Could it be that our known physical reality is very close to some other very different reality, one that we cannot see, but that occasionally interacts with our reality? Could it be that such a different reality is inhabited by minds or spirits far greater than ours? Such a concept may seem unreasonable, until we consider that such a situation would be quite similar to the situation that we know exists for aquatic organisms living in a bay.
Let us consider the situation of an aquatic organism living in a bay. Such an organism has a familiar local reality that it might traverse – the bay that it lives in. Beyond that bay lies a much greater reality that such an organism might journey to, if it were really adventurous. For by traveling out into the ocean, such an organism could gain access to many other distant realities such as distant rivers and distant bays. We might say that the organism's bay is rather like a planet, that the ocean the bay connects to is rather like outer space, and that the distant bays and distant bodies of water that can be accessed are rather like extraterrestrial planets.
But the description above does not mention one very important fact about this organism living in a bay: the fact that lying very close to it is some totally different type of reality that the organism is totally unfamiliar with. I refer to the reality of the solid land that surrounds the bay. On that land is a reality unlike any that the organism has ever experienced: a reality where there dwells beings more advanced than anything in the bay.
Let us imagine some pretty intelligent organism living at the bottom of a bay – perhaps an octopus. We might also imagine such an organism forming a little society of octopuses that might have pretensions about understanding reality. Such an organism might think something like this:
We have reality figured out. All reality consists of water and creatures like us who live in the water. There exist distant, mysterious places we can visit. But such places are all like our reality – places where creatures live in the water.
The great irony here would be that very close to such an octopus would be a totally different reality, the reality of land-based life. But the octopus would know nothing about such a reality, even though it is very close to him.
We may be very much like such octopuses. The reason is that lying very close to our physical reality may be a totally different reality we cannot imagine: some spiritual realm. Such a realm may be inhabited by minds or spirits vastly more advanced than ours. We cannot imagine such a realm any more than an octopus can imagine life on the land. But we may end up in such a realm after we die.
Below is a table that describes the similarities between these two scenarios. The second column represents a known reality. The third column represents a theoretical reality that has many similarities to the reality described in the second column.
|Realm A||Aquatic habitat of a bay||Our physical planet|
|Realm B||Dry land surrounding the bay||A spiritual realm overlying ours|
|Realm A drastically different from Realm B?||Yes||Yes|
|Inhabitants of Realm B can see Realm A?||To a limited extent (scuba divers, submerged cameras, etc.)||Possibly|
|Inhabitants of Realm B are superior to inhabitants of Realm A?||Yes (for example, humans are superior to fish)||Presumably (there may exist there God, angels, “elevated spirits,” etc.)|
|Inhabitants of Realm B may sometimes visit Realm A?||Yes (scuba divers and human swimmers)||Possibly – for example, ghosts or spirits appearing as apparitions|
|Inhabitants of Realm A may go to Realm B?||Sometimes (fish caught by fishermen, organisms caught and put in aquariums)||Perhaps (your soul may go to Realm B after death, as suggested by near-death experiences)|
|Inhabitants of Realm B may may make physical manifestations in Realm A?||Sometimes (a person on land or a boat may throw or drop something in a bay)||Perhaps (for example, apports, table-tipping, mysterious rappings, reported signs from the dead, etc.)|
If someone complains that the theoretical reality described in the third column is not scientific, he will be making an objection no more valid than this type of objection that could be made by a particularly intelligent octopus living at the bottom of a bay, 100 meters from a shopping mall:
Some have speculated about some possible “other reality” lying outside of our known watery reality. Such talk is, of course, superstitious nonsense. All that exists is water and creatures like us who live in water.
Such a conclusion would be as unwarranted as the type of statement below made by many a materialist:
Some have speculated about some possible “other reality” lying outside our known material reality. Such talk is, of course, superstitious nonsense. All that exists is matter and creatures like us who live on a planet made of matter.
Some day you may get a sign or calling card from such a spiritual Realm B. It might be a mysterious orb that shows up in your photo, an inexplicable voice or sound, a strange feeling of an unseen presence, or a series of coins that keep showing up inexplicably. Your first thought may be to exclude such a sign as something impossible, but perhaps you should be no more surprised by such a thing than some octopus at the bottom of a bay should be surprised to see a thrown pebble or a fishing line falling down into his watery realm.