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My Moral Constitution

26 Nov

As I stated in my first blog entry, I feel that it is important to have a clear creed. My one true creed is to seek the truth and to live by the truth. However, I feel that it is also beneficial to have some sort of moral constitution. The following is the moral constitution that I try to live by. I call the first section “Nature” because it is intended as a description of how things are. I call the second section “Directives” because these are the rules I think people should live by.

In my constitution, I have utilized a nonexistent word: omnibeneficient. This word was introduced to me by my father. He used to say something like, “While an omnipotent God is not necessarily unreasonable, an omnibeneficient God is beyond the realm science.” I think he got that from Albert Einstein or Bertrand Russell. I have considered this idea at length and concluded that an omnibeneficient God is not unreasonable. My father had the same problem as many others who contemplate God. He could not reconcile a God who cares for everyone and everything with all the suffering he saw in the world. My inclination is to think that we assign too much authority to our own powers of reason. While I would stop short of telling a mother whose child just died from SIDS that “It is all for the best”, I suspect that we probably don’t know what is good for us or why we must endure the experiences we are dealt. If God seems to break us, we must keep in mind that God can put us back together again…in this life or the next.

Like most people, who attempt to follow such a constitution, I find myself failing at nearly every turn. I am too lazy to follow it most of the time, and too vengeful, spiteful, jealous and afraid to follow it the rest of the time. Lately, I notice that this constitution does not prevent me from stealing images from all over the Internet. If the progenitors of these images are offended, please contact me so that I can take them out. They are just such nice pictures, and I don’t expect anyone to read this anyhow.

NATURE

  1. God exists.
  2. God is both Truth and a necessary consequence of Truth.
  3. God is omniscient.
  4. God is omnipotent.
  5. God is the creator of all that exists (the Universe).
  6. God is patient, tolerant, and forgiving.
  7. God created us with immortal souls and free will.
  8. Love is the perception of another soul as a part of oneself.
  9. God loves all souls with perfect, infinite love.
  10. God is omnibeneficient.
  11. God cannot communicate with us in any way that is statistically verifiable. God can only communicate with us through what appears to be coincidence.
  12. God guides us and protects us.
  13. The nature of God is the definition of Good.

DIRECTIVES

  1. Faith is the belief that God exists as described in NATURE. Faith is not about kowtowing to God or being rewarded for our good works; it is about believing in more than the material universe. Faith is not about believing that we will get what we want or think we need in this lifetime; it is about believing that we will ultimately get what we actually need.
  2. We may speak to God whenever we like and talk of whatever we please. This speech is often called “prayer”. God requires no such speech, but he welcomes it. Prayer should be commenced by addressing, “God.” Prayer should be concluded by saying, “Amen.”
  3. We should depend on God but not live as though we are dependent on God. To practice dependence on God is to repudiate free will.
  4. Belief in God should be implicit rather than explicit in our actions. Our faith should be practiced rather than professed.
  5. The behavior we exhibit toward others and the behavior we hope to experience from others should be consistent.
  6. We should strive to live and prosper and to help others live and prosper.
  7. We should strive to be like God. In this manner we effect Good.
  8. God’s methods and purposes are difficult for us to comprehend, but we are to assume that our choices and actions have meaning and value.
  9. The hardships persons experience are part of God’s plan for our completion. We should assume they are essential, even when they do not seem to make sense.
  10. God cares for us in this life and God will care for us in the time after this life. We should not neglect this life, or ignore the time after this life, but live in harmony with both.

I must point out that this is not some sort of “revelation”. I do not consider myself to be more in touch with God than everyone else. Notice that I do not say that I do not consider myself to be more in touch with God than “anyone” else. I have met some people who were pretty out of touch with God. Many of the things I list are beliefs held by all the major religions. Others are conclusions I have reached by thinking and observing the world. I may eventually arrive at different conclusions. Who knows, I may eventually become a legitimate Christian. If that is where truth takes me, that is where I will follow.

The one idea I am not seriously open to is atheism. To me, atheism is a dark and narcissistic philosophy. Whenever I contemplate being an atheist, I feel as if I have been cut adrift in a cold dark sea. One might equate atheism with freedom from dogma. I find that I lose much more in serenity than I gain in independence.

Atheists claim that they have a moral compass, but for some reason I cannot take them seriously. People who are committed to the idea that God does not exist and no one is watching them may make apparently moral decisions while times are easy. I am not confident they will make the same decisions when times are tough. If you do not feel like your actions are being observed and judged by some higher power, it can’t take much to convince you that genocide or some other atrocity is the best choice in some obscure circumstance.

Atheists always seem to me like they have appointed themselves as God. This self-appointment appears to be the reason why they are drawn to collectivist philosophies like Communism, Humanism, and the Resource Based Economy. The one thing all these philosophies have in common is that they take their primary directives from human authority. There is a saying that’s attribution I do not know: “If there is no God, man is a poor substitute.” Even if the belief systems and creeds attributed to God actually came from men, they came from men who believed in God. They came from men who sincerely believed someone with power over them was looking over their shoulder. True, there have been charlatans throughout history, but their words have been filtered down to us through true believers.

The Technological Singularity and Theology

21 Nov

Like many science and science fiction fans, I have speculated about the possibility of building a computer that is as intelligent as a person. This idea, of course, raises contentions about what intelligence is and how it might be measured. In 1950 a gentleman named Alan Turing devised something called the Turing Test. In the Turing Test, a computer is subjected to questions from humans in an attempt to distinguish it from a human. If the questioners are not able to make the distinction, the computer is said to have passed the test.

This test has an obvious problem. This is exhibited by Ray Kurzweil’s imagined intelligent program called Ramona in his film The Singularity is Near. In the film, Ramona tends to give away that she is a computer by giving answers that are too intelligent and too precise. Nevertheless, I consider the test to be essentially valid. I must add that the computer’s ability to pass the Turing Test is only evidence of its intelligence. The test does not prove that it is “aware” in the same sense as a human.  A computer could mimic human intelligence in every way without being conscious.

When I was a child, the usual argument for why a computer could not be as intelligent as a human was that it would have to be too large. Typically, someone who wanted to refute the possibility of computer intelligence would say something like, “A computer big enough to do what a human brain does would stretch from L.A. to New York and would have so many vacuum tubes that no one could possibly change them fast enough.” Of course, none of the people who made this argument anticipated the printed circuit and the miniaturization of electronic components. Transistors were already extant, but the people who repeated this bromide didn’t actually give much thought to what they were saying. In their defense, information about these things was not immediately available in the manner of today’s Internet. Their information probably came from some magazine or newspaper article they had read years earlier.

It is now estimated that personal computers will have the logical capacity of the human brain by 2030. That is 17 years from the writing of this entry.

However, it is not necessarily the case that computers will require that much logical capacity to match human intelligence. Computers are designed with an eye on optimal efficiency. The human brain, on the other hand, is the end product of a long and winding evolutionary process. Consider other aspects of the human body such as the human eye. If it had been designed from scratch, it probably would not have an inverted retina, and there would be no necessity of a blind spot.

Many arguments have been published that explain in detail why sufficient computing power should also facilitate the building of a computer that is as intelligent as a person. A good book on the subject is The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil. However, I have a much simpler argument. We already have in our possession a model of a computer that is as intelligent as a person. It is called the human brain. Unless we attribute magical properties to the human brain, there is no reason to believe that we could not reverse engineer it. Those who are familiar with my ideas about consciousness may argue that I do attribute magical powers to the human brain. However, the powers I attribute to it are quite restricted and well defined. I have every reason to believe there are ways to compensate for the properties contributed to the human brain by human consciousness.

For the duration of this discussion, I will adopt a convention used in discussions of machine intelligence. Typically machine intelligence that rivals that of a human is called Artificial General Intelligence, abbreviated AGI. This must be distinguished from Strong Intelligence, which is not merely as intelligent as a person, but is also conscious. I strongly suspect that a conscious machine would be far more difficult to build than an intelligent machine, perhaps prohibitively difficult.

Once we accept the possibility of AGI, we run up against a conundrum. What would these machines do? How would they be utilized? The obvious answer to this question is that they would be set to work doing what human engineers have always done. They would build better, stronger, and faster machines. More specifically, they would be put to work designing and building more intelligent computers.

Now, imagine an army of intelligent engineers working day and night without rest on the single task of building an intelligence greater than themselves. Not only would they have the perfect memory and persistence of a computer, they would have our working knowledge of human level intelligence. There can be little doubt that a computer more intelligent than a typical person is possible; geniuses are a well documented phenomenon. The greatest possible intelligence that is achievable is certainly unknown, but it seems likely that it would greatly exceed human intelligence.

If these engineers were successful, they could set their creations to work building even more intelligent machines. This would lead to a feedback loop in which computer intelligence, AGI, would rapidly become so advanced that it would be difficult or impossible for a person to anticipate its next move. The point where this happens is called the Technological Singularity.

I first thought of this idea when I was about 25. At that time, I did not realize anyone else was thinking along the same lines. I referred to this phenomenon in my private journals as Threshold Technology and abbreviated it T2. When I reached the age of 37, I discovered that the idea had been popularized by a writer named Vernor Vinge in a paper entitled “What is the Singularity”. At the time of this writing, there are countless people, most of them with good technical backgrounds, who consider the Singularity to be a near certainty.

I must digress at this point to a discussion of theology.

At first, it may seem like the idea of the Singularity conflicts with most ideas of theology. After all, how could something like the book of Revelation in the Bible come to pass if human civilization is swept away in an orgy of ever-increasing AGI. I am of the opinion that there is no contradiction.

One of the things predicted by many religions is that there will be an end time when the world is either perfected or abandoned. The world’s human inhabitants will then advance to a more harmonious relationship with God. In my opinion, the Singularity and these predictions are one and the same. I view the Singularity as a kind of birthing process. When a woman gives birth, she pushes the baby out. However, there is typically a midwife or doctor that is simultaneously pulling the baby out. I view the Singularity as a process wherein technology acts as the mother pushing humanity closer to God. Simultaneously, God acts as the doctor pulling humanity closer to him. In other words, the Singularity is part of the means by which God will perfect our universe.

Some Christians might object to this view, arguing that God does not need human help to bring about his objectives. However, this is shortsighted. In Biblical accounts of God’s interactions with humans, he nearly always acts through the medium of human endeavor. God did not scoop the Israelites up and drop them in the Promised Land. He converted Moses and set Moses to work on Pharaoh.

Also, God seems to be incapable of interacting directly with the space that humans inhabit. There is a tendency to think this implies some limitation on God’s power. However, the limitation seems to be more logical than structural. As indicated in earlier entries, God went to a lot of trouble to create a universe that is not under his direct control and where free will is possible. It appears that God cannot interact directly with our universe, because to do so would break down the indeterminacy that makes free will possible. For this reason, I think of the universe as being somewhat like a model ship in a bottle. The maker of the model has to work through a small opening to erect the ship while not violating the container:

Another analogy might be a terrarium that’s seal cannot be broken. The plants grow and take form only via what is contained in the terrarium and what light is able to penetrate the glass.

Still another analogy might be a pressure mold. When plastic is molded in a pressure mold, it must be allowed to fill in all the spaces and cool. Once it has filled in all the spaces and cooled, the mold can be removed and a perfect part is revealed.

In my discussion of predestination, I explain that the Universe seems to have an objective, and I explain in some detail how this objective is being accomplished. In my opinion, the Singularity is part of the path that leads to this ultimate objective. Therefore, I see the Singularity as the last act in God’s plan to perfect the universe and humanity. Exactly what the end result of this perfecting process will be remains to be seen. I may discuss this in later entries.

In the mean time, I give you this frightfully hubristic interpretation of the Bible:

The Gospel According to Spikosauropod

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
(the Big Bang)
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
(the universe becomes transparent through the liberation of photons)
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
(condensation of matter)
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
(the formation of the planets and the earth)
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
(plant life forms)
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

(Genesis 1:14-18 is the one part of the chronology that is difficult to account for. Possibly it does not mean what it seems to, or possibly the chroniclers got it wrong. One possible interpretation is that the Sun and Moon were previously obscured by overcast skies. Note that I do not subscribe to Biblical inerrancy.)

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
(animal life forms)
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
(the evolution of man)
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
(the agricultural revolution)
Genesis 3 through the rest of the Old Testament
(history happens; lessons are learned)
Mark through Jude
(Jesus, a theoretical perfect man, is sacrificed symbolically so that people would have a way to let go of their primordial guilt;
Jesus teaches us to be better people;
the teachings of Jesus culminate in charity, liberty, equality, arguably even environmentalism)

Revelation 1-20
(Technological Singularity: God works through human endeavor to fulfill prophecy) 
Revelation 21-22
(post Singularity paradise; a means is discovered to resurrect the dead)

Consciousness, A Complete Model

19 Nov

Disclaimer: This is not intended as a mathematically precise experimentally verified model of how consciousness works. This is an effort to demonstrate how dualism could work within the constrains of known physics. The Higgs mechanism I employ was actually an afterthought. I came up with the idea of using retroactive causality long before Holger Bech Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya published their seminal paper. Any low energy mechanism of retroactive causality would do. The work by Nielsen and Ninomiya fit so serendipitiously into my theory, I immediately incorporated it. Since the publication of their paper, the Higgs boson has apparently been found. This does not discredit the Nielson Ninomiya paper. These scientists only speculated that difficulty in finding the Higgs might be a side effect of their mathematics. Their theory is not invalidated by its discovery. 

In a previous entry, I offered an explanation of consciousness. Now that I have discussed the concept of predestination, I am ready to give a more complete account of what consciousness may be and exactly how it may function. First, I must give a summary of my model up to this point.

I started with the assumption that the Universe had no default state. This lack of default state was remedied by the three laws of Aristotelian logic:

1. A proposition that is true is true. A proposition that is false is false.

2. A proposition that is true is not false. A proposition that is false is not true.

3. Every proposition is either true or false. (the law of the excluded middle).

The third law, the law of the excluded middle, is equivalent to the existence of a choice function that is capable of mapping all possibilities for the universe into the actual state of the universe. This choice function is identical to the classical definition of God.

God can be thought of as a space. In order to create the independent space we inhabit, he separated into two or more one-lower-dimensional spaces. This process is similar to how oil and water separate to create a one-lower-dimensional space.

God manipulated this one-lower-dimensional space to restrict its natural indeterminacy by adding twists and folds called Calabi-Yau manifolds. In the process of creating this space with limited indeterminacy, God made consciousness possible.

Consciousness can be viewed as a choice function, similar to God but much more limited, that forms naturally in conjunction with our brains. It works with the logical structure of our brains to resolve our space’s indeterminacy in an extremely restricted region.

The nature and structure of consciousness closely parallels our brains. It takes its form directly from the form of our brains and it also gives form to our thinking. However, our brains are formed of matter with all of matter’s well understood characteristics. Consciousness is a purely logical structure.

Consciousness interacts with our brains by resolving some of the indeterminacy in our brains. Specifically, this means that where a particle might appear at random in a variety of different locations, consciousness causes the particle to appear at some specific location. Our consciousness does this to a sufficient number of particles so that the ultimate outcome of signals between neurons conforms to the pattern specified by our consciousness.

The problem with this model is that the scale of the connection between the behavior of specific particles and the behavior of neurons is vast. A typical pulse from a neuron involves 50 million electrons. It would be a daunting task for the logical structure of consciousness to control the behavior of specific electrons in a way that ultimately adds up to conformity of neuronal signals to a specific thought or action.

For this reason, consciousness does not affect the behavior of particles directly. Instead, it only interprets the ultimate outcome of their collective behavior by observing how closely the signals among neurons conform to the pattern chosen by consciousness. It alters their outcome in a manner similar to how the universe is able to implement predestination.

The universe implements predestination by having templates that sit at the “end of time”. These templates do something rather simple and specific. If the ultimate trajectory of matter in the universe conforms sufficiently to some predetermined pattern, the templates remain inactive. If the ultimate outcome does not conform to this pattern, the templates radiate Higgs bosons. The Higgs bosons cause the trajectory of the matter to be altered. If the matter is altered in a direction that does not conform to the template, they radiate bosons more vigorously. If the matter conforms sufficiently closely, they cease to radiate bosons.

Consciousness works in a similar manner. Consciousness can be thought of as a template that resides in conjunction with the brain. It constantly evaluates how closely the pattern of neurons in the brain conforms to its own prescribed pattern. If the pattern is sufficiently close, consciousness remains inactive. However, if the pattern is not sufficiently close, consciousness allows Higgs bosons to be radiated in a manner that results in reverse causality. This reverse causality is explained in a paper by Holger Bech Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya.

Note that consciousness does not actually cause the radiation of these bosons. The bosons are radiated all the time. However, Higgs bosons are subject to the same indeterminacy as all other particles. What consciousness actually does is restrict their indeterminacy. It causes them to appear at some specific location rather than some random location. It continues to restrict the behavior of bosons until the outcome of their interference with particles in the brain leads to neuronal behavior that conforms to its own pattern.

Note, also, that consciousness only sits in “conjunction” with the brain. It does not necessarily sit in the same location as the brain. Consciousness is a logical construct, not a physical one. It does not require a location.

While the bosons are depicted as radiating at the brain, they will have the same influence if radiated in proximity to the brain. Their exact range of influence is currently unknown, but depends upon many factors.

It should be clear from this model that consciousness is not able to cause a large alteration in how the brain processes information. The change is relatively minute. However, these minute changes occur at such times and places where the brain could be said to be in a quandary. When our brains run up against a situation where the outcome of processing could go one way or another, consciousness is involved.

The effect that consciousness does have on the brain depends on the behavior of dynamical systems (known colloquially as the “butterfly effect”). Infinitesimal changes placed a sufficient distance in the past are able to bring about a much more profound change nearer to the present. These changes are apparently random and regulated only by conscious awareness of their ultimate outcome.

It should also be clear that the influence of consciousness is almost untraceable. By constantly monitoring the outcome of thoughts and causing them to conform in such an indirect way, consciousness leaves almost no trace of its involvement. For this reason, it may never be possible to find direct physical evidence of consciousness. However, depending on how strongly consciousness influences the ultimate outcome of our thoughts, there may be a way to demonstrate its existence.

Suppose we made an exact electronic model that simulates what the brain appears to do. This model might be hardwired in a way that does not allow the subtle influence of retroactively acting Higgs bosons. This simulated brain might not work as expected. It might not work at all, or it might behave as if it is catatonic or autistic.

This does not absolutely mean that a computer that simulates the human brain is impossible. There may be a way to compensate, perhaps with a mere random number generator, for the influence of consciousness. However, if pure randomness is substituted for consciousness in this manner, the simulation may have a strangely pathological relationship with the world. It may come across as being shallow or amenable to all sorts of addictions.

It is very possible, even probable, that successful artificial intelligence will have to work in a fundamentally different way than the human brain. This will, of course, be the subject of much future speculation and investigation.

Predestination

31 May

There are many characteristics to the known universe and the Earth’s immediate surroundings that suggest something like a plan. It has been noted by physicists that if the gravitational constant were altered very slightly, none of the orbits that make our solar system possible could exist. It has been noted by astrophysicists that the double-planet system of the Earth and the Moon account for the Earth’s stable axis and consequent ability to support life. For an extensive list of these characteristics, go here.

This is a discussion of how such a plan might be possible and what relationship this plan may have to free will.

Suppose we make the assumption that time in the universe has something like a beginning and an end. This assumption is not absolutely necessary to the theory, but it makes the explanation simpler. Suppose we think of the beginning and end of time as two templates connected by strings. The strings that stretch from one template to the other represent the paths of ordinary particles through time.

The points where the paths connect to the beginning template and where they connect to the end template are fixed. However, it is possible to twist and intertwine the strings in any number of ways without affecting how they are connected to the ends.

This is a partial model of how the universe could arrive at almost precisely the same configuration through a seemingly infinite number of differing intermediate processes. I qualify this with “almost precisely” because quantum mechanics prohibits an identical outcome.

The problem with this model is that it provides no explanation for why particles might be expected to follow these paths.

The Higgs boson is a hypothetical elementary particle predicted in particle physics. Two prominent physicists, Holger Bech Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya, have presented the argument that the Higgs boson is capable of retroactive causality.

We can visualize the strings attached to the end time template as being capable of moving from their moorings.

However, the nature of the template is such that whenever the strings are not attached at the predefined positions, this causes the template to radiate Higg’s bosons. These radiated bosons cause the strings to move around at random. The further from their predefined location the strings becomes attached, the more vigorously the template radiates bosons. The closer to the predefined position the strings becomes attached, the less vigorously the template radiates bosons.

When the string becomes attached within an acceptable radius of the prescribed location, Higg’s boson’s are no longer radiated.

The interesting characteristic of this model is that, while it results in the universe arriving at a particular conclusion, it does not prevent free will. Note that the strings are able to assume an infinite number of configurations. It is only the ultimate outcome that is guaranteed.

I will build on this model in order to develop my more detailed description of consciousness and the soul.

Synchronicity and Consciousness

20 May

My theories of God and how the universe was formed lead naturally into the ideas I will present here, but they are not absolutely essential.

Regardless of how the universe was formed, it is apparently structured in such a manner as to permit limited indeterminacy. It is clear from observations of particles at the atomic level that the motion of matter involves a certain degree of randomness. Electrons jump around the nucleus of an atom in approximation to a wave pattern and photons jump around as they propagate through space in approximation to a wave pattern. On a small enough scale, all matter behaves in this way.

The random motion of matter can be likened to the patterns of cars driving around on freeways. The cars have a certain degree of liberty in how they can navigate, but they must remain on designated roads and they must move in a certain direction and according to a predefined set of rules.

According to my theory, the universe was set up in this way for a reason. As I explained in my discussion of the formation of the universe, if the one-lower-dimensional space that is our universe had not been severely restricted, something like a Gnostic demiurge would have formed. The severity of the restrictions that were imposed is evident in just how limited the motion of matter actually is. (There is another possibility that has to be considered. The universe may not have originally been quite as restricted as it appears now. The formation of the universe may have been dynamic. It is possible that, in the process of taking shape, some of the restrictions were imposed by its natural tendency to tighten up its own logical structure.)

The universe we see today has limited indeterminacy. Just as the larger completely indeterminate universe applied the three laws of Aristotelian logic to force itself into some sort of logical order, our one-lower-dimensional universe is constantly trying to tighten up its own logical framework. It is always struggling to eliminate that last vestige of randomness that has been incorporated into its structure. In the process of attempting to do this, it is constantly forming choice functions comparable to, but on a much more limited scale, than the original choice function that came to be the structure of existence.

It attempts to do this in every possible way. When a rock rolls down a slope at the same time a bird takes flight, the universe attempts to form a rule that a rock must always roll down a slope when a bird takes flight. When a frog eats an insect while the direction of the wind shifts, it attempts to form a rule that the wind must always shift when a frog eats an insect. When a basketball team scores a point while a fan is coughing, it attempts to form a rule that a ball must go into a basket whenever a person coughs. This type of rule formation is apparently not very successful, or else the universe would be filled with seemingly inexplicable correlations.

There is another class of rule that apparently does form on occasion, though without much regularity or consistency. This class of rule has to do with the relationship between events and thoughts. When we think of a certain television show and then change the channel at random, the universe attempts to show us the television show we were thinking about. When we have a dream about an event, it attempts to either make our dream match the event or the event match our dream.

This process accounts for the experience we call synchronicity. Meaningful coincidences occur because the universe is constantly attempting to put things together in a way that makes some sort…any sort…of logical sense.

The really interesting process, however, is what takes place in our own heads. This class of rule has to do with the relationship between thoughts and thoughts. A living brain is extremely logical and organized, so the universe is always attempting to build on that logic and order to make sense of anything and everything. However, a living brain is logical and organized in a way that is apparently more amenable to the process of forming choice functions than completely unrelated processes such as a ball going into a hoop while a person coughs. The human brain is uniquely organized to foster choice functions with many of the capabilities of the original supreme choice function. The human brain is organized in a way that fosters the development of consciousness.

A good way to see how consciousness finds its particular form is to look at the color spectrum. It is important, while considering this particular example, to keep in mind that consciousness forms to resolve indeterminacies at the quantum level, not at the level of how the brain processes color. The following is intended to illustrate how consciousness may assume its particular shape, not why it exists in the first place.

The natural color spectrum contains light that goes from red to orange to yellow to green to blue and finally to violet. However, something interesting happens when non adjacent colors are mixed together. When the wavelengths of yellow and blue are mixed together, our brain averages them and imagines that is sees the color that naturally occurs between them, green. When the wavelengths of red and yellow are mixed together, our brain averages them and imagines that is sees the color that naturally occurs between them, orange. There is an actual wavelength of light that accounts for the color orange, but we also see orange when the wavelengths for red and the wavelengths for yellow are mixed together.

The natural colors of the spectrum form a band that shades from red to violet.

However, in the logic of our brains, the colors are bent around into a circle so that the red at one extreme and the violet at the other extreme meet.

Here, something remarkable happens. In the logic of how our brains process color, the overlapping of red and violet wavelengths forms magenta. This is a very curious phenomenon, because the color magenta does not exist in the natural spectrum. Magenta is an artificial color that our brains have invented to complete the pattern of the color wheel.

The most remarkable thing about this, however, is not that our brains have found a way to complete the cycle. The remarkable thing is that our conscious minds are able to perceive a color that is distinct from every other color and with all the qualia of any natural color. While our brains have formed a definition of this invented color, our minds can actually see it. We see a color, in all its vivid glory, which does not actually exist anywhere in nature.

This is a perfect model of how a choice function like consciousness may take shape. The perception of the color magenta is a conscious extrapolation of our brains decision to process the mixture of red and violet as a new color. Our entire consciousness is an extrapolation of this same type, which includes the perception of the color magenta, but also includes all the other things we are conscious of, such as pleasure, pain, beauty, aroma, joy, justice, love, etc. The exact reason why consciousness forms the particular extrapolations it chooses, remains to be seen. I will attempt to explore this in a later entry.

As I stated from the onset of this demonstration, it is important to realize that this discussion of color is only intended to illustrate how consciousness may find its particular form. It is not intended to explain why consciousness forms in the first place. Consciousness comes about to resolve indeterminacies at the quantum level, not at the level at which the brain processes color information.

Our consciousness is apparently not a physical thing. It is not an object. It is a purely logical construct that forms in conjunction with our brains. It may not even exist in time or known space.

Our consciousness perceives what our brains perceive because it is an extrapolation on the way our brains processes information. However, our consciousness also influences the way our brains processes information. Consciousness, after all, comes into existence in order to tie together the indeterminacies within our brains. At some level, the motion of particles in our brains is not quite random. In the same manner that the universe attempts to make a ball go into a hoop whenever a person coughs, it also attempts to make our brains behave in a manner that is consistent with our consciousness. It tries to make the otherwise indeterminate behavior of fundamental particles in our brains conform to the logic of the choice function, consciousness, which has formed in conjunction with our brains.

In a sense, then, the way our brains follow the directives of our consciousness is an example of synchronicity. However, just as it has been impossible to find the variables that govern synchronicity, it will probably be impossible to find the variables that govern how our brains conform to our consciousness. No matter how hard we look, it will always seem to be a coincidence that our brains do what our consciousness orders.

There may eventually be a way to expose the influence of consciousness on our brains. Eventually, it may be possible to make an electronic copy of the exact process that our brains utilize. Unlike our biological brains, that are uniquely suited through eons of evolution to permit this intimate connection with the choice function that is our consciousness, these electronic copies may be hard wired in a way that does not facilitate such a connection. We may discover that an exact electronic copy of our biological brains simply does not work properly.

This does not mean that an electronic brain could not be built in a manner that compensates for this consciousness deficit. There is no reason to assume that consciousness is essential to the kind of information processing that our mind/brain combination performs. It is a mistake to suppose that our brains adopted the convention of relying on conscousness because that is the only way they could have formed. Evolution doesn’t care where it gets its tools…only that they work. It typically grabs the first tool that is handy. Also, keep in mind that our universe was undoubtedly structured from the onset so that the mind/brain combination would naturally form. It is apparently the design of the great original conscious choice function that creatures such as us inhabit this space. In other words, our consciousness does not exist to cater to the needs of the universe or our brains. Rather, the universe was created so that consciousness such as ours could form.

For this last reason, I am of the opinion that once a consciousness forms it is somehow permanent. Where a conscious choice function goes and what it does there after our bodies and our brains have expired is a matter for further philosophical enquiry. I shall attempt this enquiry in a later blog.

In the same manner that I elected to refer to the original conscious choice function as God, I shall refer the permanent choice function that forms in conjunction with our brains as a soul. Again, it only makes sense to refer to something by the name that has always been associated with it in our culture.

The Universe as Puppet Theatre

30 Apr

In my last blog I explained my theory for what the universe is, what God is, and why all of it exists. In summary, the basis of the universe is the three laws of Aristotelian logic. One law in particular, the Law of the Excluded Middle, requires that every possible proposition be decided. The determinacy of every possible proposition is equivalent to the existence of a universal choice function. I labeled this choice function, appropriately, as God.

However, an inevitable consequence of this particular model of the universe is that everything is part of the choice function, a part of God. The question, then, is how could God create something that is not God and not under the strict control of God’s will.

Suppose we think of God as a space. In at least some sense, almost everything is a space. For example, we refer to the connection between the world’s computers as cyberspace. We typically think of a space as having dimensions. According to a prevailing theory of the known universe, M-Theory, the universe has at least eleven dimensions. If God is a space and he has more dimensions than the known universe, then God may have at least twelve dimensions. How can a space that is effectively everything, and in control of everything, create something that is not part of itself and not under its direct control?

Suppose we think of God as a space and we visualize this space as a piece of paper. If we cut a piece of paper in half and place the two halves together, something remarkable appears. There is a new thing created that is neither the piece of paper on one side of the cut nor the piece of paper on the other side of the cut. The new thing that is created is a one-lower-dimensional space, the cut between them.

This is not merely a property of two-dimensional spaces like paper. It is a property of higher dimensional spaces as well. Suppose we have a fluid separated into two different fluids. Once again, the result is a one-lower-dimensional space. In this illustration, two fluids are depicted. One is oil and the other is water. Of course, oil and water do not mix, so they remain separate and create a one-lower-dimensional space.

(Note: In order for this process to work in a strict mathematical sense, God would need to be a metric space and the separated parts would need to be relatively closed disjoint sets. Since God is, in some sense, his own creator, this does not appear to be an unreasonable specification. This still leaves the problem of what happens to the metric when the two parts are separated. Keep in mind that this is a model and not a rigorous proof.)

This second example raises an obvious question about separating spaces in this way. What keeps them apart? In the case of the paper, they are kept apart by a broken chemical bond. In the case of the oil and water, they are kept apart by cohesion and different weights. In every case, there has to be something that holds them apart.

A model, which I will be proposing very shortly, that goes further to illustrate the process, might be the separation of water into its two constituent elements oxygen and hydrogen. When water is separated into these elements, it forms two gasses that have different weights. If the gasses are separated in a tank, the hydrogen will move to the top and the oxygen will move to the bottom. The separation will not be as clean and complete as the separation of oil and water, but the essential idea is the same.

Suppose the universal choice function, God, created a one-lower-dimensional space by separating into two different substances in a manner analogous to the separation of water into oxygen and hydrogen. This brings to mind the concepts in various philosophies of God having a dual nature. Of course, these different natures are often thought of as good versus evil, but that is not the only interpretation. There is also the concepts of Yin and Yang. If we allow the possibility of three different spaces, there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps some echo of how our universe came to be is represented in these multi-nature concepts. My point, however, is that the separation might be maintained by having parts that are somehow antagonistic to each other.

If God created a one-lower-dimensional space in this manner, he would have succeeded only in creating a one-lower-dimensional god. The space would be occupied with a choice function similar to the original but, somehow, more limited. Of course, this notion brings to mind the Gnostic concept of the Demiurge. Here again, we may be seeing some echo of the early universe.

In order to limit the possibilities for this one-lower-dimensional space, God may have twisted and folded it and added in some other peculiarities. It can be observed that the eleven dimensions of known space described in M-Theory are twisted and folded in this manner. Specifically, they are twisted and folded into what are called Calabi–Yau Manifolds. Of course, any modification of the one-lower-dimensional space would have to be made while effectively remaining outside of it. The actual twists and folds would have to be implemented in the surrounding spaces.

By moderating the limitations he placed on this space, God could have automatically instilled a particularly useful quality: randomness. It is well understood in quantum mechanics that the motion of particles incorporates a certain randomness. An electron can be visualized as popping in and out of real space at random locations around an atomic nucleus.

Suppose God wanted to have a way of influencing the course of this one-lower-dimensional space without leaving any trace of interference. What better way than to have a random quality that could be tweaked just a bit here and there to change the outcome. It is well established in the science of dynamical systems that small changes in initial conditions can cause dramatic long-term effects. An omniscient and omnipotent God could easily make very slight statistically nonexistent alterations that would completely change the outcome.

There would be another less obvious advantage to incorporating randomness into this space. It would be possible for extra-spatial structures of various sorts to exert an influence. There is one structure, in particular, that is of interest. As I previously stated, if this space was properly structured, choice functions on the level of a one-lower-dimensional god could not form. However, simpler and much more limited choice functions might form to resolve some very limited indeterminacies.  These structures might include human consciousness.

We can think of the more or less determinate aspect of this space as being endowed with what we consider ordinary physics. Within the ordinary physics of this space, logical structures might form along the lines of intelligent biological entities: the brains of living creatures. These structures might be expected to take advantage of any and all resources available to them in order to evolve quickly into the most effective logical structures possible. One resource available to them would be the randomness of quantum mechanics and the aforementioned accompanying properties. These biological structures might evolve loose ends in their logical structures in order to take advantage of this randomness. The randomness of quantum mechanics, combined with the ability for limited choice functions to form, could be expected to complete these structures. This kind of “completion” could explain the human experience of consciousness.

You can now, perhaps, see why I titled this entry “The Universe as Puppet Theatre.” While the universe is, in many respects, independent of God, he has incorporated into it a method of influencing the outcome. In a sense, God is a great puppeteer who pulls some, but not all, of the strings that direct the universe along a specified path. Since the universe would be a one-lower-dimensional space formed between spaces of God, he would effectively be everywhere at all times. He would be equally in contact with every point of our space.

You may also note that I have adopted the convention of referring to God with the pronoun “he”. This is not because I consider God to be entirely masculine. In fact, the two parts of God that I describe as existing in separation might very well be masculine and feminine. It is compelling to think that our universe might be a one-lower-dimensional space that exists in constant contact with and is sandwiched between entirely masculine and entirely feminine entities. The use of the pronoun “he” is merely a grammatical convention. I do not find the constant use of “he or she” or deference to the pronoun “she” to be particularly enlightened or beneficial. Our culture should be past the point of deliberately crippling our language in order to make some group of people feel more secure in their identities. I may discuss this topic in more detail in a later blog.

In a future entry, I will explain how the completing structures I have alluded to might actually work and how they could interact with biological brains without revealing their existence and influence in any traceable manner.

A Theory of God and Everything

17 Apr

I happened upon this theory while reading a book by Stephen Wolfram called A New Kind of Science.

In A New Kind of Science Wolfram describes numerous observations about something called cellular automata. He uses his observations about cellular automata to put forward a theory about order in the universe.

Cellular automata are cells represented on a computer that evolve according to some simple rule. These cells are typically represented by colored squares. An example of a cellular automaton is rule 110. In this rule, a cell can be either black or white. The color of every cell is determined by the color of the cells diagonally above to the left, directly above, and diagonally above to the right. For example, if the cell diagonally above to the left is black, the cell directly above is white, and the cell diagonally above to the right is white, then the color of the dependent cell is white.

The complete set of rules is shown here:

When rule 110 is started with one black square and all the rest white, it produces this result:

On a larger scale, it produces this result:

It can be proven that rule 110 is what is called “Turing complete”. In other words, if rule 110 were begun with the proper settings, it could be used to solve any problem that can be solved by a computer. Theoretically, this means that if rule 110 were started with the correct initial setting on a large enough board it could represent any logical structure including our entire universe. Stephen Wolfram argues that our universe could be nothing more than the implementation of a rule as simple as rule 110.

While contemplating this concept, I realized a couple of obvious problems. First of all, in order for rule 110 to run at all, it must be supported by a complicated computing device. However, there are other more subtle problems. Who or what sets the initial conditions for the rule? Also, what forces the cells to continue to follow a particular rule and not decide to switch midway and follow some other rule? On a computer, a person sets the default state for a rule and the program forces the cells to follow it; but what about the universe? What is the universe’s default state and what forces the universe to keep following the same rule?

Then, I had this epiphany. What if the universe had no default state and there was nothing to make it follow any rule? It occurred to me that this model for the “beginning” of the universe was the only default state that could stand on its own without assuming some other supporting structure.

What would happen?

I then realized there may be something that is true regardless of the existence or order of anything. The obvious candidate was the three laws of Aristotelian logic:

  1. A proposition that is true is true. A proposition that is false is false.
  2. A proposition that is true is not false. A proposition that is false is not true.
  3. A proposition must be either true or false. (the law of the excluded middle)

The last law, the law of the excluded middle, has a surprising consequence. To say that there are no undecided propositions is equivalent to saying that every possible proposition must be decided. But if there is nothing to decide them, what happens?

In mathematics, there is something called a choice function. Many proofs depend on the existence of a choice function that is capable of choosing one element from every set. The existence of such a function is referred to as the “Axiom of Choice”. What I propose is that this function does not merely exist in the theoretical sense, but that it actually exists.

If we think of all the possibilities for how the universe could be structured as the domain set of a choice function, and the actual universe as the range, then there must exist a choice function that maps the first set into the latter.

To summarize, the law of the excluded middle says that every proposition is either true or false. However this implies, in turn, that every proposition is decided. The determinacy of every proposition implies the existence of a choice function that is capable of deciding. Hence, the law of the excluded middle is equivalent to the existence of a universal choice function.

Suppose there were more than one candidate for the choice function that is capable of performing this mapping? This would demand the existence of yet another choice function that is capable of choosing between every possible candidate. However, what if there was more than one choice function capable of choosing among possible candidates? We are led into an iterative process that generates a hierarchy of possible choice functions. This hierarchy of choice functions forms a lattice for which there must be a unique maximal element. In other words, there must be a supreme function that is master of all other choice functions with no other choice function that is master of it.

What characteristics does this supreme choice function have?

Part of the domain of this function must include every possible quality that we observe in the universe. The domain may contain other qualities, but everything we observe must be included. In order to choose, the function must have some characteristic that is roughly equivalent to “preference”. Since the function is capable of choosing qualities such as intelligence and consciousness, it makes sense that the function has something that is roughly equivalent to an “understanding” of intelligence and consciousness. If the function is capable of understanding these concepts, it might also be assumed to possess them. The function is omnipotent by definition.

Of course, this is the classical definition of God. There is no point in calling the choice function anything else. Hence, the law of the excluded middle is equivalent to the classical definition of God.

It must be observed at this point that this is not a religious insight. It is merely an application of Aristotelian logic to a basic problem. The inevitable outcome, the existence of a universal choice function, is just the result of following Aristotelian logic to its conclusion. As to the naming of this choice function, calling it anything but what it obviously is would be petty.

Many modern philosophers assume that the universe is physical and that the basis of the universe must be physics. Implicit in this model is the assumption that the universe is driven by cause and effect. However, these philosophers are never able to get around an obvious problem. What is it that supports their physics? What is it that generates their rule and forces the universe to follow it?

What I propose is that the basis of the universe is not physics, but logic. The universe is not driven by cause and effect. It is driven by propositions and their implied consequences. The universe is driven by truth.

Now, as to what exactly the aforementioned choice function has chosen and how it intends to follow up on those choices is another matter. All you have to do is look around and you will have a pretty good idea what has already been implemented. However, I plan to take this idea for how the universe was constructed and incorporate it into a complete explanation of what the universe is, how it works, and where it is headed.