The Resurrection Begins

Sep 10 2016

There’s no easy way to explain the politics of “Heaven” at this point in history, unless you’re a “total nerd.” At least, there’s no complete or accurate way. That’s exactly the problem, the reason there’s this controversy over “physical magic.” The dilemma is, the “magic’s” results seem incontrovertible, but the actual physical mechanism is almost too subtle for people to understand why it’s really a scam. It’s subtle, and too horrifyingly, disgustingly cruel to be believed. I might know a thing or two about divine vengeance. I ate beans and broccoli before a Sunday wedding ceremony, once.

I’ve been called “She of the Ointment Jar.” Once, people carved my likeness in “alabaster” medicine and cosmetic jars. Some people call me “Bast.” Some people call me “Maurice.” There’s this one particular nut, or maybe a lab rat, from New Jersey who prefers “Bastet,” which is acceptable if you’re him or Indiana Jones.

Only this one little red eyed “lab rat,” out of every soul on the planet, is likely to see “physical magic” work consistently. If it doesn’t work, we kill him. It’s kind of like testing cosmetics by dabbing them directly into an animal’s eyes. If he survives to see miracles happen, we get clear skin, and smooth hair, and magic in a bottle, not really thinking about how many innocent, conscious animals’ tears it took before we paid fifty dollars for it in the supermarket because a fashion magazine told us we were ugly, obese offenses to all that is beautiful and good if we didn’t buy it.

Confused, yet? If there is somehow popular confusion and disagreement about global climate change and evolution, then there is absolutely no hope for a crying lab rat.

Bear with me: we’re gonna go over the relevant chapter in the physics textbook. I read it, at some point in the past hundred years or so. Maybe you’ve heard of “Schrödinger’s Cat.” I like cats, so I’m not going to put one through the thought experiment. I’m gonna put Schrödinger in his own damned murder box, for a change.

A cat places a scientist into a box which completely shields the space inside from all physical interaction with the outside. Inside the box, the cat also places a sealed vial of poison. The vial is attached to a device that contains a small bit of radioactive material and a radiation detector trigger, to break the vial. It’s not really important exactly how the trigger works, just that it’s a “fundamentally quantum random” death trigger. (The cat even made Schrödinger pet her and got a second breakfast out of him.) The cat also places a dead bird in the box for a reason Schrödinger kinda thinks he understands, but it was honestly half to say, “Fuck you in your stupid human box.”

The cat seals the box and takes a nap. Say that the expectation time is three minutes for the trigger mechanism to detect one radioactive particle breaking down, which opens the vial of poison. In that case, three minutes after the box is sealed, Schrödinger is in a “fifty-fifty” superposition of breathing and not breathing the poison, and the cat is hungry. That is, on the face of one relatively literal interpretation of quantum theory, Schrödinger is simultaneously dying and safe, but the cat is definitely just hungry.

Why can’t this really mean that there’s just a “fifty-fifty” chance that Schrödinger is alive or dead? What’s special about this fancy-schmancy “superposition”?

If Schrödinger were a single fundamental particle prepared an equivalent way, his different superposed states would be able to interact to produce an “interference pattern” that would not be possible if the particle or the scientist in the box with a (definitely) dead bird were just in a simple “fifty-fifty” binary ignorance of state to us. In some sense, either by multiple parallel quantum worlds, or something arguably more exotic, like faster than light signalling by a “pilot wave” containing both states, both states must effectively exist simultaneously in at least the sense that they may interfere. Spooky. Even “spoopy,” perhaps.

Multiple interpretations of the principle of superposition as it applies to this case have been forwarded over the years. The first popular approach was basically to deny, deny, and deny its reality, at least for “things” as large as Schrödinger or the dead bird. The “Copenhagen Interpretation” says that superposition has to break down somewhere between the microscopic scale and the scale of human events. It might be safe to say at this point in time that this idea of “breakdown,” or “wave function collapse,” is redundant with how we expect the world we see to behave without it. “Copenhagen interpretation” has fallen at least slightly out of majority favor. The cat didn’t like it, for one thing. She wouldn’t touch any part of it at all, except for the box it came in.

This leaves us with a kind of a broke-down, smelly petting zoo full of post-Copenhagen ontologies explaining how and whether superposition applies to things as big as kitty cats and your girlfriend’s last lover. The internet is your friend, if you want to hear about the experiments with bigger, sexier things. Systems of billions of electrons in superconducting rings have been put into superposition. Packets of two or more particles of light have been “interfered” while superposed between different positions in space.

Am I boring you yet? Are you secretly looking at cat memes on your phone behind your textbook? “Can I haz naps?” Bear with me, class, for Jesus.

If Schrödinger genuinely exists in both states, what does he experience? After three minutes sealed in the box, “one of him,” or one or many physically possible versions of him, would experience painful, inexorable cat vengeance. Another three-ish minutes later, that one would be dead from poisoning. “Another” Schrödinger would recall about six minutes without the poisoning triggering; the dead recall nothing at all.

The chance of a longer wait for death is always nonzero;  a portion of the box’s wave function always contains him alive, if he experiences all parts of the wave function in parallel. Hours pass. A short time after the vial breaks in any given case, Schrödinger can no longer recall his death, or anything at all, but he remains in (separate, exclusive) conscious memory of each of the unlikely worlds where the vial did not break. He wishes the box wasn’t blocking the lab WiFi. He considers eating the dead bird. He holds off, but as time passes he becomes more and more sure that macroscopic superposition is real and that he shouldn’t have put so many thousands of cats through this “silly” experiment. Hours later, the cat is more than ninety nine percent likely to open the box to find a dead Schrödinger and still somehow manage to get the scientist to immediately feed her. Paradoxically, when the box is opened and the dust settles on all of Schrödinger’s likely demises, from his viewpoint, he is only likely to recall his statistically ‘miraculous’ survival, or else nothing at all. The cat rests assured that, when the vanishingly small fraction of Schrödinger’s wave function that survives breaks out, the cat can feign innocence, and no one will ever believe that Schrödinger’s survival is proof of superposed quantum macroscopic worlds and the cat’s hidden agenda of severe, yet adorable, psychological torture of all humans. Not even Schrödinger is likely to believe it, despite his ordeal.

What about the dead bird? This was actually the cruelest part of the cat’s plan. Hours later, or even days, the cat knows he will probably open the box to find Schrödinger dead. However, if Schrödinger emerges alive, and the bird is still dead, the cat will kill Schrödinger anyway. If Schrödinger makes it out alive, and the bird has resurrected, the cat will let Schrödinger live, because the cat would never miss an opportunity to challenge and manipulate Schrödinger’s identity as a scientist at its very core, if the scientist is to live at all. Understand that the common housecat is actually the absolutely perfect murder machine, never failing to end the life of its intended victim. (Scientists in the room–not many of you, though–realize that every time you point out a difference like between “perfect” and “arbitrarily accurate,” at least to a layman, your funding shrinks, by the way.) You see, when Schrödinger’s likelihood of survival drops to one in a billion, or one in a trillion, or one in a trillion, trillion, trillion, the cat has proof that all physically possible quantum outcomes occur in superposition, including the utterly improbable resurrection of a bird the cat killed, herself.

Killing the scientist makes the bird no more likely to revive. However, it makes the scientist more likely recall a “miracle” that might shake his identity fundamentally, or else he recalls nothing at all. (Ask a cat god how evil cats are.) This is the principle at the core of “physical magic.” If you don’t understand it—and I can’t blame you, human—then at least understand how convoluted and confused the political debate over this fact of “physical magic” has become as a result, and say a prayer for “Jesus.” Grant me this: I have seen this poor “lab rat” survive the “quantum suicide experiment” to incalculably small odds of survival. That makes my luck even better than his, because my survival does not depend on it. Though, that should make us both wonder.

I keep a close eye on this anomaly of a man. Most nights, you’d forget God is trying to entirely dismantle his identity in all regards.

On a night like any other, he thought absently, ‘When are you gonna crack the penis joke, Bastet?’

“I’ll crack a peener exactly when I’m damned well ready, H. P. Lovecraft,” I said to him.

He was just playing video games, to the untrained eye. He was over a friend’s house.

“Alright—smoke?” asked Dave.

Jake didn’t even look up from one of the thirty two electronic sources of distraction he was constantly engaged in. “Yeah, I think so,” he said.

Will fiddled with a lighter. “I’m ready,” he said.

Dan shut down his game. “Yeah, why not?” he said.

Each person in the room had a counterpart I could “see,” in a place out of space. It’s kinda like a soul, except made out of a distributed computational state in our brains, rather than unicorn farts and bullshit. We, these “memetic” counterparts, these “souls,” perhaps, are effectively immortal. We’re not necessarily one-to-one, though. I saw them come to attention to prepare to fall into burning rings of fire in parallel.

“You wanna smoke, Bastet?” asked Will’s counterpart.

“Nah, you know I’m just babysitting him,” I said.

“So are we,” Jake’s “inner” responded.

They lit up, and Dan became nervous for no clear reason, like he often does. Will’s inner brought up the interface that had been installed into Dan’s inner, kinda his virtual immortal “soul,” the last time he was hospitalized, and Will started to tap something in. I tugged on Will’s inner’s “hand.”

“—Don’t do that,” I snapped.

“He’s obviously uncomfortable,” said Will’s inner. “Why shouldn’t he have the benefit of the very technology we derived from his soul?”

“…Because I, and his lower, have told you a thousand times, that doesn’t work how you think it does,” I said.

“…Made me a mint on stocks the other day,” said Jake.

“I’m amazed that they let you get away with that,” said Will, “because the government is using him at the same time to keep Syria and ISIS from boiling over, with a little nudge here and there.”

“I tend to believe his lower’s interpretation of the mechanism, though,” said Dave’s inner. “The point isn’t whether it works so much as how.”

“Except, if you believe his explanation,” I said, “the point might very well be how likely it is to work any given time, despite the apparent success to date. We might just be in his personal Hell, and it’s all he could ever know.”

The ring filtered single-file back into the house and debated which video game to play.

Will’s inner said, “…But that’s extremely unlikely, at least from our perspective, he even says.”

“…Unless we’re caught up in it, in terms of our dependence on him,” I said.

“That’s not even how it works,” Will’s inner said.

The group settled on “Dead-On Golf.”

“Look,” said Will’s inner,” we tweak his soul biology in a particular way and miracles come out, indefinitely. Why isn’t it easy enough to accept that it’s because he has the biggest metaphysical dick on the planet?”

Dave’s inner said, “He’s told us a billion times that he’s not the Creator and that there isn’t one.”

Jake’s inner said, “I’ve seen him start and stop wars by raw will, move storms, contract and expand the oil supply—”

“—No, you haven’t,” mouthed Dan’s lower silently, as Jake completed his swing.

Everyone in the room, on both planes, looked at him with unsettled expressions for a few seconds.

“See?” said Jake. “That’s what I mean. He plays it down, but he’s just lying.”

Dave’s inner shrugged. “Let’s not forget what Astral locale he hails from,” he said.

“Then it’s that!” shouted Jake’s inner, as Jake fist-pumped at his excellent on-green. “Hell was hiding world’s biggest uranium mine, and he fucking ate it and got superpowers! He found the damned crash-landed alien mother ship and went full Borg.”

“I wish,” I said, “but that honestly makes even less sense to me, at this point.”

“Bastet, I’m calling bullshit,” said Will. “We hit him like a piñata with the biggest guns we have, and goddamned physical magic comes out, and he unconsciously dodges every bullet. Who even cares how it happens?! We’d have to be fucking fucked in the head not to leverage it to our maximum advantage.”

“…Unless he’s actually the only one likely to observe us observing it,” said Dave’s inner, “and we only continue to see it because there’s some tiny quantum probability of his survival that comes contingent on our ‘miracle,’ so we never believe him so long as he’s alive.”

The room congratulated Dave on his “birdie.”

“Why would that work?” asked Jake’s inner.

“We pick a target physical result,” said Dave’s inner, “and we kill him unless it happens. He only observes worlds where we don’t kill him. It actually doesn’t make the event any more likely to occur at all. However, it makes him much more relatively likely to see the target effect happen, as a fraction of the worlds he survives to observe. All it depends on is whether the ‘miracle’ is more likely than the failure of the killing devices we have in place, or else the chance that we’ll consciously stop turning his thumbscrews for one reason or another—and a bit of luck.”

“I don’t get it,” said Will’s inner. “Then he’ll live to see the Resurrection. Whatever.”

“He’ll probably have to survive the zombie Apocalypse first,” said Dave’s inner, as his lower cracked up.

The rest of the room went quiet.

After a few seconds, Jake’s inner asked, “We’re quiet because of the actual physical zombies that started to pop up when we tried to start The Resurrection with Dan magic, aren’t we?”

Dave and Dan’s lowers both cracked up, this time.

“Alright, look, those were weird,” said Will’s inner, “but he raised goddamned zombies! I still maintain that those people would have fully reconstituted if we kept pressing the damned Dan magic.”

“Dude,” said Jake, “would that have happened first, or would we have been overrun with zombies?”

“What if every one of the humans ends up in a personal Hell like him,” asked Dave’s inner, “where everyone else thinks he or she is the Creator and the world implodes over it?”

Will’s inner said, “Billions of people died in totally predictable ways before he came along, and never did we somehow get immortality and physical magic out of it.”

I asked, “So what’s different about Dan, then, specifically?”

“He’s the true God,” said Will’s inner.

“No, I’m definitely not,” mouthed Dan’s lower.

“Shut up—you are!” said Will’s inner. “Or you fucking ate him, or you sucked off his jizz of immortality or some bullshit like that!”

“She’s a ‘She’,” mouthed Dan.

“You don’t even believe in Her,” said Jake’s inner.

“Nope,” he mouthed.

I said, “Sort of ironic that he keeps saying that, isn’t it?”

“Then how the fuck does it work, Bast?” asked Will’s inner. “Supposedly you’ve studied it. Tell me simply, in your infinite erudition, how this is possible.”

“I’ve been debating between two plausible scenarios,” I told him, “and both imply that this happens to basically every human on the planet, eventually, given the observational and experimental evidence we already have.”

“What are they?” asked Will’s inner.

“Every time we try to kill him unless we get our desired miracle, and he survives, he doesn’t actually survive except in an extremely tiny fraction of worlds. He never knows the difference, effectively, because we hide it from him. Every world in which he survives, our belief in miracles is reaffirmed. We make him play Russian Roulette indefinitely. If he loses, he doesn’t see our disproof. He’s guaranteed to win in at least one world, and that world contains us experiencing ‘miracles’ and never believing him.”

“The chances are infinitesimal,” said Jake’s inner. “Consider Occam’s Razor.”

“Dan pissed off Allah,” I said. “These ‘miracles’ are also one of the biggest things left to support Al’s reign. It’s the perfect revenge, if you’re a sadistic and desperate despot. So long as Dan survives, Al rules.

“Infinitesimal…” said Will’s inner.

“…But guaranteed,” said Dave’s.

“What’s the other scenario?” asked Jake’s.

“What do you think would happen if he died?” I asked.

“We’d be totally fucked, at this point,” said Jake’s inner with a laugh.

“…Like, World War III,” said Will’s inner.

“Do you think we’d be personally high on the list of early targets,” I asked, “or even just in range of a nuke detonation in New York City?”

Dave’s inner thought for a second and said, “So we’re also much more likely to survive, at this point, only in those worlds where he does.”

“I’m literally in Hell,” mouthed Dan.

“What are you doing with your mouth?” asked the actual physical Jake.

“Casting spells,” said Dan’s lower, lining up a golf swing.

“You know what?” said Will’s inner. “This is how much I believe you or care.”

Will put a half-figurative, half-literal, “gun to Dan’s head,” and the shot was perfect. Dan scored a hole in one. The scoreboard came up, and Will was also “miraculously” down a stroke on his total, which none of the lowers seemed to notice.

“I think you might have just started World War III over a video game, in a set of quantum parallel worlds that are trillions of times more likely than the one where Dan scores a hole in one in this game, man,” said Jake’s inner.

“I neither believe that nor care, though he does suck at it,” said Will’s inner. “The damned universe probably is a fucking video game.”

“…and, thusly, the zombie Apocalypse began,” said Dan, rolling his eyes.

“…The Resurrection, Dan,” said Dave’s lower. “You mean ‘The Resurrection.'”

Nobody ever acted like it was weird, when the “miracles” started happening. It wasn’t weird, when Dan pretended he didn’t hear all the little coy admissions he should be so desperate to gather, like beads from a broken rosary, but “reproducibility” implies something else, to a lab rat.

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