The Universe Is Real

    In eastern religions, the universe is usually presented as an illusion that we must escape from by being enlightened. Now, how do we decide if the universe is real or an illusion? Real objects are self-consistent. They don't disappear when you stop looking at them or look at them more closely. They are the same for every reasonable observer. They have properties that can be cataloged. Now let us see if these properties describe the universe. If they do not, the universe is an illusion, because an illusion does not require these properties, but reality does.

    The universe is self-consistent. Whenever scientists find a contradictory statement in their theories, they are able to resolve the contradiction with time and effort. The problems are always found in the theories, not in nature itself.

    When we close our eyes, the photons that compose light do not cease to exist. It is similar with all parts of nature that we have discovered. We do not need to observe a phenomenon or object for it to exist. When we look closer at the universe it reveals more detail, but it never starts to lose its reality.

    Everything in the universe has properties that can be cataloged. Some of these properties don't change and some of them do; but they all have clear, identifiable properties.

    All of these criteria describe the universe. Since the universe has all the properties of a real object and no identifiable properties of an illusion, we must say that the universe is real.

    Now that we know that the universe is real, we can learn about the boundaries of the universe and the physical nature of humans.

Objection 1:

    We are brains in a vat, such as those in "The Matrix." What we think of as real has all of the properties I describe; but there is a deeper reality, which is the true reality.


    If there is a deeper reality, that does not conflict with the statement that our reality is also real. Once something has all the described properties of being real, we call it real. The definition given above is the most practical use of the term. If we required that something be the deepest reality before we call it real, then almost no philosophies or religions would call the universe real. Christians believe that God is the underlying reality, while most atheists believe that our universe lies in some sort of higher structure of universes, and so forth.

This page was last changed on 2011/08/28