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Why is there anything?

Moonlit🌙MonkeyJan 10, 2019, 1:17:06 PM

It might seem like an obvious enough question, and one that a lot of people have come up with complicated answers for. 

Few of them, scientific, religious or philosophical are really that logically satisfying though. Take, for example, the Big Bang Theory. It actually suffers from quite comparable problems to the ones’ St Augustine famously posed for the Biblical God.

It’s something of a catch-22. If time and space exist, then events can happen in it. If time and space do not exist, then events cannot. Events require time.

Creation or initiation is an event. The initiation of a singularity (Big Bang) requires pre-existing time. So even was someone to pose some theoretical beginning, or origin for the universe, one is stuck with this contradiction. You in a way solve exactly nothing by posing this 'solution'. Logically something either always existed (time), or it never has (something perhaps like a quantum effect, some kind of "here, not there" witchery if such a thing is possible).

What exactly is ‘everything’ anyway?

Either way, the problem as posed doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Not least, because we also don’t really know what everything is. We might know about electrons, and quarks and quantum fields, but science is still mystified about what these are in turn made of, and thus why ‘matter’ (whatever that is) forms into these types of 'particles'.

Famously the CERN particle collider detected the Higgs Boson. A crazy particle that gives everything mass. Mass, the thing that makes stuff fall, produce gravity, and bang into each other is actually given not by everything being ‘solid’ (mostly its empty space anyway), but because of one crazy virtual particle: something that pops in and out of existence like some kind of supernatural superhero. Just a quick google of 'virtual particle' will give you hint into the weirdness of all that. 

Just recently scientists passed information using “Particle pairs”. A particle pair is weird enough, they match each other, copy each other, across potentially infinite distances in “spin” and nobody knows how it works. But passing information with a particle pair is supposed to be impossible. Because of Einstein’s Relativity: Nothing can travel faster than light. Which we already know fails at the quantum scale but everyone still assumes is a rule that can't be broken.

Assumptions are an interesting thing.

What is consciousness?

Well, we don’t really know that either. It’s not remotely logical, or obvious that "emulating an experience, or simulating reality as a model" would then because of that produce an actual experience of reality, any more than carving a wooden boy, would create a real boy. 

Nor does that actually mechanically explain why it does (if it did). In fact, this theory has no explanatory power, it adds nothing predictively, and isn’t even testable using any direct measurement (therefore, it's not actually science).

Nonetheless, this theory that experience magically pops out of enough simulation is exactly the prevailing and accepted theory. It's called 'Emergence Theory' but actually it's rather a lot of unfalsifiable pseudoscientific nonsense if you ask me.

And perhaps, superstitiously, only the sort of simulation done by our apparently magical neurons (otherwise AI would already be having an experience, given that it simulates and models experiences; which some people would find rather unsettling. AI rights anyone?).

Of course, the reality is we have no idea how any of this works, and to ‘study’ this we use the kind of indirect testing that would be treated as pure quackery in any other areas. 

A quick example might be using anesthesia as a 'measure', and assuming consciousness is gone, where in fact memory or some other facet of the ability to relay that potential experience might be the thing that is missing rather than the experience itself. Again, the requirement for actual science is direct measurement. Without direct measurement, you can never disprove something. And whether you accept some evidence like say, "NDE" under brain measurement as proof that one can experience with low brain activity or another like anesthesia becomes the mere application of pre-existing biases. 

Again, assumption. It’s not so much that we have the answers to any of the really meaningful questions, it’s that we like the idea of having them. A lot. 

World is a curious place.

For all the difficult grind of every day, it’s certainly easier not to spend any time questioning these things. Certainly, if you're stressed you probably stopped reading long ago. But to occasionally practice the humility of giving it a bit of deeper thought, or just admitting we don't really know that much, is good psychologically I think and probably better for society. 

We know what superstitious belief has done before: it’s motivated scientific suppression of new ideas, caused wars and persecution and conflict amongst people. And it's not so much that we have given up superstition, but rather we have given it an even more authoritative cloak: the cloak of establishment accepted scientism (belief posing as science). 

A little bit of doubt, as a skeptic, or as a spiritual person, or as a person who simply doesn't know or care, is the pinch of extra ingredient that allows you to understand and connect with other people. It's certainty in the stuff that everyone is really kind of guessing about, that makes you easily threatened. 

People are even more threatened by this than attacks to their ego it seems. 

Trouble is here, almost everyone is in the cult. All of these problems are often accepted as answered and solved. It's doubtful anyone will ever unlock the real code. A lot of these problems don't actually logically seem to be in the domain of science, to be frank, as much as people might like them to be. But it's helpful I think, to sit back and observe. Maybe even practice a bit of levity.

A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.
At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: 'What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.' The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, 'What is the tortoise standing on?' 'You're very clever, young man, very clever', said the old lady 'But its turtles all the way down!'

― Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time