Another Conversation with God

‘Welcome to the after-life son. Yes, you are dead and I am God.’

‘Huh. So you really exist. How wonderful for the religious guys and how devastating for the atheists.’

‘He he. True. Though all of them are my children and I do not discriminate between them for their beliefs. I only judge them by their actions. I am surprised at your nonchalance; well, what you humans term as “surprise” anyway.’

‘Ah yes, the omni–stuff gives no room for emotion huh? Why are your surprised by the way?’

‘Not really. Emotion is a human construct after all. I am plagued by my own set of “emotions” — though their nature is far more subtle than those that afflict humans. In any case, my surprise stems from the fact that you were an avowed atheist, and on seeing me you do not seem to express any disbelief or surprise. I’d have thought you would have blamed it on hallucination or something scientific like that.’

‘Well, I did stick a gun up my throat; and I do know, well, did know something about guns and calibers of bullets. I am pretty sure I did a good job of killing myself. Since I am sure I am dead, the only logical explanation  is that this really is the after life and you truly are the Almighty.’

‘This is why I like you science folks. Very logical and methodical. Nothing seems to jolt you once your mind follows the steps to the conclusion. Its a nice change from the raving religious lunatics I see often.’

‘By the way. I had some questions for you.’

‘My son. You have all the time in the world. Ha. See, how I make a reference to a human construct over and over again — this is just to make you comfortable in your new setting. Ease you in. Anyway, feel free to ask me whatever you want. I shall answer to the best of my abilities.’

‘Thanks. I do not have too many questions, for my reading of philosophy is non-existent, and I do not have any views that need affirmation. Something immediate that is bothering me however is this: The little I know of religions leads me to believe that people think suicide is a sin. I shot myself. But I still see you. Shouldn’t I be with the devil or something?’

‘My son, if death is inevitable and predestined, why is suicide not my will?’

‘God. As I said, I do not know enough philosophy to argue with you. Just tell me what the answer is and I’ll move on to the next question.’

‘I love you science folks. None of the roundaboutness that the philosophers who come by my doors exhibit. I knew you are going to pull the trigger, for I know everything, and I am the cause of all action, thought, word and deed. I would have loved for you to not pull the trigger, especially for the simple case of your wife cheating on you, and you definitely should not have killed her and her lover. I understand that you caught them on your bed, and she seemed unrepentant, but come on, murder is a bit much don’t you think?’

‘Did you not just say that you know everything and that you are every action. So when I murdered my whore of a wife and that bastard, were you not responsible for it?’

‘It is a bit more subtle than that my son. I am every action, but you are the vessel. Let me give you an analogy. I am the charioteer who governs the reins of the horses, but I do not move without your will telling me to move in a particular direction. I do turn back to give you advice once in a while, but it is the rider of the chariot who decides what direction he wishes to go in, not the charioteer. ’

‘Interesting. How does it then work for people who supposedly leave everything in the hands of God. Does that mean that you govern the direction which they take?’

‘Again, it is subtler than that. But in keeping with the analogy, if you were to get into a chariot, and not tell the charioteer where to go, he’d just sit there waiting. What is life if not progress in a particular direction.’

‘Hmmm. By the way, I think it is very weird that in this day and age of space travel and inter-galaxy exploration, you still seem to use age-old chariot analogies.’

‘I love horses. Beautiful creatures. Majestic and muscular. Also chariots do not defile the environment! I do not like you guys hammering pieces of metal to the horse’s feet though. What the hell is that? On a serious note. It was just an analogy that I think gives me more gravitas. If I start talking about the nuclear fusion that you guys mastered and the nuclear-powered rockets that make their way across the galaxies, I’d seem like an old fool who is attempting to use new-age lingo to gain some street credit. But I see why you think of inter-galaxy travel immediately. As an astronaut who has made a couple of those journeys, I am not surprised that you relate to those analogies better. You studied to be an astrophysicist too! How wonderful. Such a beautiful mind. It’s a pity you killed yourself.’

‘Yeah. I loved space since I was a kid you know. When we first landed on Pluto, I was about 5, and I sat up the whole night watching the live feed. Such a beautiful moment that. I always wanted to study and understand space, so astrophysics was the best choice. Once I understood the subject theoretically, I decided it was time to get my hands wet. I was still young when I got my doctorate, so I passed all of the tests and requirements for the astronauts, and soon enough, I was exploring the farthest edges of the galaxy. Breathtaking that. I guess the price you pay for staying away from home so much is that you wife starts to sleep around.’

‘Do not pity yourself son. Life is what life is. You just take everything in your stride and then decide what your next step is going to be.’

‘Oh, so I can decide what my next step should be now?’

‘Definitely.’

‘I can go back to earth as a human again?’

‘Of course you can, if that is what you wish for.’

‘What about as a well looked after dog?’

‘Sure.’

‘Does everyone have this choice?’

‘Of course they do.’

‘So why is it that not everybody is in perfect health, rich and comfortable all the time?’

‘System noise.’

‘System noise?’

‘Yes, you are a scientist, you understand that no system is perfect. Everything has noise. You can always wish for something, and when it goes through the system, the system adds noise, which may or may not shift you drastically away from the life you desire.’

‘But you are God. Why do you not create a system that does not have noise?’

‘Perfect systems are a myth my son. I am not perfect, how are my systems going to be perfect?’

‘You are not perfect? Man. That just blew away years of religious beliefs. Is not your perfectness the foundation of all religions?’

‘I’d argue that the foundation of all religions is the belief in my existence. Perfectness implies stationarity. If something is perfect then there’d be no more evolution. No more progress. No more motion towards an ephemeral goal. I posit that this goal that we all — you humans and I, God — strive towards is perfection. It is unfortunately an unattainable goal. We all simply move towards it with the hope that close-to-perfection is better than far-from-perfection.’

‘Hmm. I had two more questions. The first one is related to my field of work, and the second is a cliche that I just have to ask. So here goes. First, what the hell is the universe made up of? We have discovered a multitude of galaxies, and have teased out the nature of dark matter, but we still have over 80% of the universe unaccounted for. What the hell is in that 80%?’

‘Nothing.’

‘Nothing?’

‘Yes, nothing. Think of the universe as a giant canvas on which I draw what I please, when I please. The only difference between the two is that the universe is a far larger canvas than any that you can imagine. Think of the universe as a canvas of infinite dimensions.’

‘But it is not really infinite is it?’

‘Well, not in my world. But in yours yes. Human infinity is less than the dimensions of the canvas actually, by about 10 maba-nambda.’

MabaNambda?’

Yes, nambda is the unit I use to measure stuff, and maba is a prefix — just like your meters and mega-, pico-, etc. Don’t worry about it. Its just some distance.’

‘Ok. So why is there this nothingness?’

‘Because I haven’t put anything there yet.’

‘Why not?’

‘Lack of inspiration? I am not sure. Maybe it is just not the right moment. Maybe I will some day.’

‘So, can we actually go to this nothingness-place?’

‘Of course. If you figure out how to travel at super-light speed.’

‘Ah, the ephemeral super-light speed. We proved Einstein wrong about light-speed travel and exceeding that, but then we came across this other limit. It’s as if the universe is changing to make it difficult for us to achieve what we want to.’

‘How perceptive of you.’

‘Oh, so it is?’

‘Yes of course. I keep updating my canvas as often as I think necessary. You recall the conversation about perfection do you not? I am simply attempting to make my creation perfect. Also, you know, directing you towards the right goal — remember the advising part of the charioteer.’

‘Ha. That explains so many things. So what’s in this nothingness?’

‘Ha ha. Why do you not go back to earth and figure it out?’

‘Can I not figure it out here?’

‘Sure you can. But you may find it difficult to have intellectual conversations with people when there are no people here.’

‘Where are all the people that die?’

‘Oh, now-a-days everyone goes back to earth as soon as possible. Sitting here doing nothing is not how they wish to spend their time.’

‘Hmmm.’

‘You said you had one more question?’

‘Yes. The cliche. What’s the purpose of human life?’

‘I like that you now attach “human” to the life. Excellent. You really are a smart man. Anyway, I think I already answered your question.’

‘Did you really?’

‘Yes. I did. I said system noise. That should tell you all that you need to know.’

‘System noise?’

‘Yes. I told you that no system is perfect and we all strive to achieve perfection. In the case of the system that we spoke about, the noise leads to imperfection. The goal of life then is to somehow eliminate this noise.’

‘Even if that were true, that seems like more of your goal. What is the purpose of human life.’

‘Just when I say that you are perceptive and intelligent, you seem to reduce your thinking prowess, just to put me down! It is very simple. I have this system with noise, and I have nice algorithms that can clean noise from systems such as mine, if I model that noise accurately. But given that I still have residual noise, the model I am using is not accurate enough. So, I have you humans to try and model that noise. Simple. But you humans seem to have stayed with simplistic  models for such a long time, and created such complicated algorithms. It’s as if you do not care about the noise part of the system at all.’

‘Wait a minute. The purpose of life is to find an accurate noise-model?’

‘Yup.’

‘And you have been telling this to everyone who comes here and asks you this?’

‘Obviously. I do not lie.’

‘Is that why there are still so many people working on denoising?’

‘I’d think that this may be a driving factor, yes. How about you? Do you want to go back to earth? What do you want your life goal to be?’

 —

The end is a geeky reference to the fact that there are still so many people working on image/signal denoising, although it is a horse that has been beaten to death for years now. There is more philosophical interpretation to this too.

Anush

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