January 8, 2017, John Æonid
I've mentioned this concept elsewhere, in discussing alternate possibilities. What I'm writing here is primarily a historical account of how these ideas originally formed. My thoughts on this have been somewhat modified. For instance, the title, “Mirrors of God” is a recent notion. However, I will attempt to recount the history of my thoughts as best I can recollect. This is the second major idea that I had had, following the idea that I could learn anything from anybody—by not being judgmental about the perspectives of others. It was around 1982 or early 1983 that these thoughts became fully formed. I can remember telling a friend about this idea during that period, though he doesn't remember the discussion. So, I have no witness or writing from that time to verify that it was really over three decades ago that I'd had these thoughts.
Around 1980, I was struck by news items announcing discoveries involving Quarks. I'd already had enough Chemistry to know about sub-atomic particles. Yet, I found it curious, even frustrating, that Physicists found it necessary to explain protons and neutrons as being composed of yet smaller particles, Quarks. The explanation was that their formulae for protons, neutrons, and such had some minor inconsistencies that needed explanation. Filling in the those mathematical holes was apparently most easily done by creating yet even smaller particles. This felt like a cop out. Why did a mathematical inconsistency need to be explained by yet another level of complexity in the explanation of matter?
I ended up spending some time thinking about this. I wasn't yet schooled on the formal definition of Atomism, but it was mentioned in High School Chemistry at some point, and I had an intuitive sense that there had to be some limit to how small things could get. I just couldn't accept that every little mathematical problem that Physicists encountered was a reason to further subdivide the constituents of matter. I had to wonder just how much farther Physicists would break things down. As best I understand, the latest is String Theory, and the formulae for that are apparently far from settled. Is String Theory the end of it, or will they yet again end up finding more mathematical inconsistencies—ones in which they explain with yet another subdividing of the fundamental essences?
I don't want to give the impression here that I've got a big problem with Science. Well, it is a big problem, but Science really is a master of empirical knowledge, and I deeply appreciate the fantastic body of knowledge that we get from the Scientific body of observed knowledge.
As an aside, I have come to realize, in the last decade or so, that our evolved thinking is somewhat attached to a particular notion of matter. It's what I call Bits and Binders. I'm pretty sure that we've all grown up having played with mud. We know what it feels like. We know it's wetness and fine grittiness. The tiny bits of dust and dirt are all stuck together with the wetness. So, when we imagine the malleability of substances, I think we all have this experience in the back of our mind—that at some level any substance has some grittiness, and it's all held together by something akin to wetness. I think it's very hard to detach from that experience of mud and the resulting thinking of Bits and Binders. This, I think, is why Scientists will continue to see reality as made of of tiny things that are held together and interact by way of some binding forces.
Thinking about this problem, that of never-ending subdivisions, had me wishing that I could somehow identify a limit to just how far un-observably tiny particles could be split. But, I knew well enough that the formulae in question were well beyond me, and the thought of creating some limiting dogma to somehow ban the never-ending subdivision of particles never entered my mind. But, the question stuck with me for some time: how could we know when we'd reach the true limit beyond which a particle could not be further subdivided?
I did what many obsessive thinkers do: I changed the question. If I couldn't directly address the question of the smallest indivisible particle, then the true limit of divisibility must somehow be about some slightly different question. And, the question that I ended up with led to my own creation story. That question was: “what is the least that there ever could have been?”
Think about it. The dominant story we have comes from Physics. This is what we call the Big Bang. But that moment just before everything was set in motion, there is much about that primordial state that Physics simply can't describe. It's a moment in which none of the laws of Physics, however familiar, just don't apply. Attempting to trace it in reverse, those yet-to-be-unified formulae of Physics just break down and cease to make any sense. There's something philosophically challenging about this. That is, this is a fundamental issue about the way that thinking itself works.
As I stated about that new question, I did manage to come up with an answer. But, it has it's own problems, which I'll explain further on. One of the things that was fueling my thinking at the time, was the curious concept of the Bit. I had some schooling in electronics, and I'd already built a little computer kit. This was a COSMAC ELF, though mine was the deluxe kit with a hex keypad, instead of those little toggle switches for entering bits. In those days, affordable CPU chips were only 8-bit processors, and it had only 256 bytes of RAM. That's a paltry amount of space, considering it has to be used for both programs and data. but, there was a Pong game to run in that space, and I did manage to write a very simplistic music program for it.
The thing about a Bit, is that it's the smallest space in which anything we would call Information would fit. The word “Bit”, is short for “Binary-digit”. It is a number that can only have one of two values. That is, it is the space in which we represent one of two possibilities. Anything less, and we can't call it Information. And, I find this to be a curious thing. Essentially, a Bit is an Atom of Information. That is, a Bit is the smallest indivisible particle of Information. And, unlike the atoms of Physics, this one is mathematically consistent and provable—at least as far as human thinking can take it. So, no one is ever going to rationally subdivide a Bit into a smaller particle of Information. That's it. End of story. This is one achievement that Mathematicians and Computer Scientists have over Physicists.
What then of my question? How did I answer? What could I possibly say about: the least there could ever have been? It's a relatively simple and straight forward answer. It says: “the least there could have ever been is the possibility of existence.” Much like the well known assertion of René DesCartes“, I think, therefore I am”, existence is assumed because there must be an existence in which we think. While I now know that there are many fine points and challenges to such assertions; this was the product of a mind that was yet to attend any academic course in Philosophy—college level or otherwise.
So existence is possible. Big deal; thank you for stating the obvious. But, the question here is really about whether there was ever a moment when there was no existence—let alone an embryo of a Universe. And, the point here is about the concept of a “possibility”. In fact, it's an Atom of Possibility. And, this is very much like an atom of Information, the Bit. It is before there was anything relating to existence, and yet only existence in its simplest form was possible. There was no time; there was no space. There was only a single possibility. And while we are very attached to our concept of time, that possibility was essentially eternity. It was everything that was—even though there was no was. And, it was until there was something more. And so, the possibility either remained what it was, or something happened for it to be realized. That is, such a possibility is only a possibility of becoming until it is fulfilled. And, that is the primordial Bit, the binary digit of existence.
So existence is possible. Big deal; thank you for stating the obvious. But, the question here is really about whether there was ever a moment when there was no existence—let alone an embryo of a Universe. And, the point here is about the concept of a “possibility”. In fact, it's an Atom of Possibility. And, this is very much like an atom of Information, the Bit. It is before there was anything relating to existence, and yet only existence in its simplest form was possible. There was no time; there was no space. There was only a single possibility. And while we are very attached to our concept of time, that possibility was essentially eternity. It was everything that was—even though there was no was. And, it was just a possibility—until there was something more. And so, the possibility either remained what it was, or something happened for it to be realized. That is, such a ossibility is only a possibility of becoming until it is fulfilled. And, that is the primordial Bit, the binary digit of existence.
Eventually, I realized that this was problematic. Still before I'd studied any academic Philosophy, I had a sense that something was missing. Physics, even theoretical Physics, essentially consists of rules and formulae that describe what exists. Physics does not describe what does not exist. And, I've never encountered an explanation about physical reality that describes the physical nature of a thing before it becomes a physical reality. That is, what is the mechanism of a thing that might or might not become an existent thing? It's that odd concept of “might not” that is the problem.
Note that what Physics discusses as possibilities is quite different from what I'm describing here. What a physicist would describe as a possibility is that which satisfies the laws and formulae of Physics whether it actually exists or not. But, those are just logical possibilities—propositions of thinking. Everything that is caused in a purely deterministic Universe was causally determined by everything that came before it, and everything that exists is only what was caused. In this sense, there are no possibilities in Physical reality other the one singular reality that is determined by the past. Thus, the only possibility is the one that is determined. What the laws and formulae say about a possibility is just a hypothetical concept—according to what fits the formulae for a hypothetical supposed proposition—and never has a manifested existence in reality. This, I think, is how there came to be a notion of a Quantum Multiverse—one in which all possible Universes actually exist. Every quantum-ly possible Universe is said to actually exist as a physical reality. So, there are no there are no real possibilities in Physics other than what actually exists.
In contrast, I'm looking for something different. I'm looking for something that is more than just a way of thinking—beyond what is logically and mathematically supposed. I'm looking for an existent physical mechanism that allows for a possibility, one in which something might not become an existent thing. I'm looking for some mechanism that when our Free Will makes a good choice there is some existent reality of a possible bad choice that does not become an existent reality. Otherwise, Free Will is still just an illusion.
This complexity would have included all the possibilities that were necessary before physical reality could have come into existence. Having been focusing on Christianity at that time, I imagined a bit of a fanciful notion for this complexity. All of the Information represented by that complexity—along with the dynamic changing nature of those growing possibilities—eventually came to represent something akin to thinking. Thinking, after all, is a process of changing perspectives about Information. So, I found it quite natural to treat this as a primordial God consciousness. This then is all the possibilities of existence as the primordial Mind of God.
There was more that I did with this possibility of existence. Despite the sense that the Atom of Information has it's own curiosity, we don't get the complexity of reality without massive hordes of them. So, I imagined that when this atom of existence went beyond a mere possibility, and became realized, it still wasn't much to speak of. The only curiosity of it is that it was still just a possibility of branching into yet more possibilities. And, there would have to be massive amounts of further branching before there were enough of these possibilities before this could represent anything intelligible. Back around 1980, I was also aware of Chaos Theory, and I imagined that all that branching of possibilities would eventually result in a complexity that included virtually all of the possible Fractals—along with the beauty they represent.
Then, to take this all the way into some notion of creation, I explored God's motivation for creating anything. Why did God create anything at all? To say that there was a consciousness, I imagined that the dynamic shifting of possibilities was primordial thought. And, I imagined that this primordial thought had reached a complexity in which it would reflect upon its own thinking and its own self. As much as this is an anthropomorphic view, I imagined that God would want the experience of viewing those thoughts from outside itself. Internal reflection would not have been a satisfying experience, at least not a never-ending one. Thus God ultimately felt a need to create other thinking beings—those with the ability to have the same kind of thoughts. Thus God created beings in its own image—those fundamentally capable of considering possibilities.
Notice that this describes the primary requirement of creation as being about thought. The appearance of the physical body then has nothing to do with the notion of being “created in God's image”. The body is just the physical vessel for the soul, and the only requirement of the soul is that of the ability to reflect on one's thoughts. Also, this is a somewhat different perspective then my evolutionary description of how conscious came to be.
Thus, beings were created out of a fundamental need for contemplative interaction. A consciousness has the need for “the other” in order to properly experience what it means to be a being. All other purposes of life are incidental. Real Critical Thinking needs external review and refinement. We need others to properly know our own consciousness, just as the primordial consciousness of God would want have that experience. We all were created to be the Mirrors of God.
This is the seed of Love itself. All of the complexities and entanglements that bind us together are born out of this. The Love we feel for others is born out of a deep-seated need to know our own thinking and perceptions. There would be no meaning to anything if we did not share our thoughts and experiences with others. This is the essence of God's Universal love for all existent beings—the Mirrors of God.
For a long time, this served as my creation story; and for a shorter time, this served as my personal proof of God. I know better now. DesCartes had expanded his well-know assertion into his Ontological proof of God, and Immanuel Kant laid that to waste. And, by the mid eighties, I was quite dissatisfied with what Christianity had to say about Faith. It seems that I've always had an odd trait, in that I need certain critical concepts to be very clearly defined. When I was young, I'd gotten in trouble for something I didn't know was wrong, so I asked my parents to write down all the rules so that there wouldn't be any more surprises of that sort. Notions of belief and Epistemology are not something to be taken on inadequately defined terms. Defining Faith was something I would have to deal with later (an experience that I have yet to write out).
Still, I love the beauty of this notion of “the other” and what it means for a concept of Universal Love. My Jesus has always been the hippie Jesus, and the importance of Universal Love has never been eclipsed by any other concept. There is no self without the other, and there is no joy without a constructive, nurturing involvement with others. Our inner peace is dependent upon our sense of connectedness. True God or not, I ultimately have my own personal notion of the primordial God consciousness—and we are all the Mirrors of God.
Peace, Blessings, Insight, and Clarity
Update, July 4, 2021: Well, I found someone who beat me to this concept. That's what I get for being a thinker and not a reader. I keep finding that most of my thoughts had already been thought by somebody else. That's fine. I'm still having fun with it.
Found it in a Quora discussion here: https://www.quora.com/What-do-you-think-about-the-idea-that-humanity-is-the-universe-becoming-aware-of-itself
From Jess H. Brewer: “That's (sort of) what John Archibald Wheeler used to say in his lectures on “Self-Reference Cosmogony”. As I understood him, he thought the universe was brought into being by its need to observe itself…”
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