November 14, 2016, John Aeonid -- ROUGH DRAFT
There is this question that some Philosophers like to ponder: "why is there something rather than nothing?" Well, I have an answer, but it's one that I have an odd reaction too; I'm not very happy with it, yet I am fairly enthusiastic about it. My answer is this: the least there could ever have been is the possibility of existence.
This is something that came up around 1982. I tend to reference that year a lot, and this is the story of why. But, it was not the question of why is there anything at all? It was something seemingly unrelated. I was in my early twenties, and I found myself frustrated with a bit of Science news in which I learned of quarks. I'd had my High School Science classes, and I was aware that the atoms of the chemical elements were not atoms in the Classical sense. Under the Classical theory of Atomism, atoms are supposed to be the smallest indivisible particles, but we had already split the atom. So, our atoms are not atoms.
Well, now we're taking neutrons, protons, and electrons and saying that they're made of even smaller particles. Does that mean that we're going to split them as well? No? Well, how did they explain these things? They said that their formulas had inconsistencies, and they were saying that they were looking to fix the inconsistencies by finding what might explain those inconsistencies. Well, this doesn't sound like the Scientific Method that I had been taught. Where was the observation? Well, the article I read didn't provide that much explanation, so the observation seemed to be absent.
I had to wonder. How many more times will smaller divisions of particles be necessary? Is there a limit? How do you know when you've identified the smallest indivisible particle?
What I ended up doing was rephrasing the question. I asked: "what's the least that there could ever be?" What came to mind is "the possibility of existence." We exist, so it must be that it's possible. And, could that have ever been not possible? But, here's where the answer becomes inadequate. This idea of a "possibility" is a human concept. The answer works for the way that we think about the everyday decisions that we make. However, the question is about physical reality. Does Physics even have a model for such a thing as a possibility?
Still, I had a curious concept to play with, so I went on with it. Only a few years earlier, I had learned a bit about bits. Yes, they taught Computer Science at my High School, and I got to learn about the atom of Information, the bit. I was fascinated with the concept that there had to be at least two possible states for there to be information, and less than two states is not information.
So, this intrigued me. I ended up relating this idea about bits as information to the idea of a possibility in a physical world. Complicated, isn't it? It turns out that another area I was becoming interested in was Chaos Theory, which is very much about complexity. And, I had to wonder about how that initial possibility might branch out into many possibilities, growing in complexities. I also allowed that possibilities could revert or collapse to previous possibilities. But, if there was any merit to this concept, complexity would have to grow to a level where it would become something more than just possibilities.
If all that complexity was just information, then to become substance it would have to contain an enormous amount of information. But, with so much information, could there then also have been a primordial consciousness? At the time, I called it God. And, even though I was tinkering with ideas that might be nothing more than a play on words, I did enjoy playing with that notion of God. A being coming into consciousness out of pure information, and then playing out the greater possibilities that became our reality. The choice to create a physical realm, the choice to create bodies that would contain the minds that would eventually experience the external awareness of God.
Aside from this more fanciful recreational thinking, I did eventually carry this into something more relevant. Was there any value in pursuing this idea of a possibility? Does it make sense to wonder if should be a notion of a physical mechanism for a possibility that is never realized in physical reality? Understand, this is a I eventually decided that I needed to call this a Alternative Possibility, but it was a long time before I heard anyone else use the term, and I think that was from Closer to Truth. Still, I don't have much sense of how scholarly works discuss this term. I'm still just playing with my own recreational thinking, shamelessly.
At this point, I am convinced that the Alternative Possibility is a significantly challenging problem that it is worth continued work. Of course, there must already be scholarly works on the subject. However, my thinking tells me that there should be a particular area of Physics to address the question, and I'm pretty sure that it's not there—at least not as a formal sub-field within Physics. I will cover that in more detail later. But for now, I needed to introduce this as a separate topic, as I might not have been this specific without treating as its own topic. I have spend several decades on this idea, and one thing I do know is that it definitely plays into the question of Free Will. And, I will, hopefully soon, cover that as well.