Wednesday, November 19, 2008


One of the biggest arguments for God or the afterlife or just "something out there" or "something that goes beyond our understanding" is that things are just set into motion too perfectly. There's just too much going on that it couldn't just be "chance." There must be some sort of creator or, if not a creator, some sort of driving force or forces making this universe of ours work. There is a quote that I heard one time that goes, "It would be much easier for there to be nothing than something." The quote is about how the universe usually chooses the easiest and most direct route. Why and/or how would things exist rather than not exist? I suppose in this discussion, we'll get into questioning the meaning of existance and chance.

Also, I would like to discuss about the human brain in relation to these questions. Is the reason that people might think "there's something more" is because we are sentient and have an overactive ego because of that. Because of this overactive ego, do we think of things such as God or the hereafter? Is it just some biological need, some misplaced and misused survival instinct and/or instinct for self-preservation? If you mix sentience with the need for self-preservation, do you automatically get the need for all those things?

Please post entries in response to this, not comments. I want to hear your opinions. Thanks!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Visualizing Time

Me: Yeah, it's a little difficult to deal with. Whatever you can't perceive well becomes something like "time" to you...I'll have to think about this a little longer. It's very interesting though. I wonder if humans are perceiving all other dimensions as just time. Hmmmm....

Matt: That's exactly it. Dimensions of space that we cannot perceive directly, as space, we experience as time.

Me: I still don't see how dimensions that are not perceived are just automatically "time" for that being. Maybe I need to re-read what you said...the saga continues..

Matt: Basically, if you can't perceive a dimension, that doesn't mean it isn't there. So you will perceive it, when you come across it, ie it will express inside your sensorium in some way. However, rather than being perceived as an integral part of something, ie simultaneously (the way when you look at, say, a cube, you perceive it's length, height, and breadth), it will be perceived as something that expresses itself temporally.

I know, it's a difficult concept. I highly recommend the link I included in the last email. It's a much more rigorous treatment than I'm capable of giving you.

Me: Sweet. Thanks a lot. I wish I could ask more questions but at this point my well is dry and my cup is full. I'll let you know when I have some more. Do you like hockey?

Matt: Hmmm. Hockey? Only when the gloves come off.

Different Thread

Me: I wonder what all dimensions together would look like...some kind of timeless energy tube?

Matt: That's a good question. Visualizing it is probably impossible, at least with a human brain. This doesn't stop me from trying, though ... and the best I can say is that, when I think of it, I think of something that is simultaneously a point source, a sphere of infinite radius, and an endlessly branching tree. If that makes any sense at all.

Words are inherently insufficient.

Check out Electric Sheep. If you can run it on your computer (you need a decent graphics card) it might help you visualize higher dimensions. It's also possibly the most beautiful screen saver you've ever seen.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

got gott? a definition.

I thought the writing I linked to in the earlier format of this discussion might serve the discussion better posted in full here. At the very least, if we'll be discussing any of these sorts of things, this will serve as a good introduction on my part. And so...

I think, if you're going to conceptualize an all powerful god of some sort, a pantheist view would be the most graceful way to get at what that even means...

The world's preeminent religious text, wikipedia, explains: Pantheism is the view that everything is of an all-encompassing immanent abstract God; or that the Universe, or nature, and God are equivalent. More detailed definitions tend to emphasize the idea that natural law, existence, and the Universe (the sum total of all that is, was, and shall be) is represented in the theological principle of an abstract 'god' rather than a personal, creative deity or deities of any kind.

At first glance, this might seem to cheapen the idea of god, reduce it even. But really this is like going a step higher than monotheism, a true monotheism, one in which it's just silly to describe the idea of god as seperate entities like Yahweh, Allah, the sun, the son, etc... To me, THAT seems like a cheapening of the beauty of the thing, the concept ideal.

I came upon these ideas many years ago, though it took me a little while to understand what it was exactly that I was thinking... Sitting in church, I would be thinking how completely absurd it was to explain that "Yes, we are monotheists, but OUR god is the best, the only one that really counts"... that sort of thinking only necessitates more gods of that sort. I knew that there was definitely something I and most of the rest of the world were thinking of when we thought of this "god" thing, but it seemed pretty obvious that all different gods were just a matter of what you saw when you perceived this idea from your own cultural reference point.

That's the reason why Jesus, in our culture, is pictured as a white, tall, thin European-looking man. I imagine people picture him a little differently in the middle east. Likewise, for the warlike tribes of Judea, god was envisioned not too much differently than a Spartan might envision god. Yahweh was a spiteful, jealous god who took revenge for every wrongdoing and who led them into their battles. Being of this nature, he of course saw no problems with the killing of anyone not of those tribes, even encouraged complete genocide, advocating the destruction of everything save the spoils of war. Yahweh was also of course, a man. THE ultimate man really, an all powerful king ruling those under him by fear of punishment. This easily explains why the early civilizations who most cherished ideals such as peace and cooperation, pictured god as a woman, being the ultimate creative force and also a loving, caring mother.

It's no surprise that simplifying the idea of god makes it easily communicated to absolutely anyone, whether they've ever pondered such ideas or not. But this is not a simple idea (or rather, a different sort of simple idea). The truth is, the more the idea of god is simplified, equated to the drama of human life, the less being god really means. This is exemplified in polytheism. In the mythos of the Greeks or Hindus, the god-stage was filled with god-soap-operas in which the gods lived lives almost identical to men, just on a higher level, being a little more powerful than regular humans. The idea of god as an old man with a long grey beard, a wise old man in the sky, seems to be one of the easiest ways of conceptualizing and relating to something like this, and therefore, the most common manner of thinking from what I can tell. I'm not sure most christians of any intelligence really believe this when it comes down to the issue, but it's a sort of shortcut used in explaining the idea to a child, and one that seems to stick with us no matter how much more complicated things might seem to get later on.

Personally, when I really try to think of what's really meant by the word "god," the simplest, ultimate definition is that god is a sort of ultimate, overall creative force. The sort of thing that might explain things like the difference between a dead, and a live human being, both being physically identical... The kind of thing that causes simple elements to organize into amino acids on their own... these things are just what the universe does, and it's beautiful. Really, considering god as a "force," I've found, is a little closer to what I'd really mean if I were to use the word "god" at all.

Gravity needn't necessarily be thanked for being around everyday, but it's really a pretty nice thing to have around, so I really appreciate it. Only, by my definition, "god" would have to operate a level higher than something like gravitational force, that is to say, gravity is a property of "god." As is perhpas already becoming apparent, "god" starts to look curiously like the universe itself. If that sort of idea seems somewhat less than the romanticized version, it's only because people imagine a sort of "thing..." out there... (wait, where?)... when they picture the universe itself. The universe is itself, almost indescribable. The word "universe" is derived from Old French univers, from Latin universum, which combines uni- (the combining form of unus, or "one") with versus (perfect passive participle of vertere, or "turn"). The word, therefore, means "all turned into one" or "revolving as one." That shows precisely the god / religion (or perhaps simply personal spiritual... whatevers) relationship I'm describing.

Here, is the photograph of the largest portion, of the largest portion that lies within the visible-light spectrum, of the universe.

That photograph was the ultimate achievement of the Hubble Telescope. The angle of here shows a selection of space appoximately 5 Billion light years across. It is determined that this picture shows an exposure of 1/88,000,000th of the whole spherical "sky." Considering that each dot of light seen is a seperate galaxy, some of which are millions of light years across... Each of which contains countless stars, stars which all have orbiting systems like our own... This is as beautiful as any photograph of god might hope to be.

Perhaps, if there is one day a "theory of everything," an elegant mathematical formula, possibly fairly short, that describes every force in the universe, that would be as good a name for god as any. Until then, I'm content to just let most people assume I'm an atheist, and leave it as that. As I'm sure you can tell, this kind of thing takes a while to explain to someone raised to think of god in the way most westerners do. I was however, surprised to find that plenty of easterners have thought of god in this manner, with texts describing such having existed since before all western religious ideas were recorded. The ideas of Taoism, or Buddhism are basically the same, with Hinduism taking a panDeistic view instead. A notion which basically just establishes the ideas of god and the universe as nouns having, officially, different names. The idea being that, out of god, became the universe, which will return to the state of god... much like the big-bang / big-crunch theory.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Matt, John, and the Universe

Me: What exactly is the evidence or backing or how do people support the claim
for the One? You might have already answered this in some way but I was just
wanting to clarify it. Thanks.

Matt: Evidence? What evidence? The evidence is everywhere, including inside you.

God does not give proof. It demeans him, and besides which, it serves no purpose. Think about it: at what point are you satisfied that the evidence is sufficient? No matter what were to be brought forward, at any point you can say, "Well, that doesn't prove it. It might equally be explained by x, y, or z."

Proof, of necessity, is something external to that which is to be proven. This is why you can't define a word by using the word. Thing is, when you're talking about the One, there is nothing external to it. By definition. It is everything. Thus, it cannot be proven.

Me: Thanks a lot. Can you explain in laymen's terms what waveform collapse is
and its implications to what we're talking about...thanks.

Matt: The wavefunction is the mathematical description of all the possible states a given particle might occupy, expressed as a probabilistic wave. Collapse is what happens when the particle is observed (i.e. interacts with consciousness, or is measured): the act of looking at it causes the particle to immediately jump into one of the various states from the wavefunction. In other words, collapsing the
wavefunction removes all of the possible states to leave a single remaining actual state. This might seem like a mathematical formalism or philosophical game, but actual laboratory experiment bears it out time and again: when a particle isn't being looked at, it's a wave, and when it is, it's a particle.

Me: Doesn't that have to do with light being shown on it though? Also, when humans look at something, doesn't something in the atmosphere change because our heads are occupying that space? Are you saying that if we looked at it but did not recognize it, the particle would not change? Would it have to be registered consciously to change?

Matt:The question of precisely why observation causes particles to change as they do is one of the great questions of modern physics. People have been asking it since the discipline was formulated back in the 30s, and as yet, there are no satisfactory answers.

Me: By the way, everyone should check out Matt's own blog here on blogspot. It's at . He has a lot of good stuff on there.

John Fannin
2008年10月15日 13:44
The more you actually believe that god, if anything, would have to be everything, the less it actually matters if that's the case or not.

This is something I wrote quite a while ago as an answer to someone curious about what you could possibly be expected to say in prayer to a god believed to already be omnipotent, and something that pretty well describes what my views are.
(tossed on an otherwise unused geocities account because apparently, a definition of god ends up too big to fit into a facebook comment box)

2008年10月15日 13:52
Also, that explanation given of "the one" is begging for a Flying Spaghetti Monster reference.


We plan to discuss the universe and religion and anything directly related in this blog. Thanks!