In the early days of the Christian era, a curious flip or reversal of reality occurred in the minds of the period’s thinkers. Faced with the insecurity engendered by the steady decline of the Roman Empire they decided the old assumption that “I die but the world goes on,” should actually read, “the world dies but I go on.” Thus the idea of immortality was born. Life continued eternally after death. The individual survived, while the world eventually ceased to exist.
Do human beings literally create the cosmos by thinking and conceiving ideas about how it works? (Image: public domain.)
A similar phenomenon of reversal is growing in our own time. Faced with the rapid decline in the importance of humankind brought about by the discoveries of science, some of today’s “thinkers” have taken to reversing the idea that puny man discovers or uncovers a pre-existing universe and its preset laws. They offer instead the elevating concept of man-the-god, a being that creates the universe and its laws in an ongoing off-the-cuff manner simply by thinking about the cosmos and how it works. There were no black holes, according to this way of looking at things, until some astrophysicist thought them up! (A more likely explanation is that the concept came first and then someone juggled the facts to fit the concept, but we will leave such “cynical” considerations for a future post.)
These strange reversals occur so that humans may preserve their sense of self-importance and security in the face of an intimidating reality that threatens to reduce their stature in the scheme of things. They are a manifestation of fear and egocentrism. Humans choose the method of reversal because it is the simplest way of escape. What could be easier than just turning everything upside down? To do anything else would entail true cogitation.
The most interesting thing about these reversals is the assumption of the arbitrary nature of so-called reality. The early Christians were able to overturn completely the then prevalent view that life ended with death. No one was able to mount a successful counter-argument based on an objective reality. Our own New Age types have (so far) been less successful, but they are gaining ground rapidly as science foolishly embraces an ever more mystical model of the universe. Arguments based on the notion of an objective reality are not appealing enough – even for scientists – to turn the tide. I have written in an earlier post of the human being’s inescapable subjectivity. What we are witnessing in the strengthening idea that humankind creates reality with its mind is the latest incarnation of that eternal truth.