By JP Chartier
Are we living in a real world or is our existence just an elaborate illusion force-fed to us by our brains? We assume that all we encounter in our day-to-day lives is real, and all we see and experience is the same that everyone else is seeing and experiencing… But is it?
The theories that attempt to explain our reality are unquestionably bizarre and unfathomable! And I’ll touch on a few of these later in this article.
Science has uncovered some unbelievable facts about our mysterious existence and our fragile reality, and all the data seems to point to the fact that our life is no more than an intricate illusion. What this means is that everything you see, smell, touch, taste or hear is nothing more than a fabrication of your mind. This can be expanded to include society and all of its mind games too. This is some pretty spooky stuff when you realize that everything you thought was one way isn’t really that way at all.
The Lie Starts with our Senses
We are only given a meager five senses in which to understand all of reality and to navigate our world, not much considering the complexity of our life. Our five sensory systems gather information and then interact with one another within our brain to fabricate a fictitious story to tell us, one which the whole of the world agrees to call reality. The problem is this reality is nowhere near a complete picture of what’s really going on.
Underneath our awareness other information floods into the brain as well, but much of it goes ignored because there is simply too much of it to process, so most of reality goes unnoticed by us. We mistakenly believe that when we look at something, we understand it, but we really don’t. The human animal was constructed to believe in this false reality manufactured by our senses.
The notion that some esoteric region of the brain see’s things that aren’t really there, and then constructs a movie to play back to us, complete with cartoon-like flesh-buggies (people) moving about and interacting with other cartoon-like flesh-buggies is beyond mind-boggling!
Reality isn’t defined solely by how you or I see the world, it’s something that WE all share. Everyone checks their observations against the observations of others to determine what reality is. Our society is tied together by these shared beliefs, as false as most of them are, to create an understanding of how reality really is, and we do this by interpreting what we learn and what we see etc.
We are all part of a community of minds, billions of them working together over thousands of years to create the world in which we now live. We as a people must believe the same things to have society work.
At the smallest known level of reality, the subatomic world, particles like electrons don’t obey the laws of common sense. They obey the laws of quantum mechanics. An electron can appear as a particle or a wave, but never as both at the same time. We determine if it will be a particle or a wave by just looking at it! How crazy is that??
Some scientists believe that when you’re not looking at something, it isn’t there, it disappears! So the answer to the question: “If a tree falls out in the middle of the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound” is no, it doesn’t make a sound.
Things get even stranger when you hear some of the theories that are out there about what our reality might really be. I’ll just touch briefly on a few of them.
First, we have the “Holographic Principle,” which says that our three-dimensional world may actually only be a two-dimensional world. Everything we perceive as three-dimensional may in actuality be a holographic projection of two-dimensional images from a surface somewhere in the universe which creates the illusion of three dimensions.
Next, there are those that believe we may all be “living in a dream.” Think about this for a second… Are you really 100% sure that this morning when you woke up it wasn’t just a dream of you waking up? Pretty freaky huh? But the truth is you really don’t.
There is a very smart guy out there by the name of Jan Westerhoff who has even punched the numbers and come up with a 10 percent likelihood that you are at this very moment dreaming. Which means you could only be dreaming that you are reading this article.
While the two theories I talked about above are mind-blowing in and of themselves, there is another theory that I would like to share with you that in my opinion takes the subatomic cake! What if reality isn’t a dream or a holographic image but it’s a “computer simulation?”
When I first heard this theory a while back my first reaction was to say “no way man, this can’t be!” However, after really giving this one some thought I can’t rightfully dismiss the possibility of the validity of some aspects of this theory.
Ok, so let’s look at this a bit closer.
In 200 years, when our computers are thousands of times more powerful than they are now, the chances that someone will write a program that mimics reality is almost certain and isn’t that far-fetched. You know someone would eventually do it. And if this program is written well, and enough attention to detail is strictly adhered to there would be no way we would know the difference, unless the programmers wrote that into the code.
Nick Bostrom, a British philosopher, put forth the notion that the universe we live in might in fact be a computer simulation run by our descendants. A super civilization of the future may have gone back in time using computer programs to see how we, their ancestors lived. He thinks that if this hasn’t happened by now, it must mean that humanity never evolved far enough to do so for whatever reason.
Computer simulation would theoretically make the programmers our gods! The code they write would determine our life situation, our loves, our hates, our ups and downs – everything.
Bostrom says the chances our world is a fake is around 5%. But it doesn’t really matter what the odds are, the fact that there is a chance at all means you can’t dismiss the possibility that your reality and everything in it is simulated. Or maybe our existence is played out on the end of a giant eraser, as my father playfully suggested to me once, and if God ever makes a mistake he would erase us all!
Just live your life the best you can
The way I choose to look at this reality conundrum, is that it doesn’t really matter to me which theory, if any, turns out to be true. If this is all a dream or an elaborate computer simulated program, or if we live out our lives on the tip of a gigantic eraser the fact remains the same – I can still plan my life, my actions will still have consequences and causes will still have effects. So the mechanics of it all mean little. But it’s still awe-inspiring and a bit frightening to ponder wouldn’t you agree?
If life is a big lie, and we choose to buy in to the lie, and we don’t know the difference – then so be it! Let life be a liar.
A cool video about computer simulated life: