Sunday, January 6, 2008

Schrodinger's God

I figured out why God can’t prove he exists.

I’m sure this isn’t an original thought in the history of the world, but it’s original for me, so I’d like you to bear with me, okay? Things are going to get a little metaphysical around here.

Imagine you’re God. You’re omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. (That’s all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving, if you need the translation.) These are the usual primary attributes of the conventional Christian God, but any ultimate divine creator would need to have the first two of those attributes; being omnibenevolent would seem to me be more of a personality quirk, strongly indicating a need for therapy, but it’s not particularly relevant to the argument here.

Being omniscient, you know exactly what will occur – past, present and future – in the universe you’ve created, including and not limited to the actions you will take and what will result from them, and what happens if you don’t act. Everything, from the ponderous pirouette of the first galaxy to the smallest spin of the final quark, is known to you and cannot be changed, or else you wouldn’t be all-knowing, you’d just be a very well-informed prophet who happened to be right some of the time. This gives rise to quite a few issues for the world as we humans would like to know it, specifically the concept of free will. If God knows everything that has and will occur, and is specifically responsible for everything that has and will happen (see “all-powerful”; if you take action or not, you’re responsible for the result if you had the knowledge and ability to affect the outcome), then what happens to free will? It goes right out the window, that’s what, and God/you may as well have never bothered creating the universe in the first place.

Free will is dead the moment that an individual accepts a God that is all-powerful and all-knowing. Your every action and thought from conception to the grave (and beyond) was plotted at the moment of the Big Bang. It’s all God’s doing, every last bit of it. You’re not responsible for a single thing that you do. Evil? If it exists, then a God that is all-powerful tolerates the existence of evil, big E or little e, and hence gives (at least) implicit permission for every last bit of evil that is done in the world as well. It all ends up at His doorstep.

Empirical proof of the existence of God, in the form of the truly miraculous that could be seen and verified by hundreds of independent witnesses, would truly put paid to the human notion of free will. God would need no worship nor acknowledgement; He would simply be a fundamental fact of the universe, akin to the force of gravity, except far less predictable. Do you worship and praise, kneel down and give thanks, for the force of gravity? Electromagnetism? Particle physics? Didn’t think so.

The only thing that would save God from the endless screams, abuse, and petitions of all intelligent life in the universe (not to mention the complete apathy; why bother doing anything if the outcome is all known and in God’s hands?) would be to drop hints that you exist, but to remain permanently beyond all forms of proof that could ever be brought to bear. In other words, you could not create a universe in which you could make your existence known beyond a shadow of a doubt, or even have it firmly deduced. It would defeat any object you had of letting humanity have free will and seeing what they do with it. (Why you would in fact want anyone to have free will is another question entirely.)

The solution is to remain forever unknowable. God may exist, or may not, but He has to remain beyond the empirically knowable, including all forms of logic and deduction. (If it can be expressed logically, it can be expressed mathematically, and if a mathematical proof of God is devised, well, there goes the ball game.) The only way in which anyone could ever “know” God is through faith, pure and simple. Arguing pseudo-scientific “proofs” of God’s existence is a pleasant enough way to spend a quiet afternoon, I suppose, if that’s what turns you on, but they (including this little exercise) are a colossal waste of time if you’re trying to really find the objective truth, as opposed to trying to convince your neighbour.

God is the ultimate Schrodinger’s cat. If we come to truly know Him, in the very act of observation he ceases to exist. He only continues to exist if there is an unshakeable, fundamental uncertainty about His existence that cannot be resolved within the bounds of this universe. This may go some way towards explaining the nature of quantum physics; that there are things that can be known but not seen, or seen but not known, is God’s little joke on us, and perhaps a roundabout way of telling us to give it up and go do something useful like curing cancer instead.

So there you go, all you religious types that are constantly trying to convert the oblivious heathen: without those of other faiths, or of no faith at all, God would cease to exist.

The new Christianity: “Support an atheist today!”


Anonymous said...

You're an idiot Tim Lamb!

Cthulhu said...

You're an idiot, Anonymous!