Monday, March 04, 2013

Vastness of Universe Means No God and No Video Game

Something curious happened as we humans gained insight and understanding of our world, our universe, and our existence over the past few thousand years. Two or three millennia ago it was perfectly natural and completely understandable for our ancient forebears to believe that the earth was all there was in the universe and that everything we could see in the sky revolved around it. The existence of God as the creator also made perfect sense; we were complex creatures and complex things need to be created. But the ancients did not understand the mechanisms of the universe. They were superstitious and naive. Oh, they could map the stars. They could plant and harvest. They could build enormous structures. They eventually discovered that mathematics could describe the world and their creations. But mostly, they were observers.

A belief in God or in gods was directly related to what they observed. The sun and moon rose and set with precision, so they thought someone out there must be the time keeper. In the Old Testament times, most people thought the earth was flat and circular, like a coin (Isaiah 40:22). That was a logical assumption based on observation. And we humans were the only intelligent creatures known to exist (and still are) so it made perfect sense that a god set us upon the earth and that we were his creatures on his planet. There were no others.

Today, of course, we realize that the earth is not coin-shaped. We know that Earth is not the only planet and that the sun is but an average star among trillions. We know that we are not the center of the universe nor even the center of our own galaxy. We know that not everything revolves around the earth but that the earth revolves around the sun, which in turn revolves around a supergiant black hole in the middle of our galaxy. If for no other reason than the sheer vastness of the universe, we should have long ago concluded that we no longer need a god to explain things. If we were God's pride and joy that he created, why would he need all that extra real estate? It would make perfect sense to assume a god if we actually were the only planet in the universe, with everything circling us. But we're not. A personal god who specially created us for his own amusement (or to love) makes no sense in the context of what we know about the universe. Even if God had created other worlds with other humans on them, he could have created them around a single sun. But we know that their are billions of suns within just our own galaxy and we know most of them do not have earth-like planets, so what is their purpose? If we assume God created them all, he must have had a purpose. If we assume that there is no creator god then they don't have to have a purpose to make sense. They're just natural occurrences.

A recent hypothesis among some cosmologists is that, perhaps, we exist merely as part of a universe-sized computer game. There is even a push to use what we are learning about the granularity of the universe to find evidence for or against this hypothesis. If it were true, the creators of the computer game would be much like gods. They created us and they control our destiny (or at least set things in motion that would result in a certain destiny). But the same logic that tells us there can be no creator god in a universe as big as ours tells us that this video game creator probably isn't real either. There would be no need to waste vast resources creating distant stars and galaxies when it is us they are interest in. It seems very likely that whether one hypothesizes a futuristic video game creator or the God of the bible, the universe is too vast and too complex to allow for the existence of either. No intelligence capable of such a creation would be that wasteful of resources.

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