Although some people may realize that images consist of electric signals in the brain, they may also form the impression that the other senses, touch for instance, are different. They may think that when they touch or smell something they are making direct contact with real matter. Again, however, they are actually perceiving nothing more than electric signals in the brain.
When we touch something with our hands, we are not really touching that object at all. A chemical bond is formed between atoms in a constant state of motion. But these atoms never actually “touch” one another. In physical terms, therefore, we have never touched anything we think we have. As a result of this illusory sense of touch, the atoms in our hands vibrate and initiate an electrical current. That current then moves towards the touch center in our brains. It is then “interpreted” when it arrives. And this is a great miracle. In the same way that the visual center interprets an incoming current as a yellow rose, the touch center interprets the signals reaching it as soft, hot or rough. Similar signals head from our mouths to the taste region in the brain and form a sensation of flavor, sweetness or sourness. The signals from the nose reaching the scent detection center in the brain and set up a perception in the brain regarding the aroma of the object in question. Sound from the ears reaches the brain in the form of other electric signals, and we then in some way are convinced that the person calling our names is our mother. We enjoy the tunes set up by electrical signals forwarded to the brain from the ear, and have no doubt that the ringtone is actually coming from the phone.
All this is an extraordinary miracle created by Allah.
But the sound we hear does not actually belong to the phone, and neither does the sound of music come from our stereos. We experience the sound of a telephone, the original of which we can never see, the original of which we can never hear unless Allah so wills. What we see is not the yellow flower on the outside. That flower, its image, its perfume and all its beauty, consists of electric signals reaching our brains. And we have no evidence whether the image of this flower is the same as the real flower on the outside. Peter Russell explains this as follows:
If all that we ever know are the sensory images that appear in our minds, how can we be sure there is a physical reality behind our perceptions? Is it not just an assumption? My answer is: Yes, it is an assumption; nevertheless, it seems a most plausible one.[i]
There is no doubt that it is impossible for us to know whether the images, sounds, smells and tastes that form in our brains actually exist on the outside. On the basis of this, we can be sure of only one thing; there is a world created especially for us in our brains. And we can never know whether other people see this world in the same way we do. We can only see the images, hear the sounds and taste the flavors of a world created especially for us. We can have no direct experience of anything else.
That being the case, we need to ask the following question: can electric signals alone give rise to such a harmonious world?
Of course, not. It is Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, Who creates the world for us in all its reality, clarity and beauty. Allah bestows on us a soul from His own spirit. It is the soul created by Allah that perceives, enjoys and rejoices, and the electric signals are merely an instrument.
[i] Peter Russell, From Science to God "A Physicist's Journey into the Mystery of Consciousness", New World Library, 2002, p. 47