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Concluding summary

As science is increasingly able to explain the structure of human experience in physical terms the concept of a spiritual soul and physical body grows obsolete. Yet this scientific progress in dealing with structure does nothing to explain the essential nature of our immediate experience. The divorce between structure and essence is made explicit in mathematics where the only primitive entity is the empty set. It is made equally clear in Shannon's definition of information as something that allows us to limit the possible states a system may be in.

From the standpoint or mathematics and physics everything we understand can be represented by numbers. The digital revolution that stems from Shannon's idea of information has made this a practical reality. Digitizing media (which means representing information be a sequence of numbers) allows for essentially flawless transmission and preservation of sounds and images. But where is the experience of a Bach sonata or of a wave crashing into a rocky beach on a DVD or CD? How do the numbers in a digital recording come to life in the experience of watching a movie?

This is a fundamental question about the nature of existence. It can only be approached as we do the fundamental laws of physics. One must look for the simplest possible assumptions consistent with what one knows to be true. The Totality Axiom is proposed as this simplest assumption. That axiom states that the essence and totality of the existence of physical structure is immediate experience in some form and that structure is the only aspect of experience that can be communicated.

The second part of he Totality Axiom is essentially a restatement of Shannon's definition of information. The first part connects structure with essence implying that the whole universe is the transformation of consciousness and nothing but the transformation of consciousness. As such it is a form of panpsychism similar to the views of a number of contemporary thinkers. The power of this axiom lies in connecting physical structure to conscious experience so that one can begin to apply the objective tools of mathematics and science to spiritual questions.

Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem is an important example of this. It has lead to a hierarchy of mathematical truth that involves higher levels of abstraction or iteration. Our ability to think abstractly, indirectly and iteratively is a defining characteristic of human consciousness. Gödel's result implies that such structures can only evolve without limit in a nondeterministic process like biological evolution that follows an ever increasing number of paths. In the case of evolution these paths are sequences of species that are descendant one from the other.

The level of mathematical truth that a given mathematical system embodies determines what structures can be defined in that system. The Totality Axiom suggests that the level of abstraction a mind is capable of limits the conscious experience that mind is capable of. In this context one can understand some spiritual intuitions in a less metaphorical way. Buddhist enlightenment and Christian heaven can both be seen as relative states. At a higher levels of evolution the struggle and pain of lower levels can be largely eliminated. For example the cells in an animal live in a cooperative enlightened and nearly ideal environment as long as the organism they are a part of is healthy. For them the struggle for survival has moved to the level of the organism.

This leads to a spiritual vision in which God is the unbounded creative evolution of consciousness. As the highest level of consciousness on this planet we are the eyes of God with the power to create the world. We are developing the tools to direct future evolution on this planet and to reproduce as an entire world seeding our region of the galaxy with evolving life. We need to understand the boundary conditions that do not limit future evolution if we are to perform our role as facilitators of the future evolution of consciousness. The Totality Axiom and Gödel's proof are a starting point for that understanding.


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