“Maybe we’re just blips on some cosmic computer screen.” 1
~ David Freeman
Is it possible that you and I are no more than blips on a screen? Could we really be digital avatars, created by Gods long gone or residing in some dimension beyond human reach and understanding?
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More from the online article, Top Scientists Weigh in On Whether We All Live In A Hologram: “Our universe certainly seems real, but in recent years a growing number of scientists have begun to wonder if it’s all just a sophisticated simulation. Are we and everything around us nothing more than points of data in some sort of cosmic hologram?”
During a recent panel discussion at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History, scientists joked about the statistical likelihood. One ventured 17%, another said zero. One of them pointed out, “We’re not going to get conclusive proof that we’re not in a simulation, because any proof would be simulated.”
This brings to mind simplistic explanations of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, often confused with the observer effect. 2 Simply put, the act of observing changes what is observed. Conclusively determining whether the universe is “real” or a simulation is impossible because it takes observing to find out and the act of observing influences what is discovered.
That observer effect is a powerful determiner of our life experience. It’s unlikely we spend much of each day debating lofty questions about the nature of reality but how we observe is always influencing our own reality. The more we live in our heads, obsessed with thinking and divorced from feeling, the more we experience a mechanical universe, the Newtonian model that quantum physics is now overturning. Still, if we’re not scientists, we may continue to operate in that old, limiting model where the universe is like a gigantic clock, with trillions of moving parts all clicking along in a robotic fashion according to established laws.
Where’s imagination in that scenario? Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. When you think about it, everything began with imagination. The chair you are sitting in, the screen or book you are reading from, you yourself (what got your parents together?). Imagination is not frivolous and impractical, it’s the beginning of creating.
“I wonder… ” or “What if…?” opens an exploration. The scientists mentioned in this article are using their imaginations to wonder if we are living inside a hologram. It’s a fascinating thought. What other possibilities exist? We could be generating alternate streams of reality, actual copycat universes with every choice we make. In one world we went left, in other right, in yet another we continued straight ahead. Multiply that by 7 billion people making choices all day long and we immediately crash our rational ability to compute. We’d create billions and billions of universes.
One of my favorite cartoons shows a cat looking in the mirror. His reflection is a tiger. He sees himself that way and he is that way, to himself. He may also be that way to others. There are remarkable stories about small animals acting strong and powerful to ward off danger.
How about us? How do you see yourself? Most of us are severely limited by our past programming. We think small. We routinely identify as victims and rail against our oppressors: the IRS, the economy, the other political party, a spouse, the boss. This is a way of seeing based in separation and conflict. It fits neatly with the mechanistic view of the universe, perceived by many as a cold and unfeeling place, a dangerous place that requires cleverness to survive.
On the other hand, go for a walk in the woods. Sit by a stream, listen to the birdsong, and imagine that this is who you are. Drop from head to heart and feel your belonging within the web of life. Whether there are billions of universes simultaneously budding from the choices we make or whether this present moment is a reality beyond calculation becomes secondary, as do all other purely intellectual pursuits. This is real.
It took imagination to come up with that idea: “Maybe we’re just blips on some cosmic computer screen.” Here’s another option: “Maybe we’re part of life, one species among trillions, belonging and at home in the one world of the moment.”
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