God vs The Multiverse

Click here for God vs The Multiverse: a rational argument for the Existence of One God who intelligently designed one universe.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 18: Simplicity and Complexity)

We want to be clear about what we are, and what we are not, presenting in Stage Three of this proof. This stage is not independent of the prior two stages, and we are not presenting an ontological argument for God's Existence.  We have already established (based upon modern science in the prior two stages of the proof) that the universe must have an Intelligent Designer.  We intend to show that the only reasonable formulation for this Intelligent Designer is the God of Abraham.  Every other complex formulation is subject to critical flaws that we will discuss in the coming posts, while the God of Abraham satisfactorily avoids these difficulties.

The main purpose of this post is to convey Abraham's concept of One Simple God.  We do not mean 'simple' in the way that it is often used to denote something easy to understand, in contrast to something which is hard ('complicated') to understand.  Something can be simple, yet difficult to understand because of its abstract nature.  Rather, we mean simplicity in a specific sense, which is best understood in contrast to complexity.

We are using the following examples from science to contrast simplicity with complexity, in order to help explain what we mean.  The key point is not the particular examples, but rather how we are using the word 'simplicity'.  The examples also provide a good illustration how something can be simple, yet very difficult to understand.  Additionally, the various different types of examples show just how important and ubiquitous the concept of simplicity is for all of our scientific understanding of the universe.

The human brain is a very complex entity.  It is composed of relatively simpler cells, called neurons.  Each complex cell is composed of many simpler molecules.  Molecules are ultimately made of fundamental particles, like electrons and quarks (if string theory is correct, then strings are the fundamental existences).  Electrons and quarks might seem complicated, but they are really exceptionally simple compared to a human brain which is composed of about 100 billion neurons.

If we were asked to explain exactly what an electron really is, we couldn't really give a good answer.  An electron has no known internal substructure, and is idealized as a point particle with no spacial extension.  We could say that an electron is an essential form of energy, that has certain intrinsic properties like charge and spin; but we couldn't understand what causes it to have these properties in terms of something simpler, as an electron is a fundamental particle.

When discussing the brain on the other hand, despite its complexity (or better yet, because of its complexity), we can gain some understanding of it by analyzing it into its components.  We can study their relationships and attempt to develop a theory explaining the resultant functionality of the more complex emergent entity of the brain.

We say that something is simple when it is basic or fundamental.  When one thing can be used to explain many phenomenon, we say that it is simpler than they are.  In fact, the very essence of causal understanding consists of reducing complexity to simplicity, and showing how simplicity leads to complexity.  Albert Einstein eloquently wrote:
The basic concepts and laws which are not logically further reducible constitute the indispensable and not rationally deducible part of the theory. It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.
Just like there is simplicity and complexity in the objects and structures of the universe, the same concepts are true regarding the forces in the universe.  For instance, Newton's theory of gravitation unified the cause of motion on earth with the cause of motion in the heavens, showing how they were both caused by the same underlying force called the law of gravity.  In this sense, Newtonian gravitation simplified our understanding of the basic forces in the universe.  Instead of the heavens and earth being two entirely different domains with totally different forces (a more complex universe), they were now seen to be two instances of one simpler force.

Similarly, Maxwell's four famous equations showed that the two apparently different phenomena of electricity and magnetism were in fact two expressions of one simpler electromagnetic force.  In fact, light also becomes unified as an electromagnetic wave under this simple framework.  This theory greatly simplifies our understanding of the universe by reducing apparently different phenomena (electricity, magnetism, light, etc.) to simpler principles.  The search for a unified theory of everything is an attempt to further this pursuit and to unify all forces in nature as different expressions of one simple force.

A more familiar example from biology involves the complex phenomenon of life. The theory of evolution explains the many, varied, complex forms of life based upon a simple theory involving a replicator (DNA), mutations, natural selection, and a long time.

The discovery of One Simple Existence as the ultimate explanation for the great complexity we observe in the universe was made by the greatest philosopher of science, Abraham, approximately 3800 years ago.  Abraham's concept is that the reduction of complex causes to simplicity ends at a fundamentally Simple Cause.  This Simple Existence is not reducible to anything more basic or fundamental.  Abraham identified this Absolutely Simple Necessary Existence as the God of the universe.  (We will explain what we mean by 'Necessary' in the next post.)

In order to gain insight into Abraham's conception of God, and what we can and can not know about Him, consider the following.  When analyzing existences in the universe, we can usually proceed in two opposite directions.  We can analyze their simpler components, or we can see what complexity emerges from them.  For example, cells can be understood as an special arrangement of simpler existences like electrons and quarks.  On the other hand, cells can also be understood as relatively simple existences that, when properly ordered, give rise to a human brain.

When we come to the fundamental existences in the universe, however, scientific understanding only proceeds in one direction. For example, we can study what emerges from fundamental particles, but we can not reduce fundamental particles to a simpler physical entity as they have no substructure or parts.  It is because of this irreducibility that they do not lend themselves to the same type of simpler explanation as everything else in the universe that is comprised of them.

The purpose of these various scientific examples is to show how we are analogously using the word 'simple' when saying that Abraham's God is Absolutely Simple.  However, this One Simple Existence is not a physical existence, but is rather entirely unique and different from all other existences. God is simple in an absolute sense (He has no complexity whatsoever), while all other existences are only simple in a specific limited sense, but partake of complexity in other regards. (See the first comment below for an elaboration on the limitation of the simplicity of a fundamental particle.  Similar analyses, some found in later comments, exhibit the limitation of the simplicity of all existences other than Abraham's God.  For this post in particular, reading the comments will be very helpful to fully understand the idea.)

Abraham's concept of One Simple God of the universe can only be understood by the complexity He causes.  We can only understand Him by studying what results from Him.  We can study the universe He created and see that it is beautiful, ordered, complex, structured, etc.  We see a marvelous chain of existences that this Simple Existence has created, and we therefore say that this One Simple God is Intelligent.  Thus, Intelligence is not fundamentally a simpler definition of His Essence, but is rather knowledge about that which results from His actions (the universe).

We can not logically explain Abraham's God in terms of simpler existences.  We can not understand Him like we can understand everything else in the universe, because He is the Simplest Existence.  We can not compare Him to something with complexity, because He is different than a complex being.  He does not have components or accidents in addition to His Essence.  He is absolutely simply.

Abraham's God is a formulation of the Intelligent Designer of the universe that allows us to make sense of everything else that exists in the universe; but the other existences and concepts can not be used to explain Him.  Abraham's God set the initial conditions of the big bang in a way that incredible order and complexity naturally emerged as the universe evolved.  Abraham's God fine tuned the fundamental constants of nature (the numbers that define the quantities of the fundamental particles and fundamental forces) in a way that all the beautiful and wondrously complex structures emerge from the utmost simplicity.

Who is the Intelligent Designer of the universe?

The God of Abraham.  One Simple Necessary Existence.


  1. How would you compare the simplicity of a fundamental particle to the simplicity of God? Do you view one to be more complex than the other or are they two different frameworks of simplicity?
    If they are two different frameworks, then can you clarify exactly what each framework is?

    1. Great question. It really gets to the heart of what absolute simplicity means. There are at least two reasons why a fundamental particle like an electron is not absolutely simple.

      First, every fundamental particle is a specific form of energy. Energy can be conceptualized as the universal substance, as it is always conserved, always comes in a specific form (motion, heat, light, mass, etc.), and is never found as just energy with no form.

      A fundamental particle like an electron is one form of energy. A quark is a different type of fundamental particle, and is therefore a different form of energy. We can conceptualize an electron as a combination of substance (energy) and form (the essence of electron). It that sense, it is complex and not absolutely simple. (See Werner Heisenberg's "Physics and Philosophy" chapter 4 for a more in depth explanation of energy as the universal substance.)

      The second reason why a fundamental particle is not absolutely simple is because it exists in space and time. Perhaps the better way to say this according to General Relativity is that time and space are accidents of fundamental particles.

      An easy way to understand this point is to ask: What distinguishes two seemingly identical electrons from each other?

      The reason we call them two separate existences is because they exists as part of two different sequences of causality, meaning they exist at different points in space and time. Therefore, a fundamental particle, in addition to its essence, has the accident of space and time.

      In contrast, it does not make sense to say that there are two absolutely simple existences, as there is nothing to distinguish one from the other. We will develop this last point in a later post which deals with how we know there aren't two Gods.

    2. First of all I'm rather confused how a search for a fundamental substance (or force?) of the universe results in "creator". If there is a simple thing (let's go with "substance" for now) at the bottom of it all, wouldn't it be just a smallest part of the universe? How would it be a "creator"? How would it be "intelligent"? Is a cell in Rule 110 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_110) intelligent? Are the 8 rules? This is what a physicist in Universe 110 would find at the bottom. Honestly it really seems like you're making a different argument, but what I'm reading is "1 fundamental particle = intelligent creator".

      Second of all it seems that your answer to levi is predicated on the notion that there cannot be 2 fundamental particles because they're not "absolutely simple". This seems like an unwarranted assumption (seemingly driven by a strange attractor of god-particle). Maybe there are 2 fundamental particles (like black and white cells in 110), maybe 5; we'll keep trying to reduce it but there seems no reason to think there is only one. Eventually we just hit a wall (without knowing it) http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2007/11/25/turtles-much-of-the-way-down/


    3. We think your confusion is predicated on one misunderstanding. The God of Abraham is not a physical fundamental particle. As we explain in the comment above to Levi, every physical existence is complex as it is made of energy and its essence, as well as having the accident of space-time.

      The God of Abraham is not physical. He does not exists in space-time, nor is He made of energy. He is Absolutely Simple, and therefore is not a physical god-particle.

      It seems to us that your second question is also predicated on god being a physical particle. We hope our answer clarifies that too.

    4. I'm sorry, but no, this did not clarify it (and yes, I realize that you don't believe god is a particle, but you sure made it sound like it, however unintentionally). What's driving you (or "Abraham") to say that there is anything beyond the fundamental particles, the way scientists assume. Are you giving some line of reasoning for this, or is this just descriptive of what Abraham apparently believed?


    5. Please reread posts 1-17 for our line of reasoning. Also see the end of post 17 for what we are trying to do in stage 3.

    6. Ok, so what is presented here is the descriptive result of the previous reasoning? Is that how Abraham got there?


    7. Could you clearly define what you mean by the "descriptive result of the previous reasoning?"

    8. What I mean is that you're not explaining Abraham's supposed reasoning, just describing his conclusion.


    9. Ultimately, we can not truly know what the historical man Abraham was thinking, and what chains of reasoning led him to his conclusion about One Simple Necessary Existence. Abraham was the greatest philosopher of science to walk this Earth, and it would be presumptuous of us to believe we can recreate his entire thought process.

      That being said, if you think into the post a little, you will realize that we are explaining his reasoning to a certain extent. Irrespective, what matters is that the reasoning makes sense to us (people of this era), not whether it is a historically accurate depiction of Abraham's thought processes. We will try our best to make this reasoning even clearer in a later post.

    10. Dr_Manhattan,
      In your rule 110 example you must distinguish between 3 things.
      a. the cells (fundamental particles)
      b. the rules (laws of 'physics')
      c. the mind which is outside the rule 110 system, who programmed the rules and initial conditions (intelligent designer)

      Similarly for our universe, however the designer of our universe must not be physical, or else it will also need an explanation for its complexity.

    11. RAZ/REF
      just to emphasize a point from the post
      "The key point is not the particular examples, but rather how we are using the word 'simplicity'. "
      Electrons can help us define the term 'simple', however their simplicity is as a fundamental form of matter/energy in the universe, God is the fundamental idea/form of the universe from who all other ideas emanate.

      We have to be careful since the meaning of a term such as simple is equivocal in reference to God, since God is UNIQUELY simple. Anything we use our imagination to intuit (such as a meaning of 'simple' coming from physical examples) will not be accurate in reference to God.

    12. We certainly agree with you Yaakov. Do you think that point was clear in the post?

    13. Some of the questions indicate that it was not

    14. Thanks. We updated the post by adding in the paragraph which begins:

      "This is the sense of how we are analogously using the word 'simple'"

    15. I see it, but I suspect that it is still confusing. If your goal is that the meaning of the post be understood through the comment thread then it is fine, but if you want the post to be clear on its own I think it should be reformulated.

    16. We have two competing factors in writing the posts themselves: brevity and clarity. While we are always limited by our abilities in accomplishing both theses goals, in an area as abstract as this one, it becomes even more difficult. To fully grasp our meaning, it might be necessary to read some of the comment threads.

      To a degree, we are relying on these next few posts together to clearly explain exactly what we mean by One Simple Necessary Existence. As we analyze the idea from different angles, it will come more into focus.

      However, we are always grateful for suggestions if you think there is a better way of writing the concept in a clearer and as concise manner.

    17. Yaakov - I brought in Rule 110 because it nicely illustrates "bottom-level substance" and "rules governing it". Yes I'm aware someone actually found Rule 110, but this is sort of the crux of the question: whether someone "made it up", or "discovered it". The striking thing about 110 is that it's so simple that it seems random choice of possible rules near-explains it. It's quite possible even simpler sets of rules govern our universe, and my intuition is that that's likely just be it.

      While RAZ/REF seem to claim that they're not making an argument here, but rather relying on their previous work they do seem at the same time to be motivating some kind of intuition about looking for something simpler than fundamental physical laws. Similar dialog is described by Sean Carroll here, http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2007/11/25/turtles-much-of-the-way-down/
      and (unsurprisingly) my opinion is similar to Sean's: we just don't know where things bottom out, and once they do, there is nothing to say there is something beyond that (though we'll keep on trying to dig deeper).

      Somehow I suspect partially this "simplicity" intuition stems from Aristotelian concept of existence as a separate thing that attaches to things. This motivates the notion that there is a separate concept of existence, separate from the underlying matter of the universe. I think the problem with that is that the intuition is build on seeing objects - horses, seashells, whatever be created and disappear. So clearly objects do not possess "existence". But we have never seen the fundamental "matter of the universe" (which is convertible to energy) disappear - it seems strictly conserved.

      The other objection that I have is that we motivate the existence of the Simplest Thing, then quickly add to it rather complex attributes, like knowing everything (of course you kinda have to, otherwise your god just turns out to be the boring "bottom level of reducing the universe", which is not that interesting, unless you're a scientist).


    18. The article you mentioned by Sean Carroll is an excellent example of how scientists treat the explanation of God. Once they dismiss God, they are left with the multiverse. That is why we called this series "God vs the Multiverse".

      The two key paragraphs in the article are with regards to how Carroll rejects the explanation of an Intelligent Designer and says that only remaining possibility is the multiverse which he calls a "simple hypothesis that fits all the data".

      (For those who don't know, Sean Carroll is a multiverse theorist who even has his own "scientific" model for the multiverse which he calls the chicken/egg model. In Carroll's mind the simple fundamental laws of nature include a random number generator, which randomly assigns values to any one of an infinite number of universal eggs that are each created from an infinite number of universal chickens. We're not joking. See the video in post 14.)

      Carroll writes:

      "I can think of a few possibilities. One is logical necessity: the laws of physics take the form they do because no other form is possible. But that can’t be right; it’s easy to think of other possible forms. The universe could be a gas of hard spheres interacting under the rules of Newtonian mechanics, or it could be a cellular automaton, or it could be a single point.

      Another possibility is external influence: the universe is not all there is, but instead is the product of some higher (supernatural?) power. That is a conceivable answer, but not a very good one, as there is neither evidence for such a power nor any need to invoke it.

      The final possibility, which seems to be the right one, is: that’s just how things are. There is a chain of explanations concerning things that happen in the universe, which ultimately reaches to the fundamental laws of nature and stops. This is a simple hypothesis that fits all the data; until it stops being consistent with what we know about the universe, the burden of proof is on any alternative idea for why the laws take the form they do."

      We have shown in the prior two stages why multiverse theory fails to explain the fine tuning of the constants and the ordering of the initial conditions. We have shown how the teleological explanation of post 3 points to an Intelligent Designer, and we have stated explicitly in post 17 that what we intend to do in this stage is give a satisfactory formulation of the Intelligent Designer that we have already proven to exist.

      We have more than answered all your questions on the prior posts. If you would like to do so further, please leave your question on the appropriate post. We are currently on stage three and we will not reargue here everything we have already proven in the prior two stages.

    19. Ok, scientific theory dismissed by using the word 'chicken' multiple times. (In realated news, Carroll likes to wear a wig and a clown nose on weekends. Clearly ridiculous).


    20. Dr_Manhattan
      you still are misunderstanding the problem with calling on rule 110. I have addressed it on post 15 (which seemed the more suitable place)

  2. RAZ/REF, when you say the simple theory of evolution explains the complexity of life - when you use the term explains do you mean it as a cause gives rise to all these disparate phenomena? In other words, evolution causes diversity of life? If so, then are you saying that relative to the processes of a complex organism (like the human endocrine system or human heart) the cause of evolution is simple in that it has less prerequisite parts in order for it to exist as a cause of things beneath it. So then the existence of an atom is simpler than the existence of evolution not because it is smaller but because it is more basic - it has fewer prerequisite parts or causes to give it existence. If so, then even if you were to find the smallest particle, so long as it existed in spacetime it would have that nagging second precondition for its existence. The only cause, then, that could not have any precondtions for its existence would be something *absolutely* simple. It couldn't have any parts by definition, because then there would have to be something more basic than it. Am I understanding your post correctly? Tell me if I am mistaken here. Thanks

    1. So the One Absolutely Simple God is the basic reality? Ad in he is the base upon which any other reality rests?

    2. We think your question from the fact that you are comparing things from two different categories. The biological theory of evolution is very different from a physical particle. It would be like comparing gravity to a particle. One is a law or theory, while the other is a physical object.

      Evolution is a simpler theory than a theory which posits a different law for life in the water, air, and land. It doesn't really make sense to compare its relative simplicity to that of a particle.

      In terms of your second comment, if you mean by "One Absolutely Simple God is the basic reality?", that God is the cause of all other reality, and without the Existence of the One Simple God, nothing else would exists, then we agree. If you meant something else, please try to clarify.

      Does that resolve your question?

    3. I suppose I am confused because simplicity seems to work in both realms, the theoretical and the physical. Physically complex things are made up of simpler, more basic particles, and they depend on those more basic existences for their own existence. Similarly when you talk about the theory of how those particles behave systematically you have simpler more basic theories and more complex, further down the chain theories. For instance, you can speak more meaningfully about evolution if you have an understanding of the forces involved at the molecular level. If you didn't have those more basic concepts your understanding of biology would be incomplete. One question I would have is would you say the theories of physics are simpler than the theory of evolution in the sense that you are using the term?

      As far as reaching the conclusion of One God, is it because we are not satisfied with the basic existences being a fundamental particle in spacetime? It raises the question of what gave rise to both the particle and spacetime, correct? The only possible answer (aside from an infinite which raises its own problems) is something absolutely simple. Again please let me know if I am mistaken, just trying to understand your points here.

    4. The principle of simplicity does operate in both realms as it is a universal principle throughout all areas of science. Nevertheless, it does not really make sense to compare the simplicity of an electron to that of a law, as they are two essentially different types of existences.

      The fundamental laws of physics are simpler than the laws of biology, as biology emerges from fundamental physics (plus DNA, etc). See our first comment to post 5 where we elaborate on this point.

      As far as reaching the conclusion of One God, we are presenting this idea in the context of the prior 17 posts. We are not giving an ontological proof of God divorced from observation and science. Rather, we have already shown why the fine tuning and order in the universe demands a further explanation and points to an Intelligent Designer (see post 17).

      In this stage of the proof, we are showing that there is one, and only one, way of formulating the theory of an Intelligent Designer in a satisfactory manner that properly addresses all question raised against it. We will elaborate on these questions and answers in further posts.

  3. You refer to Avraham as a Philosopher of Science. What do you mean by this? Was he particularly scientific such that we should distinguish him from other philosophers? Is there any evidence that you rely upon to conclude that he performed experiments or philosophical inquiries? I'm only asking because I don't see what you're showing by descring him as such - I always thought of him as a philosopher.

    1. We mean that he derived his knowledge of God from an investigation into the natural world. From his correct understanding of the physical world, he was able to reject the primitive pagan explanation of many forces, and come to the true understanding of One Simple Existence which is responsible for the order in the natural world.

      We mean he is was a philosopher of science, in the sense that he drew a philosophical conclusion from an analysis of the natural world. In addition, the concept of simplicity and complexity lies at the foundation of all scientific understanding that came after Abraham (from the ancient Greeks to modern science).

  4. > When we come to the fundamental existences in the universe, however, scientific understanding only proceeds in one direction. For example, we can study what emerges from fundamental particles, but we can not reduce fundamental particles to a simpler physical entity as they have no substructure or parts. It is because of this irreducibility that they do not lend themselves to the same type of simpler explanation as everything else in the universe that is comprised of them.

    In line with Rafi's question above, what do we mean when we say simple in physicality vs. G or even an idea like gravity? When probing down to the basic fundamental particles of all things we presumably will discover string, which can no longer be divided or changed and only vibrates.

    Is that a different simple than we mean when we say a simple idea? Would vibration contradict the idea of simplicity since it is constantly moving and changing? Is there some parallel notion for simple ideas that they are constantly "vibrating"?

    Basically, I'm wondering if you have a clear distinction between physical simplicity and non-physical simplicity that could help me answer some of these questions.

    1. See our first comment to Levi above where we explain that everything physical (which includes a fundamental string) is complex in at least two senses: 1) It is made of energy plus its essential form; 2) It partakes of the accident of space-time.

      The different vibration patterns that differentiate the different strings of energy would definitely make them complex and not absolutely simple.

      We don't know what it would mean for an idea to "vibrate", but your question about a law like gravity is important. Gravity, while it is a relatively simple law or idea, is also not absolutely simple.

      For example, every law of fundamental physics has a qualitative aspect and a quantitative aspect. (In fact, the proof of the fine tuning was rooted in the fact that the quantitative aspect of gravity could vary without effecting its essential qualitative nature.)

      When you analyze any other idea or existence besides the One Absolutely Simple God, you will realize that it can be reduced into at least two other simpler components, or that the idea itself only exists as a component of some other complex existence (i.e., the essence of an electron only exists as a specific form of energy).

      It is important to turn this point over in your mind to see why it is true, as it becomes more and more abstract as you proceed along the chain of beings to simpler and simpler existences.

    2. "When you analyze any other idea or existence besides the One Absolutely Simple God, you will realize that it can be reduced into at least two other simpler components, or that the idea itself only exists as a component of some other complex existence (i.e., the essence of an electron only exists as a specific form of energy). "

      From this step how do you get to God? I can see that the trend in causality is towards simpler and simpler but that is about it. Is it through process of eliminating other theories (like post 17)? Or does it flow directly that the most basic physical existences we say there must be this one uniquely simple existence? In other words I see the idea of simplicity in one direction clearly, from physically simple to complex, but I don't see the last step perfectly, from physically simple to absolutely simple.

    3. I'm starting to think that the idea of simplicity is very very complex.

      It seems like simple things such as Atoms are merely simpler than the complex things they construct. This reasoning implies that no physical thing can be truly simple. You pointed out that string would also not be purely simple as it would be vibrating even though it would not be divisible. This then seems to conclude that simplicity cannot exist (at least physically).

      If simplicity cannot exist physically, it strikes as a kind of infinity (almost an "opposite infinity") as we discussed in "Mathematical Wonderland". It assists in abstraction by focusing toward an end and naming it something.

      This leads me to my question: If you are going to conclude with an infinite and perfectly simple thing from observing a physical universe which is inherently removed from both infinity and simplicity, how can a derivation of the former be properly made from the latter?

    4. Rafi,

      When you analyze the complex universe and reduce it to its most fundamental reality you arrive at a few simple things. These are basically the things we discussed in Stage One. They are:

      1) The qualitative fundamental laws of physics;
      2) The fundamental constants of physics (these include the strength of the fundamental forces and the masses of the fundamental particles, as well as the cosmological constant);
      3) The big bang (all the energy itself);
      4) The initial conditions for the energy in the big bang (highly ordered, low entropy).

      We have shown in Stage One how all these things admit of one teleological explanation (the purpose of all them is to produce a universe with order, structure, complexity, etc.) We therefore inferred from the fine tuning and order manifest in these things that there is an Intelligent Cause which is more fundamental and simple, which provides a unified explanation for these different fundamental existences.

      In this stage, we are proposing a formulation of an Intelligent Designer that is an appropriate and satisfying way of conceptualizing this Intelligent Cause. It is important to see how Stage 3 follows from the prior stages. That was what we were trying to make explicit in post 17.

    5. Ok I get it now, I spent some time thinking about it. The key for me was realizing that it was an idea based off of current knowledge of physics as opposed to an abstract reasoning from simplicity alone. We have these facts about the universe, how do we make sense of them? You're saying an Intelligent Cause is the most reasonable explanation of these facts and that Intelligent Cause is absolutely simple. I still find it funny how you can see a trend that appears to lead back to a Simple Unity conceptually, not just physically. But I see your point about not offering an ontological proof of God. In any case I should probably go over the posts from the beginning because it's been like 2 months since I read the first one.

    6. Michael,

      Absolute Simplicity does not exist in the actual physical universe for the reasons we have stated in the above comments.

      However, we think you are making a mistake by thinking that the reduction towards greater simplicity terminates in infinity. The opposite is the case.

      We will try to explain by the example of an electron (though the logic is exactly the same by a vibrating string of energy.) An electron has at least two conceptual components of substance (energy) and form (its essence).

      However, as far as science knows, you can not reduce the essence of an electron to anything simpler. This process of reduction does not continue ad infinitum. similarly, you can not reduce energy to any more fundamental substance.

      You might ask (ignoring the accident of space-time): Why isn't the essence of an electron absolutely simple? Why isn't energy absolutely simple?

      There is no such thing in the real universe as an essence of an electron separated from energy. Nor is there such a thing as energy without a specific form. They only exist together in the complex entity of a real electron.

      When we say that something is simple, we generally mean relatively simpler than the more complex thing it is the cause of. When we say Absolutely Simple, we do not mean in a relative sense. We mean, in an absolute sense, a real Existence with no components or complexity whatsoever.

      We do not think that actual infinities are real. The God of Abraham is not infinite. Rather, God is One Simple Existence which is a completely different idea than infinity.

    7. I understand how your answer addresses certain presumptions, but how does it address the underlying question: A conclusion of simplicity from a fundamentally non-simple thing.

    8. We don't think we understand your question. Complexity reduces to simplicity. That which is simple is the cause of that which is complex. That is the basis of scientific understanding. This is the meaning of Einstein's quote from the post:

      "The basic concepts and laws which are not logically further reducible constitute the indispensable and not rationally deducible part of the theory. It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience."

      Perhaps you can explain your question further.

    9. But to be more accurate, that which is simplER is the cause of that which is complex. Since we begin with our observations of complex systems and from them discern simpler orders we see that the complex systems originated in simpler orders. But simpler and simpler cannot prove simplest.

      I see how the Blog has demonstrated the intelligence extant within the design of the universe. But there has been no reason shown that the intelligence behind it must be perfectly simple - especially when there is no indication that perfect simplicity can exist.

    10. Great question. We will develop in a later post how we know that the cause for the complexity can not itself be complex. This is actually based upon Hume's famous question of who designed the designer?

      It is our intent to show that the only concept of an Intelligent Designer that satisfactorily explains the fine tuning and order in the universe is one that is Absolutely Simple.

      Do you have a reason for thinking that perfect simplicity can not exist?

    11. No. My main objection is that even though the physical world seems to direct itself towards simplicity, it is always impossible to conceive of a perfectly simple physical thing. If our minds cannot comprehend a perfectly simple physical thing, it seems that theorizing a perfectly simple non-physical thing is suspect.

      From your answer, it sounds like this will be addresses when you explain how the Designer cannot be complex.

    12. In this regard, we do not think you can compare a physical existence which exists in space-time and is composed of substance and form, to a non physical existence which is not. This is because the very reason why you can not have a perfectly simple physical thing, is because it is physical.

      It is not that our minds can not comprehend a perfectly simple physical thing. Rather, our minds can comprehend that anything physical must be complex. Likewise, our minds can comprehend that this same objection does not apply to something not physical.

    13. I'm not comparing physical existence to non-physical existence as much as questioning your conclusion of non-physical simplicity which is necessarily rooted in physical observations or abstractions of physical frameworks and systems (as you pointed out, any idea no matter how simple can be divided into composite parts). I'm not against the idea I just don't see what allows the conclusion when evidence seems to suggest that it is as impossible to attain as infinity.

      Jeff below is stating another form of the same basic question, if his version makes more sense to you.

    14. You question seems to be based on a different premise then Jeff's. We think you misunderstood our response to you in the comment at 3:28 PM. Try to read it again. In it, we are distinguishing between an idea that is merely an abstraction, and an actual real physical existence like an electron.

      We agree with you that an actual infinite does not exists. God's Essence is not infinite, but is rather Absolutely Simple. Those two ideas a diametrically opposed to each other.

    15. I re-read the thread. I realize that in responding to a particular point, I missed that you explained that you are planning to address my prime question in a later post. I'll wait till then and ask my question again there if I feel it has not been resolved.

  5. It's really very simple, elementary if you will. Basic even if not fundamental. Primarily that is.

  6. I don't think that you addressed Michael's question adequately. What I think he is saying is that if the idea of absolute simplicity is not found in the physical world, what is the logical inference that allows us to conclude that the end result of getting simpler in the physical world leads us to absolute simplicity? Where is the jump that results in the logical conclusion that something that is absolutely simple is the creator of everything else that is more complex than that being? Michael, if I am stating this incorrectly, let me know. But this is a question that occurred to me as well.

    1. I wouldn't say it exactly like that but yes, I think that you have the same basic question that I have. I am continuing the thread above as replies where the question originally came up, though, for the sake of making the blog easier to follow.

    2. Often times when you wouldn't ask a question exactly the same way, it is because there is a subtle difference between the questions. In an area as abstract as absolute simplicity, a subtle difference can be a big difference.

      Jeff, are you asking: How do you know that the Intelligent Designer for the universe that we established in the first two stages of this proof, is not a complex existence?

    3. Yes. How would you infer that the Intelligent Designer from the initial proof is an absolutely simple (and not complex) existence?

    4. > Great question. We will develop in a later post how we know that the cause for the complexity can not itself be complex. This is actually based upon Hume's famous question of who designed the designer?

      It is our intent to show that the only concept of an Intelligent Designer that satisfactorily explains the fine tuning and order in the universe is one that is Absolutely Simple.

      They explained previously that they will answer that question in a later post.

  7. > the greatest philosopher of science, Abraham, approximately 3800 years ago

    I know it's a cheap shot, but please forgive me - the pomp, I just can't resist, and will take a bite.

    Philosophy of science, the way most people understand it, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_science, is a discipline whose subject matter is methods of science. Is there any indication "Abraham" had science? Or is is the same kind of thing we're supposed to think that he "kept all the commandments"?


    1. We explained what we meant by philosopher of science to Michael's question above at August 21, 2012 9:37 AM.

    2. I see

      > We mean that he derived his knowledge of God from an investigation into the natural world. From his correct understanding of the physical world, he was able to reject the primitive pagan explanation of many forces, and come to the true understanding of One Simple Existence which is responsible for the order in the natural world.

      Ok, I guess you can decide how you give out The Greatest Philosopher of Science award.


    3. > We mean he is was a philosopher of science, in the sense that he drew a philosophical conclusion from an analysis of the natural world. In addition, the concept of simplicity and complexity lies at the foundation of all scientific understanding that came after Abraham (from the ancient Greeks to modern science).

      You should focus on the next paragraph where they explain that Avraham established a core scientific and philosophical principle of extrapolating simplicity from complexity rather than simply positing abstract complexity behind physical complexity.

      You can disagree with their conclusion, but they definitely have a strong reason for it. No other philosopher has contributed so core a notion to scientific thought.

    4. Don't feed the troll, Michael.

    5. Rafi, I hear your objection and agree that one should not simply "feed" a troll and for this reason I don't always respond to Dr_Manhattan.

      Sometimes I consider his questions to be best addressed by REF/RAZ. Sometimes I consider his remarks to be worthy of a broad statement of his flawed approach or pointing out his irrational obstinance. Sometimes I consider his posts contribute no value already presented and I will point out past answers that he can refer to. In other times he contributes nothing and I respond in kind.

      I consider it feeding a troll to either descend to his level of rhetoric or comparably shift to his personal tangent. In this case particularly, I felt that he had misstated REF/RAZ's answer in a way which reflected a possible misunderstanding of it. I felt that this misunderstanding might be subsequently had by others and pointed out what I felt was the solution as they presented it (and what actually resolved the question in my mind as well).

  8. >God's Essence is not infinite, but is rather Absolutely Simple.<

    How can you speak of God's essence as absolutely simple? This implies that god has parts, ie, God and his essence

    1. You are raising an important point. It is very difficult with human language to speak about abstract matters without conveying some false idea if taken too literally. It is important to try to grasp the concept that is being conveyed in the words, and not get bogged down on the language itself.

      The answer to your question is that God is identical with His Essence. The concept of an Absolutely Simple Existence is identical with Its Essence as it has no accidents or other parts.

      We hope the concept is clear.

  9. Dr. M,

    I find your snide comments insulting and insensitive. This topic is of tremendous importance to me and shapes the way I live my life. I don’t know why you are reading this blog anymore as your mind is clearly closed to everything being discussed. If you have nothing to contribute, please leave. I welcome your questions but at this point you seem to be hanging around just to snipe and mock. All disagreements relating to this topic aside, your behavior is just rude and childish and no way to treat people who have been nothing but sincere and cordial in the face of your ongoing hostility. If you are interested in remaining I would really appreciate it if you would show more respect to both the participants of the blog and the serious topic we are discussing.

  10. I have a couple of questions:

    1. I think I understand the point of reducing an object or force to one that is simpler. This procedure can be applied multiple times consecutively to produce more simple and fundamental explanations of a phenomenon. Abraham's God is uniquely and absolutely simple in that his existence is not subject to a further reduction in simplicity. Is there any reason why the process of reducing a phenomenon to more simple explanations must lead to an absolutely simple and fundamental existence? Why couldn't it go on ad infinitum?

    2. As mentioned in the post it seems that causality and simplicity are intimately related. Is there any difference between a reduction in simplicity and causality? If not, could the simplicity argument of the post equally be expressed as chasing back the causation of a phenomenon to a first cause which itself has no more fundamental cause? If so, see the first question but substitute the word cause for simple.

    3. The previous stages introduced the idea that the universe has an intelligent designer. Is there any reason why the intelligent designer has to be fundamentally simple as the God of Abraham is? Couldn't one imagine an intelligent designer which itself has some explanation?

    1. 1. Your question is known in epistemology as the regress argument, and the solution (that scientific knowledge is based upon) is called Foundationalism.

      Since human knowledge consists of justifying one belief with another more fundamental belief, we must arrive at ideas which themselves can not be justified. These most fundamental beliefs are known as a first principle as they can not be justified by anything else.

      The alternative you are proposing is called Infinitism, in which each belief is justified by another belief ad infinitum. The problem with this approach is that it undermines all human knowledge, as ultimately every belief has no foundation to rest upon.

      Each belief appeals to a prior belief which itself is only justified by a prior belief, etc. This leads to an infinite regress, and the chain of beliefs as a whole has no justification. Since Infinitism maintains that every belief needs to be justified, it ends up undermining the entire chain that is ultimately unjustified.

      We think the Einstein quote explains this basis of scientific knowledge:

      "The basic concepts and laws which are not logically further reducible constitute the indispensable and not rationally deducible part of the theory. It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience."

      Every scientific theory (for that matter, any actual theory in any framework of knowledge) has first principles from which all other facts are explained. From Newtons 3 laws of motion, to Schrodinger's equation, to Einsteins 2 postulates of special relativity, etc.

      See these wiki articles for more on this issue:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_regress (For Aristotle's formulation)

      Stephen Hawking has a humorous way of putting the problem (which can be found in the last link on turtles):

      "A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!""
      —Hawking, 1988

    2. 2. We don't think there is an a priori reason why as you trace the chain of causality backwards, it leads to simpler and simpler causes. Were it not the case, it would seem that reality would not be subject to human understanding. (See our comment above.) Fortunate for us, it is that way. (No doubt because the created reality originated in a First Simple Existence.) But it is a very deep question you are asking that demands further investigation.

      In terms of an actual infinite causal sequence, you can try to look back at post 10 and the comment section there where we tried to address how modern scientific theories like Relativity impact the question.

      In the next post (and the first comment there) we will elaborate on why you can not have a infinite sequence of contingent causes, as the infinite chain itself must be contingent on a Necessary First Cause.

      3. If the Intelligent Designer was itself complex, you would run into Hume's question of "Who designed the designer?". In short, it is begging the question to posit a complex designer. We will also elaborate on this point in a later post.

    3. I think I understand what you are saying. The designer must be more simple than anything else created. Otherwise, you run into the "who designed the designer argumnent". The only way this can be is if the Intelligent Designer is absolutely simple, or more simple than anything else can be....Is this correct??


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