Thursday, July 24, 2014

Deducing the Universe

There is a way of understanding the universe that we have inherited from the Greek philosophers. This idea is that the physical laws work in a way that parallels mathematics. You start with a set of obvious premises, such as 2+2=4, that are transparently so. You then use these premises to deduce the rest of the system that necessarily follows from them. This does not mean all the answers will be easy; certainly this is not so in mathematics. But all the answers, no matter how complicated, are a necessary result of the obvious premises. The Greek philosophers and the early scientists believed the physical laws worked in the same way. While I do not believe such a concept could prevent God from intervening if He chose, intervention in such a clearly ordered machine seems intrusive. But it does eliminate any idea of God's providence, beyond setting up the original premises. Also, if human beings are outside the system and able to think and act independently, it is difficult to see how they could interface with the system. But if they are simply another part of the system, then all their thinking and beliefs are a result of what the system requires, with no necessary relationship to reality or truth. But is this concept correct?

Now we have not yet figured out what the basic premises are for the physical laws. But they do not look to be something simple and obvious. The current theory, which is not yet proven, involves strings vibrating in ten dimensions. This does not look like something that is obviously necessary.  But even if we can find the premises, we are left with serious problems in deducing the universe. We are faced with quantum mechanics, which says that when we look at objects on the smallest scale, we can only know probabilities. Then there is chaos theory, which says that under certain conditions small differences in initial conditions can produce major differences in results. And if those differences get small enough, we are once more faced with quantum mechanics.

The mathematical  model does not seem to reflect the world that is. I would like to suggest the alphabetical model. The alphabet also starts with a series of basic elements. These are put together in an orderly manner to make words, sentences, and works of literature. But the results cannot be logically deduced from the elements. You cannot start with the English alphabet and deduce Shakespeare's plays. And if you tried to deduce rules from the final product, in the end you would be left with probabilities. Now if the universe is not really deducible, there is room left for both God and human beings. And the options for how a universe which is not deductible came about are either an intelligent Creator or an explosion in a print shop.  But the idea of a deducible universe has serious flaws.

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