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.

god1-100 god2-100 god3-100

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.

Embracing Virtuality

In 2009, a Japanese man married a woman named Nene Anegasaki on the island of Guam.  The curious thing was that Nene was a virtual character in the Nintendo videogame LovePlus.

OurVirtualFuture1

In 2013, Spike Jonze directed the highly acclaimed (and Academy Award nominated) film “Her”, in which the protagonist falls in love with an OS (operating system) AI (artificial intelligence).

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Outrageous you say?

Consider that for centuries people have been falling in love sight unseen via snail mail.  Today, with online dating, this is even more prevalent.  Philosophy professor Aaron Ben-Ze’ev notes that online technology “enables having a connection that is faster and more direct.”

So it got me thinking that these types of relationships aren’t that different from the virtual ones that are depicted in “Her” and are going to occur with increasing frequency as AI progresses.  The interactions are exactly the same; it is just that the entity at the end of the communication channel is either real or artificial.

But wait, what is artificial and what is real?  As Morpheus said in “The Matrix,” “What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”  This is not just philosophy; this is as factual as you can get.

As a growing number of researchers, physicists, and philosophers come to terms with the supporting evidence that we already live in a virtual reality, we realize that there is no distinction between a virtual entity that we think is virtual (such as a game character) and a virtual entity that we think is real (such as the person you are in a relationship with).  Your consciousness does not emerge from your brain; its seat is elsewhere.  Your lover’s consciousness therefore is also elsewhere.  You are interacting with it via the transfer of data and your emotions are part of your core consciousness.  Does it matter whether that data transfer is between two conscious entities outside of physical reality or between a conscious entity and another somewhat less conscious entity?

As technology progresses, AI advances, and gaming and simulations become more immersive, falling in love or having any other kind of emotional experience will be occurring more and more frequently with what we today think of as virtual entities.

Now, it seems shocking.  Tomorrow it will be curious.  Eventually it will be the norm.

Ever Expanding Horizons

Tribal Era

tribalera200Imagine the human world tens of thousands of years ago.  A tribal community lived together, farming, hunting, trading, and taking care of each other.  There was plenty of land to support the community and as long as there were no strong forces driving them to move, they stayed where they were, content.  As far as they knew, “all that there is” was just that community and the land that was required to sustain it.  We might call this the Tribal Era.

Continental Era

continentalera200But, at some point, for whatever reason – drought, restlessness, desire for a change of scenery – another tribe moved into the first tribe’s territory.  For the first time, that tribe realized that the world was bigger than their little community.  In fact, upon a little further exploration, they realized that the boundaries of “all that there is” just expanded to the continent on which they lived, and there was a plethora of tribes in this new greater community.  The horizon of their reality just reached a new boundary and their community was now a thousand fold larger than before.

Planetary Era

planetaryera200According to researchers, the first evidence of cross-oceanic exploration was about 9000 years ago.  Now, suddenly, this human community may have been subject to an invasion of an entirely different race of people with different languages coming from a place that was previously thought to not exist.  Again, the horizon expands and “all that there is” reaches a new level, one that consists of the entire planet.

Solar Era

The Ancient Greek philosophers and astronomers recognized the existence of other solarera200planets.  Gods were thought to have come from the sun or elsewhere in the heavens, which consisted of a celestial sphere that wasn’t too far out away from the surface of our planet.

Imaginations ran wild as horizons expanded once again.

Galactic Era

galacticera200In 1610, Galileo looked through his telescope and suddenly humanity’s horizon expanded by another level.  Not only did the other planets resemble ours, but it was clear that the sun was the center of the known universe, stars were extremely far away, there were strange distant nebulae that were more than nearby clouds of debris, and the Milky Way consisted of distant stars.  In other worlds, “all that there is” became our galaxy.

Universal Era

universalera200A few centuries later, in 1922, it was time to expand our reality horizon once again, as the 100-inch telescope at Mount Wilson revealed that some of those fuzzy nebulae were actually other galaxies.  The concept of deep space and “Universe” was born and new measurement techniques courtesy of Edwin Hubble showed that “all that there is” was actually billions of times more than previously thought.

Multiversal Era

multiversalera200These expansions of “all that there is” are happening so rapidly now that we are still debating the details about one worldview, while exploring the next, and being introduced to yet another.  Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, a variety of ideas were put forth that expanded our reality horizon to the concept of many (some said infinite) parallel universes.  The standard inflationary big bang theory allowed for multiple Hubble volumes of universes that are theoretically within our same physical space, but unobservable due to the limitations of the speed of light.  Bubble universes, MWI, and many other theories exist but lack any evidence.  In 2003, Max Tegmark framed all of these nicely in his concept of 4 levels of Multiverse.

I sense one of those feelings of acceleration with the respect to the entire concept of expanding horizons, as if our understanding of “all that there is” is growing exponentially.  I was curious to see how exponential it actually was, so I took the liberty of plotting each discrete step in our evolution of awareness of “all that there is” on a logarithmic plot and guess what?

Almost perfectly exponential! (see below)

horizons

Dramatically, the trend points to a new expansion of our horizons in the past 10 years or so.  Could there really be a something beyond a multiverse of infinitely parallel universes?  And has such a concept recently been put forth?

Indeed there is and it has.  And, strangely, it isn’t even something new.  For millennia, the spiritual side of humanity has explored non-physical realities; Shamanism, Heaven, Nirvana, Mystical Experiences, Astral Travel.  Our Western scientific mentality that “nothing can exist that cannot be consistently and reliably reproduced in a lab” has prevented many of us from accepting these notions.  However, there is a new school of thought that is based on logic, scientific studies, and real data (if your mind is open), as well as personal knowledge and experience.  Call it digital physics (Fredkin), digital philosophy, simulation theory (Bostrom), programmed reality (yours truly), or My Big TOE (Campbell).  Tom Campbell and others have taken the step of incorporating into this philosophy the idea of non-material realms.  Which is, in fact, a new expansion of “all that there is.”  While I don’t particularly like the term “dimensional”, I’m not sure that we have a better descriptor.

Interdimensional Era

interdiensionalera200Or maybe we should just call it “All That There Is.”

At least until a few years from now.

The Digital Reality Bandwagon

I tend to think that reality is just data.  That the fundamental building blocks of matter and space will ultimately be shown to be bits, nothing more.  Those who have read my book, follow this blog, or my Twitter feed, realize that this has been a cornerstone of my writing since 2006.

Not that I was the first to think of any of this.  Near as I can tell, Phillip K. Dick may deserve that credit, having said “We are living in a computer programmed reality” in 1977, although I am sure that someone can find some Shakespearean reference to digital physics (“O proud software, that simulates in wanton swirl”).

Still, a mere six years ago, it was a lonely space to be in.  The few digital reality luminaries at that time included:

But since then…

– MIT Engineering Professor Seth Lloyd published “Programming the Universe” in 2006, asserting that the universe is a massive quantum computer running a cosmic program.

– Nuclear physicist Thomas Campbell published his excellent unifying theory “My Big TOE” in 2007.

– Brian Whitworth, PhD. authored a paper containing evidence that our reality is programmed: “The emergence of the physical world from information processing”, Quantum Biosystems 2010, 2 (1) 221-249  http://arxiv.org/abs/0801.0337

– University of Maryland physicist, Jim Gates, discovered error-correction codes in the laws of physics. See “Symbols of Power”, Physics World, Vol. 23, No 6, June 2010.

– Fermilab astrophysicist, Craig Hogan, speculated that space is quantized.  This was based on results from GEO600 measurements in 2010.  See: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/10/holometer-universe-resolution/.  A holometer experiment is being constructed to test: http://holometer.fnal.gov/

– Rich Terrile, director of the Center for Evolutionary Computation and Automated Design at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, hypothesized that we are living in a simulated reality. http://www.vice.com/read/whoa-dude-are-we-inside-a-computer-right-now-0000329-v19n9

– Physicists Leonard Susskind ad Gerard t’Hooft, developed the holographic black hole physics theory (our universe is digitally encoded on the surface of a black hole).

Even mainstream media outlets are dipping a toe into the water to see what kinds of reactions they get, such as this recent article in New Scientist Magazine: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528840.800-reality-is-everything-made-of-numbers.html

So, today, I feel like I am in really great company and it is fun to watch all of the futurists, philosophers, and scientists jump on the new digital reality bandwagon.  The plus side will include the infusion of new ideas and the resulting synthesis of theory, as well as pushing the boundaries of experimental validation.  The down side will be all of the so-called experts jockeying for position.  In any case, it promises to be a wild ride, one that should last the twenty or so years it will take to create the first full-immersion reality simulation.  Can’t wait.

Navigating the Quantum Froth

Evidence for Programmed Reality is starting to pour in from all fields.  The latest comes from Gamma-ray imaging from deep space.  Here’s the deal:

Extremely high energy photons are known as gamma rays and are generated only in really cool places like Cern and supermassive black holes that power galaxies.  The cosmologically-originated gamma rays tend to come in bursts and there are special telescopes, such as MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov Telescope) that detect and measure these bursts.  According to all known laws of physics, all photons no matter their energy level travel at exactly the same speed, namely the speed of light.  Problem is that several gamma ray detectors have noticed that gamma rays from distant galaxies arrive on earth at slightly different times, which makes no sense.

Unless you consider that space is quantized.  Then, the photons have to work their way through the quantum “froth” and the low energy photons can do it easier than the high energy ones, much like radio waves through a low pass filter.  So says Italian physicist Giovanni Amelino-Camelia.  A couple references on this theory include an FXQi article and a recent article from New Scientist.

The reason this effect isn’t normally noticed is that the influence of quantized spacetime is so small, conventional experiments will not demonstrate its impact.  However, as we probe deeper into space and increase the sensitivity of our instruments, we ultimately get to a point where we measure things that demonstrate that the status quo in physics is just an approximation, much as Newtonian physics is just an approximation of Relativistic physics at slow speeds or Quantum Mechanics at large scales.  The recent quantization noise in the GEO600 Gravity Wave Detector is a case in point.  Because it is the most sensitive instrument of its kind, it has reached a resolution limitation that may indicate the granularity of the universe.  With MAGIC, a similar situation exists.  Because it is highly sensitive, it can detect signals whose origin are so far away that they allow for propagation deviations to occur over such a vast region of space.  The 4 minute anomaly that MAGIC observed occurs over 500 million light years.  That means that it is detecting a deviation of 1 part in about 65000000000000 (65 trillion), which apparently is enough to break known laws of physics.

I’m interested in this because the underlying reason for this may very well be the quantization of space.  If so, this and the GEO600 experiments are the first to detect it.  And, for anyone who hasn’t read “The Universe – Solved!” or meandered through this website, I ask the question:

Why might reality be quantized and not continuous?

It takes an infinite amount of resources to create a continuous reality, but a finite amount to create a quantized reality.  By resources, I refer to bits, the information that it takes to model reality.  In order to program a virtual reality, there must be quantization.  It is impossible to develop a program with unlimited resolution.  So the very fact that our reality is quantized may be considered strong evidence that reality is programmed.

What other reason could there be?

 

Gravity is Strange – Unless you understand Programmed Reality

Physicists tell us that gravity is one of the four fundamental forces of nature.  And yet it behaves quite differently than the other three.  A New Scientist article breaks down the oddities, a few of which are reproduced here:

– Gravity only pulls.  It doesn’t appear to have an opposing effect, like other forces do.  Notwithstanding the possibility that dark energy is an example of “opposite polarity” gravity, possibly due to unseen dimensions, there appears to be no solid evidence of it as there is with all other forces.

– The strength of other forces are comparable in magnitude, while gravity checks in at 40 orders of magnitude weaker.

– The fine-tuned universe, a favorite topic of this site, includes some amazing gravity-based characteristics.  The balance of early universe expansion and gravitational strength had to balance to within 1 part in 1,000,000,000,000,000 in order for life to form.

The Anthropic Principle explains all this via a combination of the existance of zillions (uncountably large number) of parallel universes with the idea that we can only exist in the one where all the variables line up perfectly for matter and life to form.  But that seems to me to be a pretty complex argument with a few embedded leaps of faith that make most religions look highly logical in comparison.

Then there is the Programmed Reality theory, which as usual, offers a perfect explanation without the need for the hand-waving Anthropic Principle and the “Many Worlds”
interpretation of quantum mechanics.  Gravity is not like other forces, so let’s not keeping trying to “force” it to be (pardon the pun.)  Instead, it is there to keep us grounded on the planet in which we play out our reality, offering the perfect balance of “pull” to keep every fly ball from flying out of the stadium (regardless of the illegal substance abuse of the hitter), to make kite flying a real possibility, and to enable a large number of other enriching activities.  While, at the same time, being weak enough to allow basketball players to dunk and planes to fly, and to enable a large number of other enriching activities.  Our scientists will continue the investigate the nature of gravity via increasingly complex projects like the LHC, unpeeling the layers of complexity that the programmers put in place to keep scientific endeavor, research, and employment moving forward.

Newton's apple  Warped spacetime