A while ago we did a post on pandeism, in that post we discussed the feasibility of pandeism as core of a future religion in a highly scientific society. We introduced the ideas of Bernard Haisch, a NASA PhD astrophysicist, we wrote the book The God Theory in which he explains the creation of the universe as the transformation of god into the universe. However Haisch is not only one to pursue pandeistic ideas. American writer Scott Adams has written an excellent book God’s Debris.
What kind of book is God’s Debris? Although the books start as a novel, it is definitely not a novel, at least not in the usual sense. The book contains only two character, the I-figure, a package deliverer, and an elderly man who reveals himself at the end as “Avatar”. The “story” starts when the I-figure has to deliver a package at a certain address. The postman has the habitat of checking whether doors are locked or not, and when he cannot deliver the package and if he can open the door, he would leave the package indoors. This routine is followed by the main character at the beginning of the book, however in this case the resident is in fact at home. But instead of complaining, the other man, Avatar, invites the deliverer for a conversation. This talk starts with an odd question from Avatar: “Did you deliver the package, or did the package deliver you?” The postman answer that he delivered the package, but Avatar asks then whether he would have delivered the package if it did not contain an address. The I-figure denies he would, Avatar subsequently concludes that a certain cooperation from the package is required to deliver it. This first question is typical for the rest of the book, and therefore I would place “God’s Debris” in the genre of a Socratic dialogue.
Then the man starts to talk about whether we have a free will or not. The package deliverer says we have, but after a few more critical questions from Avatar he admits we cannot be sure. Then Avatar switch to discussing whether god has a free will, and after a short exchange, the I-figure exclaims that the old man is an atheist. Slowly Avatar explains his theory about god and the universe. According to his theory, god has decided at a certain moment to cease to exist. When god ceased to exist his “body” became the dust we and the universe are made, hence the title God’s Debris.
According to Avatar this debris from god, consist of two things: matter and probability. In essence Avatar’s worldview can be described as dualistic, since the world is made up from two different things. However Avatar’s dualism is different from “classic” dualism, because probability is a process rather than a substance. According his theory, probability is the driving force of the universe and is it the left over of god’s mind.
But why did god decide to cease to exist? According to Avatar an omnipotent and omniscient being cannot be motivated by the same motivations as humans, for example an omnipotent god does not require food and hence is not driven by hunger as we do. In fact, Avatar argues, that such omnipotent and omniscient being can only be motivated by one thing: the desire to experience his non-existence. One might wonder if god has really ceased to exist, how can he experience his own non-existence? Here is interesting twist, and also a distinction between Haisch’s pandeism and God’s Debris, the non-existence of god is temporary. According to Avatar we are part of the reconstruction of god. Since our universe is made from the same components as god, these components can rearranged such that god will exist once more. However, we might wonder what god would do after his reconstruction, but on this Avatar remains silent.
There is a striking resemblance between Avatar’s theory and Hinduism. Some schools of Hinduism believe that our soul is actually a piece of god’s soul, Brahman, which had become separated from it. According to this view the purpose of spirituality is the recombination of our soul with Brahman. (For the Harry Potter fans among us, this has nothing to the with the production of horcruxes).
Avatar sees the invention of the Internet as a sign of the upcoming reconstruction of god. He clearly believes that god cannot be reconstructed without human help, in essence the purpose of our existence is to possible the reconstruction of god. Consequently Avatar is worried about the continued existence of humanity, as long as man exists god can be reconstructed. However, when humanity will become extinct god’s reconstruction is jeopardized. Especially is Avatar concerned about the numerous conflicts in the world combined with the existence of weapons of mass destruction. All these might lead to a new world war with the great risk of human extinction.
Interestingly this theory might provide a strong motive for space colonization. Space colonization might ensure the continued existence of the human race, even if terrestrial nations would destroy each other. By further expansion of humanity about the universe, the probability that the human race will be destroyed before the reconstruction of god will decrease rapidly.
At a certain point the I-figure ask whether people has to do anything special in order to “satisfy” god. Avatar responds to this question:
“Every economic activity helps. Whether you are pro-
gramming computers, or growing food, or raising children,
or cleaning garbage from the side of the road, you are con-
tributing to the realization of God’s consciousness. None of
those activities is more important than another.”
In other words simply living your life is a good thing to do because everything is helping the reconstruction of god. As an ethical theory this is a pleasant idea, do whatever you do for a living and you are a good person. No worry about difficult dilemma’s or strange rules written in long forgotten books. However, when we are speaking about ethics, we are talking about good and evil. This is what Avatar has to say about it:
“Evil is any action that might damage people. Probabil-ity generally punishes evildoers. Since most criminals arecaptured and jailed, overall the people who hurt others tendto pay. So evil does exist and, on average, it is punished.
This comes quite clause to the Buddhist idea of causality. The comparison with karma does not escape the attention of the package deliverer. Naturally the conversation shifts to the topic of the afterlife. Avatar explains as follows:
“Over time, everything that is possible happens. That is
a fundamental quality of probability. If you flip a coin often
enough, eventually it will come up heads a thousand times
in a row. And everything possible will happen over and over
as long as God’s debris exists. The clump of debris that
comprises your body and mind will break down and disin-
tegrate someday, but a version of you will reappear in the
future, by chance.”
“Are you saying I’ll reincarnate?”
“Not exactly. I’m saying a replica of your mind and
body will exist in the distant future, by chance. And the
things you do now can either make life more pleasant or
more difficult for your replica.”
“Why would I care about a replica of me? That’s a dif-
Avatar goes further and explains that there will be many more replicas of ourselves in the future, but he also states that some future people will have some of our memories, not necessarily all.This is also a further similarity with the Buddhist idea of rebirth, which is distinct from reincarnation. The latter is the movement of the soul from one body to another, however, Buddhism denies to existence of the soul. The Buddhist idea of rebirth means that to lives are related, but not identical.
We might now wonder if the theory as presented in God’s Debris is true, what about different religious views. Are those wrong? Avatar denies that religion does not matter, even if there are false:
“The best any human can do is to pick a delusion thathelps him get through the day. This is why people of differ-ent religions can generally live in peace. At some level, weall suspect that other people don’t believe their own religionany more than we believe ours.”
I want the end this post with the following quote:
“Four billion people say they believe in God, but fewgenuinely believe. If people believed in God, they wouldlive every minute of their lives in support of that belief. Richpeople would give their wealth to the needy. Everyonewould be frantic to determine which religion was the trueone. No one could be comfortable in the thought that theymight have picked the wrong religion and blundered into eternal damnation, or bad reincarnation, or some otherunthinkable consequence. People would dedicate their livesto converting others to their religions.