Solipsism – I Hate it when that Happens

By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away!  I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.  For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
You are judging by appearances.  If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do.  So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it.  I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters.  For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.”  Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.

  • 2 Corinthians 10:1-11

“’All the choir of heaven and furniture of earth – in a word, all those bodies which compose the frame of the world – have not any substance without a mind – George Berkeley
[Suppose you are on a boat far from shore, you look to a friend.  You both have an idea that you need an oar in order to reach shore.  You even pray for an oar, for there is no oar on the boat.]
“An inescapable fact of Berkeley’s system, therefore, seems to be that we never perceive the same things.  Each of us is locked in his own world, cut off from the worlds of other people.  The fact that God has an idea of an oar [for example, as in needing an oar to paddle a boat toward shore] cannot help us here, for that is a third idea, and therefore a third oar.  God caused my idea and your idea, but unless we share a single mind with each other and with God, there are still three different ideas, so there are three different oars.  This leads us to the problem of solipsism – the possibility that the only thing I can be certain of existing – or that may in fact exist – is myself.
“One possible solution to solipsism runs as follows: since I can cause changes in the world, such as raising my own hand, and since I notice other people, I can infer that those bodies are also changed by a ‘consciousness’ inside them.  The problem for Berkeley, though, is that there is no ‘real’ hand being lifted – the most the person can do is be the cause of the idea of his own hand rising – and only their idea, not another person’s.  I, in other words, must still rely on God to supply me with my idea of another person’s hand rising.  Far from supplying us with empirical certainty, therefore, Berkeley leaves us depending for our knowledge of the world, and of the existence of other minds, upon our faith in a God that would never deceive us.”

  • Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained

It seems that the only sane concept of George Berkeley’s (1685-1753) philosophy is that God would never deceive us.

In our previous discussion of the George Berkeley philosophy, God’s Existence is not Dependent upon the Senses, we discussed that the only things that exist are those things that we perceive.  When George Berkeley left his office at the university to teach a class, his office failed to exist.  When he returned, everything was as he had left it. We are talking about heart attack quality of shock that nothing had moved.  I discussed with a friend that I wonder if Berkeley had pranksters in his classes that would go into his office and move things around, just to mess with him.  But when Berkeley returned to his office, everything was recreated in the exact location where he had left it.  He examined this shocking occurrence and decided that God was the guarantor of all “things” as if “things” really existed, and God recreated those things that became familiar to George Berkeley’s mind.

Berkeley was the Dean of Derry in Ireland at one point.  He wanted to create a seminary in Bermuda.  He moved his family there.  I suppose his family came along because Berkeley had gotten accustomed to them being there when he returned after a long day at work, but he was unable to obtain the necessary funds for the seminary.  He returned to London and was named the bishop of Cloyne.  Odd that someone who became a bishop in the Church of England only dreamed up an idea of a God to guarantee those things that Berkeley saw would reappear, recreated from thin air, just to have an excuse for believing in God.  The bottom line for Berkeley was that you had to see it at that moment or it did not exist.  God is a spirit and does not have a body like man has.  Thus God, the Father, cannot exist in Berkeley’s initial philosophy, only as a guarantor to remove the shock that things remain where Berkeley last saw them.

I hope this circle logic did not cause anyone to get a headache, but everything, in Berkeley’s philosophy, returns to Berkeley’s mind and the information that Berkeley’s mind gets from Berkeley’s senses.  I wrote “Berkeley” four times in that sentence.  Berkeley, Berkeley, Berkeley, Berkeley.  Solipsism is the concept that self is the only thing that we can be sure to exist.

Berkeley has taken empiricism, the philosophy of the senses providing the proof to existence, to such an extreme that nothing really exists – other than oh, so precious, Meeeeeee!!!

We have far too much solipsism in this world.  If you doubt that, you need to trust Meeeeeee!

Sorry, I just had to do that.  Just as the Apostle Paul starts off a paragraph about “humility” with the line I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am ‘timid’ when face to face with you, but ‘bold’ toward you when away!”  It is certainly hard to place the focus on Jesus when we keep saying “I, Me, Myself.”

The next time you hear a statement of faith or someone’s personal testimony, listen to how many times they refer to themselves rather than referring to God.

Paul is using himself as an example of humility, but he must draw everyone’s focus upon himself to accomplish it.

In our testimonies, we must place a bit of the focus on ourselves, as to draw the attention of the audience upon the similarities that they have with our situation.  “I was a wretch.  I could do nothing to get out of the rut that I was in.  And then Jesus came and drew me out of my pit of despair.”  That is beautiful.  That is truthful.  It might reach many in that position, but I said “I” thrice, “me” once, “my” once, but “Jesus” only once.  Yet, Jesus is the only Person in that tiny quote that has any power to do anything.  That is the message.

But, far too many, and many within our churches, feel that God is our administrative assistant that puts things back when we have left them in disarray and extricates us from danger when we do something stupid.  As Berkeley’s philosophy states, God is the guarantor to put things back when we turn our back on them.  Ouch!  He may not have meant it that way, but that is the result.

And the thing that strikes me in Berkeley’s philosophy is that it devalues and totally demotivates us from spreading the Gospel beyond what we can see, touch, and hear.  Even within that realm, the realm of our senses, does anything, other than precious me, exist?!?!  Then, why evangelize?!?!?!  Salvation is then for me and me alone.

Do not belief that. Why would I write this, if I were the only thing that existed?

God sent His precious Son into this world to save those who would turn their lives over to that Son, believing and trusting in Him, not that He merely exists, but that He loves us and wants nothing but what is best for us.  Indeed, He wants to live with us in paradise, forever.

So, for all you people that the KJV considers “whosoever”, you are not the only thing that exists, but if you were, Jesus would have died, just for you.  He loves all of us that much.

If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. I actually did get a mild headache as I read this. Not your fault, I am still recovering from covid.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: