by Brian Matthew Kessler
What is reality? Do we, as humans, play a significant part in it? Can we, as humans, influence it? If so, how? Can animals?
Let us start out by looking at what reality is.
I will begin this by bluntly stating:
I DO NOT KNOW!
However, I will try to explain how you may be able to view reality for yourself.
To some, reality might be an object on a popsicle stick, nicely packaged and delivered on a silver platter ready for your consumption. To these people, if it tastes good and it is the current dietary fad, they will gobble it up, excepting this as reality without any further thoughts.
If one should ask me what flavor of reality I prefer, I would answer "none". I'll be damned if these popsicle realities don't cause cancer in twenty to thirty years time.
To me, reality is a giant puzzle with no hints to the final picture, consisting of an infinite number of pieces, handed to humanity at the beginning of their time. Since that time, some pieces have been lost, while yet other pieces have been added to the box. In order to solve this puzzle, you must first filter through all the pieces in the box, eliminating those which do not belong. Then you must put together as much as you can and search for the missing pieces. Even upon completing a puzzle, you have no idea if you have completed the correct puzzle since you have no idea what the correct puzzle looks like or if you have eliminated the pieces needing elimination. Even if you correctly put the correct puzzle together, you would not know what angle to view the puzzle from and different angles lead to different view points which lead to differ interpretations.
This is not to say that one should not search for reality, only that one should never be too sure of the reality that one has found.
Having established that we can not know what reality is, it therefore follows that we can not know if we are significant in it. We can speculate, but in the process of doing so, we would go through much theological debating which I do not have time for in this speech, so I will just give my personal viewpoint on the subject.
I believe that humans are completely insignificant when it comes to
reality. Lets try to imagine how insignificant. The best aid for this is
to be victimized by the Total Perspective Vortex (from The Restaurant
at the End of the Universe Douglas Adams), however due to the lack
of its existence in the real world, we will have to improvize and I will
instead use Adams' discription of the experience:
The Universe...is an unsettlingly big place, a fact which for the sake of a quiet life, most people tend to ignore.
For when you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary
glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere
in it a tiny little marker, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which
says "You are here."
This is, in fact, a massive understatement of the actual situation. We are actually much less significant. The only way to assign a significance is to say that there is something divine about humanity. Simple logic, for those that are both willing and able to follow it, at risk of their own ego, would see that it is nearly infinitly improbable for humans to be divine. For humans to be divine, it would mean that humanity was influenced in a significant way by at least one god-like being. Simple logic rules out the probability (if not the possibility) of a god: The more simple something is, the more likely it is to exist. No matter how simple a god may seem in concept, a real god would need to be infinitely complex in order to have all the power, knowledge, awareness, etc. that a god would need to have to be a god. Since all other objects in the universe, including, believe it or not, the universe itself have a limited complexity, no matter how complex it may seem. Any given object alone is more probable in existing than god. Not only this, but since the probability of any given non-god object is limited in complexity, then any given set of objects in the universe, including the universe itself, no matter how large, must also have a limited complexity. Infinity divided by any number gives you infinity, meaning that a god would be infinitly more complex and infinitly less likely to exist than the entire universe as a whole. This means that a god existing to create the universe is infinitely less likely than the random creation of the universe that at this point can be explained (if not proven) to exist without a god and the only real question left unanswered (unless it has been answered since I last checked) is "What could cause an empty universe with at least eleven dimensions to come into existence?" I could go into further depth on the meaning of this, but that is worthy of an essay all to itself.
Keeping this in mind, one would immediately decide that humans can not have an significant effect on reality, and this I would agree with complete, but what about insignificant effects on extremely limited portions of reality?
I have yet to come to a real conclusion on this one. If I was asked a few years ago, my immediate reaction would have been to say "no", but being that much of my family IS definitely psycic to a limited extent, myself included (again, a subject worthy of its own essay of which I have no time to discuss here) and many of my friends have claimed to have had psycic experiences, I had derived my own personal theory on how this could be. I later rejected these theory because of my skeptic nature and the complete lack of any scientific basis. During the past year, I have been reading much about the New Age and the Occult and have started reconsidering my old theory based on the extremely significant parallels between my theory (thought of completely on my own at the time) and that which I have read. I furthermore believe that in time, science, not religion, will inevitably find a suitable explanation for these theories. I cite this theory now, not for their value as a definite part of reality, but rather because of their significance in our discussion:
If you have strong emotional feelings (lust, fear, etc.) about something and some part of you, whether it is conscious or otherwise, believes it will happen, it will happen, unless their is enough feeling and/or belief in either you or others that it will not happen.
If you do research you will find many similiar theories, although they may vary. Furthermore, if you want to believe that Jesus had supernatural powers, under this theory, you can say he did and furthermore, my investigations lead me to believe that at some point he either stated or implied that even he had trouble working his magic in the presence of none believers - if other words a perfect fit to my theory.
The final question I will explore, but not in great depths, is: "Can animals influence reality?" I am, once again, not prepared to answer this question, however I will say this much: I believe that the answer is exactly the same as that to "Can humans influence reality?". I will not waste time rehashing how humans are not superior, and are in many ways inferior, to the other animals. Being that humans are not superior, it therefore follows that they would not be the only animals to have such a gift and furthermore, for such a gift to come into existence, I believe it would need to start out simple and then evolve along with the animals which possessed it. Assuming that emotion is an actual key ingrediant in this power, we can say that the power did not exist before the reptiles, because emotions first developed in the reptilian mind. As for the "element" of belief, I admit to not knowing in what animal this ability developed.
I would like to conclude this speech at this point, but as of yet every
aspect of these speech was completely inconclusive, making a true conclusion
to this as little more than perhaps a dream yet to be dreamed, or better
yet, a reality yet to be realized. In keeping with the inconclusive spirit
of this speech, I leave the speech inconclusive because the only appropriate
(if not realistic) conclusions are those that you draw in your own mind.