The Origin of the Universe - Caleb Jones

I’ve always had a set of spiritual beliefs. In the last few years though, I’ve slowly started to assume a new theory for both the origin and the existence of the universe. Am I right? I don’t know, but I’m leaning in that direction.

This new theory (which is not new, but new to me) came to me via several completely different sources, including astronomy, quantum physics, history, biology, and others. I kept reading about things in these varied areas that didn’t make any sense, and that confused researchers. When you look at each item in isolation, they are indeed confusing. When you look at all the items in all the different fields, a pattern seems to form. At least to me.

I don’t have time here to go through all the data I’ve uncovered in the last few years regarding this, so I will instead give you just two examples; one from astronomy and one from physics. Let’s deal with astronomy first.

Data point 1: It took the human race about 7,000 years of civilization to develop radio waves. When you consider that the age of the universe is almost 15 billion years, this 7,000 year timeframe is shockingly fast. I mean, shockingly fast. 7,000 years is a fraction of a nanosecond in terms of the age of the universe.

Data point 2: Most radio waves we generate on Earth blast out into space and pretty much last forever. Since the days of Marconi, our radio waves have traveled out to 200 light years around us. This is small as compared to the entire galaxy, but still massive enough to include an assload of habitable planets.

Data point 3: While there is no consensus on this, Astronomers estimate that anywhere between 10 million and 100 million habitable planets exist per galaxy. That’s a lot.

Data point 4: We have the technology right now to scan (or receive from) space for radio waves and other similar waves from very far away, and to do so 24/7.

Yet we hear nothing. Not a peep.

Putting it all together: Based on the four data points above, when we look into space to search for radio signals from other worlds, the entire night sky should be blazing with signals, all over the place. Millions of habitable worlds, that only need about 7,000 years to develop radio waves when the universe is billions of years old? Within our visual range, we should be seeing all kinds of activity crazy communication activity from all kinds of inhabited words.

Yet we see nothing. It looks like we are completely alone.

Does this make any sense whatsoever? No.

Even science and astronomy’s greatest minds can’t explain it. Hmm.

Let’s shift into physics now.

I’m no expert at quantum physics, but pretty much every quantum physicist will tell you that if you zoom into something at the microscopic level, then zoom again, then zoom again, getting down into the electrons, and keep zooming, the physical laws of reality actually stop working. Reality actually starts to violate all the unbreakable physical laws of the universe.

How is this possible? How can reality violate its own laws?

No one knows. Many have theories, but no one can explain why when you get down to the quantum level, all the laws of the universe go out the window.

Hmm.

There are many other examples of this kind of thing I could give you from various forms of study, but you get the idea.

Simulation Theory

There’s been a theory bouncing around science for several decades that says this universe we are a part of is actually a highly sophisticated computer simulation or program, created long ago by…someone or something (or group of people/things) either for entertainment, legacy, or to solve some kind of problem.

I have always thought this theory was bullshit. Now I’m not so sure. Simulated reality theory would actually explain just about everything about science we don’t understand.

If we were completely alone in this vast universe, or even just this galaxy, that would make absolutely no sense. But if we were within some kind of construct or program, it would make perfect sense. It’s just like in a video game where you see distant lands but can’t actually go there because nothing is actually there. It’s there as a background to make everything look and feel real.

I’m not saying all the stars and galaxies around us are fake. I’m sure they’re real. I’m saying that if the human race was a program, the programmers would not have needed to populate the rest of the universe with aliens. It makes sense. It’s the only answer, that I see at least, that explains this bizarre scenario of us being seemingly alone in the galaxy.

This quantum physics thing is also explained if this is a vast program. When playing a video game, you can use a cheat code to turn off the barriers to the edge of the map. You can then “walk off” the edge of the map into areas the programmers never designed for you to see. If you’ve ever done this (and I certainly have) really weird shit starts to happen.

That could explain why odd things start to happen when you zoom down to the subatomic level, and suddenly the laws of the universe stop working, confusing our most gifted scientists. In some ways, we’ve increased our technology to the point where we can (somewhat) use our own cheat codes to perhaps see the “walls” of our construct, both those of smallness (quantum physics) and those of bigness (astronomy).

Do I Actually Believe This?

I don’t completely believe this theory, but I’m at least 70-80% there. I don’t buy it completely since there are lots of holes in the theory. However, when something like this suddenly explains so much, I have to lend some credence to it.

Do I think it’s relevant to our day-to-day lives? Nope. As I clearly explained in one of my most controversial blog posts right here, even if this entire universe around us is “fake,” it’s still 100% real and solid to you and me. So if you’re truly in a glorified video game, then you should not only play it, but play to win. Sitting around like a depressed determinist or nihilist saying it’s all meaningless is just stupid. Simulation or not, I’m real. You’re real. Your life is real and has meaning. So does mine.

As I finished typing this, I paused and looked upwards. If we really are in a simulation, is the creator(s) actually watching us, like when a human plays The Sims? Or are we running automatically on some gigantic server somewhere without his/their involvement? Or are they long gone, extinct billions or even trillions of years ago?

Hmm.

Could be true. Could be complete bullshit. Interesting nonetheless.

31 Comments on “The Origin of the Universe

  1. Interesting theory, but I don’t buy it. It seems like you are extrapolating concepts you can understand onto concepts that you can’t. That might make your brain happier, but I’m not sure that is a reasonable leap.

  2. I actually studied Physics, so I can tell you with some authority that your two main points aren’t exactly right.

    Firstly, the radio waves thing isn’t all that surprising. Radio waves don’t go on forever, as they eventually lose power. It’s common sense, right? You can’t listen to a radio station broadcasting from LA if you’re in New York. The same applies here, but on a massive scale. The nearest star is 93 million miles away, yet it would make sense that they would only need to power their radio signals enough to travel a few thousand. The only way we’d hear radio signals from an alien civilization is if they were close and broadcasting a particularly strong signal. The post in your “data point 2” explains this, although just in one sentence.

    But even if they were trying to communicate with other life in the universe and they were relatively close we still might not hear them. Intelligent life might trend toward extinction quickly (like maybe in 20,000 years, which as you mention is quick on the scale of the universe) or maybe they discovered a different way to communicate that we’re not aware of yet.

    Secondly, your description of quantum mechanics isn’t correct. No laws of reality are broken. Pop science had made quantum mechanics into this mystical thing but it’s really not. The reason it’s “weird” is because a scientific understanding of the world tends to lead people towards determinism, but quantum mechanics shows that the world is unpredictable and things happen probabilistically. We can only know what will happen on a quantum level with a certain probability.

  3. Interesting post CJ. But personally I would put lower odds on the simulation hypothesis, more like 20-30%.
    It would take a book to explain why we shouldn’t be surprised by the strangeness of quantum mechanics, but to oversimplify: we’re evolved to deal with macroscopic entities, and our logic works very well with those (object A influences object B, etc), but we never evolved to deal with microscopic ones, which are not “objects” in the same sense that balls or dice are. But because we can only work with what we have, we have no choice but to use our macroscopic concepts to try to understand the subatomic world: so we say that an electron is a “thing” that is never at one precise place, but everywhere with different probabilities. But an electron is not a “thing” to have accurate coordinates like a ball in space would. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that forcing our macroscopic logic on microscopic “pseudo-objects” if you wish will create oddities. Doesn’t mean the quantum worldoesn’t make sense, or that its strangeness is a limitation of a computer program that commands our simulated universe.

    Onto Fermi’s paradox, I personally think most people don’t do justice to the rare earth hypothesis, or rather, the “rare civilization” hypothesis. I can hear the objections already, but hear me out.
    The observable universe contains about 10000 billion billion stars, and possibly as many planets. Places outside of that sphere are causally separated from us and will never be in contact with us, so we can ignore them. Alright.
    Without being particularly pessimistic, one can design a different version of the Drake equation in which multiple steps are required to obtain a civilization , and each step has a probability: 1 in n1 planets has a long-lived sun, 1 in n2 of those planets has a giant planet like Jupiter to deflect astroids, 1 in n3 has a moon that stabilizes its axis, 1 in n3 is telluric and earth-like, 1 in n4 has water, 1 in n5 has a favorable chemistry, 1 in n6 develops the first self-replicating molecules, 1 in n7 develops actual living cells, 1 in n7 develops eukaryotes, 1 in n8 develops multicellulars, 1 in n9 develops animals with a central nervous system, 1 in n10 robust (possibly vertebrate) land animals, 1 in n11 social big-brained animals, 1 in n12 having limbs that can manipulate objects, 1 in n13 a tool-making species, 1 in n14 a species comparable with ours but still at the stone age, 1 in n15 that species survives and becomes space-faring or sends radio signals into the universe. Optimists like Michio Kaku think that the sheer number of planets in the universe can compensate for the cumulated improbability caused by multiplying all those odds, but I disagree.
    If every step in there has 1/10 odds, then our 10000 billion billion planets are down to 10 million civilizations (that’s 1 civilization for every 10000 galaxies). If every step has 1/50 odds, the number collapses below 1. My bet is that most of those steps have odds between 1% and 60%, except the 6th factor, “abiogenesis” or the rise of self-replicating big molecules (and maybe eukaryotes too), which would be the main obstacle or Great Filter with VERY bad odds.
    The absence of aliens seems strange to us because the immense number of planets seems like a horrible “waste”, but once again this is a psychological rather than a logical barrier: the universe doesn’t owe us not to be wasteful or empty. The very fact that we exist gives us a bias that there must be others, just like a tribe expects to have neighboring tribes.
    I will start to really worry about the Fermi paradox when better supercomputers give us more confident estimates of how easy abiogenesis is. If, given favorable chemicals in the primoridial soup of a planet, self-replicating molecules have “moderate” odds against them (a number with 20 to 30 zeros, say), then yeah, because the enormous volume of the oceans can counterbalance those (billions of billions of chemical reactions take place, as if the dice were thrown that many times, so one self-replicating big molecule might come up). But if they’re worse – a number with 40 or more zeros -, then life may simply be very rare and the case will be closed.

    NB: of course if the simulation hypothesis is correct, it won’t be an “ultimate” explanation, as we’ll be left with the question of where the meta-civilization that created our universe comes from, and if it has itself meta-creators, and if there isn’t an ultimate step where there is a “real” universe, a last russian doll.

    Sorry for the long comment, this is one of my favorite subjects.

  4. Just to add to Tony’s points above regarding radio waves. Something he didn’t touch on which is really important in this context is how the radio spectrum is used today. Radio transmissions have really only been around for a little over 100 years, and what is particularly important is that during that 100 years radio transmissions have consistently become more and more like random background noise. Why? To maximize the use of the radio spectrum radio waves are transmitted at lower and lower power levels to prevent interference, and are more and more coded without redundancy, to increase channel capacity. (On this latter point compare an AM radio broadcast with the sound of a modem in the 1980s, and things are much more random sounding even than that modem today.) This is something that will go on and on continually to squeeze the maximum out of the radio spectrum, and more importantly it is by the very nature of radio that it must be so.

    Consequently what one would expect from an intelligent civilization is a short burst of time when they would transmit strong radio signals (and strong I mean a few detectable photons per second) for a short period (in the case of earth about 1% of the time we have had technological civilization, and 2 millionths of a percent of the time the earth has existed) and after that initial burst the signals would go quiet and look like background noise.

    Of course no one can say if an alien civilization would have the same timeline, but they would have the same technological progress from nothing, to briefly noisy, to quiet again, because it is part of the nature of radio and the demand for its use.

    FWIW, it is why (or at least one reason why) I think that the SETI project is a complete waste of effort.

  5. All very interesting points. Just to repeat one sentence in the article: I don’t buy it completely since there are lots of holes in the theory.

    I don’t buy this theory. I just think it’s interesting, and may lead to other ideas most of us haven’t considered. Mankind seems to be divided into two camps: God created everything now shut up, or there is no god, it’s just nature that created everything and if you believe in god you’re an idiot.

    This theory is an example of an interesting midway point between the two.

  6. Caleb you’ve helped me out a lot perhaps I can return the favor.
    I grew up as a Christian then became an atheist however in recent years my beliefs have been challenged because of this guy:

    http://alisina.org/?p=3869
    http://alisina.org/?p=4776

    He used to be an atheist but changed his mind when he came across facts that changed his worldview. Like you his is an extremely logical person. If you have time check it out. I have to go to work but if you want more links I’ll send you some when I get back.

  7. The simulation theory is definitely interesting. My problem with theories like these is they take parts of things we can’t explain, like your example of the breakdown of the laws of physics at the sub atomic level, and replace them with shit we can’t explain any of, such as the mechanism to which a being would create this simulation.

    My belief as to why we haven’t come into contact with other life forms would be time. At 200,000 years we’re a young species on a young planet in a young solar system who’ve only been capable of contact for a few decades. A million different civilizations could have risen and fallen in the time the universe has been in existence.

  8. Well, let’s see:

    Take two propositions:

    (1) it is possible to simulate a universe with sentient creatures on some type of sufficiently powerful computer
    and

    (2) There are “people” (or aliens, or “future humans”, or whatever) in the “real physical” universe who have the motivation to run such a simulation

    If you believe (1) and (2), there is no reason to believe that this would happen just once. There would be many, many such simulations being run, just as there are many copies of MIcrosoft Windows run in our own “world”.

    Furthermore, there should also be “nested” simulations … simulations run inside of another simulation. And more inside those.. Etc.

    Time wouldn’t be an issue either, since a simulation of us “here and now” could be run in the indefinite “future” in terms of the “real physical” universe, and we couldn’t tell the difference.

    So if there is only one “real physical” universe, which has aliens running many “simulated” universes, with however many layers of nested simulations taking place inside them, for all of “time” ….. which one would you bet you exist in? The one “real” one, or one of the billions (possibly even infinite!) number of “simulations”?

    Logically, given those odds, you’d have to believe you are in a simulation with near 100 percent certainty, if you accept propositions (1) and (2).

    Time to get back to work …

  9. Caleb you’ve helped me out a lot perhaps I can return the favor.

    Thanks but no thanks. There is no argument possible convince me that the Judeo/Christian God is real, because that proposition is so impossibly specific that I require real evidence of it, or else I don’t by it. I scanned those two links and saw nothing compelling.

    Moreover, I’m not a atheist like you were. I think being an atheist is just as extreme a view as believing in the Judeo/Christian God. I believe (though I could be wrong) in a higher consciousnesses and/or creator/creators. Just not the Biblical version.

    A million different civilizations could have risen and fallen in the time the universe has been in existence.

    Yet we have encountered zero evidence of any of them. This seems extremely odd to me. But I agree its certainly possible.

    If you believe (1) and (2), there is no reason to believe that this would happen just once. There would be many, many such simulations being run, just as there are many copies of MIcrosoft Windows run in our own “world”.

    Furthermore, there should also be “nested” simulations … simulations run inside of another simulation. And more inside those.. Etc.

    I agree.

    So if there is only one “real physical” universe, which has aliens running many “simulated” universes, with however many layers of nested simulations taking place inside them, for all of “time” ….. which one would you bet you exist in? The one “real” one, or one of the billions (possibly even infinite!) number of “simulations”?

    Logically, given those odds, you’d have to believe you are in a simulation with near 100 percent certainty, if you accept propositions (1) and (2).

    What’s really crazy is that giving those suppositions, the number of “nested” universes could be infinite as well as the possibly infinite number of parallel universes.

  10. > Most radio waves we generate on Earth blast out into space and pretty much last forever.

    The difficulty is that the power carried by those waves falls off as the square of the distance. Making detectiors more and mor sensitive won’t work, because after a point it becomes theoretically impossible to recover any information from the wave against the background radiation of the universe. (Information theory, thermodynamics). I don’t mean “infeasible with current technology”. I mean “mathematically impossible with any technology anything like current technology”.

    Oh, we can get radio waves from space all right, but it takes spinning neutron stars to do it. Look up into the sky and pick a star – any star. That tiny point of light is a sun. It took an entire sun to get the information “here I am!” as far as earth.

    So, it’s not so surprising. As Douglas Adams said: space is big. Really big.

  11. I don’t believe in the judeo Christian God. If you had read the links you would have understood that. I don’t believe that the bible is the word of God. It’s clearly written by humans. I figured that out at like 8 yrs old. If you want to understand my position you actually need to read the links I sent you.

  12. Sorry sometimes I don’t express myself very well. What Mr. Sina has come to believe through watching hundreds of near death experiences is this.
    1. This world is technically not real and is a simulation
    2. We are all consciousness or spirit
    3. We came to this world to learn how to love others and evolve spiritually
    4. Moreover we chose things like our parents Gender race etc. before coming
    5. Jesus did not die for our sins but instead came to this world to show us how to truly love one another he is like an extremely evolved and advanced soul
    6. After you die you get a life review were you not only see but everything you did to others but experience it as well. There was a near death experience story in which a big burly man died. When he was young he had a vicious temper and one day some guy rear ended him, he was pissed so he got out of the car and beat the living daylights out of the guy who hit him. In his life review it was like he had two perspectives. In the first perspective he was watching the scene. In the 2nd perspective he now was the man getting beaten up. He felt the pain, he felt the man emotions of humiliation and felt the blood fill his mouth.
    7. To get into gods presence after you die all that you need is to be a loving person sense love is gods essence. Many “Christians” won’t experience god since they have no love in them.

    I’m I saying that I believe all of this? I don’t know I’m still doing my research. But to me it makes much more sense than the Christian worldview or the materialist one. If it is true then I am glad for it. Why? because evil people like Hillary Clinton won’t get away with their crimes. What could be a better punishment for that evil bitch and her psychopathic husband than feeling the hell they inflicted on others in their quest for power?

  13. Andrew says
    > What could be a better punishment for that evil bitch and her psychopathic husband than feeling the hell they inflicted on others in their quest for power?

    Sure, but just because it satisfies your sense of justice doesn’t make it true. Nature is deeply unfair in its very core. A wise man accepts that and tries to find a path that maximizes his own happiness. So believing random shit that makes you feel better is fine up to a point until such times as it impacts your ability to find happiness. Religious people or pseudo religious people will use belief systems like this to manipulate you into doing things that make you unhappy because they are “the right thing to do.

    Caleb wrote a great piece of religious programming recently. What you are advocating is religion, and I suggest you consider that it may well impact your long term happiness.

    Why do I not beat up that driver who rear ended me? Because it feels WAY better to be a kind and nice person than a jerk. Of course, up to a point. I have no problem being a jerk when it is warranted, which is to say when someone is trying to take advantage of my preference for kindness and niceness.

  14. Fraser,
    I didn’t say that I completely accepted Mr. Sinas point of view. I just said that to me it made more sense than most religious world views and materialism.

    You implied that in your comment that I seem to believe this to make myself feel better.If that was the case I would have never left Christianity. I am giving Mr. Sina the benefit of the doubt because he presents evidence for what he believes. If you want to examine the evidence for yourself you are more than welcome to do so.

  15. Theories like these are the main reason I’m agnostic. I don’t think we will (or even can) know what exists beyond. We could be 1 million layers deep in simulations. Or we could be 5th-dimensional beings that currently reside in the 4th dimension. Maybe the multiverse is real and every possibility exists, so we are nothing and everything. Or we could be purely spiritual. Or purely conscious. Or the universe just popped into existence without a creator and our consciousness and free will are illusions. Maybe on a fundamental level, there is no such thing as truth or logic. Who knows.

    My favorite version of the simulation argument is by philosopher Nick Bostrom, who states that it is extremely likely that at least one of these three possibilities is true:

    1. Humans will never have the ability to make realistic simulations – either technology will never be advanced enough or humans will go extinct first.
    2. Humans who actually could accomplish #1 will not create very many simulations because of reasons like ethical concerns, they’d rather spend the computer power on other tasks, etc., so the simulations they do create (if any at all) are small in number, lowering the probability that any one universe is in a simulation.
    3. We are almost certainly in a simulation.

    With our rate of technological growth and the fact that if someone can, they will, makes me think it’s likely #3 is true. But that’s just me.

    I’m curious to know what some of the holes in this argument are. Obviously, the evidence could be interpreted in multiple ways, but I haven’t noticed any glaring flaws.

  16. just because it satisfies your sense of justice doesn’t make it true

    That.

    Andrew I know you said you don’t fully accept those views but clearly the reason you’re leaning in that direction is that it satisfies your emotions; in this case, your need for justice. There is no logic or facts in any of the seven points you mentioned above. Compare that to the facts I relayed in my article. I may be wrong too, but the basis for my theories are facts, not feelings.

    People don’t understand that to get to the truth, you have to shut down your emotions as much as humanly possible. The problem is religion and religious beliefs are a purely emotional exercise (“Punish the bad! Reward the good! Paradise when you die!”) That’s why it’s all bullshit.

  17. @Lowes: I too like Nick Bostrom’s version. He’s a very coherent and smart guy. But my problem with the simulation hypothesis has always been that I’m not sure simulated beings would be conscious. Is any computer program conscious, or is there a cutoff mark, and is it only quantitative, etc, etc (by the way, in the movie Age of Ultron it was an awesome concept how they showed Ultron’s consciousness come to life). There’s a huge, sick debate going on between dudes like Chalmers, Searle, Dennett, etc, on whether a machine or a simulation indistinguishable from a human would have proved that it is conscious or not, and whether “philosophical zombies” are a valid concept. I still won’t risk having any strong opinion, at least until I can read more of their books.
    Some philosophers think consciousness is restricted to the biological (kinda doubt it), others think it arises from quantum phenomena (in which case a simulation would need to be deep enough to reach the quantum level, not just the neurons or even the molecules in order to have conscious beings in it, and that would require technological prowesses that may intimidate even Kurzweil), and many more attitudes. The simulation argument only works if it is assumed that simulated beings are conscious.
    If that assumption is false and therefore if (1) is incorrect and we are in a “real” universe, says Bostrom, then the more common life is in the universe, the more likely we are to go extinct or at least fail to become space-faring (which brings me to Fermi’s paradox and my previous comment). Bostrom puts it in a rather scary way (the pdf article is easy to find, like the one about the simulation): “If we discover the fossils of some complex life forms on Mars, it would be by far the worst news ever printed on a newspaper cover”.

  18. Fraser, Caleb,
    You all made some good points and I see your reasoning when I have time I will show you some examples of mr Sinas reasoning. thankyou I appreciate the feedback and discussion.

  19. [ clearly the reason you’re leaning in that direction is that it satisfies your emotions; in this case, your need for justice … People don’t understand that to get to the truth, you have to shut down your emotions as much as humanly possible. ] Couldn’t have said it better myself. Humans are not programmed to prioritize truth over emotions, except in 100% down-to-earth situations, not in metaphysical questions. That’s why you have to force it, every damn time.

  20. > People don’t understand that to get to the truth, you have to shut down your emotions as much as humanly possible.

    It has always struck me as ironic that we must suppress our emotions so that we can use reason and logic to plan our lives. And the goal of all this reasoning and planning? To produce an emotion, happiness.

    Having said that I know many people who are extremely happy even though they barely had a rational thought in their minds, people who live in chaos and thrive on it. Some people are drama junkies. And good for them, whatever floats your boat.

  21. I think that in order to explain my new leanings I should say what made me first start to have doubts about materialism.
    As a materialist I believe that It was our physical bodies like our brain that gave rise to consciousness. And is this brain our memories is stored. Here is part of one of the links that I shared that is making me have doubts about this.

    “Memory is a part of consciousness. It is better understood than consciousness. So let us talk about memory. We are told that memory is stored in the brain in the same way that the memory in a computer is stored on RAM chips and on hard disks. Is this theory correct? Thousands of cases of out of body experiences tell us that memory is not stored in the brain. If memory can function outside the brain it follows that it is not stored in it. So where is the memory stored?

    In the 1920s the behavioral psychologist Karl Lashley conducted a now famous series of experiments in an attempt to identify the part of the brain in which memories are stored. He trained rats to find their way through a maze, and then made lesions in different parts of the cerebral cortex in an attempt to erase what he called the “engram,” or the original memory trace. Lashley failed to find the engram — his experimental animals were still able to find their way through the maze, no matter where he put lesions on their brains. He therefore concluded that memories are not stored in any single area of the brain, but are instead distributed throughout it.

    Lashley’s experiment proves that memory is not in a specific part of the brain. He then assumed that it must be distributed throughout the brain. Was he right?

    New findings have made some to believe that memory is also stored in the heart. One interesting case is about an 8-year-old girl who had received a heart transplant from a 10-year-old girl that had been murdered, began to have nightmares about the donor’s murderer. After several consultations with a psychiatrist, it was decided that the police should be notified. The 8-year-old recipient was able to identify key clues about the murder, including who the murderer was, when and how it happened, and even the words spoken by the murderer to the victim. Amazingly, the entire testimony turned out to be true and the murderer was convicted for his crime. You can read about more such cases here or by searching “heart memory”.

    It is not just the heart. Some organ transplant recipients report that after the transplant, they have started having memories that do not relate to their own experiences. This has led some researchers to hypothesize that memory is stored in all cells. They call this cellular memory.

    These are all hypotheses. The truth may be shockingly different. What if memory is not in the body at all? What if the body is not just a biological machine, as it is believed to be today, but a receiver, like a radio or a television? What if consciousness is not a function of the brain, but a field of energy that engulfs the brain and makes it work, much like a driver in a car? Well these are also hypotheses. But is there any evidence to support them?

    Neuroscientist John Hynes has made a startling discovery that our brain is activated seconds before we decide to do something. The experiment is simple, but the implication is earth shattering. Because Hynes, like most people today, thinks we are our body, he thinks someone (a separate eye) or something else is making our decisions subconsciously for us over which we have no control and that the belief that we make our decisions is an illusion Watch this video. Very interesting.

    Taken from http://alisina.org/?p=3869

    Scientists are finding the pieces of the puzzle but they can’t put them together. They come up with bizarre hypotheses and absurd theories to explain them. They can’t put them together because they are not willing to accept the fact that consciousness can exist independent of the body. To acknowledge this is heresy. But this heresy can answer, if not all, most of our questions. For example, how can organs and limbs have memory? They don’t. But every cell in our body is a receiver and is tuned to a particular consciousness. So if you have an organ from another person in your body, That organ is still tuned to that consciousness and to its memories. That explains why organ recipients acquire the characteristics of their donors. .

    Read the case of American Sonny Graham, who received the heart of Terry Cottle, who had shot himself in the head. After the transplant in 1995 Mr. Graham met Mr. Cottle’s widow Cheryl, falling in love and marrying her. Twelve years later Mr. Graham picked up a gun and shot himself in the throat, leaving Cheryl a widow for the second time grieving for husbands who had shared a heart.Search “heart memory” and you’ll fine many amazing stories like this.

    The question raised by Hayes can also be answered. It is not “an unconscious mass and gray matter over which we have no control” that makes our decisions. Decisions are made by our own consciousness. Haynes calls it the sub conscious mind. He is correct. The subconscious mind is in control of the conscious mind. The subconscious mind and the conscious mind make our consciousness. The consciousness is not the function of the brain. It is its operator.

    Can physics shed some light on this subject? A growing number of scientists are now saying that the universe is not real; it is a hologram. What is a hologram? When you go to a theater, you sit on a chair and stare at a blank screen in front of you. From the wall behind you a projector projects some images from a film on the screen. You watch the movie on the big screen, but the actual images are not on the screen. They are on a film in the projector. A hologram is the same thing, except that the image projected is in 3D. If you care to know how it is done read the following paragraph If not skip it.

    To make a hologram, the object to be photographed is first bathed in the light of a laser beam. Then a second laser beam is bounced off the reflected light of the first and the resulting interference pattern (the area where the two laser beams conflate) is captured on film. When the film is developed, it looks like a meaningless swirl of light and dark lines. But as soon as the developed film is illuminated by another laser beam, a three-dimensional image of the original object appears.

    So if the universe is a hologram, the reality must be projected in it from another world with different dimensions. To understand the concept of holographic universe please watch these two videos.

    Don’t all these findings confirm the theory that there is a world beyond this visible world? Don’t they drive a big nail in the coffin of materialism? What is amusing is to watch materialist scientists try to explain the implications of their own findings. They perform all sorts of mental gymnastics to avoid accepting the existence of what enlightened seers throughout the history have called the spiritual realm. Ghosts and spirits are for the superstitious and for those with weak minds, they say. Rational people should not talk about such things. But this dogma, like all dogmas, is falling apart. A strong mind is not afraid of change. It is the weak mind that rejects the evidence because it fears change. The skeptics are entitled to their opinions, but not to their facts. Actually they are not skeptic at all. Will they ever question their own dogmas? If the hallmark of skepticism is the ability to question other people’s beliefs, this is what everyone does. So what puts them apart form the religious fanatics whom they so love to disparage?

  22. Crap. The videos didn’t load. That’s what I get for trying to take a shortcut. Never mind. I have to go but I’ll be back with more comments, Sorry for the length and the missing videos.

  23. @Andrew: I’m not interested in defending hard materialism, which never fully convinced me, but the general scientific viewpoint on the other hand, is not at all refuted by anything you referenced. I really don’t want to argue with ALL the points yous stated, because it’d be a pain in the ass, but (and no offense) I prefer to show you through just one of them that you’re a bit out of your depth here and should have done more homework:

    : if we don’t assume rock-hard materialism (not a dominant scientific position anyway), you’re already misstepping here.
    When you assume that memory is stored *in* the brain, you’re reifying memory too much, giving it intrinsic existence. It doesn’t need any. Consciousness might be immaterial and mysterious – or not –, all we need is that when you hear something you need to remember, it influences some of your brain connections in such a way that next time a stimulus “reminds you” of it, the neurons fire up in a certain way, triggering a memory. There is no “memory stored in the brain” per se, there is only a structure that generates repeatable electrochemical patterns. That those material processes may cause something immaterial – somewhat in accordance with the “emergentist” point of view – is possible, but doesn’t change the problem, and doesn’t remotely prove a reversed causality of the immaterial over the material.

    People VERY often underestimate the horrible kind of concentration necessary to deal with concepts like “memory”, “consciousness”, “inside the brain”, etc, without making (no exaggeration) 3-4 incoherences per sentence. One of the main human problems is that whenever we designate something with a word, the word becomes a “box”, meaning that we give it intrinsic existence. If I say “I am walking”, where is the walking happening exacty ? In my feet, at my knees, on the ground, in a 3-D object that defines the limits of my body during the movement, etc ? All problems that arise from insisting on treating an abstraction, “walking”, like a physical object. Same with “stored memory” for example. Once I heard the joke “What happens to a thought when you forget it ? It goes to thought heaven, where all thoughts live happily ever after !”: it illustrates how language tricks us into completely corrupting the intended meaning of a concept as soon as we put a word to it, because now we see the word as referring to a physical object.

    Now apply that same critical attitude to statements like “the universe is a hologram”, “a brain over which we have no control”, etc. If you don’t come out of it with a headache – because THAT would have been true mental gymnastics -, you weren’t focusing enough. When you realize the spectacular lack of care for accuracy of concepts in most advocates of paranormal stuff, you realize that scientists aren’t shunning them because of a taboo, they’re shunning them because their level of “depth” hasn’t qualified as scientific.
    Seriously, read some philosophy of mind, and more importantly pay more attention to *every* word you use when dealing with this minefield of a subject, and the opinions you’re currently attracted to will start to look much less admirable.

  24. Here is a video for you to enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-qQ9NeM4SQ
    The beginning is cheesy but when he gets into the arguments, it’s quite enlightening.

    Also check out the book The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot

    This is the only constant amongst Buddhisn, enlightenment, and science.

    I have a theory which I am keeping private, but let me give you a few hints. The more evolved you are, the less resources you need to survive. If you watched the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey or read the book series, pretty much what happened was previous species evolved to the point where they could ditch their biological bodies and move into robotic bodies, eventually they ditched their robotic bodies and became one with the fabric of space. So the end point of evolution is to become one with space. I can elaborate this in private and share all my knowledge, but this took me 15 years to put together and my time is valuable.

  25. Gil –

    These areas of discussion fascinate me, and I have a long lists of books I plan to delve into on the topics. However, my knowledge in these areas is not well-developed yet; I only understand the basics for the time being. That being said…

    I believe philosophical zombies are possible, at least hypothetically. Cleverbot comes to mind as a simple example. Sure, the programming would be difficult, but it would just be a matter of inputting all possible human reactions to any stimulus.

    I am a hard materialist (again, I have only baseline knowledge on the topic, so my viewpoint is subject to change), so it also seems logical to me that consciousness could be created purely in a computer. Although I’ve heard it said that, if you were to reconstruct someone atom-by-atom to create a perfect clone, there is no guarantee that these two people would experience the same consciousness. I need to do some further reading on that point in particular; I don’t know if you’ve heard the same.

    Apparently hard materialism is not as set-in-stone as I originally thought. What convinced me was my reading on all of our cognitive biases, evolved “shortcuts,” (like how we can be easily persuaded to do things) or simply how our bodily changes affect our consciousness. For example, when we’re tired, our cognitive abilities are not as good. To me, a non-physical consciousness implies reasoning and function detached from any physical limitations.

    However, one rebuttal is that our brain is the hardware, while our consciousness is the software. So of course altering the hardware will alter the experience of the software. This is where my own biases kick in – even if this counter-argument is logical, it makes no sense to me because I’m looking from the perspective of somehow who has rejected religion. So this hardware/software hypothesis just seems like poor design to me – Why not just make us fully one or the other? However, my own rebuttal only works if a higher power is necessary for non-physical existence. But if some sort of spiritual realm can exist without a god, then anything is fair game.

    I do not know if our universe being a hologram or simulation would confirm or deny hard materialism. And I do not know if the discovery that consciousness is an inherent part of the universe would confirm or deny it.

    Also, what’s interesting is that one implication of hard materialism is that we have no free will. So if it’s true, what we believe is predetermined without us ever knowing this.

    One final thing (a bit off topic) – Have you heard of the Mandela Effect? It’s far from a scientific theory and more of a paranormal one, but I think it’s interesting nonetheless. It deals with topics such as the nature of consciousness, parallel universes, and reality on a fundamental level. Cool stuff.

  26. @Lowes:
    I don’t know if we’re using the same definition of p-zombies. The one I alluded to is a being indistinguishable from a human but with no “first-person” experience (and he would tell you “of course I’m conscious” but isn’t, and it wouldn’t be a “lie” in the normal sense which implies malevolence and therefore a conscious state). There’s no direct way of knowing if anyone is a p-zombie, since by definition their behavior and sensory organs perfectly imitate ours, which means that there is no such thing as knowingly creating a p-zombie: all we have is a robot that walks and talks and seems to show emotion, but we can’t know if it actually feels anything; if it does, it’s a conscious being, else it’s a p-zombie. The disturbing thought is that this applies to humans around you as well: you only have direct evidence that you’re conscious, not others, and you might as well be alone and the rest be a ‘soulless’ imitation. A ‘human’ p-zombie has nerves and sensors and all that, when he’s hit the brain receives the stimulus and he does grimace or yell or retaliate, but he actually felt nothing (the nervous process and the reaction to the hit would be akin to, say, billiard balls colliding in a chain reaction with no consciousness ever taking place). Because of this we’ll probably be forced to give robots human rights as soon as they start *looking* like they feel pain and emotion: we don’t have the luxury of mistrusting appearance because consistency would then dictate that we also start mistrusting *human*’s appearance of consciousness.
    The general metaphysical question seems to be: is there a ‘thing’ called consciousness that lies dormant and associates itself with matter every time matter reaches a sufficient level of complexity (some people draw the line at shrimp and worms for example.)?

    “But if some sort of spiritual realm can exist without a god, then anything is fair game”: I agree, and too many people don’t even consider this. They assume that a “miracle” would automatically prove God(s), and it doesn’t occur to them that what we call “magic” may well be another set of lawful phenomena, just with completely different ‘natural’ laws. Take Game of Thrones for example: that world is full of people who saw “miracles” and concluded that there is this or that god (the red priests who think their powers come from the Lord of Light for example). But if GRR Martin is as much of a troll as he seems to be, I won’t be surprised if he later reveals that his mythical world actually has no gods, just magical properties that coexist with the physical properties.

    “I do not know if our universe being a hologram or simulation would confirm or deny hard materialism”, “Also, what’s interesting is that one implication of hard materialism is that we have no free will”: the problem with materialism is that it has been redefined too many times. Chomsky (regardless of what one thinks of his other views) was right in pointing out that its definition is being updated to fit every new development of physics. Without certitude, I tend to think that the word has become a bit too heavy and obsolete (whereas “physicalism” is less problematic and arguably clearer). On the other hand, free will in the traditional sense doesn’t survive even a non-materialist worldview: all you need is causality.

    “I’ve heard it said that, if you were to reconstruct someone atom-by-atom to create a perfect clone, there is no guarantee that these two people would experience the same consciousness”: I’ve heard of it. It’s a riddle to me. This is the kind of mindfuck that makes you skeptical of things like teleportation and mind uploads even if they were ‘possible’ today.

  27. My definition of p-zombies was admittedly vague, but I believe we’re using the same definition. I mentioned Cleverbot as an example because, although it’s very obviously a computer, it responds like a human. Same with those advanced humanoid robots today who can talk to you like you’re human although they don’t actually know they’re doing it. The next step would be to program physical reactions, such as a negative reaction to pain, so that they literally respond to everything like a human would, although they aren’t actually aware of their own existence.

    I never considered the fact that p-zombies would lie about their consciousness. But it makes sense – if they’re identical from us in every way, of course they will respond like this. It’s the only option.

    Although they would be indistinguishable from us in everyday life, it would be interesting to know if scientists could actually analyze their brains (or programming, if robots) and conscious peoples’ brains for comparison. But who knows if they’ll ever be able to actually study other peoples’ consciousness to this degree.

    Concepts such as these make solipsism seem like the most reasonable position to take on a fundamental level, at least for now. And the whole game changes if it turns out consciousness is inherent in the universe and associates itself with certain levels of complexity, as you touched upon. Or if the magical/spiritual and physical properties can coexist, like in your GoT example.

    Also, interesting – I had no idea materialism’s definition was continually updated. Definitely need to do more reading here. Also, I believed “no free will” was limited to a world with only matter (I don’t know if materialism or physicalism is the proper word to use here). Indeed, maybe we are spiritual to some degree yet have no free will regardless.

    The fact that an identical reconstruction of a human could be different or even unconscious is… frightening. And it brings up numerous problems, such as the teleportation issue, brain uploading issue, and the Ship of Theseus paradox. And it brings serious questions into our own consciousness experiences. Since our atoms change on a daily basis, do we also change? If someone were to clone themselves, would this person have a different consciousness, or would he somehow share his consciousness with his original copy, since they’re technically the same person?

    Also, if we invoke the existence of the multiverse, the quantum immortality theory is another insane possibility. What if all of the many versions of us somehow share the same consciousness? Or there is only one version of us conscious at any time, and we shift between realities depending on our actions? Or perhaps we are all the same consciousness, so reincarnation does in fact exist – we shift between life forms after each death. So many idealogical models can be coexist with our current understanding of consciousness… it’s baffling how many possibilities there are.

  28. @Lowes:
    “Concepts such as these make solipsism seem like the most reasonable position to take on a fundamental level, at least for now”: I agree. I empathize with people and assume that they aren’t p-zombies and actually have feelings etc, not because I’m sure of it, but because I don’t have much choice if I want sanity and happiness. Scientists use the concept “theory of mind”, as in: every species whose members are smart enough to have evolved the assumption that “others think, like me” is a species that has a theory of mind. Chimps do. When you think of it, you realize that whenever you try to predict what another is gonna do, you are effectivey trying to *simulate* his brain.
    It’s funny you brought up the Ship of Theseus, that’s exacty what I was thinking of in my previous comment.

    “Indeed, maybe we are spiritual to some degree yet have no free will regardless”: you know, I’m always perceived as an ‘enemy’ of free will but my real attitude isn’t “free will doesn’t exist”, it’s “free will is incoherent and causes a total mess whenever you try to define it, and you can be happy and resolute and not fatalist at all without using it”. Same with the concept of the self, and how carefully observing your own thoughts and decisions makes it vanish. Check any article or video by Sam Harris on these two concepts (I don’t agree with every opinion from this guy, but then again, it’s a disclaimer we should stick everywhere we’re recommending a source, lol).

  29. I have read these odds-favor-being-in-a-simulation theories before and the part I never understand is this: why the hell would anyone/anything bother to simulate this?

    All the math geeks get off on calculating the possibilities yet they all seem to start with the assumption that there is ANY reason, whatsoever, that anyone/anything would expend a single calorie of effort on simulating this world. Seriously, what possible motivation would there be? I can’t think of one. And I *can* think of a long list of very, very, very good reasons not to. Namely, that’s it’s extraordinarily cruel, sadistic, and worst of all, boring.

    So much of life is incredibly mundane and boring, absent the embellishments of our imaginations. So why would a creature capable of this level of simulation bother to simulate something that is so often dreadfully boring, ugly, and full of pointless suffering? Right now I am sitting in my boring ass office where I go every day to get paid very well to do work that is incredibly boring…and I am taking a break and choosing instead to escape into a realm of imagination and typing this message to disembodied strangers I will never meet regarding fantastical hypothetical possibilities simulated in our minds. In other words, I’m escaping my mundane reality by indulging in more-interesting daydreams about people so technologically and imaginatively powerful that they can create any universe of their desire, in incredibly high detail and populated by sentient beings…..and yet I’m supposed to believe that this technologically and imaginatively powerful being would then use those powers to create THIS existence of me sitting here in my boring office? Why??? Why create a world full of billions of sentient people sitting in boring offices and cubicles for years on end doing boring things?

    The very first thing people do when they get the chance is to try to ESCAPE the real world into a world of imagination that is *more interesting* than our real world…. into books and ideas and video games and LSD trips and conversations and daydreams and movies and fantasy worlds of all sorts, so long as they’re more interesting than real life. But notably, no one writes or reads a book that takes 8 hours a day 5 days a week to read, where the main character goes to work and works on tax forms all day. No one would want to write or read that book. No one wants to play that video game. And I can’t imagine why anyone would want to create that simulation. People live that reality because it IS reality, and because they have no other choice.

    But in this theory floated here, I am supposed to believe that a creature is capable of simulating worlds that are more interesting than this world, but the simulator CHOOSES affirmatively to create this much more boring world where people work on tax forms and trade stocks and log records and sort trash and do all the other boring things they do all day? Not to mention all the other hundreds of billions of sentient creatures that do nothing but chew on grass or search for bugs all day every day. Seriously, why would anyone simulate that? AND, not only that, but this simulator CHOOSES to make these creatures sentient? What!?! The simulator could just run the simulation with non-sentient beings, yet apparently the simulator *chose* to make these creatures labor and suffer. So whoever this simulator is, he/she/it is one twisted sicko!

    I just don’t understand why an intelligent creature would purposely simulate this world and staff it with suffering, sentient beings. But I guess this just goes on the list of things where I simply do not understand or relate to what seems to be intuitive to other people. To me, life itself is the most obvious evidence that there is no creator or simulator or programmer because I can’t imagine any reason that a sentient creature would ever purposely create such a thing as this particular world. There are so many more interesting and less cruel worlds for one to simulate.

    Also, the fact that we haven’t “heard a peep” from aliens doesn’t mean they don’t exist. If an alien species discovered that we exist, wouldn’t it set about investigating who we were prior to announcing itself? What kind of intelligent species makes itself known before it knows what it’s dealing with? That would be very stupid indeed. First it would want to figure out what we were And if an alien species did investigate us, what would it learn? It would learn that humans systematically conquer, inhabit the territory, oust, exploit and/or destroy every single other species with interests that don’t perfectly align with their own, and often do it to their own species too. In other words, humans are incredibly dangerous and to be avoided at all costs unless the aliens are absolutely sure of their own ability to utterly control or destroy humans. So actually, if aliens were aware of us, most likely they would either exterminate us or they would prevent us from realizing that they exist. Certainly they would not try to be “friendly” with us, unless they were suicidal.

    The best evidence of there not being aliens is that we haven’t been exterminated by them. But I would not expect them to “make contact” absent assurances that they were superior and that we were utterly controllable by them. What reasons would they have for wanting us to know they exist? As soon as we know, they would be in danger, unless they are much, more more powerful than us. And if they are much, much more powerful, then what reason would they want to make contact? They wouldn’t want to mate with us. They wouldn’t have any reason to exploit our labor. They might want our habitable territory, but if so they would just modify us to be less territorial and violent or they would exterminate us and take it. Therefore, it leaves only their desire to learn about us purely out of curiosity, like some humans are interested in learning about apes, but if so they would want to do so in naturalistic conditions and not by making us aware of their presence.

    Anyway, both points above tie into a a general cognitive bias in the realm of geekdom…y’all become obsessed with the technical feasibility of various possibilities without paying enough attention to motive. It’s why guys end up getting hung up on conspiracy theories about the federal government and other actors/institutions that they perceive as powerful…because they’re only the ability to exercise power, not the motive to do so (or lack thereof). Imagining that some powerful video-game programmer would want to bother simulating one’s boring life, or that God would bother himself with the trivial details of one’s dietary habits and clothing choices, or that the federal government would bother wanting to listen to one’s inane phone conversations, all strike me as different takes on a similar form of grandiosity that presumes that others have any reason at all to care about one’s existence (real or simulated).

    All that said, I’d give the simulation thing about a 5% chance of being true. But if so, the simulator is a dickhead and I have grievances. Same goes for if there’s a God.

  30. @Kate: there is debate as to whether one can even have a choice in whether an AI would be sentient or not. That’s what I alluded to when I mentioned Dennett/Chalmers etc. Chalmers distinguishes “p-zombies” and “genuinely conscious beings”, while Dennett, while admitting the concepts intuitively are very hard not to take for granted, thinks p-zombies are impossible and that any advanced enough simulation of sentience would be just that, sentience. If consciousness is not a simple on/off switch and actually occurs whenever someone creates complex enough AI/simulations, then the meta-beings, unless they have unknown powers far beyond just simulation, don’t have a choice, unless they just refrain from doing the simulation of course.

    There’s another thing to consider, which (when speaking of it to a friend) I’ve pompously called the “Evil wins forever Scenario”: if there is an upper limit on the power of a future civilization, short of changing the very fabric of reality, and if reality consists in an endless generation of universes bubbling and bubbling ad infinitum from the quantum void…………….then there is no final solution whatsoever to suffering in the world, as more universes with suffering beings are appearing all the time, faster than we can “rescue them”. If such a terrible fact is established, all large-scale altruistic interventionism will look futile (hence the name of the “theory”); people will limit themselves with a more modest instinctual altruism encompassing a limited number of beings (for example just humans and animals if artificial meat is invented, or even narrower); and to ours point, the “added suffering” caused by a simulation will look depressingly negligible. (LOL this was one of the most depressing hypotheses that ever occurred to me) So if for some reason “they” needed a universe simulation they wouldn’t blink about that.

    It is also possible, 1° that we’re being too anthropocentric and that (within the simulation hypothesis) this simulated universe isn’t about us at all, but something in which we’re a goal among others/an afterthought at best and an accidental by-product at worst. (invalidates the question of why the meta-beings would bother to create us) 2° it turns out to be impossible to simulate certain things (whether it is humans or super-advanced cosmological models or whatever) without all the other wasteful stuff (the parts you called boring). The general idea is that unlike the case of a “traditional” god, the meta-beings wouldn’t have “wanted” or controlled everything about the universe.

    You’re also oversimplifying Fermi’s Paradox. There are specific reasons, like Megastructures, Singularity and Von Neumann machines that make it at least plausibly expectable that “aliens”, or the result of their progress, would “visit” us or be seen by us (or even devour us in the case of a tech singularity committed to transforming planets into hardware for more calculating power). It isn’t just geeks that came up with this, unless people like Fermi, Feynman, Hawking and Bostrom count as geeks, which they are after all.

    “It would learn that humans systematically conquer […] humans are incredibly dangerous and to be avoided”: this isn’t inherent to just humans but to any life that would have evolved in darwinian fashion, and in spite of all this humans still have childish curiosity and the desire to discover “the other tribes”, so it would be a common, expectable and ultimately solvable problem. And any aliens who visit us before we visit them have high odds of being too powerful to have to fear us.
    You’re also seriously underestimating what the numbers’ game can do to “implausible”: at first it sounds plausible that “no one would want to make a simulated universe”…until you insist “no one ever, out of all the possible individuals in the possible civilizations, in all the universe(s)’ history. Read Bostrom’s pdfs, and/or think of just how many super-weird things have been done by people just because they could, in the category “who would ever”.

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