Three Illusions Misleading Modern Society

Finally, in this article, we really get into the meat of the issues this series of articles is all about. We will begin to discuss illusions that have had an enormous influence in shaping the world we live in. But for you to have full use of these insights, you must be confident I know what I am talking about. The first three articles were just preparation; we now get into the proof I have promised.

In this article, I will focus on an area of scientific research that is popularly known as “remote viewing.” There are many anomalies in different scientific fields that I could have chosen to begin to illustrate the points in this article, since they all break the accepted “rules” in the same way, and provide the same insights. I chose remote viewing to start because the technique is so clear and easy to visualize. The conclusions derived from remote viewing will be strengthened and further expanded later, as I present the anomalies from other fields of science. We will be building a broader perspective that better maps the reality beyond the illusions.

You must be fairly knowledgeable about the research into remote viewing to get the most benefit out of this article. If you have already studied it carefully, you will know that most of the work meets the highest scientific standards and has been performed by skilled scientists with impressive backgrounds in traditional fields of scientific research. It has also been successfully replicated by independent research teams.

If you are not familiar with this research, I have provided my rough draft of a book chapter, with references, that summarizes it with a link in the header, above (Remote Viewing book chapter). If you are already familiar with the field, or have read my book chapter in the past, here is a brief summary taken from the end of the chapter, as an orientation to its contents:

“In this chapter, we have seen anecdotal reports of psychic abilities which show that information is being transferred in a fashion that clearly transcends physically based processes. We have also briefly reviewed the extensive SRI and PEAR databases that show numerous reports with statistically significant results. Taken as a group, these research studies provide the same conclusions as the anecdotal evidence. Human research subjects are capable of gathering information from distant locations about which they have no normal physical means of acquiring it. This is not a characteristic of just a few highly skilled remote viewers; it is part of what it is to be human.”

Let’s now explore the implications. If these conclusions are true, some fundamentally important assumptions deeply embedded into the thinking and institutions of modern society are completely wrong. In keeping with the theme introduced in my first article, I have called these illusions and will use the research findings to help us construct a broader perspective that shows exactly how they are illusory. I have selected three important assumptions to discuss. Each will be given its own brief subsection:

1. The Illusion that Nothing Exists except Matter and Physical forces
2. The Illusion that Beliefs of Religion and Spirit can only be taken on Faith
3. The Illusion that Reality is Sharply Divided into Separate Material and Spiritual Domains

The Illusion that Nothing Exists except Matter and Physical forces

That this is an illusion is not news to most of us. Reasonably well done surveys of the world’s population indicate that about 80% of people either have a religious faith or believe in some sort of metaphysical reality. While there are enormous conflicts within the specifics of these belief systems, this statistic reflects a powerful intuitive understanding that something exists beyond what our physical senses convey to us.

But despite its rejection by the majority of the world’s population, this illusion has been a core component of the worldview of most scientists. For several centuries, science has drifted away from ancient religious teachings and traditional spiritual beliefs, and toward a completely secular view of the cosmos. Scientists have envisioned everything that exists as a part of a huge physical chain of causality based on random events and guided by rigid, impartial laws. This viewpoint has exerted a subtle but quite powerful formative influence on modern society. Most of our cultural institutions still mirror this system of beliefs, even though scientists are coming to realize the error of this basic assumption (as shown by the acceptance of “quantum entanglement” and “non-local” particle interactions as real phenomena by the physics community).

Fields of research into anomalies, as illustrated by remote viewing, give clear confirmation for what quantum physics has been telling us. But even more important than this confirmation, they allow a more understandable framework that helps build a new perspective that takes us beyond our limiting assumptions. You do not need to be a physicist or mathematician to make use of these insights. Through the remote viewing research, it is obvious that some sort of nonphysical transfer of information exists, and our understanding of reality must accommodate this truth.

But this research has important implications far beyond requiring a revision of the traditional scientific worldview. Let’s now look at some of its meaning and relevance for those who already believe in a nonphysical reality.

The Illusion that Beliefs of Religion and Spirit can only be taken on Faith

Even scientists with religious faith usually completely accept another illusion: the conviction that any questions involving religion and spirit are unscientific. They believe science has no business even asking about possible nonphysical realities. To the contrary, the remote viewing studies show us that powerful scientific tools can be effectively brought to bear on these questions.

Obviously, this use of the tools of science to develop the perspective we are exploring was not available when most of our religions and other spiritual beliefs were first formed. It took the emergence of very sophisticated scientific methods before this new awareness could become available. In the past, our only access to religious ideas and answers to spiritual questions were through the revelations that resulted from individual prayer and meditation. Of course, these are individual experiences and, by their nature, not objectively verifiable – so we have had no choice but to take such teachings on faith. This circumstance has resulted in a massive proliferation of different belief systems, many of which are in conflict with each other.

Now, if you step back from the world’s belief systems, and take a broad, objective view of them, you see that no single system or religion is followed by a majority of the people on earth. In addition, the strongest predictors of which religion or beliefs any one individual will hold as true is their place of birth and the beliefs of others in the cultural setting in which they were raised and educated. From this vantage point, it is painfully obvious that the revelation process, on which all the beliefs have all been based, is very prone to error. In addition, even if one set of beliefs is correct, the majority must be wrong.

Research studies, like those involving remote viewing, confirm that there is indeed an immaterial reality that our religions and our intuition are tapping into. They have also given us a new tool to test beliefs we could only take on faith in the past, showing us how we can effectively apply the powerful techniques of scientific research to questions of spirit. This holds the promise of an objective technique to begin to understand some of the parameters of a spiritual, immaterial reality and possibly even end some of our many religious conflicts. Perhaps for the first time in our history, we will be able to test some of the religious dogmas that have engendered many of our wars. We may also have a way to put an end to the battles between science and religion.

Having established that science has confirmed that immaterial interactions exist in the physical world, and has shown us a way to reliably study these interactions, let’s now consider how the material and immaterial realms relate to each other.

The Illusion that Reality is Sharply Divided into Separate Material and Spiritual Domains

Most of us completely accept the theories of modern science while also holding a religious or spiritual faith. For the most part, we have accomplished this by drawing a clear and distinct line between the reality disclosed to us by our physical senses and the spiritual teachings we hold to in our faith. While we still inhabit our bodies, the physical rules of science hold sway. It is only after our death that most of us believe the spiritual reality will manifest in our experience.

The remote viewing research, though, shows us that this distinct divide between the physical and spiritual is just another illusion. In contrast to the dualistic point of view we have become so accustomed to, we have learned from this research that invisible connections are constantly playing a role in the events of the world. The implication is clear that to better understand what is actually going on, we must take the spiritual component of reality into account.

This strongly implies that there are not really two separate domains – they are just different aspects or “dimensions” of one unified reality. Stepping back once again into the broad objective view which this insight provides, we see that the physical aspect of reality is relatively limited, being constrained to act only through direct contact. In contrast, the immaterial realm is one of enormous potential power and connection, acting in a way that physicists call non-local, transcending the limits of physical locale and time.

A Breath of Fresh Air and a Huge Sigh of Relief!

When I first came across the second NDE report I described in the first chapter, I literally did breathe a huge sigh of relief. The emotional release it engendered lasted for weeks. It also started a transformation in my view of the world that has been permanent. The anomalies I am starting to present in this series of articles not only confirm the insights of these NDE stories, they even expand them further. I will wrap this chapter up with a brief discussion of three of the benefits of the research into scientific anomalies.

First, in contrast to the mechanistic, random and impartial nature of the world of traditional science, we are seeing a view of a universe imbued with meaning and purpose. As part of this wider view, each human life is unique and much more important than we previously thought. Something beyond the physical is clearly playing a fundamental role, and it is both beneficent in its intent and supportive in its nature. This, in itself, is cause for relief.

Second, the human mind is much more powerful than we have ever dared to imagine. By shutting out physical stimuli and concentrating our intention to gather information at a distance, we can reliably accomplish our goal. There is no apparent limit to this human potential, and this seems to be just the tip of a huge iceberg of human ability that has been almost completely hidden from our view. Fully comprehending the implications of this research will empower us and disclose a deep sense of connection we may have been missing in the past.

Third, and perhaps most important, the essence of who we are isn’t just confined to the inside of our body. Some part of us transcends the physical and is capable of reaching out from our body and gather information without limit. Our image of ourselves is gaining a new dimension. The contention of many of our religious and spiritual traditions, that we are permanent, spiritual beings, is now receiving solid scientific support.

These are just the first steps on this journey. Future articles will further expand the perspectives being developed here, and disclose more of our previous assumptions to also be illusions.

Thanks for sticking with me through all this. Any comments are most welcome. If you find these conclusions both valid and helpful, please share them with others.

My best to all,



Back to Home Page

Remote Viewing book chapter

The earlier articles in this series:
1. Is the World Real or is it an Illusion?
2. The Illusion of an Exclusively Material Universe
3. Using Scientific Tools to Study Spiritual Questions

Addendum, 4/10/13: I just came across a YouTube video featuring Russell Targ that covers remote viewing superbly, for those who have any doubts that it is a genuine phenomenon. For those interested, here is the link on YouTube. It is a little over an hour.

YouTube video about psychic phenomena and remote viewing

About Chuck Gebhardt

I am a physician specializing in internal medicine. I sub-specialize in nutritional medicine. I am very interested in all areas of healing research, not necessarily limited to traditional medicine topics.
This entry was posted in Spirituality and Metaphysics, The cutting edge of science and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Three Illusions Misleading Modern Society

  1. Lee says:

    Hi Chuck,

    Thanks for another thought-provoking article.

    A response on one point only: about the multiplicity of often conflicting religious views of reality throughout our world.

    An assumption that seems to me to be behind this particular analysis is that the most important thing about religious systems is how correct and accurate they are, or in other words, how true (or not) they are.

    However, I would suggest that although the truth (or falsity) of a religious system is important, there is something even more important: How well does that particular religious system lead its adherents toward a good, kind, and compassionate life of service to their fellow human beings and to God?

    As counterintuitive as it might seem, it is quite possible for people to be led to live good lives even by religious tenets that are not, objectively and spiritually speaking, strictly true.

    While I agree that bringing the various religious systems into greater harmony with the truth is a worthy goal, even that goal must be subordinated to the goal of ensuring that the various religious systems transform the hearts of the people who adhere to them. This, I believe is God’s primary goal in “sponsoring” so many different religions on this earth.

    I also believe that if seen from a deeper perspective, all of the major religions of the world contain and point to the same fundamental truths of human, spiritual, and divine reality.

    Some of my own spiritual perspective on this issue is contained in my article:
    “If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?”

    I say this, not to take away from any of your major conclusions, with which I generally agree, but rather to add another possible dimension to them.

    • Hello Lee,

      I think the dimensions you add in your comments are quite useful and helpful to support the goals of these articles about human illusions and their consequences. It is my opinion that if one looked at all the major religious belief systems on the earth, and could somehow tally the net harm and net benefit they helped produce for mankind, the result would be hugely on the beneficial side. It is also my opinion that the reason our major religions have become major religions is because they have helped large numbers of people move forward on their spiritual path. That would be to say that they became major religions because they resonated deeply in large numbers of hearts.

      On the other side of the ledger, as I focused on in my article, the variety of religious beliefs, and the zeal in which they are often held, has led to much human conflict and misery. Both of these effects are observable throughout our history as a species. What I am driving at in my article is where do we go from here? The past is the past and cannot be changed. While I believe it has moved us steadily forward spiritually, the implied question in these articles is partly can we conserve the good and try to eliminate the bad?

      I do not see a world where everyone holds the same beliefs to be at all desirable. Furthermore, I observe that all the belief systems that we humans share in large numbers are continuously evolving. In line with this, I am advocating certain changes that I think would benefit this planet enormously. Perhaps the most important could be summed up as live and let live. Unfortunately, many of us seem to believe it is our responsibility to force our beliefs on others, and I think this is a formula for constant war and fighting. If we would just limit ourselves to converting by persuasion rather than the sword, wouldn’t our world be more peaceful?

      I know this is a big leap, but I also believe that if we could bring the scientific worldview in better alignment with those of some of our major religions, this would also be a huge step forward. If our religions and other major belief systems evolved towards each other, greater tolerance may well be an important consequence.

      I completely agree with you that even inaccurate religious tenets can still lead many people towards better lives. In fact, there is an enormous amount of evidence to support this. But I contend that greater accuracy in the tenets, a change I think creatively applied scientific methods might foster, could help lead us more quickly to a more harmonious and peaceful world.

      Thanks again, Lee, for helping me expand parts of my article in need of clarification.
      I will definitely look at your article on the topic of variety in religious beliefs. I appreciate the link.


      • Lee says:

        Hi Chuck,

        Thanks for your further responses. I do believe that science and religion are in the process of moving closer to harmony with one another. This is one of the effects of the new spiritual era in which we are now living.

        About the damage done by religion: It would be more accurate, I think, to say that the damage was caused by greedy and power-hungry people who used religion as a tool to achieve their non-religious goals.

        Having power over others is a non-religious goal. However, over history religion has commonly been used as a tool to acquire power. Similarly, enlarging the territory one’s regime controls is not a religious goal, but religion has commonly been used as a tool to enlarge the territory of many regimes throughout history.

        Behind this is a point that is critical to understand if we are going to successfully “conserve the good and eliminate the bad.” Beliefs by themselves do not drive, cause, or accomplish anything. Beliefs only direct the real driving forces in a particular vector, and give those driving forces the ability to accomplish their goals.

        What does drive things is our human loves, desires, and wants. We love and want something, and that motivates us to act. We use our knowledge, understanding, and beliefs to acquire and accomplish the things that we want.

        This means that changing people’s beliefs will not necessarily change anything fundamental. When the pagans were converted to an already corrupted “Christianity” by Constantine in the fourth century, they kept right on engaging in war, killing, and looting under those “Christian” beliefs, just as they had under their former pagan beliefs. The change of beliefs brought about only superficial change in the quality of human society and life. Nothing fundamental changed. Religion was merely being used as a tool to acquire wealth and power.

        When the motives are evil–such as conquest and the accumulation of wealth for its own sake–the beliefs are used to achieve those motives. In the process, the beliefs themselves are corrupted, and become false. This is how religion is turned from a positive to a negative factor in human society.

        This is not to say that we shouldn’t work on changing people’s beliefs and their understanding of reality toward better and more accurate views. Beliefs *can* guide the heart to better loves and motives.

        Rather, it is to say that changing beliefs by itself will not accomplish what people such as you and I want accomplished: a better and more enlightened society. When we have provided people with a better and more accurate view of the cosmos, the job is only half done. For it to be fully done, we must reach their hearts as well. It is not in the human mind, but in the human heart that the fundamental change must take place for humanity to be solidly and permanently raised to a higher level.

  2. Hello again, Lee,

    I couldn’t agree with you more that much of the damage caused by religion was brought about by people using the power of religious belief for less than altruistic purposes. I believe large religious flocks do confer a lot of power to their leaders. Constantine’s use of Christianity is an excellent example.

    It is also hard to argue with the contention that true change must include a change of heart. I think a change of beliefs without a change of heart is really no change at all. What we need to develop is a set of beliefs that fit both our spiritual and physical experiences of reality well. When we have achieved this, I believe our hearts will naturally follow. If the beliefs we hold to are completely out of synch with reality, though, I believe our efforts toward a more enlightened society will come to nothing.

  3. Pingback: Seeing the World through New Eyes | Dr. Chuck's Chat

  4. Janay says:

    Felt so hopeless looking for answers to my qusi.eons.t.until now.

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