Original Fiction by Ron L. Clayton
The esteemed minds gathered as usual to ponder, consider, discuss, and sometimes grumble deeply at each other. The group had been meeting from time out of mind, so they were quite familiar with one another. While they were quite familiar with each other, the various topics of discussion were so varied that they could still be surprised by how one member or another might approach the issue. And there were so many possible topics out of the vastness of all things that they never lacked for a topic to mull over, dissect, and generally try to get the better of one another.
Today’s topic was something of an old saw. They had been around and around the topic, arguing the possibilities, the flaws of perception, the essence of things, etc. But recently, one of the members had run a simulation based on certain far-from-settled assumptions. Everyone was now familiar with the simulation, and the room was buzzing with anticipation of the coming discussion.
The current leader called the group together. “Today’s topic is one with which everyone is quite familiar.” This was greeted with low chuckles from around the group. The leader smiled and nodded. “It seems that many of our discussions come back to this issue because the possibilities are always intriguing.
“And now our esteemed colleague has upped the ante, might we say, with a very sophisticated simulation. This is quite different from our normal means of analysis and raises many, many questions. Who would like to begin?
From several members, “Congratulations!”
All looked at the maker, who nodded in acknowledgement.
“How deep does it go? I delved into several moments, and each of the multitudinous creatures had numerous possible responses, each of which had several reasons and rationales many layers deep, and each moment held endless repercussions, depending upon which response was made, and even why that particular response was made.”
“Yes, almost endless possibilities represented in each and every moment!”
“No need to exaggerate, nothing is endless. We could chart each and every possibility.”
“Over the entire system, you would have to chart a minimum of ten to the twenty-third possibilities every moment, and that many the next moment for each of the possibilities the previous moment, and that many the next for the ten to the twenty-third times ten to the twenty-third of the previous moment. One could chart all possibilities, but you could never completely predict every outcome.”
“One could chart the major movements and drifts to see where it comes out, predict the overall outcome.”
“Yes, you could perhaps chart the over-arching, over-all outcomes. Perhaps. And then you would miss the little dramas happening on a much smaller level by individual actors. Part of the loveliness of the simulation is that while the whole system is beautiful, each of the sub-parts are equally so, and each of their parts, and each of those.“
“I agree. You could chart all the possibilities, eventually, but you could never perfectly predict. You could perhaps predict some overarching outcomes, but if you do so, you would not be accounting for events at more specific levels, and those could eventually undo the effectiveness of the general predictions. The final outcome could never be perfectly predicted. That is part of the wonder of it. So many possibilities, and while they could perhaps, all be charted and foreseen, one could never predict which possibilities would actually come to be.”
“And there is a value in that?” His answer came in the form of numerous sardonic glares from those who clearly thought there was. “Just because you do see value in the difficulty in predicting does not mean there really is one.”
“And just because you can find a reason to dismiss it doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist.” The target of the last barb gave a sardonic smile and a nod. “Remember that the creatures in the simulation are acting with even less foresight than we have, and in this simulation we operate with much less than that to which we are accustomed.”
“Precisely. We rely on knowing the probable outcome of almost everything in our lives to a very high degree of probability. In the simulation, there is no certainty at all, for us or the creatures within.”
As if on cue, a small notification signal sounded. Two of the members suddenly seemed embarrassed. The current leader and the maker both sensed their discomfort and turned toward them, the rest of the group then redirecting their attention.
One of the two responded to the silent question. “We” he started, indicating the other embarrassed member, “realized early on that there was a great deal of uncertainty in the simulation. Since there has been so little uncertainty in our world for so long, it was intriguing. The mathematics alone was quite a challenge. So we began trying to predict the outcome of various situations. Then we began competing to see which of us could make more correct predictions. Then we began to make wagers on our predictions.”
The maker only smiled, but the current leader was aghast, as if a great faux pas had been committed.
“Apart from all that, it is so beautiful!”
“Is that what you all are going on and on about? A pretty picture?”
“Admit it. Even you see the beauty in it. So much variety, subtlety, intensity.”
“Apart from the beauty of the physical, there are the beings who come to be conscious and self-aware.”
“And eventually become creatures yearning to be like us. Isn’t that sweet? Isn’t that a needed affirmation of our noble being! It is a model, a simulation! None of it is real!”
“All, the same, speaking of noble being, you have creatures making decisions, decisions that rule out other possibilities and set their course along a certain path. And they do this knowing that they can never even foresee all of the possible outcomes. They cannot even foresee all of the probable out comes.”
“It is a work of great beauty. On many, many levels.
“I want to revisit my question, how deep does it go? Are the creatures self-aware?
“What kind of question is that? It’s a model! A model based on calculations. Nothing more!”
“It is not just a model. It is a simulation. A simulation based on a very large number of possibilities and variables. Every moment the entire simulation could go an entirely different way. Creatures who have come out of that …”
“Are still not real!”
Perhaps, but at what point do they become real on some level?
“That is a totally meaningless question! The answer us never. It is a model, a simulation, whatever, it is an entire construct, a calculation, and that based on a myth.
“How can you say that? How, after such a demonstration of beauty and wonder and intrigue can you still call it a myth?”
“I can call it that because this demonstration, no matter how creative and novel,” nods to the maker, “no matter how delightfully intricate and detailed,” another body to the maker,” no matter how mesmerizing and entertaining,“ yet another nod to the creator, “proves nothing.”
“I move that we decree the model be kept in case the consciousness really might be conscious and sentient.”
“Do as you will. Even I can see the logic in that, though I still maintain it is logic based upon a myth. But no doubt it will provide us with much diversion and amusement and discussion for eons. It is a lovely answer to one of the greatest “What ifs?” of all our many and long discussions.
“Wrong, error-ridden, ridiculous, but lovely. It does not, however, change the basic problem in the least. A so called big bang is just an ‘if,’ or, rather, an ‘IF.’ Nothing more.
“The simulation has shown what might very well be the natural result if a big bang were possible. It is most mesmerizing and thought provoking, a tremendous congratulation and thanks to the maker. We will be debating this for a long, long time to come.
“But that changes nothing. What might happen, or even what most likely would happen after a big bang is not a proof there could ever be a big bang.
“You have still done nothing to make me believe in the Big Bang. Your mesmerizing, tantalizing model is based on the myth of the possibility of a big bang, and has done nothing to make me believe that a physical, temporal dimension could ever truly exist.”
(C) 2016 by Ron L Clayton