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It's OK to Believe in Both Creation and Evolution
by D. R. Cruise
This book is now in print. [more info]
The material of this chapter is admittedly, “off the wall”. However, it serves three useful purposes. First, it suggests that the Creator's view of the universe may be dramatically different from ours.
Secondly, it provides a perfect introduction to the concepts of Physical Order and Well-behaved Temporal Flow. These are important in succeeding chapters that are, “less off the wall”.
Last but not least, the author has had great fun with the material presented here. This chapter serves to share that fun with the readers (some of whom may find it hilarious :-).
How would a person prove that creation took place six thousand years ago? How would a person prove that it did not take place then? Unlike the people who take six thousand years very seriously, this book does not attempt to prove either possibility. It strives only to establish that in both cases proof by human science is not possible.
We may elaborate by breaking this statement into two parts: (1) Creation cannot be disproved by scientific means. (2) Creation also cannot be proved by scientific means, provided the purported creation was orderly. Orderly creation is defined and described as we proceed.
Obviously, the fact that none of us were around to witness creation makes our task difficult. However, we do not have to pin the effort down to any particular time. Therefore, the author suggests a more sporting proposition. Let us consider the hypothesis that creation took place six minutes ago.
The author chooses six minutes for dramatic effect. Obviously, if one cannot disprove that creation took place six minutes ago, then one cannot disprove that it took place six thousand years ago, or at any other time.
It will take several steps to pursue this analysis. We will discuss one step at a time and pull them together as the chapter progresses.
The analysis is based, in part, on modifications to a theory developed by the naturalist, Philip Henry Gosse (1810-1888). It appeared in his book, Omphalos, An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot [Omphalos], which was first published in 1857. (Note that Gosse was a contemporary of Darwin.)
Those who are familiar with his work, know that Gosse received strenuous criticism from both sides of the creation versus evolution conflict. (Some evolution fundamentalists break out into guffaws at the mere mention of his name.) However, if both sides attacked him, his ideas cannot be all bad.
In the early development of this book, several readers were quick to point out the defects in Gosse's ideas. The author, on his part, has to admit that Gosse's original work suffers from flaws.
However, those who dispute Gosse's ideas cannot rest on past assertions. Here we will modify his work in ways that strive to avoid historical criticisms.
To do so, we must deal with two major flaws: (1) Gosse's theory is flawed in its derivation; (2) it is flawed in its application.
We defer the derivation flaw (1) to Section 3.1.9 because we lack the foundation to discuss it here. The application flaw (2) occurred because Gosse apparently hoped that believers in creation would adopt his theory.
But here, we will not promote Gosse's theory as an article of faith. Instead, we will employ it as a hypothesis in a scientific thought experiment.
Gosse's intended purpose was to justify the belief that creation happened six thousand years ago. We choose an infinitely less difficult task than proving that creation happened at that time. We simply wish to show that creation cannot be disproved. The ideas of Gosse validly serve our more limited purpose, whereas they did not serve Gosse's original purpose.
We may summarize the discussion so far. The summary consists of the following disclaimers:
The Disclaimers: (1) We ask no one to embrace the theory presented below as factual. We use the theory only as a tool in scientific thought experiments.
(2) We do not assert that the experiments prove creation. We intend them only to argue that creation cannot be disproved.
(3) The historical time that we choose for the experiments does not matter. The time of the Big Bang, six thousand years ago, and six minutes ago are all of equal interest (or disinterest).
We will test our six-minute hypothesis with a gedanken, or thought, experiment. There are two reasons to call it an experiment: (1) It really is an experiment, and (2) the word, experiment, reinforces the fact that we are not promoting an article of faith.
It is a thought experiment because our minds are the only apparatus required for the experiment. (In fact, it is the only way to perform the experiment, at all.)
We begin the experiment by assigning the following tasks. The author's first task is to present the hypothesis in detail; the reader's task is to disprove it. The author's second task is to defend the hypothesis against the reader's arguments.
(Please note again that the author cannot, and will not, defend it as true; he will defend it against the notion that it can be disproved. The distinction is crucial.)
At this time, the author invites the reader to look at his watch, subtract six minutes, and write down the time and date. Upon doing this, he may prepare to disprove the hypothesis. But first, he is requested to read subsections, 3.1.1 and 3.1.2.
Stars, planets, atoms, subatomic particles (and everything between) obey physical laws. We do not always have sufficient data to apply the laws. Nevertheless, when we do, and to the extent that we do, we find the laws to be very informative. For instance, eclipses of the sun and moon can be predicted centuries in advance.
On the other hand, there are many situations about which we have neither sufficient data nor the means to analyze the data. For instance, we cannot predict exactly the future course and intensity of a hurricane.
Hurricanes, like everything else in nature, obey physical laws. And the more we learn, the better our predictions become. But our predictions will never be exact.
Nevertheless, future events must always be consistent with the events from which they spring. For example, let us say that a person is drinking coffee at the breakfast table and the phone rings. Upon spending several minutes on the phone, he returns to the table, and he promptly burns his tongue on the coffee.
The laws of physics tell us that hot coffee does not become even hotter while standing at room temperature. Two explanations are possible. Either (1) the laws of physics were violated, or (2) there is some reasonable explanation that was not provided in the previous paragraph. Perhaps the man's wife stuck it in the microwave for him while he was away.
Further analysis of such events requires some definitions. The physical domain consists of all the matter and energy of the universe, together with the space and time that contain them. (Matter and energy require space in which to exist and time in which to change.)
The physical domain possesses Physical Order and consequently it exhibits Well-behaved Temporal Flow. These are two closely related terms. The first is the reality and the second is the resulting perception. Further explanation follows.
Physical Order is the situation where no violations of the laws of physics occur at any time or any place.
In Well-behaved Temporal Flow we see the past flow into the present, and the present flow into the future, in sometimes predictable, but always plausible, ways. Specifically, we do not observe anything happen that (to the best of our knowledge) is contrary to the laws of physics.
Obviously, Physical Order is a stronger concept than Well-behaved Temporal Flow. Physical Order means that no laws of physics are broken whether we are keeping track of them or not (or even able to).
Physical Order does not mean that, if we could track all the laws of physics, we could predict the future exactly. This is impossible because the same laws tell us that some information (at submicroscopic levels) is not only unknown, but it is unknowable.
However, in spite of our limitations, we observe Well-behaved Temporal Flow everywhere we look (fast and slow, near and far). We expect a great amount of nearby damage when we detonate a stick of dynamite, an event that takes place in millionths of a second. We observe that wind and rain have eroded mountains over millions of years and we expect the erosion to continue.
We observe that Neptune and Pluto possess orbital motions that are in harmony with physical laws and with each other. So we expect that the two planets will never collide, although Pluto sometimes passes closer to the sun than Neptune.
Returning to the cup-of-coffee scenario, we have Well-behaved Temporal Flow if the man finds that the coffee is cooler when he returns. We lose that flow if he finds it hotter for no good reason. But we regain it when we add a wife, a microwave oven, and good intentions to the scenario.
Evolution scientists point to evidence of Well-behaved Temporal Flow from ancestral species to modern species. They endeavor to fit the transitions into a complete genealogical tree.
There are still some gaps and loose ends in the tree. However, they are confident in resolving them because they believe in Physical Order and its consequential Well-behaved Temporal Flow.
We may now state the principle that much of this chapter is based upon:
The Fundamental Principle: Because the material of the universe exhibits Well-behaved Temporal Flow, that material would have an apparent history even if it had been freshly created!
Let us illustrate the principle with a simple example. If we throw a stone from a certain location in a certain direction with a certain speed, we can predict where it will land. Conversely, if we know the place where it landed, and its impact speed and direction, then we can calculate back to the place from which it was thrown.
However, the stone would have an apparent position from which it was thrown, even if it were created at some position during its flight!
We need a term to describe the apparent history that results from such a creation. A mathematician might suggest analytic continuation. Gosse called it a prochronic event (meaning an event that occurred before time began). However, in this book we will call it by a less technical term, the virtual past.
Next let us consider the situation where the stone lands near the reader's feet. Let us say that he sees the direction from where the stone came and looks over that way. But lo, there is no one there that could have thrown the stone.
Furthermore, there is no other cause that could have given flight to the stone. In this circumstance the creation violates Well-behaved Temporal Flow. So, let us call the creation, disorderly. To be orderly, the creation must include a reason for the stone to be flying through the air.
We may consider another example. The reader is skiing down a hill and has stopped five minutes to rest. Then, he happens to look back at his tracks. If they only go back to his position at the time of creation, there is a lack of order. To be orderly, his prior tracks would have to be created along with everything else.
Let us analyze this example according to three scenarios: (1) The reader observes his tracks back as far as he can see. Here, he has no reason to suspect that anything happened at the time of creation.
(2) The reader looks back and sees no tracks before the creation. Here, the reader may be puzzled, but the possibility of creation might not occur to him.
(3) The reader looks back and sees that his tracks straddle a tree (perhaps in this situation, with its blatant disorder, the Creator is trying to get the reader's attention. :-)
Two ideas emerge from the examples. (1) By the very definition of orderly there can be no evidence that the creation takes place. (2) On the other hand, we also cannot disprove creation unless we can first prove that a creator is not capable of achieving and maintaining order. In other words, the presence of order in the universe neither proves nor disproves creation.
This section concludes by stating an experimental rule that is based on the current discussion.
The Strict Experimental Rule: We may perform no experiment that purports to result in observable disorder!
(By observable we mean detectable by the five senses, or by using any (non fictional) scientific instruments that we wish to specify.) We must follow this rule scrupulously. Without this rule we have no logical basis for our experiment.
As we continue the author will remind the reader (and himself :-) of the Strict Experimental Rule and the previously emphasized Disclaimers and Fundamental Principle. We must abide by these conditions so that we avoid the flaws of Gosse's original theory.
We now return to the hypothesis that creation took place six minutes ago. The author takes the liberty of presenting some arguments that a reader possibly would make.
The reader may say, "I can remember events that occurred before that time. I can remember my whole life: My first day in Kindergarten, my little league team, my graduation from high school, my wedding and the births of my children. I remember barbecuing the steaks last night. Therefore, creation could not have taken place a few minutes ago!"
To respond, let us consider the nature of memory. First, we note that one's memory of the past is a manifestation of the present. One does not remember then what happened then, but one remembers now what happened then.
In still other words, the reader's remembrances are thought processes that are happening presently, not in the past when the remembered events allegedly occurred.
Secondly, memory is a function of the brain. There are theories about preferred neural pathways; but it suffices to say that the physical structure of the brain contains our memories. The underlying details are not important to the present discussion.
Create the reader's brain with exactly the same structure that it possessed six minutes ago, and she will remember her past life, although she did not really live it. What she remembers is a virtual past.
She would be absolutely certain that she was around before the time of creation; she would be sublimely confident that her memories are real; and she would not even think of the possibility that creation occurred in a recent moment of her life. (She would not read about that possibility until six minutes later in this book.)
In a recent movie, a device instilled the memory of a vacation in a person's mind. The memories were somehow more beneficial, or at least cheaper, than experiencing the vacation itself. The movie, of course, is science fiction, but it is not fiction that memory exists in the physical reality we call the brain.
"OK!", another reader may say. "I happen to know that it takes a little more than eight minutes for light to get here from the sun, and the sun was shining six minutes ago. Therefore, creation could not have occurred six minutes ago."
This time we have to consider the nature of the sun. The sun is a star in an intermediate stage of its existence. Let us say for the sake of argument that it is five billion years old. If there is a being, powerful enough to create a newborn star, then He might well be powerful enough to create a middle-aged star.
However, there are details that He must tend to if He wishes to create a middle-aged star in an orderly fashion. (Remember the strict experimental rule stated at the end of Section 3.1.2.)
He would also have to create a light train that extends five billion light years from the star in all directions. The light train is part of the essential existence of the star, and creation must account for every photon emitted from the star during its virtual past.
This means that the sunlight that the reader saw at the moment of creation, was created in front of her eyes at that same moment. About 11 million miles closer to the sun, light was created that she would see one minute later. About 22 million miles closer to the sun, light was created that would arrive two minutes later. As the result of a continuum of such events, the reader observes a "seamless" arrival of light.
The reader is correct in one sense. A little more than eight minutes will pass before she truly sees the sun; until then she is observing the virtual past.
Let us consider yet another argument. The reader may say, "I can drive to the next town and visit the graves of my grandparents. I can do more than remember them. They are really there. If necessary to prove it, I can dig them up. Therefore, creation did not take place six minutes ago."
Again this brings us back to orderly creation. If a creator can create the memories in our brain, He can also create other relics of the virtual past and these would include the bones of our ancestors. Not to do so would be disorderly (and such a consideration violates our strict experimental rule).
This would not end with our grandparents. To preserve Well-behaved Temporal Flow, the ground must contain the bones of all our ancestors, human and otherwise. Of course, most would be hard to find, having disintegrated or having been consumed by other organisms. However, such processes (virtual or not) cannot destroy them all and some eventually must be found.
At this point we may make two observations. (1) Without the evidence of evolution, a recent creation would be disorderly. (2) On the other hand (momentarily abandoning the six minute hypothesis), if the Creator waited until the end of six days to put the universe in order, then creation could have taken place exactly as the fundamentalists insist that it did, in six 24 hour periods! Both observations cry out for further comment.
Consider the first observation. Evolution scientists seek order. In fact, order is their principal motivation. As already mentioned they see Well-behaved Temporal Flow in the theory of evolution. Just as importantly, they choose to base their science in the physical domain.
Every science can and must identify the domain in which it resides. Physical sciences reside in the physical domain, metaphysical sciences (purportedly) reside in metaphysical domains, and mathematical sciences reside in abstract domains.
Whatever else it is, Darwin's theory of evolution is a legitimate working hypothesis. This does not necessarily mean that evolution is true. What it does mean is that the theory seeks out and explains biological order and diversity better than any other tool yet discovered in the physical domain.
On the other hand, evolution theorists should not be concerned with the possibility that they are observing a virtual past, or even that there was creation. Those ideas are out of their domain.
However, they cannot legitimately step out of their domain and deny the possibility of creation, especially if their only proof is order. Order, at best, can only disprove a disorderly creation.
The ideas of the previous four paragraphs were also expressed two decades ago by another author who is quoted and referenced below. That author and this author agree completely that a possible virtuality of the fossil record does not invalidate the science of those who work strictly within the physical domain. (However, please note that neither author would really attribute the fossil record to the devil!)
"For example it is for theologians to decide whether or not the Devil created the fossil record as a perfect fake 5986 years ago: The answer to this classic question in no way affects the purely scientific problem of understanding what it was that is represented by the -genuine or fake- fossil record.) Scientific theories should not be judged as true or false, but rather should be evaluated as relatively good or bad - on the basis of criteria such as degree of accuracy, range of applicability, etc." Brandon Carter, F.R.S
Let us next consider the second observation stated at the start of this section. Is it possible that God created the universe in six 24-hour days and then established order at the close of the sixth day? Included in that established order would be evidence of evolution.
The author has enormous problems with this notion. First, it would mean that God made history to fit the words, instead of the words to fit the history. (Some people would go further and say it makes God a liar. More on that response later.)
Furthermore, the idea that God created sloppily until the end of the sixth day, and then finally got His act together, demeans and degrades Him. But most importantly, promoting such a possibility violates our strict experimental rule.
Included among the readers may be some physicists who wish to make another argument against creation having occurred six minutes ago. Their argument goes as follows: "Special Relativity and the Uncertainty Principle would deny God much of the information He needs to accomplish orderly creation."
Again an analysis must begin by examining those things that supposedly disprove orderly creation. We do not have to go far into the science of physics to obtain what is pertinent. The Principles of Relativity and Uncertainty restrict the flow and availability of information.
Special Relativity says that information cannot travel faster than the speed of light. Therefore, if a star that is eighty light years away, explodes into a supernova today, we will not observe it or know about it for eighty years.
The Uncertainty Principle states that in very small domains, some information is always unavailable to an experimenter. This is because his attempts to obtain that information disturb certain companion information that he also requires.
The lack-of-information argument is a containment argument. It implies that God is contained in, and by, the space-time continuum and He has to obey its laws.
However, it is also possible that He is not contained in this fashion. No one can establish and prove containment or non containment. Therefore, let us consider the two possibilities separately.
If the containment argument is true, it admittedly cripples our experiment. There could then be no creation six minutes ago or six thousand years ago.
In fact, there could be no creation very much later than the time of the Big Bang. If performed at later times a creator would lack the information required for orderly creation and there would be all kinds of perceptible disorder in the universe.
(This argument is not as devastating to believers in creation as it sounds. The time of the Big Bang is when and where many, who believe in both creation and evolution, believe that creation happened anyway.)
But let us pursue the argument further. The Uncertainty Principle is part of the Quantum Theory. On top of the Quantum Theory is the so-called Copenhagen interpretation. This states that uncertainties, at the quantum level, do not merely exist in the mind of the experimenter, but they are inherent in nature itself.
Most physicists accept the Copenhagen interpretation but some take a step out of their domain and put forth a questionable conjecture: "Even God does not know the outcome of a quantum event before it occurs".
We may call this conjecture, the ultimate containment argument. Some may be uttering a dramatic, but unprovable, statement to emphasize a scientific point (which it certainly does).
Others may unshakably believe that the conjecture is true. In either case, most believers have to find the conjecture worrisome. It contradicts the notion of an all-knowing God.
The author's position is that the above conjecture is not true. It is also possible that God is not contained in space-time and exists apart from it. If that is true, then He has already seen how the future of the universe plays out. Even the Copenhagen people have to admit there is no uncertainty in quantum events that have already occurred.
The author personally does not accept any arguments for containment. Relativity and Uncertainty are physical laws that physical objects must obey. If God exists, He certainly is not a physical object. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that He is limited by physical laws.
Another reason that the author does not accept containment is that it is a half and half theory. It implies that one part of the physical domain was created (matter-energy). The other part (space-time) just happened to already be there and it restricts both the Creator and the matter and energy that He placed in it.
The author believes it is more reasonable to believe that either matter-energy-space-time were created simultaneously or not created at all. (Furthermore, modern theory questions whether time and space can even exist without matter and energy.) A few additional remarks on containment appear in Section 5.3.
We may now state a conclusion for this subsection. If God is contained within the physical domain, then the lack-of-information argument is admittedly damaging to the experiment (but not to the possibility of creation). If He is not contained, then such an argument is not relevant.
The author has received further comments. Some of them were from participants in the internet news group, talk.origins.
One person pointed out that the experiment is easy to scorn and ridicule, which is true. But, of course, ridicule does not prove or disprove anything.
(Non believers are uncomfortable with the ideas of Gosse. It is not that they fear them to be true, but they fear that believers will adopt them as true. This would sidestep the basis of their phony conflict. To avert this, some resort to the illogic of ridicule.)
Another argument against the experiment goes as follows: Occasionally during our history people have seen a star suddenly increase its intensity for a while and then disappear. Science tells us that we have witnessed the cataclysmic destruction of the star.
Let us say it takes eighty years for the light, and therefore the information, to reach us. Then, an interesting conclusion is possible: If creation took place within the last eighty years, then that star never really existed.
This argument does not invalidate our experiment. One might argue that God is frivolous, but even that does not follow.
The disintegration of stars in the past explains why the Earth possesses large quantities of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and other elements necessary for life. Therefore, observing the death of stars, is a necessary substantiation of Well-behaved Temporal Flow.
Another reader pointed out the "God is a liar" argument mentioned earlier. This argument confused the author at first. Why would people who do not believe in Him (at all) concern themselves about whether God is a liar?
However, it turns out that this argument first came from the creation fundamentalists (a more plausible scenario). The other side subsequently adopted it because both sides wished to squelch Gosse's ideas.
The argument goes as follows: If creation took place six minutes ago (to use the present experiment), then Christ never really lived and died on a cross. Also, God never really spoke to Moses. And He never really spoke to Muhammad or Joseph Smith. Furthermore, some or all of evolution never really took place. Ergo, God is a liar.
The argument is not valid for several reasons. Let us start by repeating an original disclaimer. (1) The theory is not presented as an article of faith; it is merely part of a thought experiment.
(2) The time chosen to run the experiment is arbitrary (six minutes was chosen only for dramatic effect). If one is queasy about an AD date, then choose a BC date. If one is uneasy about choosing a time after Moses, then choose an earlier time. If a time after Muhammad is undesirable, then specify an earlier time.
If one is uncomfortable about choosing a time after the start of biological evolution, then pick a prior time. Everyone can surely choose a time that does not matter. The experiment does not intend to challenge anyone's religious or evolutionary beliefs.
(3) Here is a counter argument for the creation fundamentalists: God does not tell us everything (scriptures obviously do not contain the sum of all knowledge). Would His not telling us everything make Him a liar?
It depends. If He judges us by what He tells us, He is no liar. If He judges us by what He does not tell us, then indeed He would be a liar.
(4) Here is one for the evolution fundamentalists. OK, let us stipulate that God is a liar. How does that invalidate the experiment?
(5) The author once wore a backless shirt underneath a tux jacket. Does that make him a liar?
(6) Last and far from least, is the response from Gosse, who was aware of the "God is a liar" argument. His view was that God's intention was not to deceive, but to create and preserve Physical Order.
A case in point, if God created Adam as a young adult, he would still observe artifacts of his ancestry. One artifact in particular would be his own naval (or omphalos, the title of his book). This author agrees with Gosse that (assuming such a creation really occurred) order would have been His motivation, not deceit.
Yet another comment disputes the scientific basis of the experiment It asserts that the experiment is not meaningful if it is not observable. Also, it is not meaningful if it is not predictive. The author will attempt to refute this argument. First, let us spend eight paragraphs examining what happens if the criticism is true.
Let us suppose that the experiment is meaningless and non predictive. The reason given for these deficiencies is that the hypothesis can neither be proved nor disproved. Interestingly, this does not work out well for anyone who believes evolution disproves creation. It admits that there is at least one possible mechanism of creation that evolution does not disprove.
The rules of disproof, unfortunately for non believers, differ from the rules of proof. The creation fundamentalists need prove only one mechanism of creation; their opponents must disprove all possible mechanisms. They cannot pick and choose.
Some people claim to disprove creation as it is described by an overly literal interpretation of Genesis. (Here the author concedes that their argument is strong, provided they also become overly literal).
But, they cannot disprove the mechanism of our experiment, or the description of creation in Chapter Two. Nor can they disprove the later experiments in this chapter and perhaps hundreds of other possible mechanisms.
However, the rules are not as unequal as they first seem. A burden on creation fundamentalists is that they have to prove the correct mechanism or else there is a flaw in their logic.
Neither group has done well under these rules; they are both batting zero. One side has never proved creation and the other side has never disproved creation.
Aside from the previous paragraphs, their calling the experiment, meaningless and without scientific basis, is a serious matter. If the accusation were true, we could argue in favor of all kinds of nonsense. For instance, we could declare that the devil has a red, pointed tail.
Here, we would be completely in a domain that we cannot observe. We know nothing about his anatomy or whether he even has an anatomy. We do not even know if redness and pointedness have meaning in his domain. The best we could hope to accomplish is that the art world would depict the devil in that fashion.
However, the author insists that the lack of scientific basis argument does not apply to our experiment. What we have is an interface hypothesis. The interface is where the physical and the metaphysical domains meet. (The name of the interface is creation.)
We cannot approach the interface from the other side any more than we could in the devil hypothesis. But, surely we can approach it from our side. In fact, we have spent a large part of this chapter doing exactly that. Our side is observable.
Additionally, our experiment does have a logical basis. We have a strict rule that we can consider no possibility that would result in observable disorder.
Under this rule, we can predict the conditions under which recent creation would be observable. It could be observed by a breakdown in Well-behaved Temporal Flow (it also shows this would happen only if God were limited or if He deliberately chose to disturb order).
Furthermore, at least four conclusions are possible. The first two emerge because the experiment forced us to address the issue of containment in Section 3.1.6.
(1) If God is contained, it is not possible that He created the universe any time much later than the Big Bang.
(2) However, if God is not contained, We cannot disprove that He created the universe at any time, even as recently as six minutes ago. Nor can we disprove that He accomplished this while establishing and maintaining Physical Order.
(3) Creation science is a hoax. Its proponents are looking for evidence of creation. But the experiment has shown that the only valid evidence they might find is disorder. However, looking for disorder is not scientific, and they certainly have not found any.
(4) The most important conclusion of all may now be stated: It is possible that none of us, believers and non believers alike, know a damned thing about the possible true nature of creation (a scenario already accepted by agnostics :-)!
Certainly no one knows enough to say that evolution disproves creation. And certainly no one knows enough to say that creation disproves evolution.
The present discussion cannot conclude without our admitting that we lose our logical basis at and beyond the creation interface. Because of this, we cannot prove that the interface exists; we cannot prove the existence of a creator; we cannot prove whether a creator is benevolent, malevolent, or apathetic.
We cannot prove whether He is contained or not contained. We cannot prove the existence of such entities as angels and (the already mentioned) devil. These all have to rest on faith.
Therefore, the experiment cannot support certain notions that are sometimes put forth. For instance, it does not support the notion, already mentioned, that the devil "planted" the fossil record to confuse true believers.
On the other hand, it also does not support the occasional satire that some people (presumably) invent to ridicule the ideas of Gosse. For an example, there is the Church of Last Thursday. Its members purport that a pet cat, named Queen Moeve, created the world last Thursday. (Whatever else it is, the story is clever satire.)
Section 3.1 and its subsections should not end without further comparing our experiment to the ideas of Gosse. Already emphasized is that, unlike Gosse, this chapter does not promote an article of faith.
Another important difference is in the development of the theory. Gosse based his development on the life cycles of plants and animals. Gosse believed that these cycles have not changed since creation and that they repeat exactly and indefinitely. Therefore, creation had to start in the middle of life cycles because there is no beginning.
(Gosse's development, which fills the entire book, has thus been reduced to two sentences. This is admittedly unfair; readers are encouraged to read the book for themselves.)
There are two problems with Gosse's development. One is that it does not apply to non biological processes. The other is that evolution disputes the notion that life cycles repeat exactly. This in turn disputes the notion that life cycles had no beginning. These make up the derivation flaw mentioned in Section 3.0 and deferred to this section.
The development presented in this chapter has neither of those problems. The fundamental principle is based on the fact that the universe exhibits Well-behaved Temporal Flow. It does not have to isolate biological processes from non biological processes. It makes no a priori assumptions about evolution.
Where does this leave Gosse's book? Throughout the years both evolution fundamentalists and creation fundamentalists have trashed it with their hostile arguments. However, this author replies to the Omphalos skeptics (:-) that Gosse's ideas provide valuable insights when we treat them properly.
(We should note that several creation scientists have recently tried to put Gosse's ideas into a favorable light. Sadly, they do not address the flaws and, ultimately, do his ideas more harm than good.)
As it continues, this chapter attempts to show that creation is possibly more complex than what we have described in the previous section. Until now we have assumed that all creation happened at a fixed time. It could just as easily be an ongoing process.
New experiments can illustrate this. They require that we provide a new definition: Annihilation: The act of reducing something to nothing.
This definition is quite different from common usage. When history reports that Hannibal annihilated the Roman army at Cannae, it does not mean that they disappeared completely; the bodies were still lying around.
By our definition, we mean the opposite of creation; we mean physical entities passing from existence into nonexistence. (If there is a Being that can create, then it is not a stretch to believe that He can annihilate.)
We may recall that both science and scriptures say that the world, as we know it, will end. Science says that our sun will someday become a red giant and reduce the Earth to a cinder. If the human race somehow escapes that, then there is still the possibility of the Big Crunch, which is the reverse of the Big Bang.
Several places in scriptures refer to the end of the world (e. g., Isaiah 62:11 and Matt 28:20). However, the author does not introduce annihilation to talk about the end of the world. Instead, he uses it to show that creation does not necessarily have to occur at a fixed time.
Let us propose that the universe consists entirely of a sphere that has a radius of ten feet. Furthermore, let it have a geometric center that coincides with the geometric center of the reader's body. Thus the reader resides in the sphere and is the only permanent object in the universe.
Let us consider what happens at the surface of the sphere. The light, the reader sees, is created at the surface of the sphere. This happens at the part of the surface that lies in the direction of the virtual sun. The light, whether or not it reflects from an object in the sphere, suffers annihilation when it leaves the sphere.
The walls of the reader's house are created as he approaches them and are annihilated as he steps away. Looking through the window he sees his car in the driveway exactly where he left it. The created light casts the image on his retinas. Of course, the car, or parts of it, becomes real as he approaches it to go to work.
The force of gravity can be simulated by accelerating the sphere in, what the reader perceives to be, the upward direction. To serve the same purpose, it is conceivable that God distorts space-time within the sphere. Properly done this would make objects behave as they do in proximity to a large gravitational body (Earth).
We deliberately do not concern ourselves about when the spherical universe began or when it will end. We wish only to show that creation and annihilation (at least in theory) might have spatial boundaries as well as temporal boundaries.
The reader may wonder about how other people fit into this picture. Obviously, if the sphere has been around long enough, it contained the reader's mother for about nine months. What about the reader's spouse, friends, relatives and even the strangers that come within ten feet during his lifetime?
To approach that question, let us first consider our self-awareness. The reader knows that he is self-aware. Undoubtedly he believes that other people are self-aware and perhaps believes that the faithful dog at his feet is self-aware. However, there is one undeniable fact; no one can vouch for anyone's self-awareness, other than his own.
Therefore, it is possible that the other six billion people in the world (including the author) are virtual. They are created if and when they come within the sphere. The brain structure provided during their creation governs their behavior inside the sphere but they need not possess self-awareness.
So the reader sees nothing special about his situation. Nothing he observes inside or outside the sphere violates Well-behaved Temporal Flow. All the laws of physics are valid.
Everywhere he looks, he observes Well-behaved Temporal Flow. Every event he sees within the sphere, and every event he “sees” outside the sphere, proceeds as it possibly would, had the sphere been part of the much larger universe that we all know and love.
In this experiment, the reader is alone in the universe with his Creator! Indeed, he is in his personal examination chamber! If God gives a person existence to test his faith and perseverance, then an abbreviated universe is sufficient. (Just as a backless shirt is sufficient at a wedding, if one does not remove his jacket :-).
This experiment is more Gossean than Gosse's original ideas. Gosse speculated that God created a single abbreviated universe for the entire human race. Here we suggest the possibility that He creates many far-more-abbreviated universes. In these, He deals with each person on an individual basis. (In a different, but similar vein, readers may enjoy, "How to Live in a Simulation," by Robin Hanson.)
Again, the author does not propose that anyone accept such an idea as an article of faith. However, as a thought experiment, it inspires questions. (1) Does God have to create any more than what serves His purposes? (2) What is reality? (3) Does reality matter, if God judges us on what we perceive as reality?
Non believers are certain to say these questions are moot. Believers are not going to sign on to the experiment either; nor should they. However, the mere possibility of the processes described in this section leads us to the same conclusion stated in our original experiment. If there is a God out there that created the universe, none of us can possibly know how things look from His perspective.
We can go on to other experiments. Consider again a universe that is spherical, but this time is large enough to encompass the Earth and extend beyond the atmosphere. It is the reader's choice whether the sphere is big enough to include the moon.
If it does not include the moon, the astronauts did not really land on the moon; but they surely thought they did after their re-creation on the journey home. The reader is invited to fill in more details.
From here we may experiment with larger models. The limiting sphere might include: (1) the entire solar system, (2) The entire Milky Way galaxy, and (3) the observable universe.
To complicate matters, each spherical model could be expanding or contracting at the speed of light or at any lesser speeds. Nor does the model really have to be spherical.
It is interesting to examine case (3) more closely. If we postulate a universe whose visible boundary is expanding at high speeds, we pretty much are describing the present state of the Big Bang.
Thus, we start with a ten-foot model of the universe that no one should believe. Then, by expanding the scale of our experiment to the observable limit, we reach a more believable situation that is compatible with the theory of the Big Bang. (While the author finds this interesting, he does not purport that it proves anything.)
Perhaps to our surprise, our modified Gossean experiments have turned out to be speculations about abbreviation. If Well-behaved Temporal Flow is maintained, the universe is possibly no different with some virtual parts than it is with all real parts. (If a person rents a movie and only chooses to view part of it, that does not change the rest of the movie.)
For what reason would God abbreviate the universe? (In other words, if God has all that creative power, why would He not watch the whole movie?) The author has no answer for the question, but the lack of an answer should not prevent us from running the experiments for the insights they provide.
The reader may wonder why the author has spent so much time discussing the notions of Gosse when he does not even believe in them. Well, the insights are important and the experiments are fun. Let us summarize as follows:
Gosse and Well-behaved Temporal Flow: Consider what happens when we impose Well-behaved Temporal Flow on a Gossean theory via the strict experimental rule stated in Section 3.1.2. A theory that we could formerly use to proclaim almost any kind of nonsense is reduced to a mere abbreviation of the universe. Here nothing happens that could not have happened in the absence of the abbreviation.
This statement is not provided to further support Gossean theories (which we now forsake for the rest of the book). Instead, it illustrates the importance of Well-behaved Temporal Flow and Physical Order. We will take these concepts (and the issue of God's containment as well) into the next chapters.
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