Four Views of Andromeda

These four views of Andromeda (below) metaphorically illustrate the idea that how the world appears is dependent on the type of stimuli our senses and nervous systems evolved to detect and decipher. Of course, the pictured alternatives (made using Xrays, ultraviolet, and infrared radiation) to the "optical view" (using "visible" light) are not what we would be seeing if we had eyes that were actually sensitive to Xrays, ultraviolet, or infrared radiation. These are all just pictures, photos we created that we are then viewing with visible light. We have no idea what the world would actually "look like" if we had evolved "to see" these other wavelengths of radiation directly. Indeed, it is entirely possible that a species that, like us, is sensitive to "visible light" would "see" something that looked like one of the other pictures, or something entirely different, for example, dogs that do not see color, or insects with compound eyes.

Even if another sentient species somewhere evolved to be sensitive to other wavelengths of radiation, certain features might be consistent among the alternative visual possibilities. For example, the shape or spatial arrangment of matter seems to be similar in the four pictures. However, this would depend on the other species also organizing the world in three dimensions, something that may also vary! For example, modern "string theory" postulates 11 dimensions (!), of which we evolved to sense four (the three of space plus time). Regardless of whether or not string theory turns out to be correct, clearly the three dimensional space with which we define/sense/experience what we feel is "out there" is something that is constructed in our minds and is NOT What-Really-Is-Out-There (WRIOT).

We know that there are species here on earth that are sensitive to infrared radiation. What does the world "look like" to them? What about bats who have a sense of the world that is derived through sonar? What do they "see" in their minds? The point is that the experience of the world is not "what is out there." The features of the world, as we know them, come into being in our minds. For practical purposes, we can act and talk about the world as if things exist "out there" and all the features of things are "out there." But these considerations make it clear that even "out there" is something that exists in our minds!

And we know that we sometimes construct vivid, direct experience of things that cannot exist. So then, what is really "out there?" Good question! It's a mystery. It's an awesome mystery. And whatever this awesome mystery actually is, out of it arises the world of experience, our selves and the universe as we experience it. We have given this Divine Mystery a name, a word that serves as a placeholder for the ineffable, "Yo."