If you Knew Everything, would you Cease to Exist?

Disclaimer: This blog post does not try to deny or confirm Gods existence. Neither does it prove that a person or entity knowing everything ceases to exist. However it claims that it would be the case in such an impossible situation. Follow the logic, and I hope you will agree.

Short Answer

YES!

Boring Answer

It is not possible to know everything — it’s a purely academic situation. And unless you enjoy pondering about such things and think it’s fun, you’re likely wasting your time trying to figure this out.

Reasoning for the YES!

Shortly after I launched this blog I was challenged to elaborate on my referring to a creative nitpicker who could reason that you cease to exist if you know everything.

If I know everything, do I Cease to exist?

The answer is YES! Indeed you do. But that’s not all, it’s much more to it. Not only do you cease to exist, so does everyone else, and everything!

But how can that be? How can I defend such a statement? Like most of the things we don’t know, we should choose the birds eye view, and go for the simplest of explanations. And this is actually pretty simple. We just have to re-phrase the question a little, so that the explanation can be understood correctly.

Drawing of Person Capable of Receiving all Knowledge
Person Capable of Receiving all Knowledge

Instead of you (or me, or I) in the question, let’s say it’s an entity: “If an entity knows everything, does it cease to exist”. And let’s transform that to the more general statement: “If everything is known, do we cease to exist”. Then take it one step further: “If everything is known, does the universe cease to exist” — NICE! That’s just what we need. Those two different questions, rephrased as statements, do in practice constitute the same.

  1. If everything is known ⇒ the universe ceases to exist
  2. If I know everything ⇒ I cease to exist

If 1. is true, then 2. is true.
If 2. is true, then 1. is true (we just left out that: so does everything else. And we, for no gaining reason, specified where the knowledge is supposed to be located).

We have to take into consideration that with 2, we do actually mean 1. Surely the creative nitpicker didn’t mean that a person who forcefully gets uploaded all information in the universe suddenly pops out of existence, and everything else remains. But that’s beside the point, and it’s not what I meant when I wrote it. So let us continue with what we now have.

If everything is known (aka. If you know everything), then there’s no room for change. If there’s no room for change, then time doesn’t exist, and it is not possible to measure anything anyway.

 

Ultimate Knowledge Entity
Ultimate Knowledge Entity – Approach 2 Below

Perhaps you have to think about that for a second. Maybe it’s the “time doesn’t exist” that bothers you. So let’s remove that from the explanation, it’s still valid. It’s enough with “no room for change”, because in practice it means that time is still, which means that time doesn’t exist, which means that nothing exists.

So far so good. There’s nothing really extreme or revolutionary about the reasoning yet. But you may be wondering why there is no room for change if you know everything. And that’s perfectly valid. This is where it can become a little bit more difficult. If you’re not well trained in abstract thinking then bear with me, this can be a bit too much for some people. Remember to keep in mind the prerequisite, which is that you know everything. That is ultimate knowledge, and a bit hard to comprehend on itself.

Basically we have two approaches, or at least so it seems:

  1. The knowledge is everywhere. It is all over the universe, and it’s inside the tiniest bit of every atom. If this is the case, then we’re easier off because if you want the knowledge to prove something for you, the knowledge is there where you want something proven from.
  2. The knowledge is contained at a certain place. The knowledge mastermind is unable to prove what it knows, because it is not everywhere, it only knows everything. For example: The knowledge is aware of a certain detail on the other side of the universe that you would like proved. But since you and the knowledge is not there you just have to take it’s word for it. Choosing this approach requires us to accept that the knowledge knows everything about everywhere over any distance, all the time and immediately anything happens. To us immortals, that is. Because the knowledge already knows what’s going to happen.

Which approach best suits the reasoning for the initial question?

Thinking (and perhaps drinking) Pause!

Knowledge is Everywhere, inside and outside of Everything - Approach 2 Below
Knowledge is Everywhere, inside and outside of Everything – Approach 2 Below

The answer is — it doesn’t matter! But they do give us two differently interesting approaches to the situation. Let’s go for approach one first, because it’s the easiest of the two.

Approach 1

If you recall, the prerequisite is for the knowledge to know everything. It means that it can’t change because there is no new thing that can be added to it. You can certainly not subtract from it because then it wouldn’t know everything. This means that the knowledge is static, and if the knowledge is everywhere, it must mean that nothing can change.

If you want me to get a little dirty, you could claim that the knowledge can change without knowing less or more. But I would probably just parse that off by saying that the knowledge already knew about the new situation you claim it could change to. In such a case we’re back to where we started: the knowledge didn’t change, it remained static.

Approach 2

How can we defend the assertion that there is no room for change in the entire universe if you have all knowledge contained at a certain place? This is where abstract thinking can take off.

The knowledge mastermind is right here, but it knows about everything, everywhere. It knows what’s happening on the other side of the universe, it knows what has happened there earlier in time, and it knows whats going to happen or not going to happen. But it is not there, and neither are you. There’s nothing more to add to the knowledge, otherwise it wouldn’t have known everything. Again, I have to state that the knowledge is static, it can not change. And since the situation on the other side of the universe is for certain known (remember prerequisite) — we’re better off beholding reality as in the knowledge.

Put differently this means that there is no other side of the universe. There’s only the knowledge — that’s the reality, and the other side is there. Because it is static, it can’t change, so there is no way of telling if it exists. Which ultimately must means that it doesn’t. Just think about the infinite amount of things you can imagine which are unable to be proved or disproved. Here are some examples for you:

  • God exists
  • God doesn’t exist
  • I can walk through walls (unless you actually do walk through a wall)
  • I can’t walk through walls
  • Donald Trump is the best (or a good) solution for America and the world
  • Donald Trump is the worst (or a bad) solution for America and the world
  • If you know everything, you cease to exist
  • If you know everything, you don’t cease to exist, but continue existing

I guess the last two lines in the list reveal that I haven’t proved that you cease to exist if you know everything. Because it can’t be proved or disproved. And we should be happy for that. If I proved it, then we wouldn’t be here, neither would the question. On the other side, it is not possible to disprove unless you prove it (like walking through walls). In that case the disprove would be false — but we wouldn’t know, because we wouldn’t exist.

Prove your own existence by connecting and sharing

If you liked this article, please comment, follow or share it. If you didn’t like it, share it anyway. If you agree or disagree with what’s being said — feel free to comment, follow or share. If you do, we’ll have a higher chance of learning what other people think of this question, whether they agree or disagree.

11 thoughts on “If you Knew Everything, would you Cease to Exist?

  1. Glenn Erik, you are so much smarter than I am. I follow your logic, as I do Schrödinger, and his cat theory. But just because I follow it – doesn’t mean I understand it. I like to think about complicated or intriguing theories, but I admit I never have much to add. I just barely passed the MENSA test, but Richard’s GMAT test puts him in the 99th percentile. I’m going to pass this on to him because I know he will be as interest as I am.

    I have subscribed to your newsletter, and I changed your email address in my Outlook. I’ve also looked at the pictures of Eli and love them. Congratulations on such a beautiful little girl and lovey wife. Also that is the first picture I’ve ever seen of you – not bad either! Keep up the good work, and keep in touch.

    1. Thank you for such a nice comment Briana. Keep in mind that this post is a relatively quick result of some playful thoughts I had after mentioning the issue on the about page. It’s not the summary of a comprehensive theory that I’ve been working on for years – that is supposed to change how scientists perform experiments and how we live our lives (yet, wait for a future blog-post for that =). As this is my first blog post on this site (and in my life) I took the liberty of writing a little off the topic that I believe most future posts will be on this site.

      I am flattered you compared the logic to Schrödinger and his cat(s, I´m sure he performed more than one experiment, be it cats or other objects =). Just like I think some people would think about the thoughts in this blog-post, many people have claimed Schrödingers cats example to be crazy and even stupid, or worse. Yet, his cats example still stands today as one of the most known day-to-day comparisons of how bizarre nature appears to us humans. Actually, I think it’s more of a personal choice, whether one chooses to behold nature as bizarre. Or you take a different approach and choose to accept that nature is what it is and accept that we’re not designed to be able to comprehend it, at all. I think it’s better to choose the latter, and try to enjoy the situation, rather than being confused or even angry, as it can seem some people do about the quantum enigma. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue investigating, that’s against human nature anyway. And that’s why I’m fond of the Copenhagen interpretation which enables scientists to continue investigation without being hindered by trying to figure out what it means, just focus on the facts.

      I like many of the quotes that Einstein has made, but perhaps my favorite one is:
      I’ve pondered one hundred times more on quantum mechanics than I have on relativity theory” – I think that sums it up pretty well for quantum mechanics =)

      Let’s stay in touch!

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