We have free will, but it remains extremely limited. This physical universe, in all its colorful complexity only gives us, as humans, the illusion of free will. In reality, we possess only one slender dimension of free will—whether or not to return to God—to resume our spiritual viewpoint, rather than remain stuck in our physical, egoistic viewpoint. All other forms of apparent free will are a lie. While we hold ego as our viewpoint and master, we remain controlled by the laws of physical reality. These rules include the laws of karma.
If we remain physical beings, controlled by physical ego, the laws of action-reaction duality will continue to control us. We will decide our direction based on selfish fears and desires. We will remain self-concerned, and thus limited.
Instead, if we choose to give up egoistic self-concern, we lose all limitations. Suddenly, we are no longer a cog in the machine.
Mandelbrot Set, CGI and the Deterministic, Physical Universe
A branch of mathematics called “chaos theory” provides us with an iterative process for creating complexity. Using this mathematics gives animators the ability to create realistic looking clouds, trees, mountains and waves rippling on the surface of water.
Given the same inputs, the software algorithm will produce the same results every time. The results of the program are enslaved by those algorithmic laws. Change the inputs—even very slightly—and the output becomes radically different, within the restraints of the existing system.
Thus, such a complex, non-linear system is said to be globally stable, but locally unpredictable.
The photograph at the start of this article is not real. It is entirely computer-generated imagery (CGI). Every leaf, every blade of grass, and every puff of cloud was created by a specialized computer algorithm especially designed for its particular “fractal”—fractional dimension.
A computer generated image follows specific laws created by the programmer. They mimic the laws of physical reality, by creating something from specific inputs. Change the inputs, even very slightly, and the output changes. This is what is called the “butterfly effect,” where a butterfly flapping its wings in Beijing on May 1st will affect the weather in New York City on May 31. If the butterfly flaps 3 times, New York gets rain; if it flaps 4 times, New York gets sunshine. That tiny change ripples through the system, changing larger and larger blocks only very slightly, but a large block of air will have a huge impact on the direction of the winds a month later.
Point a laser beam into the sky. Change its direction by far less than a degree, even less than a minute of arc (1/60th of a degree) and even less than one second of arc (1/60th of a minute). That tiny bump in the direction of the laser would miss its target by centimeters (inches) if a satellite in orbit. It would miss its target by hundreds of kilometers (miles) if a base on Mars. And it would miss it by millions of kilometers if a mission to Alpha Centauri—our next-door neighbor star system. Tiny changes can have huge effects, even on the simplest of algorithms (mathematical, step-by-step procedures).
Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz (1646–1716) talked about fractional exponents three centuries before CGI became a reality. We know, for instance, that the square of a number demonstrates a 2-dimensional space, and a number cubed demonstrates a 3-dimensional space, but a number raised to the power of 2.71828 (the natural base, e) gives us a space that is considerably more than 2-dimensional, but not quite 3-dimensional. Fractional dimensions describe the projection of forms to fill out only partially a given space. The larger the exponent, the more completely it fills out that next higher dimension.
Leibniz, by the way, was co-discoverer of calculus, along with Sir Isaac Newton. However, today we use the notation invented by Leibniz—not that of Newton. So, Leibniz was a genius amongst geniuses and his work still finds value even today.
In a simple software program, like the one which created the Mandelbrot Set, shown here on a few of its infinite series of scales, the results generated form a relatively simple pattern of apparent complexity. It remains simple in its self-similarity on an infinite number of scales; it appears complex because of the varying details. In the physical universe, we have millions of simultaneously running algorithms which distort each other with additional inputs. A galaxy is a rather simple structure of stars orbiting their collective center of mass. Add to this the complexity of galaxies which pass near one another or which collide with one another, throwing those simple patterns into disarray.
On a smaller scale, natural cloud algorithms are disrupted by the natural geological surface, with its mountains and canyons, plus plains and open bodies of water. And these are occasionally interrupted by a giant meteor smashing into the surface. These disturbances appear entirely random, but they are, instead, entirely deterministic. Even the formation of life is driven by these same deterministic laws. The secular scientists get it all wrong by thinking that “the big nothing” did it, or as Hawking so inanely suggested, “gravity did it.” The biblical literalists get it all wrong by thinking that God created it all 6,000 years ago. The truth is far more interesting and we’re still discovering its details. God created it all, but outside of time; time didn’t exist as we know of it until God rested—some 13+ billion years ago. But even that is an inaccurate portrayal. Our languages were not built to discuss such topics accurately. God resting was not in the past, but at right angles to the time stream. See? There He is, smiling back at us! Over there (to the side of the physical universe); not back there (in the past).
Blind Spots, Leibniz, John the Baptist and Humility
We each have our own blind spots. I have lived in minor “fear” of my own blind spots for most of my 70 years. Discovering that my own IQ was the lowest in my family was actually a blessing, some 52 years ago. Mine is still in the top 1% of planet Earth, so its relative utility remains a benefit. But at 139, there are countless millions of people far smarter than I. Predictably, ego has long wanted to take credit for everything.
God had given me the ability to see patterns. Many polymaths of the past have had similar capabilities, but too frequently, their blind spots prevented them from seeing certain things that could have advanced their fields far more.
The Wikipedia article on Leibniz tells us, “The work of Leibniz anticipated modern logic and analytic philosophy, but his philosophy also assimilates elements of the scholastic tradition, notably that conclusions are produced by applying reason to first principles or prior definitions rather than to empirical evidence.” Thus, Leibniz and his fellows retarded the growth of science by being too attached to Aristotelian logic, rather than relying on evidence—God’s creation. (And I use Wikipedia cautiously; sometimes it provides us with great value, but other times, it misleads or misrepresents. Yet, any source of information can do these things.)
A human genius is frequently hampered by their intelligence. They see certain patterns of existence, but are blinded to others by their certainty. Their extreme intelligence locks their own blindness into place through ego. I was lucky enough to see this in my own self, so I continue to struggle with my own huge ego, hoping I don’t miss the dimensions of reality that will yield new answers to my near-infinite supply of questions.
But my ego and intelligence tend to drive me to impatience with those who do not have the humility to learn new things, but are stuck in their current rut. Every viewpoint can have value so long as we don’t remain attached to it.
Fact: No one knows everything! Yet, there are some who are certain they know everything about a narrow slice of existence—their field of expertise. That certainty blinds them. That certainty acts as de facto implied omniscience. This attitude turns lofty intellects into “dumb geniuses”—trapped by their own certainty.
The entire body of science has one huge blind spot: that of clinging to a heavily flawed paradigm for discovery—the paradigm of skepticism, with its strong negative bias of “doubt.” Discovering this flaw was no easy feat. But once you see it with sufficient clarity, there is no un-seeing it.
The correct paradigm for science, and in fact any discovery, is one of restraint and humility. Restraint is for keeping the individual from jumping to the easiest conclusion before we have all possible empirical data, and humility is for the necessary space in the mind to receive the new answers. Without humility, the individual’s mental “cup” is overflowing with knowledge that prevents all learning. These two traits—restraint and humility—remain entirely neutral (zero bias). That scientists and philosophers would continue to insist that skepticism is how science is done, remains a monument to human stupidity. Scientific method insists that we remain unbiased, but the field of natural research (science) remains shackled with its potent negative bias.
In the field of spirituality—the study of the superior half of reality—too many are trapped by their own certainty (ego). Only humility will cure that disease.
But if science can remain shackled by such flaws as skepticism, spirituality is doubly endangered. Science at least has physical guideposts—evidence. Spirituality has no physical or persistent guidepost with which to gauge progress. John the Baptist is a prime example of this problem.
Prophets had foretold that Elias (Elijah) would come before the Messiah, to prepare the way.
When Christ’s disciples asked Jesus about this, he told them that Elijah had indeed come and that the enemies of spirituality had killed the reincarnated Elijah. Then, the disciples understood that Jesus had been referring to John the Baptist, who had become a stumbling block because of his spiritual forgetfulness. Not only did he forget his purpose in preparing the way for Jesus, but he had forgotten his own past identity as Elijah. When some of his fellow Jews asked John if he were Elijah reborn, he said, “no,” but Jesus contradicted John the Baptist. Who do we believe? Perhaps we can believe the one who was far more spiritually aware—Jesus.
Jesus said that no human was as spiritually ascendant as John the Baptist, yet John was heavily flawed because of his ignorance—his lack of humble confidence and continuity of consciousness. How can we, who have done so little spiritually ever hope to achieve even as much as Elijah-John the Baptist?
The answer is quite simple: Like the far truer paradigm for science—restraint and humility—we need to use this same paradigm for discovery in our spiritual quest.
Ego and physical law will continue to act as a major distraction. There is nothing we can do to change that. What we can change is how we react to those inputs—by not reacting at all. When we understand the true meaning of Christ’s lesson, to turn the other cheek, we begin to see the right path to true free will. Every physical reaction—fighting evil, resisting temptation, raging against the enemy—all lead to remaining a cog in the machine of physical reality—trapped!
We have free will, but this narrow thread points in only two directions—a 1-dimensional universe of decision—on or off—the “binary” decision of “to be spiritual, or to be physical?” That is the immortal question of all time.