What Breathes Fire into the Equations
To recap my previous claims :
Numbers exist independently of a physical universe, and similarly so does the rich and infinite complexity of fractals such as the Mandelbrot set. They existed before the first stars were born, just waiting to be discovered by any intelligent life to spring into being.
It is conceivable that our universe can be boiled down to a similarly simple equation, and its complexity we see is merely the result of rendering this equation into a a 4 dimensional world of space-time that we see around us.
But to see any part of the Mandelbrot set, we need a computer to render it. If our universe were also a simple equation, it would also need a computer to render it.
Consider a film being shown at a movie theatre. It is long string of frames, each frame capturing a moment in time.
Now imagine that instead of a film created by cast and crew, it were the created from an equation describing our universe. The first frame would be the big bang, present day would be somewhere in the middle and the last frame shows the heat death of the universe, where entropy has reached a maximum, there are no stars left, all black holes have evaporated, there is no matter remaining, just the uniform vacuum of space save for photons whizzing about.
A godly, outside observer can start the projector, and watch the story of our universe unfold. Part way through the movie, the first humans would walk the earth, and a few frames later they begin questioning the nature of their reality.
You may object to the entire film being printed before being the first frame is displayed, so if you prefer, you can image that each frame is printed, and then immediately shown before the next frame is printed. You could even destroy each frame before printing the next if you wish. (Maybe this god likes recycling, or just doesn't have enough room to store all that film!)
I don't think it matters though, the result is the same. The universe springs into life with a big bang, time passes, humans are born and die.
As a side note, if the equations have cause and effect, then maybe the nth frame must be printed before frame number n+1, because each frame depends on the previous one. If this were the case, then the god could only rewind the movie if she kept all of the frames rather than recycling them. However, there is no limit to the number of times she could watch the movie.
It is important to realise that she could pause the movie at any time (to get a heavenly drink and have a celestial toilet break), then resume it. The humans in the movie wouldn't notice that the movie had been paused. Celestial time is completely independent to our time. May it takes 7 celestial days reach the point of the movie when the first humans take to the stage. I trust you spotted the reference to the time it took God to create our world as stated in Genesis.
Is is the act of printing the film that "breathes fire into the equations", or is it the act of playing the movie?
My answer is neither. I also realise that many of you will claim that the fire is missing entirely.
Let me try to convince you that there is nothing missing.
The movie contains an all too small set of frames encompassing your entire life. The god could choose to zoom in to watch your particular part of the story. She is effectively omnipresent. Your every though and decision is enacted in the movie, including you questioning "What Breathes Fire into the Equations". Let's not forget that this is a complete 4d movie, it plays back every configuration of your brain. The god cause pause the movie, and inspect the state of every part of your brain. She is omniscient (all knowing). She can see every part of this 4d world, and isn't restricted to seeing only the external surfaces of our bodies.
Note, she is NOT omnipotent (all powerful). In fact, she is completely impotent, she can no more change the story of our universe than a human watching a movie can change its plot. She is a passive observer.
What if the god got bored with the film, and stopped it, right at the moment you are reading this sentence? Your future would not be played out. She may print your future, but not play it, or she may may not even print it.
But, if you take the premise of a universe determined by a simple equation, your future will still exist. To use the same language as I've used previously, your future is discoverable. A different god could one day program a celestial computer to print the same movie and watch it. If you accept the premise that our universe is a simple equation, your reaction to sentences in the next paragraph are decided by that equation, and will be discovered by any entity that chooses to look for it.
If your feel that this universe is real, if you feel like something has breathed fire into the equations, then fire has probably been breathed. Or to put it another way, If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. That feeling you have that this universe is real is the result of the equation that defines our universe. At which point, if you previously accepted the premise that our universe could be defined by an equation, but cannot accept that no fire is required, I think you should challenge that previous premise, because this chapter changes nothing.
If you feel the fire when the movie of this universe is printed and played at the celestial movie theatre, then you will also feel that fire if those frames are printed, but never projected. It doesn't even atter if the frames corresponding to your lifespan never get printed. The simple equation which defines our universe contains your feeling that this universe is real, that fire has been breathed into the equation. In the same way that every part of the a Mandelbrot set exists without ever being rendered by a computer, so does every part of this universe, past present and future. Your entire life, and the lives of every human, including those yet to be born.
I cannot see any issue with the fire part of my argument. I think it is much more likely that objections should be raised at the previous step. Accepting that the universe could be described by a simple equation is far more objectionable. After all, it was there that I defined the world as utterly deterministic. To accept that step, you have to accept that your future is already set in stone (defined by an equation). Your acceptance or rejection of my conjecture was decided before you started reading, and in fact, was determined before either of us were born.
We are all automatons, no more able to control our futures than a speck of dust in a turbulent stream of air.