An Agnostic Case for an Intelligent Designer: Introduction and the Matrix Hypothesis

Editors Note: This is part 1 of a three-part series. Part 2 will be published on January 14th, and part 3 will be published on January 21st. This is the first blog for the EID Blog, which is the Evolution/Intelligent Design Blog. Remember, a primary focus of The Systems Scientist is to provide a platform where different and contrasting ideas have direct access to each other. Our bubble is everything! Enjoy the first EID Blog! 


By Matt Johnson

Is it possible for a mathematical scientist who is a non-believing agnostic to accept the notion of an Intelligent Designer? If so, what conditions would need to be satisfied? And is there an already existing hypothesis from which to construct and present this most unusual position?

For the last question, the answer is yes and the philosophical paper from which this argument derives will be addressed first along with the conditions that will make this argument possible. And then second, this short paper will address how it could be possible for a non-believing agnostic, who happens to be a mathematical scientist, to accept the notion of an Intelligent Designer. And finally in this blog, a couple of minor tweaks in the Matrix Hypothesis will be addressed along with objections from a new atheist (free-thinker) and a Young Earth Creationist.

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The Matrix as Metaphysics

In his paper The Matrix of Metaphysics, the philosopher David Chalmers puts forth the argument that humanity just may exist in a vatted environment not that different from Neo’s reality in the beginning of the Matrix movie. However, as interesting and awesome as the movie and its premise are, Chalmers’ hypothesis is a bit different and obviously much more methodical and meticulous in its construction and consequences. This is because the philosopher gets into the “meat and potatoes” of what makes the universe – our existence – and if this new knowledge and understanding of the world would change any beliefs.

As Chalmers illustrates, his Matrix Hypothesis is equivalent to that of a “three-part” Metaphysical Hypothesis,

…the Matrix Hypothesis should be regarded as a metaphysical hypothesis with all three of these elements. It makes the claim about the reality underlying physics, about the nature of our minds, and about the creation of the world.

In particular, I think the Matrix Hypothesis is equivalent to a version of the following three-part Metaphysical Hypothesis. First, physical processes are fundamentally computational. Second, our cognitive systems are separate from physical processes, but interact with these processes. Third, physical reality was created by beings outside physical space-time.

If this Matrix Hypothesis is true, then some fascinating yet disturbing consequences arise not only for the non-supernatural believing scientific practitioner, but for the supernatural, creation believing practitioner as well. But first, a summary of the Matrix Hypothesis must be explained.

As Chalmers describes in his paper, the Metaphysical Hypothesis is the same as the Matrix Hypothesis, and the Matrix Hypothesis is the same as the Metaphysical Hypothesis. It is bi-conditional. Furthermore, the Metaphysical Hypothesis, from which the proposal begins, is composed of the Creation Hypothesis, the Computational Hypothesis, and the Mind-Body Hypothesis. What does this mean?

With respect to the Creation Hypothesis, it is the idea that some entity, or being, exists outside of the known universe. To the creationist, this entity would be the Christian “God.” As Chalmers’ explains,

A version of [this hypothesis] is believed by many people in our society, and perhaps by the majority of the people in the world. If one believes that God created the world, and if one believes that God is outside physical space-time, then one believes the Creation Hypothesis.

However, it could be the case that what is believed to be “God” by many could just be some every day, regular scientist running a simulation in the next universe up from this one.

With respect to the Computational Hypothesis, it states that the underlying foundation of the universe is built out of bits; that is, the most fundamental thing, even more fundamental than subatomic particles including the recently discovered Higgs Boson, is zeros and ones. In this case, the foundation of the universe would be much like the foundation of the “Matrix” in the Matrix movie.

And finally and with respect to the Mind-Body Hypothesis, it states that the mind is separate from the body, and the mind interacts with processes outside of space-time, receiving inputs from the outside source and outputting that information into the physical world of space-time, or the Chalmers’ Matrix in this case. Again, this idea is similar to what Neo experiences in the movie. However, it could be the case that the inputs being received derive from the innocuous scientist running the simulation in the next universe up.

Together, these three hypotheses comprise the Metaphysical Hypothesis which implies the Matrix Hypothesis. And again, the Matrix Hypothesis implies the Metaphysical Hypothesis. Thus it follows that the three hypotheses – Creation, Computational, and Mind-Body – comprise the Metaphysical Hypothesis, and the Metaphysical Hypothesis is the Matrix Hypothesis.


Matt Johnson is a writer for The Systems Scientist and the Urban Dynamics blog; and is a mathematical scientist. He has also contributed to the Iowa State Daily and Our Black News.

You can connect with him directly in the comments section, and follow him on Twitter or on Facebook

You can also follow The Systems Scientist on Twitter or Facebook as well. 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons




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