I Am God (And So Are You)

That title might sound like a rather mystical, woo-y claim. Maybe it is. I have an argument for it – it comes down to an argument for Indra’s net. All you need to grant me are some standard intuitions about causality and properties, and a particular definition of “God.”

An object is the necessity of every thing else

We’ve got an object – let’s call it “@1” – at some give instant in time, T. There are two ways we can describe @1. We can point to it, or draw some imaginary spatial boundaries, and stipulate that “whatever is there is @1.” This is useful for reference, but it doesn’t tell us anything substantial about @1.

We can also describe @1 by listing out properties. We can say that @1 is at location X, is Y shade of red, has such and such shape and size, is made up of W particles, etc. If we could list out every property of @1, we would say everything that there is to say about it. There is nothing about @1 that couldn’t be conveyed through a property.

Every property of @1 is caused by something. Think of it this way. Every thing is the way that it is because of the arrangement of its subatomic particles along certain basic parameters: location, velocity, mass, charge, etc. If something changes, it is because the arrangement of subatomic particles that constitutes it changes. When these particles change, they affect the particles around them differently from the way they affected them prior to the change. This causes those particles around them to change as well, which causes them to affect other nearby particles differently as well, and so on. The causal chain of change ripples out.

It follows that if anything in the world were different from the way that it is, then every other thing would also have to be different from the way that it is. The causal chain that reaches every thing would have to have played out differently, thereby making every thing different.

Return to @1. This means that the state of affairs of every thing that is not @1 fully determines @1. The same causal chain that yields everything else causes every property of @1 to be what it is.

This necessity flows both ways. Just as describing every thing that is not @1 tells us everything about @1, so describing @1 tells us everything about every thing that it is not. The reason is worth repeating: @1 can only be exactly what it is if the causal chain leading to it is exactly what it is, meaning that every thing else caused by that same causal chain can only be exactly what it is. Therefore, the way that every thing else is follows from the way that @1 is.

Coded within @1 is the information of everything else in the world. The necessity of the state of the universe compresses into @1. This is what I call “God.”

So, every thing is God. Does that then mean that God is a gazillion different things? Are there as many Gods as there are things?

Object descriptions all the way down

Properties can be described in different ways. “@1 is Y shade of red” can also be said as “@1 is Z shades redder than @2.” Since describing “every thing that @1 is not” tells us everything about @1, describing “every thing that @1 is not” is the same thing as describing @1 – just with different language. So “every thing that @1 is not” and @1 are the same object.

Let’s take a look at “every thing that @1 is not.” It is itself composed of a bunch of @n‘s. Consider one of them: @2. It can also be described by describing every thing that it is not. That includes every other @n (including @1). And how do we describe each of those @n’s? By describing every thing that each of them is not. And how do we describe each of those?

It’s object descriptions all the way down.

In sum: describing @1 gives us a description of every other @n. Each of those yields a description of every other @n other than the one that it is. And that process repeats. This means that, for each next level of description, the number of object descriptions is multiplied by the number of objects in the universe minus one. These levels of description go indefinitely inward.

That seems both really complicated and too simple. Is there anything more to the world than this same pattern exploding infinitely in all directions?

The difference between two objects

While every object is identical to the totality of all other objects, it is not identical to every other individual object. The relationship between @1 and @2 is that they can be described by the same totality of other objects except one. @1’s first level of description includes every @n except @1, whereas @2’s includes every @n except @2.

Each of those @n’s at the first level of description can be described by describing their respective “every other @n” at the second level, including the one that was missing in the first level (@1 for @1, and @2 for @2). In other words, that one missing piece from the first level of description gets introduced at the second level. Therefore, descriptions of @1 and @2 contain all the same information (the information of everything). It’s just arranged slightly differently.

So, what’s really the difference between @1 and @2? Their own place in their respective hierarchies of description levels. Along every level of description, @1 and @2 differ as to where @1 and @2 are. Everything else about their descriptions is identical.

What does this mean? It’s analogous to point of view. Every thing is really the same pattern of everything, with the only difference being where it is in that everything. So every thing is really the same thing – the same God – only from a different point of view. It is the existence of these different points of view that allows for the appearance of separateness and individuality to emerge from objects that are fundamentally the same totality.

And this “same totality” is fundamentally empty. It is an infinite pattern of reflections of reflections, with nothing other than reflections being reflected.

What do we take from all this?

There are many potential objections to this argument. The biggest is that it assumes that causal implications are unique – that two different things couldn’t cause the same third thing. Intuitively, that doesn’t seem to be true.

Another problem is a naïve attitude toward objects. I’ve been talking about describing “objects” without saying anything about what counts and what doesn’t count as an object. This is not a trivial question.

I haven’t accounted for gaps in the causal chain. Does everything necessarily affect everything? How do light cones bear on this question?

And what about time? All of the above is indexed at instant T. The next instant, every @n changes. Is the same “totality of everything” the same the next instant, or different?

I will likely tackle these objections in the future. They may be insurmountable. I’m not convinced that this argument actually works. It is perhaps best taken as a metaphor than a straightforward metaphysical argument.

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