Thursday, December 04, 2008

If you’re not a modern computer programmer or would prefer not to be totally confused, then you may want to skip this post. But recently I’ve had a wild thought about what we as physical, and spiritual beings actually are, and in order to explain it, I need to use a little programming knowledge (and a diagram might come in handy too, but I doubt I'll have time for that).

Not too many people would disagree with the statement that we as beings have physical (bodies) and metaphysical (minds and/or souls) entities. To simplify the example I’ll assume the mind and soul are one and the same, but by no means should you limit the thought process to that.

First, let’s talk a little about Object Orientation or OO as it is abbreviated. This of course is a programming term where we model our programming code after real world objects. Our objects have properties, methods, constructors, etc, that define what the object actually is, and how it will act within itself and with other objects. Now when we create an instance of an object, we assign that instance a variable and create some room in memory for the object to be housed. Of course the memory can be allocated well before the creation of the variable if so chosen. When we access the object we access it thru the variable assigned to it. Where things get a little confusing is in understanding that the variable itself is not the object, but just a “pointer”, or reference to the object. The actual object resides in memory and cannot be accessed (safely anyway) without the reference variable. Now when things get even more complicated is when we want to make a copy of the object. We can’t just make a new variable and assign it to the same object. If we did that we would just be making a new reference to the exact same object, not a new object. The object would now have two variables accessing it. To make a second object that is the same as the first, we would have to first create a new instance of the object with a new reference, and then assign it all the same properties as the first.

Let's put this is 5th grader talk. I have a ball (the object) that I clear out room for and place on the floor (in memory). The ball has numerous properties, such as temperature, density, color, material, etc. The ball also has actions (methods) it can do such as deflate, bounce, etc. Now since I am a 5th grader and in a pen so I don't damage the rest of the house, I can only play with the ball (that is outside my pen) using a stick (the reference variable). I can't interact with the ball in any other way but with the stick. If I want a second ball just like the first, I can't just make a copy of the stick. If I do, all I get is two sticks that interact with the exact same ball. However, if I want a copy of the ball, I need to create a brand new ball, and then copy the properties of the first ball to the second. I then need to make the second stick to interact with the second ball.

So what the flip does this have to do with our physical and metaphysical selves? Well, let’s pretend for a minute that all minds since the dawn of time reside in a single repository out in some unseeable dimension. Think of it as a godly hash table if you will. These minds have properties such as personalities, thoughts, and feelings (which in themselves would be their own objects), but also constructors that are used to create the mind, as well as methods that let them interact with other minds. When the minds are created, they are assigned a body, or reference if you will. And we can interact with other minds safely thru our bodies.

Now comes the fun part; understanding how this can work. Let’s look at identical twins. Indeed they look like the same person, but truly their minds are different. They are copies of each other. However, we’ve all heard stories about twins liking the same things, thinking the same thoughts, even sensing each other's pain! What if their bodies weren’t pointing to different minds, but to the same one? One mind, two bodies. One object, two references. Now of course we know this isn’t the case because the twin’s bodies can act independently of each other, but if the properties of the mind were made up of other objects, such as thoughts, feelings, pain, experiences, why couldn’t there be references to those properties, and not new ones? Think of it in our ball analogy. A property of the ball is mass. Mass is indeed it's own object made up of all kinds of fun still like the base unit for mass. Let call that a kilogram. If for whatever reason wesuddenly define a kilogram to be something other than what it is today, we would want the ball's mass to follow suit. The ball's mass wouldn't still be the old mass, but would be the newly defined mass automatically. Hence, the ball's mass is a reference to mass, and not a copy of it.

If the world does indeed exist in this fashion, it makes perfect sense. Let’s take a look at love. People say than when we love another, we take that person with us wherever we go (not in the physical sense of course). They become a part of us in a sense. What if love creates references to the other minds or parts of minds? This would explain why we can know what the other person is thinking, or feeling without having to ask. It truly is a direct connection. Psychics may be gaining access to this mind repository in an unsafe manner, or hacking into it. This is how they would know what they know (assuming they aren’t just darn good observers) without actually interacting with anyone.

I could probably write a book on this whole matter, but I’ll leave you with one more thought. In programming when we are done with our variables, or references that access the objects, we destroy them. However, the object itself doesn’t get destroyed until the Garbage Collector comes around and re-allocates the memory, at which time the object is completely disposed of. When programming, we typically don’t control the Garbage Collector; it does what it does, when it needs to do it.

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