There are many ways to view the universe. Each view has lessons, if we try to find them. Combining the lessons from the views allows us to create a better picture of the world around us.
What is God?
During my senior year of college, I needed to complete a final paper for my honors religious studies course. I don't remember the exact contents of it (it was probably some existential babbling) but from doing this paper I accidentally discovered a Proof of God. Here’s how I did it.
The question “What is God?” bugged me throughout college. Simple sayings like “God is Love” just made me ask “then what is everything else?” If you are going to call God the creator of everything, it needs to be more than that.
The answer I finally came up with was “God is that, without which, there would be nothingness.” Nothingness is the opposite of somethingness, obviously, and the two are mutually exclusive states of the universe. If the universe exists, you are in a state of somethingness, otherwise you have a state of nothingness.
Maybe it is all existential babble, but I like it.
I know I am
A couple of classmates and I were having a discussion regarding existence and somehow the discussion led someone to ask me to prove that I exist. I used René Decartes’ dictum: cogito, ergo sum or I think, therefore I am. I like to put it: I exist because I say do.
But what are you?
After answering my classmate, I turned the tables and asked how they proved I exist. “Because I say you do,” they responded smartly.
“But I am a figment of your imagination, as is everything else here,” I replied.
That is the crux of the matter: You can’t objectively prove the existence of anything, except yourself. We ”fly by wire,” meaning that we don’t interact directly with anything. All perception is done via signals via our neurons. These signals can—and do—fool us. Phantom limb pains, not seeing a gorilla, and amnesia are examples of how our perceptions of the world are subjective.
Fulfilling the criteria
So, I can prove that I exist and I can not prove that anything else exists. That means that if I didn’t exist, nothing would.
That fits the definition of God I set out at the start.
I’m God! I can do whatever I want!
I had a real problem with my results. The logic seemed sound, if non-intuitive. I looked for several years for a flaw, and have only come up with the fact that it doesn’t prove that an objective world doesn’t exist, merely that you can’t prove that one does.
My issue is it is missing morality. It appears to give someone free reign to treat anyone in any way without consequence.
Eventually I realized I had missed something: what is the world we perceive? Well, according to the theory, the world you perceive can be only one thing: you. And everything clicked. You do have free reign to do whatever you want, to whomever you want, but you are really doing it to yourself. It makes the Golden Rule literal in that your neighbor is you.
Very cute philosopher boy, but what does it mean?
In practice, it is difficult to treat all of life as a personal illusion. However I’ve found some insights that work well in day-to-day life.
Reality is subjective, not objective
I will write more on this later, but the lesson is that someone else’s view of reality does not negate or threaten your own. We grow up thinking that there is a reality out there separate and distinct from us. That reality is the “Truth”. If reality is objective, then opposing views on something means that no more than one of the views is correct. Subjective reality allows all views to coexist without conflict. You can decide to learn from other realities, or not.
What am I trying to tell myself?
I like to think that the world is the deeper part of me trying to teach me something. Rather than wondering why something happened, I wonder what I need to learn.
Responsibility: All fingers point to you
If the world is you, changing the world means becoming the change yourself, not changing everything and everyone around you. Think of it as positive versus negative reinforcement. Changing the world, is negative reinforcement. Telling someone they need to change, is telling them they are wrong and you are right. Becoming the change is positive reinforcement. You are demonstrating why the change is a good idea. You are the candle from which others may spread the light.
Self-review of different personality aspects
Self-reflection is difficult. Everyone has parts of their personality that aren’t productive and need attention. Those are the parts are easy to ignore. So when someone comes into your life displaying those very same attributes, we tend to not like them. The intensity of the dislike is proportionate to the how much we see it and want to ignore it in ourselves. Maybe its time to address and improve that part of our personality.
You may find my intellectual proof of God cute but impractical or you may be horrified by it. For me I discovered that every point-of-view has practical lessons, if you are willing to look for them. And if we treat the universe as an elephant, we can achieve great understanding.