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“A Question of Which”

02/24/2011

A Question of Which

by V.H. Isaac

WHEN addressing the mine-filled labyrinth of a topic about religion and science, one will never ultimately satisfy the truly curious mind in a way that will solve and subdue all troubles. However, such has been made, is being made, and I’m sure will continue to be attempted for ages to come. Nevertheless, in our modern society—together with modern technology—we are capable of thought which was never available in the past. Philosophers, scientists, and religious scholars have in the past been forced to comply with the prosaic reality of their given time. Their theories were limited by their social, technological, and economic present. Now, with all the resources at our disposal, it is our responsibility to examine what new possible ideas are available to us now. To this end I write this short essay; not thinking that new ground is being broken, (for surely someone great, in the real sense, has already pondered these things) but because I can—and in the matters of academics, if we can, we probably should.

Let us examine reality for a moment. Some will say that reality is nothing but a highly unlikely combination of “bags of chemicals and atoms”. Ultimately that is the physically tangible and testable aspect of our reality, but what can it tell us beyond that? Can seeing that a brain is a mere batch of common elements really add to a philosophical argument that there is or is not a God, choice, or answer any number of any questions? Many would argue that it is. I, however, rigorously disagree. To make my point, I have chosen to employ a very simple analogy in hopes that simplicity can make the possibly confusing clear.

In the field of programming, there is extensive variation. However, let us say for a moment that a programmer set about creating a simple video game. What would he start with? Well, first of all he’d need a high level programming language, then a compiler. After that, he’d most likely begin writing the architecture of the game he is designing. Let us compare this to one of the most prominent theories on the creation of the universe, the Big Bang Theory. In the beginning, all mater, energy, and time existed in an almost non-existent point in space. Suddenly, all that matter expanded rapidly, very rapidly, and almost immediately began forming extremely complex systems which later were identified as stars, planets, and other such aspects of the solar system. In the beginning of a program, all data, measurable sequence of events, and potential physics exist as a very small data point on the hard drive of the computer, as the high level programming language. Then, the first codes are written and the many complex systems of the program begin to take shape. Over time the Universe, like the program, steadily and mechanically grows and develops. For reasons completely beyond me, some elements decided to join and somehow life began on earth after a very, very, very long time. The program does, however, have clear reasons why the systems function the way they do. Physics are, literally, written and enforced in the digital world that is created. In Halo, for example, some bullets are programmed to go a certain speed, people to jump a specific height, and explosions have an exact blast radius. This is not entirely unlike the physics of our universe in the sense that some elements weigh a certain amount, will boil, or melt, or evaporate at a certain temperature and at a certain pressure.

Now, suppose that a programmer could create sentient life in a program that becomes self-realized. Imagine it had the ability and desire to investigate its’s surroundings. It would soon realize that everything is made up of certain elements, which to it would look and behave in whatever way as the programmers dictated. Suppose that the self-realized began investigating deeper. It would next realize that those elements were made up of even simpler parts (the high level programming language) which seemed to dictate the behavior of the elements. If they dug even deeper they would discover the final level of existence, the many 1’s and 0’s of machine language; written in such a mind-boggling complex way that only the most enlightened genius would be able to decipher it.

So this is the question I would pose to the well-learned: How could that sentient being be able to prove, or even create a theory that could attempt to prove, the non-existence of the programmer? Now surely this is an unfair question, for to actually legitimately disprove the existence of something which does exist would be highly paradoxical. However, perhaps there are two universes; one that was created and programmed by someone, and another that just appeared, from pure chance. If an intellectual mind was dropped into one of these universes without knowing which one they were dropped into, but were aware that they were either in one or the other, what line of reasoning could that individual propose to decipher which universe they were in?

I therefore think it childishly silly to make a scientific or philosophical that a higher power does not exist. It is equally silly to make a scientific or philosophical argument for God. Let science prove science, and religion prove religion—there is no need to mix them!

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From → Essays

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