/ego, that he is no other than Brahman/Atman. When he recognizes that he is not separated and knows that there is only one self, Brahman, he is said to have broken free from the illusion of separation, moksha, and is now enlightened, illuminated to his true self; he is self realized.
Enlightened persons, such as Buddha, are folks who on earth, in the illusion of separation, recognize that they are unified self, are Brahman.
Upon death such persons do not return to the illusion of separation; if they choose to come back to this world they come as already enlightened persons called Avatars, an example of which was Krishna
(The Krishnaâ€™s story was narrated in the Hindu Epic, Mahabharata, especially the sub-section called Bagavad Gita; here, God is reincarnated as a human being and guides human beings, especially guides Arjuna, helps him understand Hinduism and make decisions that are in accord with that religion. Krishna particularly explained the various Yogas, the paths to God, each suitable to people with a certain temperament: Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, Raja, Tantra, Ayurvedic, Hathaâ€¦.Jnana is for thinkers; Bhakti is for worshippers; Karma is for doers; Raja is for meditators; Tantra is for lovers of carnal pleasure; Hatha is for kinetic people who love to exercise their bodies and Ayurvedic is Hindu folk medicine.)
Hinduism has secondary gods; indeed, she has a god for every human activity; some human beings even attained the status of the gods, called Divas. There is Shiva, Kali and hundreds of other gods. However, it is understood that all these earthly functional gods were created by Brahman.
IGBO STORY OF CREATION
The Igbo-African story of creation goes like this. There is God, called Chi-Ukwu. Chiukwu is unknowable. He transformed himself into a creator God called Chi-Neke. Chineke created his son, called Chi.
Chiukwu, Chineke and Chi are one self; if you like, they are three persons in one person (Holy Trinity).
Each of us has a real self who is Chi, the son of God. But that Chi is not the self that he is aware of while he is on planet earth. In his earthly state he is called Manu (a separated self, the ego). In his manu state he is self forgetful and does not know who he is; he is sleeping and dreaming that he has a different self.
God also created secondary gods. Each Igbo town/village has a goddess that guides it, called Ala. Additionally, each town/village has a god of light (god of knowledge) called Amadioha. There is also a god of productivity called Ahanjoku. There are minor gods, such as Ikenga (god for personal power), Ogu (god of truthâ€¦people swear by this god pretty much as Christians swear by the bible, implying that they are speaking the truth) etc.
Each Igbo village has Ala, Amadioha and Ahanjoku in addition to the three Gods in one God.
Igbos organized their world with an array of gods but at the present they have mostly converted to Christianity and try to organize their lives with their imported Christian gods (God, Son of God, aka Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit). Igbos need to become part of a universalistic religion and cannot remain in their particularistic religion that other persons do not understand; they need to share a universal religion that many persons in the world understand; such a religion connects them to the wider world.
All religions and all gods are man-made hence false; we do not yet know what constitutes the real nature of the universe and God; therefore, folk must make pragmatic decisions regarding which religion and its gods serve them well.
The Christian religion and its Jewish gods are useful for unifying a large swath of mankind and in so far that Igbos want to be part of the unified world they have to embrace the Christian world. Of course, in the future when we come up with a better unifying paradigm the Christian religion and its gods, as are other religions and their gods, must be discarded.
For the people of the world to get along, they need a universal frame of reference; the Christian religion gives some persons a reference point and enables them to relate to one another (science gives a universal reference point to cope with physical matter). In the long run we need a frame of reference that is not religious, one that is based on pure reason.
CONTEMPORARY WESTERN SCIENTIFIC STORY OF CREATION
The most famous story of creation in the Western world is the scientific story of creation. This story, called the Big Bang, interestingly, was posited by a Roman Catholic priest, Lemaitre.
According to this story of creation, originally, there was nothing. The universe was composed of nothingness. (What exactly is nothing? Nothingness was not explained.)
In the midst of nothingness, 13.7 billion years ago, out of nowhere a speck, the size of a particle emerged (it is called singularity). As it were, nothingness produced something.
Here the magic begins! Nothingness produced nothing, really? Are you kidding me? How is this story different from the God of Judeo-Christianity conjuring out the world out of nothing?
That speck of something, singularity, was very hot. Nothingness produced a very hot stuff? Where did that heat, a physical property, come from? We are already mixing physics and metaphysics!
The hot tiny ball could not stand the intense pressure it was under and exploded into smithereens. In nanoseconds the big bang explosion created space, time and matter/energy. Apparently, space was the first creation, followed by time and finally particles (matter/energy).
Out of nothing particles were created! Something out of nothing; is this not magical thinking? Is Western science not based on magical thinking, just as the Judeo-Christian story of creation was?
The first particle of creation has not yet been ascertained but what is known goes like this. Photons (units) of light (visible and invisible light) were invented. Those photons immediately transmuted themselves into quarks. Quarks transmuted themselves into protons and neutrons and electrons.
(The European efforts to smash particles at high speed so as to find out what is inside them, at the super collider tunnel at Geneva Switzerland, CERN, indicates that creation did not only produce particles, such as protons, neutrons and electrons but their opposites; creation created anti matter and anti energy, and dark matter and dark energy. We now know that there are protons and antiprotons; neutrons and anti neutrons; electrons and positrons; matter and anti matter; energy and anti energy; matter and dark matter; energy and dark energy; actually, dark matter and dark energy constitute over 96 percent of the universe! Yet we have not understood how dark matter and dark energy came into being, nor do we see them!)
Out of nowhere photons or light came into being and in less than a billionth of a second became quarks which became protons, neutrons and electrons. Incredible!
Within three minutes the particles had travelled billions of miles away from each other.
Where exactly were they travelling to? Was there an already existing vacuum that they were travelling into? Did the Big Bang explosion create a vacuum for the particles to travel to?
Alan Gutt talked about the inflationary period shortly after the Big Bang. In simply language (in this paper I stay aware from physics esoteric language and mathematics), the universe expanded rapidly and thereafter slowed down but, apparently, has lately picked up its expansion speed. So where was it expanding to if the Big Bang did not create a vacuum or was the vacuum already existing? If vacuum existed before the Big Bang could we say that the Big Bang created everything, was vacuum not part of everything?
Thousands of years later protons and neutrons joined to form the nucleus of an atom. A few more thousand years later an electron began circulating that nucleus. Thus, the first atom, the first element, hydrogen, was formed.
Hydrogen atom is composed of one proton in its nucleus and one electron circulating it (please note that a proton could transmute into neutron and a neutron could transmute into proton and electron; we are really talking about one thing changing itself into many things then recombining in its many formsâ€¦ could it be that one thing became many different things while remaining itself?).
For millions of years’ only clouds of hydrogen existed in the emergent universe. Somehow, this cloud of hydrogen began to differentiate into the various galaxies. There are billions and billions of galaxies out there in space.
Each galaxy differentiated into billions and billions of stars (and their planets and moons).
Stars were originally made of hydrogen gas; that is, swirls of electrons circulating swirls of protons. Inside the core of stars the temperature attained incredible heat and the protons began to fuse together.
When two protons fused and they are circulated by an electron an isotope of hydrogen is formed (such as deuteranium, titanium).
Eventually, however, two protons fused with two neutrons, and with two electrons circulating around the emergent nucleus containing two protons and two neutrons to form the second element, helium.
Helium, the number two element on chemistryâ€™s periodic table, is composed of a nucleus with two protons, two neutrons and two electrons circulating around it.
The fusion of protons and neutrons produce enormous energy. That energy makes its way to the surface of the sun. It takes millions of years for the helium and attendant energy generated in the core of the stars (such as our sun) to reach the sunâ€™s surface. As it travels to the surface, it reaches regions with less heat (temperature) and pressure and the nucleus and electrons transmute into other elements, such as nickel, carbon, calcium, lithium etc. Eventually, these reach the surface of the stars and are expelled into space and circulate in space.
Along with expelled elements is light (in particles and wave) that travel at the speed of 186, 000 miles per second. Our sun shoots out light and that light in about ten minutes reach our planet, earth, and gives it heat to sustain biological life forms.
Stars live for a certain amount of time, burning their hydrogen. Eventually, they exhaust their hydrogen fuel source and expand into a nova and then explode. In their explosion heavier elements, such as gold, iron, diamonds etc are formed and showered into space. This way it came to pass that the 94 naturally occurring elements on the chemical table were formed and they made their way to planet earth (Chemists have formed some man-made elements that live for seconds and thereafter self destroyâ€¦actually transform into other particles, atoms and elements for as the laws of thermodynamics teach us energy and matter are never destroyed but merely transformed into other kinds of energy, matter; the total quantity of energy, matter in the universe remains constant).
The formation of stars, apparently, results in the formation of planets. When our sun was formed 5 billion years ago, apparently, from star dust from previously shattered stars, some of those dust coagulated into the nine (eight?) planets circulating the sun. Star dust formed our earth four and half billion years ago.
Our early planet was one hot molten sea of elements and over time the hottest part sunk into the core of the planet (molten iron), surrounded by the mantle and then the cooler surface crust of the earth.
Asteroids kept striking the early earth, one of which, apparently, split the emergent earth and sent a Marâ€™s sized part of the earth, now called the moon, hurtling into space. The moon is now the earthâ€™s satellite just as the earth is the sunâ€™s satellite.
Comets also kept striking the surface of the early earth. Comets are made of frozen water and dust; overtime they produced the waters on earth.
Water on earth came from space? Read on; this science thing is getting incredibler and incredibler! Soon, we shall be told that human beings came from space even though SETI has not discovered alien life in space. Science, like religion, is getting to its last tether; it is asking folks to believe too in the unknown, and so far folks have given it the benefit of doubt and believed its unsubstantiated conjectures masquerading as empiricism; soon, folk would revolt against science and throw out the bums that populate our universities; they would be forced to go make a living the hard way, work for it, and stop depending on the tax payers to support them while they indulge in childish speculations about the nature of phenomena!
The myth of science as verified knowledge is gradually undermined by some of the more outrageous speculations that scientists foist on the people; a people that have come to look at scientists as the modern high priests of knowledge, even as mostly they do not know what the hell they are talking about! Just as the people threw out Catholic priests that had pretended to explain reality, they will eventually throw out scientists when they learn that they, too, cannot explain reality.
Science can explain physical phenomena up to a point but cannot explain what lies behind matter, and there is something non-material in this world; something cannot come out of nothing.
Moving along, as the surface of the earth cooled down the initially hot water that now covered the entire surface of the earth somehow mixed the chemicals in it to form a primordial soup out of which the biological bases of life emerged. Plant life formed in the oceans. Algae, planktons and similar single celled plants began to take light from the sun (photon) and mixing it with the carbon they absorb from water to form carbohydrates (photosynthesis). They produced oxygen as by product and exhaled it into the earthâ€™s atmosphere.
As the earthâ€™s atmosphere, which was originally mostly carbon dioxide (which trees need to live), gained sufficient oxygen, the basis for animal life was set. Thus, animals that inhaled oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide came into being.
Gradually, animal evolution went from single celled organisms, such as bacteria, to multi celled organisms, such as fish.
In time some of the fish transmuted into amphibians (animals that live in both water and land) and swam out of water and became land animals (such as frogs, toads and reptiles) and those later changed to purely land based animals. Biological Evolution was on.
Over billions of yearsâ€™ animal evolution produced mammals, such as human beings. Human beings, in their various forms, are said to have been around for, at least, two million years, but in their current form, perhaps, for only fifty thousand years.
For our present purpose, human beings evolved from plants via animals. Human beings are slightly altered animals, who, in turn, are slightly altered plants! Biological forms evolved from inorganic forms. Ultimately, organic and inorganic matter came from the same source. Only matter (which as Einsteinâ€™s famous equation showed is the same as energy) exists in the universe, science teaches.
Our sun has enough fuel to keep producing energy that heats our planet for another four and half billion years. In about four and half billion years it would run out of energy and nuclear fusion would stop taking place.
Before that event, though, the sun would expand into a nova, and engulf its nearest planets; the expanded sun would dry up the earth, and kill off all biological forms!
Eventually, the sun would explode into smithereens and thus end our journey in space and time.
Perhaps, the core of the sun would collapse into itself to form a black hole, a region where light cannot escape.
For our present purpose, the salient point is that we were produced by matter, space and time and will in the long run end our existence on planet earth, unless we find a means to escape from the earth and go live on other planets, perhaps at other parts of the Milky Way galaxy, even at other galaxies.
However, such behavior merely buys us time for in the long haul the universe would expand so much so that it looses heath and every thing on it would freeze to death and wherever we happen to be would freeze to death. The point is that we may buy time but death awaits us in the future; this is what our glorious science offers us: inevitable death in the future!
What a bleak future; no wonder some persons are now ditching science and returning to the consoling embrace of superstition!
What does one make of this Western scientific story of creation and eschatology, the end of the universe? It is as incredible as the Biblical story of creation and how the earth would end! It is obviously not the whole truth although it seems to offer scientists a means for organizing their thoughts about the origin and nature of material phenomena.
I applaud scientists for refusing to accept the various religious ideas on the origin of the universe. Religion has a way of positing hypothetical views on God and turns around and forgets that it was men who invented those gods and then urge men to worship them. We create God in our images and then make them out as if those imaginary gods created us in their images! (If God is the whole of the universe it cannot have image; God must be formless hence imageless! Only a part housed in form can have image.)
I like the fact that physicists adamantly refuse to accommodate religion and metaphysics.
Yet, the story of creation posited by science is not the whole truth. If science is empiricism (what the racist David Hume would call logical positivism) and accepting only what can be verified in laboratories how do we verify what allegedly happened nearly fourteen billion years ago?
By the way, how do we count those fourteen billion years? If it is how far light has traveled from the original explosion, travelling at the speed of 186, 000 miles a second, that age is of no relevance to human beings.
Human beings walking at the rate of ten miles per hour and living for 100 years would probably walk less than a million miles in their life times and if we use their rate of walking to calculate how long the universe has existed it has existed several trillion years!
Remember Albert Einsteinâ€™s calculation that persons traveling at the speed of light age less than those on earth; that if we could send people in a rocket that travels at the speed of light to a distant planet, say, it took them six months to get there and come back to earth, that by the time they get back to earth most human beings on earth when they left would have aged and died! Six months traveling at the speed of light would amount to thousands of years in human life!
COSMOLOGY AND QUANTUM MECHANICS
Astrophysicistsâ€™ current notion about the origin of the universe is based on quantum mechanics, so let us briefly understand what Quantum mechanics is. Quantum physics studies matter at the microscopic level; matter in its smallest forms, such as atoms and particles. Classical mechanics, such as Newtonâ€™s motion and gravity, studied matter at the macroscopic level. (Heat, sound, light, electricity and mechanics are usually the subjects of study of physics.)
Quantum mechanics is a twentieth century invention and may not be the last word on the matter of the size and behavior of particles and atoms. Post Newtonian science had dwelled on the macro world but Dalton resurrected the Greek notion that matter can be reduced to small elements called atoms. Boyle and others transformed alchemy to chemistry. Max Planck in 1900 talked about light having units that he called quanta.
In his 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect, Albert Einstein talked about light having units that he called photons (Einstein also accurately calculated the speed of light to be 186, 000 miles per second).
Ernest Rutherford discovered that the nucleus of the atom is composed of protons and neutrons.
Chadwick discovered that electrons circulate the nucleus of atoms. Neils Bohr explained the relationship between the nucleus and electrons (the various valence states of the electrons arrayed around the nucleus of atoms).
Heisenberg, SchrÃ¶dinger, Pauli, Dirac and others contributed to evolving quantum physics (consider Heisenbergâ€™s uncertainty principle, Schrodingerâ€™s mathematics of quantum mechanics etc).
Broglie finally concluded the debate as to the nature of light by showing that it is both wave and particles. J. J. Thompson had shown that light could behave as particles and go through one slit on a piece of paper, experiment, and yet seem to divide itself into two and go throw two slits.
Ultimately, the Manhattan project led by Oppenheimer and Fermi showed that the nucleus of the atom, in this case uranium atom, could be split open via nuclear fission and enormous energy is released (energy that was unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to kill thousands of persons and compelled the Japanese to end the second world war in August 1945); energy that we now capture in nuclear reactors and use to power cities electrically.
With insights gained from quantum physics, astrophysicists, aka astronomers, tell us how the universe began fourteen billion years ago.
Evidence initially provided by Hubble and today by the Hubble telescope that seem to pick up background cosmic microwave seems to suggest that light and sound wave that occurred fourteen billion years ago when the big bang occurred can still be picked up.
THE FOUR FORCES OF NATURE
Physicists tell us that physical phenomenon is governed by four forces. The strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, electro-magnetic force and gravitation force.
The strong nuclear force binds protons and neutrons and prevents them from flying apart.
The weak nuclear force leads to either protons or neutrons decaying and releasing other forms of energy (light, quarks and neutrinos).
The electro-magnetic force holds electrons and magnets together; it also makes sure that the earth has two polar ends, north and south (which help in the earthâ€™s rotation on its axis and around the sun).
Gravity is a force that balances objects in space, such as stars and their planets, and prevents each from falling into the others. Einstein, theory of relativity improved on Isaac Newtonâ€™s concept of gravity by showing that light is bent by gravity and that gravity curves space.
Einstein spent the rest of his life tying to unify these four forces into one force, the grand theory of everything. He did not succeed but that did not prevent others from trying.
Superstrings theory claims tentative ability to unify the four forces. A Nigerian, Mr. Oyibo, claimed that he found a unifying force which he called God, thus, mixing God and physics, a no-no in science (scientists want to separate God from matter and any effort to conjoin both is unacceptable to them).
THE EXPANDING UNIVERSE
The universe apparently began in one spot and is expanding said Friedman and Hubble. Evidence from telescopes appears to lend credence to this view.
DREAM AND PARALLEL UNIVERSES
At night we sleep and dream; in our dreams we see a universe that looks like the universe we see during the day time. In our dreams we see galaxies, stars, planets, mountains, rivers, oceans, trees and animals; we see space and time; we see a universe that seems to be expanding pretty much as the day universe seems to be doing. So, could there be many universes, parallel universes or are they all an illusion?
In our dreams at night we see people who are doing what people do in our ordinary day life. We see people get born, grow up, work, age and die and are buried in the ground. All these take place in our dreams and when we wake up we realize that none of those activities had, in fact, taken place.
While sleeping and dreaming, the dreamer takes his dream world as real. So, how do we know that our day world is not also a dream? Like the dream world our day world could be a dream world and we do not know that it is a dream world!
Science tells us that an explosion took place that created space, time and matter and eventually evolved the galaxies, stars, planets and animals and us. All these seeming real events could be taking place in a dream setting!
Just as a sleeper is in one spot, sleeping, and in his dream sees a world that seems real, it may well be the case that our day world, the world that scientists observe, is a dream world and all that we observe in it is taking place as in a dream.
That is, one self, unified self, is in one spot and sleeps and dreams and in his dream see the world scientists tell us is evolving and expanding.
The perceptual universe could be an illusion, and is not there; is a dream world. When the dreamer awakens from his dream he knows that the empirical world he had seen in his dream was not there and was never there for a second.
From the Big Bang to the present could all have taken place in a sleeperâ€™s mind? In effect, could it be that the empirical world does not exist? Could it be that we do not exist in bodies and separated selves?
Could it be that there are no plants, animals, planets, stars, galaxies, universes; that it is all delusion and hallucination?
Could we be seeing what is not there and hearing voices that no one speaks, as is the case in our nightly dreams? Could it be that we are suffering from mass psychosis and have hallucinations and delusions?
How do I know that the empirical world does exist? I do not know that it does exist! Bishop George Berkeley entertained the idea that the world could be in our minds (this is called solipsism, and or philosophical idealism).
If there are no minds, Berkeley suggests, that we would not know that the seeming independent external world exists! If a tree falls and there is no human being to observe it fall, now or in the future, did a tree fall?
Does the world exist if people did not exist to observe it? If it takes human beings to observe the existence of the world does it exist if there were no human beings to observe it?
Let us see; human beings have been around in their present form for, may be, fifty thousand years, but evidence shows that the world has been around for, at least, four billion years. We have evidence in rocks, bones from dinosaurs that seem to demonstrate that the world has been around for millions of years (dinosaurs died off sixty-five million years ago when an asteroid struck the earth, threw lots of dust into the air and produced a condition that those giant animals could not survive in). Those existed before human beings came into existence, so it does seem that it does not matter whether human beings exist or not for the empirical world to exist.
It still took human minds to observe what existed in the past, did it not? When told by his friend, Boswell, that Berkeley suggested that the world may exist only in our minds, the English empiricist, Dr Johnson, is said to have struck his toes on a rock, felt pain and said that is the answer for the Irish Bishop. That is, in as much as he feels pain when external objects hit his body, they are external to him.
In our sleep-dreams we also contact objects that cause us pain, yet when we wake up the objects that seemed to have caused us pain were non-existent and were produced by our minds! Johnson and his fellow empiricists have not disproven the hypothesis that the world could be in our minds!
Scientists tell us that there is no such thing as the human mind apart from the biological, chemical and physical make up of our brains. Thinking is said to be epiphenomenal; that is, the particular configuration of particles, atoms and elements in our brains produce our thinking and memory. Mind is a function of matter and is not independent of matter. Consciousness is produced by matter. There is no such thing as consciousness outside our brains!
If in doubt note that people who have certain brain diseases, such as Alzheimer, lose their memories, minds and cannot remember anything about the past, present and future. If Alzheimer disease can eradicate memory, and it is a physical disease, it follows that mind is a physical thing, and is not apart from the brain?
A very interesting American clinical psychologist, Helen Schucman, wrote a book called A course in miracles. In it she claimed that Jesus Christ talked to her. She claimed that the book was dictated by Jesus to her.
One could say that she was hallucinating, hearing voices and that she gave her hallucinatory voice the name of Jesus Christ.
If one needs supportive evidence for seeing the lady as psychotic (a psychotic professor at one of Americaâ€™s best universities, Columbia University, New York?), one could say that there was no evidence of a historical Jesus! Only Josephus referred to the crucifixion of a Jewish Rabbi who had opposed Romans. We do not have any historical evidence that the crucified Jewish rabbi was Jesus Christ.
The New Testament portion of the Bible was written several decades after the death of the alleged Jesus; St Markâ€™s gospel, the earliest gospel, was written in the 90s AD; the alleged Jesus died in 33 AD?
Was Jesus Christ a real human being or a made-up, make-belief mythical figure? If he did not exist it follows that Helen Schucman was hallucinating and projecting her psychotic voice to an alter ego she called Jesus Christ.
Alternatively, she had conversion disorder, dissociative disorder, aka multiple personality disorder and dissociated from her thoughts and projected them to an alter ego she called Jesus Christ and or Holy Spirit and was not conscious of what she was doing!
Yet, what the lady actually wrote is very interesting and one doubts that a psychotic could write such elegant, astonishing poem, the like of which no other Westerner has written! How did a supposedly dissociative woman manage to translate all of Eastern philosophy, religion, Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism (those ideas informed her book) into a poem, albeit a convoluted one?
Her book was written in verse and is poetic in nature; it is not a rational discourse as we are used to reading in philosophy; it does not flow from one rational argument to another but is circular. The points that the writer is trying to make are not readily evident and have to be inferred from plodding through the entire 1200 pages book.
This obscurantism has already led to the emergence of a cottage industry with different writers claiming to be the best interpreters of what the book is saying. This is the nature of religion. If only religion could be written in simple prose so that a parasitic clergy does not emerge purporting to teach the people what it is teaching. Furthermore, it does not help that the book was written in exhortative form, rather than logical persuasive form.
Essentially, the book contains a re-presentation of basic Vedanta-Hinduism in Christological language. It says that there is one God. That that one God extended himself to his son. His son wished to separate from him and could not do so in spirit for they are one and went to sleep and in his sleep dream that he is now separated from his father.
Our world is said to be the world of separation, a world that is the exact opposite of the unified world of God.
God and his world is permanent, our world is changeable, mortal; God is changeless, eternal and all knowing; our world is temporary, transitory and ephemeral.
God is spirit; we are in bodies. God is love, we are prone to hate. In God there is no space and gap between the father and the son; where God ends and his son begin is nowhere.
On earth we are separated, we see space, time and matter between us; we seem to live in bodies and bodies give us boundaries from each other; we define ourselves as different from each other. In God we are the same, equal and unified.
The course posits a methodology through which we can rise above our separated world and return to the world of union. We are told to overlook our world, that since it is a dream whatever is done in it has not been done. If other people attack you, they did so in a dream and therefore you should not defend yourself. Let them kill you (they can destroy your body but not your soul which is eternal).
By not defending your separated ego self and its body you have denied that you are a separated self housed in body; you have forgiven the world and would return to the state of union.
Forgiveness opens the gate of heaven and lets you in; Godâ€™s separated son, you, on a journey without a distance, a journey to nowhere re-enters heaven, unified state and in it find your real self.
Is the course true? Is the course from Jesus Christ? All I know is that the course represents what all the religions of mankind are saying, that we are one, unified and connected.
Was the book from Jesus? Was the Muslim Koran from the angel Gabriel? Mohammed claimed to hear the voice of the angel Gabriel talking to him and that he merely took down what the angel said.
Do angels exist or are they the figments of Semitic imagination? I do not know that angels exist and therefore do not know that an Engel spoke to Mohammed. Was Mohammed a schizophrenic who projected his voice, a voice he denied as his, to a false entity he called Gabriel? I will let you decide that for yourself.
(They say only those with death wish dare make negative comments on the self proclaimed seal of the prophets and his writings; his writings have to be accepted unquestioned. If you question it someone comes after your life. Is truth maintained by murder; can truth not defend itself? This is how superstition is maintained and mankind held back from progress!)
A SYNTHESIS OF SCIENCE AND META-SCIENCE STORIES OF CREATION
I believe that the speculations of science as to how the world came into being are exactly those, speculations. Science ought to continue investigating matter until it gets it right. Additionally, I believe that the world that science observes is a world in a dream.
The empirical world is a world invented by sleeping-dreaming agents (call them the children of God or whatever you like, they are nameless).
I believe that there is another world (call it the world of spirits). My hunch is that the world is proceeding as science says that it is proceeding, although science has not said the last word on how it is proceeding. The world I believe is taking place in the minds of intelligent beings. I think that some intelligent being wants to experience his opposite nature and, as it were, went to sleep and in his sleep dream our empirical world.
There is intelligence in our world but that intelligence appears a sleeping-dreaming one, for obviously the world it is evolving is a pointless, meaningless and purposeless world.
What is the point to our world? We are born and must die. We die and are eaten by worms just as we eat other animals to stay alive. It does not make sense to eat other animals to stay alive yet we must do so. The earth will eventually be destroyed by asteroids or die when an enlarged sun, nova, dries it up. Only an insane intelligence could have created this world only to destroy it.
There is clearly intelligence in the world. How so? The complexity of the human body, animalâ€™s bodies, trees, planets, stars and everything in the universe could not have just happened randomly. Chance did not determine everything in this world. There must be chance and not chance/choice simultaneously at play in the world.
This does not necessarily lead to religion and flagellating ones self before a non-existent God. As already pointed out, the world has no point to it and our bodies have no worth and value (if you create the human body and try selling the resultant ashes it would sell for less than a nickel). Yet we literally enslave ourselves working to sustain a body that has no value and a life that is meaningless and purposeless; we must be insane! Sanity would require this world not to exist!
If the world has no point the agent that invented it has no business being praised and worshipped; in fact, he ought to be punished for creating a pointless world.
I think that our world was invented by intelligent agents who just want to play with their minds and do so as if the world is a game, albeit a macabre game.
I think that A course in miracles is essentially correct in its rendition of the world except that it did so in poetic form and would seem to encourage folks to pray to its God. Furthermore, I think that A course in miracles was the product of Helen Schucmanâ€™s mind, a product that she denied responsibility for and projected to what she called Jesus Christ. What the book contains, while profound, is not beyond the creation of a brilliant mind. Helen Schucman had superior intelligence. Her IQ was, at least, 140. I believe that she wrote the book and probably felt that as a woman living in a sexist society that society would not believe her, would not see her as credible on religious matters, and to make her ideas credible projected them to the allegedly most credible religious thinker in the Western world, Jesus Christ.
This is not to say that Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit does not exist. They may well exist. If all minds are unified in spirit, one can see a scenario where Helen Schucmanâ€™s mind tuned into the universal mind shared by Jess and all of us, the Holy Spiritâ€™s unified mind, (as opposed to our left, separated mind, the ego mind). The point is that she was probably influenced by Jesus Christ and the Holy (whole) Spirit.
The lady psychologist synthesized Hinduism, Buddhism and Gnosticism and Platoâ€™s philosophy (she even had Platoâ€™s cave analogy in it) into a new religion and attributed it to Jesus.
She should have had the courage to say that what she wrote is what she believed in. She actually makes a great deal of sense. Of course, she did not explain everything. When her explanatory powers run into difficulties she does what religions do and say that people are not yet ready for further explanations. When she (her Jesus, that is) tried to predict what would happen in the future she failed, meaning that her ideas are not predictive of future events.
One might ask: how do we know that there is such a thing as a future; if only the present exist and there is no future then there is no predicting the future!
God or any other name we choose to call the unified force behind our seemingly separated world does not need to be praised and worshipped or prayed to. God is not a pathological narcissist seeking admiration from us.
It is correct that in the here and now world each of us has a separated self, an ego, and that our pursuit of ego ideals and power makes us insane. Our swollen egoism can be reduced when we pray to God, obey God and see him as our leader. The function of religion is to help people shrink their grandiose egos; psychology performs a similar function for our godless age. Whatever enables human beings to reduce their egoism is useful considering the psychological pain, anxiety and suffering pursuing false grand ego gives people.
Ego grandiosity is implicated in mental disorders. In paranoia, aka delusion disorder, the individual wants to have total power; he presents that fictional powerful self to other persons to relate to and validate and feels angry that they are not colluding with him and affirming his persona, his mask of a self, a mask he puts on to hide his inadequate, inferior, powerless self.
The paranoid person wants to be a false powerful self. He defends a false big self. In the process he is tense, anxious, heated up, unhappy, lacks peace and joy in his life. If he lets go his desire to be important and accept that as a body he lives a meaningless existence, that his body is food being prepared for worms; if he does not take himself seriously and exists like a mosquito in the world he tends to become joyous, peaceful and loving.
In mania the individual inflates his body, makes it hyper aroused and excited to euphoria level by identifying with a figure his society considers famous and powerful.
In schizophrenia, especially paranoid type, the individual fancies his self godlike and is now the creator of this world hence is magically powerful.
Manâ€™s problem is that he sees himself living a meaningless existence, knows that his ego is meaningless and is existentially speaking a nothing (diseases destroy his body, natural forces like earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tsunamis etc destroy his body at will, meaning that his body has no worth and value in natureâ€™s eyes) but wants to make it seem as if his body is important. Most of his psychological conflicts are rooted in his misguided efforts to seem important when clearly he is not.
Yet, there seem a spirit in us; that spirit seems insane; the insane spirit (acting as the ego) invented a pointless world to play with.
EVIDENCE FROM MEDITATION
In meditation the individual accepts that his thinking is pointless and cannot explain the world and shuts down his thinking and stays silent. In silence he tends to experience some of the states that religious folks say are spiritual. We need not call those experiences spiritual and mysterious but they do occur nevertheless.
Calling them hallucination is not helpful, either, for our day world could also be hallucinatory and does not exist.
In meditation folks do have out of bodyâ€™s experiences; they do enter a world of light where all people, animals, trees, stars, everything are in light forms, that is, look like they look in our world except that they do not have dense physical dimensions and one could walk through them.
Ultimately, folks do experience what mystics like Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross etc call oneness, an experience where the individual knows that he is one with all persons and that there is no solid you and I, no seer and seen, subject and object; in that state of oneness the individual understands that the seer is the seen. Such experiences convince those who had them that the external world is the projection of their minds but how it is done they do not quite understand.
All these may, of course, be deluded and hallucinatory but then again our day world may also be deluded and hallucinatory.
Even if such experiences are hallucinations how is it that the brain is able to produce them? To say that something is hallucination is not to have explained it!
The fact that the brain produces dreams is actually to say that the brain is very powerful. A brain that produces our nightly dreams certainly could also produce our day world!
In the meantime it is absolutely necessary for science to continue doing what it is doing: trying to explain the world and for it to continue devising technologies for human beings to employ in adapting to their world.
There is no magical way to understand this world and cope with its exigencies. Religious persons tend to become silly and think that just praying to an imaginary god and mumbling some mumbo-jumbo words that they could banish diseases and make their lives pleasant. They are wrong.
Only through the plodding of science have we relatively understood this world and made it pleasant (pleasant for what since we still must die, decay and smell to high heaven).
I agree with existential writers, such as Camus, Sartre, Jasper, Heidegger etc that this world is meaningless and purposeless and yet is fascinating. This world is a thing that ought to be understood via science and improved with technology.
Consider that we invent nuclear weapons and one of these days would unleash them on ourselves and wipe our selves out. Just imagine the intelligence it took to understand nuclear physics and the engineering it took to develop those weapons yet we could use them to kill ourselves off; it does not make sense. The entire world does not make sense. Any which way you look at it, the world seems like the work of a madman!
Yet, in this insane world if folks love one another and correct their bad behaviors (not blanketly forgive them for some behaviors are detrimental to people: murder, rape, pedophilia, theft etc do harm people) they tend to seem godlike!
It would seem that if folk completely forgive the wrongs other folks did to them, which can be done if one sees the world and its events as taking place in a dream and not real, folk tend to live in peace and then die and exit from this world.
I say die because one cannot live in this world for long if one is completely forgiving of wrongs done to one. At any moment bacteria, virus, fungi are eating ones body and one do not forgive them; one kills them with ones anti bodies and medications. If one did not do anything to kill the germs trying to make a meal of ones body one would die, today, not tomorrow. By the same token, if one did not defend against those trying to do away with one they would succeed. If we did not fight against social injustice, such as slavery, there would be slavery in the world today. If we do not fight Arab Muslim terrorists they would conquer us and enslave us to their religion.
Blanket forgiveness of evil does not make evil go away; if we want a beautiful world we have to work for it. Jesus may have forgiven the world and exited from it two thousand years ago but two thousand years later the world is still as evil as it was when he lived in it; forgiveness does not improve the world, it merely enables one to leave an evil world behind as one dies and exits from the world.
My synthesis of science and meta-science is that science is, by and large, on the right path in what it is doing and that we all should embrace the scientific methodological approach to phenomena. However, I posit that the world that science observes is a world taking place in a dream.
As in our nightly dreams, the world science observes is meaningless and purposeless. However, a dream requires a dreamer.
I believe that there is an intelligent force that temporarily went insane and in its insanity is dreaming this meaningless world.
This means that there is more than one world. There is our meaningless empirical world, the abode of science, and there is a meaningful unified spirit, that is, non-material world where all are joined and live in peace and joy.
There are intermediary worlds, such as what the Course in miracles called real world, gate of heaven, happy dream, the borderland between haven and earth; in tat world we still live in space, time and matter but refined matter; in light forms.
I am, however, not interested in a futile effort to find life ever lasting, to live after we die. We cannot live everlastingly in matter, in bodies, in forms. Bodies, matter, are, at best, temporarily existent and must decompose to nothingness. What is everlasting is non-material, spirit.
When we die our bodies decompose. What happens is that our bodies decay into the elements that formed them. Those elements (such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium etc) eventually decay and return to particles, such as protons, neutron and electrons. Those particles eventually decay and become quarks which in time decay into photons (visible and invisible light).
Physical light, as the Big Bang hypothesis tells us, came out of nothing, so we can say that our bodies return to nothing. We die and return to nothing, to oblivion and finitude.
But how did nothingness produce somethingness? It is impossible for nothing to produce something, unless we engage in magical thinking.
Something, albeit yet unknown something, produced our world of space and time. It seems to me that the something that existed before the Big Bang must be a form of light but not the physical light we see with our physical eyes (after all there are invisible lights even in our world).
I believe that our original state, unified spirit, is unified light, not physical light. That light is continuous, has no separated units and has no beginning and no end. That light is nameless, but if it makes you feel fine then you can call it God. God is nameless; God cannot be defined for what is defined is limited. God is limitless and cannot be defined or explained. Each of us, as it were, is a formless unit of that eternal light folk call God.
I am inclined to believe that a non- material force, aka spirit, God, went to sleep and in his dream produced our world via the Big Bang and the invention of particles, atoms, elements, matter, energy, anti matter, anti energy, dark matter, dark energy etc in a dream setting.
When the sleeper-dreamer wakes up he recognizes that he had not produced the world that seemed real to his dreaming mind. The long goal for us is for us to understand our world through science and eventually to transcend it by waking up from it. This is what I choose to accept as possible reality.
This belief enables me to accept the material world as temporarily useful yet know that it is not real and does not matter.
If the material world is all there is to existence; if all we are, are animals killing and eating other animals then the world is totally pointless and, as Arthur Schopenhauer said, ought to not exist.
On the other hand, if the world is a dream in our minds and we are merely playing with ideas, ideas given pictorial, image forms, and the world does not, in fact, exist, and everything done in it has not been done, in effect, we have not killed and ate real animals, and have not done the evils we do to other persons then the world is an amusing place and is worth enduring.
Physics is bleak and depressing; my metaphysics gives us hope in a better future. I believe that we need hope in a better future to be able to tolerate the bleak world that physics presents us with.
Much of the psychosis, depression, paranoia, delusion disorder, mania, and anxiety disorder seen in modern people is rooted in the fact that their science tells them that life is hopeless and ends in death.
We do not know that life ends in death. We have not died and know what happens when we die. Since we cannot say anything authoritatively about life after death it makes sense to accept a metaphysics that gives hope after we die.
This is not hope based on religionâ€™s magical thinking but hope based on extrapolations from science.
Science talks about the big bang, and how something came out of nothing. It seems to me that nothing can come out of nothing, that that something existed before the Big Bang (I am aware of the Big Rebound hypothesis that says that the universe expands, then contracts and falls into itself and explodes and forms another universeâ€¦this hypothesis has not explained how the original universe came into being!).
I choose to believe that something non-material and eternal existed before our material universe; I choose to believe that when we die and eventually exit from the material plane that we awaken to spirit, which I believe is unified in nature, as opposed to our separated world. This is what I believe to be our nature and fate.
You do not have to believe what I believe; however, if what I believe to be true makes sense to you by all means consider it.
Actually, whether you believe it or not does not bother me at all; I am merely sharing with you what I believe.
I do not have a compulsion for other persons to believe in what I believe but I do have a need to share what I believe with other people.
I do not have a need to save other persons. However, I do have a need to save me, and show the rest of the people how I did it.
I do experience peace and joy that passes human understanding when I accept that at the spiritual level we are joined, are eternal and that as one people ought to love one another. When I love other people I tend to feel peaceful and happy. Peace and happiness cannot be further from the truth?
Like Alfred Adler, my psychological mentor, I believe that each of us must find a way to contribute to social interest and serve public good. I try to contribute to social good through my writing. If this writing helps you make sense of this world I have done some good?
Ozodi Thomas Osuji