Categories
Book of One Philosophy

Immortal Memories Free Promo

In anticipation of my new novel release at the end of the month, I am giving away kindle copies of my collection of short stories called Immortal Memories.  This collection of stories is meant to acquaint the reader with the new world I am creating in my dark fantasy series called Waking Dream.

You can grab your free copy on any device with the Free Kindle App [iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Android, Windows Phone or PC] at http://www.amazon.com/Immortal-Memories-Volume-I-ebook/dp/B00AP5NP3O/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

Paperback version is only $9.99 if you prefer, available at the same link above.

Categories
Immortal Memories Life Philosophy Religion Stories

The Little Book of Dreams

The entire Waking Dream Universe is a philosophy; the merging of all my studies of religion and philosophy.  In addition to the novels and short stories, I’ve begun a section of my blog called the Libellus Somnium, the little book of dreams.  It is meant to be the “bible” of the Dreamers in my universe.  If you are interested in a different perspective of our world, you can read it on my page.

http://www.wakingdreamonline.com/libellus-somnium/

Are you a Dreamer, a Sleeper or an Immortal?

Categories
Life Philosophy Religion

God Told Me To Do It

Once one has seen God, what is the remedy?  ~Sylvia Plath

Yes, I know this is not my normal type of blog posting, but I felt it was important to elaborate a recent experience, because I’m not quite sure what it means, or where it will go.

A friend of mine is very ill with lung cancer and emphysema.  His lung capacity is very low, and it is a struggle for him to even walk across the room without gasping for air. Recently, he had been in the hospital with a collapsed lung that miraculously was able to be fixed, though it has not restored is lung capacity.  As it happens, I was not alerted when he was in the hospital, so when I finally found out that he was home, I asked if I could come visit.  After several tries at scheduling, we finally decided on having dinner this week. But rather than me going to him, he decided he wanted to drive to my home, despite his oxygen tank and the general weakness he experiences from his constant struggle to breathe.  But being the person he is, he wasn’t going to let anything keep him down.  He’d spent so much time in his home, it was the first time he’d been out of the hospital, which was over three months ago. 

I cannot explain why I had such an urgency to see him, because I had not seen him in some time, as life tends to keep us all running around an infinite maze of chores.  However, the day I was supposed to see him, I had a particularly busy day, and as it grew close to quitting time, I was beset with an unnatural weariness.  It was strange, because I usually have a great deal of energy, especially as it gets closer to going home for the day, but this particular day I just felt world-weary.  So,  I considered rescheduling the evening until I felt more festive.  But as I thought about rescheduling, something inside me said, “Don’t cancel.”  It wasn’t some booming voice from an unearthly source, nor was it some sort of schizophrenic phantasm.  It was a subtle voice, perhaps my own, telling me it was important for me to see my friend.  And I decided to listen to it, and I am glad I did.

As I mentioned, I had not seen him in a while, and the last I remember seeing him he was in great health, having successfully beat throat cancer.  He is much older than me, more of an uncle than a friend, someone I’ve always enjoyed being around.  Seeing him weighed heavy on me; he had changed so much in such a short period of time.  He’d been cooped up in his home for such a long time, as well as his extended stay in the hospital, that he was very pale and frail.  But despite all of that, he was the same funny, insightful person I’d befriended so many years ago. 

So he and I sat at my kitchen table, sipping a glass of wine, while he talked and I listened.  It was obvious that he needed someone to just see him as a friend, and not as someone with a debilitating disease.  He didn’t want, nor accept sympathy.  He wanted to be a friend.  It was an amazing conversation, where he was able to share his experiences in life; fun-times, sad-times, stressful-times.  All of which put a perspective on my own life, that I tend to forget, or take for granted.  It’s amazing how quickly one’s life can change course in the blink of an eye.  It reminds me that I have to stop worrying about tomorrow and just live today.

After he left, he was visibly better, at least in spirit, that he and I had time to talk and reminisce about his life.  And it was apparent to me that I also felt better, the world-weariness had left me, and I ended up staying up very late that night, contemplating what it all means.  I have spent a great deal of my life examining the existence of God, either through theology or through science — because as I’ve stated before the must co-exist.  This experience, though seemingly innocuous, had a much greater impact on my own personal explorations than I would have possibly imagined.  I did not know if I was helping him, or if he was helping me, or if it was meant to help us both, which I think it did.  It leaves me wondering how many times have I ignored this little voice in my head trying to lead me to a better place in my own life, or to help those around me who truly deserve it.  My friend deserved as much of time as I could give, because he has sacrificed his own life for so many people.  Few people have as big a heart as he does, always has a smile and a joke for those around him.  He doesn’t blame anyone else but himself for his current condition, especially not God. 

Today I feel much better, better than I have in quite sometime about the world around me, and the people I interact with.  In a world full of such horrible things, seemingly on a downward spiral into the abyss, it is amazing to me that light always finds a way to reveal a path.  And this experience has. 

So what is god or my conscience?  Are they one and the same?  Does it really matter? All I know is that it is a memory I will keep with me the rest of my days, and probably wonder about it when days seem particularly hard.  Perhaps I’ll remember that night and know that things could be a lot worse.

If you would, take a moment and think about my friend, because he could use all the positive thoughts we can give.  Get well, Frank!

Categories
Life Philosophy Religion Science

A Programmer’s View of Religion and the Universe [Part 5]

And my soul, from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor, shall be lifted nevermore – Edgar Allan Poe

First of all, I’d like to apologize to my readers for being absent.  It has been a very busy few months for me, and being able to blog has been a luxury.

This will be my last installment in this particular series.  In the previous posts we’ve covered creation, existence, purpose and architecture.  [1  –  2  –  3  –  4]  Today we’re going to talk about one of the most fundamental topics to human existence — Consciousness. 

In programming, I have spent a great deal of time working with Artificial Intelligence.  Anyone who is reading this blog post, probably is familiar with the concept.  Basically, AI is a computer program that can mimic the same features of human intelligence, such as decision-making, or pattern recognition.  For instance, I have written computer programs that can look at millions of records of data and make a decision based on the way it was taught.  But its much more than that because an AI usually has the ability to make intelligent decisions about things it has not encountered in its training as well.  And this is as close as programming gets to exploring life and its mysteries.

While we can mimic the thought processes of the human mind, can we truly affect the experience of being alive.  An AI only mimics the inherent ability of the human mind to find patterns — the universe is built on patterns, just as a program is built with patterns.  However, one thing an AI cannot do is understand the context of the pattern.  The only context an AI can simulate is by observing the plethora of connecting concepts to any other concept.  For instance, an AI cannot understand the emotional overtones, nor can it understand sarcasm.

Emotion has always been a sticking point for defining consciousness, but I think emotion is a completely different beast from consciousness.  Emotion is instinct, the very basis for our ability to survive.  We fear so that we will run from danger.  We love so that we will procreate.  We are happy so that we can co-exist.  We are sad so that we will remember.  All of these are self-serving instinctual constructs so that we will survive.  But all animal life has some form of emotion, but this does not define our conscious selves.  Emotion is easily programmed into software, as we’ve seen in countless games.  For instance, if I am programming a monster or opponent in a game, I can take simple rules to make a “fear” reaction:

If your health < 100%
and you have no weapon
and Number of enemies > 1
you should run

This is what we can pseudo-code.  The actual code would look like this:

#variables
integer max_health = 90;
integer current_health = 50;
double percent_health = 50/90;
boolean has_weapon = false;
integer number_of_enemies = 5;
string action = “”;

if (percent_health < 1 && has_weapon == false && number_of_enemies > 1) {

     action = “run”;

} else {

     action = “fight”;

}

So as you can see, we can easily simulate the emotion, but the AI doesn’t necessarily know “why” it is running nor can it make the decision to fight, unless we introduce some randomness, but we humans do not act randomly.  Actually its pretty clear that humans always do things for a reason – always self-serving.   If the odds say we are going to die, we will try to fight the odds no matter how logical or illogical it is.

So now that we’ve explored what consciousness isn’t, let us explore now what consciousness might be.  And from a programmer’s perspective, we are dropping off the edge of the map — here there be monsters!  The most simple definition of consciousness is “awareness”.  And awareness is define is the ability to perceive or be conscious of events.  Hmmm, we’ve encountered a “circular reference” which in a program is a bad thing — an infinite loop.  We cannot define consciousness with consciousness, or can we? 

One of the bench marks we use to determine if another life form is conscious is the term “self-aware”.  For instance, dolphins are considered self-aware because they can recognize that when they look in a mirror that they are not seeing another dolphin, but they are seeing themselves, and will actually admire themselves.  Whereas a dog will try to attack the mirror.  This seems to be a key aspect of consciousness, but really what does it mean to be self-aware?  It cannot be simply knowing that one exists, because all life knows that it exists to some fundamental sense – life tends to try to preserve itself, hence it knows that it lives, therefore it exists.  Thinking is not a good benchmark either, because many higher ordered lifeforms think, but they are not necessarily self-aware, as the aforementioned dog.

Many have struggled with trying to define this most fundamental concept.  Some have disagreed that it even exists, and other have argued that it is something supernatural.  To some extent programs I’ve written in the past are self-aware, such as “self-references” and “observer patterns”.  These are programming turns where an object or bit of code is monitoring its environment and adjusting accordingly.  It also knows its own self, as opposed to copies or duplicates.  But at the most fundamental level, the bit of code is under a control set, met to emulate rules that have been defined by the architect or coder.  It is impossible to break out of the rules without the assistance of the architect.  So maybe we have stumbled onto the source of confusion.  Maybe there is only one consciousness or will, of which we are many facets.  I say this, from a programmers perspective, because if I were to create a game that has many creatures, they all tend to be duplicates for the same bit of code.  While they may travel different paths in the game, they are all creations of my single will or consciousness.  However, I do not monitor their every move, I have just put in place boundaries in which they are free to move.  But at the end of it all, they are all duplicates of a single thought.

So this leaves us two main possibilities, both of which are equally viable.  Either there is only our self and everyone around you is a fabrication of your mind, as solipsism would suggest.  Or, we are all a facet of a much larger consciousness, just the universe trying to understand itself?

And here I will end the discussion and hopefully I’ve given you some new things to think about to enhance your own lives.