How do we know if we exist?
No, really? How do you know? You may think you exist but you can’t really prove it because your existence may be the figment of someone else’s imagination. This universe could easily be something similar to the Matrix in the films of the same name.
As such you might not even be reading this blog at all. You might be in some booth underground dreaming that you are reading these words when you are actually unconscious. Or perhaps you are in a coma and the reality in which you think you find yourself is merely the last embers of your brain giving you a tenuous existence before you kick the bucket.
By that same logic, you don’t know if other people exist either. Are they real or figments of YOUR imagination? You see people all the time but you have no idea if they are thinking or are capable of sentient thought. You just assume so because they appear to be sentient. They could easily be created solely to deceive you into thinking that you are not the only real person in existence. You might very well be the only person who is truly alive, you can’t prove otherwise, can you? Who is to say that you are not really wired up into a massive computer which feeds you mental images of a real life that is not in any way like the life you really lead?
Just as you can’t prove that the people in your life are not soulless automatons who are there only to make you feel like you are not alone, neither can you prove that reality doesn’t disappear once your back is turned.
“Ah,” you say, “but what if I use a mirror to see what is behind me? Does that prove that reality does not wink out like a lightbulb dying?” To which I say, “Um, no. That only proves that reality is being controlled by a higher consciousness who can impose an image upon a mirror to fool you into thinking there is some reality behind you.”
It makes sense that if the universe is just a program written by some unseen higher being, that it would save energy to make reality not exist once it is not being observed. It is the equivalent of your computer monitor going black when you have not used the keyboard or mouse for a period of time.
This is the point when the men in white coats grab hold of me and throw me into a padded cell…
Nope, they must be delayed. OK, let me continue…
Reality and religion go hand-in-hand, in that neither can be proved or disproved. No matter how much you argue that you exist, you can’t ultimately prove it. Given that reality cannot be proven to exist, this means that atheists are in the same unstable boat as the religious.
No wonder some people are paranoid. But do they have a right to be paranoid over such things that should be taken for granted? Maybe, who knows?
Next time you see Richard Dawkins being smug about religion, ask him to prove that he exists. That’ll stump him.