I’ve been on an existential mood for a while, and I stumbled on a bunch of writings that led to this exploration. I’m not writing to convince or anything. I already have my beliefs. I’m simply testing them out for logical consistencies or lack of.
First step on the ladder.
It was Jean Baudrillard, in his theories about simulation and reality who said that it was possible to construct a simulation of reality that was so detailed that it becomes a reality unto itself. In his theories, the simulacra would in essence, mirror the actual reality or resemble it closely. He explored the influence of media, for instance, in constructing a reality for us and how we are severely limited in how much of the actual world that we experience by ourselves. For instance, you have many ideas of Russia, it’s politics, it’s geography and it’s leadership without ever being there, without having met Putin and possibly, without even having met a Russian. There are millions of things like that. And unless you meet the reality, you’d think the media constructed version was accurate. Ask anyone who has experienced something and then read a media report of it. The deviation from reality is outstanding. Yet that’s the version that will enter history. So then the question is, how much of the things you think you know, just aren’t so? The thought is humbling.
Okay. Now, to the next thought on the ladder.
Reality constructed by human hands, through socio-technology. What is human civilization, at it’s core? It’s a retreat from nature. Nature exists, and early on human beings existed at nature’s mercy. They were prey, weak against the forces of nature. But we invented fire, and that was the first step towards a different reality. An altered state. With fire, we cooked food and changed the seasons (warmth in winter), and melted iron and altered the prey-predator relationship between us and the rest of nature. At first, our settlements were temporary refuges from nature, you step beyond the tents and you’re back in it. But as we made permanent settlements, we beat nature back, built houses, created communities, invented money, trade, commerce, tools, and slowly, we lived in a new world. We were not in the world of our earliest ancestors anymore. Today, we live and die without ever interacting with wild nature. We’re tourists to nature now. Our cities, our planes, our entire human social system built on the back of technology is a completely alternate reality. However, it remains a physical reality. Of course, we’ve always known that human beings inhabit both a physical and mental or conscious reality. It’s what enables our self-awareness, and imagination, emotions, sensation and more. And of course, we know that the mental reality we inhabit is connected to the physical. For instance, our feelings often affect our bodies physically, and our thoughts and mental processes, course through the brain and nervous systems as electrical and neural impulses. However, what shows up in the physical as a flash of electricity or a spike in dopamine or whatever else is what we experience as a mind bending orgasm or the hallucinations of a schizophrenic or the harmony of music etc.In order words, though the physical reality connects to the mental reality, they look nothing like each other and you cannot tell from the physical what the mental reality is. All brain waves have the same basic form (with differences in intensity, location, or pattern), but no single thought or mental reality is experienced the same way both by the same person or from person to person. So the mental world is connected, but not a mirror of the physical.
In the same way, human beings have now begun the early steps of creating a digital reality. As computers became connected to develop the Internet, we started creating experiences that constitute their own reality. The Internet is it’s own world, even though it is peopled by physical humans. It has it’s own network effects-for instance,virality. Or the way a person could be a bonafide household name on the Internet (that abbynormal, “did you die though?” girl for example) and yet in the real world, be simply their first name, last name, and not much more. Today, most people live in three realities: a physical a mental and a nascent, digital one. As technology develops, you start to see how much deeper the rabbit hole goes: think of the developments in virtual reality and simulations right now and imagine where they’d be 50 years from today. In time, one could construct a whole computer programmed simulation of the world, a la Matrix, the film. It would be possible, in theory to connect someone to that simulation for life and have their physical body grow in one spot while all their thoughts and experiences happen in the Matrix. It’s a real possibility. (The writers of the Matrix were inspired by Jean Baudrillard). You could set the simulation so that while their physical bodies lived the normal human span of around 100 years, the simulated reality feels like one day, or one thousand years or whatever else. To the one living through the matrix, that world and reality would feel perfectly real, perfectly normal and perfectly human. It’ll be indistinguishable from actual life. It’ll just be what they knew. And yet in the physical world, what would all that complexly experienced reality look like? What does the internet look like today, in the physical sense? A load of wires, connected to servers, connected to more wires and then up to broadcast or satellite stations. That’s it. All our online experiences, again, like the brain, is physically little more than flashes of electricity zipping through wires. That’s it. No matter how complex the Matrix gets, physically, it’ll just be a bigger pile of wires.
So the final step in the thought ladder. Many have theorized that our universe, with it’s physical laws, and it’s distortions from relativity, and space-time warps, and the constant, objective and discoverable mathematical laws and paradoxes exhibit signs of being a numerical and experiential simulation. Some light weight reading on it here and here. If you read more about Godel’s incompleteness theorems and Wittgenstein’s discussions of the limits of our world and the borders of metaphysics, plus a whole lot of other philosophical arguments to the point, one begins to see plausibility in the idea that the reality we live in is not the ultimate one, just as the reality of the Internet is built on the back of physical reality, our reality might be built on the back of a more fundamental reality which we simply cannot experience from here. In that sense, reality looks like a Chinese doll where each layer uncovers the more fundamental reality lying underneath until we get to the first one. We’ve already seen that humans, with each technological development, begin to inhabit an altered reality, but it’s entirely possible that we ourselves are produced by someone else, which if I am right means that God resides in the first reality and in all other realities is simply manifested.
Which means, without a way to recognize His manifestation in this reality, you couldn’t prove or disprove his existence unless you broke out of our reality entirely. Remember what appears to you as images of a murder scene in your mental world only shows up as an electric impulse in your physical brain. It’s like trying to crack open your computer to see the “1-0” combinations in your CPU that helps it interpret my words. It’s not doable. So then, it makes sense that all religion, and Christianity itself, is a symbol. If you notice, a lot of the Bible seems to be God trying to use real world events to capture the symbols of a spiritual reality..think Abraham-Isaac, God-Christ, think Moses-Israel, Christ-Church, think tabernacle-Temple-Throne of Heaven, think Passover-Rapture, if God was trying to represent one physical reality with another physical reality at a later point in time, then there’d be no need for the idea of a Heaven or eternity ourside this one in which we exist.
It also means arguments with atheists are futile. They’re saying because we can test and prove laws and realities within our reality, God should be equally testable and provable. You cannot from within one reality test the existence of something that lies outside of it. You cannot test your brain waves from within your thoughts. You have to get outside of it. You cannot see the electrical charges that power the Internet from within the Internet, you have to get outside of it. It’ll be a paradox to test the reality of a God who does not live within our reality from inside it.
I’ll end with the following quotes.
“The logical sense of the world lies outside the world.”-Wittgenstein
“Any sufficiently developed logical system will eventually contain realities (axioms) which are true yet impossible to prove within that system.”-Kurt Godel
“For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.”-The Bible.