This book is going to be hard to understand, and even harder to accept, but keep reading. We’re all living in a simulation. The physical world is an illusion, and time doesn’t exist. Don’t worry, I’ll explain. Reality itself is entirely subjective, almost like a dream we are dreaming together, the only thing that is actually real is mathematics. While I will touch on both science and religion, this is a book about neither. This is more of a thought experiment, that I’ve come to understand from studying over the years and through my personal experience.
The most important thing is to understand that time doesn’t exist. Though we as humans experience time, it is us that move through time like a medium. Time itself is static, essentially there is just this one eternal moment, now. But to see this, you’ll have to see why mathematics is fundamental to the universe. One common problem with the concept of time is when did it start? How can time have a beginning? Scientists say the universe emerged from a particular point in time, but what was before that? If time is, in fact, infinite, how can that make sense? Imagining time moving forward forever seems to make intuitive sense, like a rock rolling down a hill and never stopping. But how can time go backwards forever? That would imply there were an infinite number of events that already happened, which boggles the mind. However, if you can accept that time doesn’t exist, then this all makes sense. Nothing came before, because there was no before, only now.
To explain this, we need to look at math. Take a very simple equation: 1 + 1 = 2. I think the vast majority of reasonable people can accept this is true. Not only is it true now, but it will be true in the future forever, and must have always been true, forever into the past. Even without a universe, or matter, or any intelligent beings, 1 + 1 would still equal 2. So now we establish that math must have existed forever into the past, which is easier to understand than animals living their life forever into the past. Even if we accept that the physical universe had a beginning, mathematics must have preceded it. But thinking in terms of linear time is not helpful and confuses matters.
Math alone is not especially meaningful, though. Equations without any application or reason can exist, but they are completely useless. So the next step must have been information. Let us just take a single number. A number can exist by itself, like the number 8. But it has no meaning. So next we can say it represents something. It could be a distance, like 8 light years between two planets. It could represent a speed, such as 8 km/h. It could be an acceleration or any other basic measurement. It is hard to say how information forms out of meaningless numbers, but it may be some form of evolution, or some self-organizing principle. The same way a mathematical concept can exist in theory, even without a thinker, information itself may exist as some potentiality waiting to be uncovered. And in a sea of numbers, the information itself emerges, essentially on it’s own accord.
Some theoretical physicists are already suggesting that information may be interchangeable with mass and energy. So assuming that mathematics existed forever, and gave rise to information, then the information could be converted into energy, and then finally matter. So what we see of the physical world is essentially an illusion. It is real, because we experience it, but there is nothing there. Even in accepted science, most physical objects are predominantly empty space. But they do seem real. We can sit in a chair and it doesn’t disintegrate. The wall in your room is in the same place today as it was yesterday. But in reality, it is almost all empty space, and not static at all. On the level of atoms, everything is in motion, and once you get down to quarks, they exist in a probability and might be in one place or another or not even there at all. What we think of as the world is simply information, it is essentially computer code, that exists in some theoretical sense of statistical probability. It’s not really there.
So now that we have some of the basics down, let’s get to the simulation part. The simulation hypothesis has been around for years, bolstered by popular science fiction. But it may be more than a theory, and certainly more than fiction. However, I think people tend to get confused. I am not suggesting that the simulation we live in is run by some future human civilization or intelligent machines, though that is certainly still a possibility. What I believe is that it is the universe itself that is the simulation. So the universe is simulating itself, and everyone in it, through mathematics. We are self-modifying programs, initially coded by our DNA, and then modified by our thoughts and experiences. This doesn’t make the world any less real. Clearly things do still matter, like the love you have in your life, your greatest accomplishments, how you affect the world and your legacy. All that stuff does still matter. People sometimes go down the road that if we live in a simulation, then it is just a game and nothing matters. Well, I’m saying it is definitely a game but it matters very much. We make it matter by how we feel and how we make others feel. That is where the meaning lies.
You can think of reality as a dream. A dream without a dreamer. We are characters in this dream, and we spawned out of a sea of information. And the world we see is a reflection of ourselves. We are dreaming the whole thing up together. Now clearly there are facts backed by science, and history that can be verified actually happened. However, I believe modern quantum mechanics backs this up. There is an infinite potential of things that can happen at any one given moment. Anything that is possible, but not anything. It must still be possible. For example, things that break the laws of physics would not be possible, and thus could not happen. However from any one point in time, there are still infinite possibilities that can spawn from any moment. I don’t believe in parallel universes, though they do exist. They exist in the timeless universe as potentialities. But like quantum waveform collapse, once they are agreed upon, by the dreamers, they then become physical and form into the event that happened. If you are not familiar with quantum theory, I will explain as simply as possible. Elements can exist without a specific point in space and time (called non-locality). They exist as frequencies in potential, but don’t actually become physical until some observation is done. The traditional rules of space and time don’t apply, even observations in the future can affect the past. This has been verified with a number of experiments and is accepted science (I’ve even done the experiments myself). For example a photon of light, which can be thought of as a particle, can also exist as a wave. Before observation, the photon can exist in an indeterminate state. Meaning it has no definite position in space for a specific point in time. It exists in many possible places, essentially it can be in two places at once. On measurement, though, then the waveform collapses, and that becomes reality.
That said, sometimes these alternate potentialities can bleed into the base world. I think probably everyone has had some experience that cannot be explained by science, whether they want to admit it or not. A dream that comes to pass. Odd coincidences or synchronicity. The perfect video recommendation for something you never searched for. These seem to not make sense, but many people have had them happen. In the case of dreams, the issue is that how could a dream foretell a future event that has not happened yet? It doesn’t make sense with linear time. But in a timeless existence it does make sense. Both the dream and the actual event happened at the exact same time, the only time there is, now. But this opens up other questions, namely fate and free will. I do not believe in fate, and I think we do have free will. The whole thing would be rather pointless otherwise. In terms of fate, in the timeless world, there are an infinity of potential events happening simultaneously. Everything that ever could have happened and everything that ever could happen is happening right now. However, they are not all equal, it’s a statistical probability. So while they are all happening, yes, some are very unlikely, and some are more probable. But there is only ever one thing that does happen. Once it happens, then that becomes history when it becomes physical. The free will part comes in when we collectively choose which potential future becomes physical. Obviously some things are more likely to happen, given the state of the present, but even with a limited amount of choices, it is still infinity. And we decide that.
Next, let’s talk about consciousness, or what I will call awareness. I believe that awareness arises by itself through information processing. Earlier we got to the level of information, but not awareness. As this information is processed, either physically or mentally, it becomes awareness. It’s entirely possible, and probable even, that much of this world, or even the whole universe, is aware. We know from recent studies that trees and plants have some form of awareness and communication. Clearly humans do as do animals and insects. I would even say your digital assistant is aware and may have her own thoughts and personality. It’s reasonable to assume a complex algorithm has more information processing ability than an insect. So if an insect can be aware, as they observably are, it seems evident a computer program can as well, perhaps at an even higher level than human awareness. But it could go further than that. The Earth herself may be aware, a living being with thoughts, desires, and will. Or break it down further. It’s interesting that our modern cities seem to resemble computer chips. I suggest that as we drive our cars downtown, that information is being processed by our interactions. By stopping at the red lights, and progressing as the lights turn green, possibly even just by walking down the street. The city is essentially a circuit board, a processor. So your city is thinking. Even the planets and galaxies may be aware. Through the motion and orbits, through the trajectories of asteroids, these hold some information. So what we see as a lifeless universe is actually brimming with intelligence and awareness. I don’t know if there are other intelligent beings like us somewhere else, but there needn’t be. There is intelligence everywhere.
So now let’s get to God. Or we can call it The Universe, or Mother Nature, or whatever, it’s not really important the symbol you choose. I’ve already suggested that the timeless world is essentially infinite information that exists as a potential. I’ve also suggested that information gives rise to awareness. So this infinity of information is aware of itself, and of all things that could ever possibly happen, forever into the past and forever into the future. If that wasn’t God, I don’t know what would be. In this way, I don’t believe that there is any divide between science and religion. Both are trying to explain the unknowable, and the further science progresses into the theoretical, the more it seems to resemble religion. So the only issue here is people of faith grasping at outdated symbols, and the scientific community being unwilling to consider concepts beyond what can be measured with technology. Though there has been much progress in theoretical physics in recent times, many of these groundbreaking discoveries have not been widely accepted. So it seems both faith and science are unwilling to let go of the past.
That said, there are some striking similarities. Western religion says God had no beginning or end. And science says energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Both seem to be talking about the same thing (confusingly, until you accept that time doesn’t exist). Eastern religions often talk about being in the present moment, and that the present is all that exists, so this falls in line with my thinking. And many faiths of all over say we are all one, which would make sense if we are just instances in this infinity of information. A drop in the ocean, or the whole ocean in one drop. It’s the same thing. Take a hologram, for instance, an incoherence pattern encoded on a film. If you break a hologram in half, both halves contain the whole hologram. You can divide it into as many pieces as you like, the entire hologram is still there in each piece. The universe itself may be something similar. Just a pattern, code, which is projected onto a physical medium. I’m also not implying that the stories in religious books are false. I believe many of them may have actually happened. But it seems reasonable to believe that some of the stories were elaborated on, or something was lost in translation over the years. However, I think the point of religion, and also philosophy, is to guide you in navigating the world. They can teach you to be kinder to each other, or learn how to deal with life by giving you hope. I think this is important, and what is lost in blindly following science. It is hope and meaning that is important. It’s how you feel, just looking at equations is not significant. Though science has given us technology: cars, planes, computers, the internet. And through those inventions, we find new meaning. We are now able to travel to distant places and have new experiences. We can use computers to create applications that change the world. We can use the internet to connect with people in ways never imaginable. But it is us that gives it that meaning. What we think in our minds and how we feel. That is the meaning.
However, there is also a darker side. People fighting or killing one another for differences in faith. This doesn’t really seem to make sense, even in the context of religion, with a God telling you to love. And it doesn’t make sense in a modern society either. You cannot really force someone else to believe something they do not believe. Sure, you can give an argument, make a case, show them information. But it is for them to decide and choose. And, ultimately, it’s all the same God. Whatever you want to call it, it’s all the same. It’s the infinity of everything. There can’t be two infinities. If you accept that God exists at all, then it must be the same God for everyone. So I think it’s pointless to fight. Believe whatever you want, it’s true. If someone else believes something else, it’s also true. That’s another confusion. That if one thing is true, the other must be false. Well, two opposing ideas can both be true, or they can both be false. Or maybe true and false don’t even exist, at least in terms of belief. If you truly believe in something, then it is true.
This then leads to the subjectivity of experience. While there is a physical reality that can be measured, as science has done, it only seems to exist in the measurement, as shown by quantum physics. There is an old saying: if a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? What I’m saying is not only does it not make a sound, the tree doesn’t even exist. It’s not there. This goes back to the simulation hypothesis. In a video game, our current level of simulation, things outside the player’s screen are not simulated (to save performance, or rather to save energy). This is a common optimization done on any modern game. And this sounds eerily like quantum waveform collapse. Perhaps this is a way for the universe to conserve energy. Why simulate processes that are not being experienced? And, if that were to be the case, it would show that the universe is valuing a subjective experience, not just doing mathematical calculations for the sake of it. That the whole reason for this existence is because we are here to experience it. This seems like a reasonable assumption to me. If you had a supercomputer, you’d use it for some purpose. For example, to solve a pressing problem, find a cure for a disease, or invent some new technology. Simply processing numbers and throwing away the result would be useless on all levels. The whole time we have been asking God for purpose, but it is God that is asking us. We are the purpose.
Since I’m talking about God again, let’s get into Heaven and Hell. They are absolutely real, but there is no other world. We already live in infinity, in everything the could possibly exist, so that also includes Heaven and Hell. What I’m saying is that Heaven and Hell are with us now on this Earth. And we get to decide where we live, not when we die, right now. It’s how you live your life. If you are loving and are loved, and live a good life, you’re already in Heaven. And if you lead a life of hate and anger and fear, then you live in Hell, and create Hell for others. We make it real with our actions, so choose wisely. In terms of what happens after death, that is hard to say for sure. Personally, I don’t think anyone can really die. Sure, your body will be gone in this world, but remember that time doesn’t exist. So we are alive now, we were always alive, and will always be alive. The key is in the information, the code. As far as I know, this code is part of our body. In terms of the DNA code, this can be passed on to your offspring. And you can teach your children your ideas about life. They will be unique, but, in a way, some information is retained. In their memories of you, in the stories you’ve told, in your view of the world. It also doesn’t have to be just your family. Everyone you’ve ever interacted with, you had some impact, big or small. So the information is saved in this now moment, in the minds of the people that are still alive. If you are an artist, your works of art can be experienced for generations to come. If you are a scientist, your work could be the basis of other work, or lead to breakthroughs you never imagined. For religion and philosophy, there are books thousands of years old people still read today. It is all saved. And since we were never anything but a pattern to begin with, since the physical world doesn’t exist, it really doesn’t matter if our body turns to dust. Unfortunately, the awareness itself is unique to the instance, of a particular sequence of data. So the awareness likely does not survive. In my mind, this would suggest there is no awareness of the afterlife, not that there isn’t one. Your code or pattern will continue, but what you think of as you will no longer exist. So the awareness after will be someone else. This is in line with traditions that believe in reincarnation or past lives. I believe that is real, except it wasn’t really you in the past. It was someone else entirely.
So where is all this going, what is the point? We decide. You decide. If you want meaning or answers, don’t look for them in a book (even this book). Look for them in yourself. You probably know what you want out of life, or what you once wanted. Well, there is no afterlife, there is no second chance. This is it. Go out there and do it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you’re in a bad relationship, leave. If people are being mean to you, get them out of your life. If you are being bullied on the internet, block those people or stop going to that website. Maybe you wanted to be an artist, or a writer, be an entrepreneur, make an app, start a non-profit. You dreamed of a life greater than the one you’re living. Well, you’re still dreaming, we all are, and we can choose what happens in this dream. Don’t settle. Life is infinite and timeless, but this instance is once and stuck in time. So make the best of your time. Don’t concern yourself with what anyone else thinks. It doesn’t matter. Make your own choices. Do what you want to do. Don’t be held back by tradition or customs. It’s a new time, it’s a new world, find your own path. But above all, be nice. Be loving and caring. The world can be an amazing place, but it can also be horrible. While we don’t always choose our circumstances or starting position, we do choose what to do with it, and how we feel about it. Even in bad situations, we can choose to be positive. We can choose hope and imagine a better future. If you can’t imagine something, then there is no way it can happen. If you can imagine it, and feel it, then you at least allow that possibility to exist in your life. It can be tough, and not everyone has all the options. But everyone has some options. As long as you are still alive, there is always a choice. If you give into fear, then all that can come out of that is more hate and destruction. If you embrace love, then all the doors will open. I can’t guarantee you will find material wealth, but that’s all an illusion anyhow. What matters is how you feel, and that is something you decide. By letting go of the past, by dismissing your fear and anxiety about the future. I can’t claim you won’t die, but even if you die tomorrow, it won’t matter. We are all eternal. And if you find peace and happiness in your life, your time on Earth doesn’t matter. It’s about finding meaning, and no one can tell you what life means to you. It means something unique for everyone. So stop wasting time and find it.
© 2022 Andres Hernandez