I assume that, even after reading this, all of us still believe that this is the real world and our dreams are dreams. Why? Because the evidence is stacked in that direction.
I would argue that the real reason that is so is because we have been trained from childhood to believe it, to experience waking reality as “real” and dreaming reality as “not real.” When we are asleep and dreaming, “the evidence” is overwhelmingly stacked in favor of dream reality being the only reality. Try lucid dreaming sometime, the art of becoming aware within our dreams that we are in fact dreaming. It’s extremely difficult to accomplish because dream reality is 100% convincing while in REM sleep, in exactly the way waking reality is 100% convincing while in waking Beta or Alpha consciousness. The difficulty is getting our sleeping mind to question reality, to ask, “is this a dream?” All the evidence of our dreaming senses and reason shouts this is real. Questioning seems impossibly foolish. Exactly like when we’re awake.
I lay down in bed, close my eyes, and then start to dream in this word, yet my dreams are nonsense and I wake up in the middle of them, despite not going to sleep.
This is remarkably parallel to how people who experience enlightenment, satori, spiritual awakening describe that experience. They’ve been living their whole lives convinced waking life was real, that the evidence was stacked in that direction, then suddenly they become aware that their whole life was lived in a state of sleep and dreaming, that they were never in fact awake. The word “Buddha” means “awakened one.” It’s not a metaphor.
All options are not equal.
Yet all options are equally subjective. That’s what I mean by “empirical evidence is undone.” It is not really possible for human beings to ever have an “objective experience.” Two or more scientists might conduct an experiment, compare their subjective experience of the result, and agree to label their findings “objective.” But that doesn’t make them objective. They can only ever be two similar subjective experiences. Two or more people agreeing together to treat their subjective experiences as objective, empirical evidence of something outside of their minds, doesn’t make them so. It only makes for agreement. Your example of evolution is a good illustration. 1,000 years ago, no one would have thought the concept of evolution as it is understood in 2017 was possible, let alone real. 1,000 years from now, if the human race is still around, I doubt scientists will say, “Boy, those scientists in 2017 were so danged smart, they got evolution exactly right!” We feel certain we have an objective understanding of reality today, but we don’t. Future scientists will laugh at our naiveté. Truth is what people agree in any given time and place to call true, based on the evidence they agree to label “objective,” and excluding any evidence they agree to disregard. There’s no escape from that — except perhaps enlightenment.
I’ve written a ton on this topic here on Medium. Sorry to litter this response with links to other stories, but they are relevant:
Who Decides What’s True or False? And What Happens When Things Get Weird?medium.com