Friday, September 27, 2013

What is mature creation?

Philip Henry Gosse was an eminent Victorian marine biologist. Some critics dismiss Omphalos as a rear-guard response to Darwinism, but he published his monograph two years before Darwin's bombshell. Omphalism is a radical version of mature creation. 

Because this was published in the mid-19C, the description seems a bit quaint. But suppose we recast the thesis is more contemporary terms. Indeed, there's a sense in which his vision was ahead of its time. We're just beginning to catch up to it.

Take virtual reality, as well as VR-themed movies and TV dramas like Harsh Realm, The Matrix, and Tron: Legacy. VR is like a sophisticated, immersive video game. 

The simulation has a "mature" component. The programmer creates a setting. It could be a landscape or cityscape. It may be populated by virtual characters. These only exist in the simulation. 

In addition to virtual characters there are alternates. These are real people who have virtual counterparts in the program. 

Incidentally, that's an intriguing way of to model substance dualism. 

The setting and the virtual characters are present from the outset. That's a given. So this is a well-furnished world rather than an empty world. 

But once the initial conditions are put in place, the virtual world can undergo internal development. One catalyst comes from the outside. Because the program is interactive, users can cause events within the simulation. Their choices and actions drive the plot. 

That would be analogous to the distinction between fiat creation and ordinary providence. 

There are variations on this theme. In one version, characters are conscious of the illusion. In another version, characters are unconscious of the illusion. In still another version, characters become conscious of the illusion. 

Of course, there's a sense in which the virtual world is real within the simulation. It has its own laws. Cause and effect. Actions have foreseeable consequences. 

That's a hitch way of modeling mature creation. If Gosse were living today, that's how he might conceive it. 

Although this is fictitious, it has some real world analogues. As neuroprosthetics continues to advance, I'm sure that will be applied to virtual programming. The neurointerface will practically erase the gap between illusion and reality. 

Likewise, consider the holographic universe:

Now, I myself don't think the universe is a computer simulation. But why is that a reputable theory, while mature creation is disreputable?  

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