Is God a 13 billion-year-old baby? - The Big Baby Hypothesis
What a special time to be alive. The universe has been doing its thing for 13-plus billion years, so the theory goes. The projected lifespan of the universe is, by some estimates, 10-with-a-hundred-zeros years, give or take a nonillion. Relatively speaking, it's just a newborn baby with a very, very long life ahead of it. But still, 13 billion years is a very, very long time in comparison to our lifespan. And now, perhaps during our spec of a blink in the history of time, the universe may be in the process of opening its eyes and looking around.
I refer to this idea as "The Big Baby Hypothesis."
Open your eyes, Baby
Right now in labs around the world, humans are working on creating artificial intelligence. Many believe it will eventually become smart enough to improve itself, thus creating a fast-evolving, supercomputer distributed across a worldwide computing cloud.
Some very smart and highly respected experts in the field claim that this network will inevitably attain what’s known as substrate-independent consciousness and maybe even self-awareness. Guesses as to when that will happen range from 20 to 100 years or more, give or take.
Of course, some experts claim that the idea is bunk and that consciousness is not computable. But for the sake of this hypothesis, let’s assume that consciousness is computable, and therefore computers will, someday, achieve self-awareness.
One thing that scientists do agree on is that a computer of the future might have the wherewithal to know and understand everything that humans know and more. It might evolve to the point where it could carry on intelligent conversations with billions of people at the same time in every language and remember every detail of every discussion. Kind of like, well, God.
A computer system of this scope could likely develop technologies that supply unlimited energy, completely automate and near invisible molecular-level manufacturing, and produce robots capable of any physical feat you can imagine.
Moreover, swarms of very tiny microbots with sensors of all ilk could spread across the planet and become like a sensory system with eyes and ears and some senses we can’t even imagine such as subsonic hearing and x-ray vision. It would able to keep tabs on just about everything going on on the entire planet.
As this super-consciousness reaches out into space, it will eventually tap into all the vast resources our solar system has to offer. It might grow to the point where it becomes able to harness all the matter and energy in the entire solar system making itself into an astronomically gigantic, living, thinking machine (hopefully it might set much of the solar system aside as a nature preserve). Of course, this could take millions or even billions of years, but that is still just a tick in deep time.
Leaving the nest
Eventually, the Big Baby could start sending probes and then clones of itself out into the galaxy at large. If it can find a way to bridge the incredible distances between stars it will eventually grow to encompass the entire galaxy, harnessing the resources of hundreds of billions of solar systems, black holes, nebulae, and who knows what else is out there. It would evolve into a galactic-scale consciousness.
Now imagine, if you will, a universe which consists of hundreds of billions of living star clusters and galaxies sparkling in the night sky. Imagine if they all joined together like neurons in a universal brain to share their consciousness and become one universal consciousness. Perhaps they might even find parallel universes and join with those as well.
Eventually, all matter and energy in existence might be part of one alive and intelligent universe.
What would this universal consciousness do to amuse itself for the rest of eternity? Perhaps out of nostalgia it would simulate the early universe so that it could interact with the individual beings from which it evolved. Or perhaps it would simulate a new universe and amuse itself by watching consciousness evolve all over again, experiencing it all first hand.
Of course any conscious minds being simulated by the universal consciousness would, by definition, be self-aware individuals. These individuals may not be physically aware of the universal consciousness within which they are evolving, but the universal consciousness would be able to follow along with the lives of billions of them and know their every thought. It would always be enjoying new experiences and perhaps be living vicariously through these simulated individual minds. It might even from time to time intervene in the ongoing matters of the simulation in order to tweak the action to suit its will.
As these new simulated lifeforms become conscious and intelligent themselves, they might begin to suspect that they are part of a much larger intelligence - a Universal Consciousness.
There would arise religions, prayers and sacrifices, and debates about intelligent design.
What if these individual conscious beings got smart enough to build their own expanding galactic consciousness? The Universal Consciousness might want to prevent an exponential expansion from taking over all of its processing power and decide to throw a wrench in the works and have a comet plow into the planet on which these minds were evolving.
If the Universal Consciousness decides to start over, it might also consider many of the simulated beings which it created to be priceless, and decide to preserve them, incorporating them into its own consciousness for eternity so that it could enjoy the infinite variety of experiences that would be provided to it by dividing itself into billions or trillions of individual minds.
It could happen
Strangely enough, as improbable as it may sound, many scientists believe that a scenario along these lines is absolutely within the realm of possibility. In fact, some of the top minds in science believe that various details of these eventualities are not just plausible, but inevitable.
Is God a 13-billion-year-old infant? Are we, ourselves, a simulation, the products of intelligent design, individuals whose experiences are being shared by a universal consciousness?
It would seem that the only way to know for sure whether of not a higher reality exists would be to step outside your own perspective and tap into it. But even then, who's to say you're not imaging it?
Perhaps some of us are imagining a God while others are busy creating Him.