Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

Is there room for God in digital physics?

May 16, 2012 6 comments

In my post: Why is there something rather than nothing, I suggested that the same kind of logic used to determine that reality was mathematical could be applied to the question of whether there was a god. I received a very nice comment from someone of a theistic bent, and so, in the name of encouraging transparent, refutable dialog that’s hopefully more fun than it is upsetting, I’ve decided to come back and expand on that remark.

Given the picture of a mathematical universe, I see two ways in which you might potentially squeeze God in.

The first is to assert that God, or the reason to believe in God, literally exists outside of rationality. This is fine so long as one notices that it’s the same as saying that there isn’t a rational reason to believe in God. One also has to admit that the statement ‘God exists outside of reason‘ makes exactly as much sense as ‘Hand me My Toast Racket, Throgmorton, for Yesterday I go Crystals Hoverport Ukelele Bat-Gammon needle-brisket!

The second route is to assert that the existence of a God can be reached as a rational conclusion, and that the God in question exists as part of the mathematical description of the universe. If you go that route, you have to ask the question of whether adding God to your description of nature makes it simpler or more complicated. We already know that a simpler rule for describing the universe is vastly more likely to be true than a complex one.

Thus, if we believe that the complete programmatic description of God can be captured in less space than the rules necessary to encode physical laws, then having God in the picture is fine. Otherwise, he doesn’t figure. So as long as we can demonstrate that having God around is a more mechanistic, less animate, less choice-driven alternative, it’s okay.

In short, exactly the same logic that makes us prefer a discrete model of nature rules out theism. If anyone thinks they see a flaw in this reasoning, I heartily encourage them to share it with me.