Saturday, 15 September 2012

No Code Needed

Well, this is interesting.

Rich Terrile has put forward a theory which says that the entire Universe is code running on some extra-universal programmer's computer:

Whoa, Dude, Are We Inside a Computer Right Now?

On one level, it seems to be riffing off the world-as-Maya principle.;it's all illusion.

I don't have a big hairy problem with that idea.

The difference between the ancient Buddhist insight and Terrile's proposal lies in who is generating that illusion.

For on another level, this appears to me to be the cyber-age's version of the clockwork universe theorem beloved of industrial western civilisation and Richard Dawkins. It's all ultimately understandable, you see, and moreover it's amenable to our dissection and analysis - if only we keep probing Nature for Her secrets, we will uncover them eventually.

That must be very appealing to the scientific worldview. A great program, rather than a clockwork mechanism, about which we can learn all there is to know if we just keep going.
Nope, nothing ineffable here.

I stepped out onto the balcony. Urban birds were squabbling noisily in the background. Or were they running code loops? And was I?

 The huge bloody cellphone mast rose white against the blue sky.

A sudden flash of red against the blue, the white made me look up: a Red Winged Starling had taken flight from the mast, displaying the colour of blood. Showing me the vividness of life even within the would-be sterile city.

In that moment, I knew that although I can never prove it, this Universe is not a stored procedure in some cosmic simulation.; that Life contains it's own willfulness, its own bloody-mindedness, and its own inexplicable beauty.

And that those elements often interact with my own sense of Being in a way not explicable by appeal to some external code hacker.

It's the one  thing I do know, although how I know it I don't have a clue: that we all, from granite hillside rock to salmonella enterica to birch to starling have conscious being that is not pre programmed. And that it is We All who are responsible for our lives, both separately and collectively, both creating and destroying, both Being and passing out of Being.World without end. No code needed.