What’s more real? Thoughts? Or the physical world around us?
Materialism is based on the premise that physical matter is the only substance from which reality is derived, and our thoughts are nothing more than an illusory emergent phenomenon that arises from the inner workings of matter. In this worldview, it is thought that matter is the only real thing and that matter forms the basis for everything else. Matter not only sits at the base of the pyramid; matter IS the pyramid.
But, what if thoughts are the real substance from which everything else is derived? This is the worldview that Plato ascribed to, and if you think about it, what one must believe if mathematics is the driving force that all reality is beating to the drum of. Yet, modern materialism would turn this notion upside down by placing matter as the supreme reality, and by relegating everything else (including thought, mathematics, logic, and reason) as some emergent property being produced by the interaction of matter.
Can this be justified? Well, let’s “think” about this: we’ll never be able to describe the true essence of thought, because we’d have to use a thought to describe the essence of thought- and we can’t describe a thing by using that same thing, we have to look for something outside to describe it. This is similar to the idea that a definition cannot be constructed by referring to the same word you are attempting to define. Using a synonym for the word is also off limits. For example, if you were trying to explain the word “angry” to someone who didn’t understand the nature of being angry, you couldn’t tell them that anger was the state of being irate. You would have to use words completely unrelated to the word anger that the person was more familiar with, and then use these words to form an analogy they could understand.
Understanding the nature of a thought is faced with the same challenge. To define the nature of thought, you couldn’t use a thought to describe it. Because we can’t define the nature of thought without using another thought, we can never truly define thought.
This is very much akin to Tarksi’s undefinability theorem or Gödel’s incompleteness theorems in mathematics. You must reach outside of a system to prove any premise within the system, otherwise you’re just using circular reasoning. You can’t define color without using analogies outside of color. You can’t define a word by using the same (or similar) words. These are all examples of this idea that some “thing” can only be defined by referring to something else external to that “thing”.
In other words, we’d have to use something comprised of non-thought to explain or define the essence of thought, and that’s, well, out of our reach- because we only use thought to understand the world around us. Unfortunately, we only have thoughts to think with. Thought cannot be used to define what a thought is.
Because of that little conundrum, humans have been unable to recognize the reality of thoughts. Essentially, we’ve relegated thoughts to the world of nonexistence- to a world where thoughts are nothing more than an illusion created by the physical world. In the place of “thought” we have substituted the reality of the physical world, and have propped up material objects as the sole essence of what makes up our world. Tangibility has become king.
But think about how silly that is. The only reason we have been able to get away with this is due to the fact that it is quite easy to describe physical objects because we have something “outside” of the physical world that we can use to describe them; namely, thought. Our thoughts are a perfect substrate for understanding the world around us, because thoughts are fundamentally different in nature than the material world around us. I can tell you what a ball is, because I can use thoughts to describe the ball. The essence of “thought”, however, is not afforded this same luxury, and because of this, the belief that our mind exists in a reality that transcends the material world is considered foolish.
The idea that thought could actually be the most real thing in our reality, and that physical matter is an emergent illusion seems ludicrous because of this anisotropic disadvantage.
In other words, because we live inside of our mind, we have totally rejected the mind.
This little conundrum translates into the frustrating fact that philosophical materialism will always have the advantage in any discussion about the nature of reality. Where we’ve went wrong in our thousands of years of discourse on this topic is in not acknowledging this inherent handicap in the debate.
The fact that our natural tendency is to be clueless regarding the tangibility of thoughts is actual evidence that our thoughts are the most tangible of realities. If that’s true, then this material world is emergent from some other more base reality that looks more like language, reason, and thought.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” – John 1
God “spoke” everything into existence. The base of our reality is the very logos or Word of God, which flows from His mind. Through the study of quantum physics, we are discovering that the base of our reality is completely devoid of any tangible, solid particles or matter. The base of reality looks more like abstract math, logic, and reason. We are discovering that there is no basis for materialism.
This perfectly lines up with scripture which teaches us that any material object we observe is the product of the logos of God. Material objects don’t synthesize thoughts. The very thoughts of God synthesize the material world.
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