A New Dimension
At the beginning of this book, we mentioned the instillation in us by
society of preconceived ideas. We emphasized that because of such conditioning,
we unquestioningly accept many claims, which, in fact, need careful scrutiny.
It was also stated that, in order to make a right decision, we need to
review our prejudgments, regardless of the subject we are dealing with.
Here in this chapter, we will be questioning one of the most important
preconceptions of the current system. We will be bringing to our agenda
a subject that has hardly been thought of until now is an attempt to understand
the true nature of the ‘outer world’. What is the “outer world”
which surrounds us really all about?
The source of all the information we have about the ‘outer world’ is
our five senses. Because we have been dependent on our senses from our
birth up until now, we do not think the ‘outer world’ can somehow be different
from the picture built up for us by our senses. We are so conditioned
to believing that the universe is as we perceive it to be, that we find
it unnecessary to discuss this subject
However, recent researches carried out in the scientific arena have led
to serious doubts about our perceptions, and the nature of the world perceived
through our senses. These researches have pulled down the classical
explanations of the universe and matter, and brought a very different
dimension and approach to the scientific world, which we call ‘a
The World Made up of Electric Signals
Whatever we perceive as the ‘outer world’, is in fact a series of electric
signals. Let’s take “vision” as an example. The answer to the question
“How do we see?” is usually “With our eyes, of course.” However,
the answer is not as simple as this.
Photons entering the eyes pass through a series of processes. They are
converted to electric signals and in this form are conveyed to the brain.
That is, what’s conveyed to the brain, is not photons coming from a perceived
object, but electric signals produced as a reaction to the impact of photons
on a layer of the vision organs called the eyes. In other words, the vision
centre located in the brain does not process the original light rays but
electrical copies of them. When we say, “I am seeing this object”, we
don’t actually see that object. What we actually see are electrical signals
representing that object in our brains. We see everything, including the
entire universe, in our vision centre which measures only a couple of
If we need to interpret the knowledge we have so far, we can say that
the ultimate seeing does not take place in the eyes but in the vision
centre. That is, contrary to common knowledge, we do not see with our
eyes but with the vision centre. Since no light enters the brain, the
brain is always dark. If we verse to place a photocell, a device that
measures light, in your vision centre, we should measure zero light at
all times, even while you were directly looking at the sun. To sum up,
the brain never sees the object itself but the electric signals that the
object gives off. Bertrand Russell gives the following example:
“Common sense imagines that when it sees a table it sees a table.
This is a gross delusion. When common sense sees a table, certain light-waves
reach its eyes, and these are of a sort which, in its previous experience,
has been associated with certain sensations of touch, as well as with
other people’s testimony that they also saw the table. But none of this
ever brought us to the table itself. The light-waves caused occurrences
in our eyes, and these caused occurrences in the brain. Any one of these,
happening without the usual preliminaries, would have caused us to have
the sensations we call ‘seeing the table’, even if there had been no table.”
(Bertrand Russell, The ABC of Relativity, George Allen and Unwin Ltd.,
1958, p. 129)
This fact related to vision is applicable to all other senses. We smell
electric signals, we hear electric signals, and again we taste not the things
we eat, but the electric signals representing them.
The same is true of the sense of touch. “Even when you run your head
against a stone wall, you do not really touch it. When you think you touch
a thing, there are certain electrons and protons, forming part of your
body, which are attracted and repelled by certain electrons and protons
in the thing you think you are touching, but there is no actual contact.
The electrons and protons in your body, becoming agitated by nearness
to the other electrons and protons, are disturbed, and transmit a disturbance
along your nerves to the brain; the effect in the brain is what is necessary
to your sensation of contact.” (Bertrand Russell, In Praise of Idleness
and Other Essays, George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1958, p. 228)
Hearing is no different. Sound waves reaching the ears are converted
by the nervous system into electric signals and sent to the hearing centre.
As like in the case of the seeing mechanism, it is electrical copies of
the sound waves which reach the brain.
The World as a Formation in the Brain
So far, it has been clearly stated that the objects we see, touch, and
hear are simple electric signals which are produced in and interpreted
by our brains. When a person eats an apple, for example, several electric
impulses are produced and interpreted in his brain. What is perceived
as an apple, is not an actual apple but some electrical signals representing
its shape, smell, taste and hardness in the brain. In this respect, the
outer world introduced to us through our sense organs, is a sum of electrical
copies. Our brains, all through our lives, process and evaluate these
copies. We believe we are related to “actual” objects, however, we only
deal with copies of images.
No Way to the “actual” Outside World
We cannot reach “actual” objects through the senses. So, we can never
be sure whether the world formed in our minds is an exact reflection of
the actual world. The images formed in our brain may not be similar to
actual objects of the outer world. The brain converts the incoming messages
into another language within its system and forms a separate universe.
As we have been dependent on this system since our birth, we have had
no chance to make sure if the brain reflects upon us the actual world
and gives the correct information about it. We say “Yes, I’m convinced
that it does, because when I perceive a thing, I am told by others that
they also perceive the same thing.”. Here, however, we forget the fact
that those others are also a part of the outside world and therefore a
product of our perception. This situation is similar to that of a person
who has lived all his life in a room and communicated with the outside
world through a screen. It is impossible for this person to assess if
the images he watches as the “outside world” really reflect the actual
world or not.
To summarize, the way we perceive the “outside world” is based solely
on our perception and the interpretation unique to our brain.
“In reality, in the universe there exists no light as seen and
defined, no sound as heard and no heat as perceived. In other words, our
sensory organs deceive us while establishing the relation between the
outside world and the brain.” (Prof. Dr. Ali Demirsoy, Evrenin Çocuklari
Children of the Universe, p.3-4)
Bertrand Russell explains the difference between the “outside world” and
the one formed in our brains with the example of a blind man in his book,
Philosophical Matters. You can always tell a blind man that light is a wavy
movement, something he can conceive of, as visually impaired people orient
themselves by touching. Yet, what the blind man understands about light
from this definition is totally different from what it really is. Light
can never be defined or explained to a blind person. The light described
as a wavy movement is totally different from the light we perceive. Therefore,
it is impossible to say that the source of the image created in the brain
is light. What we are trying to say is that what we see, does not necessarily
convey the matter we see in the “outside world”. The same phenomenon is
also true of the other senses. Let’s take another example:
“Even the most beautiful symphony is a composition of sound
waves that vibrate in our inner ear. All sensations are supposed to be
triggered by the outer world. Yet they do not emanate from there but exist
as our unique perceptions” (Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technique), August,
In fact, what turns these sound waves in the “outer world” into a symphony
is our brain. This means that music does not really occur in the outer world
but is only sensed inside us by our brain.
We can arrive at the same result for the perception of colour; while
observing different colours, actually different wavelengths of light reach
our eyes. It is again our brain that turns these wavelengths into colours.
For example, the reason we see an apple as red is the perception of the
wavelength of light reflected from the apple to the brain. This means
that the apple is not actually red, the sky is not blue and tree is not
green; they look that way because of our perception.
The famous science magazine, “La Recherche”, has this to say on this
subject: “There is nothing that we can name as red or blue in
the light. Physically, we cannot speak of the existence of colour. This
is only a psychological perception.” (January, 1981)
ANIMALS SEE DIFFERENTLY
Moreover, it is known that animals see objects in different colours and
patterns. This is another example that proves that sight is dependent
on the perceiver.
For horses, the sky is not blue, but gray. Bees, unlike human beings,
are able to perceive ultraviolet colours, so that they see many additional
hues. For crocodiles and mice, everything is black and white. Cows and
bulls live in a world where the colour red is not known. It is also known
that animals observe the shapes of objects differently.
In this case, the question: “Which one is right?” Comes to mind. It is
obvious we have no basis for saying that only people see things in the
Living in the Universe formed by our Brain
What makes us say that an object exists is our seeing, touching, or hearing
this object. Yet, these sensations do not belong to the object itself,
because these are qualities attributed to the object by our brains, or
rather, by our minds. This means that those sensations coming from one
of the five natural senses like the feeling of heat or pain, are not a
part of the “outside world”, but all happen inside our minds where they
So, because the “outside world” we are talking about is only a collection
of these senses, this outside world cannot exist without a mind. If we
abolish all the properties of a fruit, like its sight, smell or taste,
the fruit will no longer have a meaning for us. A fruit with no taste,
smell, hardness or colour will no longer be called a fruit.
The world we know is actually a world inside our minds where it is designed,
given voice and colour or actually created. The only world we are sure
of is this one.
To summarize, we live in this world inside our heads where we cannot
go a single step further and we are mistaken in thinking that this is
the real “outside world”. This is not a different interpretation of a
philosophy; this is the clear evidence of science.
Does an “Outside World” Really Exist?
The uncertainty originating in the development of science does not focus
solely on the qualities of the “outside world”. While the new scientific
discoveries make us doubt our belief in what we sense, it also brings
to mind a dramatic question: “Does an “outside world” really exist?
Have you ever thought about what makes you believe in this “outside world”?
Your seeing, hearing or touching of an object is usually enough for you
to believe in its existence. However, this is only a belief that you have
acquired out of habit possessed with habits, which is contrary to science
“As to the sense of touch when we press the table with our fingers,
that is an electric disturbance on the electrons and protons of our fingertips,
produced, according to modern physics, by the proximity of the electrons
and protons in the table. If the same disturbance in our finger-tips arose
in any other way, we should have the sensations, in spite of there being
no table.” (Bertrand Russell, The ABC of Relativity, George Allen and
Unwin Ltd., 1958, p. 129-130)
What we want to explain here is that a person can have the sensations of
sight, touch or sound, when an object does not even exist. Our brains can
form a world as real and lively as the real one with the artificial stimulus
You may imagine a complex recorder in which many different electric signals
are encoded. First, let us record in this recorder all the details
of an environment, like its sight, smell, sound and also our own bodies.
Then let us forward these electric signals to the relevant parts of the
brain. Because all senses like sight, touch and so on are actually triggered
by electric signals in the brain, which are stimulated by this “outside
world”, we would be deluded into thinking that we were actually
in this environment after starting the video system.
In brain surgery, patients see different sights of their friends or scenes
when the centre of sight memory is touched. They experience different
tastes and start laughing loudly when other corresponding parts of the
brain are touched. Therefore, we do not need a real world outside to have
a world in our brains; we need only real or artificial stimuli;
Dreams: The World In Our Brains
Another striking example of the fake world created by the brain is our
The life we live in our dreams is often extremely “real”. A person dreaming
that a stranger is following him sweats as he runs across the streets.
He becomes so tense that he may even have a heart attack. While all these
processes take place, there exists no actual stranger and not even his
In brief, a dream is a clear example of virtual reality where one assumes
existence in an actual environment.
What if you are in a dream right now? This may seem an odd question to
ask. But just for a minute assume that somebody tells you that what you
are experiencing right now is just a dream and all the things happening
around you are occurring only in your brain. What would your answer be?
It occurs to you that there is no evidence indicating that you are dreaming.
Everything seems to be clear, logical and real. There is nothing that
will make you suspect otherwise. Consequently, you are not in a dream,
But, does the way by which you assess the difference between dreams
and reality rest on these criteria? Or is it because the images are so
real and seem to be part of a sequence of events?
Beware! The method you used to differentiate dreams from reality does
not seem to be scientific. When you are dreaming, you cannot understand
whether you are in a dream or not. So, there is no reason to look with
contempt at dreams. You talk with somebody that does not exist in reality
and want to possess a virtual car. When you wake up, both dreams and the
“life” you assume to be real, have the same features and characteristics,
since both are experienced in your brain.
When you are dreaming, events develop beyond your control. You are not
given the opportunity to choose the place, time and scenario of your dream.
Suddenly, you find yourself having an adventure while still asleep. What
is more, you do not find the happenings around you strange, although they
do not comply with common sense and are against the laws of nature.
Most probably, for you, reality is represented by the things that can
be touched and seen. You also hold something with your hand and see it
in your dream, where you neither have a hand nor eyes, nor an object to
see. This situation is practically deceiving! A philosopher who ponders
on this conflict states the following:
“For while we dream, we do not know that we are dreaming; it
is only later, after awaking, that we recognize our dream as a dream.
How can we claim that our present experiences are of a more reliable type
than those of a dream? The fact that they are associated with a feeling
of reality does not make them more dependable, because we have the same
feeling in a dream. We cannot completely exclude the possibility that
later experiences will prove that we are dreaming even now.” (Hans Reichenbach,
The Rise of Scientific Philosophy, University of California Press, 1973,
Descartes also made the same proposition: “In my dreams I see myself going
to places; when I wake up I realize that I have been nowhere and I find
myself just lying in my bed. Who can assure me that I am not dreaming right
now, or that my whole life is not a dream? For these reasons, the reality
of the world I live in becomes a totally dubious concept.” (Macit Gökberk,
Felsefe Tarihi (History of Philosophy), p.263)
Then what is the difference between real life and dreams? Is it the fact
that real life has an uninterrupted, continuous nature, or is it because
a different kind of reasoning mechanism prevails in dreams? These are
not important differences in principle, since both kinds of life experience
occur in the brain.
If we can live in a virtual life when dreaming, why wouldn’t we be living
in a virtual life when we are not dreaming? There is no logical reason
to prevent us from thinking that we are starting to live in a longer dream
that we call “real life”, when we wake up from a dream. It is our
prejudice and traditional way of thinking which lead us to have no doubts
about this subject, although we do not have any solid evidence about it.
The World Formed by Hypnosis
Under hypnosis, the patient although in a deep sleep hears, sees and
feels as instructed by another person. The hypnotist can verbally simulate
any environment and the patient would believe that he is in that environment
and that the environment is real. In General Hospital Psychiatry magazine
(January 1987), an experiment performed on a ten-year-old boy whose leg
had been broken in a car accident is related as follows:
“The patient was requested to close his eyes and feel as if
he were in a cinema. During the operation, the boy lay calmly and moved
his right hand regularly between his mouth and his knee. In the meantime,
the doctor took care of the fracture. What were the rhythmic hand movements?
After he woke up, the boy said that he had been eating popcorn in the
Under hypnosis, you can make somebody hear the voices you choose. If we
convince him that our voice comes out of a wall, he will think that the
wall speaks. If we go further and say that the voice comes from our hands
or ears, he will assume that these organs talk.
Moreover, the time concept in hypnosis is also quite different. An experiment
carried out in Virginia University Psychology Department is worth
mentioning. A university student was hypnotized and told to return to
her high school years and go into each classroom in her school. There
were around 20 classrooms in her school and she was instructed to tell
what was happening in each classroom one by one. Yet, she had only half
an hour to accomplish this and a metronome was regulating the time. The
girl was told that a metronome would tick each minute, so that she would
know how much time was left for her to finish.
The hypnotized girl managed her time well and accomplished what was expected
of her in the time given. Yet the metronome was ticking not every minute,
but every second. In other words, the metronome functioned for a total
of 30 seconds, not half an hour.
After 30 seconds, the metronome was stopped and the professor woke the
girl up. Then he asked what she remembered of the experience Her subconscious
had worked according to the way it was instructed, and so she was able
to recount in detail what she saw in each room. When she learned that
the whole experiment had lasted for 30 seconds and not half an hour, she
was very astonished.
This example shows how an illusionary world can certainly be created
through hypnosis. So much so that even if we kept only the brain of a
human being alive, we could give him a body and a face at will through
hypnosis, and we could make him live a life just like the one we are living
Hologram: Three Dimensional Dream
Apart from the human brain’s ability to make up virtual locations, modern
technology supplies us with the tools to establish three-dimensional “virtual
worlds”. The three-dimensional technique of photography, the product of
which is called a “hologram”, is generated with the help of laser rays.
The images produced by a hologram rest in space and it is possible to
see the image from all angles.
Today, the hologram is commonly used in daily life activities, like
exhibiting precious jewelry or presenting theater decorations. As long
as it is not touched, it is impossible to differentiate a hologram from
All these examples indicate a certain fact; “The brain cannot distinguish
whether the stimulus comes from a real or a fake source.”
In other words, the fact that we see, touch or smell a substance does
not mean that it actually exists. While dreaming, under hypnosis, or when
our nerves are artificially stimulated, we have no doubts about the reality
of the setting we are in. However, the setting which we assume to be real,
occurs only the brain.
In short, our brain or, in more accurate terms, our mind presents a world
to us. It is impossible for us to acquire any idea about the real nature
of the existence of this world.
Then, how can we be sure about the existence of this world that we live
in and assume it to be real? Although there is no scientific and logical
support for the existence of a real world, the reason why we believe in
it rests in traditional ways of thinking and the way we have been gathering
our knowledge and perceptions of the world since the time we were born.
We can clearly see this fact when we set our mind free and think without
the limitations of our prejudices.
The Real Nature of Matter
From medicine to physics and in many other branches of science, recent
developments have revealed serious doubts about the reality of the
“outside world”. Scientists and astronomers state that the real nature
of the universe is not matter, but they also add that perfect order prevails.
For instance, Einstein says: “I feel astonished when I see the order of
the universe.” Astronomer Arthur Eddington, on the other hand, expresses
the view that the basic cement of the universe is thought. James
Jeans, another astronomer, also agrees with the above viewpoints and states
that the universe is like a great thought rather than a big machine.
The recent developments that have taken place in science over the last
century have made certain theories regarding the nature of the world and
the actual existence of matter collapse and replaced them with a brand
One of the most important studies pertaining to the real nature of matter
is Einstein’s relativity theory. Einstein, with his famous formula E=mc2,
asserted that matter is a form of energy. In other words, the basic unit
of matter is energy, which does not take up any space and does not have
any volume and mass. In this case, it is impossible to state that matter
has volume or mass, and that it has an existence in the sense in which
we perceive it.
“Before the relativity theory, scientists accepted the existence
of two separate concepts in the universe as matter and energy. Matter
was thought to have volume and mass and energy was defined as a wavy,
invisible concept that lacked a mass. Albert Einstein revealed that these
two concepts are the same and proved that what is perceived as matter
is, in essence, energy. In other words, matter is energy and energy is
matter.” (Ali Demirsoy, Evren ve Çocuklari (Universe and Its Children),
Another development that rendered void the classical definitions of matter
is that of quantum physics. During atomic research, it has been observed
that a deeper analysis of atoms indicated a different nature of the atom.
That is because the quarks, the basic part of the atom, are not matter but
energy. These particles can not be defined as matter since they lack volume
and mass and do not take up any space. For instance, photons are also quarks.
In this case the atom which is made up of these particles cannot be defined
as matter. To conclude, since the basic element of the “outside world” is
the atom, it is not possible to talk about the actual existence of the universe.
To say it in another way, the universe is made up of atoms, which cannot
be called matter.
“All kind of matter in the universe, whether in the form of
gas or liquid, are formed of various waves. We live in an ocean of waves
and perceive different levels of energy in the form of different senses.”
(Ali Demirsoy, Evren ve Çocuklari (Universe and Its Children), p.6)
Aydin Aritan, a writer of Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technique) magazine
states the following:
“The universe is also made up of waves, of various vibrations
having different frequencies. Quantum physics tells us that these vibrations
compose the dimensions and the matter we perceive. Yet we do not perceive
the “outside world” as waves but as pictures and forms of matters. In
this case, the outside world and all its perceptions are just a misperception,
just as Berkeley said once upon a time.”
As it is seen, the “outside world” as it is commonly referred to, is nothing
but an ocean of waves that has neither mass, nor volume, nor location. Then
why do we perceive it as regular images? The answer is we live in a world
generated by the mind. Colour, voice, mass, strength, shape and other features
are all concepts generated by the mind and have no actual existence in the
“According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, the world appears not
as a structure built out of independently existing, unanalyzable entities,
but rather as a web of relationships among elements whose meanings arise
entirely from their relationship to the whole. Similarly, quantum mechanics
can lead to the views that physical reality is essentially nonsubstantial
- that fields or relationships alone are real. The eastern mystics knew
that. They called the separation of objects maya, an illusion which
comes from our categorizing intellect.” (Newsweek, August 13, 1979,
Aydin Aritan outlines this concept as follows: “We perceive the outside
world as forms of matter and pictures, because our brain and senses are
organized in this way. Yet this does not mean that the outside world has
these features in reality.”
“If we try to know the universe through our senses we cannot
find the truth. If we try to know it through means other than our senses,
then we come across with spirit lacking mathematical formulas.” (Ali Demirsoy,
Evren ve Çocuklari (Universe and Its Children), p.7)
Neurologist Karl Pilgram, who is known for his research on the actual existence
of the “outside world”, states that the “outside world” is just a hologram
composed of waves decoded by the brain:
“In a symposium held in Minnesota, Pilgram stated that the answer
might be in Gestalt psychology. In other words, the perceived substance
acquires a reality with the type of perception the perceiver has. Maybe
the whole world is nothing but a hologram. Is the audience sitting across
from him a hologram? Are they frequencies decoded by his own brain and
the brains of others? If the nature of reality is holographic matter,
then the world, just as depicted in the Far East philosophies, is just
a misperception.” (Günes (The Sun), September 9 ,1990)
Finally, when we free our minds from prejudice, we can see that there is
no solid evidence proving the existence of a real world.
At this stage, the following question is the first one that comes to
mind: “If there is not an outside world, what is the source of the images
we see around us? How do we feel that we live in a real and actual world?”
Before answering these questions, let us have a look at the recent technological
developments that will assist us to comprehend the subject better.
Simulator; Artificial Reality
The technique called “simulation” generates an artificial virtual world
with the help of a computer. A helmet with a screen provides you with
a three-dimensional image and makes the brain believe that it is experiencing
the real world by exciting the five senses attached to it. A computer
that is equipped with the latest techniques of simulation and modeling
that can almost handle all five of our human senses, provides the excitement
to the brain. How is this done? And what are its implications?
It is done, essentially, by applying advanced forms of imaging with which
we are already familiar from 3D virtual reality games. In order to train
F16 pilots, LCD masks or helmets have been designed that show the pilot
a three dimensional picture of the aircraft such that, as he moves his
head up and down, it feels to him as if he were really in the aircraft.
With the addition of a perfect sound system and a seat that moves in sensitive
accord with what is represented through the LCD helmet, all the thrills
and sensations of flying can be “experienced” by the trainee pilot.
This example shows the fact that sensory effects can easily produce a
Who is the one that Sees?
“Is the “outside world” really there, or are we producing it
in our brain? It is an established fact that we have five senses. It is
also obvious that senses reach the brain through the nervous system and
brain stores this processed data. Yet, what or who lives data actually,
and organizes the sensory stimulus and converts it in a conscious mechanism
that is referred to as the perception of the “outside world”?” (Gelisim
Bilim ve Teknik Ansiklopedisi (Encyclopedia Gelisim of Science and Technique),
There is no doubt that the world we live in is formed in the brain. However,
the main question arises at this point. If all the things that we see and
live through do not have a materialistic existence like dreams-how are these
It is sometimes said that these images are a “function of the brain that
has not yet been yet solved”. In this case, the dream is produced by the
memory in an unknown way. In fact, when the question: Who shows these
images in the brain?” is asked, it is said, though without any evidence
that the “brain itself” generates them.
At this point, we must take up another aspect of the issue which we have
disregarded up to now. Bertrand Russell states;
“Of course, if matter in general is to be interpreted as a group
of occurrences, this must apply also to the eye, the optic nerve and the
brain” (Bertrand Russell, The ABC of Relativity, George Allen and Unwin
Ltd., 1958, p. 129)
In other words, the brain is also a part of the “outside world” which is
now comprehended to be nothing but a collection of images having no location,
mass or volume. An example about a dream will make our point clear. Now,
let us assume that we are having a dream in our brain. In our dream: we
will have a virtual body, and hence virtual eyes and brain. If somebody
asks in our dream: Where do we see the world?”, our answer would be “in
my brain”. If the same person goes further and asks where is our brain and
what it looks like, then we would grab our virtual head and say “my brain
is in my skull weighing almost a kilogram.”
It is evident that there is no brain but a virtual head and a virtual
brain in our dream. The one that sees the images is not the virtual brain
in the dream but an existence “beyond” it.
Actually, there is no observable difference between the setting of the
dream and of the “real world” as we call it. Therefore, when we come pose
the same question in our daily life, giving the same type of answer would
not make much sense. The one that sees is “beyond” the brain, and it is
an existence marked by totally different characteristics.
This “existence” is something that feels, touches, sees, hears, loves,
fears and refers to itself as “I”. This “existence” is a “living organism”,
yet it is neither matter nor an image. It is also nonsense to call it
a body part weighing 1 kilo and 300 grams. That is because, it is impossible
for the atoms that make up the cells to create a perfect three-dimensional
world. When a deep analysis of the brain is made, we come across natural
structures such as amino acids, molecules that are common in every part
of the universe. In other words, in the brain there exists no location
or structure that generates the images or makes up the consciousness.
Obviously the “existence” that feels, sees, thinks and calls itself “I”,
is somewhere beyond the brain. Religion refers to this existence as the
“spirit”. The “outside world”, on the other hand, just as in our dream,
takes the form of the images presented to our spirit by Allah. In other
words, the human being is not in the universe but the universe, is in
the human being.
The reason why the “outside world” seems to be so realistic is the perfection
of the senses and the images. Our Creator creates a perfect world for
us. What misleads us is the excellence of the creation of these images.
Briefly, we can define the universe, as an image perfect enough to call
it almost “real”.
How does the Qur’an deal with the issue?
What we have said until now facilitates the comprehension of certain
important facts; the real nature of the universe manifests itself in the
explanations given above and puts an end to the sovereignty of the materialistic
approach, which was valid in the past, in the explanation of the being
of Allah and human beings.
The materialistic approach is based on the assumption that matter has
an absolute existence. Now that we know matter is not absolute but an
entity made up of perceptions and images, the power attributed wrongly
to matter should now be seen as belonging to Allah Who creates all of
these images. Since matter is a collection of perceptions, the concepts
of space and location also become nonsense.
In this case, the answer to the classical question: “Where is Allah?”
becomes clear. According to those who do not adhere to the Qur'anic way
of life and thinking, Allah is “up in the sky” watching them from a distance
and rarely interfering with worldly affairs. This mentality separates
the universe that is made up of matter from Allah. The understanding of
Allah is some religions is based on this mentality. same mentality also
prevails in the societies of ignorance whose members claim to be Muslims.
Yet, as it has been emphasized until now, matter
is just a perception. It is not an alternative for Allah to exist outside
this collection of matter. Allah is everywhere. Nothing can be out of
Allah’s existence. A number of verses in the
Qur’an make this explanation more accurate. “Behold! We told you
that your Lord encompasses mankind.”(Al-Isra, 60)
“But to Allah belong all things in the heavens and
on earth: And He it is that Encompasses all things.” (An-Nisa, 126)
“Ah indeed! It is He that encompasses all things!”
“To Allah belong the east and the west: wherever
you turn, there is the presence of Allah. For Allah is all-Pervading,
all-Knowing.” (Al-Baqara, 115)
“And He is Allah in the heavens and on earth.” (Al-Anaam,
“He to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and
the earth: no son has He begotten, nor has He a partner in His dominion:
it is He who created all things, and ordered them in due proportion.”
“...for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein.”
“Allah is He, besides Whom there is no other god-
He knows all things both secret and open; He, is the Most Gracious, the
Most Merciful. Allah is He, besides Whom there is no other god-the Sovereign,
the Holy One, the Source of Peace and Perfection, the Guardian of Faith,
the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme:
Glory to Allah! High is He above the partners they attribute to Him. He
is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or Colours).
His are the Most Beautiful Names: whatever is in the heavens and on earth,
declares His Praises and Glory: and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise
one.” (Al-Hashr, 22-24)
Islamic intellectuals, who adopted the Qur'anic point of view in their
interpretation of the universe realized centuries ago that the universe
is not of a materialistic nature, and made very explicit statements about
the real nature of the things created by Allah. One of the most prominent
thinkers of Islamic history, Imam Rabbani, stated his views as follows:
“Allah chose various objects to reveal each of His epithets (Just, Gracious,
Provider of Sustenance) and He reflected His own attributes on these objects.
The substance of these beings on which He reflected His epithets is nothingness.
The Glorious Allah chose various objects for each of His epithets in the
realm of nothingness and created those in the sphere of senses and illusions.
And He did so whenever He liked and however He liked.
The existence of the universe in the sphere of senses and illusions,
and it is not external. In this circumstance, a constancy emerges in nothingness
in the sphere of senses and illusions and it acquires tenacity and strength
by the creation of Allah, the Most High. Thus it becomes something that
lives, knows, acts, wills, sees, hears and speaks. Through reflection
and shadow are its name and sign presented in the outside world. In reality,
there is nothing in the outside except the epithets and attributes of
All these have appeared on the mirror of the evident presence
of Allah, the Superior One. There is nothing outside but these appearances.
They have thus acquired an image in the outside world. They seemed as
though they really existed. In the real sense, there is nothing outside
but Allah, the Glorious.” (Imam Rabbani, Mektubati Rabbani (Letter of
Rabbani), p. 517-519)
The interpretation of another very important Islamic thinker, Said Nursi
also conveys the same message:
“The materialistic world has a virtual nature, being a reflection
of Allah’s existence. It comes to be a real world by the command of Allah.
It becomes consistent and constant by Allah’s will. The world of matter
is neither a real world, nor a dreamy and temporary shadow. It exists
only by the creation of Allah.” (Mektubat (The Letters), p.503)
In conclusion, the “outside world”, including our body is an image projected
to our spirit by Allah. Therefore, it does not have an existence of its
own. The universe is inside man and what surrounds man is not matter, but
Allah. This fact is thus made explicit: “We know the prompting of his soul,
and are closer to him than his jugular vein.”
Many verses in the Qur’an describe the different aspects of the structure
“Do they indeed ascribe to Him as partners things
that can create nothing, but are themselves created?” (Al-Araf, 191)
“Those whom they invoke besides Allah create nothing
and are themselves created.” (An-Nahl, 20)
The following verse pertains to the continual creation
of Allah and clearly explains how every image is perfectly created by
Surely, worthier is He who has made His creatives
and will bring them back to life in the hereafter; Who gives you sustenance
from earth and sky.”.... (Al-Naml, 64)
The continuous existence of the universe depends solely on Allah’s will
to continue His creation. It is just like a TV program that can be watched
only so long as it is broadcast by a TV channel.
Since Allah creates the images, every action is also created by Him.
This means that when we walk, run or laugh, all images related to these
actions are presented only because Allah so wills it. Some verses of the
Qur’an come to mind for their striking relevance to this discussion:
“It is not you who slew them; it was Allah: when
you threw, it was not your act, but Allah’s: in order that He might test
the Believers by a gracious trial from Himself: for Allah is He Who hears
and knows all things.” (Al-Anfal, 17)
“But Allah has created you and your handiwork!” (As-Saaffat,
“...But, truly, the command is with Allah in all
things..” (Al-Rad, 31)
To summarize, everybody is under the control of Allah and no event can
be realized except by the will and control of Allah. The fact that Allah
projects all images in our minds is not limited to a few verses. Moreover,
from the Qur’an we learn that Allah sometimes makes people perceive some
“There has already been a Sign for you in the two
armies that met in combat: One was fighting in the cause of Allah, the
other resisting Allah; the faithfull saw with their own eyes that they
were twice their own number. But Allah supports with His aid whom He pleases.
In this is a warning for such as have eyes to see.” (Al Imran, 13)
SLEEP, DREAMS, DEATH AND THE HEREAFTER
What is stated in the Qur’an about sleep has significance with respect
to the above-mentioned subject. In the Qur’an, sleep is described as follows:
“It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death;
and those that do not die He takes during their sleep: those on whom He
has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life),
but the rest He sends to their bodies for an appointed term. Truly, in
this are Signs for those who reflect.” (Az-Zumar, 42)
“It is He who takes your souls by night, and has knowledge
of all that you have done by day: by day. He raises you up again so that
an allotted term may be fulfilled. In the end to Him you will all return;
then He will show you the truth of all that you did. “ (Al-Anaam, 60)
In the Qur’an, the state of sleeping is referred to as “death”. No significant
discrimination is made between sleep and death. This is a clear indication
that what is experienced while sleeping is very similar to what one goes
through when one dies.
Well, what is common to sleep and death, and what kind of significance
does it have? In sleep, one’s spirit leaves the body, or rather, Allah
takes it. In dreaming, on the other hand, the spirit gains a new body
and starts to perceive a totally different setting. What is referred to
as being “raised up” in the verse is the return of the spirit to the actual
body and continuing to experience what is called “daily life”.
That is to say, death puts an end to the life we experience in the world,
by which process the spirit gains a new body and with it makes a new start
to an entirely different life. This is actually a key concept that clarifies
some notions about religion that may seem hard to comprehend. For instance,
death and resurrection are just an interchange of images presented to
our spirit by Allah. Everyday, every moment, Allah recreates the world
for us and presents our spirit with a continuous display of beauty. The
same thing is also valid for sleep. The delicate images created during
the course of a day are created at night in our dreams. Similarly, the
transition from this world to the next world may be as smooth as passing
to a phase of sleep; the images pertaining to this world turn into the
images of the other world and death serves as a transition point.
Dreams are also images perceived by our soul just like those experienced
in our daily lives. The verse below first reminds us of Allah’s closeness
to man and then explains for what purpose Allah creates the dreams.
“Behold! We told your that your Lord encompasses mankind:
We granted the vision which We showed you, but as a trial for men.” (Al-Isra
Since dreams are presented to the human spirit by Allah, there may be
some kind of dreams from which people receive news of impending events.
There are many examples of such dreams in the Qur’an, such as (Al Fath,
27) the Prophet Joseph’s dreams, which he sees in different phases of
his life. Just pondering on dreams will make one understand the foregoing
assertions. People who attribute dreams to be a function of the brain,
say that during dreaming, they receive certain signals from the brain
and that this is evidence showing that everything happens in the brain.
Yet, it should not be forgotten that Allah creates everything according
to the cause and effect relationship. This means that the body and spirit
of human beings are closely interrelated. Emotions like sorrow, trouble,
love, etc. having an effect on the brain is a normal consequence of the
relation between body and spirit. Yet, it is not the brain but the spirit
that experiences the emotions.
The Relativity of Time
Time and space have also been created by Allah who is the Creator of
everything. Before, there was no space and time. Actually, there was even
no “before”, as this refers to a period of time according to the current
physical rules that are limited to space and time. However looked at,
time and space are only perceptions. Various verses of the Qur’an emphasize
time as a relative concept:
“He will say: ‘What number of years did you stay
on earth?’ They will say: ‘We stayed a day or part of a day: just ask
those who keep an account.’ He will say: “Brief indeed was your sojourn,
if you but knew it!” (Al-Mumenoon, 112-114)
“The Day when the Trumpet will be sounded on that
Day, We shall gather the sinful, blear-eyed with terror. In whispers they
will consult each other: ‘You tarried not longer than ten days’: We know
best what they will say, when their leader most eminent in conduct will
say: ‘You tarried not longer than a day!’” (Ta-ha, 102-104)
The verses indicate that in the hereafter, the life we live in the world,
which seems to be continuing for years, will be found to have lasted no
longer than a moment, just as time passes in dreams and under hypnosis.
When we have a dream during sleep, we think that it lasts for hours and
days. However, scientific findings show that it lasts only a couple of
minutes or even seconds. Similarly, the time in this world will be reckoned
to have been very short when we wake up from this lifetime sleep.
MISLEADING CAUSE AND EFFECT RELATIONSHIPS
From the time we were born, we have been told to link certain effects
to certain causes. This is actually a natural consequence of the thinking
process of the materialistic mentality. However, the Qur’an gives information
about a different kind of rule prevailing on earth.
“Have you not turned your eyes to your Lord? How He
prolongs the shadow! If He willed, He could make it stationary! Then We
make the sun its guide.” (Al-Furqan, 45)
Here in this verse, it is stated that the shadow is created separately
from the Sun, and does not appear as a natural consequence of it. It is
also emphasized that the Sun is provided as “evidence” for a shadow.
The sun-shadow example in this verse indicates that no incident occurs
as a consequence of a cause, but that both cause and effect are in reality
created by Allah. In other words, the reason for things happening is not
those that seem to cause them. Power rests with Allah and Allah creates
each image every moment of time. Life has an existence only because Allah
creates it. The verse “Allah is the One who creates you and your actions”
clearly expresses this fact.
When we remember that there is no difference between the perception
of the outside world and dreams, we have a better understanding about
the relation between the shadow and the sun. Is the shadow we see in our
dreams cast because of a sun? How is it that a non-existing sun causes
a shadow to exist? What is more, sometimes the shining sun we see in our
dreams may cause our eyes to be dazzled. In such a dream, since there
is no actual sunlight, the feeling of dazzling is specially and separately
created. The same logic holds true for perceiving the taste of a fruit
that we eat or the pain we feel when we hit an object in our dream.
The reason why we perceive natural events in terms of cause and effect
is because of Allah’s creation of the sequence of these events. This resembles
the frames of a film; our life is formed of these frames created one by
one. For example; in the first square there is the tree and in the second
one, the fruit. The reason why people think that tree is the cause of
the fruit is because of these events occurring one after the other. However,
Allah creates both the tree and the fruit separately.
“FUTILE NAMES”: LAWS OF NATURE
In the light of all this information, one should ponder upon what “laws
of nature” really are. In a setting where everything is formed of images
or senses, how can a “law” originate? Can water have “a lifting force”?
Also, how can the friction force of the air be explained, when the air
is actually imaginary?
Verses of the Qur’an give clear explanations of these laws of nature,
contrary to the generally accepted materialistic view:
“Do they not look at the birds, held poised in the midst
of (the air and) the sky? Nothing holds them up but the power of Allah.
Turly, in this are signs for those who believe.” (An- Nahl, 79)
“Your Lord is He That makes the Ship go smoothly for
you across the sea, in order that you may seek his Bounty...” (Al-Isra,
“It is Allah Who causes the seed-grain and the date-stone
to split and sprout. He causes the living to issue from the dead, and
He is the one to cause the dead to issue from the living. That is Allah:
then how can you turn away from the truth?” (Al-Anaam, 95)
The things that we call ‘laws of nature’ arise from a successive creation
pattern of Allah. Allah creates the image of a seed as a cause before
creating the image of a flower. The image of the flower is never created
before the seed. Although Allah is the Creator of all causes and effects,
the created results are always tied up to certain causes.
Eventually, the ‘law of nature’ is only the name given to this process
of successive creation. For example, because ships are always created
sailing on water, we talk of the capacity of water to keep things afloat.
Similarly ‘when we see the birds flying, we say that aerodynamic force
is the reason for it. However, the verses in the Qur’an stating that Allah
is holding birds in the sky, and making the ships sail for you explain
the reality that there is no force other than that of Allah and that all
images are created in this way. So, the laws of nature, like water’s “lifting
force” and gravitation, that we think of as existing, are actually our
designation of the sequential and perfect creation we observe.
Einstein describes this reality as follows:
“Subjects like gravity, electromagnetic force, energy, electricity
and momentum are all theoretical structures, similarities and symbols
formed by the human mind in order to explain the basic reality underlying
everything we see.” (Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technique), v.272,
“All power and honour belong to Allah” (Yunus, 65).
The power and honour belonging to Allah are called by such names as “gravitation”
and “energy”. It can be easily understood after a moment of thought that
these names actually have no meaning at all.
To sum up, materialistic people and groups who are keen on making up
imaginary deities to believe in, have madeup meaningless terms like “mother
nature” — futile words. The Prophet Joseph’s words in the Qur’an reflect
this fact clearly:
“If not Him, you worship nothing but names which you
have devised,- you and your fathers,- for which Allah has sent down no
authority: the command is for none but Allah: He has commanded that you
worship none but Him: that is the right religion, but most men do not
understand. “ (Yusuf, 40)
What confuses us is maybe the unawareness of most people of this fact
as stated in the verse. However, the individual will understand better
that this world is only imagination when he finds himself in the hereafter.
Right now, one should start thinking and understanding the existence of
Allah. Because, the situation of the unbelievers in the hereafter is described
as follows in the Qur’an:
“As for the Unbelievers, their deeds are like a mirage
in sandy deserts, which the man parched with thirst mistakes for water;
until when he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing: But he finds
Allah (ever) with him, and Allah will pay him his account: and Allah is
swift in taking account.” (Al-Noor, 39)