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Author Topic: Can an Infinite, Designer, Creator God be Brought Within the Realm of Science?  (Read 15906 times)

Offline namaan

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Sorry folks, I tried to restrain myself, but the questions kept coming after a recent response to ns8t ;) I'll try and keep this scientific, well, that of course being the point of this post. So to be clear, the context of the post is the consideration of a scientific theory of God, not an attempt to prove God's existence.

Now I'm not sure how many of you ascribe to the Multiverse theory, but if you do, then please consider: the theory explains an already very complicated universe by theorizing a structure that is orders if not infinitely more complicated then the thing it intends to explain.

Similarly, I read on a Wikipedia article that while applying Occam's razor on the creation of our universe, a theory of God might seem reasonable, but in reality it entails the explanation of the creation of our universe through theorizing a being that is of infinitely more complicated structure than the universe itself. Does this not sound much like the above?

So my question is, why can we have a scientific Multiverse theory, but not a scientific theory of God? As scientists, I'm sure it's easy to side-step many of the order-entailing-design-thus-God's-existence accounts by religious people as mere coincidence. But how many coincidences does it take to have grounds for a scientific theory as such? Again, I'm not saying these accounts should double as proof of God's existence. Nor am I bashing the Multiverse theory. I'm only speaking about an established scientific theory of God, much like the theory of evolution.

To say I believe in evolution masks how obviously true the theory of evolution is to me. And I am well aware that to say the "theory of evolution" masks the large extent to which evidence supports the theory. But if we can be, for example, 99.9% certain about the theory of evolution, why can't we have an established theory of God and be certain/uncertain about it to some degree?
« Last Edit: 23/01/2012 14:59:41 by namaan »


 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #1 on: 21/01/2012 06:49:48 »
The multiverse "theory" is not a theory. It's conjecture.

A scientific theory has to be testable.
 

Offline LetoII

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #2 on: 21/01/2012 12:51:13 »
so how would you have us describing god.
i'd say the question itself is fundamentally flawed.
 

Offline namaan

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #3 on: 21/01/2012 14:06:35 »
It was alluded to in the 3rd paragraph; the big three Abrahamic religions share a fairly similar conception of God: an infinite being responsible for design and creation of the universe.
 

Offline namaan

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #4 on: 21/01/2012 14:30:36 »
The multiverse "theory" is not a theory. It's conjecture.

A scientific theory has to be testable.

You're right, neither are testable yet; feel free to call them conjectures.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #5 on: 21/01/2012 18:54:10 »
A scientific theory of God would I believe be more related to human psychology and sociology and have no relationship whatever with the universe as a whole or its origins.  This does not mean that religion is not a vital part of the development of mankind  in fact it puts it in its central place.  The universe as a whole is neutral and looks after itself without any input from us or any supreme being because if it didn't the question what made God would be valid ad infinitum.

Creation myths contain not a story about reality but great wisdom about human nature and it is only when these are put in their right place we can understand them properly.
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #6 on: 21/01/2012 19:01:58 »
How would you differentiate between a God theory and a theory that the universe is a virtual one created by an intelligence like ourselves? We can predict a future in which intelligent life may last for hundreds of billions of years in a dark universe where all the stars have burned out, and such a universe would be no fun - everyone would want to live in a virtual one which replicates the early universe that has been lost. The odds are that we are already living in that long dark phase and that we repeatedly escape into virtual reality to keep oursevles sane.

There is a difference though, because that would still be an intelligence that evolved, whereas God supposedly had all his intelligence right from the off without it ever being created. To have a supreme intelligence simply exist without being built up slowly over time would rely on magic, so we're drifting away from science at that point and cannot maintain the idea that it's a scientific theory.
 

Offline Titanscape

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #7 on: 21/01/2012 19:56:19 »
Magic? There is the idea of self existence in the universe as is, in that space, time, matter, all exist maybe from a build up, but an oxymoron, even before that, and before that still, there was something. There was an origin and another continuously, at least maybe. Something has to self exist, rather that something coming from nothing.

A build up is that idea which comes from the current nature of the universe. But we look to the origins.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #8 on: 21/01/2012 20:22:06 »
The idea of everything that could happen does happen somewhere in a parallel universe, and every second spawns a zillion "possible" universes...  well, I think of that as pure fantasy, and neither science, or even scientific speculation.

And, of course, Captain Kirk visiting a parallel universe, that is just science fiction.

Perhaps it is a good comparison to compare "God" to such fantasy speculations.
 

Offline JP

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #9 on: 22/01/2012 03:50:41 »
I assume by multiverse theory, you're talking about the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, or something similar?  You'll notice the many worlds interpretation is an interpretation, not a theory.  Quantum mechanics is the theory, since it provides predictions and testability, which are required of a scientific theory as Geezer pointed out.  The many worlds intepretation is just an explanation of the math of QM.  It isn't distinguishable from other interpretations which also explain the math.

Of course you can also explain the math by saying "god did it," but the hope when the many worlds interpretation (and others) were developed was that they would someday be testable.  "God did it" doesn't really have a hope of ever being testable. 

Of course, the many worlds interpretation might be testable through quantum suicide, although for obvious reasons no sane person has tried it, nor would we ever know the results of their experiment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_suicide_and_immortality
 

Offline namaan

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #10 on: 22/01/2012 04:26:03 »
David Cooper: I don't find this differentiation to be meaningful. How many particles can we simulate in computers today? A few hundred thousand, perhaps a few million (all depending of course on the complexity of your particle system). Might we wager a guess at how many particles there might be in the universe? We aren't even sure at what scale we'll find the smallest such particle, assuming we can see below the Planck scale. Regardless of increases in computing capacity, simulations will only ever look like weak analogues to the real thing. And what if we find that the reductionist view of our universe breaks down in the future, as might be the case if a theory of God turns out to hold water? Then you have a whole other set of emergent design issues that make the idea that merely cosmically intelligent beings creating a universe such as ours, at least to me, and to say the least, unlikely.

Soul Surfer: If I'm understanding you right, I agree to the extend that yes, a theory of God panning out finds greatest relevance first and foremost to human civilization/socioeconomic systems. But without speaking of specific religions, imagine a text representing God's words existed on Earth, hypothetically speaking of course, and it contained statements on the structure of the universe. Might these be relevant to science? Anyway, I for one find no contradiction between science and God, since the religious position that I ascribe to encompasses thoroughly the need for critical evaluation of our reality through science.

Thanks for the background JP (meant sincerely), but I don't say "God did it" and leave the rest to blind faith. Well, my personal views aren't the point here. The point is it seems to me that it should be possible to create a scientific theory/conjecture of God, not that any of you need to be necessarily interested in it. For example, if I'm not mistaken, there's no entity called "evolution" that we can test directly. We create a model that fits the theory, make predictions from the model, and test whether the predictions pan out; that they do quite nicely in the case of evolution of course.

So a common religious position is that the evidence of God is in his exacting design of the universe. So, for example, one might say that a scientific discussion on this might take the form of considering the various forms and occurrences that this design takes throughout the universe. I'm not saying any of you should have some sort of moral responsibility to build such a theory or take part in such discussions, rather I only mean to flesh out for myself and whoever else might be interested in the subject matter the means to approach a theory of God in context to established science.
« Last Edit: 22/01/2012 04:30:39 by namaan »
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #11 on: 22/01/2012 06:35:46 »
The many worlds theory of quantum mechanics actually has reproducible evidence supporting it; in the twin slit experiment we can see that each particle that reaches the screen has gone through BOTH slits. What we don't see is the versions of the particle that didn't make it through the slits, but presumably they existed at at least some point, in the many worlds theory we say they really existed and their effects live on, but are often unobservable, but in other theories you have to explain them away somehow. But it's probably actually an extra assumption to get rid of them.
« Last Edit: 22/01/2012 19:18:48 by wolfekeeper »
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #12 on: 22/01/2012 10:29:12 »
Namaan the perfect "text" that you describe does and has always existed it is to be found all around is in the properties of the universe itself.  Most modern theologians are totally happy with the "two books" approach to theology.  The first book whatever written human wisdom and myth exists in their particular religion. The second is the book of nature, life, the universe and everything written all around us. As shown to us by science.  It is only groups of restricted closed sects that reject the supreme second book over the first. 
 

Offline peppercorn

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Offline namaan

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #14 on: 22/01/2012 15:59:20 »
Always worth a read IMO:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle#Anthropic_coincidences

That is all :)

I've read about that. Perhaps I'm just not intelligent enough to understand it :P, but to me it says a whole lot of nothing. Empty logic, as it were. Or rather, the principle itself isn't wrong, but it's used and abused well beyond its explanatory capacity (not unlike using Darwin's theory of evolution to "explain" everything from human sociology to the economy).

It only gets a "well, duh" response from me for formalizing an obvious relationship, and doesn't actually do any explaining with regards to exacting universal constants, etc.
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #15 on: 22/01/2012 20:56:20 »
Magic? There is the idea of self existence in the universe as is, in that space, time, matter, all exist maybe from a build up, but an oxymoron, even before that, and before that still, there was something. There was an origin and another continuously, at least maybe. Something has to self exist, rather that something coming from nothing.

You can imagine stuff existing eternally easily enough (it makes more sense at any rate than having it pop into existence out of nothing), but the idea of God involves more than just stuff existing - it begins with a perfect being with ultimate intelligence and morality. For all of that to exist without having to evolve is asking for more than a little injection of magic. Intelligence involves a complex information system with a lot of representation going on inside it (and if all you start with is a god, the representations don't even have anything to represent) - I know exactly how much complexity is involved in this because I'm building an A.I. system which should be able to demonstrate superior intelligence to that of humans later this year.

_______________________________________________________________

David Cooper: I don't find this differentiation to be meaningful. How many particles can we simulate in computers today? A few hundred thousand, perhaps a few million (all depending of course on the complexity of your particle system). Might we wager a guess at how many particles there might be in the universe? We aren't even sure at what scale we'll find the smallest such particle, assuming we can see below the Planck scale. Regardless of increases in computing capacity, simulations will only ever look like weak analogues to the real thing.

You wouldn't have to simulate them all - only the ones relevant to the person in the virtual world, and there may only be one there as all the other players could be A.I.

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And what if we find that the reductionist view of our universe breaks down in the future, as might be the case if a theory of God turns out to hold water?

There's no danger of that - the whole idea of God does not hold water as his qualifications cannot be valid. If God understands everything, there can be no magic to him because he must understand it's entire mechanism. Without magic, he can only create things in natural ways, so if he builds a universe he is doing so in the same way we build things, and he's also doing it within a realm which he did not create and by using powers which he did not create and intelligence which he did not create. He is just an alien being which happens by luck to be in the most powerful position by dint of existing first. He has no superiority over us, just as a person with a brilliant mind is not superior to a mentally handicapped person, so there is nothing about him that justifies any kind of worship of him. If he exists, this builder of the universe, he is qualitatively no different from the creator of a virtual universe who has complete control over what happens within it.

That is why a theory of God will not get anywhere - God is logically impossible.
 

Offline namaan

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #16 on: 22/01/2012 21:50:16 »
"There's no danger of that - the whole idea of God does not hold water as his qualifications cannot be valid." ?
"he can only create things in natural ways, so if he builds a universe he is doing so in the same way we build things" ?
"and he's also doing it within a realm which he did not create and by using powers which he did not create and intelligence which he did not create" ?
"He is just an alien being which happens by luck to be in the most powerful position by dint of existing first." ?
"He has no superiority over us, just as a person with a brilliant mind is not superior to a mentally handicapped person, so there is nothing about him that justifies any kind of worship of him." ?

Where are you getting these from? You say it as if you've gained some personal access to absolute truth. It's one thing to say there's no evidence for God, but your statements are...strange. If you think people like me who ascribe to a religion are delusional for holding views on a being like God with some level of certainty, then here's a friendly reminder: your statements are awful religious sounding.

Anyway, this will only end up in a discussion about religion specifics and religious logic, something I'm trying hard to avoid. I've had enough of these discussions and arguments in the New Theories section of TNS (a thread called Is There a God? I believe) from way back. I'm really only interested at the moment with anyone's feedback with how a theory of God can be made to "work with" established science.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #17 on: 22/01/2012 22:29:20 »
Religion deals with myth, metaphor, and parable in the way it deals with human relationships and the rest of the universe.  This is very good for dealing with people and everyday social interactions.  Science deals with observations, measurements and mathematical models this is very good for dealing with the universe and practical technology.

Without the concept of someone or something that one would have to give an account of ones actions (God) leaders and individuals tend to go off the rails and start to think that they are God. 

Without religion to bind together large groups of people way beyond the size of the hunter gatherer clan in co-operative actions mankind would not have made the vast progress it has achieved in the last 3-4 thousand years.

The vast progress achieved through science has pushed religion into the background over the last one hundred years because it tends to insist on outdated concepts and the only voices that are heard are the voices of extremist cranks getting it a bad name. The re-examination of the basic metaphors in most of the world's main religions and their re-statement in the context of the modern scientific world and not that originated in pre scientific dogma.  Could create an environment in which a new sort of religion can grow and reinvigorate the big society where we accept that although we are distinct individuals we all depend totally on each other and the rest of the world for our basic sustenance.

Most of us now accept the evolutionary path that has lead to mankind.  I confidently expect that in a few decades the evolutionary path of physical laws that has lead to our and the many other living universes that exist (although we will never be able to see them) will be accepted.

If one wished for an expression of extended metaphor in the context of my preferred religion (conventional Church of England Christianity) I offer one illustration. We tend to express the concept of God in three ways firstly the Father (all the material that makes up our universe)  The Son (an idealised representation of our own life) and the Holy Spirit  The evolutionary process by which the material develops to create things.

Let me add that I am An atheist and a regular church goer.  I go to church because I wish to take time out to think about these things and also because I wish to be associated with a group that tries to behave  in a positive helpful and considerate way to others and the environment.
 

Offline Gordian Knot

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Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #18 on: 23/01/2012 00:53:44 »
To take this from a different angle. In order to answer your question I would first need to make a statement.

Either the universe (or multiverse) was created naturally (by that I mean with no consciousness guiding it) or it was created by God. The latter implying a conscious awareness was necessary for creation.

Given that statement, I'm unsure what set of parameters one would use to devise a God Theory. How would one go about testing whether there is a conscious awareness that existed before the creation of our reality.

Hawking famously (or infamously, depending on your position) said he has proven mathematically that there is no need for a God for the universe to have been created. But just because there was no "need" for a God, doesn't necessarily mean there couldn't have been one anyway. So that does not really help.

Religious people would say that God is unprovable by science because He/She/It exists outside of our reality. Even if we could discover what happened just before the Big Bang, that still would not prove or disprove whether a God was involved.

A scientific theory, by definition (as I understand it) is a theory that can be tested, and those results duplicated by someone else.

Since I cannot imagine how one could test for God, I do not see how there could be a God Theory.
 

Offline imatfaal

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Re: Re: Why Is There a Multiverse Theory, but No God Theory?
« Reply #19 on: 23/01/2012 10:08:34 »
First response would be that there isn't - there is a many-worlds interpretation and a multiverse hyposthesis but as a scientific theory, you are correct, it doesn't really make the grade.

You can note from the Wikiquote above that some scientists only require a theory to have explanatory aspects and not predictive power and testability.  We have lots of words for stuff like that in my opinion - hypothesis, idea, notion, interpretation ... no need to misuse a word with a useful narrow definition.

Multiple histories - the concept of Feynman - does show that thinking of every possible alternative and summing each probability (feynman path integral)does provide a real world answer that is testable and has immense predictive power.
 

Offline namaan

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We have lots of words for stuff like that in my opinion - hypothesis, idea, notion, interpretation ... no need to misuse a word with a useful narrow definition.

You're right, I was a bit careless with my words. The title's been changed.
 

Offline Gordian Knot

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You can note from the Wikiquote above that some scientists only require a theory to have explanatory aspects and not predictive power and testability.  We have lots of words for stuff like that in my opinion - hypothesis, idea, notion, interpretation ... no need to misuse a word with a useful narrow definition.

I am confused as to your meaning. What word did I misuse and why was it misused?

You mention that some scientists only require a "theory" to have explanatory aspects. Well and good, but such a theory is not a scientific theory, or perhaps a better way of putting it is that such a theory is not acceptable within the system using the scientific method.

Again, to my understanding, a scientific theory by definition is one that uses the scientific method, which does require testability and confirmation from a separate source.

A theory, however, can be anything, as you say from an opinion to an interpretation. A theory is an entirely different animal from a scientific theory, right?????

If I am misunderstanding something here, please let me know where I am going wrong.
 

Offline Gordian Knot

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You're right, I was a bit careless with my words. The title's been changed.

Essentially the same question though, right? To paraphrase in my words, "Can a god be confirmed using science, i.e. the scientific method?" If yes, then my response remains essentially unchanged. How would one go about testing whether there is a higher consciousness involved with creation?

If it cannot be testable, then I do not see how a god can be brought into the realm of science? One could develop a theory to explain it, but as has already been pointed out, a theory is an opinion, a guess, or an interpretation. Which is open to acceptance or denial purely on someone else's opinion on the subject. Hardly useful.
 

Offline namaan

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Ahaha, Gordian Knot, I think imatfaal was responding to me, hence the confusion. That's why I changed the title.

Anyway, being the abstract, non-rigorous discussion this must be given that its hardly ever approached in a rigorous fashion, let's not worry too much about the title. A title is best left for the end of the book ;)

I'll respond to the other posts in kind when I get some time.
 

Offline David Cooper

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Where are you getting these from? You say it as if you've gained some personal access to absolute truth. It's one thing to say there's no evidence for God, but your statements are...strange.

There's nothing strange about it - it's called reasoning. If you want a scientific theory of God, you'll need to start by defining what God is. As soon as you do that, reason will tear it down.

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If you think people like me who ascribe to a religion are delusional for holding views on a being like God with some level of certainty, then here's a friendly reminder: your statements are awful religious sounding.

My statements are based on reason - religion tries to use reason too (some more than others), but it uses faulty reasoning (such as claiming that all things have a purpose because some things have a purpose). As soon as a god tries to turn into a scientist to work out what he himself is, he will inevitably determine that he is a natural creature which has no justification for calling itself God, just as the maker of a virtual world who has complete control over everyone within it (in that they have no way of accessing information about the outside of that virtual world) knows full well that he is not a god, regardless of what the people in that virtual world might mistakenly think he is.

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Anyway, this will only end up in a discussion about religion specifics and religious logic, something I'm trying hard to avoid. I've had enough of these discussions and arguments in the New Theories section of TNS (a thread called Is There a God? I believe) from way back.

I don't see how you can avoid that when it's a necessary consequence of bringing in the "God" word.

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I'm really only interested at the moment with anyone's feedback with how a theory of God can be made to "work with" established science.

It can't: that's the point. If God isn't beyond science (and logic), he automatically becomes part of nature and is in no better position than we are to be a god. He can be an infinite, designer creator and still be nothing more than a natural creature which happens by luck to be in that powerful position.

You aren't going to get anywhere with a scientific theory of some airy-fairy concept like God unless you're going to define it first, and trying to define God will destroy the whole concept because it's a fundamentally irrational idea.
 

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