Sunday, November 25, 2018

Implies what?

The above image came across through a friend's news feed on Facebook. I like the original message but it was the reply from one of his friends that caught my eye (misspellings notwithstanding).

There is so much in that reply that needs correction that it reminds me of what one of my professors said when one of my classmates answered a question incorrectly.

"No. That's not right. It's not even right enough to be wrong."

The first problem with this is that of infinite regression. If we assume something that exists had to have a creator, it implies that this creator, in turn, had a creator. And that creator had a creator ad infinitum.

If there is ultimately a creator that needed no further creator of its own, can't we just cut out all these creators and just decide that the universe came into being on its own with some outside agent acting deliberately?

And every creator has to be more complex than its creation. Is there a complexity limit? 

Next, the only thing the existence of the universe implies is that it exists. Nothing more. We cannot imply anything beyond that.

Moving on, just because we don't know the origin of the universe doesn't mean that the idea of a creator is justified. That creator simply becomes a convenient placeholder for human ignorance.

Not that long ago, people didn't know where lightning came from so there was a god that created lightning (Zeus in Greece, Thor in Norse mythology, etc.). But since the work of early electrical pioneers such as Benjamin Franklin, we have a perfectly understandable and rational explanation of the origin of lightning.

So the creator becomes smaller and smaller with every new discovery we make.

These discoveries also reveal as much about human beings as they do about the universe: what we don't know today, we might know tomorrow. Unexplained doesn't mean inexplicable. It simply means we don't know yet.

The moment you introduce a creator into the mix, the need to understand more deeply vanishes. The human drive for knowledge ceases. We stagnate and find ourselves once again plunged into the Dark Ages.

So let's keep exploring. Let's be willing to accept "I don't know" as a perfectly acceptable answer as long as we follow it with "Let's find out!"


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