Editors Note: This is part 2 of a three-part series taken from a philosophical paper. Part 1 was published on January 7th, and part 3 will be published on January 21st. This is the second 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 second EID Blog!
Because of David Chalmers and other philosophers, it is possible to make an argument that a mathematical scientist who also happens to be an agnostic can indeed believe in an intelligent designer while accepting that the laws of nature – the Big Bang, and galactic and biological evolution – are processes that have continued since the birth of the universe as is. That is, the notion set forth by Chalmers makes this unusual paradigm possible; and as will be shown, not much changes other than a few subtle changes in metaphysical beliefs. But again, this is not a usual case. The current perceptions of who ought to believe in an Intelligent Designer are much different from the argument that will be presented in this short paper.
The perception of an intelligent designer is that it is religiously motivated. For example, those who attempt to make an argument for science supporting the existence of the Judeo/Christian God range from Young Earth Creationists such as Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis to such scientists as Francis Collins who heads the BioLogos foundation. However, their positions are quite different from each other on the matter and thus illustrate the range in belief systems throughout the intelligent design community.
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For instance, Ken Ham’s premise is that the Earth is about 6,000 years old and the Christian Bible can be used as a guide for the science. In contrast, Francis Collins and others like him accept the natural processes of the universe such as the Big Bang, and galactic and biological evolution. However, Collins would agree that God initiated the process.
Conversely, the prevailing argument by those who do not believe in an Intelligent Designer, or who are not Creationists, is that science does not explain the existence of God. In fact, this group would state science has no opinion on the matter, although some voices do take liberties that could be perceived as stating that science says God does not exist. The most recognizable voices in this public debate are Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, and Lawrence Krauss. Both Bill Nye and Ken Ham’s hypothetical objections to the Agnostic’s intelligent designer argument will be addressed later in this paper.
As Richard Feynman once iterated, science is a process and it is best understood through its processes, not by its definition. There is wisdom in this idea because in the Matrix Hypothesis, it is still a process. Contrary to some beliefs, the scientific process is still applicable in the Matrix Hypothesis. This is because actualization of the Matrix Hypothesis doesn’t change the dynamical and probabilistic forces of the universe. For example, finding out that the universe is made by a creator in the next universe up doesn’t change the fundamental processes of natural selection. This is because natural selection was working before; it is still working now, and will continue to work.
Rather, the lack of actualization of the Matrix Hypothesis was merely an epistemic gap between how one viewed the universe and how one now views the universe. The only thing that changed was a few metaphysical beliefs, and these beliefs had nothing to do with the scientific process itself.
In addition, finding out that the foundation of the universe is composed of bits doesn’t change the fundamental processes of quantum physics. Those processes are still the same. In fact, discovering that bits comprise the foundation of reality would be like finding out the Higgs-Boson is responsible for mass. It would only add to the knowledge and understanding for the scientist and thus civilization. Quantum processes would still be the same and physicists would still try to find the one little tiny equation that links the quantum universe with the gravitational universe.
And finally, finding out that the foundation of the universe is composed of a mind-body connection wouldn’t change other than metaphysical beliefs. Ken Ham would still be directing Answers In Genesis in Kentucky, and he would still have hair, while Bill Nye would still be known as the Science Guy, and he would still have hair as well. But the process of science would not have changed or even have been influenced by these small, subtle changes in metaphysical beliefs.
A Systems Scientist’s Motivation
Much of Systems Science is about being able to recognize and understand different perspectives. In regards to the discipline of Urban Dynamics, it is recognizing cities are built out of different systems levels. There is the general system, which is the city itself; there is the district or ward, which is a politically established system; and there is the neighborhood, which in most instances is the system that is not politically established but rather emerged through the interaction between an economic system, a cultural system, and a political system. These are just a few of the systems that exist in cities. But this idea of distinctions and perspectives leads to the motivation of taking a different perspective from that of a new atheist or a creationist.
With the help and guidance of Chalmers’ what would a third option look like? That is, would it be possible for an agnostic who is a mathematical scientist to believe in an Intelligent Designer? Would it be possible to take a different position than that of Ham or Nye? And if so, what would it look like? And could it be a competitive, yet compelling notion?
A Subtle Disagreement with Chalmers
Before addressing the objections, a few tweaks with Chalmers’ reasoning need to be addressed. He states in his paper when discussing the Creation Hypothesis,
…most of my ordinary beliefs are still true. I still have hands, I am still in Tucson, and so on. Perhaps a few of my beliefs will turn out false: if I am an atheist, for example, or if I believe all reality started with the Big Bang. But most of my everyday beliefs about the external world will remain the same.
However, this short paper has established that the laws of nature, relativity and natural selection for example, are congruent with the Matrix. They are a part of the environment that exists inside the system; and like being in Tucson or having hair, the Big Bang is still true from the point of view of cosmologist. The cosmology being conducted by the cosmologist is still the cosmology. For example, the cosmologist is in Tucson. The Matrix Hypothesis would not change this belief.
The cosmologist also has hair. This is quite the assumption because he could have pulled it out over frustration, but for these purposes it will be assumed he had a good week and still has his hair. The Matrix Hypothesis would not change this belief. And the cosmologist sitting in Tucson, who has hair, is studying the cosmos, specifically the Big Bang. The Matrix Hypothesis would not change this belief. Thus this scenario, and its respective parts, is still true.
Finally, it could be the case that the cosmologist learns about the Matrix Hypothesis and accepts it in totality. But this wouldn’t change his belief in the Big Bang. It would maybe change some of his underlying metaphysical beliefs about the universe, but the Big Bang would still be true because the laws of nature have not changed.
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.
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