Hints that God Exists: Infinite Universes

Although I don’t like the infinite universe theory (or multiverse, or any theory that posits more than one), it allows us a novel argument for Gods existence (thanks to my wife for pointing this out). If infinite universes exist, then it follows by necessity that God exists in at least one of them: that is, God created that universe and exists in it (however that works). So we at least get one God to worship. Yay!

But we also get other gods, no gods, ant gods, evil gods, flying spaghetti monster gods. There is a universe where all these exist, theoretically. We get a world where I type this sentence, a world where I don’t, I world where I misspell “world,” a world where I get struck by lightening now, another five minutes from now…In other words, the theory of infinite universe itself is absurd. It’s mathematical only.

But if God exists in one universe, doesn’t he have to exist in all? – by the very nature of the concept itself? If we define God as all knowing, all powerful, and creator of everything, then it would seem to follow that, if God exists in one universe, then God must exists in all of them – everything. Oh boy, here we go with the old arguments for God. This is an old argument put into new clothes, actually. Saint Anselm once tried to prove God’s existence by definition essentially.  God is the greatest Being. God exists in our minds. But if God only existed in our minds, he wouldn’t be the greatest Being (because the greatest Being would exists in the world too. Therefore, God exists). Most philosophers eventually laughed it off and moved on. Now, with infinite universes, it sounds a little more plausible. Luckily, we can never prove infinite universes, just like we can never prove God. Strange bedfellows indeed.

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Hints that God Exists: Infinite Universes

Hints that God Exists: the Eternal Something

I know that I exist, and you know that you exist. This cannot be doubted (try it; I bet it only lasts until you get hungry). Therefore we all know that something exists. We also know that a something cannot come from a nothing. Something, like a tree, always comes from, or is caused by, another something, a seed. I came from my parents, and my parents from theirs, and they from theirs, and they from theirs, and they from some lower life form, and they from chimps, etc. Where does this progression stop? Well, either we have to think of a chain that goes on eternally, or we have to think of an eternal something that everything comes from. The problem with the first option, the eternal chain, is that it never starts; which means that something never starts—that nothing happens. That’s a problem, because I know that I happened, and I certainly came from something. Hmm…what could an eternal something be?

Hints that God Exists: the Eternal Something

Hints that God Exists: Vision

You think I’m going to talk about the beautiful design of the eyeball, but I’m not.

This is by far the most fascinating and original hint that God exist; but very hard to understand because it involves some in-depth knowledge of visual theory (i.e. how we see), and a large amount of imagination. This hint comes from my man, the 17th Century philosopher George Berkeley, and has to do with his influential theory of visual perception. This hint tells us that once we understand how we perceive objects by sight and touch, then we find that the information we get from our eyes forms connections with the information we gather from our sense of touch; and that these connections are precisely the same type of connections that languages have when they connect sounds—for example, the sound “beach ball”—with words—the word “beach ball”. When we hear the sound “beach ball,” we immediate think of the word, and the meaning, and the object that is associated with that sound. The same sort of connections happen with what we see and what we touch. In other words, vision is a a language, and God is the speaker of that language.

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Let me explain. When we are born, we do not “see” distance. Things do not appear to be “out there,” or even three dimensional at all. This takes a lot of imagination because we think it’s obvious that we now see things “out there”, or at various distances from us, and we assume that we always saw things this way. We didn’t and we don’t. According to this theory (which is, by the way, a legitimate visual theory to this day), we didn’t see distance as a baby and we still don’t! Test case: a person was blind at birth because of cataracts and when he was able to see by surgically removing the cataracts he thought that everything he saw was touching his eyes. In other words, things did not appear to be “out there” at all. This is known as the “Chelsedon Case,” and Berkeley saw this as validation for his theory.

What we actually see is a variety of light and colors, variously arranged on our visual field. That’s it: light and colors. We can think of our visual field as a great painting that is always pasted, so to speak, on our eyes (even though Berkeley warned against thinking of it like this): the painting is nothing more than a variety of colors, and the objects that the painting depicts are not “out there”. Now, even though the painting is pasted on our eyes, we still think that it shows us objects that exists out there, at various distances from our body. Where did we get such an idea? The answer: we got this idea from literally wandering around the environment and touching various objects. We learned to connect touch with sight, tactile cues with visual cues. At a very early age, we connected those visual blobs of color with those things that we were running into and touching with our hands and body. We started to see a circular red blob all the time and we called it an “apple.” Then, we walked towards the kitchen table, and we felt a smooth, round, hand-sized object and we called it an “apple.” In other words, we connected a purely visual idea with a purely tangible (related to touch) idea. After making this connection, what do we see when we look at the same apple, the same red blob on our visual field? Well, we see the same red blob of course, but now there are other ideas associated with it. We look at the red blob, and we think: if I walk about three steps ahead I will feel a smooth, round, hand-sized object on the kitchen table. Therefore, we connected the red blob, which is only a color blob pasted on my eyes, with the apple that exists “out there”, on the kitchen table, round and smooth. And this, according to the theory, is how we perceive objects at distances.

The existence of God comes into play when we realize that we connect our visual ideas to tangible ideas in the very same way that we connect sounds with words in a language. Both connections take learning and practice. If a baby never wandered around and touched objects, the baby would never learn how to perceive distance at all. It would never be able to look at a large, blue, slowing-moving expanse (i.e. water) and think: “I better not walk too far ahead, because I can’t swim!” Also, both connections -language and vision- could have been different. It just happens to be that a red blob is associated with a round, spherical, hand-sized object. It just happens to be that we wanted to use sounds to represent words. We could have used smells. Can you imagine smelling a variety of smells on a piece of paper and then thinking: what a great poem! Both systems are, in a way, arbitrary.

Perception is a system of connections between our senses that form a language. The language consists of visual ideas, tangible ideas, sounds, smells, and tastes that communicate to use all the information we need to survive and enjoy life. Just like a language that humans construct, so to is perception a language, and therefore a mind is probably behind it. But we did not create our own perceptions, we did not decide that a red blog is connected with a round smooth sphere. God, the great Mind behind nature, has given us both our perceptions and the rules by which we connect them. God is communicating with us all the time; God is literally telling us how far away things are from us, all the time.

Hints that God Exists: Vision

Hints that God Exists: Evolution

Yeah, you heard me: evolution. Darwin didn’t use the word ‘evolution’ (he called it Natural Selection), but it is very interesting how anyone ever found out about it in the first place. Chapter one of The Origin of Species is titled “Variation Under Domestication,” a chapter where Darwin shows how human beings can manipulate nature according to their own wants. For example, imagine I’m a cat breeder. I breed only those cats that have a tan paws; the rest are not allowed to breed. Eventually, perhaps even in my life time, I end up with a race of cats that all have tan paws! That’s a kind of selection. Call this human selection, because humans are selecting what they want from nature. Darwin uses human selection as a good analogy for, and transition into, natural selection. Rightly so. Natural selection, however, takes longer and is much more efficient and has different rules and standards. Instead of selecting tan paws (vanity), nature “selects” those traits that help to propagate a species for survival (a very basic explanation).

Charles Darwin in 1881
Charles Darwin

This leaves us with the question: how close is the analogy between human selection and natural selection? Clearly there is intelligence behind human selection, because we are directly aware that we are doing the selecting. But in the case of nature, who or what is doing it? There are two options: a) nobody is doing it. This is a purely unintelligent, unconscious, blind process. There is no ‘who,’ and the ‘what’ is evolution, via the mechanism natural selection. To be fair, many science author interpret evolution in this way. But there’s a clear second interpretation: b) Just like human selection, there is an intelligence behind evolution. God decides the laws of variation and selection; God is the “selector,” the architect of the system, the author of nature.

To me, the analogy carries, and there is no reason for me to think that it doesn’t. I choose the analogy because I see no compelling reason not to. And yes faith has something to do with it, no doubt.

Indeed, it seems that the natural starting position would be option #2, and only a further argument, proving that the analogy doesn’t hold, should bring us to #1. To me, there is no further argument besides the one that, in the case of natural selection, we are not directly aware of a God-like mind controlling it – it’s fine all by itself, thank you very much. And Okhams Razor too!

Well, I’ll just respond by saying we are never directly aware of God, by definition. So I wouldn’t expect to “see” God in evolution or anything else. Analogy is the best we got. Leaves room for faith. I’ll take it.

Hints that God Exists: Evolution

Hints that God Exists: a Book’s Meaning

What is a book, and why do books have meaning? Think about timeless literature, like War and Peace. Looked at one way, a book is nothing but a story about things happening to characters, and characters saying and doing things to other characters. This is true, but why do books like War and Peace have such tremendous meaning? What is the meaning of a book, and where does it come from?

A book’s meaning has everything to do with the author. The author wants to get a point across, or wants to express something meaningful, and so the author uses characters and events to portray that meaning. The author, in a way, hides her meaning inside the book, and our job is to find it, or grasp it, the best we can.

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The world is a lot like a book. Our life is a lot like a story. It is filled with things and events and people, all interacting to create a giant story. It has a plot, a setting, characters, conflict, resolution, falling action, even foreshadowing. But does the world have meaning? It seems like it does. We are certainly looking for meaning all the time. If it does, where does that meaning come from? A possible response could be that it comes from me. My life story has meaning because I give it meaning. This seems to be an acceptable response, but doesn’t it sound like a character in a book jumping out of the book and giving his own character meaning? Also, this response doesn’t account for other people’s lives, or animals, or nature itself, or the universe. I can try to be the author of my own life, and therefore give it meaning, but I cannot give meaning to the whole world. For that, another author is needed: God.

Hints that God Exists: a Book’s Meaning

Hints that God Exists: Other Invisible Minds

Think of your best friend and what really makes a person a person. Of course, you know that your best friend exists, but how do you really, actually know that?

“That’s easy,” you say, “I know that my best friend exists because I see her walking towards me.”

I agree that you see a body that looks exactly like your best friend, and that you identify that body with her, and that’s not a bad reason. But does seeing a body fully support the conclusion that your best friend exists? I think not. A body alone doesn’t make a person. For example, what if that person walking towards you was actually a robot made to look like your best friend. I don’t think the robot would fool you just based on looks. For example, if the robot didn’t have the same non-verbal communication as your best friend, or the same thoughts, feelings, mannerism, actions, or beliefs, then you might begin to wonder. That is because your best friend is not a body; rather, she is a person with thoughts, feelings, intentions, and patterns of action. In a word, she is an invisible center of thought, a center that produces all sorts of visible effects (e.g. speech, action, writing, building).

So…back to the original question: how do you know that your best friend exists? If the answer is not that you see her, then it must be that we experience intelligible effects that are characteristic of her center of thought. We do not see the center of thought, but we do see the effects, the output, the sigs. Again, the body is certainly part of your friend, but not necessary. When you are chatting on the internet with her, you don’t need to see her body to know that you are communicating with your best friend.

Now, by analogy, look at the natural world. You don’t have to look far to see that nature has its own storehouse of visible, intelligible effects. For example, everything happens in an orderly fashion according to the laws of nature. Who is responsible for these effects? Should we not make the same inference that we did in the case of your best friend? Why not? Many people naturally do, and say that God is the cause behind all the effects that we see in nature, the invisible person or thought.

If it troubles you that you cannot see God, it shouldn’t: strictly speaking, you cannot see your best friend either.

Hints that God Exists: Other Invisible Minds

Hints that God Exists: Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem

Kurt Godel shocked the mathematical world by proving that all systems are inherently incomplete, meaning that there will always be truths within the system that can only be explained by stepping outside the system.

Think about that for a minute. All systems are inherently incomplete. Now apply it to the world. See where this is going?

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Godel and Einstein were apparently friends

The entire universe, with all its laws, is a system. And it constantly has truths that beg for an explanation that transcends it. Indeed, the entire system itself begs for an explanation—why this universe? Why any universe at all? Why not nothing? The big bang was an explosion that started the universe. We know that. But the question of beginnings can never theoretically end.

Laws of nature are curious entities. They exist, they explain what happens in the system, but they don’t explain themselves. They don’t explain why these laws of nature holds as opposed to a completely different set (or no set at all). Even science cannot help but ask these sorts of questions. The tendency is seen in theories of so-called “multiple universes”. Our minds cannot help ourselves! The universe calls out for something beyond itself—whether that be other universes (which only pushes the question back), or God or some other metaphysical entity. It’s a hint.

In the Matrix, the writers were well aware of Godel’s theorem. It’s part of the point of the movie. I believe it’s the Wachowski brother’s unique justification for faith. Neo, the “anomaly”, was created specifically as an attempt to complete something that was inherently incomplete (the matrix itself). Neo exposed the incompleteness of what others considered “reality.” That’s why he represents Jesus.

God is the ultimate anomaly, the ultimate explanation for the totality of all systems. God, for those who believe in Him, is not a system, not incomplete, but rather simple, transcendent and perfect. To ask “who started God” is to not understand the point. God gets a free pass on such questions. God is the author who writes the system and leaves it open, not closed.

Hints that God Exists: Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem