Cogitation XI: Virtual Reality

What exactly is reality? It’s such a fundamental question even though it sounds blasé. It’s why philosophers, scientists and theologians have tackled the question over millennia. Even Apostle Paul did. What if we’re players in an augmented virtual reality program? Some scientists believe we are. It’s actually not a crazy notion. From a conceptual perspective we may be characters in a complex virtual reality program called Universe. In that program we exist on a very unique planet that is subdivided into nations. In the virtual reality program we buy, we sell, we love, we marry… There’s politics, political parties… There are elections, there are governments… Think SimCity. Only on a more complex and a much grander scale. Think Ready Player One. The basic currency in all these interactions is life. Everything we do, everything we get is traded with the currency of our life. We trade with our life all the time. We call it time. There’s nothing we do that does not require time. As we spend time our life credit is depleted.

Truth is, we take reality for granted. We exist after all. When we interact we validate each other’s reality. There’s an ecosystem of nature, humans and events. On closer examination however what we call reality is sensory PERCEPTION. What we call reality is what we feel, see, touch, taste or smell. It’s more like, “I sense therefore it is.” The limitation of this though is that it rules out the POSSIBILITY of a reality outside our sensory domain. It limits our knowledge of the possibility of existence of another reality contrary to our perceptive ability. If we have poor perception, as far as we know there’s no reality beyond ours. But what if there’s a reality out there that cannot be perceived by our five senses? This of course raises the issue of the makeup of man. Is man wholly material? If man is wholly material then his definition of reality will be limited to sensory perception of reality. The wholly material man cannot sense the immaterial. It is outside his conceptual framework. No world can exist outside that framework as far as he knows. The material man thus has natural limitations. If we are wholly material we cannot perceive a world beyond the material world. We have a conceptual limitation. How can we even IMAGINE a world outside our frame of reference? We can’t know. As wholly material beings we can’t understand the notion of heaven or hell. Notions like “heaven” & “hell” are outside material frame of reference. There’s no physical proof. It’s why the materialist says they don’t exist. God can’t exist within that framework too. Perhaps heaven and hell are a figment of our imagination. Perhaps. But if heaven and hell are a figment of our imagination how did the first man who imagined heaven and hell come to imagine them being wholly material? They’re outside purview.
In other words, is our ability to imagine heaven and hell pointing to the fact there’s more to man than his material makeup, that his existence CANNOT be wholly defined by a material frame of reference? Paul’s answer to these philosophical questions is quite interesting. First, he says there’s a reality outside our reality and that this reality is populated by beings. Then he says only a certain type of man can perceive these beings and that reality. The two types of men in Paul’s submission are the “natural” man and the “spiritual” man. Those are his terms. 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Paul’s submission is a revolutionary resolution of the question of reality. He had earlier submitted man is made of three parts – spirit, soul and body. 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Paul’s submission explains our consciousness of notions like “heaven” and “hell”, and how we came to imagine things like “spirit world,” ideas about “final judgment,” etc. This is conceptually impossible if man is wholly material. We can’t imagine “heaven” or even imagine “God” if man is wholly material. If we do it raises the question of consciousness which invalidates the notion of man being wholly material.
This is what Paul said: “But the natural man does not accept the things – the teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness, absurd and illogical to him and he is incapable of understanding them, because they are spiritually discerned and appreciated; and he is unqualified to judge spiritual matters…” 1 Corinthians 2:14 AMP. Then he says, “Spiritual people evaluate everything but are subject to no one’s evaluation.” I Corinthians 2:15 GW. You have to read his full argument, but Paul’s thesis posits a “natural man” and a “spiritual man”. What Paul is saying is, there’s a bigger reality outside our reality – an unseen world. But facts about that reality will be considered absurd by a man with a naturalistic framework. He’ll consider them ridiculous. The facts will be illogical to him. But why should we believe Paul? It’s because intellectually his explanation is a better resolution of the questions raised by our experiences and consciousness.
A wholly material framework of man cannot resolve the issue of why the first man who imagined heaven and hell did so. If it does then imagination is outside us. But where? If it’s located in a virtual realm then there’s a reality outside of us. As stated earlier what we call reality is in fact PERCEPTION of reality. A table is not really solid. It’s the configuration of swarming electrons as well as interactivity with electrons in your hands that gives it “solidity.” The “solidity” is not real. The “reality” is perception. Atoms are essentially empty space. If an atom is the size of a cathedral the nucleus (containing protons and neutrons) will be a grain of rice. That’s a picture of how much emptiness is in an atom. But if atoms are mostly empty spaces why can’t we pass through walls? Shadowcat in X-Men can pass through walls. Why can’t we? To answer that question you must first throw out that popular illustration of the atom – the one taught you in secondary school – the picture of an electron flying round a nucleus. It’s fake. Electrons are more like swarms of bees. Think of the blades of a fan in rotation.
There’s something called Pauli Exclusion Principle in physics. It says two things can’t exist in the same place at once. So no two electrons can be in the same state and in the same configuration. To pass through a wall you’ll have to breach Pauli’s principle. It’s impossible. In order for your electrons to pass through the wall electrons they would have to exist in the same space as the electrons of the wall, even if briefly. And that’s impossible. It breaches Pauli’s Exclusion Principle. That’s why you can’t pass through walls. But Jesus passed through walls after resurrection. How did he do it? Perhaps he exploited a principle called “quantum tunnelling.” Only it has no counterpart in classical physics. There’s a lot I need to ask Jesus when we get to Heaven. How did he pass through a wall? What is the physics? It’s a breach of the fundamental laws of physics. And how was he able to pass through a wall and yet not fall through a seat when he sat down to eat with those disciples? Is the resurrection body an intelligent body? Are we then in an analogue body? Questions, questions for Jesus. Or maybe I won’t need to ask him. May be we’ll be in a state of perfect knowledge in Heaven. Paul seemed to echo that sentiment: “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT.
To complicate “reality” even more we don’t even sit on a seat as we imagine. We just imagine we do. What happens is that the electrons on our bum are repelled by the electrons in the chair; and so we don’t touch the seat. We actually levitate when we “sit.” And so something as basic as sitting or touching is not even reality. What we have is simulation of reality. A sensory perspective on reality can’t even give us a true picture of physical reality. But Paul is not done with the subject of reality. In trying to encourage persecuted Christians at Corinth to endure he wrote these immortal words: “So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal – just brief and fleeting, but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 AMP.
In other words our visible reality has a shelf life but that invisible reality Paul wrote about has no expiry date. There’s no time dimension. Peter echoed similar sentiment when he wrote about end of the world, or shall we say end of this reality: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will vanish with a mighty and thunderous roar, and the material elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and the works that are on it will be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:10 AMP. This amazingly aligns with science. It’s one of the three scenarios envisaged by science about the end of the universe in the Big Bang cosmological model. It’s either going to be Big Crunch, or Big Freeze or Big Rip. Apostle Peter envisages the Big Crunch. Not sure Peter had any inkling about what he was writing about scientifically but it has to do with the geometry of the universe. Never mind. In Apostle Peter’s model gravity stops the expansion of the universe. It then begins to contract until all matter in the universe collapse unto each other. Temperatures will increase exponentially as the universe contracts, stars will implode and vaporise. Eventually all atoms and nuclei will break apart. The final stages of the universe will be very violent and chaotic. Space-time will shatter. Perhaps that’s the way Peter would write 2 Peter 3:10 today. Who knows! But was it the same thing John was referring to when he wrote: “I watched as the lamb opened the sixth seal. A powerful earthquake struck. The sun turned as black as sackcloth made of hair. The full moon turned as red as blood. The stars fell from the sky to the earth like figs dropping from a fig tree when it is shaken by a strong wind. The sky vanished like a scroll being rolled up. Every mountain and island was moved from its place.” Revelation 6:12‭-‬14 GW‬. ‬‬
It would seem from scriptures that God created a program called Universe. In that program there are creatures called “humans.” They reside on a planet named after the first human placed in that program – Adam. Adamah can be translated “earth.” The concept of that program is that each man is allotted a definite time period. He can accomplish all he wants within that period, but at the end of the time allotted there’s accountability. He doesn’t know his time of death. That program is so robust it can handle extreme complexity in real time. Axes of nations can to go to war for instance. There can be World Wars. The program has an inbuilt expiry date that’s known only to God. Something like an eclipse will herald beginning of a long ending sequence: “The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.” Joel 2:31 NLT. Beings from outside the dimensions of that augmented reality program can participate in it; God has been known to make cameo appearances, like Spike Lee does in Marvel movies. Genesis 21. But for God to fully participate in the program he’ll have to miniaturise himself, molecurise himself and subject himself to the laws of physics governing that dimension. That explains how and why Jesus was born as human. It was in response to the problem created earlier in the program by the very first human in the program, Adam. A virus called “sin” had been introduced at the beginning of the program. Someone introduced strange code. Messed up the entire system, changed the program. That set in play an unstoppable chain reaction. The only pragmatic solution was direct intervention by the architect of the program, Jesus. Colossians 1:16. The antivirus he created is called “Salvation.” If you doubt this virtual reality game analogy about creation perhaps you’ve not read this scripture: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11 KJV. Quite a lot to think about.
If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”
© Leke Alder |