Subjective Reality and the 20-Story Fall   4 comments

                Post-modernism is really a reaction to the failure of modernism. Modernism promised that thinkers could develop a theory of reality that would encompass all of reality without leaving out anything. Throughout the Modern era, groups of thinkers would espouse a theory that was meant to be the Explanation of Everything. A few years or decades later, new information would be discovered that put that theory into doubt or completely debunked it. Then some other group of thinkers would espouse another theory that would be the Explanation of Everything and ….

                Eventually, someone pointed out that this wasn’t really working out. The first post-modernists were right to suggest that reality has subjective elements. My view of the world is constrained and influenced by my view of the world. Where I stand, how I live, my preconceptions influence how I view reality. Modernists fought this conclusion and the resulting reaction from post-modernists was to conclude that we really can’t know reality at all. Many current post-modernists believe that reality is a construct of our wishes and that even when two or more of us try to agree on reality, it is really just linguistic tricks. If a large group of us agree on a reality, then that’s only because those in power have tricked us into believing it.

                Yes, I painted with a broad brush. There were modernists who were also men and women of faith. There are also post-modernists who are not that heavy-handed, but truly, the idea that reality is completed constructed inside our minds is pretty ridiculous – on the level with the Matrix, actually. There are realities we all must recognize. If you step off the ledge of a 20-story building, gravity takes over and reality becomes the ground rushing up to claim your life. That is truth in any language, in any power structure, in any civilization. Those in power can attempt to trick me into believing I’ll float when I step off that ledge, but reality will prove them wrong. It is delusional to believe that there are no truths in a world where there are truths.

                On the other hand, the history of Modernism shows that you cannot explain Everything  by a single theory. To the extent that modernists attempt to continue to find that all-encompassing theory, they are delusional. Hmm, maybe its extremism that is the problem ….

                To a certain extent, the Modernists were right. You can draw a circle around a field of knowledge and state some truths that operate within that field of knowledge, but the post-modernists are also right in that reality is influenced by perspective and so most truths are not as solid as gravity and the 20-story fall.

                And, that leaves people of faith in a great place. Yeah, I know, that’s not what most people say. Christianity looks like its on the ropes, beaten by the twin brutalizers of Modernism and Post-Modernism. Christianity makes some rock-solid truth statements, but Modernism says that only scientists are qualified to make truth statements and Post-Modernism says that only tyrants and then insane attempt to make truth statements. If we accept that both of these philosophies are extremist views that ignore certain realities, then that means that other views may have validity and the right, in certain circumstances, to make truth claims.

If we can just learn how to articulate truth so that those around us who are suspicious of truth statements can understand it, Christianity can solve the problems that modernists and post-modernists have created.

Posted September 24, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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4 responses to “Subjective Reality and the 20-Story Fall

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  1. Reality is subjective, and is limited by your perception.But there is a fairly good way of knowing which versions of reality are actually closest to reality. Just reduce the number of assumptions required to make your truth claim, and it will become more accurate. All truth claims make some assumptions, but the fewer assumptions, the more likely your truth claim is valid.

    Truth claim: Gravity is a thing.
    Evidence: Things fall. All things fall.
    Assumption: Things exist.

    Truth claim: Gravity is not real, because we live in The Matrix.
    Evidence: Circumstantial, non-reproducible glitches in The Matrix where gravity doesn’t work and sometimes déjà vu happens.
    Assumptions: Things exist. The Matrix exists. Déjà vu is not caused by other factors.

    The biggest failure of any truth claim is when you have to assume the claim itself is true before you even get to the evidence, as with the Matrix example. But the same problem happens with all religions, too. And like religion, the believability of a concept like The Matrix only exists inside the realm of knowledge we cannot know or have yet to discover. Basically our inability to prove we are NOT in the Matrix is the reason why it’s a workable concept, despite there being no logical reason to believe it’s true. Religion occupies that same space… making truth claims about invisible spirits, the creation the universe, and an afterlife… based entirely on the void space in our human knowledge. Religion takes a LOT of flak though when scientific observation catches up with the many outlandish truth claims about the universe made by religion and we start to form evidence based theories with fewer and fewer assumptions than the completely faith based truth claims made up seemingly on the spot by religious texts, or movies like The Matrix.

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    • Brandon — your presuppositions are showing. Only an atheist who is unwilling to admit to the possibility of a deity would come to that conclusion. But the subject is a large one, so I’ll forego answering it tonight. It deserves more than just a comment, but I’ll leave you with this.

      Reality is NOT subjective. Our perception of reality is subjective. There is an extremely distinct difference between the two, which is why post-modernism sounds like a form of paranoid delusion to those of us who deal with reality.

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      • You are correct about our perception of reality is what is subjective. I misspoke then. Our perception of reality becomes increasingly less subjective (but never fully objective) as we eliminate assumptions.

        As far as my presuppositions? An atheist presupposes nothing about the nature of gods or religion. That’s what makes them an atheist. The only way to reach the conclusion that the unobservable is most definitely real is to presuppose things on faith alone. Reducing the amount of assumptions in any conclusion will make your conclusion more accurate, and since religion is based entirely on assumption… well… everything is more accurate without religious influence.

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      • I totally disagree, Brandon. Atheism is based upon the presupposition that there is no God, which can only be deemed accurate if you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no God. It’s rather like a blind man insisting that the color green doesn’t exist because he cannot see the color green. Sighted people agree that a portion of the light spectrum can be deemed the color green. Whatever word our culture might attach to that portion of the light spectrum (verde, if you prefer) we’re all in agreement that it exists. It would be inaccurate to say that the color green is a superstition or a delusion because blind people cannot see it. For those of us who drive everyday, the accuracy of that color is pretty important when we come to intersections.

        Similarly, the representation of religion as being an inaccurate view of reality is based upon a perspective that is ill-equipped to evaluate the existence of God. Those who presuppose that God must submit to their material interpretation of reality may err in refusing to accept any evidence that contradicts that interpretation. That evidence might include that the majority of people in the world believe that there is a deity of some sort.

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