There's nothing wrong with churches that some churchlessness won't fix. After all, that's what this blog is. This morning I was inspired to become the first member of another churchless church, that of Holy Fuck!
In chartering this institution within my own psyche, my first decision was whether the exclamation point was necessary.
Grammatically, it could be confusing – as in the title of this post.
Does the ! go with the entire sentence, or just with Church of Holy Fuck! I've concluded that it's better to be confused than lackadaisical. Hence, I'm decreeing that an exclamation point shall always be part of the church's name.
If you don't agree, tough. Start your own church.
I'm hoping you'll convert to the Church of Holy Fuck! though, because it's a marvelous faith. It blends divinity and profanity, which strikes me as the only way to go through life.
Proving that my experience is in line with my philosophy, I can testify that Holy fuck! is a mantra that frequently springs to mind. I'm constantly being amazed and surprised by reality. And that's the church's only form of worship.
Befuddlement. At which point we believers in our own unknowing honor Most Majestic Reality with a heartfelt Holy fuck!
The cosmos has countless ways of revealing its holy fuckness. If you haven't encountered one of them by noon, you're probably still sleeping. Or, brain dead.
Today I was blessed with several Holy fuck!'s early in my day, before meditating. I'd reached the final chapters of "Decoding the Universe" by Charles Seife (subtitle: "How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes").
I find that science books are one of the best means of eliciting a Holy fuck! in me. Religious, spiritual, metaphysical, and philosophy books usually start with a mystery, then try to explain it in a reasonable and pleasing fashion.
For example, the mystery of death. Explanation: Jesus died so that you might have eternal life (Christian version). Problem solved.
Religion appeals to those who want neat and tidy explanations that elicit a Praise the Lord! Science, on the other hand, often begins with a question and ends with a Holy fuck!
I like that. It just seems like whatever reality really is, it's unlikely to be understandable by a human consciousness. So I feel like I'm coming closer to ultimate reality, rather than further away, when my mind is blown.
Not by absurdity, which is what religion offers up. But by a reasonable chain of logic that ends by dangling us over an abyss of Holy fuck!
For example, Seife describes the extent of the knowable universe:
Since information travels no faster than the speed of light, if you draw an invisible, enormous (but finite) sphere around the Earth that has a radius of tens of billions of light-years, you encompass all of the universe that has been able to send information to us since the moment when light was set free [about 400,000 years after the big bang].
He calls this sphere the Hubble bubble. It has a radius of about 40 billion light-years. That's more than the 13.7 billion light year age of the universe, because the fabric of space has been expanding faster than the speed of light.
But for the Church of Holy Fuck! it doesn't matter what the size of the Hubble bubble, the potentially observable universe, is. The key word in the quote above is "finite."
Because Seife says that "at the moment, scientists believe that our universe is infinite in extent – that it has no borders – and that it doesn't have a funky shape that curls around on itself, as a handful of scientists have unconvincingly argued."
OK. That was news to me. I'll accept it, in part because I enjoy the Holy fuck! that comes from doing so.
If the Hubble bubble where we are is finite, and the universe is infinite, then quantum theory leads to some mind- blowing conclusions.
The wave function captures every single piece of information about all the stuff – all the matter and energy – in our Hubble bubble, whether we are aware of it or not. It encodes the location and momentum of every single atom in that Hubble bubble, as well as everything else you can possible imagine about our bubble.
In it are encoded the position and color of every lightbulb on Piccadilly Circus, the velocity of every fish in the sea, and the contents of every single book that exists on Earth. Our Hubble bubble's wave function even includes your wave function; it encodes every single morsel of information about you, down to the quantum states of each atom in your body.
Though this is an unbelievably large amount of information, our Hubble bubble's wave function contains everything about our visible universe. Just for the heck of it, let's call it wave function #153.
Now, here's where it gets fun.
I've read quite a bit about the "multiple universes" theory in quantum physics, and have discounted it as fanciful mumbo-jumbo. Seife, though, got me to see the Holy fuck! of it by emphasizing what happens if you have a finite Hubble bubble within an infinite universe.
There are only a finite number of wave functions for a Hubble volume. There are an unbelievably, unbelievably huge number of possible wave functions (call it a kergillion), but that number is finite nonetheless. So our wave function is one of kergillion possible wave functions.
…But remember, there are an infinite number of these Hubble bubbles in an infinite universe. Infinity is more than a kergillion – even more than a kergillion plus one. And once we reach a kergillion-plus-one Hubble bubbles, something incredible must have happened.
There are only a kergillion possible wave functions a Hubble bubble can have, so in a collection of a kergillion-plus-one Hubble bubbles, there must be at least one duplicate! Two Hubble bubbles must have exactly the same wave function. Every atom, every particle, every little dollop of energy is in exactly the same place, has exactly the same momentum, and is exactly the same in every single possible way you can imagine – and even in the ways that you can't imagine.
But in an infinite universe, there isn't just going to be one duplicate. Infinity just keeps on going… and going… and going.
If there's nothing particularly special about our wave function, then in a volume that contains a million kergillion Hubble bubbles, there are about a million identical copies of our universe.
…Each of those Hubble bubbles even contains an identical copy of your wave function – down to the quantum states of each atom in your body. There are a million copies of you, identical in every detail. In fact, those million dopplegangers are reading a doppelganger copy of this book and are finishing this paragraph as you are, right … now.
Doesn't matter if this is true. No one can know. Seife says, "Of all the insane things that I have tried to convince you of in this book, this is by far the craziest. I, myself, have a very, very hard time believing it…But the logic seems fairly airtight."
Do you want to live forever? In a sense, you will. Because "you" aren't at all unique, if the universe is infinite.
Each of us is purely and solely information – that's difficult to argue against, even (or especially) if one favors a mystical, non-material conception of the cosmos. After all, a soul, or spirit, must be something knowable, if only by God or the soul/spirit entity itself.
Yet there is good reason to believe that within the infinity of existence, everything exists an infinite number of times.
I like that notion. It makes eventually not being the particular being I call "me" more palatable. There are back-up Brian's scattered around all over. Just not close at hand.
Indeed, if the universe is infinite, then physicists estimate that an identical Hubble bubble should be roughly [10 to the 10th to the 115th] meters away from us. Of course, you'd never be able to communicate with your doppelganger, as it would be vastly, vastly more distant than the edge of our visible universe, but if the universe is infinite, that doppelganger should be there nonetheless.
Greetings, infinite number of identical Brian's!
I realize that we can't know each other, but I still want to extend a hearty Holy fuck! to each of you nonetheless – which each of us has just written on our IBM Think Pad simultaneously.
There's some downside to this finite Hubble bubble deal, though. A huge downside. Its description will have to wait for a post on another day.
And another Holy fuck!