To the best understanding of our scientists, it started with a bang. Anything before that is utterly unknowable, as all the rules that make the jigsaw fit together weren’t really there until then, so, well, I can’t finish this sentence without it being nonsense. That’s the point. Beyond the beginning, there is nonsense.
Out of the unknowable, we got a cauldron of matter, a universe. That pot began a vast beyond imagining period of alchemies, scattering lumps of stuff (all sorts of different stuff made out of all sorts of the same stuff) in every direction.
The mass of it, the vastness of it, the immensity of the numbers, meant that at least somewhere, (not far from here, but a long way back) and possibly all over the shop, things started getting organised, replicating themselves, and making enough mistakes as they did so to start changing.
It’s the most remarkable evidence of the law of averages ever created. Out of soup, comes life.
In life, there is something conscious. In consciousness, there is something to look at the soup. From that long, winding (and long-winded) standpoint we can see the material universe formed, and then consciousness birthed ready to experience it.
But. But. But.
There’s another point of view. A little closer to home, and reliant on a different sort of guesswork.
I am that point of view. And for you, you are too. My consciousness is right here, or something like that. And everything outside it is the material universe. I am a product of this enormous numbers game, some incomprehensible prime number.
And I can’t decide if any of it is real.
From a universe to a grain of sand, and down into the invisible. Everything out there is a myth of my consciousness. An understanding drawn on the wealth of information my consciousness has allowed me to channel. My senses are all I have to guess at reality. If there is anything to observe, I can never tell how reliably I am reporting it.
Philip K Dick worked up an occasional model of reality. He suggested that reality might be the things that are still there when you stop believing in them.
The thing is, some things are easier to stop believing in than others. The universe is in that box right there.
Is it there? Am I here? Where is the here that is there? What else is there but here?
If consciousness were to come first, then it’s likely that the material universe isn’t at all. Alternatively, we’re all just sitting in the midst of a soup we made ourselves, following a recipe from that unknown unknown beyond the bang that started it.
I don’t have faith in things, but I can see a world around me, and I don’t feel any choice but to live in it.
I believe there is consciousness.
From nonsense we came, an unstruck melody.
And still we’re swimming in that noise.
Illustration by Helen