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Okay you said something about David Bohm and the holographic universe theory so I feel I have to say something. And by the way, thank you.....

Holograms have amazing information storage capacities, orders of magnitude larger than what analog or digital computers are capable of.

Excerpt from the Universe as a Hologram, "Similarly, it has been discovered that in addition to their other capabilities, holograms possess an astounding capacity for information storage--simply by changing the angle at which the two lasers strike a piece of photographic film, it is possible to record many different images on the same surface. It has been demonstrated that one cubic centimeter of film can hold as many as 10 billion bits of information."

The obvious question about the extradimensional aliens thing would be the same question the sceptics fling at theists; what created the extradimensional aliens? Is it, to twist an old phrase, turtles all the way up?

Speaking of questions, does anyone here know a lot about the Bridey Murphy case? I've been informed that it was discovered the anecdotes produced during hypnosis were actually the woman recasting herself in stories her neighbour had told her about a distant relative. Is that accurate?

Day off, no work, checked your blog (as I occasionally do), saw the novella recommendation, fired up kindle and purchased, spent the lazy day reading and enjoyed it a lot.

Thanks for Chasing Omega!

"As our technology becomes more sophisticated, our metaphors may get closer to the truth."
- M.P.

Huh. Now that you put it that way Michael, it looks obvious. Although I find holographic and information processing theories intriguing, I've always given them short shrift, due to the tendency of cultures to create myths that conform to their limited grasp of the Cosmos. As on Earth, so must be the Heavens, so to speak.

Progressing closer to the truth. That works for me.

Our universe is a projection from someplace else. That means some "place" (dimension?) there has to be some kind of holographic film from which our Universe is projected from. However the physics of holographic film is very different from what we normally experience here.

It is the physics that Michael Talbot describes in his book The Holographic Universe and also the physics described by many near death experiencers, feelings of connectedness and oneness, and time and space not existing like it does here. Personally I believe that everything that is "here" must also be "there" which is where the saying "heaven on Earth" arose?

"Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matthew 18:18

Michael, for me, the bottom line is this: any talk of the universe that puts me in mind of machines—be they computers, information processing devices, whatever—turns me off.

Any talk of the universe that reminds me that it is *alive*, excites me.

Because that's what this cosmos is, above all else—a living thing.

So talk of computers—toys, in the larger scheme—and dwelling on mere information, which has no life in itself, is, for me, stultifying, uninspired, and just plain misleading.

It's the opposite of the direction I wish to go.

Yes—in discussing reality, we need to use metaphors. But let's use relevant ones. While a certain relationship to information may be a characteristic of living things, it is not their essence. So speaking of the universe as an information-processing system, however complex, is a category error.

Life isn't created through the evolution of gradually more sophisticated systems and processes. Life sets the whole game in motion!

I challenge you again: though it's incredibly easy to find NDErs and spiritual adepts who insist that the central fact of this universe is not just life, but love—life's essence—please show me just one who speaks this way, loudly and plainly, about information.

I don't see how information could NOT not be the basis of the universe, as it appears to be encoded in everything, from DNA, to minerals. Also: "a complex, well-orchestrated, logical system underlies the illusion of physical reality." Hasn't science already proven this true, in that atoms invisible to the naked eye make up reality? Also, it seems to me that much of nature is an illusion, especially if we look long and hard enough at it. Probably all of it is.

But I don't see how any of this disproves materialism, in my opinion, or explain NDEs and After Death Communications. Information can be easily destroyed, or at least it seems so. But it, such as DNA, can also be kept intact "forever" under certain conditions.

Bruce wrote: "...any talk of the universe that puts me in mind of machines—be they computers, information processing devices, whatever—turns me off."

But as I said in the post, why should we expect the ultimate nature of reality to be warm and fuzzy?

"... it's incredibly easy to find NDErs and spiritual adepts who insist that the central fact of this universe is not just life, but love—life's essence."

They may indeed say so, but my own viewpoint is much different. I just don’t see a lot of love in the universe. I see animals that survive by killing other animals ... viruses and bacilli that cause horrible lingering death ... tsunamis and earthquakes that kill thousands ... babies born without limbs or brains. This universe is not a kind, loving, friendly place. The eland being torn apart by the lioness is not feeling the love. Neither is the child bleeding out through every orifice because of the Ebola virus.

NDErs and mystics do often say love is what it’s all about - but why? Because, they say, *everything is interconnected.* Their main revelation seems to be the interconnectedness. Love is the lesson they derive from it. The interconnectedness fits very well with the idea of an information-based reality in which a change in one variable can precipitate cascading changes throughout the whole system.

If we are all deeply interconnected, it may well make sense to say we should look out for each other and love each other. But that’s a secondary conclusion drawn on the basis of the interconnectedness as such.

"Life isn't created through the evolution of gradually more sophisticated systems and processes." I think it probably is.

The Gnostics used to say the universe was a botched job carried out by an ignorant and inferior deity - or a hellscape designed by a devil. I don’t believe either view. But I do think the universe is a work in progress, with all the flaws, false starts, blind alleys, and suboptimal content that one would expect it in a rough draft. To the extent that there is any grand design, it seems to be emerging out of the trial-and-error improvisations of the evolving system, with incalculable waste, loss, and suffering along the way. No loving God (or cosmos) could abide such a world. So I conclude there is no loving God, only the impersonal transactions of an uncaring system - "the cold equations," to borrow the title of a classic SF story.

Michael, that makes me think of an objection I have to the Sceptic view; why, in discussions of theodicy, do they dismiss the idea of love before dismissing the idea of power? Maybe there is a force of love which just doesn't have the ability to solve everything.

Michael said:

"NDErs and mystics do often say love is what it’s all about - but why? Because, they say, *everything is interconnected.*"

Nope. That’s not the reason. And you’re right: interconnectedness does not equal love.

So how do NDErs know that love is at the core of creation? By *experiencing* that truth. Just as A Square, the Flatlander, learned that reality is three-dimensional in the only way he could possible learn that: by experiencing it. By escaping for a moment, from the confines of his two-dimensional world, and visiting the larger one, the real one, the one in which (as he suddenly came to understand), his own world had always been embedded.

NDErs do not make deductions about the primacy of love, any more than A Square needed to deduce the reality of a third dimension. In both cases, a truth becomes known through immersion in it. Through grasping how the small truth is but one molecule within the all-inclusive, larger one.

That’s what NDErs mean when they speak of being embraced by the Light, of becoming one with it.

And that’s what all mystical experience is—a knowing beyond the need for analysis. Just as you can have a dream about your dog being suddenly crippled, and then wake up to the reality of that. No logic or deduction enters the picture.

Such knowings are possible. They happen. And they can involve relatively minor insights, as well as the largest.

I said: ”Life isn't created through the evolution of gradually more sophisticated systems and processes."

You said “I think it probably is.”

In response, I'll just say this: Life is the *starting* place. I’m sure of it.

Look—our viewpoint is so different, Michael, I doubt that a back-and-forth on this question would be satisfying for either of us. So I’ll just mention that I’ve been writing, for several weeks, my own perspective on these ultimate truths. And today’s response from you, even more than your post, serves as further impetus to finish it.

I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

"My Kingdom is not of this world." Jesus talking to Pilate. (John 18:36)

It ain't about this life, it's about the next. It was never meant to be the be all or end all of life. This side is only a holographic projection designed to teach us something. This Universe is no more real than a dream.

But it has to be this way in order for us to "learn" enough about duality and separation, time and space, what it's like to be in a body and control that body and the parameters of the body, and make memories of what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe - in order to overcome the ennui or lack of those things in heaven.

And we will simply use what we learn here in order to conjure up or create on the other side something.

The alternative is for us to continue to exist as pure consciousness without form or void, like a gas filling a cylinder, pure nothingness. Like if we had continued as gametes in our parents bodies and never becoming who we are. Being born in this world allows us to create a life, to become separate unique individuals instead of just interconnected consciousness, like the Borg on Star Trek, but without even bodies or anything.

But this life was never meant to be perfect. It is through life's imperfections that we learn the things we came here to learn. And after we finish learning what it was we came here to learn we shed this body and merge into that great holographic film we call heaven. Or like Jesus said to the Pharisees "Did I not tell you are gods?" (John 10:34) We are gods in training. That is why we are here.

"I felt an understanding about life, what it was, is. As if, it was a dream in itself. It's so very hard to explain this part. I'll try, but my words limit the fullness of it. I don't have the words here, but I understood that it really didn't matter what happened in the life experience. I knew/understood that it was intense, brief, but when we were in it, it seemed like forever. I understood that whatever happened in life, I was okay, and so were the others here." - Excerpt from Michelle M's NDE,

"But the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: "This is all an elaborate hoax." I asked him, "What's a hoax?" And he was talking about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion." excerpt from Roger Ebert's final moments with his wife,

Bruce wrote, "So how do NDErs know that love is at the core of creation? By *experiencing* that truth. ... That’s what NDErs mean when they speak of being embraced by the Light, of becoming one with it."

I strongly suspect that the Light is the Higher Self or oversoul, and that the NDEr's ego is at least temporarily immersed in it. This would account for the intense feelings of love, compassion, empathy, and understanding that are said to radiate from the Being of Light (or just from the Light). The NDEr (or mystic) is essentially communing with himself, so naturally he feels a sense of belonging.

But I don’t think the Light is God. Actually I’m doubtful that there is a God. I suspect there are psyches and oversouls, and no doubt other iterations of consciousness, but probably not one all-encompassing Mind that runs the show. And I say this because I can’t see how a God would tolerate the horrors of the world he/she/it created.

Chel wrote, "Maybe there is a force of love which just doesn't have the ability to solve everything." As I recall, Greg Easterbrook wrote a book called "Beside Still Waters" that argues this case: that God is wise but not omniscient, powerful but not omnipotent. This was Easterbrook's solution to the problem of suffering. It’s an interesting idea. But if God is not omniscient and omnipotent, is he still God? Or is he just another oversoul, perhaps on a higher level?

Hasn't there been discussion here before on how relevant or severe any suffering on Earth is if there is a positive afterlife?

Great comments, Michael! That is what I have been saying for years - but you say it so much better.

You are beginning to sound like Alfred Russel Wallace when you say, “But I don’t think the Light is God. Actually I’m doubtful that there is a God. I suspect there are psyches and oversouls, and no doubt other iterations of consciousness, but probably not one all-encompassing Mind that runs the show. And I say this because I can’t see how a God would tolerate the horrors of the world he/she/it created.”

Wallace wrote in the conclusion of his book “The World of Life” published around 1910 that, “But to claim the Infinite and Eternal Being as the one and only direct agent in every detail of the universe seems, to me, absurd. If there is such an Infinite Being, and if (as our own existence should teach us) His will and purpose is the increase of conscious beings, then we can hardly be the first result of this purpose. We conclude, therefore, that there are now in the universe infinite grades of power, infinite grades of knowledge and wisdom infinite grades of influence of higher beings upon lower. Holding this opinion, I have suggested that this vast and wonderful universe, with its almost infinite variety of forms, motions, and reactions of part upon part, from suns and systems up to plant life, animal life, and the human living soul, has ever required and still requires the continuous co-ordinated agency of myriads of such intelligences.”

In his book Wallace wrote a chapter titled “Is Nature Cruel” in which he posits that not all lower forms of life experience pain the way humans experience it. He suggests that there is no evolutionary advantage for the lower forms of life to experience pain, at least to the degree that humans experience it. He does not couch his theory in emotionalism but presents it from a strictly survival of the fittest point of view. It’s an interesting Chapter and of course subject to serious criticism and discussion.

Wallace included an interesting quote from Edgar Alan Poe’s “Farewell To Earth” as transmitted from the spirit world by ‘trance speaker’ Miss Lizzie Doten, in 1863 in which Poe said from the perspective of the ‘other side’:

“Gifted with a sense of seeing,
Far beyond my earthly being,
I can feel I have not suffered, loved, and hoped, and feared in vain;
Every earthly sin and sorrow I can only count as gain,
I can chant a grand ‘Te Deum’ o’er the record of my pain”

“Human passion, mad ambition, bound me to this lower Earth,
Even in my changed condition, even in my higher birth.
But by earnest, firm endeavor, I have gained a height sublime;
And I ne’er again---no, never! Shall be bound to space or time;
I have conquered! And for ever! Let the bells of triumph chime!”


Thanks for the kind words, Eric.

Great comment and quotes, AOL, I guess I’ll have to read that book.

Chel, the problem of suffering has been addressed here before, but it’s fair to say that no general agreement has been reached. 🙂

I have to caution that Wallace’s book “The World of Life” has many chapters concerning evolution and the diversity of life on earth. It may not appeal to those who are unacquainted with Darwin’s and Wallace’s theories of survival of the fittest and evolution of species. Those with a background in biology would perhaps enjoy it most or conversely hate it for Wallace’s thoughts about things related to a spiritual life which he judiciously places here and there. Wallace does intertwine his own esoteric ideas about the purpose of life and man’s destiny within the chapters of biological interest but the preponderance of the book is more scientific than spiritual. Sometimes one has to sift the grain from the chaff and that may be what one needs to do with Wallace’s book depending of course on one’s perspective. - AOD

"But if God is not omniscient and omnipotent, is he still God?"

I don't really see why not, since humans are the ones who declared God "should" be omnipotent? But then I'm vaguely friends with a well-studied reconstructionist Celtic pagan and am a big fan of Discworld. According to both of those sources, gods are... well, the "other oversoul" bit sounds pretty accurate, as they're beings which are more powerful than humans but neither able nor expected to do Literally Everything. I don't think either source thinks of One God the way Western culture generally does. I don't know much about the paganism but in that gods are effectively expanded people; in Discworld, Creators and gods are different. Creators (plural, though I only remember one appearing) make places and set life in motion and then go off to make somewhere else and have no further interaction with their creation. Gods are wandering spirits which form a symbiotic relationship with human followers, and the more followers they have, the more power they gain; the one modelled loosely on the Christian God is very powerful albeit not omnipotent, till he loses all but one follower and gets stuck in the form of a small tortoise. (Discworld is weird.)

I'm finding myself thinking of something brought up on another post; why is a child's few days of suffering which then ends more important than the billions of entire lifespans of deadly bacteria, in the grand scheme of things? Seems rather anthrocentric. Doesn't really work with ebola because that's a virus and it's debatable as to how alive they are, but, well.

I reiterate, this life is exactly the way it is supposed to be. It is not supposed to be "a bowl of cherries" to quote my mother. Life is supposed to be hard and challenging. The more emotion we feel the more we'll remember those lessons. It has to be this way because the physics of the other side is so different from what we normally experience here. Without coming here you wouldn't know what it meant or how it feels to be separate, you wouldn't know what time or space looks or feels like. You wouldn't know what it was like to be in a body or control that body. You wouldn't know what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe.

You would just be pure consciousness without any thoughts or idea of what "out there" looked or felt like - like a new born baby before it is every born, like a gas filling a cylinder you would fill the entire cylinder but have no idea or thoughts of anything. It is this life that makes us into who we are, with separate identities and uniqueness.

And because of the physics of that holographic film whatever you focus your attention on you are there experiencing it, like you are there.

Excerpt from Mark Horton's NDE description,

"I was pure intellect, absorbing information and knowledge through "sensors" or means that I have no concept of. From this vantage point, I had to merely think of a place and time and I was there, experiencing everything about the place and time and people present.

I have always, I don't know why, had a very strong "pull" toward Scotland. I have some Scottish ancestry, but no more so than English, Swedish, and Prussian, but I don't know why I have such a strong affinity for the land, its history, its culture, and the music. (No sound in this world can stir the feelings that the sound of bagpipes arise in me!) Well, one of my first "trips" was to Scotland, on a high cliff overlooking a grey, crashing sea during a violent thunderstorm. I was there! I could feel the wind lashing at me and the driving force of the rain while I could see and hear the crashing of the thunder and the sea. All I had done was have the merest fleeting thought of the land and I was there!"

Emotions Make the Memory Last - WebMD
"Ever wonder why some memories can stay vivid for years while others fade with time? The answer is emotion."

Excerpt from James E's NDE description,
"It taught me that everyone, everything, is in its right place. Always will be, no matter how much we try to change, or try to destroy, or try to create, we're simply doing exactly what was planned. The meaning of life, as I felt it to be, is simply to live. We're here because we want to be here."

Am I overly sentimental to be sad when gods don't exist in fictional worlds? It seems unfair not to put them in.

Michael: "...only the impersonal transactions of an uncaring system - "the cold equations," to borrow the title of a classic SF story."

The Universe comprises an incredibly complex interdependent system of natural laws following many beautiful mathematical constructions, that is also incredibly fine tuned for life as we know it. This gives the strong appearance of design by a focused, sentient superintelligence that creatively invents. The strong impression is of a self-aware sentient Intelligence, not a non-self-aware "informational system" of any sort. By analogy, in our experience the only source of greatly complex specified information (in the form of intricate machines and mechanisms or for that matter works of literature) is focused sentient human intelligence.

The capacities and qualities required of a talented human designer:

Overall, the ability for absolutely clear-cut and purposeful intellectual activity
An inventive and intuitive mind
Capacity to visualize
The imaginative resources to appreciate imagined possible interactions, transmissions, distributions, etc. of phenomena
Integrating capacity
Ability to think logically
Ability to concentrate
Inventive talent
Sense of responsibility
Strength of will
Aesthetic sense

It seems to me that the creative designing of our Universe and system of natural laws so as to accomplish a vast number of evident some time conflicting goals and purposes must have required a superintelligence with at least these sorts of capacities though magnified vastly beyond the human, certainly actually many more. These capacities and qualities are those of a focused sentient superintelligence.

To avoid positing such an origin, materialist theorists have come up with various "multiverse" hypotheses. For instance, to explain "fine tuning" and the origin of life, Eugene Koonin admits that the spontaneous chemical abiogenic origin of life is beyond vanishingly improbable in our own single universe, so he invokes an infinite multiverse and the anthropic principle to explain it. Unfortunately this sort of explanation is ultimately unscientific, unverifiable, unfalsifiable, and goes against one of the more reliable principles of scientific hypothesis building - the Occam's Razor principle of parsimony. The existence of a huge number or infinite number of other universes requires a huge or infinite increase in complex specified information.

Ultimately, also, it just "passes the buck" or kicks the can down the road so to speak by one step. Then we need to come up for an explanation for this overarching continuum of a multiverse - all that organized complexity, in fact an infinite organized complexity with its own system of meta-laws. It's the argument of the infinite regress, which seems to deny the existence of any real knowledge. What is the origin of the multiverse, then what is the origin of whatever that is, and so on ad infinitum. It seems simpler to posit an intelligent self existent and contained cause of one single universe, namely our own. The buck would stop there.

The nature of this Source is another matter. The problem of suffering, and the relationship of the High Self or soul and the human, are other matters.

Michael said "I just don’t see a lot of love in the universe. I see animals that survive by killing other animals ... viruses and bacilli that cause horrible lingering death ... tsunamis and earthquakes that kill thousands ... babies born without limbs or brains. This universe is not a kind, loving, friendly place."
When I hear things like this I always think about Taoism and the Yin/Yang balance. Maybe insisting that everything must be the way we want it to be is part of the problem. All life feeds off other life (even plants hurt). And nobody can ever be "safe" in any ultimate way in this material world. I believe love exists anywhere, even in darkness.

"I believe love exists anywhere, even in darkness." Steven Smith from ABQ

Well yes and no. As I have been saying for years here and elsewhere, love is real, The Light is real, but hate is also real; as is darkness. Any coherent mental state or world you can experience is real. However, not one of these states is more real than the other. Just as this material realm is not more or less real than the spirit realm.

All of these things are states of mind. I suppose that one could achieve and maintain a state of mind that is all love all the time. This would be a rare thing and I have never met anyone that has done this, but, theoretically, it could be done, I suppose. But would you be a whole person if you did? would you really still be a creature of this universe? If the Tao - the grand ultimate Tai Chi - has positive and negative, then how could you not also?

Clearly, as Michael says, there is violence and pain in the world and it is there as a feature; not a bug.

So you could achieve this theoretical state where all is love, but the problem is there are other consciousnesses out there that are experiencing something else. It's all about you and the world you create with your state of mind and yet it isn't at the same time. This is the paradox of awareness and spiritual understanding.

At any rate, you are, of course, free to *believe* whatever you want. Beliefs and faith don't have to have a basis in observable reality.

Come to think of it, how much use is love without adversity? How could it ever be demonstrated if it had nothing to strive against? Even the Care Bears have to face obstacles.

Here's Mencken:

the theory that the universe is run by a single God must be abandoned, and that in place of it we must set up the theory that it is actually run by a board of gods, all of equal puissance and authority. Once this concept is grasped the difficulties that have vexed theologians vanish, and human experience instantly lights up the whole dark scene. We observe in everyday life what happens when authority is divided, and great decisions are reached by consultation and compromise. We know that the effects at times, particularly when one of the consultants runs away with the others, are very good, but we also know that they are usually extremely bad. Such a mixture, precisely, is on display in the cosmos.

Chel said:

I'm finding myself thinking of something brought up on another post; why is a child's few days of suffering which then ends more important than the billions of entire lifespans of deadly bacteria, in the grand scheme of things? Seems rather anthrocentric. Doesn't really work with ebola because that's a virus and it's debatable as to how alive they are, but, well.

Mencken said:
To the gods who run the cosmos, disease and health probably look pretty much alike. I am not, of course, privy to the secret lucubrations of Yahweh, but it is certainly imaginable that a hearty, incandescent boil gives Him quite as much satisfaction as a damask cheek, and maybe a great deal more.

Spiritual discussions sooner or later get around to addressing "the ego". I know any time I think about these topics, the "problem" of ego quickly becomes front and center.

Sans ego, a lot of the pain and suffering of the world vanishes. Yes, if an egoless entity dives into the ocean and is attacked by a big shark, it will experience physical pain due to responses of nerve endings to the shark's teeth. But soon shock takes over and that pain ceases. Then death. Or, perhaps as in the case of climbers that have fallen from great heights, the awareness simply departs the body at first sign of peril. The terror just wouldn't be there. The surviving family members, if egoless, would not experience a sense of loss and sorrow. In fact, they probably wouldn't even consider themselves to be family members b/c doing so involves seeing the world through the lens of ego (i.e. a separate identity).

Information would still exist and operate in an egoless world. As Michael says, the components of DNA do their thing without awareness or intent (as far as we currently know).

However, life would be pretty bland. Actually, it would be totally bland, meaningless and machine-like. OTOH, with ego we have an observer that consciously processes and evaluates at least some of the information matrix. Moreover, it makes judgments about the information it is receiving. It can exert intent to use the information in novel ways. The downside is that sometimes the ego will judge the input to be "bad", "painful", "frightening", "tragic", etc. Then again, the ego can evaluate information in very positive ways.

You can't have an ego without then accepting the good along with the bad. Without an ego you cannot have deliberate exploration of the possibilities in the information matrix. You cannot have intentional inventiveness based on the exploration.

This, I believe, is the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

So, for me, I can accept the information matrix paradigm/metaphor. However, it does not get me closer to solving one of the big pieces of the puzzle - ego/individual identity. Where did it come from? Why did it arise? What is its etiology and prognosis?

I guess these points seem especially salient to me as a guy who analyzes large amounts of insurance data. We have all this information about financials, medical diagnoses and procedures, doctors/hospitals, member demographics, etc, etc, all sitting in massive data warehouses. Now this information isn't abstract. It's doing stuff in the real world. But it takes a guy like me to evaluate the information. To extract it and analyze it and then develop a story based on the analysis that is meaningful and actionable. So every time I read something about information theory, I reflexively think of information in terms of my work. And I also reflexively decide that information is meaningless w/o someone (an ego) to organize it, assess it, create a story out of it and then use it to do something.

Great post!

I see the mini debate between Michael and Bruce like this: Bruce is misunderstanding "information" but is getting the big picture better; Michael is correct on the whole about the mechanics but seems a bit down on things in this iteration.

To Bruce:

It seems to me that you find that "consciousness" has a nice ring to it, and "information" does not. We've dealt with this point before. And really, that's just a matter of branding. Let's go with your preferred term and say that consciousness is the ground of all being.

OK, so let's try to explain a scene of a puppy running around a room, just romping and having fun. How do we "break down" what is going on? It does no good just to say, "It's all just consciousness; that suffices as an explanation." We clearly have a differentiated world with moving parts that require an explanation.

First, all the stuff we know about science is true (well, most of it): the air in the room is oxygen and other gases, the puppy has red blood cells, and so on. The gravitational constant is such and such. So how do we explain the gravitational constant, and how do we explain the mass of a proton and then a quark? We can't. It seems arbitrary. Eventually the apparent chain of reasons ends, and we are left with what we can only call fiat reality. And it is this differentiation within fiat reality that we are calling "information" or, as I did in my post about Leibniz, "entelechies." Think of it, if you wish, as how Consciousness does what it wants to do.

To Michael:

I think, at the end of the day, the sum total of Reality has to be good news, and I think that each individual being must be saved in some sense. These are tenets of a personal faith without which I would most likely go mad. I do think that NDEs and ADCs point firmly in this direction.

Matt said:

"We clearly have a differentiated world with moving parts that require an explanation."

For me, it boils down to this. In contrast with hypotheses rooted in consciousness, I've yet to see any explanation involving information that makes me feel as if I'm learning something useful, or that feels intuitively right.

Bruce wrote, "I"ve yet to see any explanation involving information that makes me feel as if I'm learning something useful."

To me, this is what useful: If you look at subatomic particles as physical things moving through physical space, then their behavior is inexplicable, illogical, and crazy. On the other hand, if you look at them as factors in equations - bits of information – then their behavior becomes entirely comprehensible and quite simple. The paradoxes melt away, and the underlying logic becomes clear. This is what I find compelling.

On the other hand, saying that everything is love does not really explain anything, as far as I can see - unless we are going to go back to the Aristotelian/medieval idea that fire rises upward because it loves the sun and stones drop to the ground because they love the earth. I don’t see this as a step forward.

As far as "feeling intuitively right" is concerned, I think the truth about reality is likely to be extremely counterintuitive - just as our friends the Flatlanders found that the real nature of their reality was entirely counterintuitive to their daily experience.

Michael said:

"saying that everything is love does not really explain anything"

You're right. Based on reports from near-death experiencers and on my own journeys, we need to refer not only to Love, but to the other half of the story: infinite variations on, and degrees of, Love in self-forgetfulness.

While I understand that language like this doesn't work for you, Michael, it's exactly what *I * need. It provides direction, hope, and a sense of being grounded in the truth.

This is all pseudoscience. If you guys went to a science class you would not believe in all this woo.

Waller’s comment is obvious trolling, but I include it for its humorous qualities.

I wonder if he thinks that John Wheeler, a proponent of “it from bit,” needs to go to “science class.”


Anyone who uses the word "woo" has a very limited vocabulary and a grade-school intelligence. Waller Joel is a well known troll on several sites. It is sometimes humorous to read what he has to say but he becomes obnoxious after a while. - AOD

There are some things of a spiritual experience which are difficult if not impossible to describe using language. Ineffable is the word that comes to mind and is commonly used. ‘Love’ is an emotion that is difficult to describe even in physical life. It can be a motivating force causing people to act in certain ways but it is a feeling experienced by the consciousness. It has no existence in physical reality. Love of a person, love of country, love of God, love of a multitude of activities from playing a musical instruments to deep sea diving are all expressions of that ineffable driving force. Love is a feeling; it is not something physical. It is difficult to describe what one is feeling when one says that one loves something or is ‘in love’. And, ultimately one has to experience love to really know what it is, what it feels like.

It could be that in a spiritual realm emotions rule the day. And while some may experience a spirituality where love is the underlying ? ? ?. . . (see, I can’t even find the right word) . . . but, some kind of an underlying support system in which everything in that sphere or realm moves in love. There could be other spheres or realms where other emotions, fear, anger, hate, jealousy provide the milieu in which souls exist. Maybe as souls experience multiple incarnations they advance to finally achieve the realm of love.- AOD

Live life as though you have just rented a vacation cottage by the sea for a day.

I ran into an interesting new virtual reality simulation hypothesis recently on another forum, one created by philosopher Marcus Arvan, at I follow with some extended quotes. He proposes that we are living in the functional equivalent of a peer-to-peer (P2P) networked computer simulation. He claims that this P2P Hypothesis explains the existence of almost all of the most puzzling features of our world:

1. Quantum indeterminacy and measurement problems.
2. Quantum entanglement.
3. The apparent irreducibility of conscious experience to physical objects, properties or functions.
4. The intuition that our personal identity, as conscious subjects of experience, is irreducible to any form of physical or psychological continuity.
5. The apparent “unreality of time” in the objective physical world, along with our subjective experience of the passage of time.
6. Our experience of ourselves as having free will despite our experiencing the physical world as causally closed under the laws of physics.

The philosophical and empirical hypotheses that jointly entail the P2P Hypothesis:

- Eternalism: the hypothesis that past, present, and future objects and properties all exist “timelessly.”
- The Multiverse Hypothesis: the hypothesis that the observable universe is merely a small part of a multiverse, which contains a vast, possibly infinite array of possible pasts, presents, and futures.

Note: this appears to circumvent the need to posit how the overall P2P system came about or is maintained, even though it looks strongly like only a superintelligence could have designed it - it just exists eternally as a brute fact with no beginning, no creation. This may be an untenable philosophical position.

- The Holographic Principle: the hypothesis that in order to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity, the universe must be understood as comprised of 2-dimensional information “written” on the cosmological horizon.
- Mind-body Dualism: the hypothesis that the mind, or at least certain properties of it, are non-physical.
- Subjectivity About the Flow of Time: the hypothesis that the passing of time is not in
the objective physical world but rather fundamentally within us (i.e. within consciousness).
- The Further Fact Theory of Personal Identity: the hypothesis that personal identity is a brute, simple fact that cannot be reduced to any sort of physical or psychological relation.
- Single Commonly-Experienced (or “Actualized”) Timeline: the hypothesis that only one physical universe – our Universe – is experienced by conscious observers.

...if the P2P Hypothesis is true, our world differs from the kind of P2P simulations we have constructed in one profound, fundamental way: a way that implies that reality cannot be reduced to mere quantitative information of the sort dealt with in the hard-sciences. Reality has fundamentally qualitative elements that cannot be understood as “information” in any traditional sense.

Anyone who lumps together all the various fields as "SCIENCE!" with no further specification and provides no references to relevant research does not understand what science actually is.

Not to belabor it, but I find Arvan's exposition very interesting and fairly persuasive. This sample is where he uses the popular videogame Halo as a simplified analogy.

This is how in the suggested cosmic P2P networked simulation free will can be experienced by humans despite the physical world being causally closed. This is presently not really understood, so that materialists claim there is no free will - they claim it is just an illusion. Of course, there are other arguments that attempt to rescue true free will, including those from interactive dualism.

"Halo P2P interactive simulation scientists and philosophers would have the sneaking suspicion – just as we do – that somehow they have “free will” even though, from measuring their physical
reality, they would see no “room” for freedom of choice in their physical laws. Halo Scientists would observe their simulation’s physical laws as completely closed. They would, as we have
already seen, develop probabilistic laws to explain their physical reality, and they would think – just as we do – that there is no room for minds to make free choices, since truly free choices would have to break the probabilistic laws of physics. And yet Halo Scientists and
Philosophers would probably still feel – deep in their bones – that they can make truly free
choices. And both answers would be right. Let me explain. When one plays a game of Halo
online, one’s free choices in the frame-of-reference outside of the simulation – one’s joystick movements as the game’s “user” – generates an unbroken series of events within the simulation. Once a game is complete, one can go back, rewind it to the beginning, and watch
all of the events transpire inexorably from start to finish. Notice what this means. From the perspective of observers within the simulation, their laws of nature are closed. Everything that happens will look like it “must” happen under their laws of physics. But this is only true from their frame-of-reference. The fact is, in a higher frame-of-reference – the reference frame of the user interacting with the simulation from the outside – choices completely
undetermined by the physics of the simulation (the choices of the “user”) give rise to the
appearance of complete causal closure within the simulation. Observers within a P2P simulation really are free; it just necessarily appears from the physics of their reference-frame as though they are not. But of course this, plausibly, seems to be our situation. When I act I experience myself as making free choices. But it’s hard to see how this can be given the physics of our world (where everything follows from the quantum wave-function). The P2P
hypothesis explains how both can be true. We are free-relative-to-a-higher-reference-frame but not-free-relative-to-our-reference-frame."

My thoughts exactly Chel.

FYI, use doubter's link without the final period, like this:

Otherwise you get an error message.

I agree with Roger Penrose that consciousness can't be computed, that there are other things that can't be computed. If that's the case then the idea that the universe is a computer simulation is impossible. I strongly suspect that Roger Penrose knows more about what he's claiming than the holographic universe guys.

The whole idea of "proof" of such a thing is bound to get you into the insoluble tangle of what "proof" is and whether or not something which is proved must remain proved for it to be proven. I suspect that that assertions of the great computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum that in the end our ideas of such things depend on persuasion instead of some notion of abstract proof is right.

@AOD: I'm really not keen on the suggestion that animals don't suffer:

"I strongly suspect that Roger Penrose knows more about what he's claiming than the holographic universe guys."

I'm not sure he knows more than David Bohm (the original "holographic universe" guy) or John Wheeler (the original "it from bit" guy).

Wikipedia: "David Joseph Bohm was an American scientist who has been described as one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century, and who contributed unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, neuropsychology and the philosophy of mind. Bohm advanced the view that quantum physics meant that the old Cartesian model of reality – that there are two kinds of substance, the mental and the physical, that somehow interact – was too limited. To complement it, he developed a mathematical and physical theory of 'implicate' and 'explicate' order. He also believed that the brain, at the cellular level, works according to the mathematics of some quantum effects, and postulated that thought is distributed and non-localised just as quantum entities are."

Wiki: "John Archibald Wheeler was an American theoretical physicist. He was largely responsible for reviving interest in general relativity in the United States after World War II. Wheeler also worked with Niels Bohr in explaining the basic principles behind nuclear fission. Together with Gregory Breit, Wheeler developed the concept of Breit–Wheeler process. He is best known for linking the term 'black hole' to objects with gravitational collapse already predicted early in the 20th century, for coining the terms 'quantum foam', 'neutron moderator', 'wormhole' and 'it from bit', and for hypothesizing the 'one-electron universe'."

There is no question in my mind that some animals suffer emotional disorders. I have a dog that clearly has experienced some mistreatment in her early life that causes her to display behaviors similar to those of an individual suffering from ‘PTSD'. Hippocrates is reported to have written that consciousness is the same in animals and humans, only the body is different. I agree. Therefore consciousness wherever it is embodied may experience emotions to a degree and be traumatized by mistreatment and outrageous fortune. Alfred Russel Wallace in his book ‘The World of Life’ wrote a chapter “Is Nature Cruel’ in which he discussed the evolution of physical pain (not emotional pain) in animals from protozoa to humans. He opined that there is no evolutionary, that is, survival advantage for pain in lower animals. His views are debatable of course. - AOD

"I agree with Roger Penrose that consciousness can't be computed, that there are other things that can't be computed. If that's the case then the idea that the universe is a computer simulation is impossible."

Not that I am an actual proponent of Arvan's P2P interactive simulation hypothesis, but I have to say that in his concept we are ultimately the users, interacting with the simulation but existing outside of it, not being generated as part of it. Our ultimate being is viewed as being outside the simulation-generated universe. Arvan seems to agree that consciousness is irreducible to physical matter and energy and seems to adhere to some sort of dualism in mind-brain theory.

The only thing that would be required to invalidate the idea that the universe is a computer simulation would be to establish something in the universe that isn't computable. If that were the case there would be something in the universe which couldn't be the product of a computer because computers can only compute, a computer couldn't produce something that can't be computed.

I'm not sure but I think that paradoxes might, as well, be candidates for debunking the idea but I've never read anyone addressing that.

Anthony McCarthy wrote,

||I agree with Roger Penrose that consciousness can't be computed, that there are other things that can't be computed. If that's the case then the idea that the universe is a computer simulation is impossible.||

Yes, it's been mathematically proven that there are things that humans understand but a Turing machine can't compute (sorry, lacking references at the moment for this precise thing, but see:

"Alan Turing proved in 1936 that a general algorithm to solve the halting problem for all possible program-input pairs cannot exist.")

Positing information as the base "base substance" of what I call "a posteriori Reality" or "Arbitrary Reality" does not entail a digital "computer simulation," and I don't think that is what's going on.

To give one really simple example, the Universe is fully able to work in terms of abstractions and concepts, such as "π is the ratio of the circumference of the circle to its diameter." It's not as though it needs to compute π to 10 or 100 or a trillion digits and work with that because it's all digital.

Rather, we are talking about infinite non-digital processing power and infinite storage space because "computation" (that's not what it is!) is accomplished without computer chips and storage (again, not what it is) is accomplished without a medium, physical or otherwise.

Wallace clearly didn't ever have to euthanise a pet.

Wallace was vehemently against vivisection in colleges and universities an unnecessary especially repeating it over and over for multiple classes.

Okay, I guess I'm misunderstanding his point. What *does* he say they feel? I know that animals don't really fret about pain or experience anticipation-fear the way humans do, so I can buy that - they have to have an active trigger to fear something that's coming, whereas a human can be stuck ruminating. What's his point with the physical pain? How did he think it was different?

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