The Sans Ceiling Hypothesis

by Paul Hughes
1998

I have been engaging in some discussion again about the beginning of the universe, and I pushed the ‘Where did it come from?’ question as far as I could go. And, not surprisingly, it doesn’t go anywhere. No matter how you try to explain the origin of the universe, none of the theories can account for the cause of it. What caused the big bang? Where did ‘God’ come from? etc. And I always reach the same conclusion:

There was no beginning.

If there was a beginning, then something must have caused that beginning, and so something was there before the beginning. This doesn’t answer anything of course, but I have yet to see another way around the causality problem (defining something as ‘acausal’ doesn’t solve it, it just dodges it).

Now, linked to this ‘where did the universe come from?’ problem is, ‘Where did the incredible laws, which make our universe a coherent place come from?’, which is what I think underlies it all. Once the universe began, it is easy to say ‘the laws guided the evolution of everything from there’….but how did the laws come to be? Why are they so perfect? (weak anthropic principle could be an acceptable argument here).

When you think of an omniverse that has no beginning, then we are talking about something that is temporally at least infinite in duration, something ultimately beyond time itself, where concepts of a beginning and an end have no meaning. I think what this also means is that any one set of properties/laws we experience are also ultimately entirely arbitrary. If they are not then we must ask ourselves what meta-laws are behind it governing what types of laws are allowed and which are not? And then we have to ask ourselves where did these meta-laws come from? And then meta-meta-laws and so on to infinity. And, not surprisingly, it doesn’t go anywhere. No matter how much you try to explain the origin of any laws, none of the theories can account for the cause of those laws. From this, I concluded:

There are no fundamental laws.

Soft limits sure. Limits that only exist because of our limited perspective and intelligence. So, from this place of no laws, no limits, the void:

Everything is possible.

If not, why not? If there are some fundamental limits somewhere, then we are right back to an arbitrary set of constraints with no explanation for their ultimate origin. I believe this void is the the void described in Buddhism, the empty vessel where there is no form, no beginning or ending, only the eternal now – the ground of all being – pure consciousness –  no laws, just an infinite expanse of possibility.

From this I have come up with what I call the Sans-Ceiling Hypothesisthat there are no upper limits to what a sufficiently advanced intelligence can do (as opposed to the view that there are fundamental limits set by physical law). It only makes sense. Given sufficient time and intelligence ALL problems are solvable, and that includes any pesky obstacles or limits we might encounter. It’s only an hypothesis of course, but my guess is that if our wonderful little 3-lbs pieces of gray matter can invent quantum physics and take us to the moon, just imagine what future intelligence can do with billions of times greater capacity and billions of years to play with it.

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