Weird Science

Yesterday on BreakPoint, I told you that Stephen Hawking, the great scientist, believes that the universe and life itself can be explained without referring to God; that God is, in Hawking’s words, “unnecessary.”

But there are some scientists who do believe there was a creator. The problem is that some of their ideas about the “creator” and his “creation” are straight out of a comic-book convention.

According to a recent article written by a university astronomer in the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper, it’s possible that the “universe around us was created by people very much like ourselves, using devices not too dissimilar to those available to scientists today.”

In this scenario, our universe is only one of many universes: what physicists like Hawking call a “multi-verse.” In one of these universes, someone, using a device only slightly more advanced than the Large Hadron Collider, created a black hole, which in turn, led to the Big Bang that created our universe.

Mind you, there’s absolutely no proof of this or, for that matter, the existence of “parallel universes.” Nor should we expect any: As physicist Lawrence Krauss documents in his book Hiding in the Mirror, hidden dimensions and parallel universes are mathematical abstractions that can’t be proven in the lab or through observation.

In Krauss’ estimation, “our continuing intellectual fascination with extra dimensions may tell us more about our own human nature than it does about the universe itself.”

Even more outlandish than creation-by-beings-from-a-parallel-universe is the idea that the universe, including us, is really a gigantic computer simulation. If that sounds familiar, it ought to: It’s the idea behind the blockbuster film The Matrix.

The “reasoning” goes something like this: “technological advances” could enable “advanced humans,” or “post-humans” to “program and run simulations of “their evolutionary history.” These simulations would take the form of “virtual worlds inhabited by virtual people.”

So, not only is everything around us fake, we are, too.

According to one of the leading proponents of this idea, “there’s a 20 percent chance we’re living in a computer simulation.” His proof? Like the creation-from-a-parallel-universe, there isn’t any, and we shouldn’t expect any. An intelligence sophisticated enough to create such a simulation is, by definition, sophisticated enough to hide the truth from us.

Krauss is right: These kinds of speculations do tell us something about human nature, specifically its perversity. Surrounded by evidence that universe is not the product of blind chance but, instead, the result of purposeful intelligence, we imagine “creators” that are literally the stuff of science fiction.

And not coincidentally, these “creators” are “very much like ourselves.” More to the point, they make no demands on us – acknowledging their possible existence leaves us free to live as we please, with no obligations to either them or each other.

When St. Paul wrote “claiming to be wise, they became fools,” this is the kind of folly he had in mind. Creation makes God and his attributes knowable, but that kind of knowledge carries a price many of us are unwilling to pay. So, we opt instead for a “creator” made in OUR image. One that is far better suited for the comic books.

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  • http://www.RomanCatholicInfo.com jamespereira

    “According to one of the leading proponents of this idea, “there’s a 20 percent chance we’re living in a computer simulation.” His proof? Like the creation-from-a-parallel-universe, there isn’t any, and we shouldn’t expect any. An intelligence sophisticated enough to create such a simulation is, by definition, sophisticated enough to hide the truth from us.”

    It’s amazing that the proponent of this hypothesis can’t believe that there is a Sophisticated Intelligence out there who did create all this real stuff and actually want us to get to know Him.

  • Joe DeVet

    The scientists, of course, who deny God as a “ridiculous and unnecessary hypothesis”, but then cook up zany and outrageous scenarios of the origins of everything, are not only wrong in confusing philosophical questions with scientific ones, but make themselves foolish in the bargain. One has only to look and see that these made-up creation scenarios fail utterly to answer the basic question–what was the origin of something from nothing? In the case of Hawking’s latest fable, where he posits that gravity can cause stuff to be created from non-stuff, he fails to note that he takes gravity as a given. He forgets that he did not explain where the force called gravity comes from.

    We can sympathize with the scientists on two grounds, though. One is the place we have put science and scientists in a post-Christian society. Having left behind real religion, we embrace a false religion, as Chesterton said we would. We elevate science to the status of a god, and scientists as its priestly class. The temptation for scientists to accept this false status is too great for some.

    I can also sympathize with scientists as the development of physics goes deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the sub-atomic, deeper into the strange world of unified theories of everything (eg superstring theory), and deeper into the strange macro-world of relativity, that the puzzles which these revelations pose can amaze one, and take one so far from everyday common sense that any origin scenario may seem possible. One easily forgets, as one discovers answers to questions no one would have asked, only to uncover even deeper questions which we didn’t expect, that none of it truly explains, nor can it be expected to explain, why there is something rather than nothing.

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