Who Is God?

I’m starting this ridiculously presumptuous topic with the assumption that we live in a consciousness-driven digital reality. (For the reasons that I think this is the ONLY compelling theory of reality, please see the evidence, or my book, “The Universe – Solved!”) As such, we can draw from the possibilities proposed by various simulation theorists, such as Tom Campbell, Nick Bostrom, Andrei Linde, the Wachowskis, and others. In all cases, our apparent self, what Morpheus called “residual self image” is simply, in effect, an avatar. Our real free-will-wielding consciousness is in the mind of the “sim player”, wherever it may be.

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Some possibilities…

  1. We live in a post-human simulation written by humans of the future. This is Nick Bostrom’s “Simulation Argument.” “God” is thus, effectively, a future human, maybe some sniveling teen hacker working at the 2050 equivalent of Blizzard Entertainment. We are contemporaries of the hacker.
  1. We live in a simulation created by an AI, a la “The Matrix.” God is the Architect of the Matrix; we may be slaves or we may just enjoy playing the simulation that the AI created. We may be on earth or somewhere entirely different.
  1. We live in a simulation created by an alien. God is the alien; again, we may be slaves or we may just enjoy playing the simulation that ET has created.
  1. Stanford physicist Andrei Linde, the developer of the “eternal chaotic inflation theory” of the multiverse, once said “On the evidence, our universe was created not by a divine being, but by a physicist hacker.” That would make God a physicist – a future human one, or one from another planet.
  1. We live in a digital system, which continuously evolves to a higher level due to a fundamental law of continuous improvement. Physicist Tom Campbell has done the most to develop this theory, which holds that each of our consciousnesses are “individuated” parts of the whole system, interacting with another component of the system, the reality simulation in which we “live.” God is then a dispassionate digital information system, all that there is, the creator of our reality and of us. We are effectively a part of God.

The kingdom of God is within you” – Jesus

“He who knows his own self, knows God” – Mohammed

“There is one Supreme Ruler, the inmost Self of all beings, who makes His one form manifold. Eternal happiness belongs to the wise, who perceive Him within themselves – not to others” – from the Vedas, original Indian holy text

“The first peace, which is most important, is that which comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its Powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” – Native American

There are a couple major challenges with possibilities 1 through 4. First of all is the problem of motivation. Would a significantly advanced civilization really be interested in playing out a seemingly mundane existence in a pre-post-human epoch on an ordinary planet? Would we want to live out the entire life of an Australopithecus four million years ago, given the opportunity in a simulation? Of course, this argument anthropomorphizes our true self, which may not even be of human form, like its avatar. In the System model of God, however, motivation is simple; it is part of the fundamental process of continuous improvement. We experience the simulation, or “Reality Learning Lab”, as Campbell calls it, in order to learn and evolve.

The bigger challenge is how to explain these anomalies:

  • Near Death Experiences, many of which have common themes; tunnels toward a white light, interaction with deceased (only!) relatives, life reviews, peace and quiet in an unearthly environment, a perception of a point of no return, and fundamental and lasting change in the experiencer’s attitude about life and death.
  • Past Life Experiences, as recounted by patients of hypnotherapists. Roots of reincarnation beliefs exist in every religion throughout the globe. It is fundamental in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and many Native American nations and African tribes, as well as some of the more esoteric (some might say “spiritually pure”) sects of Islam (Druze, Ghulat, Sufism), Judaism (Kabbalah and Hasidic), and even Christianity (Cathars, Gnostics).
  • In-between Life Experiences, as recounted by patients of hypnotherapists, as well as historical prophet figures, and modern spiritualists, such as Edgar Cayce, have common themes, such as encountering spirit guides who help design the next life.
  • Mystical experiences have been reported in many cultures throughout history, from Mohammed, Moses, Jesus, and Buddha to Protestant leader Jacob Boehme to modern day astronaut Rusty Schweickart. Common experiences include the expansion of consciousness beyond the body and ego, timelessness, the perception of being part of a unified whole, a oneness with a “cosmic consciousness”, and a deep understanding of the universe.

Only possibility 5, the “System” concept, can incorporate all of these anomalies. In that model, we are part of the whole, as experienced. We do reincarnate, as experienced. NDEs are simply the experience of our consciousness detaching from the Reality Learning Lab (RLL), and interacting with non-RLL entities.

The problem with the word “God” is the imagery and assumptions that it conjures up; old man with a flowing beard in the clouds. With the variety of simulation models, “God” could also be an incredibly advanced piece of software, or an incredibly advance alien (“light being”?), or a human in a quasi-futuristic grey suit. The word “System”, while probably much more accurate, is equally problematic in the assumptions that it generates. Still, I prefer that, or “All that there is” (ATTI?).

The System model clearly wins, in terms of its explanatory power. Which makes God a very different entity than most of us are used to thinking about.

But I bet the Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed would all love this theory!

Which came first, the digital chicken, or the digital philosophy egg?

Many scientists, mathematicians, futurists, and philosophers are embracing the idea that our reality is digital these days. In fact, it would be perfectly understandable to wonder if digital philosophy itself is tainted due to the tendency of humans to view ideas through the lens of their times. We live in a digital age, surrounded by computers, the Internet, and smart phones, and so might we not be guilty of imagining that the world behaves just as a multi-player video game does? We probably wouldn’t have had such ideas 50 years ago, when, at a macroscopic level at least, everything with which we interacted appeared analog and continuous. Which came first, the digital chicken, or the digital philosophy egg?

Actually, the concepts of binary and digital are not at all new. The I Ching is an ancient Chinese text that dates to 1150 BCE. In it are 64 combinations of 8 trigrams (aka the Bagua), each of which clearly contain the first three bits of a binary code. 547px-Bagua-name-earlier.svg

Many other cultures, including the Mangareva in Polynesia (1450), and Indian (5th to 2nd century BCE), have used binary encodings for communication for thousands of years. Over 12,000 years ago, African tribes developed a binary divination system called Odu Ifa.

German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz is generally credited as developing the modern binary number system in 1679, based on zeros and ones. Naturally, all of these other cultures are ignored so that we can maintain the illusion that all great philosophical and mathematical thought originated in Europe. Regardless of Eurocentric biases, it is clear that binary encoding is not a new concept. But what about applying it to the fundamental construct of reality?

It turns out that while modern digital physics or digital philosophy references are replete with sources that only date to the mid-20th century, the ancient Greeks (namely Plato) believed that reality was discrete. Atoms were considered to be discrete and fundamental components of reality.

A quick clarification of the terms “discrete”, “digital”, “binary”, “analog”, and “continuous” is probably in order:

Discrete – Having distinct points of measurement in the time domain

Digital – Having properties that can be encoded into bits

Binary – Encoding that is done with only two digits, zeros and ones

Analog – Having continuously variable properties

Continuous – The time domain is continuous

So, for example, if we encode the value of some property (e.g. length or voltage) digitally using 3 values (0, 1, 2), that would be digital, but not binary (rather, ternery). If we say that between any two points in time, there is an infinitely divisible time element, but for each point, the value of the measurement being performed on some property is represented by bits, then we would have a continuous yet digital system. Conversely, if time can be broken into chunks such that at a fine enough temporal granularity there is no concept of time between two adjacent points in time, but at each of these time points, the value of the measurement being performed is continuously variable, then we would have a discrete yet analog system.

In the realm of consciousness-driven digital philosophy, it is my contention that the evidence strongly supports reality being discrete and digital; that is, time moves on in “chunks” and at each discrete point in time, every property of everything can be perfectly represented digitally. There are no infinities.

I believe that this is a logical and fundamental conclusion, regardless of the fact that we live in a digital age. There are many reasons for this, but for the purposes of this particular blog post, I shall only concentrate on a couple. Let’s break down the possibilities of our reality, in terms of origin and behavior:

  1. Type 1 – Our reality was created by some conscious entity and has been following the original rules established by that entity. Of course, we could spend a lifetime defining “conscious” or “entity” but let’s try to keep it simple. This scenario could include traditional religious origin theories (e.g. God created the heavens and the earth). It could also include the common simulation scenarios, a la Nick Bostrom’s “Simulation Argument.”
  1. Type 2 – Our reality was originally created by some conscious entity and has been evolving according to some sort of fundamental evolutionary law ever since.
  1. Type 3 – Our reality was not created by some conscious entity, and its existence sprang out of nothing and has been following primordial rules of physics ever since. To explain the fact that our universe is incredibly finely-tuned for matter and life, materialist cosmologists dreamt up the idea that we must exist in an infinite set of parallel universes, and via the anthropic principle, the one we live only appears finely-tuned because it has to in order for us to be in it. Occam would be turning over in his grave.
  1. Type 4 – Our reality was not created by some particular conscious entity, but rather has been evolving according to some sort of fundamental evolutionary law from the very beginning.

I would argue that in the first two cases, reality would have to be digital. For, if a conscious entity is going to create a world for us to live in and experience, that conscious entity is clearly highly evolved compared to us. And, being so evolved, it would certainly make use of the most efficient means to create a reality. A continuous reality is not only inefficient, it is theoretically impossible to create because it involves infinities in the temporal domain as well as any spatial domain or property.

pixelated200I would also argue that in the fourth case, reality would have to be digital for similar reasons. Even without a conscious entity as a creator, the fundamental evolutionary law would certainly favor a perfectly functional reality that doesn’t require infinite resources.

Only in the third case above, would there be any possibility of a continuous analog reality. Even then, it is not required. As MIT cosmologist and mathematician Max Tegmark succinctly put it, “We’ve never measured anything in physics to more than about sixteen significant digits, and no experiment has been carried out whose outcome depends on the hypothesis that a true continuum exists, or hinges on nature computing something uncomputable.” Hence there is no reason to assume, a priori, that the world is continuous. In fact, the evidence points to the contrary:

  • Infinite resolution would imply that matter implodes into black holes at sub-Planck scales and we don’t observe that.
  • Infinite resolution implies that relativity and quantum mechanics can’t coexist, at least with the best physics that we have today. Our favorite contenders for rationalizing relativity and quantum mechanics are string theory and loop quantum gravity. And they only work with minimal length (aka discrete) scales.
  • We actually observe discrete behavior in quantum mechanics. For example, a particle’s spin value is always quantized; there are no intermediate states. This is anomalous in continuous space-time.

For many other reasons, as are probably clear from the evidence compiled on this site, I tend to favor reality Type 4. No other type of reality structure and origin can be shown to be anywhere near as consistent with all of the evidence (philosophical, cosmological, mathematical, metaphysical, and experimental). And it has nothing to do with MMORPGs or the smart phone in my pocket.