March 8, 2010

Spirit in a Box

The First Cause of the physical universe is causeless, supernatural, transcendent, and eternal.  The First Cause of the physical universe can only be described in non-physical terms…because the First Cause is non-physical.

This shouldn’t actually be all that surprising, because when contemplating the answer to “What’s the point?” (the question that started this whole thing), we intuitively know that whatever the “point” is, its outside of our physical selves.

The tough part is that we naturally tend to define how “real” and substantive something is by its physical proof.  We rely on proof that we can see smell, touch, taste, and/or hear.  But if the First Cause of the universe is non-physical (immaterial) AND greater than the material universe (the effect), then we’re going to have to become comfortable with the idea that some of the things we consider immaterial may actually be more “real” than what we can experience with our physical senses. (Don’t worry; when we get to my April 19th blog post, that sentence will make complete sense.  Probably).

The weight of information

What kinds of things are immaterial, transcendent, and time-less, yet are substantive enough to have a dramatic effect on the physical/material world?

In a broad sense, I’d have to say that the answer is “information”.  Let’s use something in close proximity to demonstrate what I mean – your computing system.  The system in front of you works because of functioning hardware and software.  Hardware is, of course, the physical/material parts of the system – the screen, the processor, the housing, the keyboard, etc.

But all that hardware is nothing more than an expensive paperweight without software.  Software is the information and rules that tell the hardware what to do and how to do it.  Software has a dramatic affect on the physical.  This information makes the physical “work”.

Software is information.  But even the most powerful software is immaterial.  If you take a blank disk or other storage device, weigh it, then load it up with all the software that it can hold, and weigh it again, you will find that it weighs exactly the same as before.

Information is weightless.  It has no mass.  If information has no mass, then it transcends the physical world.  Information is also time-less because according to Einstein, time can only affect objects with mass. (Remember, whenever someone wants to show how smart they are, they always reference Einstein).

“Information” is as broad a concept as “the universe”.  In fact, like the universe, information is an “effect”.  So to get a better understanding of it, we should use the ladder of causality that we used on the physical universe.  We need to find the “causeless” cause of information.

Information is an effect of knowledge.  Knowledge is an effect of intelligence.  Intelligence is an effect of the ability to understand.  Understanding is an effect of thinking.  Thinking is an effect of interpreting stimuli.  The ability to interpret stimuli is governed by qualitative (subjective) and quantitative (objective) principles (values) that we apply to the stimuli.

What you have in common with Microsoft

The interesting thing is that since humans are thinking beings (for the most part), we conform to the computer systems example above.  The most valuable part of the computer – the most “real” part if you will, is the software, not the hardware. The “real” part of the computer system (software) is immaterial and transcendent.

And so is the real “you”.

What makes you, you is not “hardware”; not the physical body you occupy that is slowly wearing down, losing elasticity, gaining liver spots and losing hair.  The real you; the things that make you special and unique  – your personality, your intellect, your understanding, your memories, your experiences, your knowledge, your talent, your will – is ALL information.  The real you is “software”!  Your software makes your physical body function and tells it what to do.  Your physical actions are just an effect of your will.

If the real you is software, then the real you has no mass.  The real you is immaterial and transcendent.   The real you is eternal.  There is a term for this.  Its called “spirit”.  The real you is spirit.  The first cause or your spirit are principles (we’ll address this more in a later post).

The First Cause of existence is also spirit.  The First Cause of existence is “principles”.  But unlike the first cause of your spirit, the First Cause of existence must consist of causeless principles; principles that require no precedent cause.  Are there causeless principles?  And if so, what are they?

More answers in one week

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4 thoughts on “Spirit in a Box
  1. Lu

    Nice post this week! I’ve usually gone about this argument via the “values” path, e.g. pointing out that “justice” is immaterial and requires something immaterial to create it. But I like your take on it, as values can sometimes instinctively put non- or anti-religious folks on the defensive, whereas “information” is value-neutral.

    And the weighing of the CD was a great visual and visceral example!

    You should have mentioned too that Bill Gates got rich by realizing that the software was the more valuable part of the hardware/software duality.

    Anyway, I’ve gone and done something I try not to do too often – I LEARNED something.


    1. E. Mabrie

      Thanks for the comments Lu.

      Good point about the value-neutral aspect of information. It is tough to get past some of the mental armor that people automatically put up when “religious” topics are broached. I found that the best way to do it is to break down the topic to its essence – getting past all the religious/moral trigger words and deal with the topic objectively. And since I am honestly only interested in truth I don’t have to fear being wrong. If I’m right, then the other person can learn from me and grow, but even if I am proven wrong then I still win because that means that I can discard what I previously believed and embrace what I just learned, thus moving me closer to truth. That’s the reason I’m taking the systematic approach in regards to this blog.

      You’re right about Bill Gates but I don’t like to mention him because I operate under the paranoid delusion that he put a program in all Windows OS that monitors any time his name is typed out and has a team of lawyers ready to pounce. That’s why I own a Mac.


  2. Michael Thompson

    Hi! cool blog!

    “The First Cause of existence is also spirit. ”

    but, wouldn’t spirit have to exist, before it could be a cause?


    1. E. Mabrie

      Hi MT

      Thanks for the comment.

      Actually, my supposition is that principles (ours, and those of the First Cause) are the first cause of spirit. Our spirit is the transcendent/eternal sum of our first cause principles and all the effects thereof.

      Thanks again. Please keep reading and commenting.



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