An Image of God

You are an immortal, omniscient, omnipotent being.

All the matter in the universe condenses into a single, infinitesimally small point. Positive time is rung when it explodes outwards. Each and every variable can be changed in this and every other infinitesimally short instant of time, each of which you experience as infinite time. The size, momentum, direction, spin, taste, color, temperature, density, material, etc. can each take the form of every available option as many or as few times as you’d like. As many or as few variables as you’d like can be altered in each ultranano instant, and as many or as few variables in each subsequent instant can be altered as well, with the options increasing with infinite quickness. Your goal is to create every possible alteration. Each and every branching subsequent moment differs depending on the form of each changeable part in the moment prior.

In the very first instant, you choose a single nucleon. Its temperature is 1028K, and its speed is 500km/s/Mpc relative to the other particles. You alter the nucleon’s speed to 499.999km/s/Mpc leaving everything else unchanged, living through the entire course of time observing the effects of this simple alteration. Next, you alter its speed to 499.998km/s/Mpc; then, 499.997km/s/Mpc; 499.996km/s/Mpc; 499.996km/s/Mpc; 499.995km/s/Mpc. You continue in this vein until this specific particle’s speed reaches zero. Then, you alter every other particle’s speed in the same way, one at a time, living through the birth and death of the universe each time, changing only one thing in the very first ultranano instant. After this iteration of speed alteration, you do every other possible iteration of speed alteration, starting with altering the particles’ speed in pairs. You alter the same first particle and its closest neighbor, changing their speed from 500km/s/Mpc to 499.999km/s/Mpc to 499.998km/s/Mpc, etc. until the pair’s speed is zero. You do this for every possible combination of particles. And then for threes in every possible combination, fours in every possible combination, and fives, until every particle’s speed changes at once. Then you do the same thing for temperature, altering first the alpha particle’s temperature from 1028-1K to 1028-2K to 1028-3K, until the nucleon has reached absolute zero. You change temperature in pairs, affecting every possible combination of pairs. You change the temperature in threes, fours, fives, until you change every particle’s temperature at once. You move on to the next arbitrary variable, altering spin in this way, then direction, until the infinite list of all possible arbitrary variable is altered iteratively in this way.

You do the same for the second ultranano instant.

After some time tracking each atom through star formation and the formation of heavy elements, your attention follows various atoms to earth, and you start focusing on the affairs of men and women. Beginning when the first echoes of consciousness and thought emerge from the swamp, you alter every person’s every choice in a similar pattern of iteration as you applied to the particles. You alter the first conscious choice, in every possible way. Then you alter the first two conscious choices in every possible interaction and every possible way. Then the first three, and so on. Bob Newpark, age five, of Kansas City, Missouri, for instance, spoons two full scoops of sugar into his mouth instead of just one, from the bag he procured from the top shelf of the pantry by standing on a large kitchen chair. He spoons no scoops of sugar into his mouth, he spoons the whole bag into his mouth, and he falls from the chair and hits his head. Alternatively, he scrapes his knee when he falls, or he does not fall and instead mistakes the bag of baking soda for sugar and spoons the full range of no scoop to everything from that bag. He does the same thing with every spice on every shelf in the pantry. You observe his subsequent dental appointments, which vary from no cavities to five, or the immediate ER visit where he is treated for a concussion, a bloody knee, or a chipped tooth. You watch Bob’s life from a safe and invisible distance, observing the different long-term effects these various alterations have on his whole life. Eating the whole bag affects Bob with a lifelong dislike of sugar and everything sweet, whereas eating less than half the bag affects Bob with a prominent sweet tooth, with 3 scoops as the most effective and with the most obvious long-term health effects (obesity and diabetes). Falling from the chair in any capacity induces a worry-streak in Bob’s mother, which has bad and far-reaching consequences for their relationship.

In the same instant Bob pulls a chair up to his kitchen pantry in Kansas City, Missouri, a Desmodus rotundus feasts on its dinner gathered from a cow in Viña del Mar, Chile, and ASASSN-15lh explodes into a giant supernova in the red galaxy, not visible from Earth. Every instant must be observed in full, to detect whether any alterations are entangled like butterflies with faraway objects. Because you have infinite time, you can examine all changeable aspects of everything in each instant, from the macroscale of color and shape to the nanoscale of particles and subatomic particles. There’s an infinite number of things to pay attention to in each altered instant and all of the subsequent instants.

A group of six girls corner ten-year-old Simona Thomas in their school’s bathroom in Aubagne, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. They accuse her of stuffing her bra with paper and attempt to take her shirt and bra off to see if her breasts are real. She cries and says no, but they keep touching her. She pushes the girls off her and runs into a stall, locking the door. She remains in the bathroom corner, but does not give the events as much mental weight, dividing her perceptions into an observing self and a feeling self. She punches the ringleader in the nose. The punch is returned in full, six times over. She cowers on the ground and crawls into the fetal position. She kicks or bites instead of punching. She does not engage physically, she cries. In almost every iteration that she fights back, the girls are punished, and she carries more physical and less emotional damage. When she turns around and spits on the ground after the crowd of girls follows her into the bathroom, the girls decide she is not worth the fight and leave her alone. In nearly every case that she does not fight back, the girls see her early-developed breasts and touch them, but they still spread rumors that Simona stuffs her bra with paper. Sometimes she goes to her parents, which leads to awkward phone calls with the girls’ parents and not much else. Sometimes, in the face of the continued bullying and rumors, Simona transfers out of Collège Nathalie Sarraute to Collège Lakanal d'Aubagne; transferring helps at first, but Simona misses her friends and has trouble fitting in with so many new people, probably due to bullying-induced self-esteem issues. Sometimes she goes to her teachers, and lacking physical evidence or physical violence, they can’t or won’t do anything. In the iterations that lead to her blue and black bruised body, with fewer and less severe marks on the bullies, the teachers punish them with suspension and keep more of a watchful eye on their future interactions.

A single coconut falls from a palm tree on the University of Southern California’s south campus. The Sigma Draconis’ surface flares.

Dan Karny, 41, orders every option and every combination of every option on the menu for lunch. When he chooses a Cobb Salad, your attention focuses on the ingredients in the salad, just as it has for every previous item Dan has ordered.

There are no eggs, and everything else is the same. There are no avocados, and everything else is the same. There is no tomato, and everything else is the same. There is no chicken, and everything else is the same. There is no onion, and everything else is the same. There is no bacon, and everything else is the same. There is no blue cheese, and everything else is the same. There is no lettuce, and everything else is the same. Combinations of ingredients go missing next. Then each attribute of every ingredient is altered. The lettuce has not been washed. The bacon is not crispy enough, too crispy, and just right. The eggs are rotten. The chicken whose meat is in the salad laid the very same eggs that are in the salad. Every ingredient is sourced from all possible farms. The eggs are sourced from the Walbridge Farm Market instead of the Abundance Acres Farm, then the Brick House Acres, then the Farmigo Arverne by the Sea, then Fishkill Farms. The lettuce is sourced from the Lee Farms, the West Bloomfield Farms, the Blue Spoon Farm, and Brie’s Angels Farm. The only difference in source location Dan notices is when something greatly alters the flavor, e.g. when the pork delivery from Fishkill Farms is late, adding a tinge of spoil to the bacon in Dan’s salad. Dan does not notice anything when the delivery is on time. Other changes are made, as well: the egg whites are yellow and the egg yolk is white; the bacon is green and with blue fat, the lettuce is fried and salted, the avocado is called arugula but is the same fruit; the avocado’s skin is the same texture as its pit; the chicken is black; the chicken is white; the blue cheese is purple but is still called blue cheese; the blue cheese is purple and called purple cheese. Sometimes Dan cares greatly when the color is off, but sometimes he expects the egg white to be yellow and the yolk to be white, and he would care greatly if the color scheme were switched. Ingredients are added to Dan’s salad, as well: Corn, eggplant, carrots, cucumbers, jerky, honey, raspberries, blueberries, daffodils, rice, garlic, peppers, nuts, turkey, soaps, oysters, anchovies, quail eggs, mayonnaise, turnips, green beans, moose, leaves, mascara, snakes, potatoes, rubber, clams, fingers, batteries, popcorn, dimes, cherries, spiders, marbles, jelly, oatmeal, oil, shoes, pear, paper, sponges, teeth, jewelry, bees, ants, bones, apple, ice, wax, and screws.

A fly bites someone in Kisumu, Kenya, transmitting malaria. A meteor collides with a planet in the outermost orbit of the Sombrero Galaxy. A comet loses its tail due to evaporation at the point of its perihelion.

Rebecca Jones grows up in Toledo, Ohio; San Jose, California; Miami, Florida; Watertown, Massachusetts; Los Angeles, California; Livonia, Michigan; Duluth, Minnesota; St. Joseph, Missouri; Abilene, Texas; Athens, Georgia; Charlestown, South Carolina; Portland, Oregon; Shanghai, China; Karachi, Pakistan; Tehran, Iran; Bogota, Colombia; Singapore, Singapore; Yangon, Myanmar; Johannesburg, South Africa; and, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In Toledo, Rebecca’s father works at Andersons, whereas in St. Joseph, her father works at Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica. In San Jose, Rebecca frequents Ike’s on Santa Clara and attends Lincoln High School, at which she participates in the school’s large musical theater department. In Miami, Rebecca is bilingual, speaking both Spanish and English, and although there are more Spanish speakers in Los Angeles, Rebecca only speaks English when she lives in Los Angeles. In Duluth, Rebecca is friends with boys on the football team (Jack and Kelly) and girls on the cheer squad (Ellen and Abby). In Athens, Rebecca is on the Math Olympiad team, and the top two scorers on the team are named Jack and Kelly, who are also on the football team; they’re friendly, but they’re not friends. In Tehran, Rebecca speaks Persian and English, and she wears a hijab although she is not Muslim. In some iterations, Rebecca speaks English only and does not wear a hijab in Tehran even though she is Muslim. In Shanghai, Rebecca speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, and she learns English in middle school and takes a liking to English spelling bee competitions. In Singapore, Rebecca goes to an international school and dates the son of a Russian diplomat. In Portland, Rebecca befriends the ‘alternate’ crowd and does a lot of drugs, mostly hallucinogens. Rebecca also befriends the ‘alternate’ crowd and does a lot of drugs in Livonia. In Yangon, Rebecca dreams of living in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, Rebecca begs her parents to send her somewhere foreign for a summer and imagines running away at the summer’s end. In Dar es Salaam, Rebecca plans a trip with her friends to Singapore and walks past the same park bench she frequently sits to drink beers and smoke cigarettes in an alternate timeline. In Johannesburg, Rebecca competes on the chess team and studies coding, hoping to attend an elite university; however, she has few friends and is lonely. In Abilene, Rebecca is not lonely because she knows she is always with God; she dyes her hair blonde and joins the cheer squad. In Karachi, Rebecca sneaks off to play the drums in her friend’s garage. In Watertown, Rebecca’s father is on the city council, and after helping him with his campaigns, she dreams of someday running for office herself. In Bogota, Rebecca reads Borges and Nabokov, spending her lunch breaks in the school’s library. In Duluth, Rebecca also reads Borges and Nabokov, but she would never dream of reading such serious things in public. In Portland, Rebecca sees a therapist and is prescribed antidepressants. In Shanghai, Rebecca does well enough in spelling bee competitions to compete in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, Rebecca hates the weather and dreams for snow or rain, an opinion the Portland, Watertown, and Livonia Rebeccas would award with a slap. In Livonia, Rebecca goes to Bates everyday after school to wait for her mother to pick her up. In Charlestown, Rebecca waits for her father right outside of school, as the other parents are judgemental towards a ‘free-reign’ parenting style. In Los Angeles, San Jose, and Toledo, Rebecca drives to school. In all iterations, Rebecca is basically happy; no experiences are better or worse than the others, just different. In some of the next iterations Rebecca does all the same activities, speaks the same languages, and is friends with the same people in a different city as any of these iterations.

A Boston Terrier poops on the lawn in front of the house at 1714 Via Cortina, San Jose, California. A leaf falls from a magnolia tree in Central Park, New York City, New York. An Orcinus orca eats from a school of Oncorhynchus tshawytscha in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Alaska. A piece of dust drifts through a diffuse nebula in the Crab Nebula.

You can change both positive and negative variables. Positive variables are those that already exist in an instant, and negative variables are the set of things that do not exist in an instant. In any instant, you can alter any positive variables, like you did for the ingredients in Dan’s Cobb Salad, and you can bring into existence any of the negative variables, like the ingredients that you added to Dan’s salad. You bring into existence everything possible, everywhere, in every instant, in every situation.

Three friends are drinking coffee around a table at Starbucks in Boston, and a fluffy pink elephant appears in front of them. A second grade math class learns about division with the guidance of Mrs. Deason at Blossom Hill Elementary School, and a giant tarantula appears in front of the class while Mrs. Deason is facing the board. It disappears suddenly before she turns around. A mermaid appears in front of a naval crew on the Atlantic.

A unicorn, the size of a horse and with a flowing pink mane on its white fur, appears in front of a group of hikers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It’s a giant sloth, not a unicorn. It’s a bright orange tiger standing on two legs and wearing clothes. It’s a giant boulder, and it’s rolling towards the hikers. It’s a giant boulder, and it’s rolling away from the hikers. It’s a 1914 Model-T Ford, brand new off the assembly-line. It’s the unicorn again, but this time it’s two nanometers to the left. It’s a unicorn, but this time it’s blue instead of white. It’s the blue unicorn, but this time it’s two nanometers backwards. It’s a zombie, skin rotting but wearing a suit, skin greenish-gray, screaming, “Brains!” It’s a man holding his head to the side of him, riding a horse, wearing a black cape. A giant squid from the depths of the ocean is wet and angry but unable to breathe. A giant squid from the depths of the ocean is wet and angry, and he can breathe. A giant squid that can speak English. The three friends drinking coffee at Starbucks appear in front of the hikers in the White Mountains, each group just as confused as the other. A man kneeling in front of his girlfriend on the beach where they had their first date opens a ring-box to see a severed human toe in the box along with the ring. A perfectly toasted bagel appears plated on a man’s nightstand the same morning he is too hungover to get a bagel himself. A brand new wardrobe of identical and clean clothes appears in a woman’s dorm room dresser on the day after she does laundry. A quarter appears in a man’s pocket right after he checks for quarters for the meter; he has already begun reparking. A futuristic spaceship appears above a Kansas schoolhouse on the night of the big prom. A paranoid schizophrenic afraid that he really is just a brain in a tank sees a brain in a tank next to his bed in his asylum room. An ocean-full of water appears above New York City, drenching everybody and causing structural damage to some buildings. A Sahara desert-full of sand appears above the festival-goers at burning man, and nobody thinks twice about it. An Everest-like mountain appears under the sea, causing ships and submarines to crash. A tiny blonde woman with wings and a wand appears next to a child’s bed, causing him to rip his loose tooth out. A knife-wielding murderer appears in a sorority’s bathroom while the most notorious prankster showers. A reanimated chicken missing its head appears with a grudge at a Satanist ritual site. A fully-sized, staffed, and functional Disneyland appears next to a small town in Wyoming. In this way, you cycle through all possible negative variables in all situations in all instants.

Next, you invisibly follow every person who’s ever lived or who will ever live, in every iteration of every instant, thinking their thoughts, feeling their emotions, and following their reasons for making decisions. Julian Dehran’s first emotion is fear, and his first thought, which comes much later, is, “Mommy.” His emotion at this instant is love. His reasons for excluding Tommy from schoolyard bouncy-ball games have more to do with numbers and feasibility for good gameplay than a personal vendetta against Tommy, although Tommy harbors a personal vendetta against Julian for a short time after this instant. Tommy’s first thought is also, “Mommy,” accompanied with the feeling of love, although at this instant his thought is, “Julian is not nice to me. Why isn’t Julian more nice to me?” accompanied with feelings of sadness and hate. Julian’s decision to attend a college far from home has more to do with a desire to experience a new place than a desire to leave home. Julian feels excitement and anticipation; his mother feels sadness and loss. Even though he never quite puts it into these words, he feels like he can do anything: he can study any subject, he can take any class, he can meet any person; he can pick up innumerable hobbies like pottery or drawing or cooking, he can do any career and reach any height; it feels just as likely to Julian that he’ll be CEO or President of the United States, and the countless possibilities stretching out before him almost overwhelm him. Julian feels a lot of love shortly after meeting Susan, almost as much love as he had when thinking his first thought. He takes Susan to a ballgame and can’t stop noticing the way her mouth looks when the home team is batting: A mixture of laughter and determination.

His head is empty of all verbal thoughts, although he continues picturing the way her mouth looks. His heart is full of happiness, excitement, love, and a little bit of trepidation. He focuses a tremendous mental effort in trying to remember the moment, how it looks and how it feels, when she walks down the aisle. He says, “I do,” and feels all of the same positive emotions with slightly less trepidation. You stay next to Julian through the years, watching the portrait of his family on his cubicle wall change and grow larger. You hear him weep silently when his boss asks him to stay late, forcing him to miss his son’s play. You hear the years add up and take a mental burden, the rote repetitiveness of his life hardening him and readying him for life’s possible changes. You hear his heart pulse and his mind expand to possibilities beyond his gray cubicle walls and his gray hair when he clocks out for the last time, on the first day beyond what’s required for pension. You picture with him the possibilities that lay before him: he could take up golf, he could learn to knit, he could watch TV, he could play Sudoku, he could take up running again, he could run for office, he could go fishing, he could draw a giant fish confronting some hikers on a nature path, or he could travel with Susan. But he’s old, and he’s tired, so you know as well as he does that what’s likeliest is the path of least resistance: a small trip here and there, the occasional round of golf added into an otherwise repetitive and meaningless routine. He’s happy at home with Susan, but when she falls and breaks her hip, they move into a retirement community. He feels young again, like he’s in a dorm in college. He knows his time is limited when he wakes up with chest pains one night. All he can think is, “Mommy.” But he feels that he’s lived a rounded and full life with plenty of possibilities exhausted.

Boundaries blur with the infinite, the unendable. What’s the difference between you and anybody else if one iteration of time’s arrow is spent following the person around, invisibly, from birth to death, thinking their thoughts and feeling their emotions? What’s the difference between you and everybody if you do this for everybody who’s ever lived? Feeling their emotions and knowing the way things seem to them?

The end comes when all possible aspects, including both positive and negative variables, change in all instants, and every subsequent branching instant as well, for every possible change in every possible case. Everything has been studied and observed in every instant. You continue through time until everything ends. At a vast timeframe, quantum tunnelling in an isolated patch of the vacuum generates, via inflation, new Big Bangs, giving birth to new universes. You enter a new universe and start again, ready for the new collection of all infinitely-variable possible possibilities.

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