From Metaphysical to physical

I’d recently been in a discussion with another Patheos member on what it means to believe in something, and thought I’d put down an attempted explaination about how I believe that all things now considered metaphysical can also be physical. This came from a discussion on belief in the afterlife and kind of grew from there.

In any case –

To be put simply, anything that is physical is tangible. It can in some way be measured, experienced, touched, etc.. Your body is physical. Through your perceptions, you know some things about what shape it is, what its made from, how it works.

Things that are metaphysical are things that are abstract, without physical substance.

To most people, physical is real, metaphysical is not.

I know it gets kind of strange to be starting with definitions when working on an argument, but bear with me.

To me, things of the spirit (e.g. God, heaven, the afterlife) are real, physical things that we simply do not yet know how to adequately measure.

I’ll try for an analogy. If you point at the sun, you are pointing to where the sun was six minutes ago, not at its current position in the sky. You are pointing at something that is not really there. Now the sun does exist, but the sun where you are pointing does not. It is both real and not real at the same time.

Another analogy. One of my coworkers has an interesting scientific toy called a parabolic mirror. On top of it appear to be a couple of jelly beans. Using my own sight, I can see that those beans exist at that location. If I tried to touch those beans, however, my fingers would go through the image. The beans exist, but not where I can experience them with my sense of touch. Those beans are metaphysical, but also physical. They exist, just not where I could see that they existed.

It is the same with God. A person could, if they knew and followed the proper way, see God. Without using that same method, another person could not see God, and would not believe that God exists. In the analogy of the sun, if you merely shift your pointing by 6 minutes along the sun’s route, you would be pointing at the physical sun. For the beans, if you feel inside the device, you will find the physical beans. If you refuse to do what is needed to experience these things, they remain metaphysical, or not real, to you.

Even in this explanation I find I’m having difficulty finding the right words to use to describe what I am trying to get across.


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