[ExI] The Soul

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Sun Apr 26 17:50:07 UTC 2020

On Sunday, April 26, 2020, Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On 25/04/2020 23:57, Jason Resch wrote:
> On Sat, Apr 25, 2020, 10:32 AM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> I think you mean 'mind' when you say 'soul', but then you invite
>> accusations of supernatural thinking by saying things like "your
>> consciousness is eternal, uncreated, immortal, can reincarnate,
>> resurrect, and is in a manner one with all other consciousnesses".
> It may sound supernatural, but those are just natural consequences of
> standard scientific theories.
> You have a strange idea of 'standard', and quite possibly 'scientific',
> too.

Or you could ask what scientific theories I am referring to.

> No scientific theory I've heard of states that minds are eternal or
> 'uncreated' (what does that even mean?).
I appreciate you asking for clarification. I'm happy to explain and clear
up anything that's unclear.

 Special relativity implies spacetime, which means there is no such thing
as an objective present point in time. This implies "block time" the idea
that in reality the universe is a static unchanging 4 dimensional block
rather than a 3d one evolving through time. Thus, all times are equally
real, every thing in every time exists eternally and has always existed.

See this paper for an explanation:

But you don't have to take my word for it, or read that paper. It was
Einstein's own conclusion regarding his own theory:

"Since there exists in this four dimensional structure [space-time] no
longer any sections which represent "now" objectively, the concepts of
happening and becoming are indeed not completely suspended, but yet
complicated. It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality
as a four dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of
a three dimensional existence."

When his friend died, be wrote a letter to his widow, explaining, that
though he died a little bit before Einstein that it means nothing, because:
"for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future
is only an illusion, although a convincing one."

Do you count special relativity as a standard scientific theory?

Do you follow it's consequences that it implies everyone lives their lives
in an eternal sense? That we each occupy all points in time across our
lives forever. That Julius Caesars is from his perspective, still alive and
back in 2000 BC, (or you might say, 2000 light years away from our location
in spacetime.)

> Those are definitely religious concepts that take no notice of the natural
> world. The other words we've already dealt with, I think you're just using
> the wrong (or should i say misleading) terminology.
> Ben: So what, exactly, is Consciousness?. But don't worry if
> you can't answer that. Nobody else can either.
> Jason: I provided a definition and example in my previous email.
> An actual definition of consciousness? Strange that I don't remember
> reading that. Could you repeat it please?

I defined consciousness as awareness of information, and said that it can
arise in any information processing system which can enter different states
based upon that information.

Human consciousness is difficult to provide a reductionist account for
because information processing systems are inherently non reductionist. A
complex process cannot be reduced to simpler terms, as there's a notion of
a minimum descriptive length for a program that achieves a certain feat.
(See: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolmogorov_complexity )

But I did say the simplest atom of consciousness might be a conditional
(e.g. an if-statement).

> Jason: What about a mathematical Boltzmann brain? Is that not independent
> of matter and energy?
> No. (or Yes, in the same sense that Santa Claus is).
> As far as I understand, mathematical platonism is an arguing point for
> philosophers, of no real consequence to the real world.

Actually it's of the greatest consequence for the "real world". If true, it
explains the appearance of what you call the real world, why the laws are
simple, why they're fine tuned for life, why we live in a reality with
quantum mechanics, and so on.

These ideas have been explored by Bruno Marchal, Max Tegmark, Russell
Standish and Markus Muller.

For example see how much of physics can be recovered from assuming the
existence of all computations:

>  I don't know what a mathematical Boltzmann brain could be, or if it makes
> any sense, even in the context of mathematical platonism, but as far as I
> can tell, the idea is about as relevant as demonology.

 I brought it up because you said information only exists if there's matter
or energy. This was a counter example.

You might say it's meaningless, but it's the default theory of
mathematicians. That they are exploring and discovering things and truths
that exist independently of them. This implies those mathematical
structures have an existence independent of physical existence.

But if you keep thinking on this, you might realize among those
mathematical objects is something indistinguishable from our physical
universe. Could it be? Might our physical universe might itself be a
mathematical object? One among an infinity of all possible structures.

This would explain the question that vexed Stephen Hawking, what breathes
fire into the equations? The answer is simple. All universes described by
all equations are real. There's nothing special about our own equations or
universe except that they describe a universe where it's possible for life
to evolve.

> In the real world, information only exists as the arrangement of
> matter/energy, not an independent thing. Saying "if mathematical platonism
> is true..." is not an argument, unless you can send me the abstract number
> 42, without involving any matter or energy.

It's relevant as if some Turing machine elsewhere in reality simulates you
then you have a nonzero chance of finding yourself kidnapped and in that
new location beyond this universe.

That Turing machine need not exist in a universe with quarks, photons, or
leptons or anything else you might call matter or energy here.

Here's a question for you: do you think Pi has infinite digits?
If so, where do those infinite digits exist?

> Jason: If you don't attempt to or want to understand my points then you're
> right, this is going to be frustrating and pointless for the both of us
> I've been attempting to understand what you're saying, and so far I've
> come to the conclusion that either you have no intention or desire to
> distinguish between magic and reality, or you need to drastically revise
> your vocabulary if you expect anyone to understand you.

Ask more questions. :-)

It should be clear by now I'm not speaking about magic. My point is only
that if we take existing theories seriously we're lead to conclusions that
could easily be confused with magic. This shouldn't be entirely alien to
Transhumanists who believe the future potential of technology will lead to
near magic sounding capabilities.

> If you'd (if it's possible to) drop the mystical terminology and stick to
> words that belong to the realm of the real world, that might help a lot. If
> that's not possible, I don't see how what you're saying is any more
> relevant to the real world than a Harry Potter story.

What alternative words do you propose for the following concepts?

"Dying in one body and being reborn in a new body?"

"Not being able to experience death from a first person perspective and
hence live indefinitely into the future"

"Living timelessly and eternally in all moments of your life forever"
(eternal life)

"Dying in one realm or universe and awakening as a new being in a different
realm or universe with the memories of that life, or otherwise being
brought back from the dead"

"The immaterial, non destructible, non physical informational pattern that
defines a person's mind and consciousness"

I use these terms because they're the words that seem to fit best, but if
you could recommend better words I will switch.

Note that science didn't throw out the word Earth when we discovered it was
round, nor did we throw out the word heat when we realized fire isn't an
element. Instead we refined and improved our understanding if what those
words mean. If we can do the same for concepts like reincarnation, why
throw out the word?

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