Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Non-physical beings: Do they exists?

  1. Jun 26, 2003 #1
    We all know that we humans have five senses only. We uses our five senses to observe the world and we call that the physical world and declare arrogantly that non-physical beings don't exist at all. That's similiar to a earthworm that's blind to declare that light do not exist.
    Our senses are present to let us observe the world. If we have less sense(s), we would observe a less real world. But if we have more senses we would observe a more real world. But even if we do not have the sense(s) to observe something that we call it 'non-physical', we can observe it indirectly through it interaction with 'physical beings'. These 'non-physical beings' are beings that can't be observe by our five senses.
    For example: gravity, God, spirits, nothingness and infinty.
    Lastly, even though the physical world that we observe is not the complete real world, it is still part of the picture of the real world.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 26, 2003 #2
    ok, how can we observe something that doesn't fit into our senses? How can an earthworm "feel" the light? guess we'll have to answer that in order to know that non-physical beeings exist or not...

    I think we can feel gravity (or acceleration) with the vestibular system in out inner ear.
  4. Jun 26, 2003 #3
    The earthworm can feel the heat from the photons from the sun and it still try to explain why is hot from what it observe from its sense(s)(sorry, i don't know what senses does the worm have), just like we humans. We try to explain magic, presence of spirits and supernatural with science, which only explains 'the physical world' that we observe.
  5. Jun 26, 2003 #4
    There's also a possibility that other organisms may have the sense(s) that's able observe non-physical beings. e.g: plants, monkey...
  6. Jun 26, 2003 #5
    so we'll need a sense converter :smile:

    but what kind of senses do you think we'll need to observe those beings?
    have you read "The City and the Stars" - Arthur Clarke? there's an interesting concept of non-physical being...
  7. Jun 26, 2003 #6
    Somebody on earth may be a mutant and have extra senses but i don't think anyone would believe what he observe. Our senses are only used to prove the existence of the world. The purpose of this post was to tell everyone that what we see now is not the complete picture of reality and science is unable to explain everything, it's confined to the physical world.
  8. Jun 26, 2003 #7


    User Avatar

    But I think it would be very hard to prove anything outside of the senses, and hence science.

    Which brings me to another vague point... If our concept of existence is based on things we know the physical reality of - eg. an invisible chair still exists because I can touch it, and it has a physical effect on other physical items, then can we by rights say that something complete non-physical "exists"?

    And to bring QM into this... Is something that is unobserved and non-interacting really real in the way an electron is? In terms of QM, it merely occupies a probability waveform, and hence does not have a definite existence. We never know if it is there or not.
  9. Jun 26, 2003 #8
    To each and every sense we have, there are extremes on each end of the scale of perception for those senses that we cannot experience. There are plants and animals that are able to percieve different segments of these scales than we are. Yes, plants, too. There have been studies conducted in which plants produce a chemical response to the mere presence of a person that has endangered it in the past. Having a structure in no way comparable to the animal nerve structure, this shows that it is possible to obtain perceptions of our environment through faculties we as humans do not possess.(I say humans and not "animals" because like I said, animals can see things we cannot) And hence, if something has the power to perceive something that we cannot, it then goes to say that our sense are limited, and there certainly exists principles among us that we cannot observe.
  10. Jun 26, 2003 #9


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    "Science" would not say that such things definitely do not exist. Science would say that there's no evidence yet to support the existence of such things (not ruling out the possibility).

    Humans can't sense EM fields (like sharks), but we know they exist. We can't see beyond a tiny portion of the EM spectrum (so called visible light), but we can detect other wavelengths (xray, infrared, etc.) In short, direct detection by our 5 senses is not the only way to discover things about the universe.

    No, we would just be aware of less. The world would remain as real to us as ever. But I suspect you are thinking of a "greater reality". Perhaps as Plato described?
  11. Jun 26, 2003 #10


    User Avatar

    But the fact that we know it exists shows that we can still observe it, if only by proxy. We still have a very physical measurement, and one covered well by science.

    In case this point gets confused, what I mean is that that which cannot be observed in indeterminate and probably irrelevant, and that the field which cannot be open to physical observation by science or otherwise are similarly closed to all other human methods. So if at any point science does not know an absolute everything, it can know anything that we as humans can conceive of.
  12. Jun 28, 2003 #11
    We know the existence of this universe because of our senses, but what we observe may not be what it really is in reality.
    An electron is detected using devices that detect it as a particle state which is not true. Its true form is a wave. These devices converts the it into a different state that our sense is able to detect, which the same propeties except the state. Similiar to a highly intelligent blind worm uses light detecting devices that detects it as a heat wave.

    Our sense may convert the true state of something into another state. So appearance of the physical world depends on how we perceive it.
  13. Jun 30, 2003 #12
    We can sometimes deduce something exists by the interference it causes with the things we can observe and measure. Like planets around a distant star that are not directly observable but can be deduced by the gravitational effect they have on the observable sun they orbit.

    It might be possible to deduce some type of non-physical being exists if they cause some type of interference with our observable universe. Like a ghost moving a chair, we see the chair move but nothing appears to be moving it, ergo we have deduced the possibility that a ghostly being exists.

    I assume by non-physical being you mean something akin to a human, a sentient life form.

    And while you say we arrogantly declare they do not exist, I say you arrogantly declare they are non-physical when you have no clue as to what their nature is, ie: God, spirits, etc. There are people that claim to see these things, so how can you be bold enough to say they are non-physical? :wink:
  14. Jul 3, 2003 #13
    The matter that make up dark matter can be these 'non-physical beings', that's why we could'nt detect it.

    Reply to q-nought: Since i had already said that they exist, they are not non-physical.
  15. Jul 3, 2003 #14
    First off - of course non-physical beings don't exist. To exist something MUST be physical - so your question is answered regardles of it's meaning. Nothing non-physical exists.

    Beyond that you're wrong about earthworms. earthworms can absolutely detect light.

    To propose that spirits and God etc... exist is absurd.
  16. Jul 3, 2003 #15

    With a name like "physicskid" you really are not familiar with anti-matter.

    Anti-matter is absolutely physical. You have made a terrible error.
  17. Jul 3, 2003 #16


    User Avatar

    Erm.. no. Matter is one of the world's physical entities, along with energy. Dark matter has the key characteristic of matter - mass. It is perfectly detectable by the way it has gravitational effects on the universe - just as we detect thing by touch by monitoring their electromagnetic effects on our hand.
  18. Jul 4, 2003 #17
    Coud there be a mix-up between you guys?
  19. Jul 5, 2003 #18
    Did you notice that i delibrately placed a pair of ' ' on the word non-physical-beings??
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?