According to a recent article by author and physicist Paul Davies, “We will never explain the cosmos by taking on faith either divinity or physical laws.” As Christians look to God to explain the existence of the universe and “just-right” conditions for life, physicists look to physical laws described by pure mathematics. Davies suggests that God and mathematical laws are considered by their advocates to inhabit a perfect, eternal transcendent realm unaffected by the universe itself.
This is wrongheaded, says Davies. Instead we should “[dismiss] the traditional idea of physical laws as fixed, perfect relationships [and consider] that the laws are more like computer software: programs being run on the great cosmic computer. They emerge with the universe at the big bang and are inherent in it, not stamped on it from without like a maker's mark.”
It has a certain technological charm. Except for the inconvenient truth that no extant computer system or software is self-existent or the product of non-intelligent processes.
Davies coasts past that little detail to say that since its inception, our “cosmic computer” has processed 10122 bits of information. Of course that begs the question of where all that information came from. While computers are well suited to process information, they cannot create it. Information is a complex string of characters carrying a message that derives its meaning not from the machines that process it, but from the conventions, associations and contexts defined by rational, creative thought.
Then, in one of the finest examples of circular reasoning you'll find anywhere, Davies concludes,
…The laws explain the universe even as the universe explains the laws. If there is an ultimate meaning to existence, as I believe is the case, the answer is to be found within nature, not beyond it. The universe might indeed be a fix, but if so, it has fixed itself.
In other words, the universe is self-creating and self-organizing. But to start this self-generating process, there first has to be a “self”—you know, a coherent assemblage of matter and energy functioning under the direction of a mind equipped with a blueprint and assembly instructions for a “self” to follow in creating the inevitable end-product…a self!
Ya beginning to feel the room spin?
(What are your thoughts? Post them here.)