Monthly Archives: August 2013

China vs. Western Liberal Ideals

By default we assume that the world shares our Western views on equal protection and human rights.  They don’t — and it’s not because the world is evil, but because the idea of equal protection will always be inherently threatening to those in power who extract value from those they have power over.
Promotion of Western constitutional democracy is an attempt to negate the party’s leadership,” Cheng Xinping, a deputy head of propaganda for Hengyang, a city in Hunan, told a gathering of mining industry officials. Human rights advocates, he continued, want “ultimately to form a force for political confrontation.
Exactly.  This is why it’s amazing that such ideas of universal human rights (to life, liberty, property) ever evolved in the first place.  They can only do so under violent opposition from those in command.  This fear of losing value is why:
  • Officials in Alabama during the civil rights movements didn’t want to give up good seats on the bus, good slots in schools, and equal protection to African Americans.  
  • Plantation owners in the South did not want to give up their cotton and tobacco producing slaves.
  • Great Britain did not want to give up the 13 American Colonies which could provide ample sources of tax revenue.
These ideals are unique and fragile.  They need the strong support of principled men and women like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington — and brave Chinese citizens on the same quest.
A few other observations on the article:

These seven perils were enumerated in a memo, referred to as Document No. 9, that bears the unmistakable imprimatur of Xi Jinping, China’s new top leader. The first was “Western constitutional democracy”; others included promoting “universal values” of human rights, Western-inspired notions of media independence and civic participation, ardently pro-market “neo-liberalism,” and “nihilist” criticisms of the party’s traumatic past.

NEWS FLASH: The Chinese are human too and think and feel just like we do. They predictably fear the perils of a loss of value by the political class.  Chinese politicians appreciate value just like all other politicians.

The confrontation at the newspaper and campaign demanding that officials disclose their wealth alarmed leaders and helped galvanize them into issuing Document No. 9, said Professor Xiao, the historian. Indeed, senior central propaganda officials met to discuss the newspaper protest, among other issues, and called it a plot to subvert the party, according to a speech on a party Web site of Lianyungang, a port city in eastern China.”

When did the full government backlash hit? When people were trying to put a number on the amount of value that the government leaders controlled.  “Whoa, hold that right there! You people at the bottom can be subject to the accountability of market forces, but don’t try to treat us the same way. That is intolerable.  Never forget that we are not equal.  We are your superiors.”

The Real Universe is Dead

I’m not arguing that we affirmatively live in a virtual universe, just that the assumption of realness made by the scientific community cannot be independently verified.

Nietzsche described and popularized the “God is Dead” philosophical movement. If you haven’t read the fantastic account of the Madman in the market place, I’ve excerpted it here:

Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!”—As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?—Thus they yelled and laughed

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this?

Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?

There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us—for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars—and yet they have done it themselves.

Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882, 1887) para. 125; Walter Kaufmann ed. (New York: Vintage, 1974), pp.181-82.]

For history’s sake, let’s review the arguments that “killed God” or rather, destroyed the certainty that He exists:

  • His existence cannot be observed or verified (to date) in a scientific fashion.
  • Belief in God, then, is superstition.
  • We don’t need God to explain the creation of the Universe or of intelligent life. Theories like the Big Bang and Evolution do that for us.
  • The Universe is governed my physical laws, with no need of God for governance (e.g. keeping the moon in its orbit).

And why was the Madman mourning his death so dramatically? Because with the death of God comes the loss of any moral authority. We each can have our own opinion about morality, but no scientific reality will help us to prove that one action is definitively more moral than another. Any true atheist can relate to this (sometimes liberating) feeling of being “unmoored”.


We now find ourselves in an strikingly similar situation. Same stage, same lines, different starring actors. This time instead of God doing the dying, it is the Real Universe lying in the back of the hearse. What a peaceful visage, but so few people marching in the procession?

As a precursor, see once again this discussion on the naturalness of the Universe.

Therein we encounter this doozy:

“Physicists reason that if the universe is unnatural, with extremely unlikely fundamental constants that make life possible, then an enormous number of universes must exist for our improbable case to have been realized. Otherwise, why should we be so lucky? Unnaturalness would give a huge lift to the multiverse hypothesis, which holds that our universe is one bubble in an infinite and inaccessible foam. According to a popular but polarizing framework called string theory, the number of possible types of universes that can bubble up in a multiverse is around 10^500. In a few of them, chance cancellations would produce the strange constants we observe.”

Throughout this discussion, it is always assumed that we live in a real physical universe — just like we used to assume that God existed. Let’s apply the same arguments that killed God to the question of the Real Universe:

  • The reality of our Universe cannot be observed or verified (to date) in a scientific fashion.
  • Belief in a Real Universe, then, is superstition.
  • We don’t need a Real Universe to explain the origin of the Universe or of intelligent life. A Virtual Universe could do that.
  • The Universe could be governed by virtual laws (computer code), with no need of space time or reality for governance.

Let’s take the statement: “with extremely unlikely fundamental constants that make life possible, then an enormous number of universes must exist for our improbable case to have been realized.” You only need 10^500 universes if our Universe is real. If the Universe is virtual than it was designed to make life possible. So which is more unlikely, a simulation on the scale of our Universe, or the existence of 10^500 universes? Keep in mind that a million is 10^6.

Even without these discoveries, even if our Universe looked pretty, orderly, and natural, there would still be a non-zero likelihood that it is virtual, especially since virtual universes can have a many-to-one relationship to real universes.

So even though the certainty of a Real Universe is dead — it never existed — we still live in its shadow and the full ramifications of its death could take decades to be realized. Stating this I often meet with blank stares. Perhaps “I have come too early, my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way.”


And finally, what would it take to prove that our Universe is not virtual? It would not be enough to show that humans cannot create such a simulation in our universe, you would have to prove that there does not exist any universe governed by any set of rules populated by any type of intelligent life that could possibly host our virtual universe.

Proving that makes finding dark energy sound easy.