The God Conundrum (5)©

Why do most people experience ‘supernatural’ beings as distinct entities?

Today, we will delve into the pscyhoistic (this is a word I coined to refer to our mental lives) properties of the “standard” human mind, i.e., what people think, feel, and image during a typical, day-to-day, conscious life, so to arrive at a rational explanation as to why historically, the great majority of people in the great majority of cultures report that God, gods, demons, angels, devas, and so on are experienced as supernatural beings possessing distinct, though mutable, form (rupa) as a matter of course, rather than being a formless, limitless, unbounded (arupa) presence.

The answers are not so difficult to uncover.

First, at the most fundamental level of existence, the most basic composition of the physical world consists of discrete bits of energy and matter, i.e., the various quarks and leptons. Each element consists of composite protons and neutrons, and electrons forming larger atoms and so on. Each one of our bodies is formed by countless numbers of individual atoms and molecules, invisible to all but the most powerful microscopes, but none the less particulate.

Second, at the macroscopic level (objects we can see them with our naked eyes), the world is experienced as big and small bits of matter separately arranged in three dimensional space. This is here and that is over there. Our prey and our predators come as discrete animals. One food type can be differentiated from another by smell, taste, touch, or sight. Even the ocean is experienced as a separate object–at least is it different from you when you fall into it.

As nature is discrete and not continuous, the evolution of the nervous system from the neural net of the first invertebrates to the virtual world creating human brain was guided by the survival need to deal with objects and not a continuum. As our mental images and the resulting virtual world arose under the epigenetic influence of the objects in our physical surroundings, so too did the operation of our mind.

Subsequently, the central nervous systems are synaptically-wired to take the information entering into our brains, sorting and evaluating such, so to present it to our conscious awareness as object-object experiences. If the brain failed to convert the experience of verbs into nouns (objective content), most people would not benefit as they seem unable to process information directly so to see verbs as verbs and nouns as nouns.

Whenever, the brain is not able to convert an information stream into an object which can be seen, it will attempt to present such using another sensory modality. Reading through the prophets of the Old Testament, one finds many examples when God was present, but not seen. Doing its job as best it can, the brain objectifies the experience so that prophets relate that God was not seen, rather, he heard the word of God and felt a wind, was surrounded by light, smelt a pleasant fragrance, or saw a burning fire. Nowhere does a prophet experience God as providing direct knowledge to him.

I think the above is sufficient to explain why so many persons experience or want to experience God as a supernatural being (the ultimate Proper Noun) and have difficulty of experiencing God as functional, fundamental qualia present in our universe. For me, regardless of objectification, God is the Grand Verb!

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