Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Any aspiring novelist will inevitably come across this writing tip: Show, don’t tell.
Following this heuristic, if you wish to convey that Michelle is excited, you might describe her as bouncing all over the place like an excitable puppy. You would use metaphorical language to engage as many senses in the reader as possible.
Now consider The Holy Bible and all its fantastical stories. Stories like Noah’s Ark, Moses speaking to a burning bush, & Jonah and the Whale, might seem ridiculous to the more secular-minded. But they can be rationally explained with the show, don’t tell heuristic. The Holy Bible can be seen as an anthology of allegories, which persuade by showing, not telling.
For example, if you wish to convey that Jesus is kind, you tell a story of him feeding the poor. If you wish to convey that Jesus is powerful, you tell a story about him healing the sick. If you wish to convey that Jesus is extraordinary, you tell a story about him walking on water.
I strongly believe the concept of God is the same.
If we want to convey that there is perfection in the world, we tell it through the existence of God.
God, seen through an allegorical lens, is the anthropomorphisation of the concepts of absolution, universality, and perfection.
The concept of absolute perfection is so foreign to man, that we must personify it in order to familiarise ourselves with it. It makes sense that God is presented as an old man, because that was the patriarchal image of power at the time.
Man is not made in God’s image – God is made in man’s image.
In major orthodox religions, there seems to exist three intrinsic properties of what it entails to be a God. Here are the three common denominators:
TRUTH - God is a perfect standard (and hence, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, & omniscient).
CREATION - God is a creator of reality.
MORALITY - God is a moral regulator.
Again, viewing God as a simple allegory, we can say that these three properties try to show us one grand idea:
There is an absolute Truth and Morality external to us.
The external vs internal dichotomy is important here, and I want you to keep this in mind.
The concept of God is the idea that Truth and Morality aren’t subjective – that there are objective laws of truth and morality that man must abide by.
This is why religion is so useful for many – it provides people the assurance of objective Truth, Morality, and most importantly STRUCTURE in what seems like a chaotic world.
One can see this clearly in the religious argument that atheists lack a moral barometer, or that atheists are lawless and aimless. (Funnily enough, this speaks more of the moral void of the religious man than the atheist.)
GOD IS DEAD
In light of all this, the colourful proclamation God is Dead might seem a bit clearer.
Nietzsche famously writes this in The Gay Science:
“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”
To Nietzsche, God is a metaphor for Christian Slave Morality – of a morality only weak-minded people obey because they lack an internal sense of morality and truth.
To say that God is Dead is to say that we must stop relying on religion or any external instruction, and instead we must be strong enough to take responsibility of our own lives.
So God is dead, but Gods live on in people who are strong enough to pursue their own authenticity. These are the Übermensches of the world.
So now you’re probably thinking: if God is dead, and Truth and Morality are no longer objective, does it mean Truth and Morality are subjective? Is the world just existential anarchy?
No… I’ve always found the objective vs. subjective distinction to be a false dichotomy.
In my first blog post, I talked about dualistic concepts, such as mind/matter, form/function, intrinsic/extrinsic etc. I talked about how these are manmade constructs to help us understand reality. And that’s all they are – artificial constructs. It’s the dualist lie. The universe is a simple unity – a flux of ever-changing energy. All dualisms interact with each other mutually. We see objective and subjective as distinct, of brain and mind as distinct, but they are essentially the same thing. If we divorce them, problems arise, such as the problem of consciousness.
SCIENCE CANNOT EXPLAIN CONSCIOUSNESS
No scientific paradigm can explain consciousness empirically. It can test and measure the physical aspects of the brain - neuronal activity, neurotransmitter activity, metabolic activity. But it cannot explain how thoughts and awareness arise from this physical, neurological substrate. There is this idea that consciousness resides in the body as a “ghost in the machine”, and one of the main pursuits of Philosophers of Mind is to explain the link between “the ghost” and “the machine”.
I strongly believe this is because our understanding of the interaction between us vs reality is very flawed. The conventional scientific dogma states that there is an objective reality that exists beyond our sense perception. But I honestly this model is archaic the more I learn about the world. It is completely rational to me that the mind creates the reality we perceive.
This sounds extremely solipsistic and woo-woo but I honestly think this solves a lot of problems that science faces, as well as old philosophical problems.
Perception is not a passive process.
Perception is an active process.
Everything we experience is first synthesised in the brain. All that really exists is subjective experience.
Think about this – colour is not an intrinsic property of any object. Colour is the subjective experience of wavelengths of light stimulating rods and cones in the eye.
In the same way, if a tree falls down in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, it doesn’t make a sound. A sound is the synthesised subjective experience of vibrations interacting with the ear. A sound is not the vibrations, it’s the subjective experience of vibrations.
To take this further, no property is intrinsic to any external entity. All that is real are objects of perception, and they only exist in the world of a subjective perceiver.
While this idea isn’t scientifically accepted, it’s not particularly philosophically new. In Immanuel Kant’s The Critique of Pure Reason he refers to this same idea, calling for a Copernican Revolution of the mind vs reality – It’s not the internal mind that revolves around the external world, it’s the external world that revolves around the internal mind!
What does this revolution mean?
When Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God, he said instead that God lived on in authentic people. Objectivity is no longer external; objectivity is internal. God is no longer external; God is internal. This is the revolution.
When your mind creates reality, instead of the other way around, you become the First Mover in your own universe.
Here are some mysterious phenomena that make a lot more sense under this new paradigm:
The Placebo/Nocebo Effect – how simple belief and expectation can actually instigate measurable physiological changes in the body
The Gestalt Effect – perceiving distinct objects from shapes
Phantom Limb Sensation – feeling illusory sensations in a limb that was previously amputated
The Psychological Iatrogenic Effect – psychological pathology arising from diagnosis alone
Modern psychology and philosophy is veering in a different direction. This is because of our increasing value placed on the “scientification” our understanding of the world. A heavy reliance on only the scientific method to find capita T Truths only results in a reductionist, cold, and objective way of seeing reality. It is to say that reality is something concrete and separate from us. But as I have tried to convey this separation is only an illusion.