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.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 23: The God of Modern Science)

The greatest scientists throughout the ages have been amazed and humbled by the great wisdom manifest in the universe.  They sensed that as much knowledge of the universe as we attain through our scientific endeavors, we are only scratching the surface of the great wisdom inherent in God's universe.  This deep appreciation is only possible insofar as a person has scientific knowledge, and can thereby appreciate its magnificence.  The appreciation is proportional to one's knowledge.

Despite the fact that we are not great scientists, we feel that through the ideas developed in these posts, we can all have an appreciation at our own level of the great wisdom manifest in God's universe.  We think it is worthwhile to pause and reflect upon God's awesome intelligence (in the sense of post 21) which has been revealed through modern science's discovery of incredible fine tuning in the universe.  We use the term 'The God of Modern Science' to refer to the God of Abraham from the perspective of the insight which modern science provides about the wisdom manifest in His Creation. 

In discussing the God of Modern Science, we will explain how the concepts of infinite power and infinite intelligence can be applied to God as describing His actions, not His Essence. The One Simple God of Abraham is not infinite.  To call the Essence of the One Simple Necessary Existence infinite, seems to us to be a contradiction in terms.  Infinite implies a limitless extension or complexity, which is exactly contrary to the very Essence of the God of Abraham.  One Simple Existence is not infinite.  

It is possible that someone could mean by the term 'infinite' as predicated of God's Essence, that God's Existence is separate, removed, and qualitatively different from the finite physical universe of space-time and matter.  We have no objection to infinite being used in this sense (and we most certainly agree with the concept), so long as it is clear that it is only being used in this sense.  However, it seems to us that calling God's Essence 'infinite' often times conveys a serious misunderstanding about the God of Abraham, and it is for that reason that we do not use it.

However, we think there is a sense to describing the God of Abraham's creative actions as manifesting infinite power and infinite intelligence.  We are using the term 'infinite' in a negative sense of without limit, not in a positive sense of an actual infinity.

We can see God's infinite power from fact that He caused the big bang.  In that first moment of creation, the God of Modern Science created all the space, time, and energy in the universe from absolute nothing.  If God can create something from nothing, there is no limitation on how much He can create.

There is an even deeper concept which emerges from the more abstract realization that God created something from nothing. This realization helps a person see the infinite creative intelligence manifest in the creation.  In order to explain what we mean by 'infinite intelligence', we first need a clear understanding of how we're using the word 'intelligence'.

The word 'intelligent' derives its meaning from the Latin verb 'inter-legere' which means to "pick out", and it is in this sense of the term that we are analogously referring when we say the 'intelligence' of the God of Modern Science. The fundamental laws of nature, general relativity and quantum mechanics, had to be "picked" by God.  The constants of nature also had to be "picked" by God.  Finally, the initial conditions of the big bang had to be "picked" by God.  These three things were all created in a highly unique way, by the God of Modern Science, for the purpose of producing the special universe we have discussed throughout the proof.

A person should be astounded when they ponder the intellectual feat of creating simple, symmetrical, elegant laws that result in the beautifully complex and diverse universe only in conjunction with very special constants and only when applied to highly ordered initial conditions.  How can God "know" that these laws are even capable of yielding an ordered universe, without already knowing the right constants and initial conditions!?  And certainly, the idea of selecting numbers and initial conditions before choosing laws is impossible to fathom!

There is a very subtle point here about the phenomenon of the God of Modern Science creating 'something from nothing.'  It is not merely creating physical energy (matter) from nothing, but also the laws, constants, and initial conditions from total nothingness.  A deep astonishment arises from the recognition that there was no conceptual framework or constraints to guide the selection of either the laws or the constants or the initial conditions; coupled with the recognition that only the right combination of all three yields a meaningful universe.

At the risk of repetition, let us clarify this amazing point.  Many scientists are enamored by the beauty and simplicity found in the fundamental laws of nature. However, if one would consider these qualitative laws without the very specially chosen quantitative constants or without the very special initial conditions, the laws would be totally sterile.  They would produce total chaos.  What makes these simple laws meaningful in the first place is the highly fine tuned constants and the specially ordered initial conditions. What makes the initial conditions capable of yielding our universe is the specially chosen laws and constants.  God "picked" the perfect combination of laws, constants and initial conditions which all only produce something meaningful in combination with one another.

Given this sense of the term 'intelligence' applied to God, we can explain why we describe it as 'infinite intelligence'. There is a fundamental difference between the finite intelligence of a human being who selects specific possibilities to give rise to his ordered creations, and the infinite intelligence revealed by the God of Modern Science's selection of the laws, constants, and initial conditions.  Man's creative intelligence is limited to choosing from a prior existing framework of possibilities that guide and constrain his choices. This framework is defined by the very laws of nature, constants, and low entropy universe that man exists within.  As such, man's creativity is limited to creating something from something, and can thereby be described as finite.

When we say that the God of Modern Science selected laws and constants, it is in a totally different manner.  God did not select from a prior set of possibilities, but rather created from absolutely nothing. The God of Modern Science had conceptually nothing to work with, nothing to constrain and direct His choice.  Out of the infinite and undefined sea of possibilities (we have no better way of describing absolute nothingness), God freely picked these equations, freely picked out the constants, and freely created the energy in an incredibly organized way.

In virtue of this distinction we analogously call God's actions 'infinitely intelligent', in contrast to the finite intelligence of human beings.  Infinite power, infinite intelligence, and infinite creativity are manifest in the process of going from absolute nothing to the final result of our one beautiful universe.  Truly awesome!

19 comments:

  1. Nice point about the harmonious interplay between the laws and the constants of nature.

    One more element which was harmonized with the simplicity of the laws is the fact that God made them discoverable by man. The fact that frail human beings can have any understanding of the laws of the universe is astounding. Another testament to His intelligence and kindness.

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    1. Your point is a great abstract point about the design in the universe. However, in a sense it is included in the first paragraph of the post, as the appreciation for the idea is contingent and proportional to a person's knowledge about the universe.

      It is a highly intuitive point which astounds the mind of one who has comprehended a small part of the infinite intelligence manifest in the creation, as it is subject to being understood by man.

      The great Albert Einstein was able to appreciate this point when he famously said:

      "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible."

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    2. agreed, but I wanted to emphasize that not only did God design simple laws, which with the appropriate constants create our elegant universe. He also designed the system to have a nested hierarchy, in order to make them understandable. Such that we can gain knowledge in a constantly deepening way, with each step being an beautiful idea. For example, Newtonian mechanics is a good approximation of relativity when things are slow. If we had to know quantum mechanics and relativity in order to see any wisdom in the world (let alone whatever the deeper unification of these two theories are) we never would have gained even the limited knowledge of the universe which we do posses. This is a reflection of God's 'intelligence' in that he did not only design one simple law, but rather a hierarchy of nested laws, each with beauty, guiding man to deeper and deeper to simpler more elegant formulations (pointing to an ultimate law, which we may or may not ever understand) a much greater intelligent act.

      as Einstein said(since you seem to enjoy his quotes) "When the solution is simple, God is answering."

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    3. > He also designed the system to have a nested hierarchy, in order to make them understandable. Such that we can gain knowledge in a constantly deepening way, with each step being an beautiful idea.

      Yaakov, this is assuming more than R&R are willing to commit to (not only fine-tuning for creating intelligence, but for making the universe nicely intelligent on a greater level).

      Dr_Manhattan

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    4. We couldn't have said it better. The emergence of Newtonian mechanics from quantum mechanics is one of the most staggering examples of design in the universe. This fact was called the correspondence principle by Neils Bohr (its hard to understand Bohr's writing, but this is what makes sense to us), and was instrumental in the discovery of quantum mechanics itself.

      There is no a priori reason why the "illusion" of Newtonian mechanics should even exist. Yet here they are, 3 simple first principles which allow us to make perfect sense of the incredibly complex macroscopic universe.

      It would come as a total shock to find this hidden set of laws for anyone who knew quantum mechanics, but did not know that Newtonian mechanics existed. There is no other way to say it than: Quantum mechanics is designed to yield Newtonian mechanics.

      We tried to convey this point in our first comment on post 5, but it is an abstract point that is hard for a person to see first hand if they don't have a better than average knowledge of modern physics. We wanted to focus the proof of design to things a layperson could see first hand. There is no substitute for first hand knowledge. The fine tuning of the constants and initial conditions are so clear and simple that they make this proof accessible to almost every person.

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    5. Thanks for pointing out your comment on post 5, it is the same point. The reason I am mentioning this here is that, while this point doesn't work well as a part of the proof (because of the difficulty in understanding it, as you mentioned), now that we have arrived at the existence of God this idea can be reflected on as an expression of His Chesed and Chochmah by each reader according to his ability.

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    6. Gentlemen, unless I'm missing something Newtonian mechanics is a fallout of general relativity, not quantum mechanics.
      Second, I think you're both falling hard for

      http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Affective_death_spiral

      Dr_Manhattan

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    7. You are missing something. When we are moving at a slow speed relative to the speed of light 'c', Newtonian mechanics becomes a good approximation for relativity.

      When quantum numbers are very big, like Plank's constant 'h', such as occurs in the macroscopic world, Newtonian mechanics becomes a good approximation for the average expectation value of quantum mechanics.

      See Bohr's famous Correspondence Principle:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correspondence_principle

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    8. Dr_Manhattan, as to your affective death spiral objection, you're just trying to play the bias card again. "You're wrong because you're agreeing with the last guy". If you have a substantive question on Yaakov's addition I suggest that you ask it. To me his addition seems reasonable but I am more than willing to hear any objections.

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    9. R&R, thanks for the link, it makes sense.

      Michael, I'm not giving any kind of counterargument here. I'm pointing out that R&R are only attempting to prove "an intelligent creation" and not trying to support the idea it was intended for man at all. Going from that that to "laws were carefully crafted so that man can understand them" is a completely unproven assertion, and seems very much an example of http://lesswrong.com/lw/lm/affective_death_spirals/
      This does not say whether they're right or wrong, but is a warning to a person who's trying to be rational about a particular psychological failure.

      Dr_Manhattan

      Dr_Manhattan

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    10. We'd like to thank you, Yaakov, for bringing up this idea as we think many of our readers who are actively engaged in reading the comments are capable of grasping this idea. It is even better than the fine tuning of the constants and initial conditions for appreciating the infinite wisdom of God.

      Your kindness point is a very astute recognition. See the excellent article on the Correspondence Principle for how this hierarchy of sets of laws is essential for further and deeper understandings of nature. Were it not for this amazing feature of the laws of nature, man would have no way to know anything at all about reality.

      While it is always wonderful to see God's kindness to His creations through a study of science, this particular attribute is very difficult to derive from nature.

      For example, the hierarchical structure of laws are the only way to get life, as we explained in the comment to post 5. Without quantum mechanics you can't have stable atoms, and without Newtonian mechanics you don't have a stable environment that allows life to evolve.

      Therefore, we can not derive from this knowledge about the hierarchy of the laws, that God made them this way for the benefit of man to be able to see the infinite wisdom in the creation (kindness). Another explanation for why the laws are this way is that God's purpose making the laws is to produce complex existences, like life, which require the hierarchy (Intelligent Designer).

      Once you know and accept that the Torah is true, you will see that both ways of looking at it are true and valid. Many of King David's writings express both these ideas.

      This is our view, but it seems that Abraham was able to derive the idea that God acts kindly from the creation itself, as he was able to discover a system of ethics based upon emulating the actions of his God. An essential component of Abraham's system of ethics is kindness.

      We obviously do not have his philosophical abilities, but we're interested to hear if anyone has any constructive thoughts on this important issue.

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  2. Since G created the universe ab initio, is it at all a question against His intelligence that some of the numbers are tuned to seemingly random quantities?

    Like the forces which are tuned to several hundred decimal points. Shouldn't we expect to find further degrees of perfect order the more we examine the world?

    Do you assume that there is greater more perfect intelligence to be revealed behind these strange numbers and proportions in the future and that science simply hasn't progressed that far yet? Or do you think that there is no underlying theory of everything other than to direct you to the Creator by seeing the perfect balance of all of the numbers together?

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    1. We wrote the following in post 3:

      "An Intelligent Agent is able to choose between a range of numbers (i.e. between 130 and 150) all of which yield the same result. We can explain and understand why He didn't choose 129 or 151, because since they are outside the range of values, He wouldn't have accomplished His purpose. Unless we have more knowledge, we can't explain why he picked the exact number 137.03597. If we discover in the future that it mattered more (meaning the range is only 136-138), then we will know why He didn't choose 135. And if it didn't matter which value He chose so long as it was within the range, an Intelligent Agent is capable of choosing one value among many choices that all serve His purpose. (You do it all the time.)"

      There is no reason to believe that every constant matters to the n'th decimal point. Most likely, for every constant there is some finite range which the order is contingent upon. For some constants it might be a small range, for others it might be bigger.

      We're not absolutely sure, but it would seem to us that every constant must have some finite range. Meaning, if we let the constant go to infinity the universe would not work properly, but we're not sure. It's an interesting question.

      In terms of God's infinite intelligence, we don't think it matters. If some numbers really doesn't matter, so they don't matter and God simply picks out one. That is the intelligent thing to do when faced with quantities that don't matter, but any one choice is necessary.

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    2. My question is more about the fact that G can make any of those numbers work since His creation is ab initio. Gravity could eternally be 6 and Electromagnetism 7. To us, the numbers seem bound but that is because we have rules to abide by.

      Must G abide by rules as well (other than outright absurdity)?

      And if he doesn't, calling Him "intelligent" seems to fail again. You pointed out that intelligence is rooted in choosing between possibilities. If G set the rules, He really didn't "choose" anything. He just did it and it was.

      The more I think about it, the more I feel like I'm running into the same epistemological wall. It makes sense that there must be a Prime Necessary Simple Existence, but the more I try to describe Him the less meaning those descriptions have.

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    3. You asked "Must G abide by rules as well (other than outright absurdity). And if he doesn't, calling Him "intelligent" seems to fail again."

      There are two different issues: 1) power 2) intelligence

      1) Because God is not bound by the laws of nature He created, as is evidenced when he does a miracle which is a violation of these rules, we call Him Powerful. In fact, if you think about what a miracle is like splitting the sea, you will realize that is nothing other than the violation of the second law of thermodynamics through lowering entropy.

      Likewise, the second benediction of prayer is called "powerful acts". This benediction is essentially about bringing the dead back to life, the ultimate violation of entropy in a man's mind. (The other things certain are death...)

      2) If God were to always violate these laws, we would not call Him intelligent. There would be no general rules and order from which to infer a great simple system of wisdom used to govern the world. It is from the fact that He does not generally violate the natural laws, but rather allows them to function in an orderly manner, that we call Him intelligent.

      Likewise, if he made laws that were not logically impossible, but didn't make sense to us like your crude example ("gravity could eternally be 6 and Electromagnetism 7"), yet somehow the great order and complexity of the universe still resulted, we would not call Him intelligent. It would not make sense to us how these laws resulted in the great order and complexity, and we have no reason to call an incomprehensible system of laws the work of an Intelligent Designer.

      It is very important to realize in virtue of what observations we call God certain names, otherwise the names become empty praises that serve more to confuse than clarify. Does this resolve your difficulty?

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    4. I don't think so. I'll try to be precise.

      1. Are G's fundamental laws bound by some other system?

      if yes

      2. That begs the question of what created that system - Mustn't there be a Prime Existence which is not bounded by systems?

      if no

      2. In what sense is He intelligent, if He can choose anything and still arrive at the same conclusion?

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    5. God can not do that which is logically impossible, like 'A' and "not A'.

      However, we think you are asking about the laws of physics which could be different without violating any a priori logical reasoning.

      In that case, the answer to your question is: No. There is nothing outside of God that constrains his free choice in creating laws.

      What would it mean for God to choose anything and still arrive at the same conclusion? Let's use a the simple example of the cosmological constant, where all the laws are the same but the cosmological constant is bigger.

      There are two possibilities:
      1) Our knowledge of physics holds true, in which case the universe would expand too rapidly for any higher ordered complexity to form.
      2) Our knowledge of physics does not holds true, in which case the same ordered universe we observe would still result even though it "shouldn't" based upon reason. (This is what we are presuming you meant by still arriving at the same conclusion).

      If possibility 1 were true, it should be clear why we wouldn't call God intelligent.

      If possibility 2 were true, then we would be left with a situation where there would be no way for us to comprehend the relationship between the simple laws and the ordered universe that resulted. It would be totally incomprehensible to us. There would be no rational explanation for how these laws (with the messed up constant) results in this ordered universe. It would seem like magic, not science. We would not call God intelligent as there would be no system of wisdom that brought about the ordered complexity.

      Neither of these two possibilities is the case. It is on account of this deep point that Einstein said:

      "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible."

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    6. I think I understand now. I was working under possibility 2 but unlike you, I was concluding that it wouldn't be perceived as "magic" but simply another law different from the ones we currently see. But I think your point is that the math wouldn't add up and it would just lead to an unanswerable question.

      Meaning that in the cosmological constant example, if it were altered but the universe continued to exist as it does none of our calculations of the universe would make any sense. The constant would lead to one conclusion and reality would lead to another - the universe would be incomprehensible and we would be incapable of understanding it.

      Rather the universe is intelligible and logically consistent. At every corner we see order. More than that, we see the same order extant throughout!

      Am I understanding correctly?

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