There’s A Trilogy Of Universes To Pick From
*Natural Universe: Once upon a time there was this really Big Bang!
The Natural Universe was born. The Natural Universe is really real reality. This is the universe of science, the universe where Mother Nature is Queen, the universe that nearly all of us think of when we think of the universe we inhabit. It’s the universe of death and taxes; of cause-and-effect.
But it’s not the only option.
*Simulated Universe: In the beginning the Supreme Programmer created Virtual Reality! We’re all familiar with computer/software generated simulations from video games to educational/training simulators. Mother Nature isn’t in charge. It’s the programmer, the software, the player who pulls the strings.
Cause and effect still rules, but it’s a universe where anything and everything can happen; the laws, principles and relationships of science that hold firm in the Natural Universe are irrelevant here – Software rules. The upshot is that we are the puppets. We ‘live’ in someone else’s Simulated Universe.
Our reality is virtual reality. That’s of course if you accept the possibility of a simulated universe and simulators and appropriated sophisticated software – but if you don’t, well that takes care of that. But, let’s keep an open mind.
*Supernatural Universe: In the beginning, God (or some supernatural facsimile thereof) established Life, the Supernatural Universe and Everything! A Supernatural Universe is a universe that contains one or more supernatural deities. Magic and miracles and other violations of the laws, relationships and principles of science can and do happen. There’s no hard and fast causality.
Whims happen. There might be science, but deities can alter the rules anytime and place they choose. That’s why it’s SUPER-natural. That’s of course if you accept the possibility of supernatural deities existing – and billions do – but if you don’t, well that takes care of that.
But again, let’s keep an open mind and see where it takes us.
Either we life in a Supernatural Universe filled with one or more deities, or we live in the real Natural Universe (that’s actually a minority worldview since greater than 50% of the human population believe in a god(s) and the supernatural#), or we live in a Simulated Universe which could be wetware (yours or someone else’s) or software (human or alien).
If the latter that Simulated Universe, a creation of wetware or software, probably ultimately resides in a really real Natural Universe, one that’s beyond our grasp. It’s quite possible although to have, like a series of Russian dolls, a Simulated Universe within a Simulated Universe within a Simulated Universe, etc.
That aside, the question is how to decide between the three possibilities.
Within the sum total of human beliefs, there are certain universals shared by all cultures at all times. Scholars tend to call these beliefs mythology or religion or the supernatural or paranormal. Whatever the label, it’s difficult to totally dismiss these beliefs as superstitious nonsense given the universality of those beliefs.
Something is going on – where’s there’s smoke there’s fire, or as I like to phrase it, behind every mountain of mythology lies a molehill of fact. So, accepting that we have some factual molehills, what are these universal beliefs? Well, they tend to centre around creation for starters.
But creation, the Alpha, and its counterpart, destruction, the Omega, be it of the cosmos, the Earth, life or human beings, is only one a several universals that are across the board in every human culture from every human era. You have near universal beliefs in the natural order of things, in deities, free will, in an afterlife, in a place to spend an afterlife, and manifestations of those who are living an afterlife – ghosts for want of a better word – reincarnation, as well as shape-shifters, hybrid creatures and the universal flood.
With one exception, hybrid creatures, belief in these universals usually extends to the present day, though perhaps with less intensity, or some, like shape-shifting, are now relatively minor compared with that ‘once upon a time’ era.
Now one has to plot those eleven universals against the three possible universes (Natural, Simulated and Supernatural) and see if one kind of universe best supports those human cultural universals or beliefs – creation/destruction; the natural order; deities; free will; afterlife; afterlife location; ghosts; reincarnation; shape-shifters; hybrid creatures and the universal flood.
We all know about Alpha Creations, even The Creation. “In the beginning… ” We all know about Omega Ends too, as in Armageddon, etc. But the interesting bit is that Alpha Creation and Omega Destruction isn’t a one-off with nothingness on either side. Cycles are the norm.
Someone is born; someone dies: repeat. Stars and planets are born; stars and planets die: repeat. Even in theory, our Natural Universe, born of the Big Bang, could die in the Big Crunch. But the Big Crunch (end times of a contracting universe) can turn into the next Big Bang (beginnings of a new expanding universe).
Big Bang creation; Big Crunch destruction: repeat. Many cultures around the world have echoed this cyclic universe theme of birth, death, rebirth, death, re-rebirth, death: repeat, repeat, repeat. Even in the Christian religion Armageddon gives rise to a new heaven and a new earth.
It’s all much the same as going from the 31st of December to the 1st of January.
*Natural Universe: So where does creation fit into a natural universe? Well once upon a time, roughly 13.7 billions of years ago, there was this Big Bang, the creation of matter and energy, space and time – maybe. There might have been a before-the-Big-Bang; in fact I’m personally certain of it.
In any event, the Big Bang event isn’t an intelligently inspired creation, but if the Big Bang spawned life, the universe and everything – ah, life, and life can begat intelligent life and intelligent life can create, which might then lead to creating concepts of creations, deities, an afterlife, a supernatural and a simulated universe.
Science has no difficulty coming to terms with creation events in the Natural Universe.
*Simulated Universe: Some might consider a simulated universe/world a supernatural universe/world since it was created by a creator(s) and in it anything goes. If a deity can do anything (i.e. – miracles), so can wetware or software. Still, a Simulated Universe can create the illusions of any and all kinds of creations.
*Supernatural Universe: Or conversely, some might consider a supernatural deity/creator filled universe/world a simulated universe/world, but that logic doesn’t follow of necessity though it might be so. So maybe it’s best for clarity to keep the supernatural universe/world and the simulated universe/world concepts separate and apart.
If there is such an entity as a supernatural deity that likes to mix it up in the kitchen, creating recipes for a universe, and life in that universe, then one has to logically admit that given the premise, the Supernatural Universe can be a party to and create all that’s within, even the Supernatural Universe itself.
The Natural Order
We all know about the natural order of things, and so did all ancient cultures and societies. The natural order may have been the providence of the gods, but there was a natural order. Birth – death, male – female, rocks fall down – steam rises, fire hot – ice cold, sunrise – sunset, water wet – dust dry, lightning first – then thunder, cause – effect, predictability if not certainty.
Or as the introduction to the TV show “Ben Casey” put it: “Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity”. It would not be the natural order of things if each and every night there was a full Moon visible after years of recordkeeping revealed otherwise. You don’t wake up one morning to see a purple Sun with green poke-a-dots imprinted on the surface.
Of, and even more interesting, the Sun rises in the North and sets in the South, or half-way around the globe, vice versa! That would be way out of keeping with the natural order.
*Natural Universe: Almost by definition, the Natural Universe contains the natural order of things. The natural order, being the order of the day, exists in the Natural Universe.
*Simulated Universe: Computer software can easily be created or programmed to say simulate Mars moving slowing through the night sky and doing its once up a time mysterious retrograde loop-the-loop motion. If Mother Nature can do it, a computer can simulate it, and a lot more besides – things not part of what you’d call the natural order.
*Supernatural Universe: There maybe a natural order to things but that’s because the gods created the master clock and they keep it well oiled and wound and running smoothly, as long as they are happy little gods. But when the natural order starts falling apart, the rain fails to arrive, your local dormant volcano suddenly blows its top, and the herds of migrating food supply (say the buffalo to the Amerindians) fail to show up, then the gods are not happy and so they must be pacified with a sacrifice or two or two hundred.
In fact, to keep the gods onside and forestall any wrath, they have to get their proper due, worship, sacrifices, etc. in every way that’s proper, all the time. A Supernatural Universe too can contain the natural order.
One such universal are deities (or aliens misinterpreted as deities).
*Natural Universe: Deities are almost by definition supernatural since they all have powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men (and women). However, it’s perfectly logical to have a natural universe containing extraterrestrials with advanced technology.
Advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, the supernatural, if your level of sophistication is below that level of that advanced technology (what would a Neanderthal make of a jet aircraft flying overhead). To ancient human societies, ‘ancient astronauts’ would be deities, even more so if these extraterrestrials pawned themselves off as deities for various reasons.
Because extraterrestrials violate nothing in the Natural Universe, yet the existence of extraterrestrials hasn’t been verified to date, you have to decide if the glass is half full or half empty.
*Simulated Universe: The deity in question here is the software programmer. Though not an actual deity, the end products created by the programmer, if given enough sophistication, might worship as a deity this unknown creator they envision as having to exist in order to account for them.
*Supernatural Universe: Here deities are really real deities, real deities strutting their real deity stuff for all and sundry to see and appreciate. So, it’s only natural that their existence should be acknowledged.
Probably the most universal of the universals is the concept of free will. Very few humans would deny that they are in control of their own fate, destiny, etc. They might be subjected to the laws of the land; to the laws, principles and relationships of physics, chemistry and biology; to the whims of others; but ultimately you yourself pick and choose – or do you.
Let’s just say that philosophers and metaphysics professors have been arguing that point for thousands of years.
*Natural Universe: There are two possibilities here. Firstly, at the time of the creation of the universe, all the laws, relationships and principles of, ultimately physics, were set in motion. Everything from that point onwards was fixed. Determination ruled. Causality ruled – absolutely.
From first principles, the future, to as many decimal places as you’d care to measure, was fixed – absolutely. As such, you were predetermined as long ago as the Big Bang – 13.7 billion years ago. Therefore, you have no free will. Classical Physics rules, OK?
However, part of physics is known as quantum physics, the physics that rules the roost of the microscopic. Apparently, causality doesn’t rule the roost in all things quantum, only probability. Therefore, there’s wriggle room, not certainty, and you can exhibit free will.
Again, is the glass half full or half empty? It’s an each way bet.
*Simulated Universe: Unless software is way more sophisticated than I dreamed possible, you dance to someone else’s tune. There’s no free will if you’re a virtual being. There are actually two scenarios here, but one outcome. Either simulation parameters were set at the Alpha Point and the enter “run program” button pushed, or else there’s an active ‘player’ who manipulates events as they unfold, like someone would in a video game or in a pilot training simulator.
Either way, there’s no free will being the order of the day.
*Supernatural Universe: In the monotheistic religions, and for that matter in the polytheistic religions, free will tends to be the order of the day. You are free to believe or not believe; free to sin or not to sin; free to rule your own roost and pay whatever piper needs to be paid accordingly.
Another universal concept is an afterlife. Part of your existence in the here and now will survive your clinical death and decay.
*Natural Universe: There’s no evidence that any part of you that was part of you, when you were alive, remains a part of you after you die. You are 100% composed of matter and energy, and all of that matter and energy can be accounted for post death, because of the various laws of conservation (matter/energy can neither be created no destroyed but only changed in form).
Unfortunately for you, those changes in form go from the highly complex to the less complex (that’s what decay is), the exact opposite of what is required to form life, even an afterlife. No one has ever witnessed a newly deceased body or the transition from a dying body to a dead body, with any associated phenomena that would suggest that part of that body’s life essence survived.
If the living you is 120 pounds of matter and energy; and the dead you is 120 pounds of matter and energy, then there’s nothing left over that survives and goes to La-La-Land.
*Simulated Universe: If your name is Joe Blow, and you’re just software, then there’s a command within that software that you come to that says something like “end subroutine program Joe Blow” – Joe Blow kicks the bucket. But, then there’s another command which says “start subroutine program Joe Blow afterlife” – Joe Blow gets resurrected into another simulated realm.
Easy! So the logical possibility is that the Supreme Programmer or Supreme Player likes to subject their simulated characters to perform in various scenarios, sort of like on earth scenario as it is in heaven scenario.
*Supernatural Universe: Any and all texts that have any relationship to verifying a Supernatural Universe, like the Bible, are full of references to everlasting life, life everlasting, eternal life, life eternal, immortality, in fact an afterlife. Somehow after you die a biological death you get resurrected into a supernatural realm, ‘alive’ and kicking and maybe screaming (just depending on location).
One general question, what happens to all those artificial body bits in the afterlife – tooth fillings, artificial heart valves or pacemakers, metal hip or knee joints, etc. For that matter, if you’re a ghost, do you retain those artificial bits and pieces?
If the afterlife is universal, then an afterlife location is also universal, from Hades to Hel to Hell; the Spirit World, Valhalla, Heaven, etc.
*Natural Universe: If there can be no afterlife in a natural universe, then it makes no sense that a natural universe would contain geographies that house those blessed with a nonexistent afterlife. In any event, no such afterlife location has ever been discovered and pinpointed either up there or down here.
*Simulated Universe: If you have a simulated afterlife, then you need to have a simulated location(s) in which to put down your simulated afterlife roots.
*Supernatural Universe: The Supernatural literature is full of locations where you get to spend your immortal life everlasting existence. There are no promises on whether or not you’ll be a happy afterlife camper however.
There’s the paranormal phenomena of ghosts, spirits, phantoms, wraiths, spectres, call them what you will, but a rose by any other name… Whatever they’re called, they appear to verify the existence of life after death. Ghosts have been observed and in general an accepted phenomenon by all peoples, all societies, and all cultures since recorded history began and probably even before that that requires an explanation. However, there’s one fly in the ointment.
There are observations of non-living ‘ghosts’, things like phantom trains (the Abe Lincoln funeral train), trucks (‘Phantom 309’) and cars, planes and of course ships (like the Flying Dutchman); also structures, even islands that no longer exist (though the latter two are probably best explained as in all probability mirages).
They’ve got to be accommodated too.
*Natural Universe: There is no physical, chemical or biological mechanism that can transform a clinically dead flesh-and-blood body, the kind that made you, you, into a physical, chemical and biological ghost. Ghosts have to be made of matter and energy since they are seen, heard and interact with the environment.
They have to be biological since they are animated and behave like a living thing. If ghosts are really real, then we do not exist in a natural universe. If ghosts, including phantom trains, do exist in the natural world then they are the sole product of the human mind and all associated evidence (photographs, etc.) are either fraudulent or have prosaic explanations.
Because an all-in-the-mind explanation is possible, albeit it is unlikely IMHO, it’s a fence sitter: maybe yes, maybe no.
*Simulated Universe: In a Simulated Universe, everything has a ghost of a chance! Software can create ghosts, fully clothed ghosts, as well as phantom trains. Or, on the other hand, ghostly images could be just the result of previously deleted software, which was only 99.9% deleted.
Residues remain. The ‘delete’ button isn’t 100% efficient. Whatever scenario you choose, the glass is full.
*Supernatural Universe: The problems here are several. What’s the rationale for creating phantom trains for example? – None that I can see. Now assuming something supernatural happens and a dead person becomes an animated person that’s not quite all there, a ghost, then you’d expect that ghost to be starkers – absolutely naked as a newborn baby.
It’s the biological entity that dies, not their attire. For that matter, if you’re a ghost, do you retain those artificial bits and pieces, those artificial body bits like tooth fillings, artificial heart valves or pacemakers, metal hip or knee joints, etc. That’s part of your attire too.
If you see a ghost with a peg leg, something’s fishy.
Lastly, another near universal concept is reincarnation. Some people believe they have led previous lives. Some cultures suggest you can be reincarnated as another life form. Nearly everyone has experienced a sensation of D諠 vu.
*Natural Universe: You cannot have a memory of a previous life or lives since neither your father’s sperm and your mother’s egg could contain a genetic memory of your previous life or lives, so at conception, your conception, you could not have been blessed with any genetic inheritance of a memory of another you that lived once upon a time (in a galaxy far, far away).
For a similar reason, you could not be the reincarnation of a previous life form. There is only one ‘you’ and that ‘you’ did not originate from any other life forms apart from your biological parents. As for D諠 vu, that would have to be coincidence. A natural universe rules out any versions of reincarnation.
*Simulated Universe: If your name is Joe Blow, and you’re just software, then there’s a command within that software that you come to that says something like “end subroutine program Joe Blow” – Joe Blow kicks the bucket. But, then there’s another command which says “start subroutine program Joe Blow reincarnate” – Joe Blow gets reassembled into another simulated identity.
Easy! So there’s the logical possibility that the Supreme Programmer or Supreme Player likes to subject their simulated characters to perform as various identities, sort of like father, like son, or like human, like cockroach.
*Supernatural Universe: Some religions do suggest that upon attaining the state of death, some part of what was you, becomes a you again, but in another body, which may or may not be of the same species as the one you just died as. If, presumably, this transition from life to death to life (not afterlife) is guided or determined by supernatural deities, then I guess such a belief is rational, since a supernatural deity can transcend the Natural Universe or the natural order of things.
And, who’s to say whether a transition from life to afterlife is more logical than a transition from life to another life.
Like ghosts, shape-shifters and shape-shifting, of certain deities, humans and creatures, and a belief in same, is a universal shared by all cultures throughout recorded history, albeit less so in modern times than ancient times.
*Natural Universe: While shape-shifting isn’t unknown in the natural world, it’s a slow process – a seed can’t transform into a plant; a tadpole into a frog, in seconds, and in the natural world it’s a one-way street. The shape-shifters throughout human history cannot be natural since transitions tend to be rapid and reversible.
However, they just might be extraterrestrial since we have no idea what might be biologically possible on other worlds. Still, without proof of aliens and that alien ability, terrestrial (natural) shape-shifters have to be given the thumbs down, but, given the (unlikely) possibility, it’s that half glass full/empty decision up for grabs.
*Simulated Universe: We’ve all seen shape-shifting undertaken by characters in the movies or in TV episodes. It can be made to look pretty convincing, in fact, given the state of the CGI art; it can be made to look absolutely convincing. If a computer programmer wants their creation(s) to shape-shift, so be it.
*Supernatural Universe: Well, in mythology, various deities, such as Zeus, shape-shift to their heart’s (and private parts) content. God and/or Jesus may not have shape-shifted within Biblical texts, but they probably could have had they wanted to. That’s just one of those superpowers deities have based on the relevant literature.
While now relegated to our past societies and cultures, hybrid creatures, either animal-animal (like the dragon or griffin) or animal-human composites (like the centaur or Minotaur), were in ancient times held universal, and in fact based on prehistoric carvings, extend way back before recorded history.
*Natural Universe: There’s no biology, no natural selection, no operations of normal evolutionary genetics that can account for the dragon, the griffin, the sphinx, Pegasus, the Minotaur, the centaur, and literally thousands more hybrid creatures that are found and described in ancient literature, depicted in ancient art, manufactured as ancient statues – what tends to be termed today mythologies from around the world.
However, composite creatures produced or manufactured via artificial selection is a different hybrid horse of mixed colours. Since such artificial selection techniques, advanced genetic engineering, was beyond the abilities of the ancients, the only explanation, assuming hybrids in our natural universe, has to be technologically advanced aliens.
Half full; half empty.
*Simulated Universe: If software can simulate a human; if software can simulate a lion; then software can simulate a sphinx! As in the case of shape-shifting, well, one can simulate a hybrid creature via sophisticated computer generated software. So, if you believe there was, once upon a time, a sphinx, then full marks is awarded for your belief, since that belief can be vindicated via a Simulated Universe.
*Supernatural Universe: If mythology is just somebody else’s supernatural religion, then the supernatural is chock-a-block saturated with hybrid creatures. The issue of ‘why’ the need for such entities isn’t at issue here; they just are. Since mythologies record their existence, who am I to doubt this universal facet that humans, at least once upon a time, found credible?
*Natural Universe: All ancient societies, for obvious reasons, settled first near water, usually rivers. Rivers flood, even if the source of the floodwaters was way upstream and not obvious as in local rainstorms. So, it’s not surprising that there would be embellished tales of catastrophic floods, all the better when told down through the generations with a morality twist.
So, local floods can get thumbs up, but one big global deluge is not possible by any sort of geography known to mankind, so that gets thumbs down. It’s another maybe yes, maybe no scenario, again an each way bet.
*Simulated Universe: A 100% global flood is certainly possible to simulate. One could probably design a video game called ‘Noah and the Ark’ or equivalent from some other culture. If you accept a deluge that was worldwide, then a simulation of same has got to be under consideration given the logic.
*Supernatural Universe: Well, there are no shortages of massive flood events that were triggered by the wrath of the gods, and not just the one related in the Book of Genesis. Science can not account for forty days and nights of rain (and variations on that theme), but in the La-La-Land of supernatural occurrences, well, the Heavens knows, anything goes in this realm of the miraculous.
If, and only if, you accept the reality of those human belief systems, those universals, then the following are suggestive of what sort of universe we inhabit.
*Natural Universe: The natural universe, the universe where Mother Nature rules the roost, can easily account for any and all creations – from the universe through to galaxies, stars, planets, life, intelligent life, and human life. Deities can be attributed to highly advanced technologically inclined extraterrestrials – ‘ancient astronauts’.
Free will can be achieved thanks to quantum physics. Unfortunately, universals such as an afterlife, a home for afterlife retirees, ghosts, and variations on a theme of reincarnation cannot be accommodated in Mother Nature’s realm.
*Simulated Universe: With the sole exception of free will, a Simulated Universe can account for, well, life the universe and everything.
*Supernatural Universe: With the exception of ghosts, a Supernatural Universe can also accommodate everything regarding life, the universe and everything universal.
It seems to be a tossup between a Supernatural Universe (with supernatural deities) and a Simulated Universe (with flesh-and-blood computer programmers). If you’re the end product, does it matter much if it’s a god or a programmer that’s responsible? It’s “In the beginning God created” vs.
“In the beginning the Supreme Programmer created”.
If however you reject the Simulated Universe scenario, then you slide on down the steep slope to the Supernatural Universe option. If you reject the Supernatural Universe, then it’s down the slippery slope to the Simulated Universe. If you reject both in favour of the Natural Universe, then you have a lot of enigmas that require some very deep thought and explanations.
So what’s the point of all this? I mean, regardless of which universe you (and the rest of us) actually reside in, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. If you live in a Natural Universe, yet really desire a Supreme Being and an afterlife – tough! If you really exist in a Simulated Universe but are uncomfortable with the unknown pulling your strings – tough!
Still, though powerless you might be, still it’s interesting to have a firm idea of what your universe actually is. It’s relatively easier to come to terms with the known, than the unknown, even if you’re not altogether pleased with that knowledge.
#Of course if you throw into the mix all terrestrial life forms that have a reasonable advanced set of wetware (mammals and birds say) then the equation shifts drastically to the natural point of view. I’m sure my two cats don’t have a cat deity and their worldview is all things natural.