Space-time is illusion — maybe

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Yesterday I reminded a friend that the whole space-time deal is an illusion. He raised his left eyebrow, squinted and coughed nervously, before scratching his right earlobe and sneezing into a handkerchief. I think that was his way of saying something.

I decided to back off a little and bring up a couple of his favorite topics.

“Hey, the Cowboys played great last year, didn’t they?” I probed.

“Yeah, pretty great for not winning.”

“And those tiniest particles we know of,” I added, recalling his interest in physics, “they have no matter in them, do they? Pure mathematical possibility, but nothing solid, isn’t that true?”

“Right — like the Cowboys, as a matter of fact,” he said with some sarcasm.

“Like an illusion, you might say?” I guess I was making a point.

“Well, there’s nothing material in the smallest particles. We think there is, but we’re mistaken. Einstein and his boys have shown that the world as we know it is a figment of our collective imagination.”

“An illusion?” I supplied.

My friend’s eyebrow had fallen into place, and he wasn’t coughing anymore.

“All right,” he said. “I guess you could say it that way.” “Buddhist thinkers have always said that,” I added. Then, remembering his Christian background, I jumped in like a country preacher.

“Some scientists say there may be just one electron in the universe, with different perceptions of time and place being simply holographic perspectives,” I added. “That’s why every bit of the universe has information about every other part of it.”

“Well, that’s true,” said my friend. “And taking off from Christian thinking, there may be just one body — the body of Christ. Every other material element is part of that.”

“So, when Jesus said, ‘This is my body,’ it’s no stretch to see what he meant as he handled the bread in front of them.”

“Right, and St. Paul’s famous saying that ‘We are one body’ takes on special meaning,” I added. “What does not join itself to the work of the Christ in its broad sense falls away, since it has no real existence — it’s an illusion.”

“This is no different from what the psychologists say,” my friend added. “The ‘real self’ of Carl Jung alone exists in human life. The false self is an illusion. That means that every behavior or attitude that falls short of genuine human value may look real but, like those tiny particles in quantum physics have shown us, they are illusory — huzzah-wuzzah through and through.”

This all reminds me of that startling statement by another famous psychologist, Eric Fromm, who wrote — get this — that “most of what people have in their conscious minds is fiction and delusion.”

“So, is all this just religious or psychologists’ talk, so that the millions of people who don’t share their faith or psychologists’ point of view are simply living in an alternative universe?” I asked my friend, with a touch of disappointment.

“It’s just the opposite,” he replied. Now I could see that my friend was more into the discussion than I was. “Science has brought us to the point where even religious believers can agree with them. Now that’s a miracle in itself.

“There’s just one world that we all share, and it is itself an extension of our body. Even Cowboy fans are part of that world.”

Talk about a stretch!