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The Ten Year J.J. Abrams Production

12 Feb

When we look back on history, we realize that it was mostly centuries of almost nothing exciting happening punctuated with an occasional war or the intrusion of a new disease. Life was, for the most part, so boring that people had to invent stories with mysterious endings and hold public festivals just to make it bearable. A typical person might have been born, grown up, grown old and died without travelling more than a mile from their place of birth.

Skip forward to the year 2020. Americans have Donald Trump as President. His antics and daily tweets are both unsettling and entertaining. The ongoing effort to drive him from office is a daily drama.

New technologies are introduced daily. Just yesterday, I learned that it is possible, for about $2000, to get a completely electric portable power source that is dead quiet and does what an old gas generator did.

Bluetti

Just today, I learned about advances in 3D printing that will make it possible to 3D print items that used to be impossible. Any day now, Samsung will unveil their folding smart phone. Someone else will unveil a product that no one anticipated and that solves a problem no one knew they had.

Every day, we get new images of the sun or the planets. Every day we learn something new about gravity and black holes. Yesterday, the Corona virus was threatening to become a global pandemic. Today, scientists announced that they have found a cure. In regard to diseases, just three days ago I learned that a new treatment for multiple sclerosis has been developed.  Maybe it will pan out or maybe it won’t.

Today, it dawned on me that, if we think of 2020 as the beginning of a TV series, we are entering upon a ten year drama the likes of which J.J. Abrams would be proud to produce. However, there are some vital differences.

Unlike TV series’ like Lost, everything that we see and hear is a real part of the plot. There is no filler or misdirection. If a politician seems to be covering up a crime, the reality of whether or not they are doing so plays inextricably into the narrative. If a scientist claims to have explained or solved something, either they have changed the world or they will be exposed as a fraud. Either way, it is a real part of the drama. This afternoon, I was fooled by a video of a combat robot developed by Boston Dynamics. The video was an elaborate spoof, but the ability to make the video and the sociological implications of being able to do so are very real.

Combat Robot

Another vital difference is the depth with which this series can be explored. A TV series is only as deep as the imagination and dedication of the writers and directors. In this real life series, a person can look into any political activity or scientific endeavor in as much detail as their ability and ambition permit.  A person could spend a whole year just trying to get a firm grip on the Donald Trump Impeachment saga. They could study science for years trying to understand if there is anything to claims that black holes do not actually exist.

In this real life TV series, everything is intertwined. Science, politics and economics are inseparable. The Internet had to be invented for Twitter to be invented. Twitter had to be invented for Donald Trump to become the tweeting President. Drones had to be perfected in order for Amazon to consider delivery by drone. Delivery by drone may change home delivery forever. Changes in home delivery change all of our lives. Unlike a fictional drama, the intertwining is real. It is not just possible, but inevitable that every single thing that is introduced or changes will affect the plot.

In fictional dramas, the introduction of unexpected new forces is often referred to as deus ex machina and is frowned upon. In this real-life drama, dues ex machina is a daily phenomenon that cannot be dismissed because it is not really dues ex machina at all. Just because we cannot see something coming, does not mean it was not truly in the story all along. No one anticipated Nancy Pelosi tearing up Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, but her doing so was not a plot contrivance. If anyone had really understood her and the situation, they might have anticipated it.

Nancy Tearing Speech

Yet, curiously, no one seems to be giving away the end of the story. We really do not know who will be elected President in November. Will America have a gay president that is married to a man? We really do not know if the mach effect thruster Professor Heidi Fearn is developing at NASA will culminate in a star drive. Could Jetsons style flying cars be next?

Allow me to digress for a moment. I have a movie sitting on my desk: Spiderman Far From Home. I have been having difficulty getting myself to watch it and have been wondering why. It should be a movie that I am excited to watch. However, this evening, I realized why I am having trouble dropping it into my DVD player. Nothing that any screen writer can pen or that any filmmaker can produce compares with the news that I can turn to at any minute. Nothing in any Marvel script compares to the real-life drama that plays across our TV screens and into our lives every day. No story we can read or see enacted compares with the real thing.

Perhaps the reason why movies are becoming so impatient and erratic is that they are trying to compete with real life. Perhaps the reason why we are losing interest in stories and storytelling is that the real-life story we are all living every day is so much more compelling and exciting.

Not only is it more exciting, but we are all active participants. Any one of us could record a video or think of an idea that will make at least an incremental difference to the plot. Everything that we see or read in the news has an effect on us individually. When the Me Too movement got started all of us had to immediately be on our guard not to do or say anything that could put us at odds with this political reality. When Donald Trump was acquitted in his impeachment trial, this influenced the stock market. When the stock market moved, many of us were able to look at our personal IRAs and see that they had changed. Every one of us has an affect on everything and everything has an affect on every one of us…instantly.

This story is building to a giant crescendo around the year 2030 when technology may eliminate jobs and cure every disease. Maybe robots and/or computers will take over the world. It may even culminate in something that futurists call the Technological Singularity. That is a whole topic in itself. In ten years, we may see the end of history as we know it. What then?

Maybe God will literally descend from the machine. About now, I am ready for anything.

In a way, this new reality is disconcerting. However, it is also the best show on television. J.J Abrams, eat your heart out! I guess we will all just have to stay tuned and enjoy the ride.

Keep watching. It’s a great show!

Do Not Fear Oblivion

30 Jan

It was while thinking about topics like this that I first discovered consciousness. Before that, I had never heard the term, or at least it had never registered. While thinking about what changes when we die, I realized that I had never thought about what makes us alive. That was when I realized there was something to me that is more than the parts I am made of.

However, I want to talk now about a hypothetical state: the possibility that when we die we simply cease to exist. From the standpoint of physics, that is an impossibility. All the parts that make up our bodies and brains must still be present. They just begin to interact in a different way. Since those parts do not seem to be able to account for conscious experience, it seems odd to say that something will cease to exist that, as near as I can tell, should not exist to begin with. Nevertheless, I am going to make the assumption, for the sake of this discussion, that somehow when we die we cease to exist.

That idea once bothered me. I imagined myself sitting forever in a dark room all alone. However, I realize now that this conception of nonexistence is unreasonable. To be alone, one must “be” in some sense of the word. Besides, when we sit in a dark room alone, we tend to fall asleep, and when we are asleep our minds fill up with colorful visions called dreams. The image of death as being in a dark room alone is completely irrational.

Nonexistence is the complete absence of thought. It is the complete absence of time. It is the complete absence of position in space. There is a reason why mathematicians have concluded that the empty set it a subset of every set. Nonexistence is so obscure that it takes on surreal properties.

Nonexistence does not erase the self. It erases everything. If a person does not exist, where does their nonexistence take place? How can there be a universe relative to a person that is not in anything? Where would the universe be located relative to someone that is nowhere? What time would it be for a person that is not in a time?

If a person ceases to exist, is it meaningful to say they ever existed in the first place? For a person that does not exist, there is no such thing as evidence or reason. There is no argument they can make that they ever existed at all. There are no witnesses relative to someone that is nowhere, in nothing and at no place in time. How can one lose something that one never possessed?

In actuality, nonexistence would be perfect freedom. How could anything possibly harm someone who does not exist? Where would it find them? What would it do to them? If a person does not exist, they cannot worry. They cannot have a nightmare. They cannot feel insecure. They cannot feel inadequate. They cannot regret or feel any nagging urge to strive. Nonexistence is the perfect coffee break.

I want to live forever and I believe living forever is the overarching plan. However, that is because I love life, not because I fear death. If death is what most of us fear that it is, then there is nothing to fear at all. We may see it coming, but we will never see it going. If death brings nonexistence, then death will become the thing that never was.

That was a tiresome thought and I am glad I got it out of my system.

Humanity Is Not a Fallen Race

24 Jan

Many Biblical scholars have made the observation that religious thinkers are constrained by a phenomenon having to do with religious heritage. These religious thinkers, which include prophets, chroniclers and letter writers, are never allowed to make a clean break with old traditions. This is because people are unwilling to consider a “new” religious idea. They are only willing to consider a seemingly new religious idea if it appears to be a new understanding of an old religious idea.

This unwillingness to consider a new religious idea stems from a simple dilemma. If the idea is new, why didn’t God, who is supposedly omniscient and omnipotent, tell them about it before? Worse, if the idea seems to contradict something they have already been taught, then that means that something they accepted out of faith is wrong. In other words, it must mean that God has lied to them. How can God lie? Moreover, if one part of it is wrong, maybe other parts of it are wrong. If other parts of it are wrong, maybe all of it is wrong. If the whole thing is wrong, then what do they have left? Do they resort to science which seems to say there is no God and that they should not bother to contemplate him?

I am not going to propose here that all the old ideas about religion are wrong. I am, however, going to propose that certain fundamental ideas entertained by the world’s preeminent religions are wrong. However, before I do that, I would like to state up front what I believe is correct.

I believe that God exists. I believe that he is omniscient and omnipotent. I believe that he is a being that humans can relate to, if not entirely understand. I believe that human intuition about the nature of God, his motivations, and his objectives is possible and desirable. I believe that God has a plan for humanity and that his plan is that which is most favorable to humanity.

The idea that I propose is wrong is that humans are a fallen race. However, before I explain my position, I would like to elaborate a bit on why the belief that humans are a fallen race exists and what purpose that belief served in the past.

If we start from the hypothetical position, which I find untenable, that God does not exist, then there would have to be some natural reason why humans have arrived at the idea that they are a fallen race.  The reason is relatively simple. It has to do with suffering. Many sophisticated philosophers have come to the conclusion that God cannot exist based on the observation of suffering. When humans see suffering and note the degree of suffering, they have difficulty, often insurmountable difficulty, believing that there could be an omnipotent God that cares about them. How could a God that supposedly cares about them and has the power to act for their benefit allow so much suffering? More specifically, how could he allow the kind of suffering that takes place in prison camps where prisoners are tortured and deprived? How could he allow the kind of suffering experienced by abdominal cancer patients whose guts are seemingly torn apart? How could he allow the kind of suffering experienced by burn victims that suffer burns over a large percentage of their bodies? How could he allow child abuse and child rape? How could he allow starvation of seemingly innocent humans on a mass scale?

When humans first attempted to address the issue of suffering, they came to the conclusion that people must have done something in the past to bring this upon themselves. They must have committed some horrible sin that resulted in God becoming angry and allowing suffering to enter the world. For this reason, they invented the story of Adam and Eve and other tales that supposedly substantiate this belief.

However, ideas such as this raised new questions. Why would contemporary humans be forced to pay for the crimes of humans who lived thousands of years ago? In a monumental effort to connect the sins of our forefathers to the present, religious thinkers assembled some remarkable intellectual constructs. They invented the idea that sin can be inherited or that sin has permanent residence in the world. They even reinterpreted some old Gods as monsters within which sin could permanently reside. In essence, they invented the Devil.

So, we see that if God did not exist, humans, in their attempts to explain how an omniscient and omnipotent God could allow suffering, would have invented original sin and the devil. They would have arrived at the conclusion that humans are a fallen race.

However, I believe in God and I do not believe that this explanation is correct. God is indeed omniscient and omnipotent, but he is attempting to do something very difficult. He is attempting to create a space, the observable universe, where beings can live and have free will. It is easy for a person, thinking along simple lines, to say that God could do this without allowing suffering, but I propose that God could not do this. The reasons are comparable to why God could not create an exception to the Pythagorean Theorem or Fermat’s Last Theorem. God cannot do something that is logically inconsistent.

When we contemplate a universe that has free will, we imagine one in which God simply pronounces will as free and free will comes about. However, this does not take into account the impossible obstacles that must be presented, even to an omnipotent being, in creating something over which he has no power. As difficult as this may be for some theologians to accept, free will must mean freedom from the power of God. That is an idea that has touched the minds of many religious thinkers over the millennia, but it is an idea they have shied away from because it seems to suggest that God is not omnipotent. However, I suspect that they are paying too much attention to the power of God and too little attention to the logistics of free will.

How does a God that is literally in control of the shape and movement of every dot and twiddle of the universe make something that is independent? Scientists have not been able to imagine how it could be done. In fact, most physicists consider it an impossibility. Hence, they postulate the nonexistence of free will.

Theologians insist that God could create free will without difficulty. Physicists insist that it is impossible. I propose that there must be a happy medium.

What I propose is that God had to somehow separate himself from our universe. I do not know how he accomplished this. It seems like it would be impossible. However, doing so apparently involved separating himself from human affairs in such a way that we are able to do things that he might not prefer. It also apparently involved separating himself from our universe in such a way that it becomes possible for events to unfold in a way that he might not prefer. Apparently, our universe is something like a terrarium that God is able to shine a light into but that he dares not open. If he opens it, the result will be the destruction of free will.

As a terrarium, our universe must grow from the seeds that God has planted within it and gradually form into the universe he intends for us to live in. I cannot help but wonder if, encoded in the words of Jesus, is a foretelling of this process:

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. (Mathew 13:31-32)

I suspect that the ultimate destiny of our universe is that it will become something like the Biblical concept of heaven in which everyone has plenty and suffering is eliminated. I also suspect that after this heaven is constructed, some means will exist to pull everyone and everything out of the past and give them a new life that is free of suffering. The key element is that we must assemble heaven by ourselves.

The remaining question has to do with why God would have allowed so many, for so long, to believe something that is essentially a lie: that humans are a fallen race.

Humans needed to believe in God, and they lacked the sophistication to think their way around the problem of suffering. God could not interfere with the universe to give us the requisite sophistication to get around this dilemma any more than he could interfere to prevent suffering. Therefore, he allowed us to formulate and elaborate on a myth. The alternative was that we would conclude that there was no God. For many humans, for the duration of our history, believing that there was no God would have made it impossible for them to maintain any semblance of hope. How would many, perhaps most, humans have made it through two world wars that involved unthinkable weapons and unthinkable acts if they had no hope? God did not tell us a lie. We invented it independently. He allowed us to believe the lie because the alternative was unworkable.

The universe seems to be like furniture from IKEA. It comes in a box, but it requires assembling. God manufactured the parts and packed the box so that we would have everything we needed, but he seems intent that we assemble them at home.

Anyone who has assembled furniture that comes in pieces knows the inherent frustration. This frustration is analogous to the suffering that we all experience and some of us experience to a significant degree. However, eventually the furniture is assembled and we are able to rest comfortably in our new bed, couch or recliner.

When the universe is fully assembled and all of us that have died are pulled from the past—resurrected, so to speak—the suffering will be in our past. Those who experienced seemingly soul shattering trauma will heal and the suffering will become a less personal memory. We will be like a mother that has gone through labor and who, looking upon her newborn child, forgets the pain she went through giving birth.

That day will come. We will all stand within it. We will stand within it as God’s creatures in full possession of free will.

Old Souls

15 Sep

An idea that emerged from my theory of consciousness is that all souls must be tethered. It has occurred to me that souls that have left their bodies are probably stringing along in some alternate space (spirit space, if you will) in a kind of timeless limbo.

Tethered Souls

For clarity on this topic, see: Saurian Dualism

Eventually, we will have the ability to construct a fully functional human body complete with a human brain. However, I have speculated that such a brain will not function as expected because no consciousness will attach to it. This brain will have the same probabilistic elements built in that all human brains have, but since there will be no soul guiding it, the brain will behave odly. This oddness may manifest in many ways. Perhaps it will manifest as something similar to autism or catatonia.

Eventually, as artificial intelligence progresses, we may develop the ability to make exact reconstructions of bodies and brains that have lived in the past. There is evidence that the information exists in the universe to reconstruct these old bodies exactly as they were before. If we do this, the old souls may recognize their old “template” and reattach to these new bodies. In this way, we will resurrect the dead.

At first, we will probably resurrect only recent humans. However, as we learn more, we may resurrect humans that lived in the past and even the distant past. Eventually, we may resurrect every conscious being that has ever existed in the history of the world, right down to mice and insects.

Indeed, we will quickly recognize that it is a moral imperative to resurrect every soul that has ever lived, because these souls are stringing along in spirit space waiting to be resurrected.

We will do all of this in combination with reconstructing the universe to make it “safer” and more friendly to our chosen lifestyle. This will be the culmination of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Universe, Top Down

2 Sep

Sometimes, after seeing how something works, one is able to form a new global understanding of it that makes it possible to view it and describe it from a top-down perspective. This is the case with my theory of the universe.

Geocentric Model

The three laws of Aristotelian logic are as follows:

  1. A proposition that is true is true. A proposition that is false is false.
  2. A proposition that true is not false and 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, has a remarkable implication. If every proposition must be either true or false, every possible proposition must be decided. This introduces the necessity of a universal choice function that maps possibility to actuality. Since this choice function must decide among such things as the existence and nature of consciousness, this choice function must have these properties. It must have preference in order to be able to choose, which is equivalent to sensation. It must experience qualia.

God is the contemporary name given to the choice function that maps possibility to actuality. Since God is equivalent to the Aristotelian laws of truth, God is a fundamental truth.

God sought to create something that is not God that “unfolds” and has free will. So he invented the “series proposition”. A series proposition is a set of propositions in which one proposition must be resolved before the conditions of the next proposition become available. He also invented a situation in which it is impossible for there to be a deterministic algorithm that resolves these propositions; hence, he created the conditions equivalent to Bell’s theorem.

This series of propositions that must be resolved by nondeterministic means results in the existence of a choice function that is essentially like God, but with much more restricted parameters. This kind of choice function is called a spirit or a soul.

Souls have the essential characteristics of God. Due to the demands that are placed on souls, such as their need to have preference, they experience qualia similar to the qualia experienced by God. The experience of preference is the definition of qualia. The experience of color, sound, warmth, etc is the manifestation of the process of choosing. These things are the “preference” that leads to a choice.  A soul is literally the act of choosing between alternative propositions, and cannot exist without the need to choose.

The “unity” experienced by a soul is the result of the number of characteristics it has to resolve that must be logically consistent. The unity of the soul over space and time is the result of it having to make choices with interdependent elements both laterally and chronologically. The “scale” of a soul is equivalent to the number of interdependent choices it must choose between.

All of physics and quantum mechanics is the manifestation of this system that God set up. Quantum indeterminacy is the manifestation of the unresolved propositions and quantum decoherence is the resolution of a proposition. Quantum entanglement is the characteristic of logically interdependent choices. Choices can be interdependent both laterally and chronologically, so entanglement occurs both laterally and chronologically.

“Time” is the process of propositions being resolved in series. Each separate set of lateral propositions is equivalent to a moment in time.

Heaven is a scenario in which most choices are between things that are preferred instead of a mixture of what is preferred and not preferred.

God is leading us to heaven by limiting our choices. However, since we have to get there through a series of choices, we must, in effect, create heaven ourselves. This is why God cannot interfere. If God interfered, his “observation” would cause decoherence of the entire system and souls would cease to exist.

God set the universe up so that heaven would be attainable through a series of choices.

The configuration of our universe is the one in which the best possible heaven can ultimately be selected for.

The choices humanity makes are leading it to heaven.

A Plausible Biblical Young Earth Creation Theory

7 Apr

Before I begin, I must give a slight disclaimer. I have no idea if this theory is correct. It is an idea I have been mulling over for years and am sharing because I think it is interesting and because it lends some credence to a faith-based existence.

In quantum mechanics, there is an experiment called the “double slit” experiment that splits light beams into two paths that reunite and cause a wave interference pattern. If you are not familiar with this experiment, I recommend that you read the Wikipedia entry:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment

It has been observed that when it is possible to know which slit a light particle passes through, the particle stops passing through both slits. Moreover, the wave pattern disappears. This is sometimes referred to as wave function collapse. For quite some time, it was believed that the conscious act of observation caused the collapse. This opinion has been updated from “conscious observation” to “measurement”, but either is sufficiently correct for the theory I am about to propose.

When one physicist on Physics Stack Exchange was asked about the notion that conscious observation causes wave function collapse, he responded, in part, as follows:

The posit that it is consciousness that causes this collapse is very hard to debunk, due to the very nature of this type of argument. However, if you consider the following example, it should be clear that this picture is far from complete; and that this argument for consciousness causing the…process is not sufficient. Consider the weather, the detailed weather patterns that occur on any planet, being dependent of chaotic processes, which [must] be sensitive to numerous individual quantum events. if the…process does not actually take place in the absence of consciousness, then no particular weather pattern could ever establish itself out of the morass of quantum-superposed alternatives. Can we really believe that the weather on these planets remain in complex-number superpositions of innumerable distinct possibilities – just some total hazy mess quite different from actual weather – until some conscious being becomes aware of it and then at that point, and only that point the superposed weather becomes actual weather? I don’t think so – do you? 

http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/35328/why-does-observation-collapse-the-wave-function

The unstated implication is that if a contemporary observation were made, the collapse would occur in such a way that the weather pattern would take on a structure that represented a consistent history all the way back to the big bang. In a sense, though not an entirely accurate sense, the history for the weather pattern, indeed the entire planet, would be written retroactively.

The author apparently considers this to be a ridiculous proposition. However, what he fails to realize is that he is essentially describing a larger scale variant of the famous Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment. Again, I refer the reader to the applicable Wikipedia entry:

Schrodingers Cat

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger%27s_cat

Why does a proposition that apparently seems reasonable to physicists when considered at the level of a cat that has about 10^26 atoms, suddenly seem implausible when applied to a planet that has perhaps 10^50 atoms? Let us assume for the moment that the proposition the author describes as seeming absurd is actually correct.

Julian Jaynes in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind makes the argument that consciousness did not appear in the world until sometime around 1000 BC:

Jaynes built a case for this hypothesis that human brains existed in a bicameral state until as recently as 3000 years ago by citing evidence from many diverse sources including historical literature. He took an interdisciplinary approach, drawing data from many different fields. Jaynes asserted that, until roughly the times written about in Homer’s Iliad, humans did not generally have the self-awareness characteristic of consciousness as most people experience it today. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicameralism_(psychology)

However, Jaynes’ argument does not preclude the possibility that, among some peoples, consciousness may have emerged earlier or later. Possibly, consciousness was first introduced to the world, and in effect the universe, as early as 4000 BC.

Now, consider this passage from Genesis:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 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. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. 

The phrase “without form, and void” is an apt description of something in a state of quantum superposition. The phrase “Let there be light” sounds very much like a description of observation or measurement.

I am postulating that the story of Genesis may essentially be correct and that the formless void it describes was a universe wide state of quantum superposition that did not take the form of the known universe, with its structured history going all the way back to the big bang, until conscious beings (possibly the first conscious humans) looked at the universe at approximately 4000 BC. In effect, there was not even any chronological time until the universe was observed. The Universe was literally created 6000 years ago.

If we replace “conscious observation” with “measurement” the only thing that changes is that someone or something had to “measure” the universe at that time. The argument might be made that there was surely some process in existence at some time prior to 4000 BC that might measure the universe, but it is not at all clear what that process would be in a universe that is entirely in a state of quantum superposition. Some novel property must have been introduced into the formless void.

An observation made by modern cosmologists is that the makeup of the universe is fine-tuned to produce life. It is so precisely fine-tuned that if any of a number of universal constants were changed even slightly, life could not form. To address this, they have proposed that there may be a large number of universes and that ours may be just one variant. What I am proposing is that there were an equivalent number of universes, but in quantum superposition, and that something happened approximately 6000 years ago that caused them to coalesce into the one we see today. Possibly, the introduction of consciousness to the universe was the catalyst that caused this coalescence, or possibly some external observation or measurement caused it.

If the universe was not an accident, but was created as many believe, there would be an elegant logic to it being created in the way I have described. When filmmakers film a scene, they do not try to get it exactly right with one take. Instead, they make several takes and select the one that works. When animal breeders want to create an animal with certain characteristics, they do not try to modify them genetically. They select the animals that are the closest to what they want and breed them. A stone sculptor does not build a rock. He chips rock away. When plant groomers want a plant to have a certain shape, they do not try to get the plant to grow that way. They let it grow unconstrained and trim away the parts that do not suit them. If someone or something wanted to create a universe with certain very specific characteristics, and one that works together logically, they would undoubtedly resort to a similar approach. An idea that has become popular in geek circles is that we are actually living in a computer program running on a giant server somewhere. If a programmer with unlimited resources wanted to create a simulation like the one we are ostensibly living in, he would certainly do it in the way I have described.

There is also a compelling argument for why the universe would have come into existence in this way over all other ways. A universe in quantum superposition accounts for all the possible configurations of the universe and why they would necessarily include one that supports life, and especially conscious human life. However there still remains the question of why the universe in quantum superposition would necessarily have coalesced into the exact configuration we are familiar with and not some other configuration. The answer is that this is the earliest possible configuration that had conscious observation. In other words, it could not have coalesced into another configuration because the coalescence would not have been consistent with the only process that appears to have been available to cause the coalescence in a universe wide state of quantum superposition: conscious human observation. Naturally, this raises the “chicken or egg” issue of whether the quantum collapse caused consciousness to appear or whether the appearance of consciousness caused the quantum collapse. Most likely, this is a false dichotomy and all that was truly necessary was that they co-occur. I suspect that some rigorous historical investigation may lead to a compelling argument that consciousness, as we know it, appeared almost exactly at the specified time. Jaynes began this investigation, but I suspect there is more to the story than what he uncovered.

It may seem unnecessary for a being like God to resort to such an approach, but assuming that he did answers a troubling question. Why would God create a universe in 4000 BC that seems to trace its origins to 13.8 billion years earlier? The answer is that the “history” of our universe was created, in a sense, “retroactively” as a part of a more contemporary creation methodology. The apparent history is not a fraud. It is a necessary characteristic of a universe created in this way. It is the branches of the plant that were left when the unwanted branches were trimmed away.

An obvious problem with this theory is that quantum collapse is probabilistic. However, I suspect that this would not be a problem for God. According to Bell’s theorem, there can be no locally real variables that control quantum collapse, but even Bell observed that true omniscience could overcome this obstacle:

There is a way to escape the inference of superluminal speeds and spooky action at a distance. But it involves absolute determinism in the universe, the complete absence of free will. Suppose the world is super-deterministic, with not just inanimate nature running on behind-the-scenes clockwork, but with our behavior, including our belief that we are free to choose to do one experiment rather than another, absolutely predetermined, including the ‘decision’ by the experimenter to carry out one set of measurements rather than another, the difficulty disappears. There is no need for a faster-than-light signal to tell particle A what measurement has been carried out on particle B, because the universe, including particle A, already ‘knows’ what that measurement, and its outcome, will be.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell%27s_theorem

Bell was apparently not a religious man and did not consider the obvious alternative to super-determinism.

It is important to realize that, prior to the quantum collapse of the universe, there were no “people” in the sense that we think of them. They were people “possibilities” in quantum superposition. They were not conscious. They had no souls until consciousness entered the universe in approximately 4000 BC.

People in Superposition

Is any of this correct? God only knows. In 1859, when Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, he set in motion a challenge to young earth creationists to explain how the Book of Genesis could be reconciled with his theory. Instead of suspending judgment, many Christians adopted the view that his theory must be incorrect and set about disproving it. Now, 160 years later, our understanding of science allows a synthesis of these ideas that no one at the time could have conceptualized. Instead of denying Darwin’s evolution by natural selection, faithful Christians should have proclaimed that while observation tells them one thing, faith tells them another; and that they will put off reconciling the two until they are both fully understood.

The takeaway of what I have explained here, at least as I see it, is this. If you are a person of faith, be patient with science. Sooner or later, science and your beliefs will find each other.

Faith

12 Mar

For many years now, I have been in the habit of holding some special object in my hands when I pray. The object is usually something simple and natural like an unusual stone. The object makes prayer “official”. When I am holding my prayer object, it is clear in my mind that I am communicating with God and that I should concentrate on that activity. This kind of device is common in many pursuits. Sometimes students wear a special hat when they are studying to make their study sessions official and remind them to concentrate.

For several years, my prayer object was a heart-shaped stone that I bought through eBay. About a year ago, when I was climbing into my bed, I found two small pebbles, a turquoise colored one and a cream colored one. They had apparently fallen out of my pocket when I went to take a nap. I could not remember when I acquired them or why, but I was fairly sure I had picked them up on our local beach. I recognized immediately that I was to use these when I prayed instead of the heart shaped stone. I never particularly cared for those two pebbles. However, since God had provided them for me, I felt that it was my duty to use them. I always held the turquoise one in my left hand and the cream colored one in my right hand.

About a month ago, when I was shopping at a local Dollar Tree, I came across a single smooth, flat, seaweed colored stone that had the word “Faith” engraved in it in gold. The stone was sitting there all alone on a shelf of other knickknacks that were for sale. There were no others like it in that section. As with the turquoise and cream colored stones, I recognized at once that God now wanted me to use this new object when I said my prayers.  I eventually discovered that it was a regular item for sale at the Dollar Tree. Each one was slightly unique and some of them had other words engraved in them. However, I knew that this particular stone was the one God had set aside for me.

The stone was a gift from God. I had to pay a dollar to get it out of the store, but that was immaterial. I was not being charged a dollar by God. I was paying an insignificant fee to a business for delivering to me the gift that God had provided.

Faith Stone

For the following month, I used the stone as my prayer object and held it whenever I said my prayers. Its smooth flat shape was ergonomic.  It fit my hands perfectly. It seemed to be made for me and for that purpose. When I cupped it in my hands while I prayed, it seemed to become a part of me.

Just recently, I was experiencing some minor hardships. They were hardships grouped into a pattern that I had come to recognize was a signal from God that there was something about my behavior that needed to change. I was not sure what it was. However, five evenings ago, when I was looking at my prayer stone, I made the connection.

For quite some time, I had been contemplating finding some book that could be my book of truth. I had been looking for a book that would be my guide book for how God wanted me to live. I was seeking my “bible”. I had been contemplating buying a particular King James Bible with just the right “look” that I had found online.

Teal King James Bible

I have read the Bible from cover to cover, but it never really spoke to me. Some Christians would say that this is because I do not believe, but I have reason to doubt their interpretation. I felt, for a variety of reasons, that the appearance of this particular Bible might signify the message God was willing to share with me. That notion would require some explaining that would take me too far afield. Besides, I realize now that it was incorrect.

I was also considering collecting together some writings of my own and binding them together to be my bible. I had tried this before, but it never worked very well.

Suddenly, I realized that this was all a mistake. There was no book of rules for me. My bible was a single word carved into stone: “Faith”.

This was an important realization. If a person contemplates the single word faith, everything else falls into place. God has no other words. Even “faith” is not God’s actual word. There is no human word that is equal to God’s meaning, but faith is the closest. If a person contemplates faith, that word will lead them to God. I assume there is some comparable word in other languages and traditions.

When a person contemplates faith, they do not need a rule book. They do not need guidance of any other sort. God tells a person who contemplates faith what faith means and he reminds them of that meaning whenever they lose track. God tells a person who contemplates faith what they should do and what they should believe. It is the moral code for distinguishing right from wrong. Faith instructs the follower on what God looks like and what he has prepared for them. It is the image of the future and what comes after the physical body ceases to function. Faith is the window into God’s wisdom. A person who knows faith knows God.

Faith means living without fear of losing faith. God gave me the new prayer stone to help me identify and remember his lesson. However, if I lose the physical stone, it will be because I am meant to lose it, not because I have gotten lost in my pursuit of God.

When I understood this, the problems I was having miraculously cleared up. They seemed to dematerialize retroactively. I knew this was God’s way of saying that I had learned the right lesson.

Of course, I will have other struggles in the future. Maybe they will be lessons or maybe they will just be struggles. I do not believe that God rewards “good works” or punishes “bad works” in this life. To believe such a thing would be to believe that every rich person deserves their wealth or that cancer sufferers, tortured prisoners and people burned alive in fires somehow deserve their misery. However, I am convinced that he uses our experiences to lead us to greater understanding. In any case, I am nearly certain that I have learned this one lesson.

Faith.