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article imageOp-Ed: The universe is just a thought, says new theory — Or maybe not

By Paul Wallis     Dec 25, 2020 in Science
Sydney - If the idea that the universe was a big computer simulation was about the equivalent of science fiction B movie, this is the mystic version - The universe simulates itself for information and meaning. Do tell.
This idea is promoting itself quite nicely. It’s based on a version of quantum mechanics. So far it has all the pizazz of a quaint new terminology (“panconsciousness”, “panpsychism”, “strange loops”, “not physically there”, etc., and a certain smugness which looks pretty damn lazy to me. If you’ve never read anything in your life, this would be mindblowing. If you have, it’s anything but.
The key thing is that “everything is information, expressed as thought.” On that basis, humanity’s claims to existence are in question, as the theory goes on to prove to itself. The universe is supposed to be a self-sustaining mental process, with subconscious micro routines, pure thought, and no advanced beings running the equivalent of a game program. It could even be the past rebooted by future people.
Wow, eh?
It’s bordering on religion, almost psycho-creationism. It’s not exactly a new take on anything much. Anything can be dogmatized into a self-fulfilling prophecy system. “There are carrots; therefore there will be more carrots, because that’s what the system predicts,” aka “God makes carrots.” Never mind the fact that carrots don’t need a system or a theory to reproduce more carrots. They’re not likely to do much else, are they? Ask any vegetable grower how theoretical carrots are. Remarkably few carrots go to church, either.
Even evolution is roped in to this remarkably not-very-new theory as “experimentation” by this universal quasi-consciousness. That’s very old science fiction. It goes back to at least Olaf Stapledon’s books circa the 1930s.
All you need is a reality, you dumb bastards
Quantum physics, which is interesting, unlike this plodding series of self-supporting justifications, is also involved. Quantum physics, if nothing else, is efficient. It works. Quantum reality, in fact, creates its own loops. Quantum entanglement, one of the most significant discoveries of the last century or so, is a case in point. The point being - Everything can have a direct relationship over vast distances, regardless of space and time constraints. Imagine Jewel on a vast scale.
Can thought, on whatever level an on whatever scope, manipulate quantum reality? Why not? The human brain generates enough energy to have subatomic let alone quantum particles rattling around all over the place. A universal panconsciousness, or some equivalent, wouldn’t have much trouble doing that either.
This is where plausibility meets an obstacle called reality. Horribly (and remarkably ineptly) defined as reality is, you need a medium like existence for all this to work efficiently on any level. In this theory, thought stands in for reality. …Or does it? You have a monoculture of thought creating realities for itself? What about the reality in which this universal mind exists? Can it be one omnipresent thing? If so, where did it come from, as every child quite rightly asks?
A reality is a set of applicable integrated functions. (A definition in progress, there.) However, without functionality you don’t have a reality in a functional form. A “self-actualizing” universe could be said to be a tautology – it exists because it exists. How helpful. Particularly to a theory which needs way more legs than this one has.
A simulated existence also has a few holes in it. Simulated in relation to what? An underlying existence? An arbitrary existence? This theory has to presuppose the existence of way too many things.
Assuming it is mentally possible to create an existence, and many ancient scripts say it is, how do these mental creations fit in with an underlying existence? Not too well, at this point.
The properties of the observed universe indicate a lot of things that go boom, much quasi-chaotic behaviour, etc. …And some pretty iffy parameters for what’s doing what, when and where. Superimposed on this almost-slandered reality are things like entropy, cosmic attractors, black holes, and other consistent, if irritating, things rightly or wrongly based on observation.
Does this universal panconsciousness have nothing better to do? Consciousness is systemic, systematic, and pretty efficient overall in basic functions. Highter thought is more demanding and often far more complex This state of existence, the electromagnetic circus, doesn’t seem too focused on much more than physical processes.
Panpsychism, which links everything to thought, is truly ancient. It goes way back in recorded history. Bigger thinking, like the Tao, start with the premise that the entire process is indescribable. The theory that the universe simulates itself seems more than a little redundant on that basis. Is the universe thinking about what it’s going to do next, before it breaks into showbiz? Chat show opportunities? Blecch.
How much of this absolutely requires a universal consciousness to exist? None of it. Basic physics seem to work OK without a dogma attached to each electron. Even if you assume a mind is able to create its own universe, (and there’s precious little reason to believe it can’t or doesn’t at the slightest excuse), so what? Must we have an overarching theory to explain that?
This theory also degenerates into some pretty tacky sophisms – “How do you know you’re not dreaming?”, and other paraphrased quotes. “Am I a butterfly dreaming I’m a man”, etc. “Minds that do not require matter”, and other open door non-statements are also included in this delightful package. Do better than that, guys. Very old, and much better expressed centuries ago.
This go-nowhere theory achieves its purpose of reiterating millennia of prior thought. It just happens to do so very unimpressively. The ghost of von Daniken is obviously looking for company, so be very very quiet if you’re hunting rabbits.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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