Sunday, February 14, 2016

Illusion vs Reality Of Religious Beliefs, Our World and Universe.

by Diane M. Hoffmann

I received an email recently from someone on a topic of the "illusion" of religious beliefs. Although this is not from my book "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today", it is an interesting enough topic to write about on this site, being a theological subject shared by many in the scientific field.

The original email said, in part:

"Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. ETERNITY is a Pseudo concept based on words and concept, it has no basis... it has no reality... read it again a few times... you didn't quite catch it..."


What the sender is referring to, for me to read again, is a statement he made in a previous email following my response to the belief in a real God: No matter how beautiful and inspiring the illusion is....one must retain reality or forever be subjugated to the bubble!

Here is my answer:

Dear M.

I read your previous email’s reply again and I still see it as being in reverse!

It says: “No matter how beautiful and inspiring the illusion is....one must retain reality or forever be subjugated to the bubble!”

This says that theological belief is the illusion…

But in actuality, it is reality as much as the real world we live in.

The graphic I drew up reflects what is seen by the skeptics:

Same physical earth... (the 2 globes):

“The difference is:

Illusion: one's true self is only temporal and subjugated.

Reality: one's true self is eternal and can make a choice for light or for darkness.”

In other words:

--the illusion is the material existence we live in (as seen from worldly eyes) within which the true self is only temporal and subjugated and therefore not subject to an eternal destination. (The description of illusion here being what is perceived in a way different from reality).

--the reality is the true self within it’s eternal existence which can make a choice for light or for darkness in this present world.

The soul is eternal and will continue to live after the physical death. The soul is the true person which will live eternally in a spiritual world dimension.

I also remembered the article you sent to me a few months ago titled, “The problems with beliefs” by Jim Walker, originated: 29 March 1997, additions: 12 March 2012 http://www.nobeliefs.com/beliefs.htm, and took another look at it.

Walker refers to “illusion” once in the following paragraph:

“Belief, on the other hand, can produce the illusion that we understand without limitations. Eliminating concepts of beliefs, at least puts us closer to the range of our perceptions. We inherit mortal limitations, we cannot know with absolute certainty about the external world; we cannot completely remove doubt about our conclusions. Many philosophers and scientists have come to this same observation [14]. Doubt leaves the door open for further investigation. Intransigent belief puts a mental barrier to further knowledge.”

What he is saying here is that people who have beliefs (referring to religious beliefs), are limited and inflexible and therefore cannot receive further knowledge.

He is the one limited by his own bias. That’s his belief, which is erroneous because there are many scientists and intelligent thinkers who have an open-mind about the world, who believe in the reality of God.

"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He catches the wise in their own craftiness" (I Corinthians 3:19).


In another paragraph, Walker says:

“The wonder of the universe gives us a powerful feeling of inquisitiveness. Certainly we will fail sometimes, but disowning beliefs allows us to correct our mistakes without submitting our ideas to years or centuries of traditional time consuming barriers. Theory coupled with imagination can yield inventive thoughts and points of views. By further understanding our language and eliminating unworkable essence words, we can communicate without resorting to preconceived ideas based on past beliefs. Our feeling of wonder about the universe provides us the fuel for exploration; how much more magnificent the results from useful thoughts than ones based on belief or faith.”


From Time, Space and Matter, http://www.icr.org/first-cause/):

“The physical universe is "temporal"—its physical characteristics are defined qualitatively and quantitatively in and by time, space, and mass/energy ("matter").

“Any effort to determine the cause of the universe is purely hypothetical. No human was there to observe the processes, so any attempt to understand events of pre-history (especially original events) must, therefore, be based on "belief systems," or presuppositions.

“While the theories and ideas may be many, the presuppositions can only be of two sorts:

“1) there is an infinite series of causes, going back into infinite time, with no ultimate Cause; or

“2) there exists an uncaused First Cause that was "outside" or transcendent to the universe.

“Many scientists today conduct their research based on their presupposition or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world—that which can be seen around us—and thus they do not accept that any ultimate Cause exists.

“Scientists at ICR hold to the presupposition that the "uncaused First Cause" is the Creator who exists outside of the physical creation He made. “Time is not eternal, but created. To ask what happened in time before time was created is to create a false paradox without meaning. There was no "before" prior to the creation of the triune universe of time, space, and mass/energy.

“Yet even more amazing (and the universe is amazing) is the historic fact that the Creator-God, after purposefully creating the time-space-matter universe, chose to enter it in the God-human person of Jesus Christ—for the sole purpose of providing a means by which humanity could have a personal relationship with the Creator.

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Reality of Design:

In an article from Reasons to Believe, Dr. Fazale Rana discusses a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about the human pupil’s response to light:
“Common knowledge says pupils constrict when exposed to bright light and dilate in dim light or when exposed to eye-catching stimuli. However, when researchers showed people an eye-catching image with the illusion of brightness, the pupils were tricked by the illusion. Instead of dilating, the pupils constricted.
“This is the type of discovery that skeptics often point to as an example of a poor design. Some skeptics argue that seemingly less-than-optimal systems in nature fit better with an evolutionary worldview. They say it’s inconceivable that the biblical God would use substandard designs.
“Yet, closer examination suggests that this unexpected pupillary response is a good thing. Damage to the retina is permanent. So, it’s better for the pupils to constrict inappropriately when presented with illusions of brightness than run the risk of retinal damage. Plus, as the researchers discovered, the pupils dilated quickly after the initial constriction in response to the optical illusions. It appears that higher-order processes in the brain associated with the interpretation of visual stimuli function as compensatory designs that override the pupillary reflex when it responds unnecessarily.
“As is often the case, careful consideration or more information shows that so-called “bad” designs are, in fact, elegant and highly optimized systems—a conclusion that fits better with the existence of a thoughtful Creator.”

What is real is the God of Creation who is Spirit and the Word of God (who became flesh temporarily in this temporal world).

The “bubble” mentioned in your last email response, “… one must retain reality or forever be subjugated to the bubble…”  is also applied reversely:

“Bubbleland” is a felicitous term believed to haven been originated by astronomer Bob Berman.  It refers to the realm beyond the present reach of science as in the domain of the imaginary worlds of the mathematical cosmologies. It was invented by modern astrophysicists and cosmogonists -- not so-called “limited religious people”.

On this note, an article by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., from the Institute for Creation Research says, “Most of these learned scholars believe the universe began in a singularity known as the Big Bang, when our cosmic continuum of space, matter, and time suddenly came into existence. But where did that come from? According to Berman, it must have come from Bubbleland.” (http://www.icr.org/article/767/342/)

The article continues,

“Nobody has the foggiest idea what happened the Tuesday before the Big Bang. Who can say whether there was a previous collapsing universe or an incipient quantum fluctuation. That whole domain is part of Bubbleland.  Berman notes certain speculations about "other dimensions" and various other esoteric mathematical concepts.

“In truth we have no clue. We should say we have no clue. But since there is no official category for what happens to singularities, we'll just say they enter Bubbleland and everyone will understand. “

Morris closes by saying:

“If anyone finds difficulty in believing (or even understanding) these various notions—and I certainly do—we could just ascribe them all to Bubbleland, and then we could understand, and step out on faith!

“But there is an even more amazing hypothesis recently put forth by physicist Julian Barbour in his book, The End of Time, based on an incredible extension or modification of the multiple-universe speculation, and also on strange mathematics that supposedly can reconcile the discrepancies between the atomic world of quantum mechanics and the cosmic world of general relativity. Describing this theory of Barbour's (who has a physics doctorate from the University of Cologne and is highly regarded by his peers), Folger says:

“We don't live in a single universe that passes through time. Instead, we—or many slightly different versions of ourselves—simultaneously inhabit a multitude of static, everlasting tableaux that include everything in the universe at any given moment. Barbour calls each of these possible still-life configurations a "Now." Every now is a complete, self-contained, timeless, unchanging universe.8

“Thus, in Barbour's universe, time has no reality. Everything is Now.
There is no past and no future. Indeed, time and motion are nothing more than illusions. . . . every moment of every individual's life—birth, death, and everything in between—exists forever.9

“This idea must be a resident of the deepest region of Bubbleland! How can such a brilliant physicist as Barbour believe such things?
Like all physicists, he strongly believes that mathematically elegant explanations tend to be true, even if they conflict with common sense.10

“I turn in relief to the simple, believable, understandable, true explanation of the wonderful universe,

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

"I am He; I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together. (Isaiah 48:12,13).”

Jesus also said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

Actually, there is no such thing as illusion in the eyes of the Spiritual God,  because He is real and what He created is real -- it is not an illusion. It is temporary for now until sin is dealt with. Once that is done, the whole universe will be rolled up like a scroll and everything will be re-created again as it was before the Fall. (Revelation 6:14, 21:1).

Right now is the time to make the decision for our next life in eternity.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.  (John 3:16)
So, what is illusion then as seen by the skeptic’s eye?

Illusion is a tool of the devil to trick humans into not believing in God the Creator and Redeemer of fallen mankind.

Going back to my graphic:

The illusion is within the statement that one's true self is only temporal and subjugated (under the enemy’s control), while reality is one's true self that is eternal and is free to make a choice for light or for darkness.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:1-5).

“For He has made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (1 Corinthians 5:21).

“When we were dead in sins, He has quickened us together with Christ, through His death and resurrection (by grace ye are saved).” (Ephesians 2:5)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)   /DMH


Diane M. Hoffmann, B.Th., M.Th., Ph.D./Th.
Author of "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today"

Xulon Press, a div. of Salem Media.
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