Are You a Figment of my Imagination?
- Thoughts on Solipsism ("Are you a figment of my imagination?")...
- Alternatively, am I the Prime Cause? Am I God?
- As I was sorting through some old computer files, I came across the following brief write-up...
- ... written while I was in grad-school, somewhere in the transition period where I was looking into Christianity, but had not yet arrived at a conviction of the reality of the Christian God and his love for me, and the reality of Jesus dying on the cross to enable my salvation)…
- This "paper" was just an attempt on my part to "journal" a small portion of my mental journey, questionings, and thoughts (which, together with certain experiences, finally led me to a conviction of the reality of the Christian God, and of my relationship with him, after I commited my life to Christ).
- Please forgive any immaturity of thought that you see in this paper… but do feel free to comment etc... :)
- I dedicate this paper/post to my agnostic friends…
So, am I the Prime Cause? Am I God?
- Are you a figment of my imagination?"
- Alternatively, am I the Prime Cause? Am I God?
Heading Towards Solipsism
- While reading a book on Philosophy, I came across a quote from David Hume:
- "Nothing is demonstrable unless the contrary implies a contradiction... There is nothing therefore, whose non-existence implies a contradiction. Consequently there is no being whose existence is demonstrable..."
- Does this mean that my existence is non-demonstrable?
- The furthest that I have seen anyone push this concept (non-demonstrability of existence) is... Solipsism…
Arriving at Solipsism
- I exist. The existence of anything else is unprovable.
- Because I could be imagining this bed I am lying on, I could be imagining this physical body I inhabit (and its attributes), I could be imagining the room I am in, my books, my compact disc player and the music I hear... When I walk out to the living room and talk to Jeff (an apartment-mate in college), he could be a figment of my imagination and so could his responses to my speaking. In fact, you could be a figment of my imagination and your reading this paper, the same...
- Therefore, I exist (because I perceive, or to quote Descartes, because I think). Everything else in the physical universe however need not necessarily exist (because I could be imagining the whole shebang)."
Figments of my Imagination?
- Now, if this were true... That is, if I alone existed, and everybody and everything else in the physical universe were figments of my imagination...
- I could rephrase this; 'I alone exist. I by the power of my imagination, have brought into existence (subjective existence, maybe) the entire universe, material/physical as well as living creatures (ranging from viruses to plant-life, animals and human beings other than myself)'.
- Therefore I must be God...
I must be God
- If this is true, I am God (by virtue of being the prime cause, the ultimate cause of everything that exists or seems to exist). (You realise, of course that this definition of God has just one attribute, that of being the prime cause. This "God" does not necessarily possess all the attributes traditionally associated with God.)
But, a powerless god?
- However, if I am God (by virtue of being the Prime Cause, of this observable universe anyway) and I brought this physical universe into being by the power of my imagination, then why am I not able to exert a conscious influence on my universe?
- Why am I not able to consciously influence my universe so as to provide me things I (might) find pleasurable, wealth, fame, women? Why instead do I have to struggle for a living? Why instead do I so often find myself in situations that cause me hurt, pain or harm?
- Is this because the universe I brought into being operates according to certain laws, and the "logical" outcome of the operation of these laws is that I and the beings I "created" have to go through pain or harm and further… is it that to cause events to transpire so as to provide me with things I (might) find pleasurable (wealth, fame, women) I would have to break these laws...?
I wish to subvert my laws, but am unable to
- From experience, instances of suffering that I experience are so misery-provoking that I would give anything (virtually) to avoid or transcend these. The fact that I do neither seems to indicate that I cannot break these laws (earlier mentioned).
- But! This is ridiculous!... I have no business being a Prime Cause (or claiming to be one) if I cannot subvert my own laws (when necessary at least). If these laws were created by me, they have no independent existence except through me and by me!
Is it possible that I am not God?
- Therefore, the fact that I cannot subvert or transcend these laws would seem to indicate that I am not the Prime Cause and have no business to be claiming to be such.
- There is however another alternative I have not considered.
- This is, that I exist; the material universe, living creatures and other human beings were created (a subjective existence at least) by the power of my imagination, that this knowledge is locked up with my sub-conscious self, which I have compartmentalised from my conscious self (or which just happens to be compartmentalised from my conscious self).
- If this is the case, everything and everybody I perceive were brought into being by my subconscious self. My conscious self interacts with the creatures created by my imagination, while my subconscious self keeps the whole show going (my conscious self being unaware of this fact).
When I get burned…
- Now, if this is the case, when I get badly burned and suffer the extremes of agony (physical) or when I fall in love and the object of my affection then dumps me for another and proceeds then to flaunt this in my face, and I suffer the extremes of torture (emotional, mental); and my subconscious suffers these extremes as well (as evidenced by a change in my conscious personality, an inability to sleep, nightmares when I do sleep and so forth)… yet neither my subconscious nor my conscious self seems to be able to alter my circumstances (despite strong forces within myself pushing for such intervention)…
- This would seem to indicate that if I am indeed the Prime Cause, then I am inextricably entangled in the laws that I set in motion. I cannot change or alter, hinder or cause to cease, these laws.
- It would seem that I am subject to the laws that I set in motion for my creation. I cannot separate myself from these laws. This would seem to indicate that these laws have an existence independent of me.
- This is a contradiction.
- As prime cause, it is I and solely I that objectively exist. Nothing exists besides me. It is I who brought the material/living universe into subjective existence. It is I who brought the laws that govern this material/living universe into (subjective) existence. Therefore, it is I that support and maintain and cause to work, the both of these. Neither of these has existence or can have existence apart from me.
A framework outside of me
- Therefore, since the laws that I set in motion seem to have power over me and seem to have an existence apart from me, they must exist in an objective framework that is in itself apart from me.
- In other words, these laws then exist as formulations in an objective framework within which my creation works, within which these laws work and within which I work (since these laws work on me).
I realize that I am NOT the Prime Cause
- It follows from this that I am NOT the Prime Cause (since as shown above, there does exist an objective framework apart from me and within which I am constrained, much to my dismay).
- One can then claim that this objective framework (which we have shown to exist; and within which I exist) should have an objective Prime Cause (God).
So, if I am not the Prime Cause, what is?
- Using the principles of causality.."Every effect within human experience, can be shown to have a cause (or causes)"…
- Extrapolating from within human experience to without, from the fact within human experience that every effect has a cause(s) and that the causes(s) itself is the effect of a prior cause(s),…
- … to the beginnings of time, to the beginnings of the physical universe (the one we live in), we ask "what is the Prime Cause, what caused matter/energy, what caused the laws that govern the interaction of matter-matter, energy-energy, matter-energy and vice-versa...?"
- The Theist replies "God". God just is/was. God is/was the Prime Cause.
- The Atheist replies "Matter/Energy". 'Matter-Energy and the laws that govern its interaction' just are/were. 'Matter-Energy and the laws that govern its interaction' are/were the Prime Cause. Alternatively, 'Matter-Energy and the laws that govern its interaction' arose by chance from a Quantum Vacuum. Chance and the Quantuum Vacuum are/were then the Prime Cause (of matter-energy anyway).
- The Agnostic replies "I don't know. Nothing can ever be known".
- Immanuel Kant replies "There is not necessarily any such thing as absolute causality. The present just is. Associated with each event in the present is an event in its immediate past and an event in its immediate future, and similarly with events in the past and events in the future. There is no reason why there should not be an infinite regression into the future and similarly into the past". (Contrary to this, we do see a beginning to the space-time universe we live in; the big bang and so on..)
How do I choose?
- Notice the "Faith" of each of these characters. At the base of each of these views is a "leap of faith" (cf: Kierkegaard)... (That's why each of the statements sound like mere assertions...)
- I wonder, do we have any grounds to judge the "Faith" of these four characters, to decide if any one is superior to the others?
- I would like to explore this question in future posts.
Speaking from today...
- I wish you the Peace and Love of Jesus Christ.
- P.S. Please note that I have minorly edited and formatted the information in this post to make it more readable (from the sporadic "journaling" I had done, while I was in my transition period between practical-atheism and convinced commitment to Christ)...