Seeker of Truth

Ruminations of One Suspended between Catholic Christianity and Scientific Utopianism

Location: Washington, United States

Saturday, April 29, 2006

What is outside the world

A few follow-up thoughts to my last post:If our world is bottom-up, materialistically founded and determined, the interesting point is: what is outside? A believer of physics may claim that question to be irrelevant, as even such basics as the dimensions of space and time are solely defined within our universe, and to speak of an outside is thus nonsense. I have objections to this kind of argument: Physics, or any science dealing by definition with observable and repeatable phenomena that are of this world, cannot claim to know what is outside its own domain; to say it does not exist is an overreaching of its self-defined bounds. Secondly, the notion of just how encompassing the universe is, changes. Now we have the beginnings of theories that do posit a time before the big bang, of universes sitting in a metaverse, etc. Physics does not have the privilege of defining the boundaries of the world simply in line with its own current thinking, to change it for convenience at any time. Thirdly, no matter how many meta-meta-universes one postulates, there is always a meta+1-universe conceivable that lies outside all this lower metaness. Infinite recursion ensues without solving anything. Maybe one needs a metaphysics to deal with the metaverses, no?If the universe is created, life is much simpler. The endless recursion of what is outside ends right there, as God is not part of or subject to our laws of thinking. Hence no 'metagod' needs to be postulated. Physics and its associated disciplines dutifully explore the ‘inside’ of creation, never being called upon to fulfill a task they are not meant to do, namely to explain the nature of it.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Proofs of God - top down

Greater minds than mine have ventured here, and have been refuted. Faith alone stands between the gentleman believer and the hordes of the materialist barbarians. Certainly I will not fare any better than those before me, yet try I will.
1) The density of water is highest - or at least at a local maximum - at 4 degrees centigrade. This sounds mundane, but is such a convenient exception to allow carbon-based life, it has the smell of design.
I am aware of arguments that say something like 'the reason the laws of nature are the way they are is simply that otherwise we would not be here to observe them'. True, but not very explanatory. An even grander theory along those lines assumes an infinity of universes, all of which have different laws, in fact all laws are being given expression in one of all possible worlds. I am not sure what 'all' might be, but likely it is an infinite number, unless there is some form of 'meta-law' that defines which laws are being expressed.
2) The universe is something that started with a bang (or not) and while limitless, is not necessarily infinite, either in space or time. Therefor, there is something 'outside' it, a higher reality, and that is God. Well, maybe there is nothing outside, and if there was, it would just be a 'meta-universe' and so we have proved nothing. The point is, however, that no science can predict outside the realm of the physical, of our space and time, and God would certainly reside outside of that. We have achieved a draw!
3) This leads to the next point, namely the fact that a God-created universe is quite similar and possibly indistinguishable from a simulated one. An interesting discussion about this can be found at and also on wikipedia under 'simulated reality'. The movie 'The Matrix' portrays a simplified version of this idea, where the simulation is merely local, i.e. of earth itself. Apparently, the probability of us living in a simulation is considered quite high, provided certain other factors are true as well. Here is the interesting point: As far as I understand it, these theories all posit that the 'real' world, which runs our simulation, is just like ours in its laws. Needless to say, this is by no means necessary. Perhaps the real world has twenty seven dimensions, no entropy, five axes of time, or nothing even resembling our ideas of space and time. Maybe the real world is heaven, and God is our creator...
This is all I can think of for now, more will hopefully follow.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

On Theories and Abstractions - bottom up

I have been reading G.K. Chesterton lately; he writes about how the world is entirely magical, while our 'laws of nature' are not: even the simplest abstractions are derived from examples that exist around us. When we say that 2 plus 3 are always 5, and that if x is the son of y then y is the father of x, then those are conditions or relationships we observe in the real world. Once we abstract, we loose something, and our derived laws are never true representations of reality, no matter how sophisticated we make them.
I believe that this is true for all of mathematics, physics, the much debated theory of evolution, biology in general, you name it. Much can be learned from forming such abstractions, but much gets lost if we take them to be absolute truth. If the Greeks had experimented with geometry on all sorts of surfaces first, before jumping to conclusions, we may have had Riemann's and Lobachevski's discoveries millennia earlier, to give an example.
Physicists are looking for the G.U.T., the grand unified theory of everything, a formula in essence that can explain the fundamental physical forces and entities, and from there, everything else. They do not seem clear as to how close they are, but I sense optimism in their books and articles. I wonder if they have thought this all the way through. The GUT is essentially the end of physics, and sooner or later of all other natural sciences. It may take centuries to apply such a lofty formula to all processes and phenomena, but sooner or later, within a foreseeable time, the work ought to be finished. Then what? Will the GUT explain everything worthy of explanation, define once and for all which technological endeavors are reasonable and which are not, enabling great feats of engineering? Past breakthroughs have done so, giving rise to the unprecedented technological expansion of the past two centuries. But what will happen once nature's secrets have been exposed to the light and are known to everybody? There can of necessity not be another breakthrough, unless the GUT is not the GUT but something smaller, at which point we might go on and search for the super-GUT, and so on ad infinitum.
The point here is, the universe might not at all be comprehensible, or describable by scientific methods. Like a flashlight in a large cave, science may be able to elucidate only a finite area of reality at any one time, and never in all its mystical detail.

Monday, April 17, 2006


These are the areas I have a hard time believing 'official doctrine' whether it's science or religion:
If our universe is bottom up, materialistic, determined by laws of physics, our human/social relations defined by genetics and maybe the action of memes on the software running in our brain, then how can we behave as if we embraced certain values? Or free will, for that matter, and hence responsibility for our actions? How can we even claim something to be true, as that very belief itself may be the inevitable outcome of the deterministically firing neurons in our few pounds of wetware that we call brain?
Right and wrong? Meaningless words. Same as beautiful, ugly, good and bad, you can see where this is going. But then, if all our thoughts are merely products of natural laws, such as the laws of electrochemistry, or even cybernetics, then there is nothing to restrain our actions in any way. We would do well to emulate Stalin, or any great materialist dictator, and exploit our fellow humans as much as we want for our own gain, and with the clear knowledge that they are in no way less than us, or deserving of any such abuse. But neither do they have the right to be spared, to be treated with dignity, nor any other right for that matter.
This to me is the great pitfall of all 'scientific' explanations of the world, that in order for their often claimed humanism to be plausible, they have to stop thinking the thread through all the way to the end.
If the universe is top down, however, then what is its purpose? Why make it so hard to see God and his will, why hide him from us, why construct a world that functions so smoothly by deducible and seemingly ultimate laws? Also, if man is fallen, has sinned, why not clearly mark the way to salvation? What about those born retarded and unable to tell right from wrong, or who are psychopathic, autistic or whatever? If theistic religion is true and condones some behaviors while forbidding others, don't these people start with a significant handicap? Or are they exempt from the rules? And why would God make humans who have no or a sharply reduced choice in their actions?

There are others:         If man is the centerpiece of God's creation, then why is the universe so large? So old?
                        If science claims to explain everything, why are its laws becoming so muddled at the smaller levels?
                        Can we trust our senses and our reasoning, if our brains' actions are materialistically determined?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Intro - continued

I have decided to label my postings as either 'top-down' if they assume a Higher Being, are theistic in nature, and as 'bottom-up' if they posit a strictly materialistic/scientific paradigm. I may get to the point where this distinction will fail, not through a lack of theoretical rigor, but because my ideas are straining the framework that seeks to contain them. I will consider myself very lucky if I get that far. Sometimes I will try my hand at short stories to give an example of what I am trying to describe.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


What lies at the root of the world? Do we live in an ultimately material universe, driven by the expansion of space, doomed by entropy? Is matter but a by-product of some great consciousness and the laws of physics its habits?
If this is an age of near total relativism, the only, and the most important question immune to it, is the one about fundamental reality. For if our world is 'bottom-up' i.e. materialistic, then it is hard to postulate any absolute principle, or value. If it is 'top-down' or created by a higher being, then there may be indeed one truth, one right way only.
This blog will be my attempt to clarify the issues, to hopefully generate some insights, and maybe to encourage discussion. I cannot for myself imagine a more important question than this: Is there a God, a being that created the universe and who may have a goal for its creation, or are we terrestrials just a passing phenomenon in a self-organized structure without plan or goal?