It’s one of the more exotic theories blown around the cyber ether lately, backed up, so they claim, by some actually credible science. Basically, everything you see around you, including yourself, is fake, a kind of hologram.
It sounds straight out of a bit from Douglas Adams, where man goes on to prove that the law of cause and effect does not exist and promptly gets himself killed at the next pedestrian crossing. The science makes even less sense to me than most things, but it goes something like this:
A team of physicists studied data from the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), believed to be radiation left over from the very start of the Universe, and claimed to find evidence that our entire Universe is a kind of illusion. Basically, they say, we perceive reality in three dimensions, but everything we see and feel in 3-D is actually stuff that has been compressed on to a 2-D surface, like the hologram stored on a credit card.
Everything that happens inside this 2-D surface, including time, is thus an illusion, something that may indeed be a kind of computer simulation.
Bit of a head scratcher, eh? But before we get down to the impossible task of imagining what kind of celestial lunatic might actually want to include everything from black holes to Donald Trump in an utterly lifelike computer simulation, might there not be a kind of upside to all this?
After all, if time doesn’t exist, then neither does old age, decrepitude or sell by dates.
Indeed, the growing number of spectacularly aged billionaires dangling supermodels on their arthritic hips suggests that, far from being the deluded old saddos we thought, these guys may indeed have unlocked a fundamental truth of the Universe.
If people don’t exist, then neither do your loved ones. You never need to worry about forgetting anyone’s birthday ever again. That blithe and bonny soul to whom you pledged your everlasting truth is no more real than that candy wrapper, but then, neither are you. One fake person can no more keep promises to another fake person than he can make them in the first place, so your faithlessness is covered; it’s just as real as anything else.
But think about it, if your loved ones aren’t real, then neither are all those people you hate. The idiot in the office with chronic B.O. who insists on eating complicated sandwiches with loud smacks of his lips isn’t real. He is simply a figment of your non-existent imagination. Your broadband provider isn’t real, and neither is its delusion that you somehow owe it money. Indeed, money itself isn’t real, so I can stop using it to buy the food I think I need.
Cancer isn’t real, so I can smoke non-existent cigarettes to my non-existent heart’s content while drinking my non-existent head off. The tribe of devil worshipping accountants whose ad I’ve just heard on the radio isn’t real either, and that, somehow, makes my non-existent soul feel very good indeed.
Sartre famously said that hell is other people. But the hell we think other people bring us is entirely a figment of our non-existent imaginations.
I’ve got the perfect response for the next time I’m arrested for eating a burger in the town square while wearing nothing but a pair of sneakers. I’m going to put every non-existent defence lawyer in the world out of business.
“None of it is real, Your Honour. You sit before me, a non-existent judge in a non-existent court in a non-existent Universe. You may have the deluded notion that you can impose some kind of sentence on me, but you can’t. The policemen who claim they saw me don’t exist, and we know how naughty policemen are when it comes to making up evidence.
“In this case, their false claim to existence is the most egregious perjury of all. Since you are nothing more than a figment of my non-existent imagination, then I’m going to imagine that you have just acquitted me. And I think I’d fancy some nice damages as well. Cheers.”
I have no idea what all of this says about humanity, but it is clearly something very profound and far reaching. It wasn’t enough to prove that God doesn’t exist. We had to prove that we don’t exist either. What’s next?