Are you listening?
Excellent News About Your Soul
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)
When do words occur?
Recently we hurled a couple of enormous books out of the solar system. Massive volumes are, even as we speak, rocketing toward interstellar space. They are as finely crafted and cleanly worded as anything else ever authored by mankind—more poetic than Shakespeare, deeper than Dostoevsky, and yet simple and imaginative enough to inspire even a child. But then most of us cannot read the books much better than children can, and it is really only the authors, vast teams of authors, who fully understand them. Still, we can follow the basic plots, appreciate the conflicts, catch the main themes, and that is enough. They are a fantastic read.
Now they are not hard-back books, or paper-back books, or e-books, or Braille books, but the much less common spacecraft books. That is to say that they were recorded mechanically with lots of metal and wires. NASA launched Voyagers I and II into the galaxy back in 1977. Soaring into the deep dark blue, they are a mass of modern art to most people. But to the trained rocket scientist, at least, they are also books. Because every cubic millimeter on the ships, and every drop of fuel—it all began as a plan written in English long before it was ever translated into 3-D.
They are just one more example of how everything in the universe is preceded by words. As is virtually everything we do. Consider even your typical dinner. No one ever says, “Oh look, without even thinking about it I made an extra large sausage, green pepper, and purple onion pizza and also a Radicchio Caesar Salad with sourdough garlic croutons and, oh wow, here’s a pitcher of blueberry kombucha!” Such things do not happen by accident. We precede any dish with some kind of recipe in mind. In similar fashion, a set of rules always precedes any sports game, an architectural blueprint always precedes a building, and a DNA “blueprint” always precedes an organism. So also every rock, every speck of dust—indeed, every single quantum in the cosmos—is preceded by rational words.
This is an objective, testable, falsifiable, massively confirmed fact. Yet this one simple fact, like all the other characteristics of information, annihilates the presuppositions of materialism and Darwinism. Therefore, the scientific establishment has no other choice but to categorize this fact as a philosophical conclusion rather than a scientific one and then to try to hide it under a dense fog of relentlessly esoteric “debate”.
But if we just zero in on the observations then the facts will speak for themselves. So we’ll start with what we know—with the sort of technology it takes to build things like pizza ovens and spacecrafts. We’ll start with the math that we use to design such things.
Now we observed previously that math and language go hand-in-hand. But there is one distinction between the two: math is entirely self-referential whereas language refers to other things. For example, the English morpheme “three” refers to the concept of 3 whereas the Spanish morpheme “jalapeño”, for example, refers to a chili pepper.
Let’s look into this a little deeper.
What is infinity?
If we did not have infinity, we would not have calculus. And if we did not have calculus, we would not have smart phones or satellites or slushy machines or any modern technology at all. Suffice it to say that infinity is just as necessary a tool for the engineer as is a wrench or a crane. Granted, the later are tangible—you can hold a wrench in your hands or bang your head on a crane. But what about infinity?
It is intangible…immaterial. It is pure meaning.
This is not a a philosophical statement, nor is it a presupposition. It is an undeniable fact. Infinity can never have any physical representation. By contrast, for example, the number 5 can be physically imaged by five abacus beads, V knots in a rope, خمسة apples, 五 electronic pulses, etc. (Ad infinitum!) Going the other direction, you can put 3.1 apples in your pie or, with a good laboratory scale, you can put 3.14 apples in your pie, but you can never put π apples in your pie because you cannot cut an apple with infinite precision.
Furthermore, there is no context for declaring that infinity is somehow less “real” than is the iron in wrenches and cranes. For one thing, the meaning of the word real is just as abstract as the meaning of the word infinity, so before we ask whether the meaning of infinity is “real” we need to ask whether the meaning of real is “real”! And, more to the point, both are indispensable for modern technology. Just as engineers don’t create iron but rather discover it and then use it creatively to build wrenches and cranes, so also they don’t create mathematics but rather discover it and then use it creatively to build the same wrenches and cranes. Yet the one set of tools is tangible while the other is intangible.
We are face to face with a nonphysical phenomenon.
So, how could the brain interact with or “know” about—much less create—something that cannot be seen, heard, felt, tasted, or smelled? This is not a philosophical question. Nor is the answer to it: the organ inside our skulls cannot do such a thing. Even if Darwinists wanted to believe that it could, they cannot even begin to articulate a theory—much less test a theory— as to how it could be possible. It’s like asking whether your colon can comprehend organic chemistry or whether your fingers can count to ten or whether your smartphone can understand English or whether a dictionary knows what the word dictionary means. At the end of the day, the mystery is not what we do not know, but what we do know. It’s not that we do not know how the brain could possibly perceive infinity; it’s that we know, of course, it cannot.
Does that imply that the minds that are using our brains—that those minds are just as immaterial as is infinity itself?
It really, truly is just that simple. This should be an absolute slam dunk not only for spirituality but also for the knowledge of a divine Mathematician. In fact, the German mathematician who discovered set theory, Georg Cantor (1845-1918), saw a deep connection between mathematics and his Christian faith in God, whom he associated with the Absolute Infinite. He believed that God had entrusted him with an understanding of infinities so that he could reveal them to the world.
The evidence is so overwhelming that it almost seems unfair to the materialist. What is a good Darwinist to do?
TAKE IT FOR GRANTED
As we have already seen, one strategy naturalists have for dealing with this mystery is to simply take our mathematical ability for granted as innate and instinctive. As Ulf Danielsson, professor of theoretical physics at Uppsala University in Sweden, and a member of the Nobel Prize Committee in Physics, put it:
There is not much support for the fact that mathematics exists outside our brains and independently of us. A concept such as infinity manifests itself, like other concepts, in our organic brains and is connected to our experience of moving and being in the world.[i]
Both of those sentences are, at best, arbitrary. We addressed the first one in chapter two. As to the second one, how in the world can infinity manifest itself organically? I guarantee you that you will not find a theory as to how the circuitry in our brains can interact with infinity or any other nonphysical concept. Not to mention computer circuitry. Again, the mystery is not what we don’t know but what we do know: we know that circuitry only interacts with physical phenomena.
What’s wrong with that argument? Well, as physicist Sabine Hossenfelder put it:
The problem with this argument is that computer algorithms, suitably programmed, are—for all we can tell—as capable of abstract reasoning as we are. We can’t count to infinity any better than a computer, but we can analyze the properties of infinite systems, both countable and uncountable ones. So can algorithms.[ii]
Seriously? Declaring that algorithms are capable of abstract reasoning is literally no different from declaring that a telescope is capable of seeing or that a hammer is capable of hammering or that your car is capable of comprehending the meaning of 75 mph. So far as a child can tell, when the cruise control is set, a car knows what it’s doing. For that matter, so far as a child can tell, a Tesla comprehends traffic laws even better than the book of traffic laws comprehends them. And when the car parks at the movie theater and the child watches Jurassic World Dominion, for all she can tell, the dinosaurs are real.
If taking our ability to perceive infinity for granted doesn’t work, the next strategy is to produce a lot of philosophical fog.
HIDE IN THE FOG
First, many naturalists will change the subject from talking about God and spirituality to talking about Plato and philosophy. After all, if you’re going to deny spirituality then which religion are you denying the truth claims of? It’s much easier to find a generic representation of it all. That’s what Plato (428-348 BC) provided—a philosophy about a perfect immaterial world. So instead of saying, “I don’t believe in spirituality,” the materialist will say, “I’m not a Platonist…at least not an overt one.”
Next, they’ll turn on a nuclear-powered fog machine and start churning out all kinds of relentlessly esoteric ideas about Formalism, Intuitionism, and Hegelian idealism. They’ll quote guys like Immanuel Kant (whose name sounds familiar) and Henri Poincaré (no, never heard of him) and offer extrapolations of interpretations of speculations until they reach pathological levels of abstraction. Pretty soon you’re staring out the window, trying to remember whether you fed the dog and, oh dear, when was the last time you checked the air pressure in your tires!
As atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell frankly admitted, “If any philosopher had been asked for a definition of infinity, he might have produced some unintelligible rigmarole, but he would certainly not have been able to give a definition that had any meaning at all.”
Sticking to the Facts
Let’s just stick to the facts. Infinity is as indispensable for the mathematician as is oxygen. “It appears to be a universal feature of the mathematics normally believed to underlie the workings of our physical universe that it has a fundamental dependence on the infinite,” writes Sir Roger Penrose, professor of mathematics at Oxford University.[iii] At the end of the day it is impossible to argue that infinities don’t exist. It would be on par with pretending that you don’t believe that the sky is blue or that the sun will rise tomorrow. So Cantor understood well why eternity haunted the materialists:
The fear of infinity is a form of myopia that destroys the possibility of seeing the actual infinite, even though it in its highest form has created and sustains us, and in its secondary transfinite forms occurs all around us and even inhabits our minds.[iv]
Alas, Darwinists simply cannot accept such unsophisticated conclusions. When push comes to shove, they’ll say, “Just shut up and calculate!” Some questions simply should not be asked.
But Cantor continued to ask and seek and knock with the zeal of a true pioneer. “In mathematics the art of asking questions is more valuable than solving problems,” he wrote in his 1867 doctoral thesis. He insisted that mathematicians were explorers of an objective reality, not just the describers of the physical world. And through his own explorations he discovered several types of infinities—countable infinities (such as 1, 2, 3…, or 5, 10, 15…), uncountable infinities (they’re so dense that it’s like you never even make it from 1 to 2, much less to 3 or 4 or 5; uncountable means unlistable), geometric infinities, and infinities made of transfinite numbers. Since then, mathematicians have discovered many other infinities whose forms truly beggar the imagination.¥
Yet there were a couple of infinite sets for which, no matter how he tried, Cantor was unable to categorize their size. In 1878 he put forward what is called the Continuum Hypothesis, a proposition about the sizes of these infinite sets. Much to his dismay he never proved it, and his opponents said this failure justified all their skepticism. Their mockery drove Cantor into deep bouts of depression. He died in a sanatorium in 1918.
WHAT CAN WE PROVE?
Then in 1931 a young German mathematician named Kurt Gödel arrived on the scene. (He would become one of Einstein’s best friends.) He wrote two brief proofs that shook the foundations of both philosophy and mathematics. He showed that we can never actually decide whether any mathematical axiom is true or not.
Now that might almost sound like a self-contradictory statement: he mathematically proved that we cannot mathematically prove a statement to be true? Not quite: he mathematically proved that we cannot decide whether a statement is true. Our logic can be exhaustively complete or it can be provably true, but it cannot be both at the same time. There will always be statements which we know to be true even though we cannot prove them to be true. Our logic will always be incomplete. Communications engineer Perry Marshall explains it this way: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle–something you have to assume but cannot prove.”[v] In effect, when we know that mathematical axioms are true, we know it by faith.
Now it’s not blind faith in arbitrary statements, but rather reasoned faith in self-evident facts. As Gödel famously put it, “I don’t believe in empirical science. I only believe in a priori truth.”[vi] That doesn’t mean that empirical science is not useful. Rather, it means that empirical science ultimately rests upon objective, self-evident truths that we cannot wrap our minds around—that we will never, ever be able to wrap our minds around. For, at its foundation, mathematics is objective, infinitely complex information. As Galileo Galilei had intuitively realized 300 years earlier:
There are such profound secrets and such lofty conceptions that the night labors and the researches of hundreds and yet hundreds of the keenest minds, in investigations extending over thousands of years would not penetrate them, and the delight of the searching and finding endures forever.[vii]
Thus, although we can know axioms to be useful and consistent for all practical purposes, we do not get to be the authors of their absolute truthfulness. Today Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems are just as mesmerizing as ever. They demonstrate that the question “Where did mathematics come from?” is unanswerable. At least by us.
WHAT CAN WE KNOW?
Okay, back to the Continuum Hypothesis. Now, whereas Cantor’s opponents had said that his failure to prove the hypothesis revealed the lack of a rational foundation for all of his work on infinities and set theory, Gödel showed that the foundations of all of mathematics were likewise incomplete. He said that Cantor’s theories were actually just as robust and meaningful as any other consistent branch of mathematics, and that those who still believed that a proof of the Continuum Hypothesis was necessary—they were in denial of the facts. To reject set theory because we cannot prove one axiom was not rational, for our descriptions of rationality and of nature will always be lacking.
Only someone who (like the Intuitionist) denies that the concepts and axioms of classical set theory have any meaning could be satisfied with such a solution, not someone who believes them to describe some well-determined reality. For in reality Cantor’s conjecture must be either true or false, and its undecidability from the axioms as known today can only mean that these axioms do not contain a complete description of reality.[viii]
Gödel’s proofs sent shockwaves across the world. Atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell had recently finished his massive Principia Mathematica, an ambitious attempt to replace all of religious belief and philosophical belief with mathematical logic. For example, Russell spent several hundred pages laying the foundation for the proof that 1+1=2 because he wanted mankind to own rationality and be the author of axiomatic truth. Then Gödel came along, watched this herculean effort, figured out why it was futile, and in about 20 pages—very complex pages—proved that whether or not the statement 1+1=2 is true (and of course it is true), we do not get to be the ones who decide that it is true—no matter how badly we wish for it, no matter how hard we try. (The title of his paper was “On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems”) We can know such things by reasoned faith, but we do not get to be the authors of them.
For that matter, we cannot be the authors of any such truth, only the believers and teachers and preachers of it. Our math can be reliable enough to run a global economy or to put men on the moon, but we still do not control it any more than we control the tides. As Daniel Andrés Díaz-Pachón, Research Assistant Professor at the Division of Biostatistics at the University of Miami, put it:
In the end, the most formal exercise in knowledge is an act of faith. The mathematician is forced to believe, absent all mathematical support, that what he is doing has any meaning whatsoever. The logician is forced to believe, absent all logical support, that what he is doing has any meaning whatsoever… Faith is the most fundamental of the mathematical tools.[ix]
So just as any mathematician or scientist must have faith that infinities are objective realities, Gödel showed that the same was true for all of mathematics: it is objective, not subjective. And again, that foundation is also undeniably immaterial.
So who authored it all?
Gödel described his own faith as “baptized Lutheran (but not member of any religious congregation)”.[x] Although he seldom joined in any public worship, his wife, Adele, said, “Gödel, although he did not go to church, was religious and read the Bible in bed every Sunday morning.”[xi] He took some interest in apologetical arguments about God’s existence, but never published any such work. Perhaps he realized it was a moot point.
A MOOT POINT
Indeed, keep in mind that although all of this makes for a great story, we never really needed Gödel to prove what he proved. Our knowledge of the infinite reveals more than enough.
Still, what became of Cantor’s Continuum Hypothesis. In 1938 Gödel proved that it could not be disproven by standard methods. Then in 1962 another mathematician, Paul Cohen, proved that it could not be proven either! Gödel told Cohen that his proof was “really a delight to read…Reading your proof had a similarly pleasant effect on me as seeing a really good play.”[xii]
Where does that leave us? The big takeaway is that everyone agrees we are exploring objective truth. And the immaterial nature of that truth confronts the scientific establishment with a catastrophic mystery—what Einstein called “the eternal mystery of the universe”—that they have to bury under philosophical fog or, as we’ve seen, just plain flip-flop.
Furthermore, the rationality of mathematics begs for an Author. That’s also unacceptable. Now we cannot prove the existence of a divine Mathematician any more than we can prove the absolute veracity of the statement “1+1=2”. Any such attempt to do so would be irrational. Nevertheless, we can know by faith that both are true. As Díaz-Pachón put it:
In order for faith and reason to have a foundation, not merely from an epistemological viewpoint but also from an ontological one, there must be something that sustains it —a First Sustainer undergirding them all. There is no logic without a Logos. Faith’s only task is to accept that such a Logos does exist. The opposite is despair, meaninglessness.[xiii]
The materialist will argue that if we courageously embrace such despair, then we can give life meaning. As Russell put it, “Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”[xiv] As poetic as that might sound, the fact remains that the word meaningless is only coherent within the much broader context of objective meaning, and the word despair is only coherent within the much broader context of objective hope.
Thankfully, the reverse is not true for either meaning or hope, for evil is entirely parasitical. (This isn’t philosophy; it’s just semantics!) And to the extent that we know there is both meaning and meaninglessness in life, we also know that we cannot be the authors of both.
When do the laws of nature occur?
If you can have rational information without a physical medium, is the reverse true? Can you have something physical that does not serve as a medium for information?
John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2008), a member of the Manhattan Project and a professor of physics at Princeton University, famously coined the phrase “it from bit” in 1989 to explain how bits of information precedes every quantum of the cosmos. Specifically, Wheeler was referring to how individual physical particles, such as electrons or photons, start out as mathematical equations called wave functions. At some point the wave functions “collapse” and literally materialize into physical particles. It’s bizarre and weird, yet it has been experimentally verified thousands of times.
By contrast, what they had been used to was finding that answers were simply waiting to be discovered in nature, like books sitting on a shelf. For example, if they asked, “How does a plant turn solar energy into chemical energy?” they could eventually discover the objective equation for photosynthesis. But with the advent of quantum mechanics, they learned that some answers literally did not exist until after they asked the questions.
I, like other searchers, attempt formulation after formulation of the central issues and here present a wider overview, taking for working hypothesis the most effective one that has survived this winnowing: It from Bit. Otherwise put, every it—every particle, every field of force, even the spacetime continuum itself—derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely—even if in some contexts indirectly—from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes or no questions, binary choices, bits.
It from Bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom—at a very deep bottom, in most instances—an immaterial source and explanation; that what we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe.[xv]
From at least the early 20th century, physicists realized that their experiments contradicted the presuppositions of materialism. Not only that, they realized that it directly indicated the presence of free will in the scientists themselves. So from beginning to end this discovery has led to endless speculations about the divine Author of quantum mechanics in particular and of nature in general. As for Wheeler, he and his wife were founding members of the Unitarian Church of Princeton.
TAKE THE LAWS FOR GRANTED
Nevertheless, many other scientists have persisted in arguing that the evidence does not point to God. For example, Stephen Hawking (1942-2018) said the universe could author itself:
Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing…Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.[xvi]
Notice that when Hawking said that the universe could be created from nothing, what he meant by the word nothing was nothing…material or physical. But in the absence of anything physical there was still something: words, sentences, and paragraphs, at least enough to fill a few dozen textbooks. After all, a law such as gravity is only coherent in the context of exceedingly complex systems of mathematics, physics, and chemistry. For example, the sentence “Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared” combines high levels of math (including some of the constants of nature) with a chemist’s understanding of energy and a physicist’s understanding of light. And yet Hawking wanted us to believe that these sentences simply existed prior to the existence of mass or energy or light?
Darwinists applauded him for his boldness. Fellow Oxford professor, Richard Dawkins, had already argued that evolution authored our ability to think and reason scientifically. “Human thoughts and emotions emerge from exceedingly complex interconnections of physical entities within the brain.”[xvii] He insisted there was nothing paradoxical or mysterious about such emergent entities, and that our own intelligence evolved in a way comparable to how modern-day computers have evolved.
Natural selection of selfish genes gave us big brains which were originally useful for survival in a purely utilitarian sense. Once those big brains, with their linguistic and other capacities, were in place, there is no contradiction at all in saying that they took off in wholly new ‘emergent’ directions, including directions opposed to the interests of selfish genes. There is nothing self-contradictory about emergent properties. Electronic computers, conceived as calculating machines, emerge as word processors, chess players, encyclopedias, telephone switchboards, even, I regret to say, electronic horoscopes. No fundamental contradictions are there to ring philosophical alarm bells. Nor in the statement that our brains have overtaken, even overreached, their Darwinian provenance.[xviii]
Now, speaking of words, Dawkins’ comparison of the emergence of “human thoughts and emotions” with the emergence of computers here is very common, but it is also thoroughly self-contradictory. We talk easily about the evolution of lots of things—the computer, the automobile, the assault rifle, the fajita, etc. However, these are all examples of the evolution of design at the hands of rational, creative people. Improvements and developments—such as from calculating machines to telephone switchboards and chess-playing supercomputers—“emerge” as a result of the intentional, competitive mental effort of intelligent designers.
But when Dawkins et al use the term evolution, there is a sudden semantic shift: rationality, creativity, and intentionality are all explicitly excluded from the emergent process, to be replaced by randomness, chance and “Natural Law”. For the Darwinists want to have their intelligently designed cake and eat it, too. “In the case of living machinery,” says Dawkins, “the ‘designer’ is unconscious natural selection, the blind watchmaker.”[xix] That quote comes from a book he wrote about our cosmic creator, titled The Blind Watchmaker.
Just stop and consider what this brilliant scientist wants students to simply take for granted. For starters, he wants to take Natural Laws for granted—laws that are so deep and profound and complex that the brightest minds can spend a lifetime fixating on them. Yet, according to Dawkins, the author, or “designer”, of such laws is a Cosmic Blind Watchmaker.
Next, consider how important the words randomness and chance are to Dawkins’ explanation. Although such words are absolutely essential to comprehending evolutionary theory, they are only coherent in the context of a dictionary of at least, say, 5000 words, and they only have meaning in a much broader context of non-randomness and precise order—just like the word three only has meaning in the context of a number line, or just like you can only have the chance of drawing a lucky lottery ticket if there are millions of other people contributing to that lottery within a much larger, well-ordered, rational, creative, non-random economy.
Yet again, the author of this dictionary, the “designer” of all this order, is a Cosmic Blind Watchmaker who is not only blind but also deaf, mute, and as senseless as a block of wood. And the Darwinists are assuming the authority to discover and reveal to the world who this Blind Watchmaker is, and to reveal what the words in his dictionary mean, and to reveal his/her/its explanations for all of existence.
On the one hand, that’s a lot to take for granted. On the other hand, we have seen this many, many times before all throughout human history. For it is exactly like those people who assume the authority to carve a senseless block of wood into a mysterious image, plate it with gold, embed it with jewels, set it high on a pedestal, and then declare unctuously unto mankind, “Behold your Creator!”
This is the norm for the modern scientific establishment—whether for biologists like Dawkins or for neuroscientists like Dehaene or, as we saw in the previous chapter, for physicists like Hawkings. As the editors of Evolution News & Science Today put it:
A minimal cell packs a ton of functional information. How did it get there? Darwinians, who wish to account for all of life without design, are obligated to believe that information creates itself. In the past they tended to be more reticent about the problem, realizing that it was a tremendous challenge even to get to a theoretical replicator. Lately, some of them are employing a bolder tactic: simply assert that information creates itself.[xx]
Textbooks that write themselves? A creation that authors itself?
THE COHERENT ALTERNATIVE
As Stephen Meyer reminds us, that doesn’t make much sense.
[O]ur uniform experience affirms that specified information—whether inscribed in hieroglyphs, written in a book, encoded in a terrestrial radio signal, or produced in an RNA-world “ribozyme engineering” experiment—always arises from an intelligent source, from a mind and not a strictly material process. So the discovery of the functionally specified digital information in DNA and RNA provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a role in the origin of these molecules. Whenever we find specified information and we know the causal story of how that information arose, we always find that it arose from an intelligent source. It follows that the best, most likely explanation for the origin of the specified, digitally encoded information in DNA and RNA is that it too had an intelligent source.[xxi]
Now, just to be clear, the mystery of the source of the information for life doesn’t just apply to living things with DNA. Wheeler said he wanted scientists to figure out how to create stuff out of bits of information even as he encouraged them not to bemoan the fact that they had no idea what a bit was in the first place.
“Deplore? No, celebrate the absence of a clean clear definition of the term ‘bit’ as elementary unit in the establishment of meaning.… If and when we learn how to combine bits in fantastically large numbers to obtain what we call existence, we will know better what we mean both by bit and by existence.”[xxii]
This brilliant, world-class physicist said that we want to figure out how to create physical things—how to bring them into existence—out of nothing but “fantastically large numbers” of words. Again, I actually have no problem believing that the sentences precede the creation. I just have trouble seeing how this does not point directly to a rational, creative Author. Have we ever known of such laws apart from rational authors? How could they say that such creation is inevitable? As the editors at Evolution News and Science Today put it:
None of this splendor and precision is “inevitable,” any more than a Shakespearean sonnet or the Sistine ceiling are inevitable. The mathematical subtlety of physics is the work of a living Mind of inexpressible grace and power.
The design of nature is not “inevitable.” Creation is from purpose, not decay. Those select scientists who are privileged to see and understand the intricate mathematical beauty of nature owe its Author a citation.[xxiii]
Give the Author a citation?! Give credit to God for the creation?! Nothing doing, says Dr. Michael Shermer, founder of The Skeptics Society and a former columnist for Scientific American. He says that if people want to believe that all these observations provide evidence of God, that only begs the question and avoids the real issue.
Theists retort that God is that which does not need to be created. But why can’t the universe be in the same ontological and epistemological category as God, wherein we could simply say that the universe is that which does not need to be created? Theists counter that the universe had a Big Bang beginning and everything that begins to exist has a cause. But not everything in the universe is strictly causal, such as some quantum effects, and even though our universe in its current state can be traced back to a Big Bang beginning that doesn’t mean there was not a previous universe that gave birth to our universe through the Big Bang. Theists also note that that the universe is a thing, whereas God is an agent or being. But don’t things and beings all need a causal explanation? Why should God be exempt from such causal reasoning? Because, rejoins the theist, God is supernatural—outside of space, time, and matter—whereas everything in the universe, and the universe itself, is natural—made up of space, time, and matter, so God and the universe are ontologically different.[xxiv]
No doubt “Where did the Creator come from?” is an inevitable question. Regardless, here is what we know: rational, creative, immaterial information saturates the cosmos, and we cannot know where it came from. That is effectively what Gödel discovered—that the question “Where did mathematics come from?” is unanswerable. In fact, the sense of awe that Gödel’s equations stir in a mathematician might be somewhat comparable to the sense of awe you can feel in asking God where he came from. But that is still zero reason to deny the fact that all of nature is a medium for rational, creative information. Shermer is a zealous materialist and so he, like all the others, simply wants to take rationality for granted even though none of them can acknowledge that it is immaterial and that by the word “nothing” they still need the presence of something—words and sentences and paragraphs, enough to at least fill a few dozen textbooks.
What are the laws of nature?
Now, just to be clear, even if we know what laws and equations and sentences are not—they are not physical—we still have no idea what they are.
Jorge Cham, who earned a PhD in robotics at Stanford, and Daniel Whiteson, professor of experimental particle physics at the University of California, Irvine, wrote a wonderful book titled We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe. The talk about many of the mysteries scientists are trying to figure out. For example, they explain how a proton is made up of 3 quantum particles called quarks. The mass of the 3 quarks combined is only 1% the mass of the proton. The other 99% is binding energy. But we have no idea why. It seems entirely arbitrary. And where did all that energy come from anyway? Furthermore, those 3 quark particles only account for 1% of the mass after they have been bound together. Prior to binding they actually have no mass at all.
Particles—in our current theory—are actually indivisible points in space. That means that in theory they take up zero volume and they are located at exactly one infinitesimal location in three-dimensional space. There’s actually no size to them at all. And since you’re made of particles, that means you’re not mostly empty space, you are entirely empty space!…
We like to think of particles as tiny little balls of stuff. That works for lots of thought experiments even though particles aren’t little balls. Not even a little bit. According to quantum mechanics, they are superbizarre little fluctuations in fields that permeate the entire universe.[xxv]
Could that be any more bizarre? On the one hand, we can define physical stuff as that which can be directly or indirectly seen, heard, felt, tasted, smelled, or measured in some way. Thus the words physical and nonphysical are entirely coherent. There is a clear distinction between the medium of information and the meaning of information. And yet all of these scientists are concluding that physical mediums spring from nothing? As Cham and Whiteson ask it:
How does it make sense for a particle to have zero mass? For example, the photon has exactly zero mass. If it has no mass, then it’s a particle of what? If you demand that mas is equal to stuff, then you have to conclude that a massles particle literally has nothing to it. Instead of thinking about a particle’s mass as how much stuff is crammed into a supertiny ball, just think of it as a label that we apply to an infinitesimal quantum object.[xxvi]
A label? As in a word? I didn’t say it, they did. But I will also point at that waves are, strictly speaking, immaterial. For waves are nothing but patterns. You cannot describe any physical qualities for a wave any more than you can describe the physical qualities of a circle. Is a wave solid, liquid, or gas? (It can’t be all three at the same time.)
What is time anyway?
Now lets take the mystery fathoms deeper. In 1878 German mathematician Georg Cantor made a mind-warping discovery. He used a simple proof to show that any sized line segment, say 2 centimeters, has just as many mathematical points on it as are inside a cube of any size, say as big as the Milky Way Galaxy. That is to say that they both contain infinite points, and those infinities are the same size. (Yes, infinities come in many sizes.) “Je le vois, mais je ne crois pas!” (I see it but I don’t believe it!) he wrote to his friend and fellow mathematician, Richard Dedekind. On the one hand, it was dazzling to comprehend. On the other hand, it is something that we are all very familiar with, for it’s the same basic reason that a 3-D movie can be translated into a 1-D linear sequence on a flash drive.
But the implications of Cantor’s discovery go far deeper. To understand them, consider this riddle that uses a geometric figure called the Möbius Strip. (In Avengers: Endgame Tony Stark, a.k.a. Ironman, used a Möbius Strip to unlock the secret to time travel.) To make one, take a regular piece of printer paper and cut off about a one-inch piece lengthwise, so that you have a 1 X 11 inch ribbon of paper. If you tape the ends together then you have a loop. But if you twist one end of it half a turn before taping it together, then you have a Möbius Strip.
Now here is the riddle: How many sides does it have—one or two? You can draw one line continuously along the entire ribbon without ever having to pick up your pencil. So where is the missing side?
It’s a trick question. We’re seeing the “sides” of the Möbius Strip from the wrong context. We asked a question about a two-dimensional representation (the two-dimensional ribbon of the Möbius Strip) using the language and vantage point of three-dimensional space. That does not compute. That is to say that, strictly speaking, the word “side” only applies to three-dimensional objects; two-dimensional concepts do not have any sides at all. For example, if you stack a thousand sheets of paper on each other then you’ll get a three-dimensional block of paper with six sides. (So, strictly speaking, the physical paper representing a Möbius Strip has two sides—the flat side of the paper and the edge of the paper—comparable to how a ball has both an inside and an outside. But you can’t stack either balls or Möbius Strips.) However, if you “stacked” a thousand mathematical planes together, then you would still only have a two-dimensional plane that doesn’t have any sides at all.
Now let’s return to Cantor’s discovery about how a one-dimensional line segment has the same number of mathematical points on it as are on a two-dimensional plane or in a three-dimensional cube. When we think of a two-dimensional mathematical plane, we imagine ourselves looking down on the plane, or looking at it from an angle, or perhaps passing through the plane to look at it from below. Regardless, we can only imagine it from the vantage point of three-dimensional space. Nobody can think in only two dimensions.
Now imagine a one-dimensional line, shooting from infinity to infinity. We can imagine orbiting around the line or moving along beside it. Regardless, we can still only imagine it from the vantage point of three-dimensional space. Nobody can think in only one dimension, even when doing arithmetic.
That means that even though each of the three dimensions is perfectly unique and coherent in and of itself, the three only exist—even in our minds—as a single phenomenon. This is comparable to how, as we explored in chapter one, a child can’t learn the meaning of the word blue unless he also learns the meaning of red and yellow, etc., or how the meaning of the word freedom is nuanced by words like knowledge and determinism. Just as linguistic vocabulary is only coherent from a multi-dimensional context, so also mathematics only exists in three dimensions. We might also compare the three dimensions to how white light is composed of red light, green, light, blue light, ad infinitum.
Furthermore, even though each of the three dimensions is unique and coherent in and of itself, each of the three contains the whole. For example, all mathematical truth can be digitized and translated into a one-dimensional linear sequence of digits. Again, the DNA code is a prime illustration of this.
A FOURTH DIMENSION?
None of the information that we find in nature is static. Just as any book is only coherent when the words are read in sequence, so also any mathematical or scientific equation reflects movement through time. And so, as Kepler and Boyle said, the book of nature is always inviting us and inspiring us. Even its unending constants (such as 3.14159…) confront us with eternity.
Now time itself mystifies even the brightest of minds. Einstein showed that it is comparable to the three physical dimensions since passage through time slows down as passage through physical space speeds up. Nevertheless, calling time a fourth dimension is just an analogy—a very coherent and effective analogy, comparable to how money is a very coherent and effective analogy. You cannot see, hear, feel, taste, or smell the value of money. You can only believe by faith what it represents. Furthermore, there are many dimensions to economics—such as interest and inflation, the latter of which slows down as the former speeds up. Nevertheless, if you called money or inflation a fourth dimension of reality, you would be speaking figuratively, not literally. And in similar fashion, we shouldn’t call time a fourth dimension of reality—especially when each of the three spacial dimensions depend on it. Just as money flows through our economy, our universe flows through time.
Once again, this fact obliterates the doctrines of materialism. Therefore, as bizarre as that may sound, many scientists argue that the flow of time is not “real” but is instead an illusion. It’s a subjective experience that our brains create and constantly adjust.
One of the leading proponents of this view is Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, the founder of what is called the Loop Quantum Gravity theory of physics and the director of the quantum gravity research group at the Centre for Theoretical Physics at Aix-Marseille University. The author of some very popular books, including Reality Is Not What It Seems and The Order of Time, he says that “time flow” is an illusory, human-made phenomenon. Our neurological illusion of it must have emerged in evolution to give us a useful though artificial and blurred perception of the world. That may sound terribly vague, but he tosses the need for an explanation of it to neuroscientists:
I suspect that what we call the “flowing” of time has to be understood by studying the structure of our brain rather than by studying physics: evolution has shaped our brain into a machine that feeds off memory in order to anticipate the future. This is what we are listening to when we listen to the passing of time. Understanding the “flowing” of time is therefore something that may pertain to neuroscience more than to fundamental physics. Searching for the explanation of the feeling of flow in physics might be a mistake.[xxvii]
Although it may feel disorienting and perhaps even depressing to hear that time is not a fundamental, objective part of life, Rovelli says that such troubles are easily remedied. After all, since the illusion of time flow must be a matter of brain chemistry, that chemistry can easily be manipulated. “It only takes a few micrograms of LSD to expand our experience of time to an epic and magical scale,” he says.[xxviii] In fact, he credits the psychedelic drug with inspiring his interest in time. He recounts the very first time he took it:
It was an extraordinarily strong experience that touched me also intellectually. Among the strange phenomena was the sense of time stopping. Things were happening in my mind but the clock was not going ahead; the flow of time was not passing any more. It was a total subversion of the structure of reality… And I thought: “Well, it’s a chemical that is changing things in my brain. But how do I know that the usual perception is right, and this is wrong? If these two ways of perceiving are so different, what does it mean that one is the correct one?”[xxix]
What does it mean to say that one is the correct one and that the drug-induced hallucination is not?
Well, many scientists have concluded that it means there is a self-evident, objective reality for which they may not necessarily be able to author the explanation. We can know that some things are true even if we cannot necessarily prove them to be true in the laboratory. In fact, as Professor Muller of Berkeley explains, the only reason not to believe in the flow of time is because one desperately wants to cling to the presuppositions of materialism (a.k.a. physicalism)—something that Einstein himself realized was futile.
Atheists mocked Einstein for drifting away from physics and developing a religious faith in his later years. But they never spoke to his concern that science could not address even these most essential aspects of the world: the flow of time and the meaning of now. Many scientists assume that something that cannot be probed by physics is not part of reality. Is that statement a testable claim, or a religious belief itself? Philosophers give this dogma the name physicalism. Is there a way to test, to prove, a faith that physics encompasses all? Or is such a belief expected for all physicists, just as being Christian has been an informal but effective requirement to qualify as a potential US president? If you challenge physicalism, do you risk being mocked for your drift toward religion, as Einstein was?[xxx]
Speaking of presidents and the flow of time, consider that it takes faith to believe, for example, that George Washington was the first president of the United States. After all, we cannot actually see him being president. Instead, we can only believe what is written in the historical record. (If that sounds like a silly observation, consider how millions of people doubt the more recent, much more detailed historical record of the Holocaust of World War II.) We can also consider the circumstantial evidence for George Washington’s presidency, for there is a direct link between the processes that installed him in office to the processes that installed President Joe Biden.
And just as we believe narratives in American history based upon evidence, so also we can believe narratives in the flow of natural history through time, based upon evidence.
More than Just Rationality
Just as there is more to a $100 bill than a piece of paper, and just as there is more to The Lord of the Rings movies than a really big stack of paper, and just as there is more to a spaceship than an even bigger stack of paper, there is more to nature than a bunch of laws. That is to say that whoever the divine “watchmaker” is, there might be more to him than rationality.
Charles Darwin himself knew this to be true. In 1848 he wrote to his friend, John Henslow: “I believe there exists, and I feel within me, an instinct for the truth, or knowledge or discovery, of something of the same nature as the instinct of virtue, and that our having such an instinct is reason enough for scientific researches without any practical results ever ensuing from them.”[xxxi]
Now science searches for objective, rational explanations in nature. But, as Darwin observed, there are other revelations that we must deal with, such as those regarding virtue. Why are words like justice and mercy and integrity as Self-evident to us as hunger and thirst? Where did such truth come from?
 Note to the editors: I don’t know whether this graphic has a copywrite.
[i] Ulf Danielsson, The World Itself (New York: Bellevue Literary Press, 2020) Kindle Edition, p. 61.
[ii] Sabine Hossenfelder, Existential Physics: A Scientist’s Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions. (New York: Viking, 2022) p. 204.
[iii] Roger Penrose, The Road to Reality (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 357.
[iv] Georg Cantor, Gesammelte Abhandlungen [Collected Essays], eds. A. Fraenkel and E. Zermelo (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1932), 374. As quoted in Infinity and the Mind by Rudy Rucker.
[vi] Kurt Gödel, Collected Works: Volume III: Publications 1938-1974, edited by S. Feferman et al (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).
[vii] Galileo Galilei, as stated by William H. Hobbs, “The Making of Scientific Theories,” Address of the president of Michigan Academy of Science at the Annual Meeting, Ann Arbor (28 Mar 1917) in Science (11 May 1917), N.S. 45, No. 1167, 443.
[viii] Kurt Gödel, Collected Works: Volume II: Publications 1938-1974, edited by S. Feferman et al (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 181.
[x] Hao Wang, Reflections on Kurt Gödel, (Mass: MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1987.
[xi] Hao Wang, A Logical Journey: From Gödel to Philosophy. A Bradford Book, 1997. Print. p.316.
[xii] Solomon Feferman, The Gödel Editorial Project: A synopsis, p. 11. http://math.stanford.edu/~feferman/papers/Goedel-Project-Synopsis.pdf
[xiv] Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays (Heritage Books, Kindle Edition, 2019), Kindle Locations 897-899.
[xv] John Archibald Wheeler, “Information, Physics, Quantum: The Search for Links” in the Japanese journal Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on Foundations of Quantum Mechanics in the Light of New Technology, 1989 (309-336). https://philpapers.org/archive/WHEIPQ.pdf
[xvi] Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design (New York: Bantam, 2010), p. 180.
[xvii] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), 34.
[xviii] Richard Dawkins, Science in the Soul (New York: Random House, 2017), Kindle Locations 636-644.
[xix] Richard Dawkins. The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (London: Folio Society, 2007), 38.
[xxi] Stephen C. Meyer, “Evidence of Intelligent Design in the Origin of Life,” The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2020), 455-456.
[xxii] John Archibald Wheeler, “A Modest To-Do List”, Information, Physics, Quantum: The Search for Links, Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (1989), 368.
[xxiv] Michael Shermer, “Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?”, Skeptic Magazine, Vol 23 No 4, 2018. https://www.skeptic.com/reading_room/why-is-there-something-rather-than-nothing/#note02
[xxv] Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson, We Have No Idea (New York: Riverhead Books, 2017), 66-67.
[xxvi] Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson, We Have No Idea (New York: Riverhead Books, 2017), 67.
[xxvii] Carlo Rovelli, “On the Nature of Time”, Financial Times, April 20, 2018. https://www.ft.com/content/ce6ef7b8-429a-11e8-93cf-67ac3a6482fd
[xxviii] Simon Carnell and Erica Segre, “Interview with Carlo Rovelli”, The Guardian, April 14, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/14/elastic-concept-order-of-time-carlo-rovelli
[xxix] Charlotte Higgins, “’There is no such thing as past or future’: physicist Carlo Rovelli on changing how we think about time”, The Guardian (April 14, 2018). https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/14/carlo-rovelli-exploding-commonsense-notions-order-of-time-interview
[xxx] Richard A. Muller, Now: The Physics of Time (W. W. Norton & Company, 2016) Kindle Edition.
[xxxi] Charles Darwin, The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, Vol. 4. (1847-50), Frederick Burkhardt and Sydney Smith, editors (London: Cambridge University Press, 1989); https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-1167.xml