There is a philosophical theory called the "5 minutes ago" theory or something like that. Basically, it postulates that the world and everything in it was created 5 minutes ago. People were created just as they are now, complete with false memories of a life never lived. The world was came into being with hundreds of millions of years of fake fossils and geological records. Everything you think you remember or know about your life is all an illusion because you were created 5 minutes ago with those memories so you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
Sounds bizarre and I don't believe it for a second but here's the rebuttal: I can't prove it's wrong because any proof I try to bring gets shot down by the "prefabricated" argument.
If that's true, then it is also possible the universe was created 10 minutes, or 1 hour, or 5769 years ago. Indeed, this is what many Jewish creationists argue:
The solution to the contradiction between the age of the earth and the universe according to science and the Jewish date of 5755 years since Creation is this: the real age of the universe is 5755 years, but it has misleading evidence of greater age. The bones, artifacts, partially decayed radium, potassium-argon, uranium, the red-shifted light from space, etc. - all of it points to a greater age which nevertheless is not true. G-d put these things in the universe and they lead many to the false conclusion of a much greater age.
I said the evidence is misleading. Does that mean that G-d is tricking us? Not at all: He told us the truth! Only someone who [perversely] decides to ignore the statement of the Creator and rely only on what he can investigate will be lead to a false conclusion. Only to such a person is the evidence misleading. And note that this policy of creating the world looking different from its true nature is an inescapable Jewish idea. For, we recite twice every morning that G-d constantly recreates the universe, even though this is not observable.
Of course, there is one easy way to reject the "5 minutes ago" theory. It is simply not reasonable to believe that an entire universe would spring into being "ready made" and then start to evolve at normal speed under the control of the current rules of physics. Rav Gottleib's argument above is not disprovable, but it also is not reasonable to those who remains convinced that a prefabricated universe that is literally only 5759 years old (he wrote the article 4 years ago) is unreasonable.
If that's so, then one could ask a further question. Rav Gottleib (and I don't mean to pick on him but his essay really exemplifies the point I'm trying to make) is an incredibly educated man, both in philosophy and Torah Judaism. One could not conceive of him trying to hoodwink ordinary people with high-sounding double talk into accepting facts he felt were untrue. In other words, in his essay he is not lying.
But if the universe is, according to our understanding of time, far older than 5759 years ago and we are not living on a prefabricated planet but rather on one which came into being and developed into the state it is now over hundreds of millions of years, then Rav Gottleib is wrong.
I have previously noted that a single question cannot have two contradictory answers that are both right. What colour is this pencil? It's either brown or black. It cannot be both. How old is the universe? Is it literally 5759 years old or literally eight billion? It cannot be both. And I must note that the word literally is important as I'm not discussing my personal reconciliation of the apparent contradiction between Torah and science. I've dealt with that elsewhere.
Let's look at another issue. Chabad, despite its best attempts to hide the issue in public in many places, holds as one of its doctrines of faith that the last Rebbe, a"h, is still alive and has temporarily shaken off his mortal coil to go up to Heaven and it's from there he still directs Lubavitchers everywhere. Not only that, but his apparent death notwithstanding, he is still the Moshiach, just waiting until the best time to return to this world and reveal himself as the redeemer of Israel.
Now when most people learn about that, or when an earnest Chabad shaliach tries to get that point across, there is a generally rolling of the eyes and one common thought goes through most people's brains: he's dead. He ain't the Moshiach. What's the matter with you people?
Finally there's the various kiruv organizations out there that seem to raise the ire of most non-believers. How dare they talk about the spiritual aspects of the universe as if they were real and not imaginary hocus-pocus invented by "the rabbis"? How dare they present the Torah-observant lifestyle as a happy, personally fulfilling one? How dare they insist that the Torah was given by God when we all "know" that's not so?
In short, how dare all these groups and people lie to them?
But are they really doing that? Are each of these groups and people saying to themselves "I know what I'm preaching is full of crap but if it fills the halls and gets me money, who cares if these unwashed masses actually buy it"?
The answer is: no. When Rav Gottlieb says we live in a prefabricated universe, he believes it. He believes he is given over God's own truth to us. It's the same with the Chabad shaliach. In his version of reality, the Rebbe is still alive and holding the title of Moshiach. And the Aish/Ohr rep at the conference really believes he can make your life better by telling you about his version of the principles of Torah observance. We really could be living in a literally 5769 year old universe when a supernatural Rebbe runs the world and where keeping kosher leads to greater personal happiness. You may not think so but as unreasonable as it sounds to you, it just might be right.
In other others, there are multiple realities, each of them personal. I have mine with all its eccentricities and quirks and every other person on the planet has their own. Who's right? Well I am, of course. If someone else's opinion of reality made more sense to me than mine, I'd adopt it because, as a rational person (no really, stop laughing!) I want to have the sanest view of reality I can understand.
But even though I'm darn sure my view on things I also must remain aware that this view of reality is simply mine and that just as I cannot disprove the "5 minutes ago" theory, I cannot disprove anyone else's view of reality. I may find it unreasonable but then, that's because my view of reality is the most reasonable.
So how does one approach this concept of competing realities? One can be egotistic, like many of the non-believers who have seen "the light" and now go around attacking those of us who still bask in the warmth of God's greatness. Howver, I generally see those kinds of folks as insecure. Lacking anything positive in this new reality of theirs, they can only continue to justify their ongoing apostasy by bashing that which they came from. Like the fat, ugly girl who insults all her colleagues so she'll look better to the boys but who can't come up with a single positive thing to say about herself, they continue to flail histrionically at the truth they left behind without ever coming up with a single positive reason for why their view of reality is the correct one, other than the ubiquitous "if you're frum you're living a lie" argument.
There is another approach, however. The simpler, more rational and psychologically satisfying way is to simply accept that there are many realities because reality is defined by a person's view of it. You cannot insist that there is one true reality and that anyone who doesn't accept it is wrong. A person decides what their reality is and his personal right to that should be tolerated. It is only the person whose grip on that personal reality is so strong that he must inflict it on others or else label them guilty of heresy that must be argued with and shown his place. Otherwise, mutual respect and tolerance would go a long way towards reducing the friction in this world.