What is funnier, is that it is God who is writing the novel in the guise of Andrew Cheng... and this post in the guise of Michael Haines :)
Plainly, beyond theory or doubt, Consciousness 'is'...
'What it is'... is not so plain.
For all 'whats' are 'defined things'... defined by the 'ideas' that give them 'number, form and meaning'.
Consciousness is not an 'idea'... it is 'self-evidently' Real!
No 'idea' can 'be' 'Reality!
All of science deals in 'ideas': 'theories about things'.
The most rigorous theories are based on mathematical models that describe theorized fields (quantum field, electromagnetic field, etc) and theorized objects (sub-atomic particles, atoms, molecules, proteins, etc... all the way up to stars, galaxies and clusters, etc) as well as their theoretical properties (spin, colour, charge, mass, temperature, pressure, etc)
A theory is held to be valid when the theoretical behaviour of the theoretical forms maps or predicts the observed behaviour of observed forms...
That is all.
Both the theories and the observations are perceived in and by Consciousness alone.
Consciousness can never get 'outside itself' to observe itself an an 'object', as such it is beyond the realm of 'objective' science.
In discussing Consciousness, the best that words can do is point attention to the facets of Consciousness being referenced.
So, in this discussion, rather than 'thinking' about the words (which is just more ideas), instead, attend to where the words are pointing.
Take for instance the words: Knowing-ideas (number, form and meaning)
Notice no idea can 'be' in the absence of Knowing.
Notice this Knowing-ideas has no substance or form. So that, objectively, it appears as if it is not.
Subjectively, it is plain that ideas are Known... beyond theory or doubt.
Notice no idea can ever change, for if it did it would be a different idea and not the idea it is.
Notice too, no idea can stand on its own.
Notice each idea is defined by reference to other ideas that are defined by still more ideas that in the ultimate form the closed set of all ideas of every possible 'thing, event and relation'.
Plainly, Knowing-all-ideas-ever-unchanged is an inseparable whole forming a facet of Consciousness.
Yet it is also plain that there is no Awareness of Knowing-all-ideas'.
There is no Awareness of any idea until it is imaged in the present.
Until the instant the word appeared, was there any Awareness of Knowing or not-Knowing the meaning associated with the word?
Plainly, the meaning is not 'in' the word, or else it would be impossible to not know what a word meant, or for one word to have many meanings, or many words to have the same meaning, or no meaning at all when perceived from the perspective of an illiterate person.
Plainly, Awareness of the idea only arises when it is associated in Consciousness with a 'sensory image'.
Again, rather than trying to 'understand' what the words 'sensory image' mean (more ideas), simply attend to the 'faculties being referenced'
As for example: Seeing-colours.
Like Knowing-ideas, the words are hypenated as it is impossible to separate the 'colours' from the 'Seeing'. Just imagine what your elbow Sees and it will be clear that without Seeing, nothing at all appears. Not 'black', nor 'white'... simply 'nothing'.
What is true of Seeing-colours, is true of all the other faculties of Consciousness: Hearing-sounds, Tasting-flavours, Feeling-feelings and Smelling-odours.
These faculties include the perception of thoughts and imaginings.
What's missing from the 'Cheng' simulation is the fact that for any simulation to be perceived, it requires Consciousness.
Of course, 'Cheng' is positing that Consciousness emerges out of software that operates on some 'physical' medium... but that is just an idea arising in Consciousness :)
Plainly, everything perceived arises in and to Consciousness, inseparable from Consciousness.
Consciousness is this unchanging, invisible, insubatantial, formless Sensing-sensations (colours, flavours, feelings, odours and sounds) together with Knowing-ideas (number form and meaning) with Power to manifest fleeting sensory images in accord with ideas to create within and to its own Awareness the appearance of a 3D world full of 'things, events and relations' perceived from the perspective of each creature 'in' the world, as though looking out its eyes and experiencing its body, thoughts/memories, feelings and surroundings from the 'first person perspective', so they appear as 'my body' and 'my thoughts/memories' and 'my surroundings'... as in a 'life-like' dream :)
As for 'other people'
Imagine watching a film that shows the same scene from the perspective of each character in the scene, as though looking out their eyes and hearing their thoughts.
In the film, the scene occurs at a specific place and time... but the audience sees it from each perspective in sequence. The film can be started, stopped and replayed 'at will', but the events in the film remain as they are unchanged.
Now imagine that the 'film' is immersive VR, so it fully engages all the senses.
Now imagine that as the 'life' of each character is experienced, there is no awareness of ever having experienced any other life.
Under these circumstances, it would appear 'as if I am the person in real life'. There would be no awareness of it 'being a film/VR experience'.
But how could this be 'in reality'?
Consciousness is not split into bits, some for each creature, nor is it bound by time or space, or law or reason or desire. These are all appearances in Consciousness
Consciousness acts 'spontaneously', instantly.
As one experience is arising (reading these words for example) there are no other 'experiences' happening any where or any when else, for there is no where but 'here' and no when but 'now'
AS Conscousness experiences every life, what One apparently does to another is in reality experienced by this same Consciousness...
Hence 'The Golden Rule' :)
Though no harm can ever come to Consciousness as nothing really ever happens... it is no more than a dream :)
Notice that the instant a pain is gone and forgotten it is as if it never was.
Each experience begins and ends instantly...
Though there is no end to experiencing
As for the Bible, it says that God is Invisible Living Spirit... which are just old fashioned words for Consciousness. What else truly lives: Seeing, Hearing, Tasting, Feeling, Smelling and Knowing?
Christ is 'Awareness', 'one with God', in whom and to whom the whole world is made apparent.
As the Bible says:
Revelation 1 18 I am the living one!
Romans 3 30 God is One
Colossians 1 15-17 ... the invisible God.
I John 4 12 No one has ever seen God.
I Timothy 6 15 No one can ever see him.
Colossians 1 15-17 Christ (Awareness) is the visible likeness of the invisible God.
He is the first born Son, superior to all created beings.
For through him God created everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen.
... God created the whole universe through him and for him.
Christ existed before all things and in union with him all things have their proper place
All things appear in and to Awareness, inseparable from Awareness.
John 5 19 The Son (Awareness) can do nothing on his own; he only does what he sees his Father (Consciousness) doing... For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.
John 10 38 The Father is in me and I am in the Father.
John 17 11 (Christ says of God): You and I are one.
Stop thinking and Look:
Look straight ahead and without moving 'the head or eyes'...
Notice the visual field appears like a circle with an indefinite 'edge'.
Notice that 'beyond the edge' there is neither 'black' nor 'white'... simply nothing
Notice no 'body' is apparent.
Now 'look down'.
Notice that only the front of the torso and limbs are apparent, distorted by 'perspective' so the hands appear to be about the size of the feet.
Now bring a foot and hand together and notice that the foot appears much larger.
A thing (a foot and a hand) that appear other than they are, is the definition of 'illusion'.
Plainly, everything in the visual field is an illusion.
It cannot be otherwise.
How could actual 'things' be 'in' the Seeing?
This visual field is the 'Eye of God'... the Eye of Consciousness... the only Eye there is.
Of course, the thought may arise, "but my consciousness is inside my head inside my brain"...
So look for this 'head'...
Place 'one hand around the front of the head', and the 'other hand around the back'...
Notice the 'feeling of the whole head' is 'inside' Consciousness.
Notice too that neither the 'feeling', nor the 'idea' (that the feeling is my hands holding my head), is an 'actual head'.
Notice that every 'body' (including the body referred to as 'my body' is an appearance in and to Consciousness, inseparable from Consciousness, formed of fleeting ever-changing sensory images given meaning by the ideas associated with them.
As every appearance arises in and is present to this Consciousness alone, it is called 'Omnipresent'.
As the Power to manifest sensory images in accord with ideas is the only Power there is, hence it is called 'Omnipotent'.
As this Knowing-all-ideas is an unchanging facet of Consciousness, hence it is called Omniscient...
This is Thou...
As long as no ideas are associated with these words :)