Syntheism has unlike other religions ingeniously placed God in the future rather than in the past. While other religions have been built on the idea that God created the universe and then man, Syntheism has quite logically done the reverse. Any definition of God is in essence that of an unfathomable power with a complexity beyond human understanding, and as our capacity of understanding the universe and ourselves grows, an historical God diminishes. He is in essence continuously pushed to the boundaries our science and knowledge has yet been able to reach. This is “The God of the gaps”. Before we understood rain, it was a work of god. When we found out the Earth revolved around the sun but couldn’t explain how, there God was again. The Big Bang can in effect be described as the final blow that put God out of history altogether, relegating it to a realm of pre-time and pre-existence where he is safe from further attack, but also quite useless.
Some interesting questions arise…
Syntheism has no need for a God of the past, and the sciences put him where he belongs: In the future. This is not just a logical and creative way to handle the God concept, but also quite useful. Rather than assume an existing God, we have a goal to strive towards. We are aware that the old God doesn’t exist, but at the same time aware of our need for what post-atheism religion can offer, such as community, a sense of meaning and something to strive toward. None of those things need a historic God to exist. In fact, a historic God has often been nonconstructive and lead us humans astray. Many atrocities have been committed in the name of Gods and the absolute truths supposedly handed down through a variety of human vessels. Whether these prophets were enlightened people or just skilled opportunistic politicians can often be hard to deduce.
The fact we don’t actually need a Creation Myth can be viewed in two ways. We can just use the idea of Big Bang as the creation of universe and accept scientific claims that there is no point in asking what happened before that. But there is however another view to take. One that is more in line with the Syntheism movements idea of creating the values that other religions have managed, but without the superstition or logical inconsistencies that come with it. We could create our own Creation Myth.
Since we are unbound by preconditions and don’t actually need a Creation Myth, it gives us quite a lot of freedom. We can create one that brings both a sense of awe, meaning, purpose and perhaps even comfort. Our only restrictions are that:
- It can not contradict what science today knows about the universe
- It can not be logically inconsistent
That on the other hand leaves a wide scope of creativity, limited only by our imagination. And if you don’t like a particular Creation Myth, you can disregarded it, suggest changes or come up with your own. Here’s mine, I hope you like it:
The God of the Future
The universal definition of God is an entity with the capacity to create a functioning universe that has the capability to sustain life. And science shows that life strives through natural selection towards higher and higher degrees of complexity. At the beginning of the Big Bang, about 14 billions years ago there was barely no complexity, at least compared to what we have now. Time unlike other dimensions seems to move in only one direction, and complexity in form of intelligence and life, is a continual growth into more and more complex system as a function of time.
Therefore it makes absolute sense to place God ahead of us rather than behind us. And just as the power of today’s civilization would appear god-like to our previous hunter-gatherer societies, it makes sense that our future civilization will appear god-like to what we are right now. With the exponential growth of knowledge, technology and power we are experiencing, it would not defy logic to assume that we will sometime in the future be successful in creating (or becoming) God(s) in the very fundamental definition of being able to create universes that themselves have the capacity to generate life and intelligence, assuming we don’t destroy ourselves in the process of getting there.
That last bit is important. Because if we are talking about an entity, be it a collective as a civilization, an Artificial Intelligence or something else, it also follows that this entity would have a morality that matches its power. An omnipotent entity or collective will have a capacity for destruction that means that in order to get there, it will have to develop a super morality. We as humans have already passed the threshold that allows us to completely annihilate our existence, but our morality and capacity to co-exist has not been able to keep up with this development.
But if we in the future manage to achieve the ability to create or simulate complete universes, it seems inevitable that it will be done. After all, once you have that capacity, why not use it? If we are, as we like to think, a creative species, this would be the ultimate act of creativity. Today we are limited to creating offspring, inventions, buildings and many other marvelous things, such as the computer I am writing this text on. But unless we manage to collectively destroy ourselves on the way, we should inevitably end up with the capacity to create or simulate completely new universes.
I use the words create and simulate inter-changeably since there is in essence no difference, at least not for the universe and inhabitants of the creation or simulation. Whether you’re real or simulated makes no difference. As long as you think you’re real, you are real in the only way that matters.
One interesting point of this idea is that it is universally true. Up until now I’ve focused on the human race that is living in the 14:th billion year of the current universe, in a galaxy with 200-400 billion stars. One German super computer put the total number of galaxies at roughly 500 billion. That would give a shy estimate of 200 billion stars times 500 billion galaxies. That’s 100.000.000.000.000.000.000.000 or 100 sextillion stars.
No matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of stars. And no matter how you look at it, 14 billions years is a lot of time. In fact, it’s not just a lot of time it’s all the time there’s been up until now. So if one planet circling one of 100 sextillion possible stars has developed life to the point that we can now seriously start to see in the dim distance future the possibility of true creation, we have to acknowledge that it might also be going on elsewhere. More than that, we have to consider the fact that it might already have happened.
Once the ability to create universes becomes a reality, it will of course be used. After all, the only way to get the possibility is by a combination of intelligence, creativity and moral, on a scale beyond what we can currently comprehend.
And if we allow for the possibility that we in the future can achieve this, and that this is universally true, there is no logical limit to the amount of universes that can be created this way. So you have to ask yourself the question: What is most probable, that we are the one ‘original’ universe, and the only planet with intelligent creative life, or that we are one of the infinite amount of universes that can be created? Interpreted in mathematics we are basically forced to compare the probability of 1 thing against what could well be an infinity, if at least not a very big number. Following that logic, it seems a lot more probable that we are in effect living in one of the simulated universes.
Now two questions naturally arise:
- What does that mean? Well, in reality it doesn’t really change anything. What we consider reality is per our own definition reality, whether it is simulated or not.
- Other than the argument itself, is there any evidence for this Creation Myth?
Well, as previously pointed out the main criteria of a post-atheism Creation Myth is not whether it is supported by science, but rather whether it contradicts what we at this point know about the universe. As far as I am able to assess it, there is no conflict between this hypothesis and the current scientific consensus. Big Bang would simply be regarded as the start of the simulation, the Syntheist god in whatever shape pushing the universal start-button.
Got any evidence?
Of course I don’t, but in order to spark further debate I have come up with some scientific findings that I would like to creatively use as inductive suggestions of evidence. Some require more leaps of imagination than others:
- There seems to be an absurd over-abundance of information storage capacity in everything, fractal geometry is one example. One gram of active carbon having the area of a football field is another and our own DNA a third. Our DNA only needs about 3 percent of it, the rest seems to be information that somehow has been resistant to the process of natural selection.
- Dark matter and energy, what’s up with that? Most of the universe seems to be made up by it, what is it hiding from us?
- String theory has come up with a bunch of new dimensions, but also describes the building blocks of matter as vibrating strings. An open string is a loop (basically a 0), and a closed string is a strip, basically a 1. That’s how a computer thinks. And if you add a vibrating frequency to it, you exponentially grow the amount of information it can carry. A binary language can with two binaries mean 4 different things (00, 01, 10, 11). But if every 0 and 1 can vibrate in different frequencies, the information capacity is incredible. Even if we limit it to say only 10.000 frequencies, two binary numbers can now have 4×10.000×10.000 meanings. We’ve gone from 4 to 400 million.
- The speed of light seems to be the ultimate speed limit, which would make sense if the simulation we live in uses light as the information carrier. Basically nothing inside the simulation can travel quicker than the simulations ability to send information.
- Last but not least, we have Time itself. Time has been proven to behave strangely, namely by being relative. This is connected to two things, density and speed. Now if we are living in what could be described as a super computer, this makes sense. Density is simply a lot of stuff in the same place at the same time, and will beyond a point be so taxing on the processing capacity that it will slow down time. Even though this super-computer we live in is in effect omnipotent, beyond a certain point things will simply be so taxing for it that it takes longer to compute or render it at a normal pace, hence time will slow down. Just as a more complicated program takes longer to run that a simpler one. And as things approach the speed of light, the same phenomenon occurs. As things start moving closer to the maximum speed of information transformation within the system, they take longer to compute. And if they somehow manage to reach the ultimate speed limit, it won’t compute at all and time will effectively stop.
Are you serious? And what do we get out of it?
Is any of this true? I have no idea, and I’m not even sure that is the point. But it seems like more fun than the current ideas, without violating the scientific discoveries we’ve made. And when given the choice of two otherwise equal explanations, I prefer to go with the more creative one.
On a final note I’d like to come back to some things I mentioned as things to strive for in a Creation Myth: Added values. Any Creation Myth that does not fly in the face of current evidence is acceptable, but it would be nice if it could also bring some added values. So I will put forward some of the bonuses of this particular myth:
The most important one I think is comfort. If we assume this world is indeed the creation or simulation of an entity far beyond what power we can imagine, it must also be a highly moral entity to have been able to come so far. In essence, morality comes down to avoiding suffering and creating well being in other conscious forms of life. Within the simulation we experience all sorts of sorrow, suffering and in the end death. A truly super-moral creator would however not let the intelligence or consciousness that has been created go to waste, nor the inevitable suffering of life be the only reward of consciousness. One scenario would be that once your body dies, your consciousness is saved and either transferred into another part of the simulation or brought out of it. So why not assume that once you die, you’re either freed from the simulation or entered into another?
The other is freedom, creativity and a sense of meaningfulness. What is the purpose of life? Well from the perspective of the creator, life and its increased complexity is its own purpose. After all, a bunch of rocks are simply not that interesting. Striving to learn, develop and promote life in more and more advanced forms would be an external preference from a creator. The more advanced and complicated we become, the more interesting we become from an outside perspective. And in the end we want community. Why not assume that whoever is behind this creation wants that too, and is waiting for us to mature to the level that we can be considered ‘adult’ in its eyes?
And whether we are part of the original universe or one of the simulations, we could always strive, as we Syntheists are doing, to create God. Whether that ends the current simulation or just creates new ones would be interesting to see. I know I’m curious about it.
Of course, by this way of thinking, the brilliance of Syntheism putting God in the future might inadvertently also have ended up putting the God in the past. But at least it is a God we can all respect, a God based on science and morality, and probably with a sense of humor as well.