01 March 2011

Dreaming of Genesis

No, not that Genesis.

I was (still am) watching a debate regarding Genesis, and whether or not the six yom mentioned are six 24-hour days or six periods of unspecified duration. You may remember I posted a short audio clip of a talk DOD cryptographer Harold Gans did regarding Kabbalah and the age of the universe. He tells of medieval Kabbalists who calculated the age of the universe using scripture to 12.7 billion years. I did some thinking and came up with a way to defend the opposing view, that the six yom were six 24-hour days. As a purely philosophical exercise, I can explain how God
could create the universe in six 24-hour days, or even in six seconds, and it's easy and doesn't rely on anything any of us are not already aware of and experienced with. I'm not saying this happened, or didn't happen, and you can take from it what you like. A fair warning though, this does go into detail of my personal life and research, so it is likely very boring.

From about 2003 to 2009 I dilligently recorded my dreams. I have moved on to only recording particularly important dreams because the process takes up too much time (recording one night's worth of dreams in detail actually takes an hour or more), and generates too much stuff with nowhere to put it all (large, heavy stacks of papers and notebooks filled cover to cover). I have generated a lot of data and, for a time, tried working out the physics, geography, history, and sociology of the, I have determined with fair accuracy, five different worlds I have visited in my dreams (including at least three different languages). After all this I can say that the different dream worlds I have encountered are very consistent and not because they mirror my waking life in any but the most minor of details. If you are curious, there are some details below (you can skip them if you like).

The process of transitioning from waking to dreaming can take anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour. Most of the time this transition period is forgotton. In general, what happens is that, slowly, seemingly disparate and random elements will come together to form a concrete world that is otherwise completely indistinguishable from the world experienced while awake in terms of internal consistency and what could be described as the "feeling of realness." Dreamers may notice that the dream world is inconsistent with the waking world, in which case they will have a lucid or pellucid dream (a lucid dream where the dreamer decides to watch the normal flow of the dream unfold with no desire to exercise the ability to change anything, as in a normal lucid dream). The phenomena of lucid dreaming does not mean that the dream world(s) itself is not internally consistent over the course of several dreams/years. The ability of lucid dreaming could be considered as the ability to notice the change from one world with one set of rules to another world with a different set of rules, not that rules themselves cease to apply just because the world encountered is within a dream.

I tend to experience one lucid or pellucid dream every month, or about once every 180 dreams, assuming an average of six dreams/night. I tend to be able to remember no more than four to six dreams per night, although I do not discount the possibility of more dreams that are not remembered. My ability to change the dream world while lucid has remained consistent over the years, e.g., I can fly up to certain speeds/altitudes; I can move faster only by slowing down everyone else, not speeding myself up. This implies that the dream world is structured and obeys rules not unlike the rules of the waking world uncovered by science.

If you have managed to get through all that you have probably figured out my argument, but if not, I will restructure everything so it becomes more clear.

A dream world can have incredibly detailed structure and rules, a detailed history, a full compliment of sensory perceptions, geography, climate, vegitation, animals, cities, people, and remain completely consistent over years, and yet it is all created every night in under 30 minutes, on average. Relationships can pick up from where they left off several dreams ago, people encountered in dreams can recall memories of events that happened in another dream several years ago (there is a consistent history, recreated every night). A consistent and "real feeling" world with thousands if not millions of years of history can be created in minutes, and is created in minutes, every single night. Most people don't even question the processes involved, they just take as given the fact that this can happen and is completely normal.

Someone might counter: yes, but it's just one person dreaming. While awake many different people experience the same world and can confirm their experience of the world with others. This confirmation of experience is the basis of science (experimental results must be confirmed by multiple experimenters, usually; it's a simplification but it works.).

To which I reply, yes and no. Yes, people while awake can confirm their own subjective experiences with others to get a sense of what the objective world is like, out there, but not really. There is no way, even in theory, to know whether or not those other people with whom we confirm our experiences of the world with actually exist because we only have our subjective experience of them as data. I'm not saying there aren't other people, but we can never prove there are other people, not in any absolute manner. Also, if confirmation of experiences with others is the standard of what is real or not, what is or is not reality becomes a consensus of subjective experiences. If that is the case, we can look to people who have had shared, or mutual, dreams, in which two or more people have encountered one another while dreaming, and describe their encounter afterwards, while awake, with high degree of concordance. If I recall correctly (sorry, I don't have any references), there has been at least one study where people sharing dreams displayed brain wave synchronization, which can be used as a physical correlate, adding evidence to the reality of mutual dreaming (this has been demonstrated in telepathy experiments; I'm not sure if it has been done with dreaming but I think it has; if I'm wrong I'll gladly admit it.).

So what does this mean? If we can create a consistent, "real feeling" world every night in under 30 minutes, where seemingly physical laws and world histories remain constant over several years, and have multiple people report upon waking encountering one another in the same world while asleep, we have everything needed to describe the creation of a world exactly like the physical world in terms of phenomenology, and can maintain the existence of multiple, independent minds (not having to resort to solipsism). If every person creates a world just like the physical world every night in under 30 minutes, it is entirely possible for God to do the same in six 24-hour days, or any amount of time for that matter.

After presenting the above exercise in the debate I was told that my scenario is similar to the plot of the film Inception, to which I replied that I have not seen, nor do I plan on seeing the film. For what it's worth, if you think my scenario is similar to the plot of Inception (I don't know if it is or not), and that helps you understand what I am trying to say, then that is very good.

Dream Details (See Above)

Events from one dream may be referenced in another dream years later by the same dream people (e.g. a little girl who was kidnapped in one dream was eventually returned several years later). I held the same dream job for three years (it was a political positiong). Dream countries remain enemies or allies over several years (Germany and Persia are allies, and, until recently, they have been in a long standing cold war with the United States), and dream governments remain consistent (the Mongols have run China since my first visit to my last, over several years). Dream people usually don't die, regardless of what injury they sustain, until I or someone else tells them they're dead. I've had two cars, a red one and a blue one, have been married to the same person since 2005 and have the same two children.

At least three senses are present in all dreams (there rarely is anything to taste or smell, so I don't know if these senses disappear or just remain unstimulated, although food never tastes like it's waking analogue), and I have experienced at least two extra senses (seismic sensing, like graboids have, I guess (good for "looking" through walls and around corners) and something called "extraordinary knowing," the specifics of which cannot be explained anymore than any of the five normal senses can be explained in terms of the others).

More frequently than I assume is normal, elements of my dreams will follow me into waking life. This usually happens with sounds, especially music, that I can still hear, often for several minutes after waking up, but sometimes smells and (seemingly) solid objects. I have woken up to find a model house floating in front of my face and a truck speeding toward me that slowly vanished the closer it got, as well as numerous others.

There can be incredible deviation from the flow of time experienced while awake. One dream I had covered over 30 years of time all within a single night.