QR1.2.4. The Reality Options

The main reality options reduce to three:

1. Physical realism. That only the physical world exists, and does so by itself alone.

2. Dualism. That the physical world exists, but there is also a higher reality beyond it.

3. Virtualism. That the physical world is a construct, created by something outside itself.

In physical realism, a self-existent physical world observes itself, but how can dead matter observe? And how can it make choices that aren’t predicted by prior physical events, as radioactive atoms do?

In dualism, a spiritual realm observes and influences a real physical world, giving a God of the Gaps that only explains what is left after science advances, which every day gets smaller.

In virtualism, another reality generates the physical world in order to observe it, as we watch movies on a screen, but opinion is divided on whether this “other” is:

1. Physical. In The Matrix movie, a virtual New York seemed real to its inhabitants because they only knew it by information, just as we know ours. When the hero disconnects from the matrix, he falls back into another world to find that post-nuclear machines are farming people for energy in vats, while feeding them a virtual reality. In the movie, he had been living in a construct, created by programs in a real physical world. I theory, this is possible because the Church-Turing thesis lets a finite program simulate any specifiable output (Tegmark, 2007), but in practice, to simulate even a few hundred atoms with a conventional computer:

“… would need more memory space that there are atoms in the universe as a whole, and would take more time to complete the task than the current age of the universe.(Lloyd, 2006) p53.

Even a computer as big as our universe couldn’t remotely do the job, so this option is unlikely.

2. Mental. Solipsism is that the physical world is a dream of the mind, that a self-existing observer dreams what isn’t there at all. That our brains create our reality is shown by optical illusions but it doesn’t mean there is no reality out there. As Einstein asked Bohr, does the moon exist when no one is looking? Solipsism may solve the quantum observer effect[1], but if I’m dreaming you, you’re just pixels, and if no tree falls in a forest that no-one watches, how does history arise? Are we fabricating the millions of years when dinosaurs roamed the earth before we came along? If I am dreaming, why can’t I dream the body I want? For these reasons, this option is unlikely..

3. Quantum. In this view, quantum processes create physical events that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Physics currently rejects this option because it gives:

“…no means of understanding the hardware upon which that software is running. So we have no way of understanding the real physics of reality.(Deutsch, 1997)

To assume that we can only study the physical then conclude that we can’t study quantum processes because they aren’t physical is circular logic. It proves a premise by assuming it. That quantum processes need physical hardware is to assume that they are physical, which is the premise questioned. Quantum waves disappear in impossible ways, tunnel past impassable barriers, and ignore speed of light limits on interactions, so they can’t be physical. But none of this means that quantum waves don’t exist or that we can’t study them, as we study gravity that we can’t see physically. To expect the “hardware” of what creates physical reality to follow the rules of its creation is illogical. The qubit of quantum processing is unlike the bit of physical processing for this reason.

That what isn’t physical doesn’t exist is an assumption not a fact. And that science can’t study what it can’t see is a myth, as quantum theory testifies. That quantum events create physical events is neither illogical nor unscientific, so this option is now explored based on physical evidence, not bias.

[1] In quantum theory, observing a spreading quantum wave causes a physical event, so this implies that observation is necessary to create a physical event.