of the most popular and acclaimed films of the last few years were The
Matrix and its recent sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, released in 2003. These
movies' storyline presupposes a world conquered by machines, running on
artificial intelligence, which are keeping the human race in an imaginary
world, using them as an energy source. Reaching a huge audience, the Matrix
movies portray a very advanced virtual-reality program.
The movies' hero, nicknamed Neo and played by Keanu Reeves, is a computer
programmer within this system. He believes himself to be working for a
large software firm and living during the last remaining years of the
20th century. But in reality, the year is 2199, and his body is being
maintained in a liquid-filled capsule, in which he sees only what he is
shown and can experience only what he's made to feel. He "knows" himself
to be a software engineer, going to work among all the other people, while
in reality, he exists in a totally different environment and a totally
different century. In short, he exists in a virtual-reality environment
called "the Matrix," believing that he's living an actual life.
The character called Morpheus knows the truth, that Neo lives in an imaginary
world-and throughout the film, he tells Neo the reality of things. He
reveals, for instance, that so far, everything Neo has seen, heard, smelled,
tasted and felt had no physical reality; and proves to him that all his
experiences were imaginary impressions created in his brain. Later in
this chapter, we'll give examples of dialogue from the movie.
In this picture, we see someone who feels
himself skiing on the mountains, whereas there is really neither
skis nor snow. This illusion is artificially created.
Virtual Reality and a World Composed of Electrical Signals
Thanks to present technological developments, it's possible to have realistic
experiences without the need for an "external world" or "matter." The
incredible advancement in virtual reality technology has come up with
some especially convincing proofs.
To put it simply, virtual reality is the projection of computer-generated
three-dimensional images that appear to be real with the aid of some devices.
This technology, with its diverse range of applications, is known as "virtual
reality," "virtual world," or "virtual environment." Its most important
feature is that by the use of some purposely constructed devices, it misleads
the person experiencing it into believing the experience to be real. In
recent years, the word "immersive'' has begun to be used in front of the
term "virtual reality," reflecting the way that witnesses are literally
immersed in the experience.
The rationale of any virtual reality system is based on our five human
senses. For instance, when the user puts on a special glove, devices inside
transmit signals to the fingertips. When these signals are relayed to
and interpreted by the brain, the user experiences the sensation of touching
a silk fabric or ornate vase, complete with all of its surface details-without
any such thing actually existing in the environment.
One of virtual reality's foremost applications is in medicine. Michigan
University has developed a technology that trains assistant practitioners-in
particular, the personnel of emergency wards-to learn their skills in
a virtual reality lab, in which environment is created by projecting the
details of an operating room onto the floor, walls, and ceiling of a room.
The "picture" is completed by projecting an operating table, complete
with the patient to be operated on, onto the center of the room. The surgeons-to-be
put on their 3-D glasses and begin their "virtual" operation. As the pictures
on the next page show, anyone viewing these images cannot distinguish
a real operating room from this virtual one.
In The Matrix, too, once the movie's two heroes are seated in special
armchairs and get their nervous systems connected up to a computer, each
one envisions himself in a totally different environment. In one scene,
they are seen practicing martial arts; in another; they walk down a crowded
street dressed in different clothes. When Neo expresses his disbelief
that that these experiences are only computer generated, the simulations
are suddenly frozen. He is forced to concede that what he thought to be
real was, in fact, only an image.
Technology has revealed that we can experience
very realistic perceptions without the external world: People can
feel themselves in places they are not, and can feel themselves
doing things while they are actually lying inert.
Technology developed by Michigan University
permits the training of doctors and particularly, emergency ward
personnel in a virtual operating room. Practitioners wear 3-D glasses
and operate on a virtual patient.
Another scene finds Neo stretched out on an old chair, badly dressed
in old clothes, with wires attached to his head. But when the software
is loaded, he finds himself in a wholly new, simulated environment where
his worn clothes are gone, his hair is longer, and he looks altogether
different from his real appearance.
Morpheus : It is our loading program. We can load
anything from clothing to equipment, weapons, training simulations. Anything
Neo : Right now, we're inside a computer
Morpheus : Is it really so hard to believe? Your
clothes are different. The plugs in your body are gone. Your hair has
changed. Your appearance is now what we call "residual self-image." It
is the mental rejection of your digital self.
From this dialogue, it's evident that Neo is reluctant to admit that
his experiences are imaginary, because they are so wholly realistic. Consequently,
the following dialogue ensues between him and Morpheus, who is aware of
Neo : This isn't real? (Indicating
Morpheus : What is real? How do you define "real"?
If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, taste and
see, then "real" is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.
The wise Morpheus shows Neo that the world that he thought to be real
is actually only a simulation. Every detail of his experiences-including
cars, the noises of city traffic, the ocean, skyscrapers, people and everything
else-is a computer generated impression in his mind. Notice how Morpheus'
words quoted above explain scientifically how images believed to be real
are formed by the brain's interpretating the electrical impulses it receives.
Everything we perceive is specially recreated
for us in our brains. Therefore, when we say, "We are aware the
world around us," we are talking about copied images of colors and
shapes, of sounds and smells.
Below are some extracts from our previously published books on the subject:
- All the information we have about the world we live in is conveyed
to us by our five senses. The world we know consists of what our eye
sees, our hand feels, our nose smells, our tongue tastes, and our ears
hear. We never think that the "external" world can be other than what
our senses present to us, since we've been depending on only those senses
since the day we were born.
However, modern scientific research in many different fields points to
a wholly different understanding, creating serious doubt about our senses
and the world we perceive with them.
This approach's starting point is the notion that any
"external world" is only a response created in our brain by electrical
signals. The red hue of an apple, the hardness of wood, your mother,
father, your family, and everything that you own-your house, your job,-and
even the lines of this book, are composed of electrical signals only.
Evolution Deceit, 7th edition, p.216)
- When we say that we "see," in fact we are perceiving the effects of
impulses reaching our eyes, after they're transformed into electrical
signals in our brain. That is, when we say that "we see," we are actually
observing electrical signals in our mind. All the images we view in
our lives are formed in our center of vision, which takes up only a
few cubic centimeters of the brain's volume. Both the book you are now
reading and the boundless horizon you see when you gaze out the window
fit into this tiny space. (The
Evolution Deceit, 7th edition, p.218)
- Everything we see, touch, hear, and perceive as matter-"the world"
and "the universe"-is nothing but electrical signals occurring in our
Evolution Deceit, 7th edition, p.222)
- At this point, we encounter another surprising fact: that there are
actually no colors, shapes, or voices inside our brain. All that can
be detected within brains are electrical signals. This is no philosophical
speculation, but simply a scientific description of the functions of
our perceptions. (Matter:
The Other Name for Illusion, p.18)
No matter how realistic our perceptions, they
are our minds' interpretations. Someone watching dolphins perform
in the sea is, in reality, watching the vivid and colorful three-dimensional
images in his brain.
- The act of seeing is realized in a progressive way. Photons of light,
traveling from the object, pass through the lens at the front of the
eye, where they are focused and fall, reversed, on the retina. Here,
the impinging light is converted into electrical signals transmitted
by neurons to a tiny spot in the back part of the brain, called the
center of vision. After a series of processes,
this brain center perceives these signals as images. The actual
act of seeing takes place in this tiny spot at the rear of the brain
in pitch darkness, completely insulated from light. (The
Evolution Deceit, 7th edition, pp.217-218)
As we have seen, the subject matter of The Matrix conforms to the scientific
realities published in our books. As the above quotations and dialogue
from the film explain, we always deal only with the images forming in
our brains. No matter how realistic our perceptions, they are our minds'
interpretations. Therefore, we can never be sure that the images we perceive
are not created by artificial signals. In other words, we can never distinguish
between reality and imagination.
We'll examine the subject in more detail with scenes from the films.
The Impossibility of Distinguishing Between Reality and
In this scene, Morpheus teaches Neo about reality by using the images
on the TV screen to show him that he's living in an imaginary world he
considers to be real. The modern world and all its skyscrapers, cars,
and details he sees within Matrix; are all images created in his mind
for him to experience. At that time, the true state of the world is altogether
different: It is a destroyed, decayed planet. But until Neo was told this,
he thought he was existing in the real world, without ever questioning
its reality of it, having been fooled by it for all those years.
Morpheus : This is the world you know. The world
as it was at the end of the Twentieth Century. It exists now only as part
of a neural-interactive simulation that we call Matrix. You have been
living in a dream world, Neo. . . This is world as it exists today...
Welcome to the "desert of the real"…
following passages, published in our earlier books, are relevant to this
section of the film:
- Since we can never actually reach the "external world," how can we
be sure that such a world really exists?
Actually, we cannot. Since each object is only a collection of perceptions,
and those perceptions exist only in the mind, it is more accurate to say
that the only world that really exists is the world of perceptions. The
only world we know is the world that exists in our mind: the one that
is designed, recorded, and made vivid there-in short, the one that is
created within our mind. This is the only world we can be sure of.
We can never prove that the perceptions we observe in
our brain have material correlations. Those perceptions may well be coming
from an "artificial" source.
. . . False stimulations can produce in our brain an entirely imaginary
"material world." For example, let us think of a very highly developed
recording instrument that can record all kinds of electrical signals.
First, let us transform all the data related to a setting (including body
image) into electrical signals and transmit to this instrument. Second,
let us imagine that your brain can survive apart from your body. Finally,
let us connect the recording instrument to the brain with electrodes that
function as nerves and send the pre-recorded data to the brain. In this
state, you will feel as if you are living in this artificially created
setting. For instance, you can easily believe that you are driving fast
on a highway. It never becomes possible for you to understand that you
consist of nothing but your brain, because what is needed to form a world
within your brain is not the existence of a real world but rather, the
availability of stimulations. It is perfectly possible that these stimulations
could be coming from some artificial source, such as a recorder. (The
Evolution Deceit, 7th edition, p.225)
If Our Perceptions Seem Realistic, That Doesn't Prove
that Their Material Equivalents Exist in the External World
We'll never be able to prove the existence of our perceptions' material
equivalents, because our brains don't need an external world for perceptions
to occur. Present technologies like simulators are some of the proofs
of this, as pointed out earlier. When Neo enters a simulated environment
for training purposes, he finds it totally realistic, to the extent that
he believes he's breathing that environment's air, and that his success
in the fight depends on the strength of his muscles. In reality, his body
is stretched out on the chair and connected to the computer.
Tank : How about some combat training?
Neo : Jujitsu? I'm going to learn jujitsu?
(After the downloading ends:)
Neo : I know kung fu.
Morpheus : Show me.
Morpheus : This is a sparring program, similar
to the programmed reality of the Matrix. It has the same basic rules.
Rules like gravity. What you must learn is that these rules are no different
than the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent. Others
can be broken.
Technologies similar to those seen in the film can now give people the
impression that they're existing in a completely different environment.
In this case, they'll respond as if what they see, hear or do was utterly
real. It's possible to project stereo images onto the floor, walls and
ceiling of a room-sized cube. Entering the cube, people wearing stereo
glasses can walk around and see themselves at the edge of a waterfall,
on a mountain summit, in the middle of the ocean, on board a ship, or
in other different environments. The headsets worn create the illusion
of depth and space, and the images thus created are proportionate and
life-sized. Special devices worn like gloves recreate the sensation of
touch. Anyone using these devices can touch objects in the virtual environment
and even move them around. These environments' sounds are also very realistic,
because they can be produced from different directions and distances.
Some applications can display the same virtual environment to different
people around the world. With this technology, for instance, three people
on three different continents can see themselves together on a speedboat
or discussing issues in a meeting.
These examples show that in order to see ourselves in a certain environment,
we do not require the external world. We can't possibly discern whether
what we feel, see, taste, and smell is real or whether it comes from an
artificial source. In all cases, we live in our minds and will never be
able to reach the original substance.
Don't be Deceived by a Picture's Quality or Wealth of
In one scene, Neo is introduced to the virtual world of the Matrix in
a simulated environment. Everything looks perfectly realistic. Neo sees
people walking down the street and waiting for the traffic lights; when
the lights turn green, they cross the road. He even feels the knock to
his body when someone walks into him.
Morpheus : The Matrix is a system, Neo . . . But
when you're inside, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters.
The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these
people are a part of that system...You have to understand most of these
people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so
hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it
. . .
At a moment when Neo is looking around, taking it all in, Morpheus says:
"freeze it" and at once the image of their environment freezes as it was.
The people frozen as they were, the fountain's water is frozen in time,
the bird hangs in the air on the very spot. Only Neo and Morpheus continue
their conversation in an otherwise frozen image. Neo is stunned but he
begins to realize that everything around him is part of the imaginary
world he lives in, that it has no actual reality.
Morpheus : Freeze it.
Neo : This isn't the Matrix?
Morpheus : It's another training program
designed to teach you one thing...
It's impossible to prove that human life does not occur in a way similar
to what we see in the film. No matter how realistic all the details of
one's environment, they are experienced only in one's mind. Even if the
originals of these people, places, and events actually exist in the "outside"
world, we can never reach them. Some of our explanations on this question
are given below:
- On a three-dimensional, high quality screen, an individual watches
a film being projected. Since he is almost attached to this screen,
he cannot succeed in detaching himself from it, so that he may grasp
the situation he is in. (Eternity
has Already Begun, p.101)
- … Regardless of whether there is a material world or not, a human
being watches only the world of perceptions in his brain. No one can
ever come across the true original of anything. Furthermore, it's enough
for everyone to perceive the copy. For example, someone who wanders
around a garden with colorful flowers is not seeing the original, actual
garden, but the copy of it in his brain. But this copy of the garden
is so realistic that everyone receives some pleasure from it, as if
the garden were real, when strictly speaking, it is imaginary. (Matter:
The Other Name for Illusion, p.50)
- At every moment, God creates the universe with its numberless details,
perfect and without defect. Moreover, this creation is so flawless that
the billions who have lived on the Earth up until now have never understood
that the universe and everything they see is an illusion, and that they
have no connection with the reality of matter. (Matter:
The Other Name for Illusion, p.94)
- Some people think a fast-moving bus on the highway-or an accident
caused by that bus-are striking proofs of that they're dealing with
the physical existence of matter, because the image they're dealing
with is seen and felt as deceivingly real. For instance, the surrounding
images, the perspective and depth of the highway; the perfection of
their colors, shapes and shadows; the vividness of sound, smell and
hardness; and the complete logic within that image can fool some people.
Because of this vividness, some forget that these are actually only
perceptions. Yet no matter how complete and flawless they may be, that
doesn't alter the fact that they are still perceptions in the mind.
: The Other Name for Illusion, p.180)
Laws of Physics are Interpretations of Our Perception
Morpheus tries many methods to help Neo understand the reality of matter
and provides much evidence in support. Previously, we saw that as part
of Neo's training, the image in a copy of the Matrix was suddenly frozen,
thus making it evident to Neo that everything appearing real is in fact,
a virtual reality. Neo's education continues with the following conversation:
Neo : What are they?
Morpheus : Sentient programs. They can move in
and out of any software still hardwired to their system. That means that
anyone we haven't unplugged is potentially an agent. Inside the Matrix,
they are everyone and they are no one. We have survived by hiding and
running from them, but they are the gatekeepers. They're guarding all
the doors and holding all the keys. Sooner or later, someone is going
to have to fight them.
Neo : Someone?
Morpheus : I won't lie to you, Neo. Every single
man or woman who has fought an agent has died. But where they have failed,
you will succeed.
Morpheus : I've seen an agent punch through a concrete
wall. Men have emptied entire clips at them and hit noting but air. Yet
their strength and speed are still based in a world built on rules. Because
of that, they will never be as strong or as fast as you can be.
Neo : What are you telling me? That I can dodge
Morpheus : No, Neo. I'm trying to tell you that
when you're ready, you won't have to.
In this conversation, Morpheus advises Neo not to think with the laws
of physics always in mind. In the Matrix system, the "agents" are security
officers who can control everything by using people's virtual bodies.
But because this system is only a virtual world displayed to people's
minds, Neo can achieve "the impossible."
In subsequent scenes of the film, characters demonstrate supernatural
powers when they have to. Although they experience them in a perfectly
realistic manner, in reality these experiences are created in their brains,
by the computer. Neo believes himself to be living through these nerve-racking
situations, whereas in reality he remains stretched out on his chair.
Morpheus, on the other hand-to use the expression from the film-wants
to "free Neo's mind" by rescuing it from all the conditioning it's been
subjected to throughout his life. To achieve this, both characters get
connected to a jumping program. Morpheus leaps from skyscraper to skyscraper,
bridging vast distances between them almost as if he could fly. He says
that if Neo frees his mind (rids himself of prejudices), he can do the
same. But even though he knows that he's inside a computer program, Neo
can't manage to escape what he knows in his mind about the laws of physics.
He takes his unreal environment so seriously that he's afraid of falling
when he jumps.
In the following sequence, Neo is seen falling onto the concrete floor
because when trying to jump from one building to another, he could not
overcome his doubts and fears.
Despite the film's obvious science fiction elements, the messages it
contains are truly thought-provoking. For example, anyone who realizes
matter and space are imaginary, discovers another secret that other people
don't know: Cause-and-effect reality does not occur because of matter's
physical attributes or as a result of people's relationship with one another.
Since matter is only a perception, it can't have any physical effect.
Each physical cause is created separately. For instance, a thrown stone,
does not break the glass. The perception of the stone being thrown, and
the perception of the glass breaking, are each created separately. What
makes a ship float is its buoyancy, and what keeps a bird in the air is
aerodynamics, but both are created as perceptions. In reality, therefore,
all such "powers" belong to God, Who creates them.
Do you not see how your Lord Stretches out shadows? If He had wished
He Could have made them statưonary, Then We appoint them sun to
be the Pointer to them. (Qur'an, 25:45)
Neo, having learned this reality, realizes that while actually stretched
out on a chair and connected to the computer, he can move outside the
laws of physics upon entering the virtual world of the Matrix. As shown
in the accompanying stills from the film, he finds himself ducking and
moving at such incredible speed as to evade the bullets fired at him.
Furthermore, everything is so realistic that when he opens his eyes on
the chair, he is still in a state of great agitation. This is an important
demonstration that for a person to experience a certain environment, it's
not necessary for it to exist in external reality.
We have written about this subject in our books dealing with the nature
of matter, explaining that the laws of physics are formed in the mind,
in the following way:
- God shows us the images we experience within ourselves as united
by a network of cause-and-effect relationships, all linked by the laws
of physics. As for the images of night and day that form in our brains,
we perceive night and day as linked to the Sun and the rotation of the
Earth. When, in our minds, the image of the Sun is at its height, we
know that it is noon; and when it sets, we witness the fall of night.
God created perceptions of the universe, together with a cause-and-effect
relationship. We never experience daytime immediately after the Sun
has gone down. (Matter:
The Other Name for Illusion, p.201)
- In the illusion within our minds, whenever we drop a pen, it falls
to the ground. As a result of researching the cause-and-effect relationship
governing this kind of occurrences, we discover the "law of gravity."
God presents the images He shows us in our minds as linked to particular
causes and laws. One of the reasons for His creating these causes and
laws is that life is created as a test. (Matter:
The Other Name for Illusion, pp.201-202)
- We must remember that God possesses the power to create all these
perceptions without the need for any cause or law. For example, God
can create a rose without a seed, or rain without the need for clouds,
or day and night without the Sun. God reveals this fact in the verses
45, 46 and 47 of Surat al-Furqan, declaring that He created shadow first,
then the Sun as a cause of it.
Dreams are an example that can help us to better understand this process
of creation. Although our dreams have no material counterpart, still we
perceive the Sun's light and warmth in our dreams. From that point of
view, dreams indicate that perceptions of the Sun can be created in our
minds, without its actually being there.
However, God has also provided humans with reasons for everything. Daylight
is caused by the Sun, and rain by clouds; yet all of these are images
that God creates individually in our minds. By creating a cause before
an effect, God lets us believe that everything functions within specific
rules, thus enabling us to carry out scientific enquiry. (Matter:
The Other Name for Illusion, pp.203-204)
God shows the images He creates as linked to particular causes and
effects. When an apple drops off a tree, for instance, it always falls
to earth. It never goes upwards or remains suspended in the air. The
study of these effects and the laws that God has created form fields
of study in science. (Matter:
The Other Name for Illusion, p.203)
God possesses the power to create effects without any causes. One proof
of this is the way we can feel the heat of the Sun in a dream at night,
even though the Sun is not actually shining down on us. (Matter:
The Other Name for Illusion, p.204)