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?

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Pure Imagination

Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.  Take a look, and you’ll see into your imagination – Willy Wonka

As we get closer to the end of the world, ahem, I mean the elections in November, many issues are coming to light that pose significant problems for the rest of us.  But I have to say that we all have the ability to fix all of these problems, but it comes back down to taking action.  I know I’ve said before that we have the power to change the world, but I feel that I must constantly say this, because we all get distracted, disenfranchised, dissociated, depressed, detached and that leads to disbelief.  But we can do it, if we just put our minds to it.  The problem is that we are assailed with one things after the other that kills our spirit.  If you just watch ten minutes of the news, its enough to kill any positive thoughts you may have had.  We sell sorrow on the news, happy doesn’t sell ads.  People want to see death, disorder and destruction.  Why?  I do not know.

“If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.” Such a simple thought, and it is simply true.  The most amazing thing about humans, and life in general, is that it has the ability to overcome the equations that define the universe.  Gravity is constantly pulling things together, yet even a blade of grass can overcome its relentless force to grow up to the sun — whereas a lifeless rock can only roll down a hill. But let us not view gravity negatively, let us just assume that it is a mostly benevolent force that takes over in the absense of thought. And gravity gets stronger the more things cluster together.

So, to continue with this allegory, let us look at our society.  Politics, as well as social and moral order, can be viewed as gravity.  These things bind us together, we have rules to govern our lives.  We have a government because we have proven that in many cases we cannot or will not govern ourselves.  We are a society with a fleeting sense of personal responsibility.  And, because we cannot govern ourselves, we have created a tangled web of limiting rules, that have not only limited our actions, they have limited our sense of creativity.  And like gravity, laws and rules have taken over in the absence of thought, or common sense.

What can we do, you might ask.  How can we overcome this ever-increasing legal, social and moral gravity?  We take responsibility for ourselves and learn to create our lives.  Each day, we should wake up, smile that we’ve survived another day, and say, “Today will be another great day!”  It’s not the power of positive thought, it’s the power of will.  I’m not advocating these pyramid schemes, such as the scam known as “The Law of Attraction”.  I don’t need a gimmick to create my life.  I need to have resolve and force of will.  That is all everyone needs.  There is no magic pill or trick to make you anymore in control of your life than you are.  We choose to be where we are, whether we accept it or not.  We chose to be the way we are.

In November, once again, we will be faced with a challenge.  We must choose the right people to lead us.  This is not ideal, because we should each be our own leaders, but we have not been.  It is a very important decision, this year more than ever, because we are in a downward spiral into the abyss. We must all work together to create a better place, for ourselves and our children.

So I will leave you with this — “Anything you want to, do it.  Wanna change the world?  There’s nothing to it.”

 

A Programmer’s View of Religion and the Universe [Part 4]

“Science without Religion is lame.  Religion without Science is blind” – Einstein

This is the 4th installment of a 5 part series on Religion and the Universe.  You can read the previous articles by going to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Today we are going to discuss existence and what that means.  In programming terms, an object is created and lives for a certain amount of time, performing a function, then dies or is disposed of.  An object can be something as simple as a list of values, or array, or a complex object such as a database record.  Each object has a variety of attributes which comprise the object, such as a date, a name or a type.  As the programmer, I am the one who decides when the object will be created and when it will die, but I do this through a set of rules, or logical controls.  I do not monitor every instance of my program that is running and decide when objects will be created a users utilize my program.  So this can now be applied to the universe and the role of God as the programmer.

Many religions believe that God is watching all of us and deciding when we will live and when we will die, individually.  It is said that he achieves this through omnipresence and omnipotence.  So let us define these two terms before we continue:

  1. Omnipresence: continuously and simultaneously present throughout the whole of creation
  2. Omnipotence: possessing complete, unlimited, or universal power and authority

First of all, it is not at all impossible that God is omnipresent, existing at all corners of the universe.  It is a fundamental fact that all matter and energy in the universe are interconnected, through weird processes we do not quite understand.  Therefore, it is not all that hard to stretch that a fundamental intelligence permeates the whole of the universe.  From programmer’s terms, I would define this as the underlying Operating System in which the program runs, and the framework that defines the structure of the program. So the universe is the operating system, [Probably Windows :)] and programs could be individual solar systems, planets, or societies.  Objects would therefore be the lifeforms and processes that inhabit the system.  According to the God analogy, he would decide when everything lives or dies, reviewing each life form or process individually and continually.  Now, from my perspective, this would be more like a chess game, rather than a society of sentient, conscious beings.  Which would suggest to me that free will is a myth.  But when you throw Omnipotence in there, if he already knows the outcome of the chess game, what would be the point in playing.  And who is he playing against?

This, in my mind, leads me to believe that the more logical assertion is that God defined the program, according to a set of rules, or design, and merely observes the outcome of individual objects, working according to their functions and programming.  Even if I as the programmer could possibly monitor every aspect of every instance of my program running, I cannot for the life of me see any point to that.  Objects exist for their own sake, and interact with other objects to make the universe interesting.

And these leads us to the discussion on existence.  What exactly does it mean to exist?  The definition deceivingly simple – “the state of being real”.  What does it mean to be real? I would assume we say that it exists or interacts with the common reality, or a version there of.  In our programming example, the object exists for the life of its usefulness, then is gone.  Or as Shakespeare put it:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. – MacBeth V.v

But then we get into the most contested aspect of life and existence: the soul or consciousness.  And here I will leave you, because the 5th and final installment in the series will deal with the complex concept of consciousness.

A Programmer’s View of Religion and the Universe [Part 3]

“The infinite is in the finite of every instant.” – Zen Proverb

This is the my third installment in a series of posts expressing my view of religion and the universe, having been a programmer/analyst for the bulk of my adult life.  In the first post, I began by describing the similarities between the fundamental construction of the universe and how similar it is to the way software is designed.  The second post, I took a look at the concept of “purpose”.  Today I would like to talk about the concept of existence.

Existence is such a nebulous concept.  We can look at something sitting nearby, and it exists.  Or at least we think it exists.  But when we start to delve into the world of the really small, the quantum level, it becomes apparent that existence isn’t exactly what we thought it was.  Things only “tend” to be there — which returns us to the age-old question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there, does it still make a sound?”  Some schools of thought would suggest that it doesn’t fall, or make a sound.  This is possible, or I should say “probably”, because of the nature of the atoms that make up all matter in the universe.  Basically, an atom is composed of a cluster of neutrons and protons, orbited by 1 or more electrons.  Electrons, as observed scientifically, have a “probability wave”, which means there is an equation that governs all the possible positions it can be, everywhere in the universe and not just around the atom.  An electron has a probability, though very small, that it can exist anywhere in the known universe — though that probability may be some insanely small fraction of a percentage — e.g. a million billionths of a percentage point.  The idea is that it is possible, though very improbable.  But understanding this key concept, makes it possible to understand the other “weirdness” that governs our existence.

So what makes an electron “behave” or “tend” to be where you want it?  That is another source of great contention.  Some believe something doesn’t exist unless it is observed by someone, others believe it is there when it interacts with something else.  Either one of these concepts presents another problem.  Who was the first observer, or who was the first interactor?  Aristotle tried to explain this in his book The Metaphysics by introducing the concept of the Unmoved Mover — a primary cause or “mover” of all the motion in the universe.  It had not been moved by any other action, making it perfectly beautiful, indivisible and engaged in perfect contemplation of itself contemplating. 

There is therefore also something which moves it. And since that which moves and is moved is intermediate, there is something which moves without being moved, being eternal, substance, and actuality. – Aristotle The Metaphysics 12.7

 This very elegant philosophical concept allows the universe to exist without an observer, but it leaves the 13 billion year old elephant in the room — What was or is the unmoved mover? And how did it get there?  This question again introduces a plethora of concepts which you are probably already familiar with – creationism on one hand, the big bang on the other.  And unfortunately, this is where all human reason must end, as there is currently no known way to see beyond the moment of that our universe came into existence, because nothing was there to record those events.  Try as we may, spending billions of dollars to smash atoms together, hoping to get a glimpse of that first moment when the first particle formed, giving way to the universe.  But we have not discovered it yet, and I would have to say that we probably never will.  Not that we aren’t intelligent, and resourceful, but because the question and the answer are irrelevant.

We are so entirely wrapped up in the pursuit of finding the purpose to it all, we have forgotten that the moment is what matters.  We have existence, do we really need to understand why it is here?  Isn’t existence its own question and answer?  So back to the programmer’s perspective, do you need to know how your computer works internally to use and enjoy it?  Certainly not. We do not need to understand how the universe works to enjoy it, or utilize it.  We knew nothing about the universe, really, 2000 years ago and we survived, lived life and persisted. 

I write software using fundamental components.  I am the unmoved mover as far as my programs are concerned.  I am that which is programmed but programmed by myself and myself alone.  Do my bits of code wonder how they came into existence, while they await to perform their functions?  Who is to say.

Next time, we’ll explore the pinnacle of existence — life and the state of being.

 

 

A Programmer’s View of Religion and the Universe [Part 2]

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” – Hamlet I.v

In the first part of this post, I began by explaining the similarities between modern software programming and the fundamental design of the universe.  It is no coincidence that these similarities exist, because at the base of everything is the one unifying language — Mathematics.  All things can be discussed in terms of mathematics, and all things can be quantified, to some degree, using mathematics.  So in order to define the “design” we must look to mathematics.

From this we can draw the conclusion that the architect of the universe is most likely a mathematician, but this is not to say that the architect created mathematics.  Mathematics simply exists and does not require creation, just as the fundamental state of existence does not require creation.  Mathematics and existence simply “are”.  It is very difficult for us to grasp this concept, because everything we see around us was created in some form or fashion, or at least that is the way we see it. 

In software development, there arises a need before there is a plan.  A customer describes the need to solve a problem, and a program is architected, engineered and coded to meet the need.  In all my years as a programmer, I have never seen a program appear out of thin air to meet the need; someone must design it, create it and define its parameters.  If we look around us, we see any number of objects lying on the desk before us; pencil, monitor, keyboard, checkbook, house, building, car.  All these things we created to meet a need or serve a purpose, and we use them until they are broken or no longer needed.  We don’t usually keep things around us, or create things, that serve no purpose.  But what is purpose?

The word “purpose” is a very broad term because we can define it so many different ways in the context of day-to-day life.  For instance, look at the purpose of a fork as opposed to a work of art.  Some would say that a fork has a higher purpose than a work of art because art does not perform a necessary function.  We as humans assign purpose to everything, and if something has not collective purpose, we tend to disregard it.  So we should turn that discriminate eye on ourselves.  What purpose do we as humans serve?  This question is what has spurred the millenia long strife of religion.  We cannot truly assign a purpose to ourselves, as a result, God has become the purpose, as we identify ourselves as his children.  This is not to say that this is wrong, but we must then put ourselves in the same role with our own children.  At the base level, children are a drain on our existence.  Our time and resources are spent to care for them, to teach them, to prepare them to have their own children.  One could argue that a child is no more purposeful than the work of art I mentioned above.  However, with a different understanding of purpose, children and artwork provide some level of entertainment and joy.  They enrich our lives, allowing us to enjoy the act of existing.  But what is existence?

Existence, like mathematics, just “is”.  And that is all we know at this point since we cannot define, or unable to ever define, why something like the universe would exist at all.  According to everything we know about science, it would have been much easier had nothing ever existed at all — a universe of tranquility, energy in a perpetual state of oneness and still. Everything around us all the time is trying to return to this state of stillness, only instead of becoming more still, it becomes more chaotic and more disorganized.  And unfortunately, once you’ve disorganized something, in the perspective of space AND time, you cannot reorganize it.  Time disallows us to ever return something to its exact state.  How is this, you might ask?  That is the realm of entropy.

For today, I leave you with these words to ponder, and I would love to hear comments or observations.

A Programmer’s View of Religion and the Universe [Part 1]

“Far away, across the field, the tolling of the iron bell, calls the faithful to their knees to hear the softly spoken magic spells”- Pink Floyd

Religion has been a source of tension in our world since we first looked up at the sky and declared the sun and the moon to be gods.  We have all struggled with the search for purpose, wondering why we are here and who put us here.  Its amazing to me that we have come to the point we have in our world, where we are so disjointed in our belief systems, that we have resorted to death and violence in the name of God.  Does anyone else see this as a fundamental problem?

I must be clear that I am not in any way, shape or form proselytizing.  My own religious beliefs are exactly that — my own.  Being human, I think it is necessary for me to impart my own personal findings, as I reach mid-life.  I have spent a great deal of time studying other religions, and will continue to do so, because finding a common religion that we can all accept is the only true way we will reach global peace.  We all know this to be true, because we are constantly trying to get others to believe in the same thing we do.  World peace has become a cliche, or philosophical chimera — which is really quite sad.

I dont’ really need to speak about any religion in particular.  Each religion exists for a purpose, and obviously people who follow a particular faith have found their own purpose within that faith.  We do need to understand the importance of coexistence.  Without coexistence, we never have a hope of overcoming the disparity of thought surrounding the creation and purpose of the universe.  We must overcome our urge to disparage someone else’s belief system, because if you really think about it, every religion has its imperfections.  Imperfections exist because we are all human, and if we were perfect we wouldn’t have any issues in the world.  So obviously we are not perfect, and no religion is perfect if it does not appeal to everyone equally so. 

So I have come to several personal conclusions that I would like to share, perhaps helping you in your own explorations of the mysteries of the universe.  There are so many things that I cannot comprehend.  The vastness of the universe is overwhelming and we are just a tiny, beautiful jewel floating around a luminescent ball of pure undulating energy — one star among trillions of other stars.  It sustains everything that exists on our planet.  There is not one creature, big or small that does not get its nourishment and life from the sun; directly or indirectly.  Without the sun, there is only darkness and cold, which makes me think that the sun and others like it, are a significant aspect of existence.  A significant part of the design. 

I have approached this problem the only way I know.  I have been programming software solutions since the mid 1990s.  Object Oriented Programming shares a striking resemblance to the way that our universe functions.  What is strange is that when you really think about it, the universe really is very similar to the Matrix.  It all begins with the fundamental equations and constants.  We have constants in programming and in the universe — Gravity, Speed of Light, Planks Constant.  We have variables: mass, energy, acceleration.  We have a toolbox of elementary particles, or objects, to build from: strings, quarks, nucleus, protons, electrons.  We have functions assigned to each of the objects we build: attract, repel, fuse.

As a programmer and software architect, it would be silly for me to think if I just throw a bunch of code together it will just work.  There must always be a design.  Even the simplest life-form, or program, is a symphony of interactions that allow the life-form to exist.  Then the question becomes, “Who’s design?”

If you strip away the layers of dogma we’ve created for ourselves, it comes down to two simple concepts: Either there is a design, or there isn’t.  The “intelligent design” we have assigned to God, because we as humans must anthropomorphize  that which we revere.  With the multitudes of possibilities of configuration, it would be silly for me to say that the design comes from something that has been humanized.  God, in my opinion, is most likely something we cannot at all comprehend, because we are very limited in our experience and understanding of the universe.  The entirety of human history hasn’t even been a twinkle in the eye of the Universe.  We are only just getting started.

Looking back to the sun we see that its function is not only to provide use with the energy we need to survive, but through complex interactions, its creates the very stuff we are made of.  This one fact is something that a great many people simply do not understand.  Every thing you are made of came as the result of the fusion happening in stars, and stars that have long since died.  The carbon, the iron, the oxygen we breathe, all came from the death of a star.  Even new stars are formed from the death of other stars.  But the sun is not god, as we learned long ago.  So where do we even start to look for the design?

That is an enormous amount of information to grock in one sitting.  I will continue this article, after the holidays.  I hope you return to read the rest, and provide critique of my conclusions.