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Why Special Effect Simulations Explain The Immaterial

The question needs to be asked, are there any things computer programmed software can accomplish which the natural world – Mother Nature in other words – cannot, yet things which are accepted as part and parcel of the natural world as well as the supernatural realm?

So what we’re looking at here are examples of lack of causality and examples of the creation of something from nothing, well actually that as well as the equivalent which is the apparent direct influence on nothing by something, and on something by nothing. In other words the interactions between the physical and the non-physical which could include emergent phenomena.

The crux would seem to lie between the division of the immaterial (non-physical) realm and the material (physical) realm and how the two can apparently mix it up together. That requires a rather extraordinary explanation. Perhaps computer software generated special effects is the answer, or at least an answer.

Some Initial and Foundational Basic Premises:

Basic Premise One: Causality is absolute. Something, anything, does not happen for absolutely no reason at all. If this lack of causality is ever actually observed in the natural world then IMHO it is actually a simulation that’s responsible.

Basic Premise Two: Something cannot create itself. If something is ever actually observed in the natural world that has created itself then IMHO that creation is actually a simulation that’s doing the creation.

Basic Premise Three: You cannot create an absolute something from an absolute nothing. In other words, out of nothing, nothing comes. Things that are immaterial are a ‘something’ in the sense that immaterial things tend to be concepts. An absolute nothing would have to be the absence of any concepts. So the issue arises, how can the absence of a concept emerge into the concept itself? If an absolute something from an absolute nothing is ever actually observed in the natural world, and that includes the arising of the immaterial, then again, IMHO, it is actually a simulation that’s responsible.

Basic Premise Four: Something immaterial / non-physical cannot create something material / physical. The number four cannot create a blade of grass; Thursday cannot create an atom; beauty cannot create the Mona Lisa. But if we ever did observe an actual relationship between the material and the immaterial then that too suggests to me that a simulation is at work behind the scenes.

Defining the Immaterial:

Some ‘thing’ immaterial is any ‘thing’ or concept that has no structure and no substance. It has no mass, no chemistry, no colour, no electric charge, and in short no physical properties of any kind.

But an interesting question is, can anything that is really immaterial move? Well, “yes” since motion is change and immaterial ‘things’ (i.e. – your personality) can change. You can ‘move’ from being say an introvert to an extrovert.

Are There Things Not Material?

Are there things not material? Of course there are ‘things’ not material. There are real things like matter and energy. There are also not-things which we tend to call concepts. A not-thing is something immaterial like mathematics or architecture or philosophy. A not-thing is non-physical like Wednesday or beauty or dimensions. A not-thing is a unit of measurement. A not-thing is the concept of a wheel while the wheel itself is a thing. A not-thing is the concept of landing on the Moon while Apollo 11 was an actual thing. Space and time are other not-things. The past and the future are not-things. In fact there are probably more not-things, mental not-things, abstractions of things that are possible things, concepts, and so on than there are things. There are probably many more not-things that you can imagine that cannot be translated into things than there are concepts that you can turn into things. Recall how the White Queen could believe in six impossible things before breakfast!

However, it’s important to distinguish between non-material things that are solely part and parcel of the human condition, and what is immaterial in the far wider cosmic context. Some immaterial concepts really do exist outside of the human mind and would exist even if humans had never existed or at least before humans existed.

However, starting with human-only or immaterial concepts specific to the human species, we have concepts like yuckiness, the mathematical relationships between the Kelvin, Centigrade and Fahrenheit temperature scales, the mathematical relationship between say the day and the second, units of measurement like the pint, or ten cents, the concept of Wednesday, Christmas, music, the French language, or even Star Trek. You could not have any expectations that ET would share those immaterial concepts independently.

However, there would be immaterial concepts that ET would have and have to come to terms with along with humans. These are universal concepts of the immaterial that any and all intelligent species would discover. For example, ET would know about the mathematical relationships that govern various physical and chemical processes. Their symbols would be different, but the relationships would be the same. Immaterial concepts like Pi, numbers, arithmetic, geometry and related would be universal. So would the concept of wetness, colour, temperature and other emergent properties that arise from the various physical and chemical processes. No doubt ET’s logic would mirror our logic since logical concepts must have universality (i.e. – nowhere in the Cosmos will you find a spherical cube).

Now the guts of the scenario now follows – just substitute the ‘mind’ behind a cosmic virtual reality which is a totally immersive computer simulation, for the mind of an ET.

Material / Immaterial Duality:

Immaterial non-physical supernatural realm: an afterlife; a resurrection; reincarnation which would appear to have a material / physical basis.

Immaterial natural realm: the mind – brain / body duality: the immaterial / non-physical mind influencing the material / physical body / brain and the material / physical body / brain influencing the immaterial / non-physical mind. That the immaterial / non-physical mind can influence the material / physical body / brain has been observed and is called the Placebo Effect. That the material / physical body / brain can influence the immaterial / non-physical mind is obvious if you have too much to drink or smoke some weed or take some LSD or develop Alzheimer’s or otherwise become senile or suffer from dementia.

The Immaterial – You:

What’s immaterial about you? Well probably your soul, spirit, essence, self-identity, self-awareness, personality, like & dislikes, creativity, free will, logic, rationality, memory and knowledge. All the sorts of things that make you, really “You”, yet which you couldn’t actually physically find or locate find if you were to explore or do an autopsy on your brain. Yet the absolutely most important part of you is the immaterial part of “You” which is your mind and of course the material organ it is apparently housed in, the brain. Yet it’s quite easy to open up your brain, but no amount of exploratory surgery or detailed autopsy is going to actually find “You”. “You” are nowhere to be found inside your own brain. So doesn’t that make “You” immaterial? On the other hand, if the mind isn’t purely physical hence subject to physical injury, ageing and deterioration, then where does the mind go when dementia and senility set in?

Your body / brain might be composed of quarks and electrons and the Higgs Boson, but those particles aside, even at conception there was no “You”. “You” emerged from that point on, slowly but surely, but out of what exactly? To reverse that scenario, if I were to pull apart your brain, brain cell by brain cell, at some point “You” wouldn’t exist anymore yet no individual brain cell could be said to contain any part of “You”. Brain cells are really just a sort of neurochemical soup all of which individual components can be identified in a rather mundane fashion.

Intelligence / consciousness emerges out of nothing unless you want to define quarks and electrons and all of those irreducible building blocks as themselves having intelligence / consciousness, known as the concept of panspermia.

To ask another question, if the immaterial part of you – call it your neurological software – can operate independently of the material part of you – call that your neurological hardware (i.e. – your brain) – then what’s the point of you even having the physical hardware? I mean you would lose the physical hardware in the transition from life to afterlife so why have the hardware in your life at all?

If consciousness like the Observer Effect (see below) creates reality (i.e. – the Moon doesn’t exist if nobody is looking at it), then our immaterial minds create our material brains instead of the brain creating the mind, then why do we need brains at all? If our brains call the shots in terms of our physiological processes (heart-beat, hunger, sex drives, etc.) then why not eliminate the middle link and just have the mind strut those physiological processes?

The Immaterial – The Dead Do Tell Tales:

Anything to do with the dead manifesting themselves has to lie in the realm of the immaterial. For example, consider Death Bed Visions where near-death people report visions of seeing and even conversing with deceased family, friends, even former pets in a reassuring way. We note that it’s deceased people that’s reported as visiting the about-to-be-deceased, not living relatives or friends, and not Jesus or angels or similar religious figures. The actual physical bodies of these deceased individuals that appear to the about-to-be-deceased have long since been cremated or buried or otherwise disposed of, so it’s only the immaterial part that appears. These Death Bed Visions – weeks, days, hours before the about-to-be-deceased actually kick-the-bucket – have been way to widely reported to be dismissed out-of-hand. So how is it possible for the immaterially dead to interact with the about-to-be-deceased who are still very much material? Is there some undiscovered physics at work here or might this be an example of virtual reality (a totally immersive computer simulation) at work here?

The Immaterial – OBEs / NDEs:

Then there are OBEs (out of body experiences) and NDEs (near death experiences) which if true have to be immaterial / non-physical ‘experiences’ since during an OBE and/or a NDE you leave your physical / material body / brain behind. However, the fly in the ointment is that an immaterial OBE / NDE state you cannot have any material / physical sensory apparatus and the processing of the data that brings in hence gets further processed into information so experienced while in an OBE / NDE state. So how can you relate your NDE / OBE if in your OBE / NDE you have no actual eyes, ears, nerves, brain, etc.?

The Immaterial – The Afterlife:

One assumes that in your afterlife, assuming an afterlife of course, that you have self-awareness, a ongoing sense of self-identify and of course consciousness. The question arises, how could your neurological processes that give rise to self-awareness, a ongoing sense of self-identify and of course consciousness continue after the processor – the brain – has been rendered inoperable by the death / post-death process of totally observable biological decay. When you’re brain-dead, you’re brain-dead!

If what survives death is immaterial (your dead body stays dead – it doesn’t go anywhere), then ghosts (if ghosts there be) are not immaterial since if you can see / hear / feel them then they are material. If the immaterially dead can become material again as a ghost, then special effects must be at work. Even if ghosts are some sort of unexplained but natural physical manifestation, are special effects still at work?

The Immaterial – Past Lives:

If there is such a thing as remembering past lives there would have to be an immaterial process that gets the knowledge about the previous you into the new you. There can be no physical / material process by which this can happen (assuming it happens of course). If it happens at all then it can easily be explained as just a programmed simulation. Hollywood would have no difficulty with the “past lives” scenario.

Causality – The First Cause:

You cannot have a First Cause because that must imply an uncaused [First] Cause which is just not plausible in a material / physical realm. You of course can have a First Cause in the intangible immaterial world like having your very first thought or the first time the concept of zero was actually used. But when it comes to the apparently material / physical realm, the only rational explanation for a First Cause is a special effect generated by computer software. Otherwise, how can you have a non-physical causation cause something physical – a variation on the theme of something from nothing? So the immaterial cause of the material First Cause is just an immaterial software-generated illusion or special effect.

Causality – Something from Nothing:

Can anything happen for absolutely no reason at all? IMHO, “no”. Is causality always required? IMHO, “yes”. Can something come from nothing? In really real reality, the answer is clearly “no”. In virtual reality and the Simulation Hypothesis, the answer can be “yes” or at least the illusion that something can come from nothing; that causality can be violated, can be really created. So the creation of something from nothing is a pure violation of causality since only from something, something comes and from nothing, nothing comes. But the dual influence on the immaterial nothing, in turn on the material something (and vice versa) is equally as illogical and equally lacks causality as the example of something from nothing is a violation of causality. So is mind – brain / body duality an illustration of virtual reality instead of a reflection of really real reality? Is mind – brain / body duality just a simulated illusion?

That’s all quite apart from the quantum weirdness where causality goes right out the window, into the gutter and down the drain. You really get a lot of quantum ‘nonsense’ when you have waves turn into particles for no obvious cause-and-effect reason (the Double-Slit Experiment); where photons ‘decide’ for no apparent reason to either pass through or reflect off of the surface of a pane of glass; or how for equally no apparent reason radioactive decay can be stopped in its tracks (the Quantum Zeno Effect). Speaking of radioactivity, unstable nuclei apparently just go ‘poof’ and decay into stability for absolutely no reason whatsoever. So is quantum physics another illustration of reality just being a virtual illusion?

Causality – Something from Nothing – Cosmology:

The expansion rate of the Universe is actually speeding up. The energy for that to occur has to come from somewhere. This energy, ‘dark energy’ is constantly being produced by expanding space and ‘dark energy’ in turns causes space to expand. It’s a free lunch – something from nothing. In other words, although the Universe is expanding, the energy density of the Universe remains the same. It’s like having an expanding barrel of apples and new apples pop into existence to fill the ever increasing volume of the expanding barrel. However, since a planetarium could easily show this virtually, we can assume that perhaps one ‘reality’ level on up the chain that our accelerating Universe is also being exhibited virtually.

Causality – Radioactive Decay:

Unstable atomic nuclei go ‘poof’ (and achieve stability) for apparently and absolutely no identifiable physical (or chemical) reason whatever yet any one brand of these unstable atomic nuclei (i.e. – Carbon-14; Uranium-238) will a-causally decay at a precise mathematical rate. Something is REALLY screwy somewhere! If this isn’t a computer generated special effect I don’t know what is!

Causality – The Observer Effect:

I noted above the Double-Slit Experiment as well as the Quantum Zeno Effect. Both of these well-established physics experiments are super-weird in that the outcomes appear to depend on whether or not someone (and it’s not clear whether or not that someone actually has to be human) is watching. This phenomena is basically known as “The Observer Effect” and IMHO it is one of the absolutely strongest bits and pieces of evidence for the special effects that virtual reality can generate. While the Observer Effect has been documented, there is no known natural mechanism that can account for the experimental results.

Quite apart from there being no plausible explanatory mechanism, the Observer Effect is also totally a concept without any rational logic behind it. That’s on the grounds that the closely related concepts of Superposition-of-State and Collapse-of-the-Wave Function are mythical at best. All possible outcomes are not in all possible states simultaneously (Superposition-of-State) waiting until someone does an observation to reduce “all possible” down to one either / or (Collapse-of-the-Wave Function). If you have a well-shuffled standard deck of cards, do you conclude that 1) the top card has one and only one actual value even if you don’t know that that card actually is, or 2) do you say that the top card is actually a soupy mixture of all 52 possibilities, that the top card is in a Superposition-of-State, and that it takes on one and only one value only when you observe it; when you Collapse-the-Wave Function? Which makes more rational and logical sense?

Causality – Your Free Will:

Causality rules, OK? That being the case, where does your alleged free will come from if we’re just a biological / living ‘machine’ subject internally and externally to all of the deterministic laws, principles and relationships part and parcel of the physical and chemical realm. If causality rules supreme there should be no such thing as free will any more than a apple can free will a decision to fall upwards or a Northern Hemisphere hurricane / cyclone can decide to rotate clockwise.

On the other hand, if causality doesn’t rule supreme, if the Universe is just a chaotic mess where everything happens totally at random and all is indeterminate, then all of your decision making is going to be chaotic, random and indeterminate. In other words, you still don’t have free will. In either case you cannot claim to have free will since you logically cannot have free will, no matter how strong the illusion is to the contrary.

But lack of any actual free will, yet the illusion of free will is of course perfectly compatible with our being just virtual (special effects) beings under the control of computer programmed software.

Emergence – An Immaterial Nothing from A Physical Something:

If no one material / physical thing has a property X, yet a collection of those material / physical things collectively have a property X, then X has emerged out of nothing and since from nothing, nothing comes, X must be immaterial / non-physical. So emergent properties are not material but immaterial. One person is not a society, a culture, a country, a club, a team, a family, etc. It takes at least two or more humans (often a lot more) to be called a society, a culture, a country, a club, a team, a family, etc. This doesn’t actually contradict my earlier Basic Premise Three since in these cases the immaterial concepts are emergent from an actual something. So we don’t actually have a case of from nothing, nothing comes, but we still have a case of the immaterial emerging from the material which poses its own set of problems.

Emergence – Wetness:

One water molecule isn’t wet and one water molecule doesn’t form a cloud, a drop, a puddle, a pond, lake or ocean. Wetness is an emergent property of a vast collection of water molecules and thus wetness isn’t a material thing. A cloud, a puddle, a pond, a lake or an ocean isn’t a material thing, rather the name given to a collection of material things, in this case water molecules. You don’t swim in wetness; wetness isn’t the property that can drown you. Question: How many molecules of water does it take to generate the quality of wetness? Question: Is the preceding question even answerable? Question: Is wetness really a special effect?

If it takes 100 water molecules to create the sensation of wetness, that doesn’t mean that one water molecule is 1% wet. So wetness is an emergent property. That’s quite unlike or opposed say to one cent which really is 1% of a dollar, so a dollar isn’t an emergent property.

Emergence – Colour:

In a similar fashion, one chlorine atom isn’t yellow but get enough chlorine atoms together and the resulting chlorine gas is yellow in colour. Colour is an emergent property. Any wavelength or electromagnetic frequency doesn’t in and of itself have any colour. Only when a wavelength or electromagnetic frequency interacts with a physical something that has some perception of the nature of differing wavelengths or electromagnetic frequencies does the concept of colour arise; and then there is colour. Otherwise, without that perception of the nature of differing wavelengths or electromagnetic frequencies a physical something is just reacting, not perceiving. We perceive the difference between red and blue; a rock just reacts to the difference (it expands more in red light than in blue light). Even though we have the perception and the concept of colour, it’s quite limited. In most cases we react much like the rock. I mean what’s the colour of radio waves; of microwaves; of X-rays; of gamma rays? We ‘see’ infrared not as a shade of red but as heat, which given our limited perception, isn’t a colour. Other animals can actually see in the infrared. To them infrared has a colour. So colour is just an emergent property and is not a fundamental physical something. Is colour, an emergent phenomenon also a special effect?

Emergence – Temperature:

Further to the point, any one particle does not have a temperature. Actually not only doesn’t any single particle have a temperature, in fact all particles when considered individually have no actual temperature. All they individually have is motion. Only a large collection of particles moving at varying velocities have a collective temperature. So temperature is only an apparent something, yet it arises from absolutely nothing. Temperature therefore is an emergent property, not something fundamental. When you feel heat, you’re just feeling the collective impacts of lots of particles in motion. So, is this additional emergent property of motion another special effect?

Emergence – Fusion:

One hydrogen atom doesn’t undergo nuclear fusion. It takes a lot of hydrogen atoms (under lots of pressure) to undergo nuclear fusion. So fusion is a process and not a material thing in its own right. In a similar vein, one note does not a symphony (or any other form or type of music) make; one tree is not a forest; one cow is not a herd; and one piece of dried grass is not a haystack. A symphony, forest, herd and haystack are all just immaterial concepts. You cannot answer the question “how many trees does it take before you have a forest?” other than you know the answer isn’t just one. So might software be responsible for our perception of calling a bunch of trees as being (or not yet being) a forest?

Emergence – Social Insects:

Any individual ant, termite, bee / wasp by itself can’t accomplish very much at all – except probably die. However, a colony of ants, termites, bees / wasps can create the most elaborate of structures / architectures and have a society with associated behaviours and divisions of labour all worthy of the name “society”. Such an insect society is truly an emergent property, a property which no one individual has. Special effects?

Emergence – Intelligence:

And from our very personal perspective, from out of electrons, quarks and of course the Higgs Boson; from out of the four fundamental physical forces, emerged intelligence and consciousness. Of course that applies to many other animals as well, but humans, as humans will do, put humans first and at the pinnacle. The same question arises here as with the emergence of social insect societies.

Reflections, Resolutions & Conclusions:

Premise One – Mathematics: Reality is synonymous with mathematics since any physical process can be expressed as a mathematical computation and therefore any physical process can be recreated in a computational medium, like a computer. And what is software if not mathematics! Can you not reduce all particles, forces, fields and all of their interactions down to just mathematics (like Einstein’s relationship between mass and energy)? ‘Spin’, mass, angular momentum, electric charge, etc. are all just numbers which can be manipulated by those laws, principles and relationships inherent within the physical sciences. So you can reproduce the real world (of particles, forces, fields and all of their interactions) using just those numbers and relationships (i.e. – equations), just like you can play a game of chess without using any actual chess pieces since all of the rules and all of the possible moves of the pieces and all of the positions on a chess board are just numbers.

So we again have a case of something immaterial – mathematics – making sense of the material in a similar sort of way that the immaterial consciousness tries to make sense of the material.

However mathematics cannot predict emergent phenomena like how many molecules of water do you need to get wetness? In other words, you can reduce a material / physical water molecule down to mathematics but not immaterial / non-physical wetness.

Premise Two – Artificial Life: There is nothing different in principle between a scientist (or other geek) creating a simulation world inhabited by Artificial Life (or A-Life) forms all residing inside a computer, and say a sci-fi / fantasy / horror author creating a make-believe world inhabited by fictional life forms all residing inside the pages of a book or a magazine (or online), and say a film / TV producer creating a fantasy / sci-fi / horror world inhabited by all manner of beings, terrestrial and otherwise, all residing inside the medium of TV / cinema. The only real difference is that the former is a bit more fluid with many different potential story-lines or evolutions, a sort of design and alter your own adventure scenario (within certain confines of course – the software can contain only so many outcomes), whereas the latter two are a bit more fixed and linear. Replay the simulation and get a different outcome; reread the book or re-watch the film and you don’t.

We’ve already created numerous “cast-your-fate-to-the-wind” what-if computer software programs* that create Artificial Life, where the ‘life’ forms concerned live and die, mate and reproduce, are predator and prey, and where collective the entire artificial biosphere undergoes Darwinian evolution. Now this ‘life’ isn’t composed of quarks-and-electrons or of flesh-and-blood, but rather of bits-and-bytes, but for all of that they easily mimic or mirror our images of real life, only in this case we have more of a case of what-if ‘life’ as it could be relative to life-as-we-know-it (or even as we don’t know it if you’re thinking in terms of ET). Actually it might be not be entirely correct to call so-called Artificial Life really ‘artificial’ at all on the grounds that it was created by a ‘natural’ entity – humans – who are of course a ‘natural’ part of the Universe. Or are we?

By a rather easy and IMHO highly relevant analogy, we (i.e. any and all life anywhere in the Universe) exist inside of that Universe. Artificial Life forms also exist, they exist inside their ‘universe’ which we call the computer. Question: what if the Universe were just a super-sized version of our PCs? If yes, then therefore are we too are an Artificial Life form!

*Not to be confused with “puppet-on-a-string” video or computer games where the human pulls all of the ‘strings’.

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