As a result from a couple of strange events, I've got an interest on being able to explain my own personal vision or understanding of the Universe. Trying to find a good analogy, and after considering nondeterministic finite state machines, I thought that a video game would be something much more common and easier to understand. :-P
Please note, this is only an analogy. It does not mean that I really believe that our Universe works exactly like a video game. But the analogy will be very useful to define several of the concepts which we will probably like to discuss about.
Good, let's start by imagining a game like World of Warcraft, where lots of people from different parts of the world (our world) can connect in order to play. Each person takes the form of a character inside the game and controls it (using a joystick, keyboard or whatever) in order to move it around while exploring the world (of Warcraft) inside the game.
The characters inside the game can, in some way or another, interact with their environment (pick up objects, hit enemies, etc.) but they do not have an absolute control over it. For example, most likely, it is not possible to walk ‘upwards’ over the sky where there is nothing, make objects appear out of the void, disintegrate all of your enemies just by thinking about it, or dramatically modify —suddenly and without any explanation— the map of the world.
Actually I do not know very well the details of the game, so an apology in advance if it turns out that some of this things are really possible in WoW. Anyway, I hope that the general idea is clear: the world is somehow controlled by a set of rules, and the characters in the game are free to do lots of things (go and rescue a princess, randomly run without any direction and jump from a precipice, gather a group of friends and start dancing), but always constrained by the rules of the world.
From this toy example we can already define some interesting concepts. For example, the Universe is the world created inside the game (with all its trees, mountains, and characters randomly running without direction; in something like StarCraft it might also include solar systems, other planets, etc.) and physics are the rules that govern the Universe (the code or program of the game).
The body of a living being is an object or entity inside the game that can be manipulated by an external player outside the game. The soul is precisely this player, which holds a controller on its hands and takes decisions over the actions that its body performs inside the game. This is how the living beings can interact with the Universe, but always limited by the laws of physics.
This also divides my model in two parts: the physical plane, namely the Universe where the bodies live, and the spiritual plane, whatever it is where the souls live. Finally God, the Creator, is whoever has written or developed the game. In our (toy) example, Blizzard is God.
Some people might not agree with my definitions (I've heard, for instance, some definitions of God quite different to mine) but, for practical purposes in the rest of this post, the important keywords (Universe, God, etc.) mean whatever I said that they mean (in other words, if you don't like my “labels”, change them for other words that bother you less and keep on reading).
We will now see what happens when we try to use this analogy in order to describe our own reality. We also have an Universe which seems to be constrained by some rules of physics. I also want to clarify that, in this case, by physics I mean whatever is effectively programmable and deterministic (i.e. always if this happens, then this other thing also happens).
The nondeterministic components of the system is what I call the spiritual plane. The actions of the souls are the ones which are not completely determined by the laws of physics (they might be limited or influenced by the laws of physics, but not determined by them). If it weren't by this spirutal plane —and the actions of the souls in it— the physical plane would be completely, totally and absolutely predictable.
I don't know if you have noticed but, until now, I haven't said much things. And I do not plan to say much more either. The only thing that I've been doing is to give several definitions that will be useful in order to make us questions so that, when we think or discuss about them, we are all more or less imagining the same thing.
A lot if interesting questions seem to be in the relation between the physical and the spiritual planes. Science (medicine for example) seems to indicate that a good deal of the processing that happens in our brain is happening within the physical plane. How much of our “will” is programmed within the physical world? Is there really a nondeterministic component (i.e. souls) or are we completely programmed to do what we do? What is the subconscious, and which role does it play within this model (is it a physical or a spiritual thing)?
Other questions, of course, are raised around the figure of God. The fundamental question, does God exist?, is reduced in this setting to ask: Did someone created the Universe? or did it just suddenly appeared, without the need of a Creator? or maybe it has existed forever, without never having a beginning?
And if we suppose that God does exist, then: Is God also a player? does he also has a controller and is playing among us in this Universe? Can God modify the rules of the game (the physics) while the game is running? Can God stop or restart the game? Has this actually happened?
Another of the questions, which I am particularly interested in, is: How much of the science of physics (i.e. our models that we have created trying to explain how the Universe works) is similar to the real physics (i.e. how things really work)?
And, of course, the most transcendental question that we all have asked to ourselves. When you die, does it really says “Game Over”?