Originally published in Noetic Now Journal:
The famous American psychologist William James had just finished a lecture on the nature of reality when a little old lady approached him.
“Excuse me, Professor,” she said, “but I’m afraid you’ve got it all wrong. The world is really supported on the back of a great big turtle.”
The venerable professor, being a gentleman, decided to humor the woman: “Tell me, then, what is holding the turtle up?”
Quick as a flash, the old lady snapped back: “Another turtle, of course.”
“And what’s supporting that turtle?” James asked, trying gently to get her to see her mistake. The conversation went on like this for another round or two until the little old lady interrupted with a noticeable tremor of exasperation:
“Save your breath, sonny. It’s turtles all the way down.”
At least so the story goes. True or not, the “turtle” incident illustrates a fundamental intuition we all share about the nature of reality: Something can’t come from nothing. Something must “go all the way down” or all the way back...
Christian de Quincey, PhD, is a professor of Philosophy and Consciousness Studies at John F. Kennedy University, Dean of Consciousness Studies at the University of Philosophical Research, and was managing editor at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. He’s author of the award-winning book Radical Nature: The Soul of Matter as well as Radical Knowing: Understanding Consciousness through Relationship. His latest books are Consciousness from Zombies to Angels and Deep Spirit: Cracking the Noetic Code. Enjoy his writings on consciousness and cosmology at christiandequincey.com and on his blog.