Why I believe in God, Jesus, and miracles

As I write we approach Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his death by crucifixion. As a Christian I celebrate this holiday. For me this holiday raises many intellectual questions, such as:

  1. Did the resurrection of Christ which Christians celebrate on Easter actually occur?
  2. Did Jesus Christ exist as a historical figure?
  3. Was Jesus Christ involved in miraculous events such as those told in the Gospels of the New Testament?
  4. Does God exist? Is there a loving intelligence with the properties Christians traditionally ascribe to God, such as:
    • omnipotence (absolute power over everything),
    • omnipresence (presence everywhere at all times),
    • and ominscience (total knowledge of everything)?

I answer all four of these questions in basically the same way. As my first step I consider two ways that each question can be made more precise. Each question can be made more precise by considering it as a question about existence, or a question about actuality.

The distinction between existence and actuality is the distinction between the existence of a phenomenon in some world, and the existence of a phenomenon in the actual world we live in.

When these four questions are considered as existence questions, I answer them in the affirmative on a priori grounds based on logic and mysticism. My perspective on logic tells me that all possibilities exist, and that there are no limitations to what is possible (even logically inconsistent phenomena are possible in my view on logic). My perspective on logic is informed and justified both by purely logical considerations, and by mystical experience. From this perspective it follows immediately that Jesus Christ, God, and miracles all exist a priori and certainly.

When these four questions are considered as questions about actuality, I say that the answers to all of them are uncertain to me, but that in my opinion the answers to all four questions are probably still affirmative. I don’t know certainly and empirically whether Jesus Christ existed historically in this time line; I don’t know certainly and empirically whether a miracle has ever occurred in this time line; and I don’t know certainly and empirically whether the universe we live in was caused by an omnipotent, omniscient, ominpresent, loving intelligence. It is my opinion that the true answers to the four questions are probably “yes” when they are considered as questions about actuality.

I will spend the rest of this post laying out my justification for the views just described. I want to begin by clarifying the distinction between existence and actuality, by giving a definition of world.

Definition of “world.”

Many philosophers believe that there exist worlds (universes) other than the world we live in. A world, or universe, is basically a self-contained being. For example, we can define a world as any maximal spatiotemporally connected object.

  • An object x is spatiotemporally connected if and only if for any two parts of x, call them y and z, there is a path in space-time connecting y and z.
    • For instance, if y = z, there is a trivial path in space-time, of length 0, connecting y and z.
    • For instance, if you are reading these words, then there are paths in space-time connecting you and I. In general, if one object affects another within the laws of physics known to mainstream science, then there is a path in space-time connecting the two objects.
  • An object x is maximal spatiotemporally connected if and only if x is spatiotemporally connected, and there is no object y of which x is a proper part, such that y is spatiotemporally connected.
    • A proper part of an object y is an object x such that x is a part of y and x is not y, so that there is a part of y which is not a part of x.

In short, a world (by this definition) is a spatiotemporally connected object such that anything you add to it will make it spatiotemporally disconnected.

The universe as typically conceived by physicists has this property of being a world or a maximal spatiotemporally connected object. The multiverse, on the other hand, is typically not a world in this sense, because things in different universes in the multiverse can’t be connected by paths in space-time, on most conceptions of the multiverse. If you like, you can equate the multiverse with the set of all worlds.

If you don’t like this definition of “world,” you can substitute your own definition of “world,” and the rest of this post should still be intelligible.

Definition of “existent.”

“Existence” is for me a primitive, unanalyzable notion. Everything which exists exists, or in other words, everything exists. This is an uncontroversial opinion for the most part; those who think there are things which don’t exist (i.e., there exist things which don’t exist?) are usually called Meinongians.

On my conception of logic, everything conceivable exists as a matter of logic. To disagree with this is not necessarily to be a Meinongian. Most people don’t believe there are non-existent beings, but they also don’t believe that everything conceivable exists. For instance, most people familiar with the Harry Potter series believe there is no being about which the statements made about Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series are true. This is commonly paraphrased by the statement “Harry Potter does not exist.” The statement “Harry Potter does not exist,” interpreted quite literally, appears to be a Meinongian assertion presupposing the existence of the non-existent being Harry Potter, but most people who assert it would, if pressed, agree that they meant it essentially as a paraphrase of the statement “there is no being about which the statements made about Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series are true.”

So then we have three views on existence in play:

  • my view, that everything conceivable exists,
  • the Meinongian view, that there are non-existent beings,
  • and what I’d call the usual view, that neither my view nor the Meinongian view is correct.

That’s the extent to which I will clarify what I mean by existence. I hope it’s sufficiently clear for you; please let me know in the comments if not.

Definition of “actual.”

“Actual” is easier to define than “existent” for my purposes, because rather than being a primitive notion not definable in terms of other notions, “actual” as I’ll define it is a derivative of the already explained concepts of “world” and “existent.”

“Actual” is a relative notion: it’s relative to a world, implicitly always the world the speaker is in. A being is actual if and only if it is part of the world the speaker is in. When I say George Washington actually existed, I mean that George Washington exists in the past of the world I am in. In other words, I mean that there is a spatiotemporal path (going backwards in time) from me to George Washington.

Why I believe everything conceivable exists

My perspective on logic entails that everything conceivable exists. I believe in my perspective on logic on the basis of reflections and arguments I have presented in a book and two blog posts. I will briefly rehash those reflections and arguments here, with some new elements. For more detailed and careful presentations, see the linked resources.

Justification of a perspective on logic is a difficult problem. Most people, if they have systematically learned anything about logic, are in a position of receiving a view on logic from experts without questioning it. I am an expert on logic; I have published in top logic journals, I peer review papers for top logic journals, and I studied with world renowned experts on logic in the University of Connecticut PhD program. My own perspective on logic is not something I received from other logic experts; I have synthesized this perspective as original research. Therefore I have to face the conceptually difficult problem of justifying my perspective on logic.

This problem is conceptually difficult because logic is foundational to essentially all academic methods of justifying objective claims. The scientific method relies heavily on logic, for example because today the scientific method relies heavily on math, and math is founded on logic. The scientific method can’t by itself justify a perspective on logic if it relies on logic. Futhermore, logic is almost always considered to be a priori; in other words the principles of logic can be established without any empirical investigation of the actual world. If logic is a priori then the scientific method must not be involved in establishing the principles of logic.

If science can’t be used to justify logic, that leaves us with two main tools in the academic toolkit for justifying objective principles: logic itself, and math. Math is founded on logic, so any justification of principles of logic using math will have circularity. And, obviously, any justification of principles of logic using logic will have circularity.

How do we resolve this paradox, that on the face of it there is no way to justify principles of logic, because logic is foundational to all our tools for justifying objective principles?

For starters, I reject the notion that principles of logic are objective knowledge. To me it is obvious that principles of logic are essentially subjective opinions, because they can’t be justified objectively in a non-circular way, and different logicians have different opinions on what principles of logic are correct (witness for example the debate between believers in classical logic and believers in intuitionistic logic).

This view that principles of logic are subjective opinions has the interesting implication that basically all objective learning is grounded in subjective opinion, because basically all methods of objective learning are understood today to be grounded in principles of logic.

I do not believe in the idea that human learning can be built up in a step-wise fashion starting from nothing, the way Descartes attempted to do in his Meditations on First Philosophy. Atheists are amused by the fact that when Descartes attempted to throw out all of his assumptions and build up knowledge from a perfectly blank foundation, he very quickly arrived at the conclusion that the Christian God exists. One could argue that Descartes was not truly able to divorce himself from his own assumptions; even when he thought he did, he didn’t. I think this is a definite possibility. The other possibility I see is that Descartes did not really believe his meditations justified belief in the Christian God, but he lied about this to avoid religious persecution.

I don’t believe that we as humans can divorce ourselves from all of our assumptions. When learning, we never begin from nothing. We always begin from where we are. We can reflect on and question the way we think, but we can only think in a different way by performing transformations on the way we currently think.

My perspective on logic is something I began to arrive at by learning established perspectives on logic, which I was able to do because of my natural cognitive capabilities shaped and developed through my education. My next step was transforming those established perspectives in my mind to arrive at a new perspective which I believe better explains the data I have experienced.

The most relevant experience which my perspective on logic fits is of two types: logical experience, and mystical experience. My logical experience comes from using logic, and particularly using math, logic, and philosophy to study logic. My mystical experience is of entirely different origins which I don’t claim to understand but view as spiritual/divine. My logical experience and mystical experience each reinforce my perspective on logic in different ways.

My relevant logical experience mainly comes from analysis of the phenomenon of logical and mathematical paradoxes. Consider, as a simple example, the sentence “this sentence is false.” This is a perfectly valid English sentence, and if you think about it, you can see that by pure logic, if the sentence is true, then it’s false, and if it’s false, then it’s true. This paradox can be made precise within many systems of formal logic and math, and many variants on this paradox affect many systems of formal logic and math.

Most logicians believe that it’s impossible for a sentence to be both true and false. In other words, there are no true contradictions, and there are no true logical paradoxes. This conviction, and variants on this conviction such as the conviction that not every statement is true, have motivated a vast program of research looking for ways to define logic and math such that logical paradoxes do not arise or such that the paradoxes that arise are in some sense “solved.”

There are ways to define logic and math such that logical paradoxes do not arise or are in some sense “solved.” However, all of these ways involve putting restrictions on what can be expressed or inferred. For example, Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory explains how to define the informal concept of “set” such that logical contradictions do not arise (as far as we know). The “naïve,” informal concept of sets gives rise to Russell’s paradox, which is the paradox of whether the set of all sets which do not contain themselves contains itself. As with the liar paradox, logic tells us that if the statement “the set of all sets which do not contain themselves contains itself” is true, then it’s false, and if it’s false, then it’s true. Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory resolves this paradox by stating axioms (assumptions) about sets which allow math to be developed but do not allow the existence of Russell’s paradoxical set to be proven. At the same time, these axioms rule out the existence of sets such as the set of all sets, the set of all rings, the category of all topological spaces, the category of all categories, and other objects which mathematicians would find it natural to talk about.

Nobody has been able to find a way of defining logic such that everything we can express in English can be expressed, and logical paradoxes do not arise, and all of the rules of logical inference necessary to do math are present. This is true to the best of my awareness, after spending a lot of time looking at the field of logical paradoxes, and extensively discussing this issue with people whose awareness of the field greatly exceeds mine. I believe that in all probability, if such a method existed, then I would have heard about it. In my opinion it is very unlikely that any such method will ever be discovered.

This is my logical justification for believing that true contradictions do exist. I believe there is nothing incorrect about the classical rules of logic and math which give rise to logical paradoxes, because assuming there is something incorrect about those rules leads to a research program which I view as unsuccessful, to revise the rules of logic and math to eliminate or “resolve” logical paradoxes in a satisfactory manner.

The usual rules of classical logic allow us to prove that if any contradiction is true, in other words if any statement is both true and false, then every statement is true. I accept this conclusion. I believe that in the final analysis, every statement is true, and that the common logical arguments which lead to this conclusion are valid, sound arguments.

From a mystical perspective, I justify the belief that every statement is true on the basis of mystical experience. I believe mystical experience has shown me that all is one, which I interpret as meaning that all beings are in the final analysis one and the same as each other. In precise terms, for any beings x and y, x is y. This statement, which I call the Law of One, is logically equivalent to the statement that every statement is true. Of course the statement that every statement is true implies the Law of One. Conversely, the Law of One implies that every statement is true: for example, it implies that the property of truth is the property of falsehood, and since every (precise, objective) statement without the property of truth has the property of falsehood, therefore all statements have the property of truth. This is how through mystical experience I arrive at the same conclusion which I arrived at through purely logical methods explained above.

Why I believe God, Jesus Christ, and miracles exist

From the belief that every statement is true, the belief that everything conceivable exists follows immediately. From the belief that everything conceivable exists, the belief that God, Jesus Christ, and miracles exist follows immediately.

Why I believe God, Jesus Christ, and miracles are probably actual

To say that God, Jesus Christ, and miracles are actual is to make a stronger statement than that they exist. It’s to say that they exist in the world we are in. Of course if every statement is true, then this is true, but only in the trivial sense that applies to all statements. In most contexts I don’t carry the assumption that every statement is true, because this assumption obviates the purpose of thought itself. Without this assumption or anything equivalent to it, can we still conclude that God, Jesus Christ, and miracles are actual?

When I ask whether Jesus Christ is actual, I mean to ask, was there a person in our world of whom most of the statements about Jesus in the Gospels of the New Testament are true, who performed miracles, who died in crucifixon, and who rose from the dead three days later? I am now thinking about this question not from an a priori logical perspective, but from an empirical perspective. I am asking what we can say about this question purely on the basis of historical evidence and inference from it, without drawing on the powerful logical principles I accept which imply that every statement is true.

I believe Jesus Christ probably actually existed. I am no expert on historical Jesus studies. My opinion on this question comes primarily from an argument by Peter J. Williams. Here is a brief version of part of that argument. Why would people who were predominantly monotheistic Jews, who eschewed idol worship, start worshiping Jesus as God, with the energy needed to spread the religion as rapidly as it spread around the first century, under intense persecution, while believing that Jesus performed miracles and was resurrected, unless those facts about Jesus are true and there was a core group of eyewitnesses who got the ball rolling? It’s possible in my mind that as a matter of historical truth, the Gospels are fiction, but in my mind this is a less likely possibility than that they are historically true, because if the Gospels were fiction then it would be more difficult for basic agreed upon facts about the history of Christianity to be true. In the future I would like to publish more analysis of this question, in particular weighing the merits of prominent arguments against the historical existence of Jesus.

Whether a being with the attributes Christian theologians ascribe to God created the universe is another historical question, far more distant than the question of whether the Gospels are true. I do not have any empirical evidence weighing on this question. In my opinion this is the most likely possibility, because that belief coheres well with the rest of what I believe, but of course this question deserves far more analysis than I am giving it here. In all humility I must admit that I view the question of how the universe began as being beyond the capability of human philosophers to clearly resolve in any foreseeable future.

Whether any miracles have occurred is another historical question. I am defining miracles here as roughly any phenomena which defy the laws of physics. I believe miracles are possible and exist in some worlds, on the basis of my views on logic. Whether they have occurred in this world, and whether this can be shown empirically, are additional questions. Many cash prizes are offered by skeptical societies to anybody who can show the existence of paranormal phenomena (basically the same type of phenomena I call miracles). According to Wikipedia, none of those prizes have been claimed. From this we can safely conclude that if miracles exist in the modern world, they are extremely rare and/or hard to reproduce at will and measure empirically.

I have seen some empirical evidence which at least on the surface appears to show the existence of miracles. Most striking is this video of Simone Ravenda which claims to show him bending a fork with the power of his mind. Possibly this video is a mere illusion, as I guess most claimed instances of psychokinetic silverware bending are. However, after significant analysis of this video I haven’t been able to see how it could plausibly be an illusion. In the future I plan to write more about this video.

Here are some scientific studies which appear to show additional independent evidence of the empirical existence of miracles in the modern world:

The PEAR Project: Studies done at Princeton showing that people can use mental intention to bias the output of analog random number generators

Dean I. Radin and Roger D. Nelson. Evidence for Consciousness-Related Anomalies in Random Physical Systems. Foundations of Physics, Vol. 19, No. 12, 1989. A meta-analysis of studies of using mental intention to bias the output of analog random number generators.

Studies showing that large groups of meditating individuals in an area can reduce violent crime in the area

I have reviewed these studies, applying my learning in statistics, research methods, philosophy of science, and epistemology, without finding any problems in their methodology. However I admit the studies could be flawed for reasons I haven’t uncovered, so that I don’t consider them to provide certain evidence of miracles.

My views on logic tell me that miracles are possible and exist, and in light of this preconception, I am not predisposed to reject claimed evidence of miracles without investigation, as many people are. If you are a scientific materialist, then you probably assume that any evidence of miracles is overwhelmingly likely to be unsound, and you may be predisposed for this reason against investigation of any claimed evidence of miracles. I would guess most claimed evidence of miracles is in fact unsound, but when I encounter what appears to me to be high quality evidence of miracles, such as what I have cited above, I am not afraid to say that I think that’s what it is, even while I admit my uncertainty about its actual correctness.

Why I believe humans can commune with God

My views on logic imply that God exists, but if God exists only in some other world we’re not a part of, it doesn’t follow that humans can contact God, as Christians believe we can.

I believe humans can contact, communicate with, and commune with God. Why? Because we are God, as follows from the Law of One. To commune with God is in the final analysis to commune with ourselves and everything that exists, because God is everything that exists. That’s my perspective.

P.S.: This post is not an April fool’s joke. That should be fairly obvious if you’ve read my related writings.

All is one: a logical/mystical explanation

Image by the beautiful, spiritually awake artist Alex Grey.

This post concerns the idea that all is one, that all distinctions are illusory, yet also real. I humbly consider this to be the deepest spiritual and philosophical truth I’m aware of. I believe that mystical experience can reveal this truth to humans, in the sense of providing sense, evidence, and justification for it. I believe this idea, which appears logically absurd, reconciles beautifully and completely with logic, and can in fact be justified using logic alone.

I am presenting the idea from two angles: a mystical angle and a logical angle. The key phenomena being studied are mystical experiences and logical paradoxes.

This post can be motivated from a logical perspective and a mystical perspective.

  1. A logical motivation is to provide an intuitively satisfying explanation of logical paradoxes, to complement and extend the technically and practically adequate solution to logical paradoxes of my previous post, Paradoxes and the rules of logic.
  2. A mystical motivation is to reconcile and marry with logic the proposition that all is one. This proposition is a formulation of nondualism, which is a common species of philosophical idea coming from mysticism.

I’ll explain how I view mystical experience as providing justification for the idea that all is one. I’ll also provide a logical, philosophical argument for the same conclusion, in the section titled “An argument for the Law of One.” That argument is not at all dependent on mysticism; it relies only on logical considerations.

The assumptions and conclusions of this post won’t appeal to everybody. If something about this doesn’t sit right with you, then I advise just leaving it where you found it.

 

The Law of One

In this post I’m concerned with one particular idea which I think can be repeatably supported by mystical experience.

It is the idea of the unity of all things.

It is called the Law of One.

It is called nondualism.

It is called the Tao.

It can be stated as, “all is one.”

It can be rationalized as follows.

Real world systems are highly complex and entangled. Things affect each other in so many ways that to predict the behavior of any part of the universe, you must ultimately be able to predict the behavior of the whole universe. A complete and wholly accurate point of view would have to consider the whole universe as one single and inseparable thing which is not a simple sum of its parts.

The universe is fractally self-similar. If you look throughout nature, you can find similar structures at different levels. A tree’s branches resemble a neuron’s branching dendrites. Some computer-generated pictures of the universe bear a certain resemblance to artistic images of networks of neurons (such as below), and to computer-generated maps of the Internet.

dendrites

Each cell in a human body contains instructions (DNA) for producing another human body. Each human in a society contains an incomplete copy of that society’s body of learning and experience, in the form of language ability, education, socialization, shared memories (history), acquired skills, and so forth.

There are a few examples of how the universe is fractally self-similar. Behind these few and paltry examples, is there a deeper orderliness to the universe that human science has yet to understand? In any case, the idea of the fractal self-similarity of the universe provides a way of illustrating the idea of the unity of all things.

The logical extreme of the idea of the unity of all things states that any two distinct things are in reality identically the same thing. Each part of the universe is one and the same as every other part of the universe. If so, any appearance of separation and distinctness is some form of illusion, and in reality there is only unity.

I believe the truth of the Law of One, the idea of the unity of all things, has been revealed to me in mystical experience. I believe the idea in all forms just described, including the logical extreme of the idea of the Law of One, that any two distinct things are identically the same thing. I believe mystical experience has revealed the truth of these forms to me.

If any two distinct things are identically the same thing, then in my opinion it follows that every statement is true. Consider the following argument. Let A and B be statements, and let A be a true statement. For example, let A be the statement “the sun has energy” and B be the statement “the sun has no energy.” By the assumption that any two distinct things are the same thing, A and B are the same thing. In other words, B is A. Since A is true, and B is A, B is true. That is, the sun has no energy. By the same reasoning pattern one can arrive at the conclusion that every statement is true. I believe this follows from the Law of One and that in the final analysis of reality, every statement is true.

How can I, somebody who has studied the cutting edge in logic and philosophy of logic, believe that every statement is true? How can this square with logic, common sense, or anything? If you believe the Law of One, then it’s a paradox that the Law of One entails every statement. I apply my general method of solving paradoxes to this problem. For more information on how my perspective on logic integrates with my perspective on the Law of One, you can skip to the section titled “An argument for the Law of One.”

 

Epistemic status of this post for me

As stated already, I believe the perspective I’m articulating here. It is what I have arrived at after seeking truth on the relevant topics to the best of my ability for around seven years. I don’t think everybody will share the intuitions that make me believe the perspective. Some people just won’t agree with me, maybe for reasons neither of us can explain.

If you don’t agree with what I’m saying and you can explain why, I’m interested in hearing it.

On the other hand, as far as I can tell after years of thinking about it, the perspective articulated in this post is irrefutable. That doesn’t mean I can prove it; it just means that as far as I can tell, nobody can refute it. I don’t expect people to be able to use words to sway me from the view, and I don’t expect my words will sway everybody towards the view. Yet I remain open to being surprised.

Suppose I’m right that the perspective of this post is irrefutable. In such a situation, the disagreeing parties are likely to feel they have little choice but to agree to disagree. Maybe one or the other is right, or maybe neither is right, but the parties don’t necessarily have any way to resolve the disagreement. I don’t assume this is the case between me and everybody who disagrees with me on this. But I think there are many people with whom I would be in such a philosophical stalemate if we were to discuss this with each other. I rationalize my co-existence with humans of such thoroughly conflicting perspectives by observing that I am fallible, others are fallible, and life is still a great mystery to all of us. We all have our opinions, but none of us know everything, and in my opinion absolute certainty about anything is beyond the ability of humans to attain.

 

Mysticism, mystical experiences, and mystical revelation

Mysticism has various interpretations and aspects. For the purposes of this post I am concerned with mystical experiences, practices intended to create them, and philosophical ideas that grow up around mystical experiences. Those are the aspects of mysticism that will play a role in this post’s discussion.

Mystical experiences are a variety of subjectively powerful experiences. I won’t try to give a definition of “mystical experience.” For examples of the types of experiences people call mystical, see The Mystical Experience Registry.

My first mystical experience occurred the first time I used LSD. I experienced a form of consciousness which felt so deeply, intensely real that by comparison all my prior experiences seemed unreal. I later learned to reproduce similar states of consciousness at will, through meditation and other mystical disciplines. This immediate and subjectively irrefutable sense of touching on a deeper reality is a hallmark of mystical experiences for me.

Mystical experiences are frequently interpreted in religious, spiritual, or philosophical terms. People who have mystical experiences often take the experiences to reveal to them something about themselves, their lives, and/or the world. For example, here is a quote from the Protestant mystic Jacob Boehme, via The Mystical Experience Registry:

The gate was opened to me that in one quarter of an hour I saw and knew more than if I had been many years together at a university…For I saw and knew the being of all beings…I saw in myself all the three worlds, namely the divine…the dark…and the external and visible world..And I saw and knew the whole working essence, in the evil and the good and the original and the existence of each of them…

Can mystical experiences be taken to reveal reality? I think the answer is that certainly they can, at least to the extent any experiences can be taken to reveal reality. Mystical experiences, to me, provide a raw view of reality, at a higher level of concentration than the level of “ordinary,” sober experiences. For me there is a continuity between mystical experiences and “ordinary,” sober experiences. Mystical experiences, for me, are distinguished by the greatest vividness, the greatest density, the greatest intensity and certainty of awareness, and therefore I assume my mystical experiences to constitute particularly rich subjective views into reality.

Everybody who recalls having mystical experiences has the responsibility, if they choose to accept it, to figure out what if anything the experiences tell them about the world.

I think mystical experiences can appropriately be used as evidence to support philosophical conclusions. However, anybody who lacks the type of mystical experience used to support a conclusion is likely to find this type of argument for the conclusion unpersuasive.

The evidence (if any) which mystical experiences provide for conclusions seldom has much influence on people who did not themselves have the relevant experience(s). If I have a mystical experience A which appears to me to support philosophical conclusion X, and you yourself haven’t had an experience like A, does my report of having such an experience as A provide any evidence, for you, for conclusion X? Maybe so, maybe not. I certainly think you are free to conclude that it doesn’t provide evidence for you.

Can mystical experiences form the evidentiary basis for conclusions which transfer from person to person in a repeatable fashion? I think so. I think it requires that people repeatably be able to obtain mystical experiences which support the conclusions in question. That is, it requires chains of people inspiring each other to reach the same conclusions on the basis of reproducible types of experiences. I believe that religious and spiritual memes are often spread by means of processes much like this. Perhaps the same is true of some philosophical memes.

There is no doubt in my mind that sometimes people reach false conclusions on the basis of mystical experience. I assume it’s possible to find examples where different people have reached different, contradictory conclusions on the basis of mystical experience. This is true, for example, if somebody has had a mystical experience which they took to reveal that the Catholic Church teaches the only true religion of God, and somebody else has had a mystical experience which they took to reveal that Sunni Islam teaches the only true religion of God.

The proposition, that mystical experiences can lead people to false conclusions, does not in my view undermine the idea that mystical experiences can be regarded (along with other experiences) as views into the truth. People are able to misinterpret their experiences and overreach their evidence in all kinds of ways to arrive at false conclusions. I don’t think mystical experiences are any different in this regard, and I think this can explain why people arrive at false conclusions on the basis of mystical experiences.

What is harder to explain is how to tell when a mystical experience can reasonably be assumed to provide evidence for a conclusion. Mystical experiences are subjective. They can’t be adequately described in words. Their meaning can’t be analyzed with the machinery of logic. As such, if mystical experiences convey truth, one might assume that that truth can’t be adequately expressed in words or adequately analyzed with the machinery of logic. I think the Law of One is a truth of this nature; as I’ve interpreted the principle, it defies logic and renders words useless by entailing that every statement is true.

When all is said, whether or not a mystical experience supports a conclusion is going to be a matter of subjective judgment and personal opinion.

 

Verifying the Law of One

I believe the reader might arrive at the conclusion that the Law of One is true by producing and observing appropriate mystical experiences. I have met several people who have reached the same or similar conclusions as mine, inspired by mystical experiences of their own.

The quickest and easiest way you might try to get experiential evidence of the Law of One would be to induce a mystical state of consciousness and reflect on questions like, “who am I?” and “what is all this I am aware of?” and “what is that which is witnessing all this?” Contemplate the possible truth of the equations God = I, You = I, Subject = Object. Picture the universe as a single, indivisible object.

If you don’t know how to induce a mystical state of consciousness, the quickest and easiest way may be to take a hallucinogenic drug, such as (for example) LSD, magic mushrooms, nitrous oxide, DXM, or DMT, with an appropriate set and setting, I would do this exercise when you are alone and in a peaceful frame of mind.

This procedure is not perfect. Our sober selves are not necessarily ready to believe the conclusions of our drug-affected selves, and perhaps that skepticism is warranted. Therefore I offer no warranty of suitability for purpose for the quick and dirty method just described for verifying the Law of One.

I would suggest the following steps to a general individual wishing to embark on a laborious and life-encompassing effort of spiritual growth which I hypothesize will probably lead them to experiences confirming the truth of the Law of One, if it is true and the individual wants the truth of the matter. Following these steps entails a commitment to a life of spiritual growth which trends to color all moments. If you faithfully follow these steps and you do not receive confirmation of the Law of One, nonetheless I would suggest the thought that by faithfully following these steps you can hardly avoid receiving great spiritual, emotional, and intellectual rewards in this life (to say nothing of the afterlife). Therefore I suggest it would not be wasted effort even if you do not find my hypothesis to be true in your case.

  1. Take what steps may be needed to be in good physical fitness, as much as practicable.
  2. Shun dishonesty and immorality. As much as practicable, leave any situations you may be in which compel you to be morally corrupt, dishonest, or immoral.
  3. Lead a well-examined life marked by continual and deep self-scrutiny and moral reflection.
  4. Accept and love yourself, and accept and love those in your life, those in your thoughts, and all of existence.
  5. Continually work towards peace, progress, and higher levels of awareness in all aspects of your life.
  6. With faith and determination, practice meditation, concentration, and the deliberate raising of consciousness. Let this practice integrate ever more deeply and pervasively into your life.
  7. Do whatever things inspire the spirit in you.
  8. Let yourself go through life in a natural and unstudied manner.
  9. Reflect seriously and with single-pointed concentration on questions like:
    1. Who am I?
    2. What is all this that I am aware of?
    3. What is that which is witnessing all this?

Each of the steps 1-8 is a type of preparation which I believe will contribute to success in the spiritual exercise listed as step 9. Step 9 is an activity I hope will bring you to realization of the Law of One, if you are open to the possibility, and if the practice of the exercise is in the context of a path of seeking spiritual truth which encompasses and transforms one’s life and being.

The procedure I’m suggesting eventually requires total commitment of the self. Spiritual growth transforms one’s whole being. If it fails to do so, then I expect spiritual growth to be stopped. Spiritual growth transforms the mind and body, and in time it colors all moments.

The length of time the procedure takes to yield success at realizing the Law of One may vary. Such a realization might happen shortly after starting the procedure; or in a matter of months; or in a matter of years; or perhaps not at all.

Unfortunately I can’t guarantee this procedure will cause you to realize the Law of One. I merely predict that it should typically do so, if you’re genuinely interested in the truth of the matter, and you’re prepared and seeking to experience that truth.

Commitment to spiritual growth and practice led me to mystical consciousness which now colors all my experience. Today, by concentration I am able to reproduce at will the intuitions upon which I believe in the Law of One. For me these intuitions are a readily accessible mental proof of the Law of One. The intuitions are a synthesis of years of mystical and intellectual experience around the Law of One, in which I have questioned the idea intensely and from many angles.

Everybody who replicates these subjective insights will come to them by a different path, and I don’t doubt that different people’s subjective insights will always be subjectively different. My path to these insights has been by a spiritual growth process featuring an approximation of total commitment of the self. As awkward as it may be, I cannot prescribe a procedure for reproducing my conclusion which does not resemble the process I myself followed.

I do believe there are other ways of arriving at the conclusion which require less than whole-being commitment to spiritual growth. People may have mystical experiences spontaneously, and through the use of drugs, and as a consequence of difficult emotions, and from many other causes. A single mystical experience might cause somebody to believe in the Law of One. A more convincing kind of evidence is repeated mystical experiences evidencing the Law of One, and the ability to produce at will the intuitions that motivate the belief. Some people might have that type of evidence naturally.

For some readers, it might not be too hard to follow my steps because they are already following most of them. Such readers may already believe the Law of One. Or, they may be in a good position to try out my proposed exercises in step 9, and see if they obtain insight into the Law of One. They might do all this and conclude that the Law of One is false in one or more of the formulations I’ve mentioned.

I believe that the Law of One is a repeatable mystical insight, because the insight appears to have been repeated again and again in variants throughout history, and I have met several people of diverse histories who have had variants of the insight. I have never come across anybody who put the Law of One into words in just the way I have, interpreting it as logically entailing that every statement is true, but I don’t think that means the fundamental insight is new to me. The source which has given me the greatest philosophical inspiration around the Law of One is The Law of One, also known as the Ra material. This text, even if it is a work of fiction, is to me the greatest and most educational philosophical and psychological work I have experienced.

In all of this I see no way of reproducing the conclusion that the Law of One is true, which I can guarantee will work for anybody. I also see no way of falsifying or refuting the Law of One. I can understand the frustration this may cause Law of One skeptics to feel. I am unsure what comfort I can offer such a person. All I can say is that I’m honestly trying to convey reality as I see it, and I recognize in fairness that I may be in error, but if so I don’t and probably won’t recognize my error.

At the end of the day, those who want to believe the Law of One will believe it, and those who want to reject the Law of One will reject it. Whether the Law of One is true is not a question that has been settled by the scientific method. From my current perspective, it is a spiritual and philosophical question, to be decided by individuals, who will base their conclusions on subjective feelings at the end of the day.

I am curious to hear about anybody’s thoughts and experiences around the Law of One and/or mystical revelation.

 

An argument for the Law of One

The rest of this post provides another way of reaching the conclusion that the Law of One is true, by logical analysis and philosophical argumentation instead of by mysticism. The argument I’ll give does not force the reader to accept its conclusion. There are other alternative conclusions the reader can draw. I will present such alternative conclusions. I am not sure how many people will find this philosophical argument for the Law of One compelling in the absence of mystical experience of the Law of One.

I am interested to hear about your reaction to the following argument. I don’t know what to expect people to think about it.

The following argument for the Law of One can alternately be viewed as an explanation of why logical paradoxes happen.

In a nutshell, the perspective of the argument/explanation states: paradoxes allow us to prove the Law of One, and the Law of One explains why we observe paradoxes.

Explaining this requires some background on logic. Here I will present this in simplistic broad strokes. More detail can be found starting from the companion post, Paradoxes and the rules of logic.

 

Background on logic

A “statement” is a piece of language which can be true or false.

An “argument” consists of a series of statements, called premises, intended to support or provide evidence for another statement, the conclusion of the argument.

A “valid” argument is an argument such that it is logically necessary that if its premises are true, then its conclusion is true.

A central question in logic is: what arguments are valid?

The orthodox answer to this question is called classical logic. Classical logic is a species of rules for logic, which allows a wide class of ordinary language and formal language arguments to be analyzed as valid or not.

There are other species of rules for logic, which differently answer the question of what arguments are valid. These are so-called “non-classical logics.” For most non-classical logics, the set of arguments they deem valid is a subset of the set of arguments classical logic deems valid.

Classical logic has a consequence known as the principle of explosion. This is the fact that according to classical logic, from a contradictory set of premises one may validly infer any conclusion.

A contradiction is a statement of the form “P and not P.” For example, “I am alive and I am not alive.” According to classical logic, if a set of premises entails a contradiction, then those premises entail any statement. From the premise “I am alive and not alive,” classical logic says I can infer “the sky is purple.”

The orthodox understanding of this phenomenon is that contradictions cannot ever be true, and so if a set of premises entails a contradiction, then some of those premises are false. Given false premises, logic allows you to infer false conclusions. Garbage in, garbage out.

 

Logical paradoxes

Committing oneself to classical logic and the orthodox understanding of the principle of explosion leads to challenges in dealing with logical paradoxes.

Here is a logical paradox. Consider the statement “this statement is false.” Is it true or false? If it’s true, then it’s false. If it’s false, then it’s false that it’s false, so it’s true. Classical logic says the statement is either true or false, and therefore it’s both true and false, and therefore every statement is true. This argument can be called the liar paradox.

This is a stunningly short argument for the conclusion that every statement is true, phrased in simple English, predicated on the background assumption that classical logic, as straightforwardly applied to English, is correct.

This argument might be taken as demonstrating that something about the background assumptions is wrong. This is the usual way of looking at things in the academic literature I’ve seen. One can say that classical logic is not correct, or that classical logic can’t be straightforwardly applied to English (but perhaps it can be cleverly applied to English in a way that deals with paradoxes).

In Paradoxes and the rules of logic I gave a refinement of the background assumptions which tries to use as little cleverness as possible. In short, I said that we should view the rules of classical logic not as being totally exceptionless, but as having occasional exceptions, in particular in the vicinity of paradoxes. I said these paradox-avoiding exceptions could safely be produced in an ad hoc manner, whenever one encounters contradiction-producing paradoxes such as the liar paradox.

 

Logical paradoxes as proofs of the Law of One

Now I wish to put forward a different way of looking at the meaning of the liar paradox. This is to view the liar paradox as proving that everything is true.

If the Law of One is true, in the extreme formulation which says that any two distinct things are identical, then everything is true. This conditional statement can be reached by a variety of arguments. Here is one. Suppose the Law of One is true. Let A be any statement. Let B be some true statement, e.g., “water contains hydrogen.” By the Law of One, A and B are the same thing. Since B is true, A is true. In other words, every statement is true.

The Law of One (in its logically extreme formulation), and the proposition that every statement is true, are logically interchangeable propositions, in the sense that each entails the other.

Belief in the Law of One, and belief in the liar paradox as a valid argument to the conclusion that every statement is true, cohere with each other. They provide two different routes (one mystical-logical and one purely logical) towards the conclusion that everything is true.

However, if one accepts every statement as true in every context, then it defeats the purpose of language. Statements are part of language. Language exists to serve life. Life has experiences of separateness and partiality. If separateness is an illusion, still it is an inescapable illusion for us.

Any notion of achieving a purpose supposes that there is something which now is not and later could be. Therefore all purposeful action supposes a lack of belief in the necessary future actual existence of some state of affairs.

For those reasons, one can’t always accept the perspective that everything is true. In some contexts, such as contexts where one is trying to achieve some purpose in the material world, it is appropriate not to assume that everything is true, but to assume that for the purposes at hand, only some things are true.

It is in such contexts — including most contexts — that I apply the perspective of Paradoxes and the rules of logic, according to which I reject the arbitrary statements that can be inferred from paradoxes, to retain a context where not everything is considered true.

It is in meditation that I apply the perspective that all is one and everything is true.

The energy of the thought of the unity of all things colors and enlivens my life from moment to moment.

 

Theoretical options

That concludes my explanation of the perspective that logical paradoxes allow us to prove the Law of One, and the Law of One explains why we observe logical paradoxes.

There are many ways to look at the situation other than the one presented here. You can reject the Law of One. You can accept some way of looking at paradoxes that doesn’t involve assuming everything is true. You can ignore the issue of paradoxes.

I don’t claim to be proving this perspective. I’m offering this perspective for consideration. It appears to me to be the most elegant solution I’ve seen for solving and explaining paradoxes. It appears to me to be a successful theoretical integration of mystical intuitions which are very powerful in me, with a logical system of thought which appeared hard to reconcile with those intuitions. This perspective appears to me to be true to the best of my ability to discern truth, but that judgment is subjective.

The perspective of Paradoxes and the rules of logic, with its ad hoc method of rejecting contradictions, is free-standing from the perspective of this post. You can accept that post’s theory without accepting this post’s theory. I think that by taking that route you lose an intuitively grounded story about why we observe paradoxes.

Personally, I favor the perspective of this post because of my mystical intuitions. For me this whole investigation into paradoxes and logic has been motivated by the desire to better understand the Law of One and how it can be reconciled with logic. I have figured out to my own satisfaction how to reconcile the Law of One with logic. Are you satisfied?

I consider this project to have value from a mystical perspective, for bolstering the analytic philosophical defensibility of nondualism. I doubt if my reasoning will convert any skeptics who firmly don’t want to believe in mysticism, but I hope it will provide inspiration and clarity to people who perceive truth in nondualism.

 

Mystical arrogance and chauvinism

To my mind, there is one objection to the perspective I’ve laid out which is the biggest and stickiest. This perspective asserts the primacy of mystical consciousness — the distinctive consciousness which mystics are supposed to experience — as the best source of fundamental metaphysical truth available to humans. This can be viewed as chauvinist and arrogant.

Ayn Rand lays out the objection in the final chapter of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology:

In the history of philosophy — with some very rare exceptions — epistemological theories have consisted of attempts to escape one or the other of the two fundamental questions which cannot be escaped. Men have been taught either that knowledge is impossible (skepticism) or that it is available without effort (mysticism). These two positions appear to be antagonists, but are, in fact, two variants on the same theme, two sides of the same fraudulent coin: the attempt to escape the responsibility of rational cognition and the absolutism of reality — the attempt to assert the primacy of consciousness over existence.

How do I respond to this objection?

It’s everybody’s choice how they regard mysticism, and how they regard the mystical philosophy I’ve shared in particular. People can choose to perceive the Law of One as true, or to perceive it as untrue. Those who don’t believe in mysticism are free to choose to view mystical philosophy as chauvinist and arrogant. Of course I may feel discouraged if people make this choice, but I don’t begrudge them their freedom.

Do I view mystical philosophy as at all chauvinist or arrogant? I think it easily can be. Perhaps it is always at least a little bit of each.

I have tried to minimize the arrogance and chauvinism of my mystical philosophy. I have spent the past seven years thinking about what I believe on the topic. I have tried to avoid arrogantly rushing to a conclusion. I am an ideologue without a doubt, but I have tried my best to be a stable, reasonable ideologue. I have sincerely and seriously tried to minimize the arrogance and chauvinism of my philosophy. I could have done more, by abandoning mysticism, but that’s not the choice I made. My success is yours to judge.

 

Closing song

My belief in nondualism is fundamentally based on experience, on a type of feeling which feels like evidence. In another attempt to communicate this species of feeling, I want to point the reader to a song which to me conveys the sense of nondualism, in hopes the reader finds a similar perspective on the song.

The song is Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.” I myself prefer Carly Rae Jepsen’s cover version. Here are the lyrics.

Please enjoy the mystery of existence, and share your thoughts in the comments!

God, sovereign, free

Audio of this text available on YouTube and on VidMe.

Here I am going to explain what I see as the most important philosophical departure between Christianity, in most forms I’m aware of it, and the Law of One philosophy as I believe and practice it.

The Law of One states that all is one, and that all things are the one infinite creator, i.e. God. I am further articulating my understanding of this philosophy in Winning Arguments. Other articulations of this philosophy which I appreciate can be found in the Ra material (where I learned the Law of One philosophy), and in the ascension glossary created by Lisa Renee.

I would like to compare the Law of One to the mystery/doctrine of the Holy Trinity in Christianity. According to the Holy Trinity doctrine/mystery, God is three persons in one: God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit. It is a central paradox of Trinitarian Christianity that three distinct beings can at the same time be one being, namely God.

The Law of One entails the doctrine/mystery of the Holy Trinity. The Law of One, which states that all is one, implies that everything conceivable exists and that all things are God.[1] Therefore the Law of One implies that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit exist and are the same being. It goes further by extending this identity to everything. The mystery/doctrine of three distinct and identical forms of God is subsumed by the mystery/doctrine of infinite, all-encompassing distinct and identical forms of God.

The Law of One importantly negates the distinction, important to most forms of Christianity, between forms of God and forms that are below God. Christianity acknowledges three forms of God, and an incredible multiplicity of forms below God. According to the Law of One, all forms are forms of God. This mystery/doctrine implies that even the most profane thing is holy.

Of course, the Law of One is paradoxical. The Trinity is paradoxical too, in the same way. Both mysteries/doctrines say that some distinct things are identical. Both mysteries/doctrines contain a logical contradiction, which by the rules of classical logic, allows one to infer that every statement is both true and false. In short, both doctrines have an incompatibility with classical logic, because it is incompatible with classical logic to say that multiple distinct things are perfectly identical.

One may argue that the Law of One’s contradictions are more problematic, because they extend to everything, rather than just three things. A Christian might retort that while the paradoxes of the Trinity apply only to three things, those are the most important things that exist, meaning that the paradoxes of the Trinity are not much less important for extending to fewer things. However, the Law of One’s contradictions might be thought to create more practical problems, since they extend to the world of practical things as well as spiritual things.

I go into this topic much more in Winning Arguments. In the section titled Paradoxes, I have a practical solution to logical paradoxes, based on defining, defending, and justifying the practice that people already employ of rejecting proofs of logical contradictions on an ad hoc basis.

In the section of Winning Arguments titled The Law of One, I am working on a philosophical, theological, and metaphysical route to solving paradoxes, to complement and supplement the practical approach in the section titled Paradoxes.

The hope is to provide an intuitively satisfying solution to the paradoxes which makes a world with paradoxes make sense, as closely as I can attain to such a goal. It’s my opinion that perfectly comprehending the paradoxical mysteries/doctrines of the Law of One and the Trinity is beyond the intelligence of humans. I am merely working to do my personal best at the problem.

I have articulated the abstract difference of opinion between the doctrine/mystery of the Trinity and the doctrine/mystery of the Law of One. I think there are a lot of more concrete differences of opinion that can flow from this key difference of opinion between the Law of One philosophy as I believe and practice it, and most forms of Christianity I’m aware of.

For me the most important of these concrete differences have to do with the attitude towards the self and the attitude towards God.

Most forms of Christianity I’m aware of encourage the worship of God in the form of Jesus Christ as envisioned by the practitioner (often in the likely inaccurate[2] form of a white male). They encourage a sense of the dependence of the self on God and the powerlessness of the self relative to God.

These attitudes, in my opinion, are basically accurate. I think that we as humans are dependent on God and relatively powerless compared to God. These are facts about the world as I see it. Here I am understanding God as the infinite intelligence which is the unity of all things. But I think there is an important truth missing from the previous paragraph, namely that each of us is God. Being God, each of us is potentially as powerful as any part/form of God. The judgment that we and all others are God has many implications for our relationships to ourselves, to others, and to God.

How does believing that I am God affect my relationship to myself? It creates a moral imperative to hold myself in very high regard. This is balanced by the belief that others are God, which creates an analogous moral imperative to hold others in very high regard. There is an imperative not to resonate with disrespect of oneself by the self or others, and an imperative to afford others the same respect one feels entitled to. All of these attitudes, of course, are quite popular, independently of the Law of One.

For me, years of looking into the meaning of respecting oneself and respecting others have felt very informative in exploring the mystery of how to behave morally in the world. This journey goes on for me, as I think it does for us all.

These attitudes toward the self and others come into conflict with various forms of Christianity.

They come into conflict with authoritarian attitudes towards doctrine, where individuals are told to understand God’s truth through the word of authority as opposed to their own intellectual, moral, intuitive, and spiritual discernment.

They come into conflict with forms of Christianity which have the effect of hobbling people with the psychological slavery of guilt and self-hatred. The Law of One teaches what I would call “master mentality,” which can be contrasted with “slave mentality.”

Master mentality. I like all others, am the master of my choices. No others can tell me what choices to make unless I consent to be ruled by them in this way. All of my allegiances are chosen by me based on my personal discernment that they are good from my perspective.

Slave mentality. Some others are my only proper masters, or God, who is a person separate from me, is my only proper master. I cannot trust myself to steer my life for myself. I should submit unquestioningly to some authority in order to lead an upright life.

Slave mentality is a point of view that is hard to reconcile with the understanding of oneself as God. To be God is to be sovereign and free. To be God is to be ruled by no higher master than oneself. Since I regard those with slave mentality as God, I am of the opinion that they are choosing their slave mentality; but I think most people with slave mentality don’t see themselves as having any proper choice in the matter.

I think slave mentality is usually rooted in fear. For example: believing the doctrine of one’s church for fear of being ostracized from one’s church; following or not challenging a dominant political ideology for fear of being ostractized or attacked by its supporters; shying away from master mentality because one fears the potential of one’s power or what one would do with a mind liberated in that particular fashion; etc.

I am not saying that slave mentality is wrong for everybody. The people who choose it have reasons for their choices. I am saying that believing “I am God” naturally leads to master mentality, and that slave mentality is hard to reconcile with believing “I am God.”

I am not saying that master mentality is always a good thing. Clearly many people who have regarded themselves as masters of themselves have gone on to do very evil things on that basis. In my view, master mentality is, generally speaking, a good thing in the context of a philosophy aimed at service to others, and built on a recognition of the weighty moral responsibility entailed in holding oneself God, sovereign, and free.

Trinitarianism does not necessarily lead to slave mentality. I think one can believe that God is three persons in one, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and that these are the only forms of God in existence, while also seeing oneself as master of oneself.

However, I do think that Christianity as I’ve observed it, and I would say most institutions of Western culture, trend towards encouragement of slave mentality and discouragement of master mentality. I attribute this, in the case of Christianity, in part to the observation that Christianity as we have it today in the West is almost all derived from the Catholic church, even if by way of the Protestant traditions, and that the Catholic church, as an organized system of social and political control, has always had a lot to gain from inculcating slave mentality in people.

More generally, all organized systems of social and political control benefit from inculcating slave mentality in the general public. Why? A population infected with slave mentality is much easier to control. In contrast, a population infected with master mentality is much harder to control. Slave mentality keeps master mentality safely at bay. I think that we can see the inculcation of slave mentality by those in control basically anywhere we look in history.

As such, I am inclined to see slave mentality in general as a kind of mental parasite, whose purpose is not to help its host, but whose usual purpose is to help some force in the social universe which is getting power over the host by manipulating their mentality.

These are some of the reasons why I am getting over my own fear of adopting master mentality, which is rooted in fear of myself stoked throughout my life by those who wish to inculcate a slave mentality in me. I don’t have time for that.

[1] The Law of One implies that all conceivable things exist because it implies that every statement is true. One way of reaching this conclusion is as follows. Assume the Law of One is true, let A be any statement, and let B be any true statement. According to the Law of One, all is God. Therefore, A is God, and B is God. Therefore, by the transitive property of equality, A is B. Since B is true and A is B, A is true.

[2] Jesus is said to have lived in the Middle East, where most people today have brown skin.