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Meditation 1170
The invisible: underlying reality or the supernatural

by: John Tyrrell

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I had intended to publish this update with just the two articles which seemed to balance each other off - a claim that my presumed disbelief in an invisible cup in space required me to be certain that there is no god, and a claim that two typhoons in Japan proved the existence of gods.

But I could not let it go. The word "invisible" kept nagging at me. So I had to dash off this quick-and-dirty article. (i.e. probably needs a few rounds of polishing up which I don't have time for.)

Brainydaps, in his demand that I accept that there certainly is no god, used the word twice - his invisible Chinese cup and his invisible rat god.

Why do the rat and the cup have to be invisible? Given the location of his cup, invisibility is unnecessary, and a rat god capable of seeing everything occurring on Earth simultaneously has no need to sit in the open - she could be squatting in rat heaven.

My opinion is that he is using invisibility to add a generally accepted characteristic of a god to his examples in an attempt to make them work. He wanted his examples to be incapable of being seen by the human eye. That's not all that unusual - I'm pretty sure I've done the same myself in the past on this site - more likely than not in one or more sarcastic references to an"invisible friend." Right now, I'm saying that's wrong - even when I've done it. It is a failure of reason and logic. 

"Invisible" is not a necessary characteristic* of a god. Numerous gods are visible to one degree or another. Even the trinitarian Christian god is generally considered visible when in the role of Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

From the spiritual viewpoint it is minor detail - people still think of gods generally as invisible even if specific ones are not.

But from another perspective it is a major error - because examination of the invisible is not exclusively spiritual; it is also the realm of science. Much of science deals with researching that which cannot be seen directly- even with optical telescopes and optical microscopes. At best, we can investigate using wavelengths other than visible light, and then convert the results to make them visible. But it is not the same as seeing directly. Much of science consists of examining effects at several removes from what is actually being studied.

And at the extremes, we are dealing with things that cannot be seen, and which we will never see.

Dark matter and dark energy supposedly make up an estimated 95% of the universe - and as yet we cannot see either. It is invisible

Infinitesimal strings might be the fundamental constituents of everything in the universe - forces, matter, and energy. But - if they exist their small size makes them forever invisible to us.

In the end, invisibility is not exclusive to the supernatural or spiritual - it is very much part of the physical reality in which we live. And invisibilty is not a barrier to investigation using the scientific method.

We should probably stop using the word invisible when it's tossed in just for the sake of indicating spookiness.


* I'm not sure what, if any, the necessary characteristics of a god are. The only common element I can quickly identify is that they demand, require, or merit worship.

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