Why Are We Here?"Daddy, why are we here?" my daughter asked me one evening when she was four years old.
"Well, because it's time for bed and we always tuck in and read a bedtime story here at this time," I said, rather hoping she wasn't trying to begin an existential philosophy discussion.
"No daddy, I mean what made us?"
"No one knows for sure, sweety. Many people believe that there's a thing called God that created everything." Even though I'm not religious, I decided to take the easy way out.
"Is that what you think too?" she asked.
"No, I don't," I said, not wanting to be dishonest, but definitely dismayed that she just didn't ask more about the deity concept for which there are a lot of standard and easy answers.
"Why do you think we're here?"
"Well, I think it's like if you watch the static on the TV, eventually you'll see your favorite movie."
Damn, I had forgotten that TVs don't have static anymore. "Umm, well, huh, let me think about how to answer your question a little better and I'll get back to you."
As a result of this interaction, I decided to formalize my own personal Creation Myth, though I never shared it with either of my daughters. But, lucky you, I'll share it with you instead!
I Love LucyTo me, any good Creation Myth has to, at minimum, have both humor and chocolate as part of the narrative, without which, the universe would be a cold and empty place and not worth even thinking about. And so we'll start with my favorite 3 minute segment of the I Love Lucy show where Lucy and Ethel work on a chocolate factory line.
The purpose of this 3 minute segment is to ask how long would one have to watch random static on an old-style TV before you saw this sequence? Or, in more modern terms, a close-enough question is on a 1920 by 1024 monitor with 24 bit color at 30 frames per second connected to a random number generator, how many 3 minute segments would you have to watch to have 99% chance of seeing Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory? You'll see why these questions are important a little later.
So I started calculating away but the number of random episodes was so large that my calculator started smoking and then died. I then downloaded a high-precision package to my computer and it still couldn't do it. That shows how infrequently people do these sorts of calculations. Fortunately, I found a wonderful shortcut (especially footnote 6) and was able to help me calculate the answer to be approximately 10700,000,000,000 episodes.
That seems like a really big number, and it is in terms of human experience. It's a 1 with 700,000,000,000 zeros after it. If you started writing the number when you were born and were able to write several hundred zeros per second, you might finish writing it by the time you died.
Essentially Zero Relative to InfinityBut even numbers like 10700,000,000,000, huge as they are, are essentially zero relative to infinity. Or its close cousin eternity (which is just infinity along the time axis). That is to say, no matter what number we can come up with, no matter what number we can calculate (not using infinity or dividing by zero or a couple of other cheats), no matter what number we can represent on paper, that number will always be much, much closer to zero than to infinity.
An informal proof: come up with any humongous number, call it X. Create a new number, Y, by rounding X up to the nearest integer and then applying the factorial operator to it (i.e. Y =⌈X⌉!). Now, while X is a humongous number, it's a teeny, tiny, puny little fraction of Y. In other words, it's much, much, much closer to zero than to Y, or essentially zero compared to Y. And Y is essentially zero relative to infinity. How do we know? It's just some other humongous number, like X above, so we can apply the same logic recursively to it.
Infinity and eternity take things that are essentially impossible and turn them into something that will almost surely happen. The probability that you could sit down in front of the TV with the random number generator connected to it and see the I Love Lucy segment is pretty much zero. But an immortal being would almost surely see the I Love Lucy segment on the random TV and almost surely see it many times if he was sufficiently patient.
In The Beginning
In my Creation Myth narrative, there is no beginning or end. Things like, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth...," and "...at some moment all matter in the universe was contained in a single point, which is considered the beginning of the universe," just don't work for me. They're fine creation myths, of course, and many people believe in the Judeo-Christian Genesis creation myth or the Big Bang Theory creation myth constructed by the priests of science, but they ring very, very hollow for me, and I definitely don't "believe in" them.
My Creation Myth narrative has all dimensions being infinite in both the plus and minus direction. It also has an infinite number of non-orthogonal, non-linear dimensions, and no time dimension, but I'm neither going to get into that, nor defend that, in this post. For this post, assume the 3 more-or-less orthogonal, somewhat close to linear physical dimensions, and the time dimension which we all experience. And assume they're all infinite in both the plus and minus directions.
Why Would There Be Nothing?Now we need to get back to a variant of my daughter's original question. Why is there something? As opposed to nothing? My answer below is admittedly a non-answer, but hey, I also admit this is a Myth, not some sort of factual compendium for explaining existence.
The concept of "nothing" has no meaning without the concept of "something." You can't have one without the other. It's a yin and yang sort of thing.
And that leads to my belief that there's actual neither really "something" or "nothing" but rather just noise - that which is fluctuating randomly between something and nothing. In all the systems I deal with, noise is the natural state of things. Neither a perfect signal, nor perfect quiet, as both are too ordered to be a natural state. Just the static that you saw on old TVs or the static you heard on old radios.
Overall, not quite "something" and not quite "nothing." Just noise, just randomness.
Noise of the UniverseIn the universe, in my Creation Myth, the noise is ripples around the zero energy level. They're tiny ripples, but every once in a while, they randomly have enough oomph to create matter/anti-matter virtual particle pairs, which, almost all of the time, recombine and dissipate back into the noise.
Since this is a Myth, I'm trying to avoid using scientific concepts whenever possible. However, in this case, what I'm describing is something like the concept of vacuum energy and virtual particles. Not exactly like that, but the gist is close enough if you need something more to stimulate your imagination. And since this post is nothing but imagination, I figure there's no reason not to tap into other people's feverish imaginations as well.
So every once in a while, the noise has enough oomph to create very short lived particles, even less often it has enough oomph to create them and push them apart such that they don't immediately recombine, at least under certain conditions. How often does this happen in any localized spot in space? I have no idea, but it doesn't matter a bit, because no matter how long between particle creation events, the time is essentially zero relative to infinity.
How long would it take for 1080 such particles and anti-particles to form in reasonably close proximity with the particles all going one way and the anti-particles going another (I picked 1080 particles since that's approximately the number of particles thought to be in the universe that are observable by us)? A really, really, really, long time, but that time is still essentially zero relative to infinity. So it would almost surely happen. Again and again and again.
And that's the gist of my Creation Myth. Random energy fluctuations and infinity conspire to create possibility. Watch the TV with the random number generator connected and eventually there will be something interesting to see. Not in human time frames or even galactic time frames. But relative to infinity, lots and lots of interesting stuff to see.
I call random creations of large numbers of particles (1080 for example) relatively close to each other Large Cosmological Events (LCEs). There have been an infinite number of LCEs like the one in which we exist, just separated very, very far apart in space and time. They are usually separated by such large distances and time that we can't observe any evidence of other LCEs, though it may be that some of the particles and bits of energy in our portion of the observable universe are particles that originated in a different LCE a really long, long time ago.
Generally, all of the energy and matter dwindle away back to the background noise level way before they could be detected within other LCEs. Our LCE will also dwindle away to nothing and then in this part of the universe, nothing of interest will happen again for a very long, long time.
Noise And The Big BangAs I mentioned above, I don't find the Big Bang Theory very convincing. But my Creation Myth doesn't exclude it as a possibility. If you need some Bang in your Myth, either the particles swirl down into a point singularity and from there the Big Bang Theory can take over or there could have been a huge random energy spike in the vacuum right at the point of the Big Bang, essentially creating all of the particles at once at more-or-less the same point.
Noise and DeitiesMy Creation Myth doesn't preclude deities either, as long as deity is defined as extremely advanced conscious entity that has figured out how to utilize the vacuum energy of space to sustain itself for eons. The deity would have originated as an intelligent life form on some planet or something somewhere in a Large Cosmological Event and then transformed itself to survive the eventual dissipation of the matter and energy of the local universe that allowed it to form and evolve.
While the deities would eventually dwindle to nothing and die due to being corrupted by the noise of the vacuum, it's possible that they might survive long enough occasionally to encounter one or more LCEs and the resulting habitable planets at some point.
Noise and LifeI've seen statements like "we now know the odds against the spontaneous generation of life are astronomical." I don't personally subscribe to that analysis, but even if life is extremely unlikely in any one Large Cosmological Event, given an infinite number of them, life will almost surely happen in some of them.
In addition, the possible deities mentioned above might seed life as they drift through space and encounter LCEs, making life occur much more frequently than it would via random chance.
Thus, some life may be a mix of Creation and Evolution.