Friday, January 9, 2009

The Omega Point

I just finished reading Robert Sawyer's Sci-fi novel Flashforward. In the novel scientists at CERN are performing a run using the Large Hadron Collider to search for the Higgs boson. During the experience the entire human race loses consciousness for 2 minutes and experiences visions of events 21 years into the future. Humanity awakens to find that their visions of the future came with a terrible price: planes crashed in take off/landing, the freeways became graveyards, and thousands more were either injured or killed by devices needing human control. It presents themes of free will vs. predestination and has introduced me into new ideas about our universe.

One concept that I found particularly intriguing quoted in the book is the Omega Point. The Omega Point, coined by Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, is used to describe "the maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which the universe appears to be evolving." In other words the universe is developing and being drawn towards a supreme point of complexity and consciousness, an "all knowing" computer intelligence. In Flashforward the author quoted Frank Tipler's use of the Omega Point, a mechanism for the ultimate fate of the universe where
computer-based life will eventually supplant biological life, and that information-processing capabilities will continue to expand year after year, until at some point, in the far future, no conceivable computing problem will be impossible. There will be nothing that the future machine life won't have the power or resources to calculate."[Flashforward, Ch. 16]
With essentially infinite processing capabilities the Omega Point will be able to replicate every person and every possible memory state throughout time. There may be "oodles" of possible humans and memories throughout time but it is a finite number. Therefore the Omega Point, which Frank Tipler associates with God, will be able to "resurrect" every single person in a virtual reality emulation. He argues that this is possible because
as the universe comes to an end in a specific kind of Big Crunch, the computational capacity of the universe will be accelerating exponentially faster than time runs out. In principle, a simulation run on this universal computer can thus continue forever in its own terms, even though the universal computer is embedded in a universe that will last only a finite time.

So why would an omniscience, omnipotent computer bring us back to life? Tipler says (quoting from Flashforward) that the Omega Point loves us. Now I have yet to read any of Tipler's books but I find this all very intriguing and I have to say sounds similar to the Matrix although we don't become batteries. Physics is way beyond my understanding but in Tipler's 2007 The Physics of Christianity he states that the Omega point is triune in its structure:
the Final Singularity (i.e., the Omega Point), the All-Presents Singularity (which Tipler states exists at all times at the edge of the multiverse), and the Initial Singularity (i.e., the beginning of the Big Bang), which Tipler identifies with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, respectively (successively, the First, Second and Third Persons of the Trinity).
So could God be this singularity/computer intelligence that watches over us as described in our religious texts? I don't know but this is a highly interesting theory. Chardin's The Phenomenon of Man states that the Omega Point unites Creation by drawing the Universe towards itself. This sounds similar to the concept of the soul's journey after death. The body is just a shell and the soul is immutable and indestructible which can then take on a new life through reincarnation until it achieves Moksha (in some Eastern Religions) or after Judgment the soul will then reap what it sowed by entering into Heaven or Hell (Western Religions). Does this Omega Point then choose which "souls" (or mathematical calculations) it will resurrect in the virtual reality emulation based on the person's beliefs or actions through life or will it resurrect everyone? This also bears some similarity to the conclusion of the Matrix Revolutions [Spoiler Warning!] when Neo allows his coding (his soul) to be reinserted into the Matrix. In Matrix Reloaded he was given the same choice to return his coding and then choose 16 females and 7 males to rebuild Zion so that the simulation can start all over again. The Omega Point which began as the source of creation draws all life to itself at the end of time.

Should Tipler then start a church of his own? Well I hope we don't have another sci-fi writer/prophet but it might be a movement that might outlast the other religions by interweaving faith and science and if it did gain momentum just think about the impact. How long would it take to be recognized as a legitimate faith? Would it be on the same level as the other religions or would they all consider it a cult? This is all based on a physics theory so don't take me too seriously I'm just thinking aloud. I'm not saying the world religions of today are outdated but any movement that does not adapt to its present environment will eventually become stagnant. And even then Humanity might outgrow faith altogether as some (if not all) atheist are proposing. We do have December 21st 2012 to keep us busy until then only time will tell.

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