Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem:

The #1 Mathematical Discovery of the 20th Century

In 1931, Kurt Gödel delivered a devastating blow to the mathematicians of his time

In 1931, the young mathematician Kurt Gödel made a landmark discovery, as powerful as anything Albert Einstein developed.

Gödel’s discovery not only applied to mathematics but literally all branches of science, logic and human knowledge. It has truly earth-shattering implications.

Oddly, few people know anything about it.

Allow me to tell you the story.

Mathematicians love proofs. They were hot and bothered for centuries, because they were unable to PROVE some of the things they knew were true.

So for example if you studied high school Geometry, you’ve done the exercises where you prove all kinds of things about triangles based on a list of theorems.

That high school geometry book is built on Euclid’s five postulates. Everyone knows the postulates are true, but in 2500 years nobody’s figured out a way to prove them.

Yes, it does seem perfectly reasonable that a line can be extended infinitely in both directions, but no one has been able to PROVE that. We can only demonstrate that they are a reasonable, and in fact necessary, set of 5 assumptions.

Towering mathematical geniuses were frustrated for 2000+ years because they couldn’t prove all their theorems. There were many things that were “obviously” true but nobody could figure out a way to prove them.

In the early 1900′s, however, a tremendous sense of optimism began to grow in mathematical circles. The most brilliant mathematicians in the world (like Bertrand Russell, David Hilbert and Ludwig Wittgenstein) were convinced that they were rapidly closing in on a final synthesis.

A unifying “Theory of Everything” that would finally nail down all the loose ends. Mathematics would be complete, bulletproof, airtight, triumphant.

In 1931 this young Austrian mathematician, Kurt Gödel, published a paper that once and for all PROVED that a single Theory Of Everything is actually impossible.

Gödel’s discovery was called “The Incompleteness Theorem.”

If you’ll give me just a few minutes, I’ll explain what it says, how Gödel discovered it, and what it means – in plain, simple English that anyone can understand.

Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem says:

“Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle – something you have to assume but cannot prove.”

 Stated in Formal Language:   Gödel’s theorem says: “Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. In particular, for any consistent, effectively generated formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the theory.” The Church-Turing thesis says that a physical system can express elementary arithmetic just as a human can, and that the arithmetic of a Turing Machine (computer) is not provable within the system and is likewise subject to incompleteness. Any physical system subjected to measurement is capable of expressing elementary arithmetic. (In other words, children can do math by counting their fingers, water flowing into a bucket does integration, and physical systems always give the right answer.) Therefore the universe is capable of expressing elementary arithmetic and like both mathematics itself and a Turing machine, is incomplete. Syllogism: 1. All non-trivial computational systems are incomplete 2. The universe is a non-trivial computational system 3. Therefore the universe is incomplete

You can draw a circle around all of the concepts in your high school geometry book. But they’re all built on Euclid’s 5 postulates which are clearly true but cannot be proven. Those 5 postulates are outside the book, outside the circle.

You can draw a circle around a bicycle but the existence of that bicycle relies on a factory that is outside that circle. The bicycle cannot explain itself.

Gödel proved that there are ALWAYS more things that are true than you can prove. Any system of logic or numbers that mathematicians ever came up with will always rest on at least a few unprovable assumptions.

Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem applies not just to math, but to everything that is subject to the laws of logic. Incompleteness is true in math; it’s equally true in science or language or philosophy.

And: If the universe is mathematical and logical, Incompleteness also applies to the universe.

Gödel created his proof by starting with “The Liar’s Paradox” — which is the statement

“I am lying.”

“I am lying” is self-contradictory, since if it’s true, I’m not a liar, and it’s false; and if it’s false, I am a liar, so it’s true.

So Gödel, in one of the most ingenious moves in the history of math, converted the Liar’s Paradox into a mathematical formula. He proved that any statement requires an external observer.

No statement alone can completely prove itself true.

His Incompleteness Theorem was a devastating blow to the “positivism” of the time. Gödel proved his theorem in black and white and nobody could argue with his logic.

Yet some of his fellow mathematicians went to their graves in denial, believing that somehow or another Gödel must surely be wrong.

He wasn’t wrong. It was really true. There are more things than are true than you can prove.

A “theory of everything” – whether in math, or physics, or philosophy – will never be found. Because it is impossible.

OK, so what does this really mean? Why is this super-important, and not just an interesting geek factoid?

Here’s what it means:

• Faith and Reason are not enemies. In fact, the exact opposite is true! One is absolutely necessary for the other to exist. All reasoning ultimately traces back to faith in something that you cannot prove.
• All closed systems depend on something outside the system.
• You can always draw a bigger circle but there will still be something outside the circle.
• Reasoning inward from a larger circle to a smaller circle is “deductive reasoning.”

Example of a deductive reasoning:
1. All men are mortal
2. Socrates is a man
3. Therefore Socrates is mortal

• Reasoning outward from a smaller circle to a larger circle is “inductive reasoning.”

Examples of inductive reasoning:

1. All the men I know are mortal
2. Therefore all men are mortal

1. When I let go of objects, they fall
2. Therefore there is a law of gravity that governs falling objects

Notice than when you move from the smaller circle to the larger circle, you have to make assumptions that you cannot 100% prove.

For example you cannot PROVE gravity will always be consistent at all times. You can only observe that it’s consistently true every time. You cannot prove that the universe is rational. You can only observe that mathematical formulas like E=MC^2 do seem to perfectly describe what the universe does.

Nearly all scientific laws are based on inductive reasoning. These laws rest on an assumption that the universe is logical and based on fixed discoverable laws.

You cannot PROVE this. (You can’t prove that the sun will come up tomorrow morning either.) You literally have to take it on faith. In fact most people don’t know that outside the science circle is a philosophy circle. Science is based on philosophical assumptions that you cannot scientifically prove. Actually, the scientific method cannot prove, it can only infer.

(Science originally came from the idea that God made an orderly universe which obeys fixed, discoverable laws.)

Now please consider what happens when we draw the biggest circle possibly can – around the whole universe.
(If there are multiple universes, we’re drawing a circle around all of them too):

• There has to be something outside that circle. Something which we have to assume but cannot prove
• The universe as we know it is finite – finite matter, finite energy, finite space and 13.7 billion years time
• The universe is mathematical. Any physical system subjected to measurement performs arithmetic. (You don’t need to know math to do addition – you can use an abacus instead and it will give you the right answer every time.)
• The universe (all matter, energy, space and time) cannot explain itself
• Whatever is outside the biggest circle is boundless. By definition it is not possible to draw a circle around it.
• If we draw a circle around all matter, energy, space and time and apply Gödel’s theorem, then we know what is outside that circle is not matter, is not energy, is not space and is not time. It’s immaterial.
• Whatever is outside the biggest circle is not a system – i.e. is not an assemblage of parts. Otherwise we could draw a circle around them. The thing outside the biggest circle is indivisible.
• Whatever is outside the biggest circle is an uncaused cause, because you can always draw a circle around an effect.

We can apply the same inductive reasoning to the origin of information:

• In the history of the universe we also see the introduction of information, some 3.5 billion years ago. It came in the form of the Genetic code, which is symbolic and immaterial.
• The information had to come from the outside, since information is not known to be an inherent property of matter, energy, space or time
• All codes we know the origin of are designed by conscious beings.
• Therefore whatever is outside the largest circle is a conscious being.

In other words when we add information to the equation, we conclude that not only is the thing outside the biggest circle infinite and immaterial, it is also conscious.

Isn’t it interesting how all these things sound suspiciously similar to how theologians have described God for thousands of years?

So it’s hardly surprising that 80-90% of the people in the world believe in some concept of God. Yes, it’s intuitive to most folks. But Gödel’s theorem indicates it’s also supremely logical. In fact it’s the only position one can take and stay in the realm of reason and logic.

The person who proudly proclaims, “You’re a man of faith, but I’m a man of science” doesn’t understand the roots of science or the nature of knowledge!

Interesting aside…

If you visit the world’s largest atheist website, Infidels, on the home page you will find the following statement:

“Naturalism is the hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system, which means that nothing that is not part of the natural world affects it.”

If you know Gödel’s theorem, you know that all logical systems must rely on something outside the system. So according to Gödel’s Incompleteness theorem, the Infidels cannot be correct. If the universe is logical, it has an outside cause.

Thus atheism violates the laws of reason and logic.

Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem definitively proves that science can never fill its own gaps. We have no choice but to look outside of science for answers.

The Incompleteness of the universe isn’t proof that God exists. But… it IS proof that in order to construct a rational, scientific model of the universe, belief in God is not just 100% logical… it’s necessary.

Euclid’s 5 postulates aren’t formally provable and God is not formally provable either. But… just as you cannot build a coherent system of geometry without Euclid’s 5 postulates, neither can you build a coherent description of the universe without a First Cause and a Source of order.

Thus faith and science are not enemies, but allies. It’s been true for hundreds of years, but in 1931 this skinny young Austrian mathematician named Kurt Gödel proved it.

No time in the history of mankind has faith in God been more reasonable, more logical, or more thoroughly supported by science and mathematics.

Perry Marshall

“Without mathematics we cannot penetrate deeply into philosophy.
Without philosophy we cannot penetrate deeply into mathematics.
Without both we cannot penetrate deeply into anything.”

-Leibniz

“Math is the language God wrote the universe in.”

Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel” by Rebecca Goldstein – fantastic biography and a great read

A collection of quotes and notes about Gödel’s proof from Miskatonic University Press

Formal description of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem on Wikipedia

Science vs. Faith on CoffeehouseTheology.com

Information Theory: “If you can read this, I can prove God exists”

## Comments on Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem »

1. November 14

### Tony Rush @ 10:11 am

Perry, it still looks to me as though several assumptions are being made. For instance, this topic is called “Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem”.

It’s not Godel’s Incompleteness LAW. It’s a theorem. So, even though it describes what we might not know about something else….the fact that it’s a theorem says that we can’t 100% know for sure that Godel’s perspective is right.

Take the first line: “Draw a circle around anything and you must go outside that circle to explain it.” That is certainly true with bicycles and gravity…..but just as you mentioned that the sun might NOT come up tomorrow (and that is taken on faith), it’s equally possible that Godel’s theorem doesn’t apply to everything.

For instance, you stated that — if we draw a circle around the Universe (or all the possible Universes) — “there has to be something outside that circle. Something which we have to assume but cannot prove”

That’s not necessarily true. We might not even need to assume it. It’s quite possible that drawing a circle around everything all the known universes would include a perfect explanation and provide a Single Unifying Law.

“The universe as we know it is finite – finite matter, finite energy, finite space and 13.8 billion years time
The universe (all matter, energy, space and time) cannot explain itself”. — Again, this is assumptive. How do you know that it cannot explain itself? This would only be a true statement if we actually had all the knowledge about the Universe (which we don’t).

“Whatever is outside the biggest circle is boundless.” There is nothing outside the circle. By any standard definition of “universe” or “universes”, if it exists, you’ve drawn a circle around it. It’s bad math to say “Draw a circle around all the known universes” and then to refer to something outside the universe. If there were something outside the circle, you would have drawn the circle to include it!

We can go on and on…but (with respect) this doesn’t seem to be a logical argument. It seems to be an argument based on certain presuppositions. And I’m not saying that’s good, bad, right or wrong….just that this argument has too many assumptions to conclude that there’s no possibility of a Unifying Theory.

• November 14

### Perry @ 1:37 pm

Tony,

If Gödel can be shown to be wrong, then you have something to stand on.

80 years have gone by and no one has demonstrated a flaw in Gödel’s logic.

If Gödel’s Incompleteness theorem is true, then everything in my article directly and logically follows. Specifically, if we draw a circle around all matter, energy, space and time and label it “Universe” then according to Incompleteness, there has to be something outside the universe that caused it.

If Gödel’s argument is logical, then my argument is also logical.

You are invited to demonstrate a flaw in Gödel’s logic if you can. And I will certainly be happy to post that argument here on my blog.

Perry Marshall

• December 23

### Steve @ 10:28 pm

“I am lying.” Before I can lie I have to exist, and not only exist but conceive of myself. To conceive of myself I must split “me” as the subject that knows whether I am lying or not, from the “me” as an “object” that is either lying or not lying. That split is an artifice of the mind – reality is not split. It just “is”. That reality is not outside the circle of “me” as the subject, or “me” as the object that may or may not be lying. The perception of intelligence is merely the illusion of “self” as separate from reality. It is a trick of the mind.

All perception is the splitting of reality into a subject and an object.

Maybe you want to define god as the indivisible sum of all that is real? A bit superfluous, but it has it’s uses.

• December 24

### Perry @ 8:05 am

Steve,

A sum is divisible, so we can’t define God that way. We do have to define God as indivisible. God is one.

I like your explanation of perception. If we define God as self-aware, then we automatically invoke a splitting like what you refer to. Which is where the Trinity comes from. Self, expression of self, and self-understanding (Father / Son = WORD / Holy Spirit).

• December 24

### Steve @ 10:08 am

If you like my explanation of perception god cannot be self aware. I prefer god is just reality. This is my justification for my atheism.

Full awareness is to be one with reality, one with god, and the self disappears. As a self we use science to explore objective reality and spiritual practice to explore the subjective reality. Both are lies, but by knowing the lies the truth is revealed. You cannot know it and survive, there is no split. You cannot know reality as there is no knower.

• December 24

### Perry @ 10:56 am

IF there is no knower, then how do you KNOW that “you cannot know reality” and how do you KNOW that “there is no knower?”

• June 3

### The Thinker @ 11:43 pm

I completely agree with Tony Rush that some ridiculous assumptions are being made on this page. I do not for a second doubt that the Incompleteness Theorem, if not necessarily true, is thus far unproven, and I cannot disprove it. The flaw that occurs on this page is not your explanation of the theorem, but the conclusions that are drawn are logically inconsistent. Using a complicated theorem as a premise for your logically flawed conclusions may be the simple result of over ambition.

Second, in your antagonistic response to a logical challenge to your authority, you commit many logical fallacies. First, despite the fact that Godel had nothing to do with the construction of your illogical conclusions, you seem to label him as one of your supporters. And, even if he was a suporter, the fact that you are discussing a distinct theorem means that his association does absolutely nothing to bolster your argument.

Also, you seem to have trouble understanding the concept of Infinity. The human brain has trouble understanding such a concept, and tends to limit Infinity to simply a very large finite number. You state, in your article, that the universe is finite. This is untrue, as it is proven that it is constantly expanding, and that it is already infinite in size. Uni- means one. There is absolutely nothing else. So, a circle cannot be drawn around it. You cannot create a circle that is larger than the largest. A circle is finite, but a universe is not. And even if the scientific understanding of the universe was as you declare it to be, as finite in nature, your conclusions would still be illogical. You say the universe is finite, and if the understanding of the universe is the encompassment of all things, material and immaterial, then there could be nothing outside of it.

Also, in your list of material things that would be inside the biggest possible circle, you include time. Time is not material. Its nature is essentially beyond human understanding. Why could time not be the ultimate controller, the 4th dimension that causes the universe to have orderly structure? Godel was a brilliant mathematician, but his flaw was his theology. Even for a believer in God, he was unusually pious for a mathematician. In an attempt to balance his strict theology with his far reaching mathematics, Godel ended up stretching his theorems to a realm they could not reach, which degraded his arguments. You are amplifying Godel’s mistakes. There will never be a logically sound proof of Divine Existence, because that belief defies logic, especially when Divine Existence is limited by the strict religious sense of the concept. I personally do not believe in God in the religious sense, but have no problem with accepting the fact that people do believe in God. If they manage to get something out of it, then more power to them. But when theologians attempt to bring logic and mathematics into the picture, they are defying the physical extent of the human understanding. Coupling that with your personal logical fallibility makes this page a logical failure.

• June 4

### Perry @ 12:08 am

1. All the mainstream scientific literature I have ever found says the universe is finite. When you said the universe is expanding you contradicted your own statement that it is infinite. Please provide empirical support for your claim that the universe is infinite.

2. I do not define the universe as the encompassment of all things material and immaterial. I define it as all observable matter, energy, space and time.

3. You ask, “Why could time not be the ultimate controller, the 4th dimension that causes the universe to have orderly structure?” It’s not my job to disprove your conjectures. Perhaps you could describe why and how time could be the ultimate controller. I await your explanation.

4. Please elaborate on Gödel’s mistakes.

5. You said, “There is absolutely nothing else.” Prove it.

6. It’s rather telling that almost every atheist who debates me here is anonymous or operates under a pseudonym. What are y’all afraid of?

• August 11

### Richard @ 10:04 am

Perry said: “We do have to define God as indivisible.

I like your explanation of perception. If we define God as self-aware, then we automatically invoke a splitting like what you refer to. Which is where the Trinity comes from. Self, expression of self, and self-understanding (Father / Son = WORD / Holy Spirit).”

God is both indivisible and splittable? This would seem to be a contradiction.

Dictionary definition of split: to divide into distinct parts.

• August 11

### Perry @ 2:47 pm

God is Love.

Love is indivisible. This is why God is indivisible, because God is love.

Self, expression of self, and self-understanding in a context of perfect love know no division. Jesus said, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

• May 7

### Greg @ 1:14 pm

Let me build you a universe that proves you don’t need anything “outside” in terms of assumptions.

Imagine a fishbowl. Inside the fishbowl lives a little goldfish. Now, the goldfish can measure it’s lifespan, it can develop a philosophy on life, etc… Furthermore, it can measure the extent of it’s universe, the size of the fishbowl, it can measure the composition of everything inside it’s universe, the oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, etc…

Now, for our purposes, erase the reality we perceive, outside of the fishbowl. The fish still exists within it’s universe, the outside world doesn’t need to exist for the inside world to exist (yes, you’ll argue the fishbowl and water, etc… had to come from somewhere, but that’s not the point of the argument, the point is that I can measure my universe without requiring anything on the outside of it). And, just like the fish we exist within our fishbowl universe, and there is nothing outside of it.

Now, I can make ‘assumptions’ regarding where my universe came from, but that is my human nature to try and put things in perspective. The universe could care less about my perspective.

This is the whole problem with your argument (and Godel’s), it is based upon perspective, human perspective through mathematics and logic. Worst thing we do as humans is when we validate our logic with mathematics to ‘prove’ our perspectives.

We don’t know if the universe ‘began’ with a big bang, it’s just the best ‘theory’ we have based on observations. Furthermore, even if the current visible universe did begin with a big bang, that does not mean the universe has not existed in other forms before and even without time (since time is theorized to have been created with the big bang). So, in theory, the universe, in some state or other, could be infinite in age and have no beginning or ending. That being the case, if it has no beginning, than a creator become wholly unnecessary.

Thank you.

• May 11

### Perry @ 5:22 am

If reason and logic are not to be used to prove the superiority of one perspective over another, then what are they to be used for?

According to what specific theory can the universe be of infinite age? Any such theory I’m aware of has to disregard the phenomenon of entropy, since an infinitely old series of universes would be cold and dead by now.

I do agree that if you discard reason and logic then a creator does become unnecessary. In fact one of the subtler themes in this thread is, if you posit that the universe is irrational then atheism can be a valid conclusion.

If you prefer that, it’s fine – let’s just be clear that you have chosen to embrace irrationality as the dominant lens for understanding the world.

I choose to believe that the universe is rational, discoverable, measurable, and describable in mathematical terms. I believe that the discoveries and principles of science are real and not an illusion. This necessarily makes the universe incomplete and this is one of the many reasons I believe in God.

• May 11

### Greg @ 11:46 am

Slow down a bit, first, I never said reason and logic are NOT to be used. I only stated that the “worst thing we do as humans is when we validate our logic with mathematics to ‘prove’ our perspectives.” Key to this statement is that we are not using reason and logic to determine what the “evidence” shows us. Instead, we take a perspective we want to believe, than use reason and logic to try and prove that perspective.

Second, there is no theory that currently even tries to explain what existed before the big bang. However, since “time itself” was created with the big bang, than by ‘reason and logic’ whatever form the universe existed in before than (singularity for example) would have existed outside of time, and the only way to even remotely explain that is to use the term ‘infinite’.

So no, I am not disregarding reason and logic, and I hope my further clarifications will make my explanations easier to understand. By reason and logic, a creator is unnecessary. Through faith we embrace a creator. A lack of faith cannot be replaced by reason and logic, it’s like a bandaid over a mortal wound, it simply will not heal.

• May 11

### Perry @ 2:44 pm

Greg,

My position is precisely what you said: the only way to even remotely explain that is to use the term ‘infinite’.

That which is outside of space and time is infinite. And indivisible. I believe that everything I stated in my article is entirely logical, and that which logic tells us has to be outside the universe bears a striking resemblance to God.

Yes, faith is necessary. In some ways that’s what inductive reasoning is. I hope I have shown that all conclusions require faith, but that faith in God is a much shorter leap than the alternatives.

• July 21

### David H @ 7:57 am

Atheists have a belief system. It is not just BASED on “no intelligence” is necessary for the creation of the universe and life.

Atheists have to insist on something further: it is IMPERATIVE that “no intelligent cause” have created the universe and life, now, or ever, whether forward or backward in time.

To be an Atheist you must INSIST that there is NOT an immensely powerful Mind or Being responsible for Creation — this Universe and its life.

So, first of all, to become an Atheist you must adopt and enforce a psychological prejudice that systematically resists from logically following any theorem as to why an intelligent greater being might exist.

So people who say they are Atheists are True Believers. They do not scientifically or philosophically allow any notions or explanations to the contrary.

Some people who say they are Atheists are simply philosophically lazy. It keeps them from having to get up off their mental couch and actually investigate TRUTH wherever the quest may take them.

But atheists, to offer a construction of a universe that does not include God or some supreme creative Being, must first CREATE their thought bubble.

Even the “argument” of an atheist requires a thought to form until it becomes a mind creation that an atheist must then express in a pre-determined code that we will necessarily decode before we can examine the atheist’s construction.

Greg, you propose a fish in a fish bowl. Never mind how the fish got there. Never mind how the water got there. Never mind how the bowl was filled with water. Never mind how the artificially crafted bowl got there.

And then, in the final conceit, say, in essence, let’s pretend WE outside the bowl do not exist. Well, the “WE” outside of the bowl who supplied the water, the fish, and the bowl were absolutely NECESSARY.

Our viewpoint and relative position would have been God’s position. But you say “And, just like the fish we exist within our fishbowl universe, and there is nothing outside of it.”

But your “example” can only exist IF we allow you to PRETEND —- shhhh, don’t tell anybody our secret— that nothing, by necessity, exists outside of that bowl.

And this is where science always must necessarily STOP for an Atheist.
All atheists are the little fishes swimming blindly in this bowl. As soon as science and math provide some LOGICAL reasons to investigate outside of the bowl, the atheist fishes must retreat to their hiding places under plastic castles.

• July 21

### Rick Kettner @ 9:52 pm

I’m sorry, but you don’t understand Atheism or the purpose of science. I don’t pretend to know if there is or is not an intelligent designer. What I do know is, at this point, I have never seen evidence to support such an idea. Until that evidence arrives, I will continue to focus on learning things that are based in evidence and proof. I have no personal issue against a God or bias for not wanting there to be a God. I do however have a bias against drawing unfounded conclusions and drawing assumptions either for or against such a possibility. I take the default position of pondering all the options and waiting for evidence while focusing on what I can learn and what I can reason with the information available.

• July 21

### Rick Kettner @ 10:01 pm

To add to my last post… the vast majority of what you posted would be fair criticisms of people that are “certain there is no god”. Equally, it is fair of people that are “certain there is a God”. Both have a fundamental bias towards their pre-existing beliefs, and are suffering from the same confirmation bias rather than looking for objective evidence.

Your criticisms regarding other people being “philosophically lazy” is fairly revealing. Stereotyping others, especially with a comment that could easily apply to people that agree with your ideas, is simply destructive. There are plenty of smart people on both sides of this debate… unfortunately, many are focused on proving ideas that simply cannot be proven at this time.

Rather than start with a result and find ways to prove it… why not start from the default position of uncertainty, and focus on gathering objective information to see where it takes you?

• July 23

### David H @ 9:57 am

Rick Kettner,

“Rather than start with a result and find ways to prove it… why not start from the default position of uncertainty, and focus on gathering objective information to see where it takes you?”

Unfortunately, believers and nonbelievers will always be at an impasse despite all logic. As a non-believer you start and end at the same place, year after year, you don’t know where you have been, you don’t know where you are going, and you lead yourself back into the same circular path in the woods. The footprints you see are always your own.

What God has said, to those that believe and take him at his word, “Start here, travel here, end here. I am the Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End.”

You will waste your life pretending to be objective. Claiming yourself to be objective.

Rick, you sound very reasonable. Many reasonable people see this as one of their chief virtues.

My own experiences, direct miraculous experiences with the spirit of God who came down on me in seconds and spread through me such a gushing overflow of joy and UNDERSTANDING settle the question for me FOREVER.

What happened in that minute, with no drug but a sincere questing prayer directed not to some spirit, but with all respect and humility to the God who has named himself Jehovah, then continued to overwhelm me hour after hour. It was beyond nature and beyond pedantic discussions and forums and comments. I received what are classically called “revelations”.

The mind and spirit of God, not an Allah, not an elephant god, literally came inside me into my very core being and filled me in a split second with such enormous revelations and joy, JOY. He even gave me knowledge and opened my eyes to see so clearly how dense I was, how blind, how clueless my own intellect. So much so that these discussions here are somewhat vexing.

The God who came to me and revealed himself to me was so far, far, inexorably far above mans’ reasoning that it makes this whole forum of “this and that and he said and he did not and yes he did” laughable in a way.

Except that what Perry is trying to say over and over and over is that it is NOT ILLOGICAL to consider the existence of God. And this is important for you to know and believe. Even smart people such as Perry Marshall have no problem stating WHY they believe what they believe in the face of so many clamoring objections.

To people such as Perry and yes, me, the objections we hear are so patently ludicrous when, for instance, you observe the blatantly, STUPENDOUSLY OBVIOUS pre-designed, pre-coded genetic instructions inside any, not just man, but ANY life form.

To Perry and to me it is screamingly outrageously a NO-BRAINER as to how scientifically and mathematically the case states itself. The case STATES ITSELF in no uncertain terms that the processes of life and reproduction just involving DNA alone are scientifically irrefutable.

Why so many otherwise “reasonable” scientists come to a screeching halt and run shrieking from the vast and unmistakable logical, mathematical, scientific EVIDENCE that our whole planet has been encoded internally with an unspeakably sophisticated and ELEGANT (“Godlike”) LANGUAGE.

When you look at the encoding of DNA you are physically looking at a language that was created in the mind of God. Not in the “mind” of his creation, but in his own mind. You are LOOKING at the inside of God’s mind, not fancifully, but in a very direct peephole into just a tiny part of his Genius.

Perry has given you over and over the reasons why you HAVE to believe and accept this. You HAVE TO not because Perry insists, but because science and math and common sense converge when you truly understand all of the pre-conditions for DNA and how it functions.

But, what you “reasonable” people don’t understand is that MORE UNDERSTANDING scientifically will occur when you accept God as the beginning, not the end of your knowledge.

If you are truly “objective” then you would have allowed the “hypothesis” that there is an Intelligent Design long enough, as you say “—to see where it takes you-”

The truly objective person would have said, okay, let me start my investigation WITH the “theorem” that God is responsible for the things I see.

For the next year I will take my examinations down that path with scientific rigor.

Few scientists, apparently, are brave enough to buck the trend of their peers and follow such an enquiry to its honest end (and beginning).

• July 24

### Rick Kettner @ 2:10 pm

I’m not saying it is illogical to consider the possibility of a “God”. However, there is absolutely no reason to consider it above other possibilities. We simply do not have the evidence to settle on either side of this equation yet. I’ve looked closely at the different possibilities and cannot see how anyone could conclude either way with honest certainty. Pretending to be able to validate such a view is a result of knowingly or unknowingly engaging in confirmation bias through selective inductive reasoning.

“The truly objective person would have said, okay, let me start my investigation WITH the “theorem” that God is responsible for the things I see.”

This statement betrays your overwhelming bias towards one specific option. There is no reason to start with “God” over another possible option other than to want to confirm an existing bias. I grew up religious and have no real issue with religion besides the fact it simply claims to know something it can’t. I’ve also considered the alternatives and see no reason to assume there is no God.

Therefore, our only practical move is to further human understanding within an honest framework of knowledge. Simply flaming the fire of a propaganda war where both sides are pretending to know the unknowable is a destructive waste of time.

• July 25

### DavidH @ 9:49 am

Rick,

Allow me to focus on two incredible statements you have made :

1) “I’m not saying it is illogical to consider the possibility of a “God”. However, there is absolutely no reason to consider it above other possibilities.”

2) “There is no reason to start with “God” over another possible option other than to want to confirm an existing bias.”

Rick, pretty much from what I have read, seen, and heard over the past few decades, in a “scientific” “discussion” the DEFAULT Starting and Ending point is that there is NO God involved.

That there is no God and no Intelligent Creator seems to be the default mantra when such matters are discussed.

Hundreds of thousands of scientists and physicists and mathematicians and philosophers have been turned out of our leading higher institutions premising their rigorous scientific methods that, of course, as we “all know” a God element does not factor into what we think we see.

This IS the BIAS, Rick. And you know this quite well.
In fact, when scientists nowadays discuss “possibilities”, as you put it, ALL of their “possibilities” necessarily, right out of the gate, before the concept is pursued, specifically, if not outright states, more often accepted as implicit (unspoken) conditions, that God need not apply.

Nowadays much of science and math are “mind models”. Thought experiments. Exactly that. Papers up the ying yang are regularly published and treated as revelations of the universe that are nothing more than some mathematician’s or scientist’s “creative conjecturing”. Most of them do not stand the test of scrutiny as Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem.

And so science ranges far and wide, mathematics ranges far and wide, looking for explanations.

But, studiously ignoring that right here on earth the clues are smacking us in the face if a true scientist will accept them (without this anti-God BIAS) that some one very like a God left his fingerprints and even his thoughts and his designs imprinted indelibly into this creation.

And you supposedly have followed this whole forum and yet you make this preposterous claim — “There is no reason to start with “God” over another possible option other than to want to confirm an existing bias.”

You have successfully framed your OWN BIAS, Rick.

“NO REASON … other than to want to confirm an existing bias”.

Stunning.

So that is what scientific inquiry is to you, Rick. Just as I suspected. Then you can not truly believe in science, Rick. Since to you it is inextricably and automatically, to begin and end with, simply an exercise “..to confirm an existing bias.”

Yes, and you are right.

This is EXACTLY how science is being practiced today.

That is Perry Marshall’s point.

• July 25

### Rick Kettner @ 11:25 am

@DavidH

I’m sorry, but you seem to have completely misquoted and misunderstood my point. You make the assumption that me stating “there is absolutely no reason to consider it above other possibilities” and “There is no reason to start with “God” over another possible option other than to want to confirm an existing bias” as asserting that I think other possibilities should be considered first. That is not what I said. I feel both should be considered, but neither should be asserted or assumed over the other.

“Rick, pretty much from what I have read, seen, and heard over the past few decades, in a “scientific” “discussion” the DEFAULT Starting and Ending point is that there is NO God involved.”

While I’m beginning to reach the conclusion that most people in this debate can’t imagine not fighting for one side over the other – my position is neutral. I do not have a bias against God or a bias for God. I have yet to come across an argument that makes the case for a God stronger than the case for no God – or vice versa. Furthermore, I see no practical advantage in forming a “belief” around either view, and even if I did – such whims do not advance understanding or knowledge.

• July 26

### DavidH @ 4:06 am

Rick,

It is a facile game to “debate” with the standard insistence that you have been continually “misunderstood”. And by your doing so you also glide right past your own statements which you make so clearly and in English.

First of all, to contend that your position is “neutral” is sophistry–superficially plausible, but a generally fallacious method of reasoning. A neutral position is neutral. A neutral position does not state, and I quote you, “Rather than start with a result and find ways to prove it… why not start from the default position of uncertainty, and focus on gathering objective information to see where it takes you?”

That all sounds reasonable but you say this as if the vast majority of science done today is not already quite CERTAIN. The “uncertainty” you speak of is only used today to describe theoretical posturings that have already negated, from the outset, any quest to see the face of God, as it were.

Calling a dog a cat never creates the vocal mechanics for the dog to Meow. Rick, I did not even make the claim that a person should START with accepting God as the reason for his or her scientific inquiry. I assume that this is what people are routinely DOING anyway.

I am simply saying, why NOT consider the alternative? How about a few precious moments considering how science would progress if you started looking at the Intelligent Design as having some important answers to your riddles.
You say, Rick, “Rather than start with a result and find ways to prove it..” But that ignores the present reality in science, does it not?

Scientists have had hundreds of years now, Rick, to start with the results we all have readily at hand. And they have spent hundreds of years relentlessly, feverishly, trying to prove their suppositions. And, as you must know, Rick, not a single scientist has PROVEN his or her supposition that life and the universe simply started on its own with no intelligent causation.

In fact, it has been accepted as “no longer under discussion” in major scientific circles that science already has the basic and immutable “facts”. That SIMPLY BECAUSE WE ARE ALL HERE IS IN ITSELF PROOF THAT A GOD IS NOT NECESSARY TO EXPLAIN OUR POSITION.

My position is not neutral. Perry’s position is not neutral. It is you who have wandered in here and professed neutrality on “solving” the questions at hand.

But this is all sophistry with nothing accomplished. Perry has stated that there are scientific reasons to investigate further. Every atheistic and agnostic and “neutral” argument to the contrary cannot counter the evidence that science still has many things to learn and to discover.

Who are the scientists so bold, so brave, and so open, so scientific, truly scientific, that they will step into the fray and say, Send me. I will go and explore and not exclude the scientific possibility that an intelligent designer, a God, if you will, has written his clues into the Universe and that they are still open to be read. In my open inquiries of these mysteries I will not exclude their possible source, no matter the outrage and scorn my discoveries may provoke.

• July 26

### Rick Kettner @ 11:58 am

I don’t suggest I’ve been continually misunderstood. I suggested you are intentionally misinterpreting my points as a method to distract from what I am actually saying.

“A neutral position does not state, and I quote you, “Rather than start with a result and find ways to prove it… why not start from the default position of uncertainty, and focus on gathering objective information to see where it takes you?”

Apparently you want to make this a semantics argument about your definition of “neutral” instead of making the obvious interpretation based on my next sentence “I do not have a bias against God or a bias for God”. By “neutral” I mean – I do not prefer one outcome over another, only that it is based on sound logic and doesn’t face obvious contradictions. I do not accept arguments that are flawed or can reach directly contradictory inferences using the same selective inductive reasoning.

“I did not even make the claim that a person should START with accepting God as the reason for his or her scientific inquiry.”

“The truly objective person would have said, okay, let me start my investigation WITH the “theorem” that God is responsible for the things I see.”

It seems you aren’t keeping up with the statements you are making. You suggested it is “objective” to start with “God”. I don’t know what your unique definition of the word “biased” is, but that appears to be biased to me. The fact that you do not recognize and admit such a bias is unfortunate.

“Scientists have had hundreds of years now, Rick, to start with the results we all have readily at hand. And they have spent hundreds of years relentlessly, feverishly, trying to prove their suppositions. And, as you must know, Rick, not a single scientist has PROVEN his or her supposition that life and the universe simply started on its own with no intelligent causation.”

Once again, I suppose I must re-clarify my position that I don’t assert this has been proven – your arguments are starting to sound like a broken record. I have repeatedly stated that I don’t believe we have proof in a “no God” theory, just as we do not have proof in a “God” theory.

There are very strong arguments to suggest a God is not needed in the equation, just as there are arguments that suggest a God is needed. For a reason that is beyond me, you and Perry seem more than willing to bypass the prime mover argument, and then somehow bring God back into the picture as if the rules that would prevent our direct evolution don’t apply to him. If he could exist forever or evolve in a natural way, why couldn’t the direct building blocks (laws, codes, forces) that guided our evolution have done the same? Whatever logical “trap door” you use to bring Gods existence back into the your argument of the origin of life – must also be considered for our own direct evolution. If you argue that God existed forever – you should also consider the idea that the fundamental rules of nature that lead to our direct evolution could have also existed forever. Perry and I have argued this back and forth in great detail… and I am awaiting his latest reply as we continue to discuss it.

Your statement that “Scientists have had hundreds of years now…” seems to ignore the vast amount of progress that was made and is still being made. We are understanding significantly more year over year, and for some reason you suggest the scientific community has been wasting their time. Would you prefer that we didn’t decode the human genome, that we didn’t gain a further understanding about evolution, that we didn’t advance medical technology, or that we couldn’t speed up learning and knowledge through technological advancements like the computers we are using to communicate these ideas/arguments from different parts of the world?

If you choose to simply assert that God exists through flawed selective inductive reasoning that bypasses fundamental arguments like the primum movens, go for it. However, don’t pretend it is based on sound logic or that we haven’t made significant advancements in understanding our origins since the days where man believed “God created us in 7 days, because it says so in the bible”.

“But this is all sophistry with nothing accomplished. Perry has stated that there are scientific reasons to investigate further. Every atheistic and agnostic and “neutral” argument to the contrary cannot counter the evidence that science still has many things to learn and to discover.”

This seems to insinuate I don’t want further investigation. I’ve made it clear that I am interested in keeping up with the latest information – that is the basis of my argument, that we still have much to learn. There is a dramatic difference between finding significant flaws in current theories and asserting we should stop learning all together. What statement did I make to even begin to suggest I was against further investigation?

Please stop taking a single word (in this case “neutral”), filtering it through your own definition, ignoring context, and then basing your entire reply around your selective interpretation that one word. It is a waste of time if you are going to intentionally ignore context. Assuming your next reply continues to distract from the actual topic being discussed, I really don’t see a need to continue this further with you. There are far better ways to make actual progress.

• July 27

### DavidH @ 3:50 am

Rick,

Have you caught on that this forum is NOT NEUTRAL. There can NOT be two universes in which you and I and Perry live in simultaneously. One universe without causation (intelligently caused) and one with God, yes, the Christian Jehovah, who has already stated His case all He cares to at this time.

I have said several times that I, myself, am far from neutral. NO, there is no neutrality in what I claim is the Truth. Because of some definitely and persuasively powerful experiences that EXPANDED MY CONSCIOUSNESS I now see and perceive the universe in alignment with my faith, belief, and conviction, absolute conviction that God has proved Himself to me.

Now when I look at such things as the structure and design of DNA and read of Communication Theory I say, yes, OF COURSE. It is all so PLAIN and obvious.

So I look at your “neutrality” as, well, silliness. IF GOD exists then that is a HUGE thing to know. What is more important in any discussion of anything whatsoever than to know if God is behind everything we experience?

But you will argue that it is just as important to discover that God is NOT behind everything we experience.

Now ask yourself what are the consequences?

Suppose you are studying at Stanford and your crusty curmudgeon of a physics professor gives you homework for the weekend and says “If you can prove ‘X’ I will reward you with a Visa Platinum Card with a ten-billion dollar line of credit repaid in full every year, but if you decide to solve for ‘Y’ you get nothing but the satisfaction of knowing that I will give you an A for your time”.

Do you spend time in forums expressing your objectivity and neutrality over the issue?

Or do you drop everything and spend the same time solving for X for a fabulous credit line that will last forever?

So, the question is, Rick, is this not the most important question you have to settle for yourself before you take your last breath?

Is this not THE Question that we must all with haste, with deliberate urgency, settle and resolve for ourselves?

I will tell you why so many people are more concerned with professing an empty state of “neutrality” on this supremely important issue.

Into our consciousness, yours as well, Rick, is a deep dread and fear of the consequences. When we facilely skim over the evident arguments FOR a God in favor of saying “I am neutral” on this issue, we are responding to a train of logic that we have already walked and stored away for such forums and discussions as this.

What every scientist, mathematician, physicist, etc, knows intuitively is that if in his or her scientific pokings around he or she should accidentally stumble across another significant discovery that unmistakably by direct sight or statistical probability “strongly hints” that a superhuman power and intelligence set the universe and life in motion…. well, as they say, there would be hell to pay.

There is not a scientist, mathematician, physicist, or astronomer who relishes the idea of standing before the world’s media to announce the publishing of a scientific paper that conclusively proves or even strongly makes a case for a supreme causative intelligence at the foundation of the universe.

It is a fearsome nightmare to consider for so many scientists that they inwardly shudder at merely contemplating such a situation.

The train of logic is this, the boogeyman behind all of these forum discussions that assert “neutrality” in the search of truth– uh oh, now all of those nagging Christians are going to rise up self-righteously and claim that it is THEIR GOD who made the world.

These hypocritical Christians are going to have the last laugh, deride us mercilessly, and say, “See, we TOLD you so!”

I would rather remain “neutral” and shut my eyes and ears to any such ugly, humiliating fate. So let Perry prattle on about God this and proof that and Communication Theory. I will debate him but I would never wish the humiliation of agreeing with his position.

This negative consequences thing, if you will, is the most powerful motivator operating in atheistic and agnostic “debates”. It is a fierce thing to fear, that God might be proven. And such fear is more than capable of denying the existence of God towering over all.

I myself understand the fear and the dread of God raising His head above the waters and saying, “Boo, here I am!”

I have to confess that I would feel the same way if an Allah showed up on the scene and thundered out, “Did I not command you to KILL all the INFIDELS! Waste no more time!”

As a believer in the God Jehovah and his son, Yeshua, Jesus Christ, I take comfort in knowing that I have already had conversations with them, have already discerned their hearts in their words and the promises Jesus made regarding the world now and the world to come.

But, scientifically, mathematically I can not prove that I even believe, other than I say so. I cannot mathematically or scientifically prove that I have read the promises of Jesus and that I believe them as the Truth. I cannot mathematically or scientifically prove that I have, literally, literally, the Spirit of God within me.

All of the IMPORTANT things in life mysteriously vanish before Math and Scientific principles. No wonder that I accept that Math is INCOMPLETE.

Math is simply a tool to help humans construct what they must construct. The amazing thing to me is that as incomplete as Math may be, it already abundantly, generously TESTIFIES to an evident superhuman timeless all powerful intelligence.

But, I doubt God needed what we construe as “math” to create this universe.

Love that motivates my days and life has not one single formula that proves it even exists as a theory, let alone fact.

They will elevate the level of collisions at the Hadron Collider underneath Switzerland and France looking for the “God particle” and not discover love or faith or self-sacrifice or mercy.

These forums are but a diverting playground to keep yourselves busy proclaiming a “neutral, objective” viewpoint on the most important question you must answer soon.

IF a God is discovered then, yes, the odds are very very high that it is the same God who proclaimed, we believe, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

Which for you, should be the most exciting discovery of your life.

• July 27

### Perry @ 9:18 am

David,

Your tone is consistently abrasive and it’s not winning you any friends. I ask that you please be more respectful of everyone here.

I do believe that one can, at least in theory, approach this question from a neutral stance. At least on paper, we can try our very best to set our raging emotions aside and say, “I’m not sure one way or the other. But I want to find out where the evidence leads.”

If you believe the Bible then surely you have regard for Paul where he says in Romans, that God has made His divine nature and eternal power plain to everyone so that all are without excuse. For me, then, I believe that we can sit down and pencil it out, and starting from a neutral position clearly infer that God exists.

For a couple of years I really wasn’t sure about this. I came rather close to becoming an atheist myself.

My big moment of clarity came when I said, “OK If God does not exist, if atheism is true, then what else has to be true to make it all work?”

I realized that there would have to be design principles in biology that they never taught me in engineering school.

Darwinists say that Natural Selection is the only design principle that you need.

I thought they very well might be right. So I started hunting for a set of basic principles that would prove that to be true. That you really would eventually get eyes and ears and changes and DNA necessary to make that happen, by random copying errors and natural selection.

I found that there is no principle anywhere in engineering or science which shows that to be true. What I actually found was information entropy – that random accidents can only destroy information, and there’s nothing that natural selection can do about that. I found that cells use the same engineering principles human engineers use. That cells re-arrange their own DNA the same way advertisers re-arrange Google ads, in the war of natural selection.

I believe that if Rick is open to following the evidence where it leads, he’ll find there is ample evidence for design in the universe and the only reasonable inference is a transcendent source.

I’m in no rush and I’m not worried about it. Please give Rick space to explore and investigate.

• July 27

### Rick Kettner @ 9:46 am

“So, the question is, Rick, is this not the most important question you have to settle for yourself before you take your last breath?”

No, I think the question of life purpose, striving for personal growth and understanding, and resolving to be an honest and moral person (for the immediate and inherent benefits that result) is far more important. I have no fear that such a God would, if he exists, would punish me for my prudent, thoughtful, and logical approach to life. A thoughtful video on the subject is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iClejS8vWjo

“Is this not THE Question that we must all with haste, with deliberate urgency, settle and resolve for ourselves?”

No, nothing motivates me to jump to a conclusion without all the facts due to fear of hell or promise of heaven… for it is the very facts that will determine if either place even exist. If God does exist, he did not give us human intelligence for the purpose of discarding it in exchange for faith. My neutral position is not based in fear or in reaching a conclusion different than that of God… it’s merely out of uncertainty and seeking more information before reaching a definitive conclusion.

“I will tell you why so many people are more concerned with professing an empty state of “neutrality” on this supremely important issue.

Into our consciousness, yours as well, Rick, is a deep dread and fear of the consequences. When we facilely skim over the evident arguments FOR a God in favor of saying “I am neutral” on this issue, we are responding to a train of logic that we have already walked and stored away for such forums and discussions as this.”

I’m sorry you feel this is a giant conspiracy theory, where everyone seems to secretly “know” there is a God but is running from him. I understand that is the message repeated throughout some bible stories, but it’s unfortunately that these ideas live on. You can believe what you want about me, my motives, and my reasons for remaining neutral – however, only I know how completely wrong your stated interpretations really are. I can only assume much of the scientific community feels the same way, but that is for them to know. I wish I could be more convincing, because clearly you are not accepting my words of intention at face value.

“IF a God is discovered then, yes, the odds are very very high that it is the same God who proclaimed, we believe, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Which for you, should be the most exciting discovery of your life.”

I see absolutely no reason to reach this conclusion. First off, I have never seen such evidence to even remotely make this connection… even if we assume there is a God, there is no evidence he would be the Christian god, or that he would even be capable of interacting with us in any meaningful way. Second, and perhaps more importantly, I have little reason to want (specifically) the biblical version of God to exist or to be “excited” about such a discovery. I find the biblical teachings of morality to be appalling, the methods by which he commands “love” to be disgusting, and his message of altruism to be proven destructive to human progress and prosperity.

Is it possible for a God to transcend the biblical version and turn out to be a loving creator… yes, of course, but the bible gives us little reason to conclude that. If he turns out to be truly loving, I won’t need to chase after him or fear his punishment or to use flawed arguments in order to “prove” his existence and then worship him. Such ideas are silly and degrade the notion of a truly loving God that would likely be interested in a relationship with us regardless of our personal experiences, beliefs, and which religion we happened to be born into.

• February 27

### Joe @ 5:09 am

Suppose you create a comic book.
The characters in your comic book are subject to and are able to measure only those things which you, as creator, subject them to and allow them to measure.
If you do not force them to be subject to you and do not allow them to measure you, then they should have no understanding of you.
Without understanding of you, it would be silly to have them discuss you, whether the discussion is the reality of your existence or the nature of your existence.
As humans, without any certain knowledge of what is outside our greatest understanding, we would be silly to discuss that which is outside our greatest understanding.
Perhaps we should try to focus not on absolutely proving either side of any religious or mathematical argument, but on simply furthering the story, so to speak, making it as pleasant a story as possible. It is not likely that there will be (in time enough for anyone now living to enjoy it) one unifying and indisputable idea of what this is all about. So live and let live. People will differ and that, I think, is what makes us people.

• May 4

### Bob @ 4:01 pm

“If Gödel’s Incompleteness theorem is true, then everything in my article directly and logically follows. Specifically, if we draw a circle around all matter, energy, space and time and label it “Universe” then according to Incompleteness, there has to be something outside the universe that caused it.”

Actually, Perry, by your own demonstration, Goedel’s theorem proves that we cannot prove the existence of God. For the record, I am a theist, I believe in God, but it’s faith not fact. Now allow me to demonstrate how you’ve shown that God is unprovable. Goedel’s theorem proves that you cannot prove anything outside of a “circle” from within the “circle”, including the veracity of the circle itself. The universe is finite, as is the largest possible “circle” we can draw. Which you yourself assert God exists outside of. Therefore, using every available (and provable!) law, axiom, and rule in our universe, we cannot ever prove the existence of God. Sorry.

• May 29

### Ian @ 12:39 am

An addendum to this (and to Godel’s theorem): to draw a circle around something implies that we know that something beyond it exists (i.e. bike and factory). How can we know to justify the existence of something if we do not know of anything outside its circle? I would venture to say that you cannot draw out the greatest circle you inhabit due to the fact that by being within that extent of existence, you don’t know how far it extends (defined in this case as an understanding of where one thing ends and another begins). If we had direct knowledge of a creator (like a bike having direct knowledge of the factory that made it), then we could draw a circle around ourselves, and the bike could draw a circle around itself and explain its own existence. However, this is not the case, and like the inanimate bike, we are locked within our circle, unaware of how far it stretches. This is essentially where Godel’s theorem breaks down. We cannot draw a circle around the known universe, namely because we are included in it and all that we know (and can draw on to explain what we see) IS the known universe.

QED

This is not a refutation of atheism or theism, it’s just a clarification of how we should interpret the Incompleteness Theorem.

• May 30

### Perry @ 7:41 am

You ask: “How can we know to justify the existence of something if we do not know of anything outside its circle?”

Gödel’s theorem says that if what is inside the circle is logical, there is necessarily something outside the circle. Gödel’s theorem justifies the ‘something’ that you refer to.

• August 3

### Dave Simson @ 8:45 am

Perry, this therom applies only to one dimension because infinity can be physical. So you would draw circles in to infinity as long as there is matter and at the moment you come to a point where there is no matter to draw a circle around, the theorem ceases to exist.
Then to say that something that out of the circle is the reason why the matter is in the circle is logically incorrect because you cant determine its location in time, space or dimension therefor its a assumption

Also the theorem limit’s god because its impossible for him to draw a circle around himself according to Godel.

It is possible for something to exist out of our reality but it does not necessarily mean that it is a god.
This theorem does not prove the existence of god but rather one possibility of an assumption of that witch we do not knowt know

• October 6

### ed @ 3:38 pm

’80 years have gone by and no one has demonstrated a flaw in Gödel’s logic.’

except Gödel. the statement nothing is provable by its own admission cannot be proved.

• January 3

### John @ 3:51 am

You are applying inductive reasoning and then claiming that the existence of God follows from logic and reasoning alone. This is false. As you mentioned yourself, there is not LOGICAL reason to say that the sun will rise tomorrow, rather it follows from the axiom that the laws of nature are rigid. In your case, you make the statement:

“All codes we know the origin of are designed by conscious beings.”

This statement does not imply that ‘codes’ as you call them must NECESSARILY be designed by conscious beings. In addition I don’t even believe the statement you made is true – you didn’t make any attempt to supply definitions for such abstract terms as ‘codes’, ‘information’ and ‘consciousness’. ‘Information’ for example is still an ambiguous term in modern mathematics that can mean several things.

Also I want to make it clear that the parallel’s you are drawing between Goedel’s first (there are two, you know) incompleteness theorem and reality are not legitimate. For one thing, the theorem is talking about a THEORY with basic arithmetic not being able to prove its own consistency, however reality is a MODEL of a theory with basic arithmetic. That is to say, any well formulated statement about reality is either true or false.
Also your analogy about drawing circles around things looks more like Goedel’s second incompleteness theorem, which isn’t proved using the liar paradox but a more interesting and subtle one. In any case, it again is referring to a theory not a model.

Please leave mathematics to mathematicians, and logic to logicians. This beautiful result does not deserve to be twisted and simplified to fit your own belief system.

• January 3

### Perry @ 8:50 am

My logic is inductive so you’re right – codes are not necessarily designed by conscious beings. What I’m saying is that we have no known examples of an exception.

I most certainly did define codes in a rigorous fashion. See http://www.naturalcode.org. If you can supply an example of a naturally occurring code according to the spec, I’ll write you a check for \$10,000.

Reality is not a model of a theory. Theories are models of reality.

Your statement: “Please leave mathematics to mathematicians, and logic to logicians” — This makes no sense. Are you saying that mathematics is illogical?

• August 17

### Alexander Savadelis @ 4:16 pm

I am not a man of faith, but I try to understand science. If we look at history it is simple to observe the fact that humans try to understand things beyond their comprehension at the time. for instance, people were hell bent on the fact that the earth was flat. As far as europeans were concerned, the facts lead to that deduction. Obviously they were wrong. The same thing is applied here. We are on earth and made it to the moon with humans and mars with robots. The universe is hopelessly to large to make any “final” conclusion to explain it. I guarantee both science and religion is horribly incorrect with any conclusions they try to come up with. We cant even make it to jupiter let alone other galaxies so to say God is the answer based on information 2000 years ago is childish. Cant we just understand were both wrong and try to go forward with innovative ideas?

• August 17

### Perry @ 5:03 pm

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but in western civilization I’m not aware anyone insisted the earth was flat. The story of the queen thinking Columbus would sail off the edge of the earth was invented in the 1800′s by people who hated Catholics and wanted to make them look dumb. People in the east thought the earth was flat until fairly recent times but people in the Judeo-Christian world have known the earth was round for at least 2500 years.

My blog post does bring an innovative approach to the question: It tells you what logic says must be true about the source of the cosmos. If you have innovative ideas of your own you are welcome to bring them forward.

• August 18

### Richard @ 12:14 pm

According to http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/febible.htm the bible says the earth is immovable and flat, and a google search on “bible flat earth” reveals other sites with other bible references.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth mostly supports Perry’s view about western civilization. However, it does mention some flat-earthers, eg:

In Brockport, N.Y, in 1887, M.C. Flanders argued the case of a flat Earth for three nights against two scientific gentlemen defending sphericity. Five townsmen chosen as judges voted unanimously for a flat Earth at the end. The case was reported in the Brockport Democrat.

‘Professor’ Joseph W. Holden of Maine, a former justice of the peace, gave numerous lectures in New England and lectured on flat Earth theory at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. His fame stretched to North Carolina where the Statesville Semi-weekly Landmark recorded at his death in 1900: ‘We hold to the doctrine that the earth is flat ourselves and we regret exceedingly to learn that one of our members is dead’.

After Rowbotham’s death, Lady Elizabeth Blount created the Universal Zetetic Society in 1893 in England and created a journal called Earth not a Globe Review, which sold for twopence, as well as one called Earth which only lasted from 1901 to 1904. She held that the Bible was the unquestionable authority on the natural world and argued that one could not be a Christian and believe the Earth to be a globe. Well-known members included E. W. Bullinger of the Trinitarian Bible Society, Edward Haughton, senior moderator in natural science in Trinity College, Dublin and an archbishop. She repeated Rowbotham’s experiments, generating some interesting counter-experiments, but interest declined after the First World War.[138] The movement gave rise to several books which argued for a flat, stationary earth, including Terra Firma by David Wardlaw Scott.

In 1898, during his solo circumnavigation of the world, Joshua Slocum encountered a group of flat-Earthers in Durban. Three Boers, one of them a clergyman, presented Slocum with a pamphlet in which they set out to prove that the world was flat. Paul Kruger, President of the Transvaal Republic, advanced the same view: “You don’t mean round the world, it is impossible!

• January 20

### Bob the Chef @ 6:38 am

Nein, Monsieur. While I don’t know that Earth’s roundness was known by ancient, pre-Christian Jews (or whether they even cared about such things, as most people did not), it was well known to the Greeks as well as Christian cultures (the myth that the Middle Ages were dominated by the views that the earth was flat is 20th century nonsense; it’s well documented, and it sufficed to realize that the heliocentric model held in the early part of that period dealt with a spherical earth, not a sheet being orbited by pancakes).

Citing the bible does nothing to support your case, since it is a collection of theological works, not a scientific one. We still use figurative language today (the sun rises; Kansas is as flat as a pancake). Similar accusations of heliocentrism have been lodged by pundits against the Catholic Church, when the Church could not have cared less which orbited which. It was of no theological consequence, and those in the Church who harbored, in addition to their pastoral, academic, or administrative duties, interests in such scientific matters (Copernicus among them) rightly told an annoying Galileo to piss off because he failed to present a conclusive demonstration or proof that would prefer geocentrism over heliocentrism (may I remind you that at that time, there was no reason to prefer one over the other: both “saved appearances” just as adequately, given the knowledge of the day).

It would be nice if people stopped repeating stupid myths invented to discredit institutions or people they hate. It’s petty and deceitful. You may not like the RCC, or more likely what you believe it to be, but what good is slander?

2. November 14

### Tony Rush @ 1:58 pm

Perry, I’m not making this an issue of “right” or “wrong”. It’s simply a matter of workability.

Draw a circle around all matter, energy, space and time and label it “Universe” and you cannot definitively say that it is dependent on something else outside it. You can speculate that it might be….but there is where the line is drawn between theorem and law.

Simply put, we don’t have enough information to say emphatically that Godel’s theorem is true. That’s why it’s a theorem. We can point to multiple ways that it IS true. But, it still makes its own assumptions in matters that cannot be observably demonstrated.

Thanks for the dialogue!

Tony

• November 14

### Perry @ 3:57 pm

A theorem is not the same as a theory. Gödel wrote a formal proof of his theorem. You can read his proof here:

On formally undecidable propositions of Principia Mathematica and related systems

This is why we have enough information to say emphatically that Gödel’s theorem is true. To say otherwise is to reject the very process of mathematics, proof and logic.

• March 26

### Zach @ 2:16 am

It seems to me that you’re applying logic ti everything but your own proofs.

Unless I misunderstand, Godel’s Theorem as you apply it boils down to your explanation of inductive reasoning, in that, you have to make assumptions in order to prove something.

My biggest issue with this is that, you cannot then prove your assumptions are any truer, because you have a never ending regression of assumptions. You have then, somehow, gone from Godel’s theorem which boils down to, nothing can be proven definitively, since all proofs are based on assumptions, to “proving” an existence of god. I miss that leap of logic.

Some of your assumptions seems incredibly flawed, for example your assumption “In the history of the universe we also see the introduction of information, some 3 billion years ago. It came in the form of the Genetic code, which is symbolic and immaterial.” How is this the introduction of information? The genetic codes are written using chemicals and enzymes. Those chemicals are just bits of information as well, made up of individual molecules and elements. Are not those molecules predating the genetic code?

Take, for example, the classic argument for intelligent design. You come across a watch on a beach. You then make the assumption that someone must have created it, for in your experience you’ve never witnessed something so complex coalesce without intelligence creating it. But, and here is my central problem with your writing, how can you prove that assumption is true? And since you cannot do that without making another assumption, how can you prove the watch wasn’t coalesced, randomly, by nature and chaos?

How can you prove anything at all, from a theorem which states nothing can be proven without that outside observer, without some set of assumptions that may or not be true themselves.

• March 26

### Perry @ 5:41 am

Zach,

You did not read my original article closely enough. My actual words:

“The Incompleteness of the universe isn’t proof that God exists. But… it IS proof that in order to construct a consistent model of the universe, belief in God is not just 100% logical… it’s necessary.”

If you read my entire article very carefully you will see that I have made a 100% logical progression from Gödel’s theorem to an understanding that ultimately the universe and all logic inevitably regress back to ONE unprovable but necessary axiom. If I have made a leap of logic then I invite anyone to show me where it is.

The closest thing to a leap in logic is the INFERENCE that the laws of mathematics, and therefore also Gödel’s theorem, apply to the universe. I cannot prove this. But if you do not assume this, all of science itself comes apart at the seams. Every science experiment in modern times assumes the universe is mathematical. And if it is then Gödel’s theorem applies to the universe just as it applies to pure mathematics.

In other words I do not have the full authority of mathematical proof in saying this but I do have the full authority of science. If algebra, calculus, vectors, complex numbers and differential equations apply to the universe then so does incompleteness.

As for information theory and chemicals, once again you have not taken the time to read the referenced links. You will need to go to http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/faq and apprise yourself of information theory as it relates to biology. I am using the definition of Claude Shannon information which is based on a complete communication system. Chemicals alone do not contain any information at all according to the Shannon definition. You have to have encoder, code and decoder to have Shannon information.

All systems of encoder / code / decoder are created by conscious minds. No known exceptions.

Have you ever seen a watch coalesce randomly by nature and chaos?

Without making the same sort of unfounded presumption which you accuse me of, have you ever personally seen ANY machine of any kind coalesce randomly by nature and chaos? Any motor? Any pump? Any encoding / decoding system? Have you ever witnessed any such thing in your own personal experience? Ever?

David Hume allegedly overturned Paley’s watch argument by pointing out that the analogy between a living organism and a watch was flawed. Information theory and Shannon’s model of communication put Paley’s watch argument back on solid ground and overturn Hume’s argument. The following statement is the reason why:

“Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies.” (Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2005)

If you can find one example of a naturally occurring code I’ll write you a check for \$10,000. The specification for doing so is here: http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/solve/

• May 4

### Bob @ 4:10 pm

““The Incompleteness of the universe isn’t proof that God exists. But… it IS proof that in order to construct a consistent model of the universe, belief in God is not just 100% logical… it’s necessary.””

You didn’t read Goedel’s theory carefully enough. It is logically and mathematically impossible to construct a consistent model of the universe. Goedel’s theorem proves that any such model will either be incomplete or inconsistent. That is the very essence of the theorem. In fact, if you somehow manage to create a model of the universe that is consistent and complete, Goedel’s theorem shows us beyond all doubt that it is certainly and provably wrong.

• May 4

### Perry @ 8:28 pm

Bob,

You didn’t read my statements carefully enough. I have not proven that God exists. I have inferred that God exists. How? By showing that the only way the universe can be consistent is to be incomplete. You get to decide between inconsistency and incompleteness. Which do you have more faith in? God, or irrationality?

• March 2

### Jason @ 5:28 am

• March 2

### Perry @ 5:31 pm

I used inductive reasoning to infer not prove my point. Because what I can prove is that the opposite conclusion demands an irrational universe.

3. November 14

### Rod MacKenzie @ 4:46 pm

I agree with your logic, Perry (and Godel’s), thanks for sharing.

Any assumptions that are made when discussing where the universe came from seem to me to be related to the law of causality…anything that begins to exist has a cause. I think that’s a safe assumption.

Philosopher William Lane Craig puts it like this:

Premise 1): Anything that begins to exist has a cause.
Premise 2): The universe began to exist.
Conclusion: The Universe had a cause.

1) The ability of things popping into existence from nothing without a cause is not worth arguing.

2) Both science and philosophy support the idea that the universe had a beginning.

Therefore…it must have had a cause.

It doesn’t specifically point to the Christian God that I believe in, I have other reasons for that belief.

However, based on Godel and a finite universe I don’t think one can argue that the idea of a god of some sort is illogical.

What caused God? It’s not a coherent question. By definition God is eternal…uncaused…was always there, unlike the finite universe.

So “What caused God?” becomes “What caused the un-caused being?” Doesn’t make sense.

Always interested in this kind of discussion, though don’t usually have so much to say…thanks for posting!

Rod MacKenzie

• November 14

### Perry @ 5:01 pm

Rod, you’re right. And if Gödel’s theorem applies to a rock then it applies equally to a planet and equally to all planets and to the whole universe. There’s nothing about zooming in or zooming out that suddenly changes everything.

• November 15

### Rod MacKenzie @ 8:28 am

Perry,
I checked out your talk on Information Theory: “If you can read this, I can prove God exists” on the Cosmic Fingerprints site and found it excellent.

I would like to offer a link to this talk in a Blog I’m working on re: the rationality of the Christian worldview…I had already planned my next post around the same topic.

Do you mind? If not, should I just send readers to the Cosmic Fingerprints site, or do you have this talk available on one of your own sites that you’d prefer I link to?

Thanks,
Rod

• November 15

### Perry @ 9:50 am

Rod,

Use it in any way you want. Also there’s a link “Origin of Life Video” which is similar – that may be useful too. I salute your efforts – nice site you have!

Perry

• November 15

### Rod MacKenzie @ 11:28 am

Thanks Perry,
I look forward to reading more interesting stuff from you, and I’ll definitely be linking to Cosmic Fingerprints from my Rational Faith site.
Rod

• March 5

### graeme @ 4:03 am

It’s also interesting that so many that have posted here can point to the universe and say that since it exists, it must have a cause, and if there is a cause then a god of some form must exist in order to cause it.
If it is accepted as true that nothing can exist without a creator, then God CANNOT exist without being caused by something else.
If you claim that God exists, and can do so without a cause since that is part of the definition of what it means to be God, then it MUST follow that other things (such as the universe) could do so without a creator as well.

• March 6

### Perry @ 1:10 pm

The reason the universe cannot be uncaused is because of entropy. If it were infinitely old, there would be no available energy remaining. You can’t burn a candle twice. Modern cosmology has established that the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old and began in a single point expanding with the big bang.

Gödel’s theorem shows that the cause of the universe has to be outside the universe, since the universe is by necessity incomplete.

• March 6

### Matt @ 2:45 pm

The single direction of entropy and our perception of an “arrow of time” are closely bound together (we remember the past and not the future, and perceive everything as inexorably rolling from the past into the future, and at the same time from a low entropy state to a high entropy state) but it is conceivable that we may simply be in a region of a larger universe, where chance fluctuation created a (temporary) condition of low entropy, that is now returning to a ‘baseline’ level of entropy over billions of years.

In this wider universe, without the steady progression of entropy there might equally be little in the way of an orderly flow of time, matter interacting in ways that are very hard to imagine intuitively (I don’t claim to be able to understand what that would be like, which I’m aware must sound frustratingly similar to the “it’s a mystery” so often put forward as a nonexplanation by religion, but the model is workable, and it would be a way to explain our universe without appeal to a truly unknowable supernatural force.

The ‘outer’ universe would be an inhospitable place for our kind of life, but the idea would have some accord with the multiverse idea; relatively distinct universes expanding into their own pockets or bubbles of space.

I’m not saying that’s how it happened, or that it’s how I believe it happened; my stance would be to file it under “maybe plausible, pending further evidence”.

• March 8

### Perry @ 5:53 pm

Matt,

I think it’s significant that in order to avoid the obvious consequences of entropy you have to invoke an undetectable universe in which entropy works differently than it works here.

I’d have a hard time calling such a theory parsimonious. Or scientific.

Are you unconditionally committed to atheism as a worldview or are you willing to follow the evidence where it leads?

On what basis do you assert that a supernatural force is unknowable?

• August 9

### vijeno @ 11:16 pm

Why do you define that which is outside the known universe as uncaused? How do you arrive at the conclusion that it is?

If anything exists, then it is reasonable to assume that it is caused, yes. This seems to go for anything that has ever been observed. It is mere speculation to say that it does not go for a being that is outside the known universe. In fact, once we knew that being, it would instantly become part of the known universe, and thus, caused.

• August 10

### Perry @ 7:40 am

Inevitably you arrive at the necessity of an uncaused cause. Just do a Google search on “infinite regression” and you’ll quickly see why philosophers universally reject it.

Christian theology has always defined God as NOT being part of the known universe, but a cause of it. This is entirely different from eastern religious views like pantheism and panentheism which see God as being part of the universe.

• August 12

### vijeno @ 12:51 am

Please name your reasoning for rejecting an infinite regress. What christianity says about god is as irrelevant at what a few philosophers have said, since this is only an appeal to authority. In a discussion among adults, you show your logical deductions, and we can talk.

• August 13

### Perry @ 10:39 am

From Wikipedia:

An infinite regress in a series of propositions arises if the truth of proposition P1 requires the support of proposition P2, and for any proposition in the series Pn, the truth of Pn requires the support of the truth of Pn+1. There would never be adequate support for P1, because the infinite sequence needed to provide such support could not be completed.

A vicious regress is “an attempt to solve a problem which re-introduced the same problem in the proposed solution. If one continues along the same lines, the initial problem will recur infinitely and will never be solved.

An infinite regress such as you are advocating only proliferates the problem you are trying to solve right here. It is a non-answer.

I have showed entirely logical deductions. I have not appealed to authority, only Gödel’s theorem and logic.

So far as I can tell, your only reason for rejecting my answer is that you don’t like it. Can you present logical explanation for the origin of the universe that doesn’t just go around in circles?

4. November 16

### Alasdair @ 7:34 am

Very interesting stuff.

This is a bit off topic but I find myself saying, “Yep; something must have created the universe”, but then the next thing that pops into mind is “so what”? Why do people go to such extraordinary lengths to ‘prove’ it to others (like you do Perry ? Even going as far as killing people.

How does that faith help us or impact our lives? Obviously the answer to that depends on each person’s concept of what the creator is, but to me it doesn’t help and shouldn’t make a bit of difference to how we behave.

• November 16

### Perry @ 9:44 am

Alasdair,

There is a huge battle in the marketplace of ideas regarding the existence of God. Look at how many books on this topic are bestsellers during the last few years. Yes, I have gone to great lengths…. Even to the point of writing an 1800 word summary of Gödel’s theorem :^>

Actually I have done much more than just that, which you can see if you visit my other websites http://www.coffeehousetheology.com and http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com.

I believe that no civilization rises higher than its idea of God. A lot of people consider faith to be a private personal thing which others should not be bothered with; but I think that idea is false. Our faith, whatever it may be, greatly affects what we do.

The US Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these things to be self-evident, that all men are endowed with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The very idea of human rights is a faith statement. It is not scientifically provable. It can’t be derived from Darwinism. It comes from a belief not only in God but God’s relation to mankind.

These things matter a lot.

A counterexample would be the abuses of communism in the 20th century. Is it merely a coincidence that the governments who killed more than 100 million people just happened to be officially atheistic? Atheist regimes killed more people in one century than religious wars killed in all centuries put together. Could that really be just a happy accident?

A few articles I think might provoke more thinking on this:

http://www.perrymarshall.com/merry-christmas-2008/

http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/faq

To the average guy on the street it seems like people are good or bad simply because they’re either good people or bad people and religion has nothing to do with it. But I would challenge you to press further: WHY should I believe in human rights? WHY should we take care of sick people and handicapped people? WHY should we try to eradicate poverty? What happens when you drill down to bedrock on those questions? What do you find?

Perry

• July 14

### Rick Kettner @ 5:44 pm

“The very idea of human rights is a faith statement. It is not scientifically provable. It can’t be derived from Darwinism. It comes from a belief not only in God but God’s relation to mankind.”

@Perry – A very strong argument against this point… http://bit.ly/oleLkm

Morality, virtue, and concepts like “human rights” are objective. They are necessary for human survival, prosperity, and advancement.

• July 14

### Perry @ 6:23 pm

Can you explain, in your own words:
Why is human flourishing objectively good?
What is the objective standard of goodness?
How is anyone duty bound to be self-made like John Galt or to embrace Ayn Rand’s virtues?

• July 14

### Rick Kettner @ 7:28 pm

I can explain it in my own words, but note that its not a matter of me suggesting it (that would make the argument subjective). Rather, its the logic presented in such an explanation, and the objective outcome that results from following the principles. I hope you read the original link, as Rand is clearly more versed in her own views, but I’ll do my best here…

1. Human flourishing is objectively good because it protects the only objectively verifiable intelligent life we know of, and as beings our primary rational motivation is to sustain our own life and well being.

2. Goodness is that which sustains life and promotes happiness. I am not aware of any rational argument that objects with this idea? I understand some people make irrationally self-interested decisions (murder, drug use, self loathing, etc.) due to lack of education, lack of ability to identify how this act hurts their happiness/security/stability/etc., or lack of ability to use reason to promote their own well being. However, as this sort of thinking is grounded in irrationality, it is irrelevant. Objectively, goodness is not achieved by these acts.

3. We have free choice. We are not bound to be self-made or to even make rationally self-interested choices. This may be considered a downside to natural selection, random chance, and even the concept of choice. However, we are in fact “motivated” to embrace such virtues, as they objectively contribute to our own well being. As Ayn Rand would say “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality”. That is how choice works, but the objective outcome is clear. We must exercise our reason and logic to maximize our happiness, prosperity, and advancement.

How do you objectively conclude God is moral? What authority does he report to, or how do you conclude that the only possible kind of “God” would by definition define morality? How is God bound to be virtuous, and moreover, how can we reconcile the idea of a moral God with the inherent destructive, torturous, and cruel process of evolution?

• July 22

### Perry @ 2:01 pm

Rick,

Allow me to play devil’s advocate. In principle I agree with much of what you’re saying and there’s even a part of me that likes Ayn Rand.

1. If human flourishing is objectively good because it protects objectively verifiable intelligent life, then what about humans that are not objectively intelligent? What about those that fall below a certain IQ level or whatever? How do you not end up with eugenics?

2. Goodness is that which sustains whose life, and promotes whose happiness? I agree that people do harmful things for stupid reasons but sometimes they do harmful things for very noble reasons. The Chinese have mandatory abortions and cruel laws to limit the population. There’s a very persuasive argument that this is necessary. Are they right? On what basis do you argue that this is right or wrong? if you say it’s right can you prove it’s not wrong? If you say it’s wrong can you prove it’s not right?

3. Yes we do have free choice, yet there’s almost universal agreement that some choices are very bad. Is this agreement just social contract or is it rooted in something objective?

My argument for objective morality is metaphysical. Ayn Rand’s arguments are metaphysical too. Much of her thinking is philosophically incompatible with the New Atheism BTW.

To your last question: How do you objectively conclude God is moral, what authority does he report to?

In the theistic view, the morality of God is taken as an axiom. As I said to one guy several years ago, “I do not judge God, God judges me. I consider this statement to be self-evident, requiring no further explanation or justification.”

If God as theists generally understand Him exists, then yes, this statement does require no further justification.

I have already provided logical, mathematical and scientific inference to the existence of God. This conversation extends to moral questions about God. My logic is:

1) Science, math and logic infer the existence of God (which I am of course advocating here and on the other blog, as we converse)
2) The existence of God can then be logically taken as grounds for believing that objective moral values exist

I have not proven that God is moral so far but I have shown that my own worldview is logically sound. I have rational reason to posit an infinite limitless being.

In my opinion, “objective morality” only has any real meaning if there is judgment and consequences in the afterlife. Real suffering and real reward. Aside from that, even if God DOES exist, it doesn’t matter, because in theory you can mow down children at a daycare with a machine gun and get away with it. Western conceptions of God say you will ultimately never get away with that. Again that is the only definition of objective morality that has any teeth. (We could also consider eastern ideas like Karma of course. But that, too, comes back to consequences.)

In my view of the world, science/math gives grounding for believing in God and from that point forward, moral questions are theological questions.

In asking the questions you ask in the last paragraph, you are asking theological questions. Even your question about evolution being cruel is a theological question. Are you willing to consider my answers on theological grounds?

• July 24

### Rick Kettner @ 2:00 pm

I’ll do my best to answer your questions based on my current understanding. As with most things – it’s a work in progress…

1. There is always room for charity and humanitarian efforts. Often times our happiness is in part derived from helping those we determine are truly in need (recognizing we could have easily ended up in their situation). On the other hand, I think our happiness is harmed by being forced to help those we feel are taking advantage of the system (through government or social obligation). This is just one of many examples of where constant individual thought and reason are critical to the achievement of happiness, and how there is no “fast food” philosophy that simply has ready-made answers to every question. I certainly wouldn’t derive happiness from watching people die due to inability to sustain themselves, and I sincerely doubt anyone driven by rational self-interest would either. What I am quite sure of is forcing people to give up prosperity to help others (some that need it, others that done) is a terribly short sighted approach to ensuring lasting prosperity of any kind.

2. This is a very complicated situation that is based on a wide range of fundamental issues. First off, I don’t agree with the vast majority of government regulations. The actual problem here stems from centuries of irrational thought – from people that have been given permission to act irrationally through both faith-based philosophies and government based handouts. When people are forced to truly think through the implications of their own decisions, based on knowing they will directly face the consequences, government regulation is not necessary. A very practical example, my wife and I have decided we won’t be having more than two kids – for the very fear of over-population. Reasonable and practical decisions cannot be forced by government mandate, and arbitrary rules that attempt to ban bad choices only create new problems (not to mention, promote a less rational society). History has proven that government central planning is simply incapable of efficiently solving anything.

3. Choices are only bad when people have limited understanding, reduced critical thinking, or don’t have a direct connection to the consequences of their choices. This is where I feel the message that “faith is a virtue” is simply one of the most destructive ideas in the history of mankind (here I make a fundamental distinction between blind faith in the unobservable and reasonable faith based on objective/observable evidence – many theists like to equate the two in order to minimize the advancement of knowledge and understanding). Furthermore, any attempt to place a barrier between an individuals decisions and the resulting consequences hurts mans ability to draw necessary connections within their mind.

“If God as theists generally understand Him exists, then yes, this statement does require no further justification.”

This entire concept is based on faith… of course it requires mountains of justification, evidence, and proof. We have been debating the existence of God separately from this, but that isn’t even the point. Assuming you still choose to use selective inductive reasoning to infer there is a God, I cannot imagine how you can connect this seemingly indescribable being with one very specific religion and one very specific understanding of his moral status. This entire idea strongly re-enforces my point that such beliefs are heavily rooted in pre-existing beliefs, confirmation bias, and selective reasoning. I don’t feel the need to convince you of this, but am simply sharing my outside perspective.

“In my opinion, “objective morality” only has any real meaning if there is judgment and consequences in the afterlife.”

This statement fails to address how God himself would be moral or how there is any proof whatsoever of an afterlife. Does God have no arbiter? Who is there to judge his actions? What consequences does he face? Who should conclude that evolution is a painful, destructive, and a tortuous method to bring about life – and that perhaps God should be punished as a result? Just as the prime mover argument suggests God would need a cause, my response is that God would need his own objective arbiter in order to be moral (based on the argument you are making). Furthermore, I have yet to see any objective evidence for anything resembling an afterlife, let alone a future existence in which we are reminded of our past “sins” and are punished for them.

Therefore, I would strongly suggest that the only real arbiter is reality. When we steal, we risk being stolen from (or at least must then live with this fear). When we kill, we risk being killed (again, at very least live with this fear). Every action or choice has it’s consequences. When it comes to “God” being an arbiter, this doesn’t seem to actually affect change. Many people are irrational enough to believe they are doing good when they are doing evil, or perhaps simply don’t believe there is a God and therefore don’t fear punishment at all. In theory, their actions would not be affected by there simply being a God – especially one that makes his existence difficult, or perhaps impossible, to verify.

Therefore, it is only the immediate and tangible effects of their decisions, tied with improved reason and logic to forecast such effects, that will direct positive change. The more we understand reality and dismiss irrational faith, the more likely we will be to make correct decisions and reduce negative consequences. Do I think we will even reach perfection? Not necessarily, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it in the correct direction – one that affects actual change.

As far as me being willing to “consider (your) questions on theological grounds” – I fail to see how we need to step into the world of faith and mysticism to objectively verify morality. Again, even if you conclude there is a God, I see no path to determine he is moral, that a hell should/must exist, or that any form of punishment/reward beyond the real world exists. Such ideas seem to be overwhelmingly based in pre-existing beliefs, and don’t seem like efficient ways to deal with irrational decisions (if anything, theism erodes critical thinking by promoting faith and belief in many ideas – of which the existence of “God” is just one of many unprovable assertions).

I accept reality as the final arbiter, because wither individuals accept it or not, there is no escaping it’s consequences. We don’t have to believe anything, be fearful of a mystical force, or ponder unknown implications in order to be exposed to the natural consequences of our actions. Just like a free-market economy is extremely efficient (even with some elements outside of the control of individuals), reality is extremely efficient at delivering appropriate consequences (even with some results being outside of individuals control). Both free-market economies and reality-based morals have disruptions based in irrationality, but as we move away from faith and towards reason, logic, and critical thinking – things improve exponentially.

• August 9

### Perry @ 11:03 am

Rick,

Every totalitarian regime in the history of man has applied individual logical thought and reason. In many respects the programs of Lenin and Stalin were entirely logical, from someone’s point of view. We need to think through these things, we need to apply rationality… I don’t see where you have added anything helpful here. Sounds like a negotiation to me, where the most powerful person wins.

You haven’t told me whether it’s OK to force women to have abortions in China yet. I’m interested in your answer.

“Choices are only bad when people have limited understanding, reduced critical thinking, or don’t have a direct connection to the consequences of their choices.”

So choices are always good when people have unlimited understanding, expanded critical thinking, and have a direct connection to the consequences of their choices? Does anyone have unlimited understanding? Does anyone have direct connection to all the consequences of their choices? How does your statement help us make right decisions? What have you really added to the discussion?

I’m looking in vain here for anything here which could be considered an objective set of moral values. It feels as though you’re trying to avoid doing just that. Actually the most interesting thing you said was this:

“Therefore, it is only the immediate and tangible effects of their decisions, tied with improved reason and logic to forecast such effects, that will direct positive change.”

This is precisely what’s wrong with a purely Darwinian worldview. Because all of us create consequences with our actions that are far, far removed from us.

All you’ve said here is that actions have consequences. We all know that. So how does non-theism give us objective morality? You’ve spent some time insulting religious people but you didn’t answer my original questions.

You asked, how do I know God is good? One source of knowledge is my own personal experiences with miracles and healing, as well as scientific evaluations of the same.
See http://www.coffeehousetheology.com/miracles/

• August 9

### Rick Kettner @ 12:52 pm

“Sounds like a negotiation to me, where the most powerful person wins.”

The “most powerful person” doesn’t win when someone else loses. A truly rational person would recognize any gain based on “power” comes at someone else’s expense. Are you truly happy when you feel you’ve taken advantage of someone as opposed to winning fair and square? Of course not. A truly rational person knows that the joys of accomplishment come from honest achievement – and this is often best accomplished through mutual gain. Even those that “lose” in direct competition gain in overall prosperity when the winning idea/product becomes clear to all. A rational person would understand that the other individual has a natural advantage in this area, and would move on to innovate or contribute in another way. A rational person recognizes that his own happiness is enhanced by the happiness of those around him.

“You haven’t told me whether it’s OK to force women to have abortions in China yet. I’m interested in your answer.”

I didn’t intend to dodge this. It’s never ok to force someone to do something against their will. The problem of overpopulation is one that solves itself in a rational society. What is the purpose in having children if you know their existence will suffer because of over-population? Reasoning people would see this issue coming from a mile away and would solve it rationally.

Your example fails to identify the many factors that contribute to the original problem. Lack of education, lack of critical thinking and reason, and centuries of crippled technological advancement due to some of these multiplying factors. You can come up with tricky scenarios to challenge my views, but it is essential to ask questions like – where did the initial problem come from? I find it curious that you don’t blame your concept of “God” for the limited space we have here on earth, the limited resources, and the irrationality that contributes to women having too many babies in the first place.

“So choices are always good when people have unlimited understanding, expanded critical thinking, and have a direct connection to the consequences of their choices? Does anyone have unlimited understanding? Does anyone have direct connection to all the consequences of their choices? How does your statement help us make right decisions? What have you really added to the discussion?”

I’ve already addressed these points. I stated we may never have perfect knowledge, but we certainly do recognize that the more knowledge we have – the better our decisions are. We can choose to reject any personal responsibility of choice onto an imagined “all knowing God”… but that only supports my point that knowledge enhances decision making abilities while failing to prove the existence of such a being. Simply wanting perfect answers doesn’t mean there is a God ready to provide them.

“This is precisely what’s wrong with a purely Darwinian worldview. Because all of us create consequences with our actions that are far, far removed from us.”

In saying this, you are not contradicting my view that having more information, thought, and critical thinking is beneficial. You are simply asserting we will never have enough information to make perfect decisions. I fail to see how this changes the fact that a more rational world would be a better place… or to see how any theistic moral code or concept of God has been proven effective to date. Again, just because you want perfection now doesn’t mean there is a God waiting to provide it.

“You asked, how do I know God is good? One source of knowledge is my own personal experiences with miracles and healing, as well as scientific evaluations of the same.”

This is a clear example of selective reasoning. How and why do you dismiss blatant examples of world suffering, starvation, and the destruction of natural disasters? Your willingness to accept examples of good and dismiss examples of bad (or perhaps attribute them to a “devil”) is indicative of your overwhelming confirmation bias. Why do you arbitrarily assert “God” is good?

Can you prove the devil exists? Is he responsible for natural disasters? If you say “sin” or “evil” is proof of the devils existence – how can these are not a direct result of “God”? What evidence do you have that objectively proves God is inherently good and therefore couldn’t also create destruction and suffering?

The entire theistic belief system is based on indoctrination and acceptance of arbitrary ideas. If “God” is by definition “good”, why did he create the devil? If he didn’t create the devil, then God isn’t outside the existence of everything. If there is no devil – why is there evil/sin as you would define it? If there is no evil/sin… why is their heaven/hell or any form of post-life award/punishment?

We need to blindly accept the entire theistic message in order for various definitions to hold any merit. God has to be arbitrarily defined as perfect/good in order to support the notion that your concept of evil/sin proves the existence of a devil. All of these arbitrary definitions break down when we start asking for objective evidence of their validity.

5. November 17

### James R Meyer @ 7:13 am

Perry says:
‘You are invited to demonstrate a flaw in Gödel’s logic if you can. And I will certainly be happy to post that argument here on my blog.’

Well, it’s not that hard to point out the flaw in Godel’s argument. It isn’t something that can be put into a few lines, but you can see it here:
http://jamesrmeyer.com/godel_flaw.html

and in simplified form, together with a simplified explanation of Godel’s proof here:
http://jamesrmeyer.com/ffgit/GodelSimplified0.html

• November 17

### Perry @ 8:36 am

James,

Q: Are you only seeking to show a flaw in Gödel’s original paper, or are you seeking to broadly show that the Incompleteness theorem in its various current forms is fundamentally incorrect?

Perry

• November 22

### Perry @ 2:17 am

James,

I am not sufficiently trained in formal mathematics to decide, myself, whether you are right or wrong. Perhaps I could with time but that would require a very significant time commitment from me. Readers can decide for themselves.

I believe everyone is being fair with you. Also I believe that if you are correct about this, you can get this published. There is surely a mathematics journal that would be willing to risk opposing the Gödel doctrine. Such a thing would be a newsworthy event.

My own judgment is based on several things:

1) The conversations I see here are generally not vitriolic. There is real discussion happening here. I know what knuckleheads sound like when they’re in denial of losing an argument, and these people are neither knuckleheads, nor are they losing the argument.
2) This is not a shades of gray issue with dozens of difficult-to-quantify factors, like arguing about, say, the myriad causes of global warming. This is math and logic.
3) Gödel’s theorem has been scrutinized and obsessed over for decades. The Logical Positivists in particular had enormous motivations to disprove Incompleteness when Gödel first published his paper; yet they could not. I find it difficult to believe that Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell and even Hilbert would have been unable to find this flaw 50+ years ago if it were real. Not to mention thousands of others who have followed.

Again, readers can judge for themselves. In my opinion there is a slim possibility that the mathematical profession has been wrong about Gödel for 80 years but it’s not a horse I’m willing to bet on.

If you are right then I salute you and in any case encourage you to consider getting your findings published.

6. December 23

### lvleph @ 9:53 pm

I am a mathematician, and I can tell you for sure that you have a basic misunderstanding of what the theory of everything is; the theory of everything is a grand unifying field theory. It has nothing to do with having a system that is entirely self contained, but rather a system that can describe the fundamental forces simply. Your assumption that a conscious being must be the external observer seems kind of ridiculous to me, and is a giant jump. You might as well be Descartes with his cogito ergo sum, ergo deus. What a ridiculous notion.

• December 23

### Perry @ 9:58 pm

A system that describes the fundamental forces simply is still a system, and still subject to Gödel’s theorem.

You’re welcome to challenge any specific statement I have made. I maintain that everything I have said here is 100% logical and that the conclusions follow naturally from the premises.

7. December 29

### Mark Widawer @ 3:17 pm

Perry,
I thoroughly enjoyed your article, and the mental, logical, and theological exercise it plays in. There’s nothing like hangin’ out with smart people to make you smarter.
So frankly, with all the smart people you attract, I’m surprised no one’s mentioned this…
Just as “I am lying” is a paradox, so is Godel’s theorem. All we need to do is draw a circle around all the things that Godel’s theorem applies to. Outside of that circle must be all the things that the theorem doesn’t apply to. Therefore, Godel’s theorem does not apply to all the things that Godel’s theorem applies to.
Oh! (smoke coming from my ears) My head hurts!
Is there a flaw in this application of Godel’s theorem?
-Mark

p.s. All my best wishes for a healthy, happy, giving and prosperous new year, Perry.

• December 30

### Perry @ 10:36 am

Mark,

Gödel’s theorem applies to all systems, statements, objects and propositions.

The thing outside the biggest circle is not a system or statement or object or proposition. It’s real not imaginary; it’s axiomatic; it’s conscious; it’s boundless and immaterial.

Which is to say, Gödel’s theorem does not apply to God. Rather, I would say that Gödel’s theorem is itself contingent on God. Consider how God identified Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14: Simply “I AM.”

Happy New Year to you too Mark! Great to hear from ya yesterday.

Perry

P.S.: There’s a lengthy conversation with a guy named Derek on my other blog about something very closely related to this, it’s at http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/incompleteness/comment-page-1/#comment-3241 and http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/incompleteness/comment-page-1/#comment-3725

8. January 12

### Jorge @ 6:24 pm

I loved the article until it stop being descriptive and tried to argument for the existence of god. You made some really big jumps there, pal.

I liked your approach to explaining the existence of god, but you have to be honest with yourself.
At least you are not the kind of christian who believes Jesus used to ride a velociraptor.

cheers!

• January 12

### Perry @ 9:53 pm

You’re welcome to explain exactly where, logically speaking, I made “really big jumps.”

9. January 13

### Derek @ 12:47 am

It seems that you have grossly misunderstood Godel. There are actually two theorems.

Number 1:
“Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. In particular, for any consistent, effectively generated formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement that is true,[1] but not provable in the theory (Kleene 1967, p. 250).”

Number 2
“For any formal effectively generated theory T including basic arithmetical truths and also certain truths about formal provability, T includes a statement of its own consistency if and only if T is inconsistent.”

(Pulled from Wikipedia.)

These do not apply to all systems. They only apply to those that express arithmetic.

• January 13

### Perry @ 6:45 am

If logic and arithmetic describe the universe, then Gödel’s theorem applies to the universe.

If logic and arithmetic do not describe the universe, then scientific thought also does not apply to the universe.

Everything I have said here is contingent on science and math being valid tools for studying the physical world. My conclusions here are therefore as valid as the practice of science itself.

I do concede that the practice of science is based on, literally, FAITH, that the universe is rational. By the way, the notion that the universe is rational originally came from Judeo-Christian theology. See http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/faq/#christian

• January 13

### Derek @ 4:43 pm

“Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle – something you have to assume but cannot prove.”

My point was that this is not what Godel’s theorems say at all. The theorems say nothing about having to assume the existence of anything outside the ‘circle.’ What you have done is taken a metaphor and extended it far beyond its bounds, and the metaphor was incorrect in the first place.

• January 13

### Perry @ 4:50 pm

Derek,

Quoting you, the theorem says:

“…there is an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable IN the theory.” (Emphasis mine.)

This means that is axiomatic. It relies on an axiom, which is something you know to be true or have to assume to be true but which is unprovable. If it is consistent it is incomplete. Anything that proves its consistency is outside the statement. Therefore there is something outside the statement.

• January 13

### Derek @ 7:33 pm

“This means that is axiomatic. It relies on an axiom, which is something you know to be true or have to assume to be true but which is unprovable. If it is consistent it is incomplete. Anything that proves its consistency is outside the statement. Therefore there is something outside the statement.”

Perhaps some clarification will help. All formal systems are axiomatic. A proof is when you show some statement to be a result of the axioms. So such a statement cannot rely upon an axiom, per Godel’s theorem. Also you are assuming that there is something that does, in fact, prove it’s consistency, which Godel’s theorems do not assert.
You also are confusing objects of language with the language itself. Just because parts of the universe can be described by mathematics, does not make the universe a formal system. It’s like calling a chair a noun. ‘Chair’ is a noun, but a chair is not; only words can be nouns.

• January 18

### Perry @ 7:38 pm

Derek,

If you don’t think the universe can be accurately described by mathematics – and that it is not a formal system – you are free to take that position. At the same time you are then taking a position that science is a questionable endeavor.

If a statement is a result of an axiom then it relies on the axiom. And this is what Gödel is saying.

Rolling with your chair analogy, I am not saying a chair is a noun. I’m saying that a chair is an object. The word “chair” is a noun.

In mathematics, all systems rely on axioms – assumptions which must be taken to be true but cannot be proven.

If the universe is a formal system then the universe similarly relies on *something* which must be taken to be true but cannot be proven. And the thing that the universe relies on is a something, not a nothing. Therefore the universe is not the only thing that exists. There is something outside the universe which is not a system.

10. January 24

### ChrispyK @ 12:23 am

Wow, thought provoking post. It’s not often that I see proofs of Gods existence of such high quality. That said, I’m curious to know how your take on two points that didn’t quite jive for me.

First, does Godel’s Theorem apply to itself? Can it truly ever be proven, if it’s making assumptions that it can’t prove? If it can, then the theorem is proven useless, and if it can’t, then how can anything in the universe ever be proven? (If nothing can be proven, what evidence for a god could we have?)

Secondly, using the circle analogy, if there is something outside of the largest circle that it is possible to draw, then that something must be infinite. If it is infinite, then it is everywhere. If it is everywhere, how has evaded detection of scientists for so very long? If a creator is boundless, then science must have found evidence of its existence, and if not, it could be encompassed by a circle. Paradoxical…

Again, thanks for a well thought-out post.

• January 29

### Perry @ 5:55 am

Gödel’s theorem does rely on assumptions you cannot prove, in the sense that Gödel expresses his theorem in Peano axioms, a mathematical system which is not provable within itself. Incompleteness is proven in the same way that geometry proofs are proven. It is 100% consistent with all that is known.

God IS everywhere. Judeo-Christian theologians have been saying that for 4000 years. Why does God evade detection? Because God is immaterial and we can only detect material things with the scientific process. But God is inferred in innumerable ways.

11. January 27

### Matt @ 7:40 pm

Dire misunderstanding of Godel’s theorem. It was all going so well until you took the metaphor you’d constructed around the maths and tried to apply it to the universe. As another commenter has said, the theorem applies only to mathematical systems. Specifically those systems that are complex enough to derive arithmetic from.

The real “incompleteness” is that when working with the axioms of those specific formal systems, you will find there are either things that are true that you cannot prove, or things that are paradoxical that you can prove – the system is either incomplete or inconsistent.

You insist on saying that the universe must be a formal system for it to be described by science, the truth is that science describes the world _using_ various formally phrased “laws”, but the universe itself is the “outside of the circle” (outside of our descriptive system) to point to in this case.

Our formal systems don’t define the universe; they’re a best approximation to what we observe, and the self-justifying element at the foundation of it all is the bald fact of the way things are. Reality doesn’t derive from axioms, it just is what it is, and because of that it doesn’t in any sense match up to what the Incompleteness Theorem was about.

• January 28

### Perry @ 9:22 am

Matt,

Gödel’s theorem applies to everything that reason and logic apply to.

No, our formal systems don’t define the universe, they describe them.

If the universe is complete it is inconsistent and thus not amenable to scientific analysis.

If the universe is consistent and amenable to logical analysis, then it is incomplete and therefore contingent on something.

I vote in favor of science. IF the universe is scientifically, mathematically and logically describable, then God exists.

You are welcome to reject the God proposition. In so doing you also reject reason and logic and science.

12. January 28

### Matt @ 2:22 pm

“Gödel’s theorem applies to everything that reason and logic apply to.”

No, I believe you’ll find that it applies strictly to axiomatic mathematical systems; “Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. In particular, for any consistent, effectively generated formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the theory”

So if you start with a set of mathematical axioms, and those axioms are sufficient to express arithmetic, then it is also true that your system is either incomplete (there are truths that it can’t prove) or it’s inconsistent (you can prove things that are contradictory).

Now say it with me, the universe is not an axiomatic system of mathematics. There are no axioms of the universe, and hence no logical derivation of other propositions from the universe and no Incompleteness.

Empirical derivation of propositions, maybe (although that’ll run the risk of simple observational error), but I can’t repeat enough; the universe is not a system of formal logic. Further, it has no need to prove itself by formal logic – the universe just is. Its nature is a simple fact, that to some extent we observe.

I also take issue with your talk of “The origin of information”. The genetic ‘code’ is not symbolic and immaterial, it’s carbon-based chemistry. Not even very complicated chemistry to be honest. You claim that ‘information’ had to come from the ‘outside’, which seems to miss the fact that randomly combined nucleotides have just as much genetic information in them as the same length of useful DNA. The only difference is that genetic material that is conducive to its own replication will do just that, replicating more than other such material until it dominates.

“All codes we know the origin of are designed by conscious beings” is a barely concealed circular argument. It fails on the count that genes are not real codes (they are molecules – talk of information being coded into them is a convenient shorthand for talking about their chemical properties) and even if I let that pass, it fails on the second count that you use the assumption of all codes being consciously designed to argue that a specific code is consciously designed without any further evidence for your position.

“Naturalism is the hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system, which means that nothing that is not part of the natural world affects it. If you know Gödel’s theorem, you know that all systems must rely on something outside the system. [..] Because the universe is a system, it has an outside cause.”

Once again, the natural world is not an axiomatic system, and hence not something that Godel’s theorem is applicable to.

• January 28

### Perry @ 2:54 pm

Matt,

Any system of logic (boolean algebra for example) is always definable in terms of axiomatic mathematical systems.

You are free to reject the idea that axiomatic mathematical systems accurately model the universe. But in doing so you are rejecting the very premise of science, which is that the universe is weighable, countable, measurable, and that the activities of matter and energy conform to reason and logic and mathematical formulas.

The pattern in DNA is a code. All you need to do to verify that fact is read a biology book very carefully. Study the history of the genetic code. Discover for yourself why GGG=Glycine and AAA=Lycine etc etc.

The clearest explanation of this in my book collection is by Hubert Yockey. He says: “Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies.” (Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2005) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0521802938?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwperryc-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0521802938

13. January 28

### Matt @ 3:27 pm

“Any system of logic (boolean algebra for example) is always definable in terms of axiomatic mathematical systems.” Agreed, but I don’t see the relevance.

“You are free to reject the idea that axiomatic mathematical systems accurately model the universe.” I didn’t, I rejected the idea that the universe itself is an axiomatic mathematical system.

To put it in your terms, the reason we can model the universe with logical systems is that we have an actual universe “outside of the circle” to “point to”. (Quotations used to express the fact that I dislike the terminology; it’s an oversimplification of the theorem and makes it too easy to misapply it)

The universe as we know it acts as the ultimate axiom – if the model contradicts the universe, we know the model is wrong. It may be that some physical ‘laws’ that we think are true turn out to be incomplete or inconsistent in their description of the universe, but that means we need an improved model, not that the universe needs some external factor to be explained.

As for genetic codes, it’s as I’ve said; even if I accept that it is a true code, you don’t have a valid argument. Saying that all known codes have a conscious origin, and that therefore a specific code has a conscious origin, is specious reasoning. To prove that all codes have conscious origin would require you to prove that genes have a conscious origin, which you have not done.

I can accept Yockey’s assertion that “the origin of life is the founding axiom of biology” — biology being the study of life it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to talk about pre-biotic biology.

Pre-biotic chemistry is another matter though; chemistry and physics do not depend in any sense on the existence or origins of life, and we can very usefully study the precursors of life in the form of non-living organic chemistry, and theorise on how such chemicals might become self-replicating and come to form something we recognise as living.

• January 28

### Perry @ 9:05 pm

Matt,

The relevance of my first comment is that Gödel’s theorem applies to all things that are defined as systems.

You are rejecting the idea that axiomatic mathematical systems model the universe. You are free to do that.

But if math does accurately describe the universe, then the universe is just as axiomatic as the math that describes it.

The universe cannot be the ultimate axiom if you believe in cause and effect. The universe came into existence 13.7 billion years ago. Something had to cause it.

You are of course free to reject the principle of cause and effect. That is your decision.

If we were to build a mathematical system that perfectly describes the big bang, it would rely on some initial conditions and axiomatic statements that are not provable inside the system. Therefore if we accept the principle of cause and effect, the universe is contingent on something outside itself.

My statement that all known codes have conscious origin, therefore a specific code has a conscious origin, is not specious. Perhaps this conclusion is bothersome to you, but it’s straightforward inductive reasoning. You can choose not to accept that. If you reject it then you reject induction which is the basis of most scientific propositions. My statement is just as reliable as gravity and entropy. For example, the assumption that the law of gravity is the same 10 billion light years away as it is here is not proven and probably not provable either. (Formally speaking it is not provable at all.) We assume gravity is a consistent law based only on induction.

Self replication requires a code to exist first, as John Von Neumann determined in his papers on self-replicating machines in the 1960′s. All codes we know the origin of are designed. Therefore we have 100% inference that the genetic code is designed and 0% inference to any other explanation.

We understand codes every bit as well as we understand gravity. Maybe better. We create codes all the time. We can’t create gravity. Thus any conclusion other than “DNA is designed” is specious.

14. January 29

### Matt @ 12:11 pm

“The relevance of my first comment is that Gödel’s theorem applies to all things that are defined as systems.”

Mathematical systems and logical systems that are equivalent to mathematical systems, yes. I have never denied this. But the universe is neither; it’s a physical system. It doesn’t derive from axioms, it can’t be used to derive propositions, it doesn’t fit the bill.

The closest you can come to ‘deriving a proposition’ from the universe is to observe its behaviour and formulate a mathematical statement to describe that behaviour. Maybe the model is subject to Incompleteness but, as you’ve said, that just means it needs something outside of the model to serve as an unproven given. The thing outside the model is the universe’s actual observed behaviour. We can take that as an absolute axiom with respect to what our models should predict.

“But if math does accurately describe the universe, then the universe is just as axiomatic as the math that describes it.”

The model has, as far as we know, been accurate up until now. I don’t take that as absolute/unshakeable proof that the universe will always be consistent with our predictions. If the two things diverge we’ll need to come up with a new model because they remain two different things. Using an axiomatic model to describe a thing, however accurately, doesn’t make that thing, itself, axiomatic.

“The universe cannot be the ultimate axiom if you believe in cause and effect. The universe came into existence 13.7 billion years ago. Something had to cause it.”

I’ll take this seriously when you can convince me that a) your god doesn’t equally require a cause and that b) the universe (or some n-dimensional ‘higher’ universe) can’t be self originating in the same way as you propose that god is. If you’re going to restate the Cosmological argument, I feel quite happy using the age old objections to it. (If you manage the first one, you’ll still need to prove that your first cause has any attribute other than uncausedness. I know you think you’ve done that, you even put it bold, but that’s a whole other argument to have).

You don’t appear to have fully comprehended my point on the subject of “all known codes have conscious origin, therefore a specific code has conscious origin”. There’s no denying that the former implies the latter, but your argument is backwards – to boldly assert something about “all codes” you first need to prove that thing true of each specific code without reference to anything being true of “all codes”.

To put it shortly, “all known codes have conscious origin” is dependent on each specific code having conscious origin, so when you introduce “all known codes have conscious origin” to your argument about a specific code, you’re implicitly assuming that which you’re trying to prove. It’s not “straightforward inductive reasoning” at all, just partially obscured circular reasoning.

As a sidenote, I’m curious; why is a piece about Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem on a site that’s otherwise about Google-based marketing?

• January 29

### Perry @ 4:03 pm

Matt,

Postulate: IF the universe conforms to reason and logic then it is subject to Gödel’s incompleteness theorem.

The universe is finite. It came into existence 13 billion years ago. How could it give birth to itself?

I think the burden of proof is on you to show that the universe CAN be self-originating.

You can resort to an infinite regress of universes, but philosophers almost universally reject infinite regression as an adequate explanation of anything.

I cannot prove to you that God doesn’t require a cause. I can only point out that at some stage in the past there is a necessity of an uncaused cause. The universe is not its own uncaused cause because everything physical is subject to causality. If you have empirical evidence to the contrary you’re welcome to present it.

All codes we know the origin of are either direct derivatives of DNA (RNA, bee waggles, viruses, dogs barking, pheremone trails, animal instinct) or else they are created by conscious beings making deliberate choices (zip code, morse code, bar code, TCP/IP, every single file on your computer).

My reasoning is not circular. It begins with an open question of not knowing where the genetic code came from and observing closely how all other codes came into being. The process of creating codes is well-known branch of science taught in CS departments in major universities all over the world. There is no other known process for creating codes besides sentient beings making conscious choices of symbols based on desires and priorities. DNA reflects all the same kinds of choices, from the 4-letter alphabet to the most complex genetic transpositions.

If you examine them closely you’ll find that all arguments that DNA is not designed are in fact circular. I have a much more complete presentation on this at http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/ifyoucanreadthis.htm

I really comes down to this: If you hypothesize that codes can occur naturally, then show me one empirical example that supports that hypothesis.

Why an article about Gödel on this website? Because I’m interested in a lot more things in life than just search engines.

Perry

15. January 29

### Jorge @ 1:05 pm

You don’t have to prove scientifically that god exists. You can just be faithful, its a more gracious way of being a believer than trying to push your opinions in a semi-literate way to everyone else…

I recommend Soren Kierkegaard.
Something out of context: ” Thus, faith is united with the truth by serving as the most extreme expression of subjectivity, and by representing the only manner in which the existing individual can accept paradox.”

http://www.schoolbytes.com/summary.php?disp=term&id=234
Check this site, i haven’t read it all, but it could be helpful to everyone like you. In some way, a more complex way you’re trying to do what every silly creationist tries to do in a more naive way, that is, trying to push a belief into science.

Sorry for the errors, english is not my first language.

16. January 29

### wm1 @ 6:19 pm

I think you are putting god outside the circle boundary everything that is real;)

17. January 29

### Matt @ 9:02 pm

“My reasoning is not circular. It begins with an open question of not knowing where the genetic code came from and observing closely how all other codes came into being.”

Allow me to analogise for a moment. Imagine I were to examine all of the cats I could lay my hands on, I would find that to an animal they would all have tails. I might hence conclude that all known cats have tails, and thus that I believe all cats to have tails.

Then someone presents me with a Manx cat, to which my response is that we already know that all known cats have tails, so this cat must also have a tail. I think you are committing the same flaw of reasoning; hasty generalisation.

All human designed codes have conscious design. That much is tautologically obvious. The other class of ‘codes’ we have are those in the natural world. We know of no designer for these things, and it is faulty reasoning to conclude that because “all known codes” (excluding the natural ones under consideration) have conscious design, that the codes of the natural world must also have conscious design.

I submit, that the codes of the natural world, be they genetic, bee waggles, or any other, are the results of what I will term unconscious design. Brought into being by blind processes with no intent, no thought, no goal and no consciousness.

I’m talking about, of course, evolutionary processes. Amino acids form spontaneously under a variety of conditions, RNA strands have been found to assemble, using cyanide or the checker-board patterns of charge in ice as a template. RNA is also known to be potentially self-catalysing, and self-replicating. Once we have replication (and mutation via faults in replication), we have evolution. Some RNAs go on to produce proteins and DNA, which turn out to be advantageous because they can improve the process of replication and help the RNA that produces them to dominate the available resources.

That path may be hopelessly wrong; we may later find the evidence that shows it happened a different way, I entirely accept that possibility. But at the same time, having any plausible explanation that fits within the natural world without any awkward ‘nomological danglers’ hanging out is infinitely preferable to resorting to the supernatural as an ‘explanation’, because it does not really explain anything at all – no predictions to be made, no evidence to be found, no proof or disproof except the incredulous cries of “well how else could it happen”.

In your other article you dismiss out of hand the idea of naturally occurring codes, without any reasoning presented beyond … well, actually I don’t see any reasoning except stating your position again in slightly different ways; “Chaos can produce patterns, but it has never been shown to produce codes or symbols.” is another example of your circularity – assuming the general case as a way to prove the specific case, when the general case is dependent on the specific case. Maybe chaos has been shown to produce a code, in the instance of naturally occurring codes. Nothing you can say about “all codes” can rule that out.

[Sidenote: I would take exception to natural selection being characterised as chaotic; mutation is the only random step, everything beyond that is much more deterministic, except for true accidents of nature like the first carrier of a novel allele having the misfortune to be hit by a meteor or some such]

If you could prove to me, without any reference to “all other codes” or other generalisations that are dependent on the specific cases, that DNA as an information carrying molecule could not possibly arise by natural processes, then I would be most impressed. (Note also, that stating “Information itself is a separate entity on par with matter and energy” as a premise, without some very strong supporting evidence for that extraordinary claim, will not get you very far).

It’s late, I’m tired, but reply to this and the email notification will remind me to come back and say more about the universe as opposed to DNA.

• January 29

### Perry @ 10:02 pm

Matt,

Code is defined as a system of symbols for communication between an encoder and a decoder (Claude Shannon, 1948).

Show me a naturally occurring code. Of ANY kind. Just one.

• January 30

### BB @ 12:35 am

The problem is that you’ve defined DNA as a code. You were going on about cause and effect; DNA is a series of molecules (physical things) that act in concert to produce/maintain/whatever else (effect) creatures. It’s not a code; it’s a chemical reaction.

Second, you are squirreled down in semantics in a big way. 13.7 billion years ago, we SUSPECT that the big bang occurred because that fits the available data. We suspect, but don’t know. You say that something must have caused it. I ask why?

In university, I used the reaction/proaction argument to “prove” the existence of something beyond what we can know — i.e. if everything is a reaction, and you go back far enough, there was a beginning, therefore a proaction, therefore that energy or whatever it was…et cetera et cetera. But it doesn’t prove anything. Here’s why:

1) I postulate that before the big bang, there was nothingness, and in that state of nothingness some energy (God?) acted on the speck that was our universe and caused it to explode into what we now see. I postulate it, but there’s nothing to indicate this is so. There’s no trace of this energy now, and there’s nothing to indicate it ever happened.

or

2) I postulate that the “universe” is an ineffably vast concept that can barely even be perceived by our fallible minds and senses, much less understood to any great degree.

or

3) I postulate that because thoughts are formed as words, and words can be traced back to some primitive articulation that was created by a fallible mind, all words are most likely wildly inaccurate at best, and completely fallacious. Therefore, any discussion about great concepts is like pissing into the wind. You feel good about yourself, you get it out of your system, but it ends up all over your face.

If you accept the notion that we have an imperfect understanding of the universe, then you have to accept the notion that Godel himself was imperfect. You can’t state with equanimity that his imperfect theorem. based on a imperfect system, which imperfectly describes the universe can POSSIBLY be any type of legitimate proof for anything.

You can say that it is a logical confirmation of something you would like to believe anyway. But I can say (more accurately) that what we think of as logic, is most likely flawed, inaccurate and wrong. It’s simply the best system we have, to date.

• January 30

### Perry @ 8:34 am

BB,

The definition of DNA as code is the most fundamental definition in all of biology. If you want to throw everything we know about genetics in the dumpster, that is your choice. But a more anti-scientific statement could hardly be uttered. I can only urge you to study the history of the genetic code and find out why the pattern of base pairs in DNA is, in fact, a literal code.

Your (1) is actually quite reasonable, and most importantly, pretty much matches the data we have on hand. But it still requires an antecedent event, namely an External Agent.

Your (2) avoids (1) in favor of irrationality. It abdicates to confusion. It discards reason and logic. Which in my opinion is a huge step backwards. It tosses 3000 years of philosophy and mathematics in the dumpster.

Now what I want you to notice is that your (1) and (2) summarize Gödel’s theorem perfectly. Either the universe is consistent, in which case it is incomplete (God is necessary). Or else the universe is complete (no God necessary) but therefore inconsistent.

In other words if we take God as axiomatic, reason and logic and science are allowed to proceed. Then we successfully assume that we can study the universe and learn more and more. If we exclude the possibility of God then we have no choice but to assume the universe is an ineffable mystery.

Correct me if I’m wrong but you appear to be saying, “You just gave me a logical set of statements that show the necessity of God. I prefer illogic.”

I would invite you to open yourself to all the different possibilities and simply follow the evidence where it leads.

Your (3) is an epistemology that we would expect Darwinism to produce. If we are the result of nothing but random copying errors filtered by natural selection, then we have no reason to suspect that our minds can accurately model the mysteries of the universe. If, however, living things have been purposefully programmed, we might rather expect that we were designed to comprehend our creator.

• January 30

### BB @ 9:10 am

No, that was not was I was saying. My postulates were all statements that were equally valid (they have nothing physical to support them but they are logically sound). Any one is as likely as the other.

With regard to my (1), it does not ‘pretty much match the data on hand.’

Do you know what the scientific consensus is for what happened “before the big bang?”

We don’t know.

Either the universe itself has always been, or it’s cyclical, or there is God, or the big bang never even happened, or or or…

There is problem in saying things with certainty when there are so many unknowns and barely-knowns. But here’s one thing that is known:

Godel’s Theorem isn’t a scientific proof. It’s a thought experiment. It’s an observation about the mathematical system; but it’s a THOUGHT experiment.

It wasn’t that Godel went out and, say, observed anything. He simply observed that, in terms of arithmetic, there were unprovable assumptions made.

The thing is, that assumption doesn’t necessarily hold true in a macrocosmic way. It’s like saying, “I’ve observed (x) about a piece of fruit, therefore (x) must be true about the supermarket, because the supermarket contains fruit.”

It’s not necessarily true. People haven’t disproved his theorem because it’s a logically sound statement. But it doesn’t necessarily hold true as you scale up (similar to how Newtonian physics is true for a vast majority of all cases, but at extremes, it becomes inaccurate).

If you want to dispute that by saying “logic is logic” or something similar, or dismiss this again by saying that I’m throwing out science, be my guest. But that’s not the case. Logic is a tool and not the bottom line. And science is filled with instances of microcosmic observations being true and macrocosmic observations being false (and vice versa).

• January 30

### Perry @ 9:25 am

The universe cannot be cyclical because of entropy. Once a candle is burnt you can’t light it again.

There is no such thing as a scientific proof. Science can only infer. It cannot prove.

Gödel’s theorem is a mathematical proof. In philosophy, a mathematical proof is about as close to an absolute truth as we can get.

Getting hit by a bus and dying is an absolute truth. But it’s not a scientific theorem, it’s just an empirical fact.

18. January 30

### BB @ 9:13 am

Also, DNA is described as a code, but is certainly not DEFINED as a code. Similar to the way many people call every bit of music “songs.” It’s a convenient way to be understood, but it’s not the most accurate.

• January 30

### Perry @ 9:21 am

BB,

See “Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life” by Hubert Yockey (Cambridge University Press, 2005) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0521802938?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwperryc-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0521802938

• March 26

### BB @ 12:50 pm

A code is a member of the class ‘symbols’. A first level symbol is a label which is used in place of the thing which it identifies. For example, suppose a building with a sign over the window which bears the word ‘pharmacy’. We can use the symbol ‘pharmacy’ in language as a symbolic substitute for any real pharmacy. Suppose now that we invent a slang term ‘pill-farm’ to mean ‘pharmacy’. We now have a secondary label ‘pill-farm’ which is a second-level symbol for ‘pharmacy’. ‘Pharmacy’ in its turn is a first level symbol for a real building of a specific type.

By convention, a primary symbol is a name, but any secondary symbol is a code: a symbol which stands in place of another symbol. For purposes of clarification, I will give another example. ‘And so forth’ is a primary label or symbol for an idea. By converting it into Latin, a language spoken by few speakers of English, we encode it as ‘et cetera’. We now abbreviate it to ‘etc.’, a second level coding.

A code is not a symbol. A symbol is not a code. A symbol stands in place of an object or idea. A code stands in place of a symbol: it is a symbol for a symbol.

In computer instructions, we start with the simplest possible representations of what is going on inside a computer chip. We observe that a location in a computer chip can be at one of two voltages. Taking these voltages as our idea we invent symbols for the two voltages: ’1′ and ’0′. These are our primary symbols and they can only be written as binary expressions.

As a convenience, we can use a form of abbreviation which is easier for humans to handle than binary. The most common such abbreviation is hexadecimal code, or hex. As an example, the binary 1010 0101 can be written as A5 in hex. Note that hex, being a secondary symbol level is a code.

When dealing with binary as computer instructions rather than as numbers it is convenient to use mnemonic codes. It may be that the binary string 1111 0000 1100 0100, or F0C4 in hex, is an instruction to the computer core, expressed as F0, to jump to memory location C4, but only IF a previously computed result was non-zero. We can write that as a mnemonic code: JNZ C4.

Such mnemonics are called assembly language. The ‘assembly’ part of the name comes from the fact that this mnemonic code needs to be assembled into a package of binary numbers in order for the computer to be able to use it as a program.

DNA is a string of molecules. There are four main components: guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine. Those names, the words ‘guanine’, ‘adenine’, ‘thymine’ and ‘cytosine’ are primary symbols invented by humans to identify the physical molecules which are found in DNA.

For convenience, we often abbreviate these symbols to CAGT, so that we can more readily handle the huge volume of data which we have accumulated about DNA. Please observe: there exists a long molecule of a type which we label DNA. It has four major components to which we assign symbols as names. We next assign symbols to the name symbols as an abbreviating code. We humans have agreed to assign the four letters CAGT as a code for the symbols which in turn stand for the molecular components of DNA.

A code is a symbol which stands in place of a symbol. The four letters CAGT most definitely form a code, being symbols for the names of the four major components of DNA. The names guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine are not codes: they are primary symbols. Primary symbols stand for real things and not for symbols. The real physical entities guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine are not codes. If anyone wants to call them codes, let them point to the symbols which might be replaced by these ‘codes’.

A computer code is a set of numerical values sufficient and necessary to the production of an end state from an initial state.

DNA is necessary but not sufficient to the production of an end state from an initial state.

To claim that computer code and DNA are both codes is an abuse of the power of words. It is decidedly not scientific.

• March 26

### Perry @ 2:14 pm

Definition of CODE: 3a: A system of symbols for communication 4: Genetic Code (Webster’s 9th collegiate dictionary)

• March 26

### BB @ 2:23 pm

Quoting Webster’s to prove that DNA is a code is about the weakest appeal to authority I have ever seen.

It also shows that you didn’t even bother to read what I wrote.

Appeal to authority is a classic fallacy that you’ve employed more than once by quoting specific authours and disagreeing with or ignoring others.

• March 26

### Perry @ 2:42 pm

I am using Claude Shannon’s definitions as found in his paper “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” and Yockey’s definitions in his book “Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life” by Hubert Yockey (Cambridge University Press, 2005) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0521802938?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwperryc-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0521802938. Both use the term code in the same identical way.

The pattern formed by the four bases in DNA is a code in exactly and precisely the same way that TTL voltages in a computer are code, that magnetic domains on a hard drive are code, that pulses of light in a fiber optic cable are code, or pits on a CD-ROM are code. This is a standard engineering definition and usage of the term “code” and is universal in all literature on digital communications. Webster’s definition of code as “A system of symbols for communication” is 100% consistent with this usage. Again I quote Yockey (2005):

“Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies.” (Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2005).

In this conversation I must insist on using standard engineering definitions that are universally accepted in scientific literature.

• March 26

### Perry @ 2:47 pm

By the way if you want to argue about the definition of the word “code” then you need to be aware that whole conversation already happened four years ago, when my debate on the world’s largest atheist discussion board, Infidels, began. You can read all about it with links to all relevant conversations at http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/infidels. I’ll save you some time – you will get nowhere attempting to assert that the genetic code is a code by some strange definition that’s different than other contexts. Again, you can read the Infidels thread for an exhaustive discussion of the history of its discovery and why biologists have defined it that way for 50+ years now.

• August 14

### vijeno @ 2:13 am

On http://cosmicfingerprints.com/iidb.htm, in reference to http://www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?t=135497&page=1, Perry Marshall comments that “For Three Years and counting, I have successfully advanced the Information Theory argument for Intelligent Design on Infidels, the world’s largest Atheist discussion forum.” and that “The discussion continued for more than 4 months and 300 posts. At the end, nearly all participants dropped out, having failed to topple my proof or produce any new objections that had not already been addressed.”

This is a rather interesting spin on reality. Just to give folks a balanced perspective, here are actual numbers taken frum just that discussion thread:

Start of thread: August 30, 2005, 06:00 PM
Total number of postings: 1398
Total number of postings by user pmarshall (on ALL of freeratio.org): 26
Last posting on thread: March 10, 2010, 05:56 PM
Last posting by user pmarshall: October 26, 2008, 09:17 PM

I’m leaving the conclusions up to the learned reader.

19. February 3

### tim @ 12:00 am

you are using a theorem within a system to explain something beyond the system. whut

using something we know to describe something which we cannot know is just faith. you jump from logic to faith when you use the incompleteness theorem to make a logical induction about something beyond “everything”. you “believe” that it applies to something beyond “everything”.

in other words: beyond the scope of the universe you cannot with certainty apply knowledge that is within the universe (otherwise it would be describable by the universe and therefore part of it)

• February 3

### Perry @ 5:19 pm

Tim,

What you’re really describing is the inherent problem of induction. Induction can give you only so much specificity; that’s why when you apply Gödel’s theorem to “whatever is outside the universe” you get a list of what God is not, rather than a list of what God is. God is not material, not matter & energy, not time, not divisible, not a system. And by the way this list is remarkably similar to Aquinas’ 5 statements about God. This summary of Aquinas is from Wikipedia:

Concerning the nature of God, Aquinas felt the best approach, commonly called the via negativa, is to consider what God is not. This led him to propose five statements about the divine qualities:

1. God is simple, without composition of parts, such as body and soul, or matter and form.[60]
2. God is perfect, lacking nothing. That is, God is distinguished from other beings on account of God’s complete actuality.[61]
3. God is infinite. That is, God is not finite in the ways that created beings are physically, intellectually, and emotionally limited. This infinity is to be distinguished from infinity of size and infinity of number.[62]
4. God is immutable, incapable of change on the levels of God’s essence and character.[63]
5. God is one, without diversification within God’s self. The unity of God is such that God’s essence is the same as God’s existence. In Aquinas’s words, “in itself the proposition ‘God exists’ is necessarily true, for in it subject and predicate are the same.”[64]

If you sift through every single element in both my Gödel article and Aquinas’ statements with a fine-toothed comb, you can verify for yourself that it is all 100% logical.

One of the realizations that you come to is that God is “outside of” reason and logic. This at first seems disturbing until you remember that God is not divisible, God is not made up of “moving parts” and since reason and logic are about relationships between separate parts, this therefore does not make God illogical. It just makes God superior to logic by virtue of being One.

Many people have said, “Logical statements cannot be made about God.” But that statement itself is a logical statement concerning God, therefore it is self-contradictory, therefore it is not true. Logical statements CAN be made about God. And the most logical statement you can make about God is:

God IS.

Thus it makes perfect sense that Jesus, who claimed to be God, said:

“Before Abraham was, I AM.”

20. February 3

### tim @ 8:17 pm

what youre saying is that the same rules of logic that apply within the universe apply outside the universe. you cant say this with certainty. the applicability of the theorem ends with the “edge of the universe” because it is based on logic of the universe.

in short:The universe and not the universe are not the same. “Universal” logic cant apply to outside the universe by definition

• February 3

### Perry @ 8:26 pm

Which specific rules of logic do you think do not apply outside the universe?

For example:

If we draw a circle around all the matter in the cosmos and say that there is no matter outside that circle, are you saying that’s not a true statement?

21. February 14

### starbucks @ 4:10 am

Dear Perry,

Thank you for the interesting read on Goedel.
May I refer a small comment to your statement:

“In 1931 this young Austrian mathematician, Kurt Godel,
published a paper that once and for all PROVED that a single
Theory Of Everything is actually impossible.”

To my understanding Goedels incompleteness theorem can be
stated in simple english as:

A formal system of sufficient complexity is either
or .

which is indeed incomplete according to Goedel. Am I correct?

Well, my comment is the following:

If you consider for a moment a contradictive system with the potential of completeness,
would this not possibly allow the existence of a theory of everything? Of course
such a theory would then include contradicitve statements…

Here I do not want to think about such a contradictive system or discuss its
usefullness. But refering to your above statement I would like to mention,
that in my understanding of Goedel, there is the possibility of a single Theory Of Everything.
Even so it would (according to Goedel) necessarily include contradictive statements.

I might be missing a point
or miss-understanding Goedel, but at least I do see this possibility of a contradictive theory.
However I admit, that it might be never understandable by the human mind, because of its
contradictions. Would be nice, if you could let me know your opinion on this comment.

Thanks & Best regards,

Starbucks

• February 16

### Perry @ 2:57 pm

Gödel is saying that if a system is complete, it is inherently contradictory. “This sentence is false” is a perfect example of a complete system that is contradictory.

So yes a theory of everything is possible as long as it’s irrational.

This is just an interesting way of saying that if we accept that the universe is irrational, then atheism might in fact be true. Atheism can only be true if the universe is irrational.

Which is a very interesting conclusion, because the usual atheist argument is that religion is irrational and atheism is rational. Nobody prattles on and on about the superiority of their “reason and logic” more than atheists. Yes, if you are willing to be irrational then you can embrace atheism.

• February 19

### Starbucks @ 3:24 am

Dear Perry,

I was just curious about the possibility of an *upside down* approach on Goedel theorem using a contradictory system that gains completeness.

Best,
Starbucks

22. February 17

### Matt @ 3:45 am

So this is still sending me reminders… which is sort of useful; I’d forgotten about it. I wanted to jump back into the fray to say that you appear, once again, to be conflating the universe with our model of the universe.

Let’s say I accept your premises (you know I don’t, but for the sake of argument) then the conclusion is that if we came up with a Grand Unified Theory, that described all the behaviour of the universe (was complete), then it would also be possible to derive a contradiction from that model, i.e. model a situation where our one model can be used to predict two (or more) mutually exclusive events.

That is very much like self-referential statements like “This statement is false”, which tells you that the statement is both false and true at the same time depending on whether you take it at face value or think it through some more, and many other “paradoxes” where you look at it one way to get one result and then think through another line of logic to get a different, contradictory result.

The difference with a model of the universe is that we can go and determine by experiment which of the contradictory results is the right one. The model may have included a contradiction as an artifact of being made complete, but we still have an external reference to go to – empirical observation of what really happens.

I think I’m beginning to see that this is a little like the Cosmological Argument, dressed up for a new era in some slightly dodgy application of mathematics. If you’d allow me to paraphrase; “All systems must have something external to themselves, and an infinite regress of systems is impossible, therefore there must be a super-system with no external factors, and this all men call god”

It’s a nice variation on the old ‘first cause’ or ‘unmoved mover’ arguments, but with the one tiny flaw that the universe is not a system of logical propositions. Godel said nothing about physical systems, and there’s nothing to stop a physical system (such as a universe) being self contained.

Now I’ve been writing too long and made myself miss breakfast… must be off.

• February 17

### Perry @ 8:32 am

Matt,

As I have said to others, you are welcome to reject the idea that Gödel’s theorem applies to physical things. You are free to say the universe is not a system of logical propositions if you wish.

The only problem is, you kick the legs out from under science itself when you do that. Because science assumes the universe is rational and mathematical and logical.

If E really equals MC2 and if F really equals MA then Gödel applies to the universe and the universe is incomplete.

And yes, you’re right, there’s that tired old old prime mover argument again. Reason and logic are troublesome things, aren’t they? Whether you approach the question from a physical cause and effect perspective, or an information theory perspective, or from a philosophical perspective of regression of causes, or via moral argument, or from a mathematical perspective, you keep running into the implication of an intelligent First Cause.

If atheism is true, then the universe has to be irrational and illogical. You can choose to believe that if you want. But don’t accuse Christians of being illogical. This thread has been going for months and nobody’s shown any flaw in my logic.

I choose reason and logic. They lead me to God and I accept that. I likewise invite you to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

23. March 2

### Hadi Al-Qahtani @ 3:19 am

However, I do have an issue. I haven’t checked on the formal proof of the theorem yet, but I’ll take your word for it. You have an unwarranted assumption in your argument.

You assumed that whatever is outside the universe is boundless, and that is the assumption. If the universe is explained by something outside of itself, then that thing is also explained by something outside of itself, and this process would never stop, and we have an infinite amount of causes, and not one single cause. You have no clue or proof that suggests that we should assume whatever caused the universe cannot have a circle drawn around it. If the universe is any clue, circles will be drawn infinitely. Maybe the universe is part of a finite multi-verse that is part of a multi-multi-verse ad infinitum.

In summary: You proved that every ring of the chain needs a ring ahead of it, but then you assumed the chain we’re connected to is infinite, which is in no way a given. Looking at the ring we are, I say it is more likely that this chain is simply infinitely long, with finite rings.

• March 2

### Perry @ 1:03 pm

A process of cause and effect that never stops is called “infinite regression” and is almost universally rejected by philosophers. Look up “infinite regression” on Wikipedia for clarification and why that is not logical or acceptable. An ad infinitum scenario is not rational.

If universe(s) are infinite, we have no evidence of them. Everything we know about cosmology says the universe is finite. And if the universe or even a past series of universes are finite, then they are incomplete and require a transcendent cause.

24. March 2

### Ben @ 2:37 pm

Perry,

Having done a rather extensive amount of research on the subject and having discussed the matter both with mathematicians and philosophers, the concensus is that you’ve extrapolated to beyond what Godel was doing in the first place.

His First Incompleteness Theorem stated “Any adequate axiomatizable theory is incomplete. In particular, the sentence ‘This sentence is not provable.’ is true but not provable in the theory.

What he discovered and formalized was –

For any sentence s,
(1) is in PROVABLE iff s is provable.
Since the set of axioms is computably generable,
so is the set of proofs which use these axioms and
so is the set of provable theorems and hence
so is PROVABLE, the set of encodings of provable theorems.
Since computable implies definable in adequate theories, PROVABLE is definable.

Let s be the sentece “This sentence is unprovable”.
By Tarski (Undefinability of Truth Theroem), s exists since it is the solution of:

(2) s iff is not in PROVABLE
Thus
(3) s iff is not in PROVABLE iff s is not provable.

Now s is either true or false.
If s is false, then by (3), s is provable
This is impossible since provable sentences are true.
Thus s is true.
Thus by (3), s is not provable.
Hence s is true but unprovable.

Godel discovered that the sentence “This sentence is unprovable” was provably equivalent to the sentence:

CON: “There is no with both and in PROVABLE”.

CON is the formal statement that the system is consistent.
Since s was not provable, and since s and CON are equivalent, CON is not provable.

Thus –

Godel’s SECOND Incompleteness Theorem:

In any consistent axiomatizable theory (axiomatizable means the axioms can be computably generated) which can encode sequences of numbers (and thus the syntactic notions of “formula”, “sentence”, “proof”) the consistency of the system is not provable in the system.

The theories of real numbers, of complex numbers, and of Euclidean geometry do have complete axiomatizations. Hence THESE THEORIES HAVE NO TRUE BUT UNPROVABLE SENTENCES. The reason they escape the conclusion of the first incompleteness theorm is their inadequacy, they can’t encode and computably deal with finite sequences.

So… it’s a mischaracterisation AT BEST to try to use Godel’s theorem to extropolate the existence of god because, if math and science is correct, which we have every reason to believe, our universe HAS NO TRUE BUT UNPROVABLE FACTS. The notion of science is that at some point, everything is explicable.

And scene.

• March 8

### Perry @ 5:13 pm

“The notion of science is that at some point, everything is explicable.”

Gödel shows that if it is explicable (consistent) then it is necessarily incomplete.

Science itself is incomplete. It cannot explain itself. Historically, science came from the theological proposition that the universe operated according to fixed, discoverable laws. Believe in God was necessary for science to even get off the ground. More at:
http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/faq/#christian

• March 15

### Ben @ 2:47 pm

Perry,

You could take away the final statement and you’re still left with the one before it as a problem with your argument:

“…if math and science is correct, which we have every reason to believe, our universe HAS NO TRUE BUT UNPROVABLE FACTS.”

Science is based on the assumption that the universe is complete in and of itself. Similar to the way Euclidean Geometry, real numbers and complex numbers are not subject to Godel’s Theorem; if the universe is a complete system, it too is beyond the scope of Godel’s theorem.

Godel’s theorem deals with the paradox inherent in an incomplete system. It doesn’t deal with labelling complete systems incomplete and then ipso facto, there’s something outside the system.

• March 15

### Perry @ 2:54 pm

Ben,

Science does not assume that the universe is complete in and of itself. In fact science makes all kinds of unprovable assumptions, such as the assumption that the universe is logical.

You cannot truly prove that, you can only demonstrate that it’s a workable hypothesis.

And I’m sorry but you’re mistaken, Euclidean Geometry, real and complex numbers ARE subject to Gödel’s theorem. That’s the whole point of the theorem. That every system of mathematics is incomplete.

Syllogism:

1. Gödel’s incompleteness theorem applies to all logical systems.
2.The universe is logical
3. Therefore the universe is incomplete.

• March 15

### Ben @ 3:04 pm

Godel himself postulated that his theorem did not apply to Real and Complex number systems as they contained no paradoxical statements.

Are you suggesting that you have a better understanding of his theorem than he himself did?

In addition, science DOES assume that the universe is a complete system. It also assumes that the universe is describable. Science is based on all sorts of assumptions. Fortunately, SCIENCE ITSELF is an INCOMPLETE SYSTEM that depends on THE UNIVERSE for completeness.

• March 15

### Perry @ 5:52 pm

I need you to quote Gödel’s exact statement regarding real and complex number systems.

If the universe is logical, then the universe also is incomplete.

• March 16

### Arthur @ 12:27 pm

Ben is right, Perry.

Read “Gödel, Escher, Bach,” by Douglas Hofstadter for more on why real and complex number systems are not caught by Gödel’s Theorem.

Gödel’s Theorem only deals with formulae derived from axiomatic systems of numbers.

Basic addition cannot derive formulae. It is a complete system that can be proved in its entirety

asin:

You first define the symbols – In this case, they are the numerals 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and the two symbols + and =. Next we need to define our rules. In the case of addition, the rules are as follows:

•All the basic results of adding two single-digit numbers together. e.g. 0+0=0, 0+1=1, …, 1+2=3, … 9+9=18. In other words, the basic addition table.

•The rules of how to add together multi-digit numbers using the above rules. i.e. You start at the right-most digits, add those, determine if you need to carry a digit, etc.

An important feature of this theory of addition is that you can then use the system to prove any statement of addition. “Prove” in this context has a very precise meaning. It means that you can take a statement written in symbols, like 79+3=82, and generate that sequence of symbols using nothing but the explicitly defined rules of the theory. How does one generate this sequence of symbols?

The simplest method is to start with the numbers before the equals sign (79 and 3) and add them using our rules. That produces 82, and we know we can write the resulting sum as 79+3=82. That proves (using the rules of our theory) that the statement is correct. The important thing to note is that we are doing all of this merely by manipulation of symbols. We don’t have to think about, understand, or even know that there exist semantic meanings for these symbols. We don’t need to know that “79″ can mean a number of objects. In other words, we could teach this sort of addition to someone without explaining to them that the symbol “3″ means “three”.

We can instruct a computer to do addition like this without the computer having any understanding of what it means to have three objects. All the computer is doing is manipulating a bunch of arbitrary symbols based upon a set of well-defined rules.

If you set up a formal theory of mathematics correctly, you should be able to prove any true statement, and be unable to prove any false statement. This is true of our simple theory of addition. In fact, we can prove every true statement about the addition of two non-negative integers with nothing more than what I have described so far.

To do this, perform the following steps:

1.Start with two numbers 0 and 0; remember these. Work out the addition of these two numbers according to the rules of addition, and write the result (in this case: 0+0=0).

2.If the two numbers we are remembering are equal, add 1 to the second number. But if the two numbers are unequal then check the second number: If it is not 0, increase the first number by 1 and decrease the second by 1. But if the second number is 0, set it equal to the first number plus 1, and set the first number back to 0.

3.Work out: (first number)+(second number) and add that to our list of results.

This procedure works out the following sums in this order: 0+0, 0+1, 1+0, 0+2, 1+1, 2+0, 0+3, 1+2, 2+1, 3+0, 0+4, … Now, no matter what true statement of addition we can think of, say 75843+87249=163092, this procedure will eventually produce a proof that it is true. It may take a long time, but it will eventually get there. This is what the “computably enumerable” bit of Gödel’s theorem means: there is some procedure by which we can (eventually) generate any possible proof in the theory.

For complete systems, Gödel’s Theorem does not apply. There are no contradictory statements.

Not to mention this little bit of information:

You said that philosophers reject the notion of infinite regression. I accept that.

Philosophers also rejected the idea that Gödel’s theorem could apply even to the human MIND, much less the entire universe. So you extrapolated well beyond what philosophy and math had to say and you’ve made your own (inaccurate) syllogism.

• March 18

### Perry @ 9:48 pm

I’m not sure why you or Ben assert that Gödel’s relation to real or imaginary numbers then implies that the universe is not subject to incompleteness.

You said, “Basic addition cannot derive formulae.” Science asserts that the universe operates according to a whole range of formulae. Gödel says, all formulae rely on axioms that cannot be proven within themselves. So I’m not seeing how you’ve escaped incompleteness.

As for the mind, Alan Turing believed that the human mind was a Turing Machine and thus human brains are simply performing computation. Turing believed that free will is an illusion.

Gödel believed that free will is real, that intuition and human thought is something beyond mere computation. Gödel also believed in God and he believed that human beings are spiritual creatures. As I understand, he starved himself to death to prove that he had free will that was not determined by the physics and chemistry of his body.

I’m not aware that any philosopher has definitively proven one or the other to be right. So far as I can see it’s an unsettled question. It seems to me that this issue brings us right back to the age old mind/body problem in philosophy, and the question of free will vs. determinism.

What do you think? Do you believe that you are a conscious volitional agent who truly has the ability to freely choose? Or do you believe that your own actions and beliefs are determined by a mechanical process?

• March 18

### Arthur @ 10:37 pm

“I’m not sure why you or Ben assert that Gödel’s relation to real or imaginary numbers then implies that the universe is not subject to incompleteness.”

Because you said that Gödel’s Theorem applies to all logical systems. Addition is logical. Gödel’s Theorem does not apply to addition. Therefore Gödel’s Theorem does NOT apply to all logical systems. QED

“You said, “Basic addition cannot derive formulae.” Science asserts that the universe operates according to a whole range of formulae.”

No. Science postulates formulae to explain the operation of the universe. The universe does not operate according to our formulae. Also, and more importantly, the UNIVERSE did not derive the formulae. We did.

“Gödel says, all formulae rely on axioms that cannot be proven within themselves. So I’m not seeing how you’ve escaped incompleteness.”

Gödel never said any such thing. He said, “When using an axiomatic system to derive formulae, it is possible to derive a formula within the system that is not provable using the system therefore the system is incomplete.” Again, we don’t use the universe to derive formulae. We use science to derive forumlae about the universe.

“As for the mind, Alan Turing believed that the human mind was a Turing Machine and thus human brains are simply performing computation. Turing believed that free will is an illusion.”

Yes, and many philosophers disagreed with him.

“Gödel believed that free will is real, that intuition and human thought is something beyond mere computation. Gödel also believed in God and he believed that human beings are spiritual creatures. As I understand, he starved himself to death to prove that he had free will that was not determined by the physics and chemistry of his body.”

All true, but you neglect to mention that Gödel didn’t use his theorem as an argument for God because he knew it did not prove the existence of God. Gödel instead built on the work of Descartes and Leibniz and tried to craft an ontological argument for the existence of God.

“I’m not aware that any philosopher has definitively proven one or the other to be right. So far as I can see it’s an unsettled question.”

Certainly. In fact, many things that are commonly accepted are frequently debated by philosophers. However, many many philosophers have rejected the notion that Gödel’s Theorem applies to the human mind simply BECAUSE of free will. Free will isn’t necessarily a consistent, axiomatic system, is their straightforward argument.

“What do you think? Do you believe that you are a conscious volitional agent who truly has the ability to freely choose? Or do you believe that your own actions and beliefs are determined by a mechanical process?”

This is a kind of straw man as it is so far removed from what we were discussing, but I was never one to shy away from answering. I believe in a combination of the two, of course. We make choices, certainly. But I also believe in chemical addiction, and chemical imbalance which skews our ability to make decisions and sometimes even prevents us entirely from executing free will.

• March 22

### Perry @ 6:25 am

Arthur,

I have a lot of thoughts about this. But first I would like you and/or Ben to reference exactly what Gödel said in regards to real and imaginary number systems being both consistent and complete at the same time, and exactly what Hofstadter said.

Computable systems are deterministic. Free will is not computable, by definition not deterministic and not decideable in advance.

• March 22

### Arthur @ 8:49 am

Perry,

In “Gödel, Escher, Bach”, Hofstadter spends a number of pages discussing his arbitrary theory called “Typographical Number Theory” or TNT, “which is one attempt to represent all of math in an axiomatic way. I’m going to assume that TNT works–that is, assume that it really does encapsulate all of mathematics perfectly…And eventually, I’m going to be led to a contradiction.”

He says, “…assumed that TNT is perfect, and proceeds from there to a paradox. In doing so, it crushes any system which makes similar claims of perfection.”

He then spends the next several pages putting forth his system and discussing its incompleteness via Gödel.

He addresses the sentence “Sentence G: This statement is not a theorem of TNT.”

If sentence G is false, then it is a theorem of TNT. Then we have a valid theorem which is false, and the whole system falls apart.

So it must be true. But if it is true, then it is not a theorem of TNT. Which means that “sentence G is true, but it is not provable within TNT.

That is Gödel’s “incompleteness,” that TNT, although it may be perfectly consistent and always correct, cannot possibly prove EVERY true statement about number theory, there is always something which is true, which the system cannot prove. So we’re done!

“Except that, as you may have noticed, this is totally ludicrous. After all, TNT makes statements about numbers, and sentence G is a statement about a statement (itself). So while writing a TNT-string for “100 is a power of 10″ might be very difficult, it seems reasonable to grant that it’s possible; but translating sentence G into TNT seems about as likely as yodeling in sign language.”

He then spends the next several pages doing just that, however. He expresses G in terms of the system itself in a computable way and discusses Gödel all the while.

also,

Read about Torkel Franzen and specifically his book “Gödel’s Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to its Use and Abuse” ISBN 1-56881-238-8

and also,

http://www.ams.org/notices/200604/fea-franzen.pdf

He spent most of his professional life speaking to common misconceptions or misapplication of Gödel’s Theorem.

• March 25

### Perry @ 10:07 pm

Arthur,

If your point or Ben’s point is to demonstrate that there is such a thing as a system that is both consistent and complete, I cannot discern that either one of you has successfully done so. When I get to the end of GEB’s chapter on TNT, he circles back to the conclusion that “Any system that is strong enough to prove TNT’s consistency is at least as strong as TNT itself.”

Which is just another way of saying that to prove what’s inside the circle, you need something from a bigger circle.

Where I differ with Hofstadter is where he concludes on p. 230 “and so circularity is inevitable.” That is a misrepresentation of what Gödel says and of the progression of his own chapter on TNT. Logic is not a huge set of circular propositions. It’s a progression of inductions that ultimately rest on axioms that are known to be true but are not provable.

25. March 2

### Chris @ 5:43 pm

I think a significant problem with this discussion so far has been an ambiguity with the language used, which has meant a bit of back and forth with no real change in the arguments. There have also been some misunderstandings of Gödel’s theorem, which is understandable, as unless you have studied mathematics, analogies tend to obscure the strict meaning of it.
Firstly we can agree that a non self-referential statement is either exactly true, or not exactly true. Secondly Gödel’s theorem refers to a set of statements, split into two groups, those we label “axioms”, and statements derived from those. The theorem essentially states that if the “axioms”, which are the statements we assume to be true, are true, then there are also other true statements that cannot be derived from those axioms, and that those axioms cannot be proven to be true without the addition of a new axiom. The corollary is that if a proof of the truth of the axioms is derived from the axioms, then the axioms are not true (in their entirety). I’m going to use a bit of an analogy for this next part, if you can forgive me for that, as I personally find analogies highly dubious. In mathematics sequences of numbers can be of particular interest, and these can be generated through formulae, or can exist independent of any formulae. Now what is particularly interesting is that for any finite sequence there are an infinite number of different formulae that can generate the same sequence, so when attempting to find the formula for generating a sequence you may have found one that matches all available data, yet not be the correct one. I guess that wasn’t particularly an analogy so much as a cut-down version of universal laws, however that is not the point I am aiming to make. Within this analogy the universe is the sequence of numbers, the formulae which determines it’s behaviour are the laws of the universe, and our estimation of the formulae are our current laws of physics. Now the point that Matt was making, and perhaps you misunderstood, is that the sequence of numbers, and the formulae are different things, he was not arguing that Gödel’s theorem did not apply, merely reminding you that it only applies to sets of statements i.e. the formulae, not the sequence, the laws of the universe, not the universe itself. He is not arguing against logic, merely stating that you have applied it in the incorrect place. Now as it happens I am an atheist, I believe that there is no God, however I am not so presumptuous as to claim it as a certainty, indeed I do not believe it is possible to know whether or not there is a God. I am merely arguing that this particular path of logic is invalid.
With regards to causality, it can be broken down fairly simply, either everything requires a cause, in which case a being without cause does not exist by definition(granted this does not forbid a being with a cause which created the universe from existing), or not everything requires a cause, in which case the universe does not demand the existence of a God without cause(although one is possible). With regards as to codes, we really need to clarify what you exactly mean here in your argument, as if you define a code to be a message intended to send information, then all codes are the work of sentient minds merely by definition.

• March 8

### Perry @ 5:24 pm

Gödel’s theorem is about systems of logic.

I cannot prove that the universe is a logical system. However, the assumption that it is is the cornerstone of modern science. If the universe is logical then it is also incomplete.

I define communication systems per Claude Shannon’s 1948 paper “A mathematical theory of communication” which applies to things like telegraphs, CD players, computers, cell phones, etc.

All communication systems we know the origin of are designed. No known exceptions.

26. March 2

### Bob @ 6:22 pm

Sorry but ‘god’ must also have something ‘outside its circle’

Godel proved that you cannot have a god which explains himself.

Atheism also says that.

NOTHING can understand it all. God CANNOT exist.

• March 4

### Perry @ 1:50 pm

Bob,

If NOTHING can understand it all, how is it that you can then say “God CANNOT” exist?

As for your first statement, you don’t appear to have followed the logic of my argument. You need to substantiate your statements with logic.

• March 2

### Rexxar @ 7:27 pm

I think what Bob is trying to say is that, according to the incompleteness theorem, there is always a bigger circle, and a god cannot be totally on the outside of the system, there would have to be something outside that circle to explain god. Similarly, one cannot know everything, because that would put him outside the system, he can explain the whole system’s existence. That wouldn’t disprove a conscious entity being outside the universe, but that would indicate that he is not all-knowing or omniscient.

• March 2

27. March 3

### Brandon @ 2:57 am

Yea, so I have no problem with your logic in saying that “god” exists, but I do have a problem with the assumption that this god is the christian god. Every logical proof of “god” simply defines god as something undefinable. That does not, in any way, mean that the christian god is the god that created the universe. Religion is made up to answer unanswerable questions (or at least unanswerable at the time of its inception) and as a means of social control, and to give hope, and meaning and blah blah blah.

Also, almost every response you’ve made to people goes along the lines of, “If you think that, you obviously reject science and are an idiot.” Not very classy….

But, yeah, christians are illogical for saying the god of the bible is the god that started the universe. The only conclusion you can come to is that something must have started the universe, assuming Goedels theorem applies (which, as has been stated, really doesn’t apply to the universe, go ahead and tel me I’m an idiot for saying that, it’s fine).

Also, I would like to question, what is the significance of all of this? Does if affect anybody in anyway? I really don’t think it does. I’m just bored and want to get into this heated discussion, heh.

I’m sorry for my choppy/poorly thought out comment. ADD is not my friend this night.

• March 4

### Perry @ 1:49 pm

Does the truth about God – do claims about God – affect anybody?

• March 4

### Matt @ 6:05 pm

Still getting those email reminders every so often… odd that they don’t seem to come through for all the replies, but then I suddenly get 10 at once. Oh well. Wanted to reply to this specifically: “Does the truth about God – do claims about God – affect anybody?”

If god existed and had a measurable effect on the physical universe, it would bring it under the purview of science – god would be like the force of gravity; observable, measurable, predictable. Maybe not so predictable as gravity, but we could reason about the effects of god on the universe.

Funny thing is, we haven’t observed any supernatural effects on the universe; nothing that can’t be reduced down to naturalistic physical principles. So in a very real sense, the existence or not of god has no effect. If god does exist, he’s not doing anything with any noticeable effect, so why care?

We tend not to believe in the existence of things with no observable effects though; that’s the only way to keep obvious absurdities like invisible goblins and Russel’s teapot out of our belief system.

Another sidenote; your website remembers my name and email perfectly, but seems to have complete amnesia on the question of whether I want your “free mini-course” delivered to my email. It’s the strangest thing, almost as if you’re hoping repeat-commenters will eventually forget to untick the box and inadvertently sign up for your mailing. But of course you wouldn’t do a sleazy thing like that, so I’m sure it’s just a bug in the server.

• March 4

### Perry @ 7:56 pm

Matt,

We have observed supernatural effects in the universe. See http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/faq for a discussion on the lower half of the page. In any large public library you will find an entire section on documented cases of miracles. Just because they’re politically incorrect doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I describe my own personal experiences at http://www.coffeehousetheology.com/miracles

Reason concerning the effects of God on the universe is a field known in academia as theology. I invite you to set aside the pejorative attitude and follow the evidence where it leads.

28. March 3

### Ben @ 9:37 am

Interesting article, but Matt did a very effective job of demonstrating that the universe is a physical, actual system, not reliant upon abstract axioms to prove its existence.

Sorry, but Matt is very clearly better informed on this issue. The language of the article oversimplifies the theorem so as to allow the author’s worldview to seem better justified. The comments made a nice read, though.

• March 4

### Perry @ 1:46 pm

Ben, I have two questions for you:

1. Is the universe logical?

2. Can you name any law of physics that is not expressed as mathematical or logical statement?

29. March 3

### Bizzare @ 10:22 am

I haven’t read all the replies above so I am probably repeating some people but below are the flaws or premises that I disagree with in your argument.

1) You define God as what is outside the largest circle. As the number of circles is infinite it is meaningless to talk about the largest circle. Gödel’s theorem suggests that all things depend on something else, if a god exists and is subject to our laws of mathematics then it is no exception, therefore by use of modus tollens if a god is subject to our mathematics then it must be dependent on something else to exist.

The existence of a god is not necessary to explain how something can be true despite depending on an infinite chain of assumptions. It is clearly wrong to say that because each natural number requires you to assume that there exists a larger natural number that there must be a god that is larger than the largest natural number. The natural numbers and, if Gödel’s theorem is true, the ever increasing circles that depend upon things they do not contain are infinite

2) All codes must come from a conscious being. You are using a double meaning of the word code, its normal meaning is a message from one conscious being to another that has be altered to make it difficult for those who are not its intended reader to understand. DNA is referred to as a code because it contains information that is difficult to understand, the same could be said of many things that do not originate from a conscious being, pulsars (rotating neutron stars) are a simple example, we receive from them a brief burst of radiation which we can decode to gain information about the star.

3) A being can be conscious, boundless and without cause. To me conscious seems to cause problems when combined with the following properties; if something is conscious then it is aware of itself, if it is boundless then there is an infinite amount of itself that it has to be aware of, information from its farthest edges would have to travel with infinite speed to cover an infinite distance in finite time. If it is without cause then it must have existed forever, over an infinite quantity of time a conscious being would go through an infinite amount of thoughts and would end up unable to think anything new and robotically repeat through previous states, this is not a contradiction but is probably not how most would think of a god. The same problem occurs with an omniscient god as if truly omniscient it would know in advance what it was going to think and do and at the correct time would think and perform those actions like a robot.

4) In what little of the comments you mention the Holy Trinity so I shall assume you are referring to the Christian God. This is where your argument really falls to pieces, you go from trying to prove the existence of a potential creator to the existence of three very specific Gods. There is nothing in your debate on Gödel that applies to the Christian Gods and could not apply to Ra the ancient Egyptian Sun God or to the thousands of gods that humanity has worshiped throughout history, or to any of the millions that I could invent, name and create a back-story for right now. Assuming that all other points I have made are false and your argument is sound you have still proved nothing other than a vague conscious being outside our universe that somehow proves some things in our universe to be true.

Finally I would like to thank you for the excellent quality of the first part of you argument, it is one of the best explanations of Gödel’s theorem I have ever read, I apologize for the length of this piece but may add more if I think of anything else.

• March 4

### Perry @ 1:39 pm

1. There is not an infinite number of circles, because the universe is finite.

2. I am using the exact same definition of code for biology as I am for computers etc etc. This is explained in extensive detail at http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/information-theory-made-simple/ and elsewhere on my site. Pulsars are not digital commuication systems.

3. You are defining an infinite being in terms of space but I clearly explained that God is outside of space and time and I explained the logic behind this with care in the article. Got is not matter, not energy, not space, not time. Information does not travel from one end of God to another in packets. Please go back and read my statements with care. Your statements about infinite amounts of thoughts are self contradictory since any infinite sequence by definition never repeats itself.

4. The Trinity does not say there are three specific Gods. Please do not misquote me, and if you wish to critique the theology of the trinity then please avail yourself of theologians who have written about it such as Augustine, Aquinas, Jonathan Edwards etc. Or read exactly what I have written: That God is ONE and is in complete unity has three aspects: Self intent, expression of intent, and understanding of self.

• March 4

### Andrés @ 2:08 pm

Bizzare:

1- Assume the whole universe is just:
The concept of the number 1.
The concept of the number 2.
The concept of sum.
We can draw a circle around the whole universe and safely say that 1+1=2 without the need for external reference.

2-I think not. You’re assuming that, using the same logic the article points as flawed (inductive reasoning). It reads “you cannot PROVE gravity will always be consistent at all times. You can only observe that it’s consistently true every time”, and while this logic can be used to reach some truth it can also lead to fallacies. It isn’t as safe to assume that all codes come from a conscious being as saying that gravity makes things fall.

3- You’re just trying to say god exists
4- You’re trying to hide the fact from #3.

• March 8

### Perry @ 5:20 pm

1. If you say 1+1=2 you reference numbers and symbols which are outside the universe you just defined. In your own description you are standing outside of the universe. The whole thing still depends on you.

2. Show me a naturally occurring code. Just one.

30. March 4

### Quinn @ 8:50 am

The “unknown” agent outside the circle always somehow seems to point to one’s favorite religion or metaphysics (the immaterial vs. material). The true incompleteness perhaps lies in the symbolic, linear conceptions human understanding is stuck with. This theorem FALSIFIES it does not give positive verification to speculations or personal convictions. It is much too easy and sloppy to interpret the limits of understanding as reflected by our greatest proofs as an excuse for thought termination and to fill in the cosmology of the unknown and unreachable with all too human answers.

As for “code” the human mind has a tendency to see patterns everywhere, even in vacuum energy. Using this as proof of supernatural intelligence (since these things are everywhere in the universe) violates the very theorem you are misusing (the circle would prove itself). Intelligence is itself recognized through quite finite and definable parameters that are always experienced well within the circle. If human intelligence and the tragic world of crude matter and its pointless replication and destruction are really some positive indication of what lies beyond, a perfect God would have to be exchanged for a perfect monster, which would have to “inductively determine” from the very cruelty of nature. A cruelty, by the way, which intelligence only seems to make MORE insanely devious, not less. God should do us a favor therefore, to remain an Impersonality.

• March 4

### Perry @ 1:44 pm

Codes are not a subjective impression on the human mind, they objectively exist. DNA is decoded by the ribosomes whether we see it and acknowledge it and describe it or not.

I suppose various people have tried to tell you that God is some kind of cosmic teddy bear, but you surely did not get that from me. Indeed, surely if nature tells you anything, it tells you that God can be wild and ferocious. If nature tells you anything about God, it also tells you that God can be soft, tender and beautiful.

Open your eyes, look around you, and see.

And as you do so, do not neglect to distinguish the difference between what God has created and what man has destroyed.

I would invite you to open yourself to understanding God as God really is, and follow the evidence where it leads.

• March 4

### Matt @ 6:21 pm

“Codes are not a subjective impression on the human mind, they objectively exist. DNA is decoded by the ribosomes whether we see it and acknowledge it and describe it or not.”

Their physical reality is precisely why describing the process as a code is flawed. Take a symbolic system like writing, we take information from our thoughts and ideas and encode it into letters, words, sentences, all according to the rules of our language. None of these odd little squiggles on paper or a screen make any objective sense, the information can only be retrieved by conscious understanding of the symbols and the language.

DNA is different; the chemical properties of the molecule are what allow a ribosome to take a string of DNA as a template for building a protein. The base pairs quite naturally have some affinity for each other, and amongst the millions of chance collisions between molecules in cell chemistry that lets the ribosome find the right strand of tRNA to pull an amino acid from to build a protein.

I’m not a molecular chemist, so I don’t know every detail… but if I remember rightly I think the ‘affinity’ stems from the shape of the amino acid being conducive to the formation of hydrogen bonding. It’s not too horribly complicated but it’s been a long while since I’ve had cause to think about it.

The important part is that it all happens chemically; the ribosome isn’t required to understand what it’s doing, it isn’t “decoding” the DNA in any real sense – it’s just a protein that reacts with DNA and RNA molecules in such a way that some other protein is formed.

The defining difference is that our symbolic codes have no objective relation to the information they represent. Nothing really links the letter A to an “ah” sound, or any of our words to their meanings, except for our minds and the associations they store as language. With the genetic ‘code’ the DNA molecule and the protein synthesised are related by deterministic chemistry. You could decide to redefine a word, you couldn’t redefine a DNA sequence.

• March 4

### Perry @ 7:52 pm

GGG is not Glycine, it is instructions for making Glycine. AAA is not Lycine, it is instructions for making Lycine. DNA has start bits, stop bits, error correction mechanisms, pointers, objects. CD players don’t “understand” what they’re decoding either but they decode just the same.

If you want to debate this, you may do so on the Cosmic Fingerprints website. But you will need to do your research first – this ground has been thoroughly covered on my website for 4+ years now. See http://cosmicfingerprints.com/dnanotcode.htm, http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/faq. These definitions have been universal for 50 years.

In short, you will get nowhere with this argument. DNA is just as much a coding system as your hard drive. In fact the list of similarities is long indeed.

31. March 4

### Legion @ 1:01 pm

Perry,
We think your main misinterpretation is that you believe Gödel’s theorem applies to the physical universe. You say, basically, that Godel’s theorem applies to science because science is made of logic. Therefore, science is either incomplete or inconsistent. We agree. But because humanity can change what it believes, science adapts to evidence to remain consistent. This leaves only the possibility that science is incomplete. We think you will agree with this.

But you then say that Godel’s theorem applies to the Universe and/or Multiverse, because it can be described by science. Wait, didn’t We just say that science is incomplete? That would mean that science does not fully describe the Universe/Multiverse, and therefore is in some way wrong. So Godel’s theorem cannot apply to the universe, because we do not actually know it is a system. Even if we did, we would not know it’s limits.

Additionally, Godel’s theory could be applied to itself if we use your ‘put something in a circle’ interpretation, which is wrong anyway. If we did this, it would prove itself wrong, meaning you entire argument is, in fact, invalid.

• March 8

### Perry @ 5:17 pm

You need to pick an argument and stick with it.

Gödel’s theorem does not prove itself wrong because his theorem is also based on axioms. For example the assumption that peano arithmetic is valid. He wrote his original proof in peano arithmetic.

You’re right, science is also incomplete. No matter how much we know about science, if it is consistent it will require something outside of itself to verify its truth. There we go again – eventually we need Something that is outside the universe.

Science ASSUMES that the universe is logical. It cannot prove this. If the universe is logical, it is incomplete.

• March 26

### Legion @ 7:01 pm

You misunderstand. Science does not assume. If science were to say that an object will fall, due to gravity, at roughly 9.81 meters per second, minus the effect of friction from the air, there are no assumptions. Literally countless examples of evidence are available, and on the off chance that an object were to behave in a different way than expected, the scientific ‘laws’ we currently accept would adapt to include that to remain as accurate as possible. The thing that science depends upon is the Universe.

Also, if the Universe is an axiomatic system that depends on a ‘god’ figure to have created it, the god would need a cause. Now, We know you will argue with this. But consider: If your ‘god’ created the universe, something must have happened to spur that action. And something must have spurred that, leading to an endless loop of logic. If we discard the endless loop, we come to the conclusion that your god is unchanging, having nothing to change it. An unchanging entity would not do anything other than what it is already doing, because it cannot change from that pattern. So the universe must have a cause, or not exist.

• March 27

### Perry @ 8:59 am

From Dictionary.Reference.com:

in·fer·ence (?n’f?r-?ns)
n.

1.

The act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true.

(emphasis mine)

Science INFERS that all objects on earth fall at 9.81 meters per second. Science infers that the law of gravity is the same everywhere in the universe. Science infers that the law of gravity was the same 1 million years ago and will be the same next year as it is now.

An inference is indeed an ASSUMPTION that the specific can be applied to the general. You cannot deductively prove these things about gravity. You can only assume (HYPOTHESIZE), then do an experiment that confirms the hypothesis. A successful experiment is not a formal deductive proof. It is a confirmation of our own prior assumptions and a validation of inference as a way of knowing things.

In this case, “knowing” is always provisional, because, as you say, if an object were to behave in a different way than expected, the scientific ‘laws’ we currently accept would adapt to include that to remain as accurate as possible. You are correct in putting the word ‘laws’ in quotations. Science is always provisional.

You are assuming (there’s that word again) that because God’s nature is unchanging, that therefore nothing in God’s universe can change and that God cannot cause anything. That is a non-sequitur. You are conflating God’s nature with God’s actions. Let’s trace the logic:

1. The universe must have a cause, or not exist – that much is true.

2. The universe cannot be the result of an infinite regression of causes because that’s irrational. Also true.

3. Therefore there is a first cause, which is without prior cause. That is also a logical necessity.

4. Therefore the first cause caused all subsequent effects.

5. Therefore the first cause is capable of causing things outside of itself.

• March 27

### Legion @ 6:50 pm

Clearly, you have thought this through for more time and in more depth than We have. So, We will close with this statement: We wish for you to remember that deductive reasoning is worthless without conclusive proof, just as experimentation is worthless without reason to support the conclusions. Furthermore, a lack of evidence for either argument is not eveidence supporting the other argument. In fact, We agree that there is a god, We merely wish to be clear that all we can do is speculate. There is no proof in this debate, and so none of Us can ever truly be ‘correct’.

32. March 4

### Andrés @ 1:40 pm

If you draw the biggest circle around everything, you’re not leaving anything outside, you have from the explainable to the unexplainable inside, it doesn’t matter if it can be explained or not, everything is inside thus there will be no need for outside reference.
What this theorem seems to do is first to expose some really good logic, it certainly is right in smaller scales and/or when using the adequate example (the bike for instance), once it has proved that this reasoning can work it proceeds to use the same statement with everything else, assuming that if it worked there it must always work.
I have to admit I was agreeing with it, but the part about inductive reasoning clearly reveals a flaw. While it is true that inductive reasoning can lead to mistakes, it isn’t the case every time, because you can prove things, even if you start looking at the facts from the inner circle. Gravity being of those provable ideas. You also have to keep in mind that some things, when explained or researched upon, give more questions than answers, and this is another issue used to support this Incompleteness theorem, but it’s just a part of the search for an answer, and raising questions helps to nothing but to better understand everything, the more questions the closer to the truth we get.
I believe this theorem can be both flawed and perfect depending on the circumstances. And that it suffers from the same misuse of general relativity Once I had a very fiery discussion with a friend who said that everything, from matter and energy to concepts are relative, to which I replied that concepts can be constant, as units like 1 meter, the concept of 1 meter can not be relative, maybe the tool used to measure differs, maybe it has shorter centimeters, but the concept will not change under any circumstances. Perhaps this is the case.
I want to finish saying that I don’t reject the idea, humankind will probably never discover the secrets of everything (I’d bet to 42 tho), but I had to speak up because I think that some of the logic in the article is somewhat off.

33. March 5

### graeme @ 3:48 am

“* Whatever is outside the biggest circle is an uncaused cause, because you can always draw a circle around an effect.”

while this may be true, you can also always draw a circle around the CAUSE…therefore the cause cannot be outside the circle

“* All codes we know the origin of are designed by conscious beings.
* Therefore whatever is outside the largest circle is a conscious being.”

Oh, where to start? LOL
1) Information is a thing…maybe not in the physical sense, but it still exists, and is therefore IN the circle.
2)Just because all the codes THAT WE KNOW are the creations of conscious beings in no way shape or form implies that all codes must be such creation. It only suggests that there are codes that we are unfamiliar with.
3)once again, if someTHING exists outside of the circle to generate information, or anything else for that matter, logic would dictate that you could then draw a larger circle that would encompass that creator as well

If you want to make a logical argument, it usually helps to actually USE logic and not just tiptoe around it

• March 6

### Perry @ 1:11 pm

Graeme,

You will need to read the other responses to other posts in this thread. Every issue you have brought up here has already been addressed.

• March 6

### Matt @ 3:11 pm

In a loose sense of the world “address”. You’ve diligently responded to all my comments, but I’m not convinced you’ve really given a satisfactory answer. I and others have asked you to demonstrate that DNA really is a consciously designed code, without appeal to “all codes are consciously designed”, and “DNA certainly is a code” (I could accept either one of those, but not both at once, depending on whether you take ‘code’ to imply conscious design by definition or not)

Fundamentally, you can’t assert something to be true of all codes, then use it as proof about a specific case; to make the general statement requires the proof of the specific case. And yet, your own “proof” of DNA being designed by a mind follows as: (1) DNA is a code (2) All codes we know the origin of are created by a conscious mind. (3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind.

Point 3 simply does not follow from points 1 and 2. You’re effectively trying to establish the origin of DNA _from_ now knowing the origin of DNA. If you have a way to demonstrate the conscious origins of what I hold to be a naturally occurring code (or a non-code if you really want to assume code to imply conscious origin) then I’d love to see it, but I’m still waiting.

(And before you ask) my proposed origin for the system would be a very rudimentary genetic molecule, likely to be RNA, synthesised by prebiotic chemistry and having just barely enough complexity to get a copy of itself made. Once that foundation is in place, mutation and selection over vast spans of time could arrive at the much more efficient system we see now.

Oh, and I may have made the mistake I’ve been hoping I wouldn’t and just clicked submit with the little box ticked. (If this is a duplicate comment via double-submission, please feel free to delete the first) No matter, a little gmail-fu will sort that one out.

• March 8

### Perry @ 10:53 am

New codes are created all the time. Recent examples from the last 20 years include PDF, HTML, DLL, JPG, MOV, DOC, XLS. Each of these is distinctly different from the others, using in some cases radically different coding structures. All of the above are stored / transported on dozens of different kinds of media including CD-R, hard drives, laser light, voltage pulses etc.

If the question is stated as: “Is there a natural chemical process that produces codes? Or do we have reason to believe there is some sort of Intelligence behind biology” then Point 3 naturally follows from points 1 & 2. In science this is called inference.

Please support your proposed origin theory with an experiment. Preferably an experiment that is not designed. The ideal would be an example of biogenesis from some “warm pond” somewhere.

Or show me ANY code created from scratch by any process other than design. All you need is one.

34. March 14

### Mike @ 2:51 am

1) All known plates are designed by conscious minds.
2) The earth has tectonic plates.
3) The earth was designed by a conscious mind.

This is what happens when you play fast and loose with semantics.Just because you’ve used the word “code” instead of plate people get all confused and mystified, but it amounts to the same thing.

Now let’s see what happens when you abuse metaphors:

1) All known sandwiches are created with the intention of being eaten.
2) The solar system is sandwiched between other galactic formations.
3) Therefore the solar system (and the starry loaves in which it is nestled) is going to be eaten.

Now let’s see what happens when you can’t tell the difference between a system (science, math, language, etc…) describing a thing and the thing itself (the universe).

1) “Apple” is a noun.
2) Nouns are found in the dictionary.
3) Next time you’re feeling hungry, open the dictionary up to Apple and chow down (with apologies to Gwyneth Paltrow).

Now after seeing Matt’s point-by-point rebuttals of your arguments and your refusal (or inability) to understand the strength of his objections, I can’t assume this will have any effect on you (why, for instance, you are troubled by infinite regress but not by the idea of an immaterial god who sits outside of existence but still affects it and – what luck! – requires no cause, is a mystery on par with that of the big bang itself) But hopefully this is a simple explanation of just a few of the flaws in your reasoning for people who read your article and aren’t wearing god-blinders.

• March 15

### Perry @ 7:03 am

The word “code” is used in precisely the same way and with precisely the same meaning in both computer systems and biology.

“Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies.” (Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2005).

All philosophers are troubled by infinite regress.

An uncaused casue is not infinite regress. Which is exactly my point. At some point, one is required. Godel’s theorem shows why the universe cannot be its own uncaused cause.

If you want to seriously take part in this discussion, you will need to apprise yourself of the definitions used and the details of the argument.

35. March 15

### Mike @ 8:41 am

It’s clear that it isn’t used the same way. The mere fact that human designed codes are self-evidently designed by humans and the genetic code isn’t is enough to show that. That there are resemblances does not make them the same. The fact that you are asserting that they are used in exactly the same way only serves to highlight your circular reasoning.

“I can take quotes out of context and misapply them too.” – Me in a different conversation that had nothing to do with this.

The fact that you would try to take Yockey and use his quotes to argue for intelligent design would be comical if it weren’t insulting. I won’t go into depth as to why it’s wrong here, because, thanks to the power and beauty of the internet, someone else has already done this for me. Here’s a teaser:

“I’m told creationists have started citing this new book of his in defense of their own argument that God must have started life on earth. I’ve not seen this abuse myself, but it wouldn’t surprise me, and at any rate, forewarned is forearmed. If that’s their plan, Yockey throws a bucket of cold water on it.” — To find out why you’ll just have to read the article. Here’s the link – http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2006/11/yockey-on-biogenesis.html

As for infinite regress and the uncaused cause, this is literally the kind of thing they do in intro to philosophy courses. I’m not going to reiterate the entire history of the cosmological argument and its objections, but you’re welcome to read a brief introduction to it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmological_argument#Objections_and_counterarguments

I guess you think that by throwing Goedel in you can make an old dress new, but just like creationists attempt to rebrand themselves as “intelligent design,” it’s lipstick on a pig.

Cute bit at the end there. If you want to seriously insult my intelligence while seeming dignified you’ll have to apprise yourself of more intelligently designed slams.

• March 15

### Perry @ 9:51 am

Mike,

If you want to refute my argument about Godel, you will need to refute it line by line. Snide remarks about “lipstick on a pig” are no substitute for facts and logic.

You will use 100% respectful language in your posts from this point forward or your posts will be deleted.

Yockey on biogenesis: p. 176: “I have no doubt that if the historic process leading to the origin of life were knowable it would be a process of physics and chemistry. Thus the process of the origin of life is possible but unknowable.”

“The reason that there are principles of biology that cannot be derived from the laws of physics and chemistry lies simply in the fact that the genetic information content of the genome for constructing even the simplest organisms is much larger than the information content of these laws” Yockey wrote this in his previous book (1992).

“The existence of a genome and the genetic code divides living organisms from nonliving matter. There is nothing in the physico -chemical world that remotely resembles reactions being determined by a sequence and codes between sequences.”

Yockey states that the genetic code must be taken as axiomatic, much as we take Planck and Newton’s axioms, because it cannot be derived from the physics of chemistry.

36. March 15

### Mike @ 10:47 am

Pretty sure I’ve already addressed your use of Yockey as a pro-creationist source. I also think I’ve made it clear that I’m not trying to convince you personally of anything. The posts above already refuted your argument days before I even read it, the fact that you don’t see that speaks volumes. You have been refuted and you don’t see it, so you’ll forgive me if I choose not to waste my time any more than I already have.

My commentary was hopefully just illustrative for anyone who didn’t see the plain flaws in logic. I don’t think I’ve said anything here or elsewhere to impugn you, as opposed to your arguments posted (and, as I said, refusal/inability to take any rebuttals seriously).. In terms of your arguments, arguments don’t deserve to be treated respectfully, they deserve to be attacked. Those that are strong enough will withstand the attack. Yours do not.

You will use 100% non-condescending ultimatums from now on or I won’t post anything else — I probably won’t anyway, I just wanted to let you know in my own special way that I found that to be gratingly paternalistic. Since this is only 93% respectful, you are welcome to delete it.

• March 15

### Perry @ 11:07 am

I quote Yockey precisely because he’s not a creationist. Same with Claude Shannon and others. 99% of the people and papers I quote are non-controversial mainstream peer reviewed research. There is nothing remotely controversial about the fact that the genetic code is in fact a code.

I fully understand that Yockey disagrees with me philosophically. There’s no rule in science, philosophy or life that the person who produces the evidence you use in an argument has to agree with the conclusions you reach about that evidence before you can use it.

Yockey makes the clearest case I’ve ever seen that the laws of physics and chemistry do not explain the origin or nature of the genetic code. Yockey stops right there and goes no further. I continue forward with the simple observation that all codes and coding systems we know the origin of are designed. Therefore we have 100% inference to design in biology.

This is not proof, but it is scientific inference. As such it is just as reliable an observation as the laws of thermodynamics and gravity.

The fact that Yockey doesn’t agree with this is no concern of mine. Yockey tells you there’s no other instance of a naturally occurring code, just the same as I do.

I have taken every legitimate rebuttal seriously, as I have debated this particular topic online for 4 years now. See http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/infidels for an entire history of this debate. You can attempt to argue that DNA is not a code in the same sense that ASCII is a code but that line of argumentation will get you nowhere. The literature is very clear on what the definition of a code is and both examples fit that definition 100%.

Mike, if you can produce one example of a naturally occurring code I’ll write you a check for \$10,000 and post your evidence on my website. The specification for doing so is http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/solve/

Until someone can successfully demonstrate a naturally occurring code, the only scientific inference we can make about the origin of the genetic code is that it’s designed. And note that in saying so I have not stepped outside the bounds of science at all. We don’t have to know who the designer is or the exact details of the design process in order for this inference to hold.

37. March 15

### Mike @ 11:57 am

1. All types of rapid transit utilities (bikes, cars etc…) are designed by conscious minds and not naturally occurring.

2. Horses are a type of rapid transit utility.

3. Therefore, horses are designed by a conscious mind.

I will give 10 million rubles to the first person to show me a naturally occurring rapid transit utility — keeping in mind that horses don’t count, donkeys, ponies mules, bulls, buffalo neither (Half credit for a midget riding a lasso apso).

Seriously man, good luck with life and everything, but I am beyond done here.

• March 15

### Rod MacKenzie @ 12:27 pm

In relation to this comment…I believe Perry’s point was that when you’re discussing codes, there is no example of a horse.

38. March 15

### Eric @ 4:39 pm

Hy folks. Nice debate. Roy, you stated “What caused God? It’s not a coherent question. By definition God is eternal…uncaused.” Ok, but by who’s definition? What if the nether that harbors the multiverse is what is really eternal and infinite. What if it has always been. No one can prove otherwise and and the proverbial circle cannot be drawn around it. If this were the case then God simply fades into one possible explanation as opposed to “the” explanation. What of time? We experience time on a liner scale but that is a function of the brain (as opposed to Brane…couldnt help it), and no necessarily how time exist in its own dimension. Can you draw a circle around time? Can you prove you can? No, you cant. Time may well extend infinitely in all directions unaffected by gravity, energy, velocity, expansion, or the boundaries of the multiverse. Does this prove that all things are begotten from time?…maybe. Or is time the true God? Either that or time doesnt exist and is an illusion according to the reasoning of this article. Thats been proposed before but not readily accepted by science, much less proven. I think what we have here is a creationist trying to prove his view through a very guided discussion using a single mathematical concept; Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem. To truely understand the implications of that theorem we would all need to be doctorate level mathematicians. A single simple tenet of this theorem was put in even simpler layman’s terms. Then that was used to try to argue a point as absolute. Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem does not “prove” the existence of a god (much less a Christian, Buddist, Muslim, Jewish, Egyptian, Greek, African, or any other god invented by mankind). Yes! I whole heartily agree that the possibility of a cosmic conscience exists and that it might be Godly. I believe this because there is no way to completely disprove it either. If time is finite, which we cannot prove, then there is always another circle. Keep in mind. Time was just one of many examples. Replace time with an infinite multiverse, or nether that cant be circled or just consider that the larger circles are also infinite once you break past the multiverse. We have NO way of knowing and many of the variables to this conundrum and God is just one of many…it just happens to be the one you favor.
- Eric M.

• March 15

### Perry @ 6:01 pm

My assertions are based on the facts about the universe that are known at this time.

The facts as we know them are: The Big Bang occurred 13.7 billion years ago, that it expanded from a single point, and that it has finite mass and energy.

Time and space are inseparably linked. No space = no time. Time itself begins with the big bang. Therefore time is finite. Yes, you can draw a circle around it. It has boundaries.

There may be other dimensions of time and other universes but it is impossible for us to know anything about them.

You are welcome to assert that time and even our own selves are illusory but I don’t know how you’re going to build any kind of epistemology from that foundation. You’re on your own if you want to embrace that view.

If you want to posit an infinite number of universes, I’m going to ask you to provide evidence that they exist because invoking an infinite number of anything violates parsimony.

God is defined as eternal and uncaused in Judeo Christian theology.

Gödel’s theorem directly implies that whatever caused the universe is timeless, boundless and uncaused and not a system.

Which does interestingly match Aquinas’ Via Negativa.

No, Gödel’s theorem does not prove God. It only directly infers the existence of an axiom which the entire universe must rest – something which is not space, not time, not matter, not energy, not a system, conscious and boundless.

• March 15

### Eric @ 9:02 pm

I would like to thank you for taking the time to address my comment. Time and space affect each other proportionally but it has not been proven that time is relegated to this space only. We are learning more by leaps and bounds and these are exciting times indeed. Your arguments imho are logical and I respect them. I just think there is more to existence then we have discovered. There are unknown variables that we have yet discovered that need to be plugged into the known concepts of existence. I appreciate your comments. Live well

• March 16

### Perry @ 8:49 am

Eric, I appreciate your comments too and I appreciate being able to disagree respectfully.

Oh yes there is definitely more to existence than we have discovered.

I’d like to address what is commonly described as “god of the gaps” arguments where God is invoked to explain things we can’t explain. I think this is often misconstrued.

People often paint a picture that “God” used to be the default explanation of everything. And now that we have science that is no longer necessary. This is a mis-characterization of history, science and theology.

The Judeo Christian worldview has never in the habit of saying “the wind just blew, gee I guess it must’ve been God.” You just do not find that kind of thinking in Christian theology. Or…. if you find it among simple peasants you certainly don’t find it in Augustine or Aquinas or Origen or Luther or Edwards!

Rather it is asserted that God created the universe, that the universe operates according to specific discoverable laws. And that *sometimes* those laws are superceded by miraculous events; and that the creation of the universe itself is a miraculous event.

And furthermore that if something is a miraculous event, you will probably know it. Because it was distinctly different from what would *normally* happen. (Like resurrection for example. Everyone knows that dead people normally stay dead.)

From that standpoint, science is not one bit closer to “eliminating God” than it was 1000 years ago. Far from it! In fact with each passing discovery the we see that the universe is profoundly fine-tuned and highly ordered. And in the largest sense, the mystery only increases. We know know that there are dozens of universal constants (like gravity and nuclear forces) and if those constants were 0.000001% different the universe as we know it would be impossible.

The mystery will be only that much greater in 20 years than it is now. Not because we know less, but because we know MORE.

The more we know, the more questions are raised.

Which is precisely the point of Gödel’s theorems. Gödel is essentially saying that the more you know, the BIGGER the gap is between what is necessarily true and what you can actually prove. In broad terms, Gödel was telling us the same thing the theologians were already saying 1000 years ago.

Science is not about eliminating God. Science is about discovering how God gets things done. I would submit to you that it’s never been more reasonable to believe in God than it is right now, and there’s nothing in that at all that is weak or abdicates the search for knowledge and truth. Quite the opposite.

39. March 15

### Brandon @ 5:44 pm

“Pulsars are not digital commuication systems.”

Neither is DNA. You just proved to yourself that DNA is not a code by your definition…

• March 15

### Perry @ 6:04 pm

Brandon I suggest you consult a dictionary, in which one of the very definitions of “Code” is THE GENETIC CODE. Hubert Yockey’s book should lay to rest any notion that DNA is not a communication system and I invite you to read it before continuing to make this assertion.

40. March 16

Perry,

• March 16

### Perry @ 9:36 am

Hans,

You can eliminate the need for God if you postulate that the universe is irrational.

I don’t see that this is helpful to anyone at all. Doesn’t that pretty much discard the entire foundation of science? For one thing it prevents any atheist from believing they have some kind of corner on “reason and logic.” Actually that would be an interesting reversal, wouldn’t it?

A religious person says, “I’m religious because I believe in rationality.”

An atheist says, “I’m an atheist because I believe in irrationality.”

However odd it may sound I think it’s remarkably close to the truth. A religious person is likely to tell you that while they do not understand everything that happens in the world, they believe God has a plan and it will all make sense in the end.

An atheist person is likely to tell you they don’t believe in God because of all the wars, bloodshed, disease, gloom and destruction in the world.

One has faith that there is something outside the circle. The other, because of the inconsistency of what they see in world, insists there is not.

41. March 22

### Anthony R. Mramor @ 11:33 am

As a Buddhist I find this discussion very interesting. A concept called the Mystic Law refers to the unknown and inexplainable workings of the Universe, whether or not it is of a God or not, whether one believes this or not. I believe irregardless of an individuals beliefs, the workings of the universe are beyond our understanding; but this should not stop us from at least trying to explain us and our existence.

42. March 22

### Rohit Nair @ 11:59 am

I’m not sure why nobody has said this so far. You’ve asked for a “naturally occurring code” multiple times. It seems to me that the answer is quite straightforward, especially as you’ve called it a code multiple times.

DNA

Is it not the product of natural processes? Why is it excluded from being considered a natural code? DNA is encoded and decoded every billions of times every day around the world as a consequence of the laws of physics which dictate the behavior of the molecules that make up DNA. Why is it not a suitable answer to your challenge?

• March 22

### Perry @ 12:32 pm

Because nobody knows the ORIGIN of DNA.

There is no known physical process that gets us from non-life to life, from chemicals to self-replicating nanomachines. It’s not a trivial problem, in fact it’s profoundly difficult. The #1 unsolved mystery in all of biology.

• March 22

### Cranston Hilton IV @ 7:47 pm

I feel like this is assuming time is an actual thing and not a perception. Time only exist because you need it to exist or everything would be all bunched up together.

• March 23

### Perry @ 6:35 am

Time is an actual thing.

“[Paul A. M. Dirac] appears to have shared much the same opinion as the Time Traveller in the 1895 novel The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, whose science-fiction novels he read: ‘There is no difference between Time and any of the three dimensions of space except that our consciousness moves along it.’” -from The Strangest Man, The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmelo

43. March 22

### George Klein @ 10:25 pm

This theorem says indirectly, that whatever we don’t know must be god’s work. But that’s how religion was born. There are certain things our brains cannot comprehend. One simple example: what is infinite?
Or, if somebody believes in the bible I would ask him/her: What happened before the first day was created. What was there than? What/who created god? If nobody/nothing, then what? These things are impossible to comprehend. Our brains are not capable to understand. I simply accept those things and don’t try to explain them with an entity named god. That’s why I don’t believe in the entity named god. And I am very content with that. The main difference between me and religious people is, that I don’t say that in what I believe is the right thing, and try to persuade others to think like me. Religious people believe, that their view is the right one and keep trying to persuade others to believe in what they do.

• March 23

### Perry @ 10:31 am

George,

In college I took a math class called “Matrix Theory” aka Linear Algebra. In Matrix Theory you create and analyze dimensions of space as easily as x’s and y’s in 9th grade algebra. You say, “H is a 27 dimensional space with 16 orthogonal vectors…” just as casually as drawing X and Y coordinates on a piece of paper. Even though it’s impossible to visualize 16 or 27 dimensions.

I can’t say I really enjoyed the homework assignments in that class, it was all very abstract. But the concepts definitely expanded my mind. It made the concepts we’re describing here not so impossible to comprehend.

We live in 3 dimensional space. Time is a 4th dimension, linked to the expansion of space. String theory posits 7 more dimensions in addition to those four.

Those dimensions are just mathematical variables. Just a space that the universe operates within.

This entire article is about the idea that all those dimensions and elements of the universe are necessarily contingent on something. And that something is outside of space, outside of time, outside of all dimensions, and boundless. That something is inherently similar to how theologians have always described God.

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” – Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, a self-proclaimed agnostic.

God may have created millions of other dimensions and other universes that we have no way of peering into. What happened before the first day was created? Only God could tell you. Maybe someday… He will.

44. March 23

### Anthony @ 8:16 am

Time is real and I believe this can be proved through say the decay of carbon 14, or if I get out of a chair and walk across the room; and relative to my own consciousness, time exists.

45. March 23

### Steven Jones @ 9:51 am

Perry;
Thank you for this, I found it very engaging and enlightening. I do think, however, that you are making a logical maneuver that is not valid, yet I think there is an interesting dilemma posed… and perhaps a way out.

Godel’s arguement is essentially one of epistemology: how can we know. If I were to live in my house, and all the doors and windows were eternally blocked shut, I could know nothing of the outside world. Yet, to truly understand, objectively, my predicament would entail stepping outside my house and seeing it from the outside. Yet, this ‘need to know’ does not necessarily say anything objectively about what is outside my house, it only illustrates that fulfilling my need to know would entail stepping outside. In a sense we are like lab rats. Can the lab rat know anything about the observer? There is an epistemological directionality that must be observed – the need to know does not necessarily prove that that need can be fulfilled. While God perhaps can draw a circle around my house, does not mean I can draw a circle around Him. Or does it? Seemingly, something from outside the sphere would need to reach back.

Reading your article jogged my memory that Godel’s argument sounds suspiciously like something else much older. Many are familiar with Anselm’s Ontological Argument, and its over-simplification, but many are not aware that Anselm proceeded that argument in his writings with a clarification that runs something like this:

The comparative goodness of any two things cannot be determined solely by comparing them to each other, invariably a third ‘ideal’ is needed to set a standard of comparison. This not only holds true for any ‘goodness’, but also any goodness one can think of, such as ‘greatness’. This applies when comparing any two commodities one can conceive, regardless how great. Therefore, for thought to be possible, a supreme ‘Ideal’, or ‘Greatness’, higher than any conceivable ideal, must exist or any comparison or description would be stymied. It is this supreme Ideal Greatness we call ‘God’.

People have tried to criticize Anselm’s logic for centuries, yet it somehow bridges a gap that most don’t understand. His logic is often called Modal Logic. While this sounds very much like Godel’s argument, I think Anselm had provided something Godel hasn’t.

If I am still locked in my house, I may wonder what about all these things in my house that don’t have sufficient cause for existing within my house alone. There are no trees in my house, yet my furniture is all made of wood, etc. Something from the outside is indeed reaching back. For Anselm, this ‘thing’ that is reaching back, bridging the gap between my circle and God’s is rationality itself. To Anselm, rationality is not a sufficient cause in itself and provides perhaps a unique case of ‘reaching’ that doesn’t have the same limitations as other things might have.

While it appears that epistemology can only move one way, there does seem to be, according to Anselm, a certain capitulation in the act of knowing itself. Something ‘bounces back’ from the observed to the observer or the act of knowing would be stymied. While much of this might be an illusion or imagination (a movie about Avatars does not prove they actually exist), when applied to ‘knowing’ itself, it can’t be just an illusion or ALL knowing would just an illusion, a phantasm (certain ‘realities’ of the Avatars must exist such as existability or the movie would make no sense). Where Anselm succeeds and Godel fails is in the recognition of evidence needing to traverse the boundary in both directions. To Anselm, rationality itself is this ‘thing’. In Godel’s example, the question is not whether a circle can be drawn around us, it is can a circle be drawn around God.

• March 23

### Perry @ 10:16 am

Steven,

Thanks for your great post. You have actually provided the most understandable explanation of Anselm’s ontological argument that I’ve ever heard. In the manner that it is normally stated, it makes no sense to most people. Your explanation is very good.

To your last point: I maintain that a circle cannot be drawn around God. This is the only way that my argument stands without any internal contradiction. The most important point is: God is not a system. God is not composed of individual parts and God is not divisible and God is not space. So God therefore must be boundless.

My conclusions based on Gödel are remarkably similar to St. Thomas Aquinas’ Via Negativa:

1. God is simple, without composition of parts, such as body and soul, or matter and form.[62]
2. God is perfect, lacking nothing. That is, God is distinguished from other beings on account of God’s complete actuality.[63]
3. God is infinite. That is, God is not finite in the ways that created beings are physically, intellectually, and emotionally limited. This infinity is to be distinguished from infinity of size and infinity of number.[64]
4. God is immutable, incapable of change on the levels of God’s essence and character.[65]
5. God is one, without diversification within God’s self. The unity of God is such that God’s essence is the same as God’s existence. In Aquinas’s words, “in itself the proposition ‘God exists’ is necessarily true, for in it subject and predicate are the same.”[66]

You might be interested in knowing that Gödel took Aselm’s argument quite seriously and in fact wrote a proof of it. You can read it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godel_ontological_proof

I’ve thought about Gödel’s ontological proof but haven’t arrived at any definite conclusions. I think more can be done with it and hopefully I’ll get a chance to address it. (There are some other comments waiting in the queue right now and I’ll get around to those too, soon.)

• April 14

### Chris D. @ 7:45 pm

You have said:

“…Rather it is asserted that God created the universe”

You obviously believe the judeo-christian god created the universe. If you are a Christian, then by definition you believe God has a plan for every individual on this planet. You also believe he made us in his image. My objection concerns our understanding of a being that can conceive of things on a linear time scale, ascribing properties, making plans, creating things…

I haven’t seen anyone call you out on this yet, but if you believe God has a plan, “created” the universe, made us in his image, or just generally has any plan at all for anyone or anything, then you face the problem that any being that can conceive of a linear series of thoughts constituting a “plan” than this being must have a mind, a mental space, containing said concepts, and as such a being it would contradict your #1 assumption about God…

“1. God is simple, without composition of parts, such as body and soul, or matter and form.[62]”

He must have composite parts if he is to think in a linear series of events, such as having a plan for the universe. So not only does this contradict your most essential definition of God, but confronts you with the problem of “drawing a circle” around God to explain him and his workings. Infinite regress of explanations ensue…

• April 14

### Perry @ 8:41 pm

Why does being able to think plan or intend necessarily require a composition of parts?

• April 14

### Chris D. @ 10:33 pm

“Why does being able to think plan or intend necessarily require a composition of parts?”

By definition to think means:

1 : to form or have in the mind
2 : to have as an intention

Where in nature do we find a system that plans, thinks or intends without a composite of parts (physical parts) or a mind?

Secondly,

“Since all known mental activity has a physical basis, there are probably no disembodied minds. But God is conceived of as a disembodied mind. Therefore, God probably does not exist.”

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/atheism/minds.html

Forming a thought or intention requires a temporal series of physically causal events shaping said mind, therefore necessitating by definition composite parts.

• April 15

### Perry @ 5:30 am

When you apply Godel’s theorem to the universe the conclusion is that the axiomatic thing on which the universe depends (ie God) is IMMATERIAL. Read the article and walk through the logic step by step.

This question goes back to the mind/body problem in philosophy, which is at least 3000 years old, and answers it: The mind is not necessarily a body.

• April 15

### Chris D. @ 8:12 pm

I wonder, why doesn’t the logical fact that disembodied minds are improbable give you a sense of the enigma of creation instead of reaffirming a thesis (the Christian God) that has never been sufficiently proved with any kind of evidence? (which is why I assume your using a mysterious and complex logical theorem to argue your case then actual evidence that would be accepted by any good scientist) The disembodied mind case is contradictory to your Godel God conclusion, so why not see it for what it is, a logical mystery maybe best delegated to classroom/intellectual discussion so as to learn how to think properly and in turn focus on real world problems in which science can give a big helping hand.

First, assuming your logic pertaining to Godel’s theorem is correct than I must agree that an axiomatic thing must describe the universe, being boundless and immaterial. But this far from proves the Christian God existence, but instead proves that a formless thing needs to be logically evoked to fulfill the requirements of Godel’s incompleteness theorem in application to the universe and the question of existence and creation.

The implications of this proof are just as mysterious as our understanding of singularities and the matter that gets sucked into them at the center of black holes. Why am I wrong in this assumption about mystery and my accusation that you are logically wrong in the unwarranted conviction about the Christian God, instead of the innumerable amount of other God’s created by man?

Why don’t people assume, in the same way you do in your argument, that an immaterial flying spaghetti monster must be evoked to explain the formal system of a black hole? Because it’s a farcically made up religion, not a millennial old religion based on concepts and rituals from previous doctrinal (and fundamentally irreconcilable from Christianity) religions. There’s evidence in this fact, that Christianity is one of many systems of thought to fulfill many of humanities evolved needs in response to our unique consciousness; hence one of many answer systems, but more importantly to notice is the logical consequence of this fact, that the Christian God does not logically follow as a unique or obvious divine being that best answers philosophic questions about existence, creation and morality.

My main question for you is this; will you admit evoking the Christian God is a premature answer to this immaterial logical-necessity, which is only possible to defend in a theorem that gives many a sense of wonder and mystery, not logical certainty in the Christian God? The fact that a lot of people read your arguments, and see it’s evident sophistication, but nonetheless take it as an interesting anomaly in our constant struggle to discover our place in this universe (multiverse?) shows that the christian God is far from apparent and obvious; most importantly in the lack of evidence for his direct effect upon this world and people’s lives. All historic events, personal testimonials and claimed witnessed miracles have more logical evidence in favor of a naturalistic explanation. More on this later…

Ok, so we agree on an axiom of immaterial cause for the universe stems from the logical consequence of your logic. We also agree (I’m assuming) on a disembodied mind being evidentially and logically a more probabilistically false assumption about the nature of minds than that of a disembodied mind that happens to be that of the Christian God, or souls etc. I’m sorry but you have not answered the mind/body question at all, as you stated in your last response. I have not read one thing in any of your debates that has you logically confirming a fact about the nature of disembodied minds. So this is how I see it. Your taking two mysteries, that are hotly debated topics throughout human history, ones that have inspired millions of great thinkers toward a cornucopia of conclusions (that give much to the world in their mysterious nature and the training it takes to shape ones mind to understand even a small portion of them and the debate as a whole), and fusing them into coherence when none is evident, instead only loose correlation based on the beliefs of one religion amongst many.

You then argue further with a question:

Does the truth about God – do claims about God – affect anybody?”

Did the claims about Zeus affect anybody? Do the claims of mystics of all types, mediums, masters, gurus, lunatics affect anybody? How about the book “the secret”, it affects people positively, how do you explain this? Natural explanations can, very well actually. Psychology, cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology do extremely well if we wanna get specific.

and:

“Just because they’re (supposed miracles) politically incorrect doesn’t mean they don’t exist…”

Politically incorrect? I think more accurately they can be labeled as “conjectural claims, unsupported by robust evidence”, and subject themselves to naturalistic explanations, which are more wondrous and interesting then the claims themselves (not to be mention vast, as in volumes and hundred of years of theory, research, paradigm shifts and more accuracy of theory and result).

You also said,

“Reason concerning the effects of God on the universe is a field known in academia as theology. I invite you to set aside the pejorative attitude and follow the evidence where it leads.”

I reply with this refutation that methodological naturalism does not rule out explanations that are a priori:

“In utilizing methodological naturalism, science and history do not assume a priori that, as a matter of fact, supernatural causes don’t really exist. There is no conceptual conflict between practicing science or history and believing in the supernatural. However…methodological naturalism would not be as stunningly successful as it has in fact been if metaphysical naturalism were false. Thus the de facto success of methodological naturalism provides strong empirical evidence that metaphysical naturalism is probably true.”

“methodological naturalism does not rule out any explanation a priori. To see why this is, let us recall that methodological naturalism is defined by the way a metaphysical naturalist trying to advance science would act. I think it is relatively clear that such a person would have to be a fallibilist with respect to even his metaphysical beliefs; …he wants to be as sure as he can that his explanations correspond to the way the world really is. Since he does not have all possible data, he cannot be sure that there is not some kind of evidence for the supernatural out there, so he would not want to trap himself in a routine that would ignore even blatant evidence for the supernatural in favor of a less plausible naturalistic hypothesis. The metaphysical naturalist who wishes to fulfill the aims of science cannot rule out the possibility that his metaphysical views may eventually be shown to be wrong – hence, he must be open to some degree to supernatural explanations. However, this degree is likely to be a very slight one, which is what gives methodological naturalism its naturalistic flavor – the methodological naturalist, in acting like a metaphysical naturalist devoted to science, will, while being open to the slight possibility of evidence for the supernatural, consider naturalistic hypotheses on average more parsimonious than supernaturalistic ones, and hence will give them more benefit of doubt. In short, his methodological commitments can tell him to examine all possible naturalistic explanations for a phenomenon first, and can assign higher prima facie probabilities to such explanations on average, but the least plausible naturalistic explanation will tend to have a lower prima facie probability than the most plausible supernaturalistic explanation.”

“Of course, if naturalistic methodology can lead to the confirmation of supernaturalistic hypotheses, it can also lead to the falsification of supernaturalistic hypotheses. In fact, this is what has happened to a number of models offered by scientific creationists…But it is perfectly clear that a large number of hypotheses that appeal to the supernatural make sufficient empirical predictions to be falsified.”

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/ntse.html

You must first refute the logical conclusions of these claims before you assert that theological evidence for God’s effect in the world is stronger than the naturalists evidence.

and this is what you said about nature (the natural world)….

“Indeed, surely if nature tells you anything, it tells you that God can be wild and ferocious. If nature tells you anything about God, it also tells you that God can be soft, tender and beautiful…”

How do you make this monumental leap in logic? Also remember it’s contradictory for God to be both ferocious and tender if he is also to be logical, which you said he was. “It tells you” is off the bat a wrong interpretation of our interaction with the world; “Science tells us” is more accurate, or if you want, “we tell it”, in that there was no written or thought about account of the world before homosapiens arrived on the scene. And if the world was somehow telling us anything how do you make the assumption there is the Christian God behind the curtains telling us? Why not instead try to really follow the evidence (countless pieces of logical, natural evidence) and see that your attempts at marrying God (immaterial and unknowable) to natural effects and stating it as if it was a ipso facto proof of your first premise that God Is, is an extremely premature leap in logic and certainty? The ever cohesive and well understood accumulated evidence, research and pragmatic effects on how we live because of science towers over the accumulated religious evidence for any of it’s wild creation myth/immaterial God claims. This is without question because the logic shows it to be. There is more evidence anyway you look at it for a naturalistic world than that of a supernatural one (one in which a Christian God intervenes on behalf of human, which you admit you believe).

“…do not neglect to distinguish the difference between what God has created and what man has destroyed.”

How about what man has created: science, logic, vaccines, peace treaties, constitutions, medical devices, academy’s of learning, language, art, music, meaning. Each one of those developments can be naturally traced along a historical time-line with varying degrees of cultural transmission between an innumerable amount of connections between individuals. This is the amazing natural world we live in, one where emergent properties exist from apparent chaos. The only way to distinguish between your two choices is by first making God self evident, which he is not, due to the fact that we are debating him, along with millions of other people right now.

“I would invite you to open yourself to understanding God as God really is…”

I would invite you to open yourself to understanding the natural world as the natural world really is.

You say at the top of this web-page,

“The Incompleteness of the universe isn’t proof that God exists. But… it IS proof that in order to construct a consistent model of the universe, belief in God is not just 100% logical… it’s necessary.”

Isn’t this exactly the leap I’m talking about?

So, the theorem doesn’t prove God exists, only that the natural world needs something outside of it to explain itself…therefore a consistent model of the universe necessitates belief in the Christian God? You say “belief in God”, but can’t this be debated as to what “God” is? If so, then why aren’t you holding your tongue since no one has given us a definitive definition or evidence of God that stands up to all attacks of logic, evidence and reason, the same tools you use to argue your claims?

Here is some new naturalistic/scientific research, so I must ask, how does this square with your conviction that there is more evidence for God’s presence than the opposite? These few are a drop in the bucket compared to all accumulated naturalistic observations and theories.

“There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms (Aral and Holmes; Beeghley, Doyle, 2002).”

“We’re slowly chipping away at the structure of morality,” says Young. “We’re not the first to show that emotions matter for morality, but this is a more precise look at how emotions matter.”

“The finding offers a new piece to the puzzle of how the human brain constructs morality, says Liane Young, a postdoctoral associate in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences”

God is not the Creator, claims academic

• April 15

### Perry @ 10:17 pm

Chris,

You have discomfort with the Christian God and I understand that.

Nonetheless let it be clear that my logic regarding Godel is sound. If the universe is logical then it necessarily follows that the universe is contingent on something outside itself that immaterial and boundless. Such an assumption is axiomatic – not provable but necessary.

This alone firmly establishes the validity of metaphysics.

Naturalism itself presumes to somehow know that there is nothing outside the universe. Godel’s incompleteness theorem gives all possible inference, with the full authority of science, that there is something outside the universe. Therefore we can make a 100% logical conclusion that if science is valid, naturalism is false.

Thus the core of the atheist argument is dismantled by Godel.

Disembodied mind flows from the following syllogism:

1. The pattern in DNA is a code
2. All codes we know the origin of are designed
3. Therefore we have 100% inference that DNA is designed and 0% inference that it is not.

We can explore five possible conclusions from this:

1) Humans designed DNA
2) Aliens designed DNA
3) DNA occurred randomly and spontaneously
4) There must be some undiscovered law of physics that creates information
5) DNA was Designed by a metaphysical mind, i.e. God.

The implications of this are that information is not a product of physics and chemistry but rather that information is always created by top-down causation not bottom-up.

The existence and nature of information itself likewise dismantles the materialistic worldview. Because materialism cannot explain the origin of information.

Information is immaterial, therefore it has an immaterial source, therefore the Original Mind is immaterial.

I do not believe the Christian God is a premature conclusion because if one embraces an essentially Darwinian time line and a secular understanding of the Big Bang (as I do), Genesis 1 matches this time line tit for tat. See http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/genesis1 for a detailed examination of the text.

You may be unaware that there are many volumes of documented miracles. You can find links to many sources at http://www.coffeehousetheology.com/miracles, near the bottom of the article.

You may also be unaware that the foundation of science, which is an assumption that the universe is governed by fixed discoverable laws, originated in Christian theology. It most certainly did not come from atheism. See http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/faq/#christian

Thanks for the quote from Mark Vuletic. I know him, I had extended conversations with him 10 years ago in Oak Park Illinois, we were good friends for awhile. I appreciated the mental exercise and challenge of having those discussions with him. One time we rode to Madison Wisconsin together to see Dan Barker.

Yes I understand that supernatural hypotheses can be falsified, but you seem to be forgetting that my line of argumentation is Godel’s incompleteness theorem. Again, if the universe is logical and mathematical, then a metaphysical world necessarily exists.

A mother bear can be wild and ferocious, and tender. If it is logical for a bear to be that way why is it illogical for God to be that way?

Man did not create science or logic. Man discovered these things.

“Emergent properties exist from apparent chaos.” True enough if you’re talking about snowflakes. Not known to be true if we’re talking about digital code, such as we find in DNA.

You have presented a predictable atheist list of objections but you have not refuted any of my logic.

If you want to talk about correlation between religious belief and social problems in the United States, fair enough. Then let’s also talk about the human rights track record of atheism.

I’ve got a book on my shelf called The Black Book Of Communism. It documents in excruciating detail the genocide of 160 million people under mostly atheist regimes — in the 20th century alone.

“Our program necessarily includes the propaganda of atheism.“ -Vladimir Lenin

Is it merely a coincidence that more people were murdered by atheist governments in the 20th century, than by all religious wars in all centuries combined? You decide.

46. March 23

### Steven Jones @ 10:06 am

“Well, our friend Dirac, too, has a religion, and its guiding principle is this: ‘There is no God and Dirac is his prophet.’” – Wolfgang Pauli, Nobel Prize winner in physics.

• March 23

### Perry @ 10:19 am

“God is a mathematician of very high order.” -Paul Dirac, theoretical physicist who predicted the existence of antimatter

47. March 23

### George Klein @ 11:55 am

No. It will not. In my world god doesn’t exist.

48. March 23

### Sam B. @ 12:40 pm

Hey Perry,

I really admire you for taking the time to respond to every single comment posted here… It is for this reason that I now find myself writing a comment when initially I did not have the intention to do so.

I believe I have a slightly different take on the ‘DNA is designed’ argument from that of earlier commentators. Hopefully this new argument will interest you.

I take it you believe that since all observed codes that we know of (putting aside DNA) are designed by conscious beings, then DNA can be inductively assumed to also have been designed by a conscious being.

Now imagine, if you will (for just a few moments), that there was a world where it were possible that some codes occur without the input of a conscious being, and that they were around on that planet. And imagine, please, that in that world, we could thus divide all codes into two types: those created by conscious beings, and those not created by conscious beings.

Person A believes that there exist both types of codes. Person B believes that only consciously created codes exist.

How would person A, I asked myself, in that particular world, prove to person B that some codes exist without conscious creators? Perhaps he would take a code that has existed long before humankind, show it to person B and say, ‘Behold, this is a code not created by a conscious mind.’

But person B would merely say, ‘You have not proven that this is a code not created by a conscious mind – only that it is a code not created by humans. This only shows that a conscious creator of codes existed before humans, and that it was that creator who made this code. The same can be said of any code not created by humans.’

Of course, person B cannot be proven wrong, even in this world that we are imagining where some codes do exist without conscious creators. The simple fact is that no-one can prove that a certain code has no conscious creator, whether that is actually the case or not.

Hopefully you will realise by now that it is impossible to distinguish, using logic or other means, this imagined world from our own. It may be true that all codes in this world were created by conscious beings. But to say that it MUST be so because we cannot prove it false is a logical fallacy.

( From Wikipedia: The argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam (“appeal to ignorance”), or negative evidence, is a logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false, or is false only because it has not been proven true. )

Once again, thank you for your patience and willingness to respond to the comments directed towards your article, and have a nice day.

• March 23

### Perry @ 4:33 pm

Sam,

You ask: “How would person A, I asked myself, in that particular world, prove to person B that some codes exist without conscious creators?”

Simple. You demonstrate that you can put chemicals in a tank that don’t have codes and open it up later and find that they do. Then you analyze the process by which it happened.

In other words, simple scientific proof. Empirical evidence.

The scientific community has never provided any kind of evidence that a structure such as DNA, or the information it contains, originates from chemicals. You cannot derive the properties of any code from the laws of physics and chemistry.

We know more about codes in 2010 than we know about most other things in science. Every major university in the world has a Computer Science program. You can take 200 credit hours of classes that discuss the conceptual aspects of codes, objects, databases, storage, transmission and computation.

My argument is not an argument from ignorance. It’s an argument from positive evidence. Based on exhaustive knowledge of the thinking process involved in data storage, processing and retrieval.

It is the materialist / atheist position which is presenting an argumentum ad ignorantiam. I invite you to scour, in detail, the contents of http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/infidels – read every single argument people have made against my thesis in the last 4 years. See for yourself if I’m not telling you the straight-up truth. They insist DNA isn’t really a code; they tell me rocks & snowflakes are codes; they tell me I’m not allowed to use inductive reasoning; they tell me that DNA was a happy chemical accident….

Not a single one of these arguments is scientific.

The conclusion that DNA is designed conforms to everything we know about codes, and everything that’s taught in any accredited 4-year Computer Science curriculum.

• July 26

### DavidH @ 7:11 am

In Jodie Foster’s film, Contact, she plays a scientist looking for radio signals from space that will prove that intelligent life forms exist far from earth.

Eventually her scientific team receive a signal from the vicinity of a star named Vega. The signal is decoded to show that it consists of a series of prime numbers. The supposition is that prime numbers are universal values that first have to be discovered by an intelligence as least as high a level as ours. That prime numbers don’t just happen randomly in space and are randomly put into a self-evident sequence of separate prime numbers.

And then, of course, transmitted repetitively into space by some sort of transmission device which must be also an intelligently discovered device. The assumption in this storyline (by agnostic/atheist Carl Sagan) is that such a massive device was put into operation for a purpose. There was, by natural assumption, a plan created inside an intelligent mind far away. And the plan seems to be to attract another intelligent species in the universe to hear.

The assumption of the movie is that another intelligence is transmitting a code that must necessarily invoke a concomitant awareness that this is a deliberate communication from one intelligence to another.

But, as exciting as that is, the meaning is further enriched when further analysis reveals beyond the prime number sequences several sets of packaged data with their own code. The code is further discovered to have its own decoder attached (like delivering a DVD along with a DVD player and monitor) that would be ultimately decipherable to mathematicians who have reached our present state of sophistication.

Decoded from that help they discover a video source buried in the signal: Adolf Hitler’s welcoming address at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin which was actually televised with such television transmitters as existed in 1936 and which apparently travelled to the Vegan system.

Then a third set of data was found in the signal; over 60,000 “pages” of what appear to be technical drawings. Later they are decoded to allow for 3 dimensions and this method now reveals a complex machine allowing for one human occupant inside a pod to be dropped into three rapidly spinning rings.

Well, to sum up, we build, the Jodie Foster character travels, she returns, and is treated as a “religious nut” or hoax for making claims she cannot substantiate.

We all of us, ALL of us, agnostic, atheistic, believers in God, quickly, without debate intuitively jump to the same conclusions when we are presented with such a storyline.

Every single person of whatever persuasion or non-persuasion religiously on this earth accepts this premise.

Some “intelligence” MEANS to COMMUNICATE with other intelligences in this story scenario.

We ALL understand that we are begging the impossible to argue that a signal containing a sequence of prime numbers, where one long string of prime numbers has a start and a definable end before another long string of prime numbers is transmitted could just happen to be a random cosmic occurrence.

We understand that we would instantly heap scorn upon ourselves to argue in the face of all these conditions — so WHAT?

And when we discover more data in that signal that also helpfully and INTENTIONALLY gives us algorithms to decode that into a moving video signal that reproduces an old video transmission from our world, we are completely, absolutely convinced that another intelligence is deliberately speaking to US.

And then when we discover a third set of data that has thousands of drawings done in a 3 dimensional model well there is NO argument. This PROVES intelligent life exists in the star system Vega.

Even if the drawings build something that looks ridiculous and seemingly non functional we assume that we just got it wrong. The question of whether another intelligence exists is beyond a doubt, even if they are pranking us.

When you follow every lead that Perry has provided explaining already accepted Communication theory and how it is inextricably demonstrated in the basis of all life as we know it, the DNA system of data storage, transmission, replication, repair — all in not just in 3 dimensions of space but also IN SEQUENCES of TIME, DNA also carrying the code for WHEN something is brought into play at the time that its manufacture or dissolution is optimal for life, then you have to face up to the inevitable.

Some vast Intelligence created a code so complex, yet elegantly compact, and simultaneously from the very first moment of its existence already completely encoded so that its DECODING mechanism is completely as sophisticated, and its transmission of instructions to create tissues and enzymes (themselves staggeringly complex compounds) on a cosmic mathematical scale of deliberate INTENTION by a superhumanly vast intelligence and personal power.

Ladies and Gentlemen, when will you allow yourselves to privately admit that what is ALREADY KNOWN, by itself, is far, far more than an electrical pulse from Vega?

• July 26

### Perry @ 10:52 am

David,

Yes, DNA *is* like a DVD that’s encoded with instructions to build a DVD player. The SETI project is proof that even secular people know coded information is proof of intelligence. BRAVO. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Perry

• July 26

### Perry @ 10:53 am

David,

Yes, DNA *is* like a DVD that’s encoded with instructions to build a DVD player. It also contains error correction checksums based on a Fibonacci sequence. The SETI project is proof that even secular people know coded information is proof of intelligence. BRAVO. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Perry

49. March 23

### Sam B. @ 5:12 pm

Perry,

Thank you for your reply. While I’m glad to hear that you would be convinced by empirical evidence, I hope you do realise that an experiment to display the random event of code coming together ‘randomly’ would be impractical – I hear that even computer models would be inadequate to show such an event, though I myself am a little confused as to why.

Still, I suppose there’s not much room for manoeuvre on the ‘empirical proof’ side of the argument, so I will say that I am defeated, when it comes to that, and will merely hope that one day science will once again come to understand something that only religion is be able to explain for now.

I’ll go and read that Infidels thread you gave me the link to now, and perhaps I will return with more questions when I have finished. Thanks for your response!

• March 23

### Perry @ 6:17 pm

Sam,

A question I’m surprised people don’t ask more often is: “What if a physical process that creates codes is discovered? What would that mean? Would it destroy your ‘God argument’?”

I think it’s a really great question. And I’m not at all opposed to such a discovery being made.

That discovery would probably hold the key to our scientific understanding of consciousness, which so far is nearly a complete mystery.

It would also be a giant breakthrough, a massive paradigm shift on the same level as the splitting of the atom or Einstein’s theory of relativity. It would be the Nobel prize discovery of the century.

And by the way I don’t think it would destroy my ‘God argument.’ It would only stack the deck even higher at the beginning of the universe. It would raise even greater philosophical questions about how our universe came to be the way that it is. In 2010, science is no closer to “eliminating God” than it was 500 years ago. The ‘gaps’ that science has allegedly closed only grow bigger with each passing year.

Meanwhile I think it’s dishonest of the scientific community to not simply follow the evidence where it leads. To simply admit what is a very obvious conclusion from the facts at hand: That intelligence appears to be behind the genetic code.

We don’t have to agree on what that intelligence is or what it means. But once we acknowledge the exacting design and purposeful nature of DNA all kinds of other doors will open for biological discovery. We need to acknowledge the facts we do have before we can discover new ones.

50. March 24

### Sam B. @ 3:24 am

Hey Perry,

I’m not a biologist, unfortunately, and even if I were, I wouldn’t necessarily know enough to understand the full workings behind this, but since I’d like to continue discussing this, I hope you’ll forgive me for my stabs in the dark and correct me where I contradict current evidence.

I have read through the Infidel’s riddle section of your website, and found it quite interesting. I guess I would have to say that I’m not entirely sure that I understand your argument as to why DNA can’t have ‘evolved’ (I know I can only use the word as an analogy at this stage) from earlier, simpler biological or chemical components… And why those components could not have arisen by chance from other chemicals. After all, I hear the earth had a few hundred million years before any real complex stuff arose.

If that sort of thing can happen, I don’t see how the whole ‘code/information’ bit is relevant. After all, that is only a consequence of what something like DNA consists of, surely?

Again, I hope you’ll forgive me for my tentative guesses – if I had more time, I would look into the subject properly and try to see if I could understand papers on the subject, but I am a student with not long before my exams, so now is perhaps not the best time for that.

(As for the ‘simplier biological/chemical components’ I mentioned, I believe the Iron-Sulphur world theory and the RNA world hypothesis are examples of this, though unconfirmed.)

• March 24

### Perry @ 5:40 am

Any argument for chance fails as soon as you try to apply some statistics to it. I talk about this at http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/infinite-chasm/

The possibility of such a thing happening by chance is so vastly improbable that trillions of years and literal a universe of universes would not be even close to enough time. Most people have no comprehension of how bad the statistics actually are. A few hundred million years doesn’t even begin to be enough.

Nowhere in any biological literature will you find any statistical model that shows this is favorable. Frankly the only people who believe this is possible are those who haven’t tried to do the math.

Any proper definition of evolution means variation filtered by natural selection. To have variation you have to have replication and to have replication you have to have a code. Therefore a code is a REQUIREMENT for evolution to even be possible.

So it is not possible that the code “evolved” from a non-code. The term evolution does not even apply.

I have created a specification for discovering a naturally occurring code here: http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/solve/

51. March 24

### Uygar Yuzsuren @ 7:08 am

The very basic fallacy and the wrong premise made in this argument is information’s being a product of a conscious entity. You cannot make this presupposition since information may also thought to be an emergent entity, rather than being a designed one. For more about this you can read Daniel Dennet’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/2573941/Daniel-C-Dennett-Darwin-s-Dangerous-Idea-Evolution-and-the-Meaning-of-Life

• March 24

### Perry @ 8:20 am

I have this book. Nowhere in this book does Dennett ever demonstrate that information is an emergent entity. For that matter, nowhere in science is there any hard evidence that this is true. “Emergence” in this context is a purely hypothetical construct.

Dennett also asserts that all you need is self replication and evolution will occur automatically. This is also not true and there is no evidence for such an assertion in any of the literature. Evolution is an engineered process as I discuss at http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/new-theory-of-evolution/

52. March 24

### Anthony R. Mramor @ 9:13 am

I’m no scientist, (wish I was because I’d be rolling in the dough!) but I’ve come to the conclusion that DNA is the “Language of the Creator”. Once we become fluent we will be able to talk to God. Or, I look at it this way. If DNA is a language, the the Human Genome or any other creature’s genome is a book.

53. March 24

### Steven Jones @ 9:22 am

To be correct, and fair, Darwin actually ‘lifted’ the Theory of Evolution in an act of out-and-out plagiarism, shifting it into the camp of Uniformitarianism. Darwin had no real observational evidence from which to derive the Theory, nor did the Theory appear in the first editions of Origin of the Species.

Darwin was Russel Wallace’s research contact person at home in England. Wallace was sending his overseas research to Darwin for safe keeping. Then Darwin saw Wallace’s Sarawak Law: “Every species has come into existence coincident both in space and time with a pre-existing closely allied species.”

Darwin rushed to take credit for the finding (Wallace was overseas and could do nothing about it) leaving out Wallace’s conclusion: “Because man’s physical structure has been developed from an animal form by natural selection, it does not necessarily follow that his mental nature, even though developed pari passu with it, has been developed by the same causes only.”

Then this statement from Wallace: “these speculations are widely held to be far beyond the bounds of science — a superior intelligence has guided the development of man… and for a special purpose, just as man guides the development of many animal and vegetable forms.”

See – ‘A Delicate Arrangement’, Arnold Brackman, (New York) Times Pub.

54. March 24

### Sam B. @ 11:17 am

Hey Perry,

I have read your Infinite Chasm page and I understand where you’re coming from, mostly. I looked around for a while afterwards and came across this page with an article by Ian Musgrave (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html). It’s not too long, and tries to justify all his statement with references to scientific papers.

Looking elsewhere, I found that the actual numbers used in that article were not accurate, since it was mostly to make a point, rather than to be 100% mathematically accurate. I found that the corrections for those numbers (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/addendaB.html#notemusgrave) did not apparently negatively affect his conclusions.

You have probably seen that article before, and since it seems to contradict your statements on your Infinite Chasm page, I was wondering if you’d be willing to explain what errors Musgrave has made (aside from the corrections found in the second link)?

• March 24

### Perry @ 2:27 pm

He says:

“The synthesis of primitive self-replicators could happen relatively rapidly, even given a probability of 1 chance in 4.29 x 10^40″

This statement is not being made on the basis of any kind of empirical evidence. He’s playing a shell game. And that’s regardless of whether his math is right or wrong. Here’s why:

Nobody has ever in any circumstances synthesized a self-replicating molecule, ever, anywhere. The only known self replicating machines are living organisms. No one has ever even designed one successfully, let alone seen one assemble by chance.

(I am using Von Neumann’s definition of self replicating machines, not something else like salt crystals etc, which is not really self replication at all. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self_replication)

He is only giving you the probability that the chemicals allegedly necessary to make this molecule will arise under some particular circumstances. But he has not given you a probability that they will self assemble in the right structure.

Thus there is no empirical basis whatsoever to the claims he is making. Frankly the entire Origin Of Life field is barely on the fringes of empirical science. This article contributes nothing to it.

55. March 24

### Sam B. @ 5:01 pm

Hey Perry,

It’s true that he never precisely mentions how those self-replicators get together from their individual parts. I guess the text reads in such a way to make the reader assume the ingredients can randomly stick together somehow, through chemical processes…

Well, I guess that’s the big question then, isn’t it? It’ll be interesting to see the progress that scientists make as they try to find the answer. It just goes to show how far we still have to go before we can fully understand life.

There is one last thing I’d like to ask you, now. In an earlier comment, you said “once we acknowledge the exacting design and purposeful nature of DNA all kinds of other doors will open for biological discovery. We need to acknowledge the facts we do have before we can discover new ones.”
This confuses me more than anything else, I must confess. Surely the only way to make progress is to keep probing, testing and doubting… What could be gained from accepting that DNA is designed?

If you could explain what you meant by that statement, I’d be very grateful.

• March 24

### Perry @ 9:58 pm

The proposition that DNA is NOT designed has led to all kinds of ridiculous theories. The most egregious being the “Junk DNA” hypothesis, which held for about 30 years. Many biologists actually believed, if you can even fathom it, that 97% of our DNA is “junk.” I’m absolutely serious. The term has not even yet been completely abolished – it’s still floating around.

The entire human genome barely fits on a CD ROM. It’s surprising enough that 750MB of data is enough to contain all the plans for a human body. That alone is some sort of miracle. If humans designed DNA it would take 100 CD Roms. Microsoft Windows doesn’t even fit on a single CD ROM and it’s nowhere near as amazing as the human body. The Junk DNA theory would actually imply that all the plans fit on 22 MB. Outrageous.

And: The idea that nature would waste 97% of anything has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.

There’s also “vestigial organs” – evolutionary leftovers that serve no purpose. Well, I’m sure there’s *some* truth to the idea but the vast majority of organs declared vestigial were eventually found to have important functions. At one time some people said the human body had 200 vestigial organs. Now the number is hovering at maybe less than 5. That number will continue to get smaller.

And so it goes. When you read atheistic biology literature you constantly find descriptions about how “dumb” the “designs” are. This literature is written by people who for the most part have never designed anything, let alone designed an eye or a lung. As an engineer who designed products that were produced in quantities of hundreds of thousands, I have a particular appreciation for the complex tradeoffs involved in even the simplest devices. When I see living things I see incredibly elegant designs, and choices that involve tremendous subtlety. That subtlety is lost on people who deny purpose in biology.

What happens if you reverse that assumption?

You CANNOT study purpose-FUL things the same way you study purpose-LESS things. In other words you study a thermostat very differently than you study a rock. (There’s a whole book on this distinction called “Perceptual Control Theory” by Powers.) A rock has no goals, no programs, no intentions. It’s just a rock. A thermostat actively seeks to maintain temperature in a room. It has definite goals and it accomplishes those goals in certain ways.

If you study a thermostat and you assume it has no purpose, it’s totally impossible to really understand it.

That is the problem with reductionistic, materialistic biology. It denies teleology (purpose) and it denies design. If there is, however, a design, then materialism will inevitably come to wrong conclusions. If it’s true for a thermostat, it’s doubly true for a Toyota Camry and triply true for biology. The Junk DNA hypothesis is a prime example of the failure of that kind of thinking.

If there’s not a design, it’s still better to assume there is one than to assume there’s not one. Because assuming purpose naturally leads to more detailed discovery and interpretation than assuming accident.

It now turns out that the other 97% of the DNA is where all the INTERESTING stuff is. The 3% only codes for proteins. It specifies the raw materials. The 97% is instructions for how to assemble those materials. Well that part is a lot more interesting. 30 years of assuming it was “junk” prevented a whole bunch of people from ever studying it at all.

30 years of lost scientific process because someone whose ego was out of control proclaimed that something he didn’t understand was junk. Tragic.

By the way, the 97% is also the part that controls evolutionary development. So the people who told us evolution was random and accidental were actually preventing us from finding out how evolution actually happens: That it’s a systematic, engineered process that is goal seeking and incredibly sophisticated. See See James A. Shapiro, “A 21st Century View of Evolution”: http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro.2005.Gene.pdf for a paper on how the evolutionary process actually works.

If we assume design in DNA then we can make all kinds of hypotheses – predictions – about what biology will discover in the next 3 or 10 or 20 years. I have made a series of such predictions here:

http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/testable-hypothesis-id-1/ and in subsequent articles 2 3 and 4.

56. March 26

### Arthur @ 12:59 pm

I proved mathematically beyond any question that the logical system of simple addition is complete in and of itself.

• March 26

### Perry @ 2:08 pm

Every symbol you define in your system of simple addition has to be taken as axiomatic.

57. March 26

### Arthur @ 2:33 pm

“Every symbol you define in your system of simple addition has to be taken as axiomatic.”

No they don’t. Not even close. The symbols are arbitrary. They’re not bloody axiomatic, they’re just a convenient shorthand. Remember “computably generable?” A computer could prove addition with the FORM of my proof above. The symbols are irrelevant. You could use anything you wanted. The definitions are all INSIDE the system.

What’s more, Gödel’s Theorem is discussed at length by Torkel Franzen and specifically in his book “Gödel’s Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to its Use and Abuse” ISBN 1-56881-238-8

He spent a lot of his life specifically devoting his time to discussing this theorem and common misconceptions applied to it. You would benefit from reading his work.

• March 26

### Perry @ 4:21 pm

Arthur,

Yes you are right, your addition system is computable and I stand corrected.

So at this point the attribute in question is: “Non-trivial.”

Gödel’s theorem says:

“For any consistent, non-trivial, formal, computably enumerable theory that proves basic arithmetical truths, an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the theory, can be constructed. That is, any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete.”

If your system of addition is both consistent and complete, it is therefore “trivial” according to Gödel’s definition.

Now the original question that brought this up in the first place was: “Does Gödel’s theorem apply to the universe?” I said yes: If the universe is logical [CONSISTENT] then it is necessarily incomplete.

To make my statement completely accurate I have to say that if a theory is consistent and non-trivial then it is necessarily incomplete.

What happens if I substitute the word “system” in place of the word “theory”?

“For any consistent, non-trivial, formal, computably enumerable system that proves basic arithmetical truths, an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the system, can be constructed. That is, any effectively generated system capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete.”

I don’t believe the above statement is any less true than the original version. The physical universe is most definitely capable of expressing elementary arithmetic. I still stand by my statement that the universe is incomplete.

• March 31

### Arthur @ 2:57 pm

“…any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete.”

I hardly think you’ve come anywhere close to proving — or even creating a convincing inference — that the universe is effectively generated. You quoted the Wikipedia article to me, so let me do the same to you: “A formal theory is said to be effectively generated if its set of axioms is a recursively enumerable set. This means that there is a computer program that, in principle, could enumerate all the axioms of the theory without listing any statements that are not axioms. This is equivalent to the ability to enumerate all the theorems of the theory without enumerating any statements that are not theorems”

That’s fine but you said:

“What happens if I substitute the word “system” in place of the word “theory”?”

Well you’ve made a bit of a mess, that’s what happened. A formal theory is necessarily incomplete. That’s what Gödel was referring to. No matter how clever my observations about a system, no matter how far-reaching my insight, my theory will always depend on the system itself which is beyond the theory and always will be. There is always the possibility of creating an axiom which is true but not provable within my theory.

The system itself, in this case, the universe, cannot be proven by a computer program. It does not prove anything. The universe DOES nothing. It just is. It doesn’t derive arithmetic or theories. It doesn’t create formulae. It is the thing outside that we observe and try to explain.

“For any consistent, non-trivial, formal, computably enumerable system that proves basic arithmetical truths, an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the system, can be constructed. That is, any effectively generated system capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete.”

The universe is neither effectively generated, not is it capable of expressing elementary arithmetic.

“I don’t believe the above statement is any less true than the original version.”

And yet it is.

“The physical universe is most definitely capable of expressing elementary arithmetic. I still stand by my statement that the universe is incomplete.”

Give me one example, just one example, of a naturally occurring expression of elementary arithmetic. Keep in mind, that pointing to the world and saying one apple plus one apple equals two apples doesn’t count. You have to show me one naturally occurring expression of elementary arithmetic and then we can talk some more.

• March 31

### Perry @ 4:01 pm

Arthur,

Are you saying that a computer can express elementary arithmetic but the universe can’t? That it’s OK to count 1′s and 0′s but it’s not OK to count apples?

• March 31

### Arthur @ 4:18 pm

“Are saying that a computer can express elementary arithmetic but the universe can’t? That it’s OK to count 1′s and 0′s but it’s not OK to count apples?”

Arithmetic is not naturally occurring. It’s a philosophical concept WE devised to try to have reference to plurality. I’m saying EXACTLY that. WE programmed computers based on OUR concept of arithmetic. Counting apples is HUMANS counting apples. Using a computer to count apples is HUMANS counting apples.

There is no difference because they are both artifice.

Give me one example of a naturally occurring expression of elementary arithmetic and we can have a serious debate about the applicability of Gödel to the universe. Until such a time as a naturally occurring expression of elementary arithmetic has been discovered, however, it’s a far cry to say that the universe derives its own formulae and theories.

• March 31

### Perry @ 4:44 pm

If a computer counts apples and no one is there to watch it, then are apples being counted or not?

• March 31

### Arthur @ 5:19 pm

Of course the apples are being counted. But given that a human created and programmed the computer to count apples based on a series of commands, it’s just humans counting apples.

Unless, of course, you’re arguing that computers are naturally occurring, in which case I would use your own syllogism against you:

1. All computers are designed by humans.
2. A computer is counting apples.
3. The apple-counting computer was designed by humans.

• March 31

### Perry @ 5:44 pm

I’m glad you agree that the apples are being counted. I’m also sure we both agree that the computer is not conscious that it is counting apples.

Nonetheless it is counting.

I don’t want you to forget the larger point which is that computers, not just humans, can perform mathematical expression. Is that not the whole point of the Turing Machine, which was inspired by Gödel’s work in the first place? Turing proposed a mechanized way of doing computations and showed that even computers can produce undecidable propositions.

Everything mathematical that can be applied to a computer, also applies to the universe, because a computer is part of the universe.

A falling object that accelerates due to gravity is expressing mathematics: The velocity is the integral of the acceleration and the position is the integral of the velocity. That’s the concept behind an analog computer.

All things that obey the laws of physics express arithmetic. To be more precise, they express the laws of physics and so far as is known to science, all such behaviors are mathematical.

58. March 27

### Steven Jones @ 12:18 pm

While one could argue that there are several ‘things’ in the Universe, such as mathematics, that exist un-caused because they arise out of naturally occurring ratios etc., that in no way challenges the belief that those things whose existence is contingent, such as rationality and life, require a cause. Their existence is contingent on having been caused by something. As there is not sufficient reason within the bounds of the Universe for these ‘contingent things’ to explain their existence, it is very warranted to look beyond the bounds of the known Universe to explain their existence. While mathematics may have a certain ‘order of proportion and ratio’ within its own bounds, that order falls significantly short of explaining true order, the ability of an intelligence to recognize that order, and the ability to communicate the meaning of the order. While one rock plus one rock equals two rocks, what does either rock care about the other?

Further, the fact that someone might extrapolate an infinite regression of causes from a speculated ‘First Cause’ in no way undermines the need for that Cause. One could say I am caused by my mother, who, in turn, is caused by her mother, and on and on. Just because I can create a hypothetical infinite regression of ‘mothers’ does not undermine the fact I, indeed, had a mother. In fact, it is this very infinite regression that demands a ‘First Cause’ at some point.

“Each particular thought is valueless if it is the result of irrational causes. Obviously, then, the whole process of human thought, that we call Reason, is equally valueless if it is the result of irrational causes. Hence, every theory of the universe which makes the mind a result of irrational causes is inadmissible, for it would be a proof that there are no such proofs. Which is nonsense. But Naturalism, as commonly held, is precisely a theory of this sort.” – CS Lewis

59. March 31

### Hans @ 3:50 pm

Perry

I wish to add something which is off topic but of interest none the less. I have added comments before, and you have been kind enoughh to answer them. I have also stated hat English not being my first language may cause some confusion. I woud classify myself as an agnostic. Perhaps a cowards way out, however I have been invited to a bible study group consisting of people who in all but their unwavering belief in a christian god seem rational. I mainly take a back seat as I feel my scepticsm would be doing an injustice to their hospitality, however at a recent event (which they called the HOLLY SPIRIT night) I was privy to something that trully amazed me. I had heard that when invocing the Holy Spirit believers have been known to speak in tongues. At the particular event I attended one specific person seemed to go into a trance like state and started talking what seemed to me to be giberish (for reference the meeting was recorded!) after the meeting the person who had the experience was taken to one side and questioned by a mesianic jew who was also present it turns out she was talking in an ancient form of aramaic which he recognised part of. We are having the transcript of the meeting looked at by a scholar who hopes to be able to give a fuller explaination of exactly what she said, as she was as suprised as any of us. Had never learnt any arabic, latin or aramaic in her life… crazy no??!

• March 31

### Perry @ 4:40 pm

Hans,

I think it’s great that you’re doing that and I think you should feel free to lurk there as long as you like. It doesn’t surprise me that this happened.

Mark 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

Acts 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs-we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

Tongues is a normal and customary aspect of a healthy Christian community.

60. March 31

### Arthur @ 6:07 pm

“I’m glad you agree that the apples are being counted. I’m also sure we both agree that the computer is not conscious that it is counting apples.

Nonetheless it is counting.”

Agreed. But it never would have been counting without humans telling it to. So you really haven’t accomplished anything by pointing out what we already knew.

“I don’t want you to forget the larger point which is that computers, not just humans, can perform mathematical expression.”

In fact that’s the point of computers. A machine, designed by humans, to perform the operations we tell it to faster than we can perform them ourselves.

“Is that not the whole point of the Turing Machine, which was inspired by Gödel’s work in the first place? Turing proposed a mechanized way of doing computations and showed that even computers can produce undecidable propositions.”

Because branches of mathematics are incomplete systems and are by definition incomplete. Therefore, if you set a computer to computably generate the system, it will reach a paradoxical statement at some point. Again, this doesn’t do anything for your argument as the computers were created by and programmed by us.

“Everything mathematical that can be applied to a computer, also applies to the universe, because a computer is part of the universe.”

That’s a terrible leap in logic. I would almost call it obtuse. You might as well say, “Everything that applies to a banana applies to a supermarket because a banana is in a supermarket.” You’ll find that statement to be wildly inaccurate after a short while.

“A falling object that accelerates due to gravity is expressing mathematics: The velocity is the integral of the acceleration and the position is the integral of the velocity. That’s the concept behind an analog computer.”

A falling object is DESCRIBED BY US using our CREATED LANGUAGE of mathematics. Mathematics was created, derived from observation and thought, it was not created by the universe.

“All things that obey the laws of physics express arithmetic. To be more precise, they express the laws of physics and so far as is known to science, all such behaviors are mathematical.”

We, as humans, would argue that all things that obey the laws of physics can be expressed by arithmetic. But that’s not what we were talking about, even by leaps and bounds. We were talking about formal mathematical systems that can express elementary arithmetic. For example, Finite Mathematics. Finite math uses variables and symbols to express arithmetic functions within a closed system. Finite math depends on assumptions outside of it’s system to function. Hence finite math is incomplete. Although the fact that it is called finite should have been a clue.

But if you accept basic arithmetic as true (which we do), you can then use the basic arithemtic functions to attempt to describe things in the real world. To suggest that the universe itself somehow derived these higher functions of math, though, and is therefore incomplete is a huge leap in logic.

• March 31

### Perry @ 9:45 pm

When we assign a symbolic meaning to states of a computer, the computer is formally understood to be doing arithmetic.

This is the essence of the Church-Turing Thesis:

“The three computational processes (recursion, ?-calculus, and Turing machine) were shown to be equivalent by Alonzo Church, Stephen Kleene, J.B. Rosser…Informally the Church–Turing thesis states that if an algorithm (a procedure that terminates) exists then there is an equivalent Turing machine, recursively-definable function, or applicable ?-function, for that algorithm. A more simplified but understandable expression of it is that “everything computable is computable by a Turing machine”.” Ref http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church%E2%80%93Turing_thesis

The Church-Turing thesis means that formal mathematics can be expressed by physical devices as well by human beings.

Likewise, as soon as we assign a symbolic values to the acceleration and velocity of an object, the moving object can be formally understood to be doing arithmetic as well. There is no difference.

A well-accepted result of the Church-Turing thesis is that incompleteness applies to computation just as it does to pure mathematics. It makes no difference whether the symbol is imagined in your mind, written on a piece of paper, stored in a computer or represented by a physical object. Incompleteness applies to all four.

• March 31

### Arthur @ 9:57 pm

The Church-Turing thesis was the there is no difference in computation between humans and computers. Later it was postulated that there was a slight difference in the upper bounds of what a computor (with an o) is. Even so, the fact is that the computers are made by humans and are using human algorithms.

Computers are not naturally occurring. Further, nowhere in nature will you find an expression of elementary arithmetic. Suggesting that because we analyze the acceleration and velocity of an object, that object is expressing mathematical truths is sophistry of the highest order.

We are using math to describe the behavior of the object. It is observed. But it’s not as if the object suddenly derived a formula to allow you to prove simple addition. What exactly did you think “capable of expressing elementary arithmetic” meant? Definitely not “being describable by math.”

If you have nothing of further value to add, I will thank you for an engaging conversation. But I consider the matter at rest until and unless you can show me anything remotely related to a logical counterargument in terms that is actually based on reality and not the misapplication of a thesis.

• March 31

### Perry @ 10:59 pm

The Thesis says:

“Every effectively calculable function is a computable function.” The words “effectively calculable” will mean “produced by any intuitively ‘effective’ means whatsoever” and “effectively computable” will mean “produced by a Turing-machine or equivalent mechanical device”

Thus the mechanical system is mathematically equivalent to the mentally produced system. This is a statement of equivalence, not sophistry.

The origin of the system is irrelevant, because both minds and mechanical systems are capable of expressing elementary arithmetic.

It doesn’t matter whether I’m counting 1′s and 0′s, apples or rocks, I can use all of the above to prove simple addition.

• March 31

### Arthur @ 11:55 pm

The origin of the device is highly relevant as WITHOUT HUMAN MANUFACTURE, NO DEVICE WOULD EXIST TO COMPUTE the apples or the 1s and 0s or what have you. There is no naturally occurring computer that is capable of expressing elementary arithmetic. Suggesting that, because Turing machines and the human mind are semantically equivalent (or even if you say they ARE equivalent, it doesn’t matter) Turing machines are naturally occurring is simply wrong and other avenues get nowhere once you realize that humans are the impetus for the device.

The universe is not capable of naturally expressing elementary arithmetic. That is a function of human construct, language, philosophy etc. The universe itself DOES nothing, it just is.

• April 1

### Perry @ 12:47 am

You’re continuing to ignore the wording of the Church-Turing Thesis. It says that a physical system expresses arithmetic just as legitimately as a mind does. An object accelerating due to gravity is computationally equivalent to human mathematical integration. The only difference is that a human is conscious of it and the physical system is not.

Gravity causes unsupported objects to fall, does it not? The motion of a falling of an object exhibits mathematical properties. This is true regardless of what labels humans assign to those properties. It appears to me that the universe does more than ‘nothing’.

• April 1

### Arthur @ 7:36 am

I’m not ignoring the wording of the thesis. You’re misinterpreting it and misapplying it.

“A Turing machine is a theoretical device that manipulates symbols contained on a strip of tape. Despite its simplicity, a Turing machine can be adapted to simulate the logic of any computer algorithm, and is particularly useful in explaining the functions of a CPU inside of a computer…Turing machines are not intended as a practical computing technology, but rather as a thought experiment representing a computing machine. They help computer scientists understand the limits of mechanical computation.”

A Turing machine that can compute anything is called a Universal Turing Machine. “A more mathematically-oriented definition with a similar “universal” nature was introduced by Alonzo Church, whose work on lambda calculus intertwined with Turing’s in a formal theory of computation known as the Church–Turing thesis. The thesis states that Turing machines indeed capture the informal notion of effective method in logic and mathematics, and provide a precise definition of an algorithm or ‘mechanical procedure’.”

So the Church-Turing thesis says that a Turing machine (which is a specific thing, by the way, and not ANYTHING that can be expressed mathematically like your physical example of falling) computes effectively and, further, that there is no effective computer that is substantively more powerful (more effective). Other computers may work faster or more efficiently. They may be faster or have fewer instructions, but they are not more effective.

But Turing machines do not occur naturally. They consist of a Tape that is broken into cells with a finite alphabet and a blank symbol, a head that can interpret the tape, an action table, and a state register.

Gravity does not have a tape, a finite alphabet, a blank symbol, a head, or a state register.

In any case, neither Turing nor Church argued that a computer occurred naturally and expressed elementary arithmetic. They said that a proper Turing machine effectively proves an algorithm.

Again, the fact that gravity can be expressed mathematically doesn’t mean that gravity itself is expressing math, and certainly, gravity is not a Turing machine and is beyond the bounds of your incorrect assertion.

• April 4

### Perry @ 8:05 am

1. Calculus, differential equations, algebra and trigonometry apply to mathematical models of falling objects.
2. Therefore Calculus, differential equations, algebra and trigonometry accurately describe falling objects.

By the same reasoning:

1. Incompleteness applies to all mathematical models of the physical world.
2. Therefore incompleteness accurately describes the physical world.

To date no one has discovered an exception where mathematical reasoning fails to also apply to the laws of physics. Until someone finds an exception to this the only logical inference we can make is that the universe, like mathematics, is incomplete.

• April 4

### Arthur @ 11:00 am

“1. Incompleteness applies to all mathematical models of the physical world.”

No it does not. It only applies to formal mathematical theories that can express and derive elementary arithmetic. The universe is not a formal mathematical theory. Theories are used to describe the universe, not vice versa.

That’s why we had that whole tangent about Turing machines and natural computers. You are wrong and every argument you have brought up has been flawed in some fundamental way. When that happens, you shift the goal posts or engage in a fallacy of relevance. If those prove ineffective, you resort to a burden of negative proof. When that proved ineffective you just restated your initial position with no regard to any of the problems that you failed entirely to address.

This will be my last post as it’s clear that you simply believe what you believe and no amount of logic, mathematics, philosophy or education makes a difference to you. Fine. You’re welcome to believe what you like, but everyone who has read the entirety of the comments is aware of how very very wrong you are.

• April 5

### Perry @ 8:02 am

Arthur,

As you have seen I cannot assert that the universe IS a formal mathematical system. I can only demonstrate that it exactly obeys mathematical laws. In other words it behaves like one.

You stated that the universe doesn’t do anything, it just “IS.” I replied that it exhibits lots of behaviors. And that if we assign symbols to it, it performs computation. And I cited the Church-Turing thesis in stating that even a purely mechanical system can perform arithmetic.

The salient issue here is that the universe exhibits mathematical behavior. And that mathematical descriptions and calculations give us true statements about the universe.

So for example we can posit an electrical filter (LC circuit), mechanical filter (Mass/Spring) and acoustical filter (helmholtz resonator) and the three are isomorphic. All three oscillate. Each is described by an identical differential equation. The math equation itself is isomorphic to the three systems. The mathematical system, the idealized electrical system, the mechanical system and acoustical system are all conceptually identical.

To solve the equation we can use any number of mathematical devices and there are many choices. We have integration, laplace transforms, numerical methods – and they will ALL accurately predict the behavior of the system. They all give us the same answer.

We have all kinds of mathematical operations that apply to nontrivial arithmetical theories: differentiation, integration, algebra, matrix theory, differential equations, set theory, and ALL of them apply to the universe. Mathematical theories are used to understand the universe and theories about the universe are used to understand math. Knowledge travels in both directions.

Therefore I don’t see how anyone can reasonably say, “But wait a minute, Gödel’s theorem is an exception. Sure, all that other stuff applies to the universe, but Gödel doesn’t.” That makes no sense. I can only suspect that the reason you insist on this exception is that it contradicts your religious views.

I cannot mathematically PROVE that Gödel applies to the universe. But I do have 100% inference, based on all the other properties of mathematics that do apply to the universe. Thus I have the full authority of science in postulating that the universe is incomplete. Because science assumes that the universe is logical and mathematical.

Are you unconditionally committed to the atheist worldview or are you willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads?

• April 5

### Arthur @ 9:45 am

“As you have seen I cannot assert that the universe IS a formal mathematical system. I can only demonstrate that it exactly obeys mathematical laws.”

Obeying laws doesn’t make something a formal mathematical theory or system. It’s a large leap in logic to go from one to the other, especially when a formal mathematical theory has such a specific form.

“You stated that the universe doesn’t do anything, it just “IS.” I replied that it exhibits lots of behaviors. And that if we assign symbols to it, it performs computation. And I cited the Church-Turing thesis in stating that even a purely mechanical system can perform arithmetic.”

The Church-Turing thesis doesn’t say that, though. It says that a Turing Machine performs arithmetic in a way that is not substantively different or less effective than a human. But as I said, a Turing machine is a specific thing which was created by human beings with that particular goal in mind. The universe is not a Turing Machine by the formal definition of a Turing Machine. The universe doesn’t perform arithmetic just because it can be described by it.

You can argue that the universe “does” things by using language such as: Gravity acts on an object; but it’s a far cry from rephrasing, “We’ve noticed the following effects and we’ll call them gravity” for brevity, to suggesting that gravity is a system that derives its own formulae.

“The salient issue here is that the universe exhibits mathematical behavior. And that mathematical descriptions and calculations give us true statements about the universe…

We have all kinds of mathematical operations that apply to nontrivial arithmetical theories: differentiation, integration, algebra, matrix theory, differential equations, set theory, and ALL of them apply to the universe. Mathematical theories are used to understand the universe and theories about the universe are used to understand math. Knowledge travels in both directions.

Therefore I don’t see how anyone can reasonably say, “But wait a minute, Gödel’s theorem is an exception. Sure, all that other stuff applies to the universe, but Gödel doesn’t.” That makes no sense. I can only suspect that the reason you insist on this exception is that it contradicts your religious views.”

Because Gödel isn’t a system of calculation or a tool to solve or any of those other things you described. Gödel’s theorem is a philosophical truth about formal systems of math that derive and express elementary arithmetic. Nothing more. It’s only because you don’t believe that that you insist it applies to something else. But you’re wrong. It does not and it was never meant to. As to my religious views, I’m not an atheist, so nice assumption. I’m a theistic person. This avenue of “proof” is just wrong, though.

“I cannot mathematically PROVE that Gödel applies to the universe. But I do have 100% inference, based on all the other properties of mathematics that do apply to the universe. Thus I have the full authority of science in postulating that the universe is incomplete. Because science assumes that the universe is logical and mathematical.”

You do not have 100% inference because you still don’t understand Gödel. He himself didn’t use his theorem to postulate God. He used an ontological argument. He himself was fully aware that his theorem was true and useful, but that it didn’t apply to everything. Science assumes that the universe is complete and consistent, too, so Gödel wouldn’t apply.

“Are you unconditionally committed to the atheist worldview or are you willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads?”

I believe in God and I think I do him a better service by actually accepting knowledge and evidence as opposed to continually positing my own misguided views about something. But thank you for getting defensive and doing so much of what I said you do in my last post. Have a nice life.

• April 5

### Perry @ 10:34 am

Please accept my apology for assuming you were an atheist. I confused you with another person in this thread who was.

• April 7

### Perry @ 9:16 pm

Hello all,

I’ve refined this further since my previous post.

Gödel’s theorem says: Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete.

The Church-Turing Thesis says: A computer (Turing Machine) is also considered “effectively generated” and expresses elementary arithmetic. Mechanical computation is likewise incomplete.

Postulate:

All physical systems subjected to measurement express elementary arithmetic.

Examples:

1. Children add and subtract with their fingers.
2. An abacus performs addition and subtraction.
3. A bucket of water & spigot does integration
4. A vibrating string solves differential equations in real time.

In all the above examples the observer or measurement device did not do the arithmetic, the physical system did.

Therefore incompleteness applies to all physical systems just as it does to mathematics.

61. April 1

### Jamie @ 4:08 pm

Hi, is an assumption that conciousness is quantifiable made? By assuming that conciousness exists then god can be proved (according to your reasoning), but what if it doesn’t? The human brain and what we assign as being concious is only a complicated series of chemical reactions, giving the illusion of conciousness which allows people can go about their daily business without going mad. In essense the human brain is no different from a computer with an added element of randomness generated by interaction with surroundings. Would be interested to see what you make of this.

• April 6

### Perry @ 6:12 am

Many philosophers believe that consciousness is not quantifiable. If you’re aware of yourself then consciousness exists: “I think therefore I am.”

If a brain was just a computer with an added element of randomness, then we’d add elements of randomness to computers and they would be able to think.

62. April 1

### Sean @ 4:53 pm

You are assuming that the universe is the grandest scheme available and there is nothing beyond it capable of having a circle drawn around it. Basically you are assuming that the universe is finite, and while it is true that what we can currently perceive of the universe is finite that does not mean that there isn’t more to it.
If the universe were infinite Godel’s theorem would be true but there would be no necessity for some indivisible god. The process of drawing a circle is to limit the contents of the circle to a finite amount, no matter how large that amount is. But if the universe were infinite then by definition to take any finite amount of it would leave an infinite amount of something, however unimaginable, outside of amount defined by the circle. That would not mean that this infinity is indivisible, the opposite actually it is infinitely divisible, but no matter how you divide it there are still more larger “circles” that could be defined containing the previous circle.
Even if you could theoretically make a circle that can contain infinity, infinity contains infinite infinities. pardon my overuse of the word but i dont know any other way of putting it.

anyways those are just my thoughts after reading your article and some of the discussion. I hope the way i put it makes sense if not i could try rephrasing it.

63. April 6

### Jamie @ 7:20 am

I do not feel educated enough to make any real contribution to this arguement. Perry if you have effectively proved that God exists while reason and logic holds would publishing this finding in a scientific journal not be more worthwile than arguing with people on the internet? If you have already done this i apologise.

• April 6

### Perry @ 8:39 am

That’s a perfectly legitimate question. People like Arthur are helping me pound the slag off this argument (thank you Arthur) and that’s where the Gödel argument is for me right now.

My DNA / information theory argument which you can find at “If you can read this, I can prove God exists” – http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/ifyoucanreadthis.htm is advanced far beyond that point and is in a stage where it is truly ready for academic publication.

However the current state of scientific journals is that it is EXTREMELY politically incorrect to connect science and theology. Sternberg got thrown out of the Smithsonian for publishing just this sort of paper. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sternberg_peer_review_controversy

The peer review process is normally a good thing but it is *highly* resistant to new paradigms – in fact it is designed to reject them. So I’m not taking that route, I’m going to the public with it. So for example I believe in evolution but I think the Darwinian theory is woefully inadequate and in fact blatantly and demonstrably wrong on major points. The general public knows that and there is no lack of books from even atheist biologists detailing the problems with Darwinism.

I’m taking a similar path – the court of public opinion. With that in mind, don’t let journal committees do your thinking for you. Think for yourself.

64. April 6

### Tim @ 1:40 pm

Hello Perry,

I don’t think it was Gödel’s intention that the undefined and unproveable rest outside the circle is called “god”. Most readers will associate many things (values, traditions,…) with this term and therefore it’s missplaced in this text.

Besides you described a theorem but it actually seems that you take it as a law (with religious intentions?). That made me distrustful.

Tim

• April 8

### Perry @ 1:21 am

Gödel most certainly believed in God. Regardless of what his views on God were, the theorem is not subject to the intentions of the person who discovered it. The theorem is subject to the extent of its logical applications. Everything I have said here follows perfectly from the premises: Something immaterial, boundless, conscious and outside of space and time is a required axiom for the universe to exist.

If you feel distrustful towards religion I’m OK with that. I just invite you to carefully comb through the logic and see whether this conclusion makes sense.

65. April 9

### David Beck @ 7:01 pm

I appreciate your valiant attempt to invoke Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem (actually two theorems) as a proof of God’s existence. You state, “He [Gödel] proved that any statement requires an external observer.” I believe others may have already pointed this out, but simply put the proposition that you claim to be proving is, “God exists,” and therefore must be included in your formal system of axioms and rules which would allow you to make such a statement, and, in turn, should your system meet the necessary conditions of a “formal” system, would be subject to Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem.

Gödel, as you aver, was a mathematical genius. He was also expressly interested in proving the existence of God. Don’t you think, if he could have figured out a way to use his Incompleteness Theorem to prove God’s existence, he would have done so? Instead, he pursued an ontological argument similar to that proposed by St. Anselm. Although it is rumored that he thought he was close to a proof, he apparently was never quite satisfied, and as a result we have no record of his efforts in this regard.

By the way, I want to thank you for recommending to your readers Rebecca Goldstein’s scholarly and entertaining book, “The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel.” The irony of your recommendation cannot be missed as Ms. Goldstein is an atheist. For those interested, I would also recommend her recent novel, “36 Arguments for The Existence of God,” in which she satirically plumbs the contentious nature of faith and reason.

• April 10

### Perry @ 7:34 am

The statement “God exists” is subject to incompleteness because it refers to something outside of itself. But God is not subject to incompleteness if God is indivisible, timeless and boundless. Logically, to avoid infinite regress, something has to be both complete and consistent and the only thing that can fit that definition is something that resembles God.

Why didn’t Gödel use his theorem to prove God exists? I can only speculate. But I think it’s because you cannot formally prove that the universe is consistent, you can only assume or infer it. Pure mathematicians are never comfortable with this. The Church-Turing thesis is a thesis not a proof for example. I can also speculate that Gödel would have faced a wall of political correctness. Goldstein’s book describes how intensely political Princeton was and is. Academics are categorically among the pettiest people in the professional world. The Dean of Journalism at the University of Nebraska once told me that national politics was a cakewalk compared to what goes on with a university faculty. Gödel might have paid a heavy price for publishing a proof of God. Guillermo Gonzalez, author of The Privileged Planet, sure did.

But I’ve been quite clear all along that while I cannot prove God. And I do not have the full authority of mathematics, I do have the full authority of science. Because the universe does computation, and the entire Western notion of science assumes that the universe is consistent. To assume anything else literally forces us to suspend reason and logic.

So to the extent that math and science together can prove anything (which is 100% inference) we can be certain that the universe is incomplete.

I am aware that Rebecca Goldstein is an atheist and she’s welcome to come here and comment. Her book is absolutely outstanding and both informative and entertaining. If Ms. Goldstein drops by, I want her to know I greatly admire her work.

66. April 11

### David Beck @ 11:15 am

It’s 4010 and scientists have discovered and formalized all knowable laws of physics. Yet to your delight, you can still apply Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem and exclaim, “athiests are irrational.” It’s a small consulation, but I’m not sure anyone will be listening. Good luck on fine tuning your theories.

• April 12

### Perry @ 5:43 am

It sounds as though you think history has been on a long path of marching towards the elimination of God. I would suggest to you that this is a very myopic view. Science itself rests on belief that the universe operates according to fixed discoverable laws (which is unprovable – an axiom precisely of the Gödel sort). Most people don’t know this idea first came from Christian theology. I talk about this further at http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/faq/#christian

The idea that science and faith are inherently in conflict is mostly driven by Young Earth Creationists and Atheist Fundamentalists. In the history of science it’s a relatively recent development. The list of scientists and mathematicians who regard their work as somehow providing insight into the mind of God is long indeed, from Galileo to Newton to Einstein to Stephen Hawking.

And yes, atheists are irrational. I have just demonstrated the same with straightforward airtight logic in this thread.

67. April 13

### David Beck @ 8:59 am

What I was suggesting with the 4010 example is that even if science does create a formal system of all the “knowable” laws of physics, one can still appeal to Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem and claim that we don’t know everything. For some this may be a problem, but for me it opens a world of possibilities of free inquiry and liberal discourse unfettered by the “airtight” dogmatism of any ilk; religious, political, or even scientific. What you have demonstrated is the beauty of mathematics not only concerning questions of the physical world but also of the metaphysical. As you state above, Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem applies to the metaphysical statement “God exists” and by extension, I would add, “God is indivisible.” There is a delightful infinite regress in pursuing this course, which is something you feel is necessary to avoid although I think simply demonstrates the power and beauty of mathematics. Way back in the 6th century BC the Pythagoreans postulated that God is not a mathematician, mathematics is God. Your fascination with Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem may lead you to the same conclusion. By the way, I would like to recommend to your readers Mario Levio’s book, “Is God a Mathematician?” It touches on many of the discussion points throughout this thread.

68. April 14

### Hans @ 6:43 am

Perry

Can I ask is it the christian god you believe in? because I see some flaws with your argument (though I am not adverse to your basic premises) In believing in the Trinity you have drawn circles around three distinct identies and surely godels thoerum would then imply incompleteness..no?

I have heard the explaination that the trinity are distinct parts of the same entity and equal, but biblical texts would seem to contradict in many places some examples.
john 14:28 If you loved me, you would be glad that I’m going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am.
mathew 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

How do you metaphorically square this.

• April 14

### Perry @ 9:39 am

Hans,

Whether this makes sense or not depends on how carefully you examine the Christian theology of the Trinity. Christian theology says Father, Son and Holy Spirit are indivisible and of one singe essence. They are never in disagreement or misunderstanding.

At the same time they exist separately such that love exists between them and that they do manifest themselves in different forms. God the Father is the source of will, the Son is the expression of His will, the Holy Spirit is the understanding of his will. I liken this to a communication system at http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/video5 in the video titled “Information, Communication, and the Trinitarian Concept of God”.

A communication system has 3 separate elements – encoder, code and decoder but all three are necessary for communication to exist and all three must be in harmony. I see an analogy here as I describe in the video.

In Mathematical terms I would say that the Trinity is plural but is not a system. Godel’s theorem says:

“Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete.” Where “effectively generated” means “not trivially simple.”

In other words the three expressions of God are not an expression of elementary arithmetic. Tentatively (I could be wrong about this, still thinking about it) I’m reminded me of Arthur’s example of a system of simple addition being both consistent and complete at the same time. The reason it can be so is that it is trivial, i.e. it does not fully express elementary arithmetic. It does addition but it doesn’t do division or multiplication. The same can also be said of the Trinity because the Trinity cannot be divided.

To newcomers the Trinity appears to be some crazy theory until you realize that you cannot say “God is Love” as an identity statement if God is simply unitary because love is always in relation between one and another. For God to be love, God must be plural. But because God is love, God is also indivisible.

Which is another way of saying: LOVE IS BOTH CONSISTENT AND COMPLETE. If you understand love, you understand God and you understand how the infinite is the source of all things finite.

This doesn’t mean that when the spirit of God is one with a human being (as was the case with Jesus) that Jesus the physical person knew everything that God knew. Scripture says “He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.” He set aside all his divine rights out of love for mankind. He really did have to learn to talk and he really did have to get potty trained. But even when he said, “My God My God why hast thou forsaken me?” that was the anguish of dying flesh. But he was always in essence God. God knows what it is like to experience death just as we do – because he loves us.

69. April 16

### JM @ 6:44 pm

To all the people who say that this article is intended, or in some way attempts, to prove the existence of God: it does not. It simply says that by applying Godel’s theory, the people who believe in God have a logical reason for doing so. They have merely specified what they think is “outside the circle”. They may have taken this idea to certain extremes, but the basic tenet is logical. Any other belief that says the universe was caused by something outside the universe is equally logical. Not only that, but you cannot logically DISprove God, and while that doesn’t mean he exists, it means that you can’t say for sure that he doesn’t exist. Basically, people should believe what they need to believe to understand the universe and their own existence, as long as it is not harmful to other people, and belief in itself is not harmful. Taking that belief to extremes and inferring things from it like “anyone who doesn’t believe this should die” is simply human error. And I apologize for this not being organized, but I addressed the issues as I thought of them.

• April 17

### Perry @ 8:16 am

JM,

The article goes further than that. Materialism says

“Naturalism is the hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system, which means that nothing that is not part of the natural world affects it.”

This article shows that materialistic atheism violates the laws of logic and thus cannot be true.

And it also makes a number of logical conclusions as to what the thing outside the universe is and is not. Is conscious and is immaterial, and is outside of space and time.

70. April 17

### David Beck @ 2:15 pm

A professor of mine told us, “You throw enough s__ up and some of it is bound to stick.” You make an awful lot of assertions so I’m wondering if you could simply state for your readers the one “airtight” proposition that you claim follows from Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem. If you’re interested in advancing your argument, I suggest this might be a way of staying on track.

Could you also provide the source for your initial quote, “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle – something you have to assume but cannot prove” and also, if you could, a citation for your statement that “He [Gödel] proved that any statement requires an external observer.” I find the “circle” and “external observer” analogies curiously provocative and would like to understand these quotes in their original context.

• April 17

### Perry @ 10:31 pm

“Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle – something you have to assume but cannot prove” is my own plain-English rendering of Godel’s theorem. The formal version of the theorem says:

“Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. In particular, for any consistent, effectively generated formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the theory.”

The “circle” I refer to is the boundary between what is “in the theory” and what is outside of the theory. My plain-English rendering is sufficiently accurate, but you can use the formal version if you prefer.

Regardless of which version you use, what it means is that if the universe is capable of computing arithmetic and if the universe is consistent (i.e. logical) then the universe is therefore incomplete.

The external observer refers to the fact that when a person says “I am lying” (liar’s paradox) only an external agent can verify the truth or falsehood of that statement.

71. April 18

• April 19

### Perry @ 6:28 am

Defining Universe: Look it up in a dictionary. All known matter, energy, space and time. The same universe that the big bang physicists like Stephen Hawking write about. This is very well defined.

Computing Arithmetic: Read the Church-Turing thesis. Or Godel’s paper for that matter.

External observer: Ostensibly necessary to judge the truth or falsehood of the statement “I am lying.”

I have stated my entire argument here on this thread. If there is a flaw in my logic you are invited to point it out.

72. April 19

### David Beck @ 10:58 am

If you actually cared to consider what others and I have said, you would have to concede you have no argument. But astonishingly your argument is also based on a lie – not some incidental or vague lie but a deliberately calculated one in bold colored lettering with quotation marks around it. A lie that you repeatedly come back to in various guises in your article and throughout the thread – the word “circle” appears over 100 times. This lie has nothing to do with Gödel or scientific inquiry, but is the very foundation of your theological beliefs, which, at this point, I’m sorry to report, couldn’t stand up to a good wind.

• April 19

### Perry @ 11:55 am

Godel’s theorems are explicitly about that which is “inside the theory” as opposed to that which is “outside the theory.” Any time there is an inside and an outside, there is a boundary. My usage of the word circle is appropriate.

If you wish to show a fault in my logic based on Godel’s formal statement then you are invited to use that approach.

73. April 19

### Hans @ 12:56 pm

Perry

Having taken much time and effort to read and watch all of your work and cross referenced them with my own experiences. I find myself at odds with certain assumptions and conclusions that you reach. I suspect that this may well be my last corespondence with you but (and this sums it up both metaphorically and literally) anything is posible.

As you try to reconcile logic and the acceptance of an uncaused eternal god I wish you good luck. I personally believe now that far from being irational atheists have a perfectly rational basis for their stance. Providing that the laws of physics at points in this universe can be “irational”

Main Entry: ir·ra·tio·nal
Pronunciation: ir-’ra-sh&-n&l
: not rational: not governed by reason, mental clarity, or >>>understanding<<<

there will be at some scale or point where they will "appear" rational. We know so little about the universe from our tiny point of existence that even the circle you seek to draw around it is ireconcilable to its radius from here to the edge if it exists. without accepting irationality and taking an aproximation.

From any point on the circumference to a central point we cannot even reconcile the smallest circle (Pi x r^2) where pi is a non recursive number. To reach that central point exactly is imposible we would have to start drawing a line and at some point slow down and down untill the line to all intense and purposes had reached that centre. But magnify it; and we would see we have a little further to go (or we had gone too far!) at some point we would reach a quantum level at which point we see all sorts of "irational" behaviour. time itself starts to interact with matter and vice versa. We may start to see particles which are split and are able to convey information of change even though they have no longer any known physical relationship/connection to each other.

To state that DNA is too complex to have developed without a creator and even that this same creator must have created the universe we observe is an example of Dunning-Kruger effect. (which I fully accept I also am guilty of) We simply do not yet have enough information or the tools to be able to state catagoricaly that an omniscient, omnipotent being does or does not exist. I think that it is fair to infer it as part of our exploration into our own consciousness but to state it as fact, is like saying a+b=G it can have no proof untill all the atributes of a and b can catagorically be stated as complete.

Thank you for the time you have taken to answer my corespondences and good luck in your quest for the "unknowable"

Yours in Ignorance,
Hans

• April 21

### Perry @ 6:47 am

Hans,

I think you are confusing two different meanings of irrationality. An irrational number is not illogical. And even if it takes us an infinite number of calculations to reach the center of a circle, do we not still know with absolute certainty that the center exists?

Is it rational to believe that the universe appeared, caused by nothing and for no reason at all, as atheists do?

Based on what we do know so far, is it rational to believe that a highly efficient modular redundant optimized self-repairing digital code occurred by accident?

Based on what we do know, is it rational to believe that the fine tuning of the universe (ie the expansion of the big bang is fine tuned to at least 120 decimal places of precision) is just happenstance?

Is there anything I have said regarding incompleteness that is illogical?

Are you sure it is rational to say that the existence of God is unknowable?

Is there any argument I have made regarding Incompleteness that is irrational?

Also I’m curious, what was the result of the recording of the person speaking in tongues?

Perry

P.S.: Logic can infer but it cannot truly prove. So I believe that in your search for the truth, there is a point where you need to say, “OK God if you’re here, please show me.” And in your heart you need to be willing to put yourself in that place of emotional risk. It is a place of listening and watching and being open. It is a scary and rewarding place – I know. Ultimately though it is more rewarding than scary.

Matthew 13:45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

74. April 19

### David Beck @ 11:53 pm

Your “circle” requires evidence or a proof. Then we can talk about the merits of your argument. Lying about what Gödel says and then jumping from his proof regarding formal systems to the universe, I’m sorry, doesn’t count. Maybe you could find some other scientist, of the caliber of Stephen Hawking, who has used the circle metaphor to describe the universe – I wouldn’t bet on it. The Wikipedia’s discussion on the universe, which most people would say is just the tip of the iceberg, is eighteen pages long, 8,500 words, 72 citations, and there’s NOT ONE single reference to an “encircled” universe. However, I bet there are some religious sources that use this analogy, but as I understand it that’s not how you want to develop your argument. By the way, on your insistence that the universe is capable of computing arithmetic, I’d like to refer you to Sir Michael Atiyah, one of the greatest mathematician of the 20th century, who argues that a concept as basic as that of natural numbers was created by man. I mention this only to assure you that this issue is far from settled as you would like people to believe.

• April 20

### Perry @ 7:53 am

If you wish to hypothesize that the universe is infinitely large or massive then that’s up to you. I am referring to the universe that is known and observable to science: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observable_universe#Size

Space itself is of finite size, that is a direct consequence of Einstein’s space-time theorems. It has finite mass and spans finite time. If the universe is finite then it has some outer boundary.

If you wish to say that arithmetic is a human construction, that’s fine. This still has no consequence to the truth of Godel’s statement. Mathematics is incomplete and if the universe is mathematical then the universe too is incomplete.

It is not necessary for me to invoke circles to prove my point. We can go to Godel’s original statement.

Godel’s theorem says:

“Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. In particular, for any consistent, effectively generated formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the theory.”

The Church-Turing thesis says that a physical system can express elementary arithmetic just as a human can, and that the arithmetic of a Turing Machine (computer) is not provable within the system and is likewise subject to incompleteness.

Any physical system subjected to measurement is capable of expressing elementary arithmetic.

Therefore the universe is capable of expressing elementary arithmetic and like both mathematics itself and a Turing machine, is incomplete.

75. April 20

### David Beck @ 10:09 am

Although I think your argument has been completely demolished, and ironically I think you should be happy for that, there’s just one last nail I’d like to hammer into its coffin. Let’s assume that somehow you can pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat and prove that the universe is such that you can draw a circle around it, formalize all of its laws (past, present, and future), apply Gödel’s proof, find the universe consistent, but not complete, and conclude “there could be a God.” What I think you should find frightening about this scenario, is that in the process you would have created a completely formal, rational, mechanistic, universe – the very universe that you eschew – a universe in which miracles are no longer possible – Christ’s birth and resurrection explained away. You’re left with the possibility that there might be a God. You may want to be careful of what you wish for.

• April 20

### Perry @ 10:36 am

You’re telling me that my circle analogy is invalid… then in the same breath saying it’s impossible to draw a circle around the universe because the universe is infinite.

If you think the circle analogy is invalid, why are you using it to build your own argument?

Mathematics is incomplete. The universe is mathematical. Therefore if the universe is consistent it is necessarily incomplete as well.

Miracles are possible for the same reason coded information is possible – because the universe can be acted upon by an outside intelligence.

If free will exists in the universe (free will by definition not being mathematical, mechanistic or deterministic) then that either means:
(1) human free will is irrational, or
(2) human free will has a metaphysical or spiritual origin.

You’re free to embrace #1 and believe in an irrational universe. An irrational universe can be complete, freeing you from the necessity to believe in God. However there is no foundation for scientific or logical thought in an irrational universe.

I choose (2) which allows me to embrace scientific belief in a rational universe. (This set of choices has come up earlier in this thread.)

You can embrace a 3rd option, which is that our choices are deterministic, determined by mere physics and chemistry, and that human free will is an illusion. In that scenario, the universe is still incomplete.

76. April 23

### Andy @ 9:09 am

Godel’s Theorem says there exists statements that are TRUE but unprovable within a system. It also states that there are statements that are FALSE but unprovable within a system. Therefore, the assumption that the universe has a cause may be TRUE or FALSE.
The Containment Principle in cosmology states that the universe contains everything that is real and nothing else. Should a cause for the universe be proven that cause becomes part of the universe. Now there is a need for a cause for the cause, causing a infinite regression. See the book “Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” by Douglas R. Hofstadter for a full explanation.

• April 23

### Perry @ 12:52 pm

Andy,

The fact that there are false statements unprovable in the system is the trivial case. By definition it is impossible to prove ANY false statement, whether inside or outside any system.

Gödel’s theorem says that there are true statements unprovable in the system. The statement “the universe contains everything that is real” directly contradicts Gödel’s theorem because if the universe is consistent there are true statements that are not part of the universe. Thus the Containment Principle violates the laws of mathematics.

If you read the prior comments you’ll see that one of my primary concerns is to not invoke infinite regress. The existence of an uncaused immaterial agent outside of space and time satisfies this requirement.

Perry

77. April 23

### Josiah @ 3:54 pm

“The very idea of human rights is a faith statement. It is not scientifically provable. It can’t be derived from Darwinism. It comes from a belief not only in God but God’s relation to mankind.

These things matter a lot.

A counterexample would be the abuses of communism in the 20th century. Is it merely a coincidence that the governments who killed more than 100 million people just happened to be officially atheistic? Atheist regimes killed more people in one century than religious wars killed in all centuries put together. Could that really be just a happy accident?

Is it merely a coincidence that many of the men involved in the killing of more than 100 million people had mustaches?

Yes, the answer is yes, and the same goes for their being “atheistic”–which, by the way, although they were officially considered “atheistic” (except for Hitler, who was a Catholic. Woops!) the leaders themselves are shrouded in gigantic cults of personality. Effectively, the leaders themselves are treated as gods, and followed by faith alone.

The fact that we have a concept of human rights has nothing to do with faith. They’re completely arbitrary. They reflect the atmosphere of philosophy and morality that was popular around the time of their creation. Morality is entirely relative and fluctuates over time. According to the first half of the Bible, written in the Bronze age, it’s moral to own slaves, kill women and children under certain circumstances, etc. According to the same book, it’s entirely immoral to eat shellfish, wear clothing made of two different kinds of fabrics, etc. Obviously, things have changed since then. And who knows–maybe in 2000 more years, people will look back at our Constitution and be appalled that we left out things they find to be morally necessary, or laugh at us for deeming immoral things that are irrelevant to them.

And another thing: I don’t have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow. I don’t have faith that if I drop a weight, it will fall to the ground. I don’t have faith that I have an ancestor in common with the rest of the primates.
I have a reasonable expectation of all of those things.
No, you can’t ‘prove’ scientific theories–they aren’t meant to be proven. That doesn’t mean they’re just guesses, or random hypotheses. We have considerably evidence suggesting that things like a heliocentric planetary system, gravity, and evolution are true.
The God hypothesis, however, has no evidence for it. The closest thing you have to ‘proof’ (and I use that term extremely loosely) is that if you see everything as being faith-based, then God is plausible.
However, not many things ARE faith-based, no matter how many times you try to say they are.

Additionally, I love the way this argument (both the original post and your replies to comments) turned out to be like every argument I’ve read regarding ‘proofs’ of god:
“There are some things we just don’t know and can’t know! Like God! …but for some reason, we know that he’s compassionate, he gave us morals, etc!”

• April 24

### Perry @ 1:23 am

Is killing 100 million people right, wrong, or relative?

78. May 6

### Mike @ 2:13 pm

some food for thought.
if you tilt your head, does the world around you appear to tilt as well?
Doesn’t the universe we know relate directly to what we see, or sense?
Godel claims the universe is conscious.
Are we not conscious?
to think that all that we observe is materialized first in our own heads
picture an apple. now picture yourself touching the apple.
you can feel it, cant you? maybe not with your eyes open, but i was born with my eyes closed.

79. May 11

### Greg @ 6:01 pm

You are again taking what I said and stretching it out beyond the meanings I originally provided. I described the universe as being infinite, I made no reference to anything being ‘outside’ of the universe, since there is no logical reason to have an ‘outside’. And the reason there doesn’t need to be an ‘outside’ was explained in my original post. That’s why conclusions about the universe do not require faith, it is self contained. We can theoretically measure everything about the universe because we are within the universe, like the goldfish in it’s bowl. Even the question of where and why spacetime began can be theoretically answered, we simply lack the technology to do so.

btw: faith has nothing to do with inductive reasoning. From encarta – Faith, belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof; inductive, logic, reaching conclusion based on observation; reasoning, the use of logical thinking in order to find results or draw conclusions

What does belief and devotion expecially without logical proof have to do with logical thinking to draw conclusions based on observations?

Anyway, thanks for your time. It’s been a fun debate.

• May 12

### Perry @ 6:23 am

Greg,

Einstein’s spacetime theorems indicate that even space itself is finite and has a definite outer boundary, which is expanding. Modern science only knows of a finite amount of matter and energy. To speak of an infinite universe is to go far beyond the realm of known science. If you wish to say the universe is infinite then you are making a blind faith statement.

Based on the encarta’s definition of faith, Christian faith at many points does not conform to this definition. Christian theology is based on inductive logic and experience, not belief without logical proof. In Christian theology some characteristics of God are known through the order of creation (Romans 1). God has made himself known by raising his Son from the dead (Acts 17) and the resurrection of Jesus is still in fact the most parsimonious explanation for the explosive growth of the early church and the known facts at hand. Case in point: There is no 2nd theory that has gained consensus.

Dozens of precise prophesies have come true regarding the Messiah etc as the dead sea scrolls definitively prove that Isaiah for example was written well before Christ fulfilled the prophesies in it.

So what I am saying is that Christian faith is much closer to inductive reasoning than what you have assumed faith to be. No one is asking you to believe Christianity out of blind belief and devotion. My sites http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com and http://www.coffeehousetheology.com have extensive articles relating to these topics. Christian theology is not about blind belief at all. It is about reaching conclusions based on observation; reasoning, the use of logical thinking in order to find results or draw conclusions. Faith has everything to do with inductive reasoning.

It is no coincidence therefore that modern science emerged from Christian Europe and not from Islam, China, Greece, Rome or Egypt. All those cultures had promising beginnings of scientific development but all stalled. Only in a theology that was based on inductive reasoning and experience could science develop as it has in the West.

• May 13

### Greg @ 12:22 pm

Again, either you are misunderstanding me, or you completely refuse to even listen to anything I have to say.

First of all, I never said our current spacetime was infinite. I said that if what existed before the big bag did not include time, then that form of our universe would have been infinite, since time would have no meaning when our universe was in that form. After the big bang, we have our current laws of the universe, which include a finite space.

Yes, it is true that our weakness, as human beings, is that we are constantly relying on ‘proof’ for God’s existence. That does not define faith, that only defines belief. You can believe in God, but lack faith in God. There is a distinct difference. If you are trying to redefine faith to your own purposes than our discussion may as well end because it is pointless to discuss anything with someone who insists on personal meanings rather than actual definitions. You have to understand, without concrete definition we cannot communicate, I could never know what you are actually talking about, and vice versa.

btw: at the following link http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christian_Credibility.htm , if you will notice the letter by Dr. Brown clearly states that Jesus did not fulfill Jewish messianic prophecy regarding his descendency, and that his descendency was historicized. If you read the full context of this website it would seem that this is the position of the Catholic Church. So again, logic and reasoning used to support a perspective.

Like I said, nothing wrong with wanting to believe in God, but logic and reasoning has no place in that belief system. It is much better to just have faith.

• May 14

### Perry @ 2:20 am

Earlier you said “I described the universe as being infinite, I made no reference to anything being ‘outside’ of the universe, since there is no logical reason to have an ‘outside’. ”

So you seem to be defining both our current spacetime which is finite and what existed before the big bang which is infinite as the same universe.

universe
–noun
1.
the totality of known or supposed objects and phenomena throughout space; the cosmos; macrocosm.

I am defining our current spacetime as the universe. This is consistent with the dictionary and all modern scientific usage of the term and it’s consistent with everything I have said on the subject.

If something is outside of time then it does not have any of the usual properties of matter, i.e. electrons orbiting atoms. And if it is outside of space then again it cannot be matter as we understand it, i.e. electrons orbiting atoms. I don’t see how one could define what was before our current spacetime as being the same.

faith
–noun
1.
confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
2.
belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
8.
Christian Theology. the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.

The Christian theology understanding and definition of faith is distinctly different from yours.

If you believe that it is the position of the Catholic church that Jesus did not fulfill Jewish messianic prophecy then you are using highly selective information sources to arrive at your conclusions. Any reasonably informed person knows that this is not the position of the Catholic church.

And finally, you are using reason and logic to show that Dr. Brown, the Catholic Church and other theologians use reason and logic to form conclusions about Christian beliefs, including examples of reason and logic used within the Bible itself. Then you are somehow concluding that reason and logic have no place in Christian belief. You’re contradicting yourself every step of the way.

80. May 14

### Greg @ 10:53 am

Let’s take a step back. When I stated:

“I described the universe as being infinite, I made no reference to anything being ‘outside’ of the universe, since there is no logical reason to have an ‘outside’. ”

I was reasserting my earlier comment, quoted below, because you were twisting my words around (which you are doing again):

“Second, there is no theory that currently even tries to explain what existed before the big bang. However, since “time itself” was created with the big bang, than by ‘reason and logic’ whatever form the universe existed in before than (singularity for example) would have existed outside of time, and the only way to even remotely explain that is to use the term ‘infinite’.”

So yes, I can have both a finite and “infinite” universe (note the quotes, since there is no better term to use) because, according to what we ‘know’ about our universe, time began with the big bang. If you have a better way of describing the universe sans time, then I’m open to suggestions, until then, “infinite” is as good as it gets. There is nothing in the definition you provided that contradicts my statements as long as you accept that spacetime and the big bang are both associated with the universe.

But, to put it more simply, I’m not trying to define what existed before the big bang. I’m only pointing out what is possible, and that the possibility excludes the need for an ‘outside’ and therefore excludes the need for a God.

Again, nothing in your definitions of faith contradicts what I’ve said. Your first definition is circular, the second reiterates what I said, since the third uses the term trust, and trust relies on confidence and confidence relies on faith, again, we have circular reasoning. So the only true definition you have is the exact one I gave you. You can’t pick and choose your definitions, you have to find the one that makes sense. (There’s a lot of definitions for trust, before you list them all, please make sure you’ve thought them through, I already have).

What I’m saying is that the Catholic Church recognizes that Jesus did not fulfill messianic prophecy to the letter, but that that the fullfillment of those prophecies was bestowed upon him historically through the faith of his followers. That is the position of the Catholic Church. Just like that Catholic Church recognizes that the universe was not created in 7 days. It was pretty clear by that letter what stance the Catholic Church was taking on the position of certain messianic prophecies.

Finally, yes, Dr. Brown uses reason and logic to form conclusions regarding belief. This has nothing to do with truth, fact, or faith, only belief.

• May 17

### Perry @ 7:46 am

You are defining an immaterial timeless infinity before the big bang and the finite material universe after the big bang as the same universe. I don’t know how you can transform the infinite into the finite and call it the same thing. The former is metaphysical and the latter is physical. I don’t see your description as being all that different from pantheism or perhaps panentheism.

The kind of faith that I personally espouse is akin to inductive reasoning and based on personal experience, reason and logic, not blind belief. If you choose not to believe me that is your decision.

Dr. Brown’s faxes are not official documents of the Catholic church and they certainly do not reflect what the church actually says it believes.

• May 17

### Greg @ 11:00 am

The universe, pre-big bang, be it a singularity or the collapse of a previous universe, was still all there was, just in another form. To reiterate, our current scientific theories state that spacetime was created with the big bang. That doesn’t mean that what existed pre-big bang was metaphysical, it’s just beyond what our current theories can predict. All I’ve said, and keep saying, is that if whatever form the universe existed in (singularity for example) did not include time (since that was created at the big bang) than the “best” way to define it is to use the term “infinite”, only because there is no time scale. This in no way implies a metaphysical universe. This is also based on what our current theories regarding the universe suggest. I understand that it is difficult to grasp a concept as bizarre as the existence of a universe without time. However, that is precisly predicted as what would happen to you by Einstein’s theories of relativity should you travel at the speed of light; time, in the universe, would stop ticking, from your perspective. So time is malleable, and a universe without time is theoretically possible, if difficult to comprehend.

Now, as to your ‘faith’. I certainly believe what you espouse to; I just don’t see it as ‘faith’ but instead as ‘belief’. But, we can agree to disagree on this point since it is getting nowhere.

As to Dr. Brown; all I can attest to is what is on the website. Accordingly, the website states that Dr. Brown’s position is officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church. When the authors of the website went to the Catholic Church for answers to their questions, they were referred to Dr. Brown, the logical conclusion is that Dr. Brown’s position and the Catholic Church’s position are one and the same.

• May 31

### Perry @ 7:35 am

You are taking something (infinite, uncaused, outside of space and time) that has no resemblance to the universe we know (finite, inside of time, bound by cause and effect) and calling them the same thing. It seems to me you are just avoiding the metaphysical by conflating the definition of the physical and the metaphysical.

meta·phys·i·cal
Pronunciation: \-?fi-zi-k?l\
Date: 15th century

1 : of or relating to metaphysics
2 a : of or relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses b : supernatural
3 : highly abstract or abstruse; also : theoretical

81. May 20

### Sideshow Bob @ 4:02 pm

Let’s draw a circle around Godel’s theorem.

Something outside this circle must be assumed to prove this theorem. That is, of course, assuming this theorem is true in the act of drawing the circle.

Oh wait.

Outside this theorem’s circle…is this theorem?

That doesn’t make any sense.

• May 20

### Perry @ 9:15 pm

Godel’s theorem is based on paeno arithmetic, which contains unprovable axioms. Those axioms are consistent but not complete.

If we assume those axioms are true then Godel’s proof is valid.

In other words Godel’s theorem is self validating.

• July 8

### Anna @ 2:02 pm

So, let me get this straight:

Gödel’s thereom can be self-validating but the universe can’t? Great. Way to dismiss that out of hand.

Another thing, you accepted your premise in your proof. “Whatever is outside the universe must be boundless which means you can’t draw a circle around it.” Uh…wrong? The universe itself is boundless in the sense that it contains EVERYTHING and it is EXPANDING. Before you try to postulate anything, try explaining what it’s expanding into.

I realize that’s a silly question with an assumed answer, but the point is that you’ve taken a leap and you’ve justified it with language as opposed to logic. It’s like that silly joke people tell about three guys who each pay \$10 for a room. Once they pay, the owner says there’s a deal of 3 rooms for \$25 so he hands the bellboy a fiver to give back to the guys.

Now the bellboy does some quick thinking and says, “5 doesn’t go into 3, so I’ll keep 2 bucks and give them each 1.”

The guys each paid \$10 and get \$1 back so effectively they’ve paid \$9 apiece. The bellboy has \$2. But wait, 3 x 9 = 27 and the bellboy has 2, where’s the other dollar? Did it magically disappear?

Of course not. Obfuscatory language doesn’t change the facts. There are a lot of unknowns, Gödel depends on something outside of itself which depends on something outside itself and even if there’s something beyond the universe, if Gödel’s theorem is a law, as you’re purporting, (as in, ALWAYS true) then whatever is outside the universe depends on something outside itself. And lest you think that’s not possible in the terms by which you defined whatever that thing is, let me assure you that just because it’s outside our purview, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

• July 8

### Perry @ 2:31 pm

Anna,

Gödel’s theorem relies on Peano arithmetic, which is universally accepted as valid but which does have axioms which cannot be proven. To the extent that mathematics can prove anything, Gödel is proven. But yes it still relies on axioms.

Similarly the universe is incomplete, just as mathematics is incomplete.

Please explain to me how the fact that the universe is expanding makes it boundless. Sure seems to me that the fact that it has an outer boundary is hard proof that it is finite. Maybe you can explain your POV to me again.

It’s clear to me that you have not understood what I have said: You cannot have an infinite regression of incomplete entities. Something has to be complete and that something by definition is infinite, boundless. If you go back and read my article I think I have made this sufficiently clear.

• July 8

### Greg @ 3:24 pm

You wrote:

“Similarly the universe is incomplete, just as mathematics is incomplete.”

I am baffled by this statement, what do you mean the universe is incomplete?

Also:

“Please explain to me how the fact that the universe is expanding makes it boundless. Sure seems to me that the fact that it has an outer boundary is hard proof that it is finite.”

According to current scientific observations and theories, the universe is finite and boundless. In other words, it is finite because there is a specific amount of mass in the universe. But it is boundless because there is no edge to the universe.

Just wanted to help with some clarification.

• July 8

### Perry @ 4:36 pm

I mean that the universe cannot explain itself, just like your fish cannot explain itself. It has to come from something. It is not self-existent.

So far as is knowable to modern science, time itself began with the big bang. Einstein’s spacetime theorems indicate that if there is no space, there is no time.

Time is not infinite and never at any measurable point will become infinite. Time is finite. There is a finite number of seconds in the past and that will always be the case in any rational system of time measurement.

And yes there most certainly in an edge to the universe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Size_of_the_universe
Everything we know about the universe indicates that everything about it is finite.

82. May 25

### Nick Palmer @ 4:04 pm

Perry,
As a student of philosophy, I found this article to be very interesting. Your explanation of Godel’s theorem is clear enough for the layman, and the direction you take it is wonderful.

However, I do have one criticism with regards to your conclusion that Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem can be used to explore the existence of God, or sumsuch being (pardon me if this has shown up earlier in the comments).

Going back to the theorem, so we can get a clear picture of it, we cannot prove anything to be true or false outside of the axiomatic system. This is to say, in order for a logical system to be fully consistent, it must sacrifice completeness. To me, this sounds an awful lot like the conclusions Immanuel Kant gives in his Critique of Pure Reason: because of the finite, limited nature of the mind, we cannot extend our knowledge to the things-in-themselves, to the noumenal reality.

This is to say, while the mind is entirely rational (consistent), as it operates in the realm of reason with a priori concepts, what Kant terms the Transcendental Categories of Understanding, these categories, the mind itself, cannot discover knowledge of anything outside of possible experience (it is non-complete, as it were). The consequences of this is that, as Kant claims, we cannot discover the existence or nature of God, the origin or first cause of the universe, or the nature of the soul, as these objects are outside of possible experience.

This is not to say that there is no God, or that there is no first cause to the universe. What Kant argues is that we cannot determine the validity of these claims: God may or may not exist, but we simply cannot determine which is the case, giving the nature of our rational minds as being fundamentally limited.

Similarly with Godel’s theorem, whatever is outside the circle, so to speak, we cannot prove exists. So to speculate as you do that what is outside the universe is immaterial, that the information within the universe was designed by some sort of intelligence, is purely unprovable. You may be right, but you may also be very far off the mark.

In short, all we may conclude from the application of Kant’s transcendental philosophy or Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem to religious issues, and if we take these philosophies seriously, is the position of religious agnosticism.

Nevertheless, despite my criticism, I enjoyed the article.

Best,
Nick Palmer

• May 31

### Perry @ 7:30 am

You’re not the first to point out that this lines up with Kant’s writings. It also lines up with the Christian assertion that human understanding of God must come through the grace of God revealing Himself. It also lines up with Aquinas’ Via Negativa.

Note that we cannot *prove* the information within the universe was designed by some sort of intelligence, just as you said. However you cannot formulate a coherent explanation of the universe without it. When I infer that what is outside the universe is uncaused, infinite, conscious and outside of space and time, my description is 100% logical and consistent with everything we know. I have yet to see anyone propose an alternative explanation that is logical.

What this does is lend complete validity to the idea that there is something transcendent. And it shows that the atheist point of view is irrational. So religious agnosticism is a rational starting point.

But then when we incorporate information theory and biology into our understanding – everything we know about the nature of codes infers a conscious intelligent decision. All that we do know decisively takes us beyond agnosticism to a transcendent being who has intervened in the history of the world at least once.

83. May 27

### Greg @ 10:16 pm

I’m sorry I don’t have more to contribute here, but I must thank you for writing this out. It has truly opened my mind (as an atheist) to more possibilities than I had previously conceived. I had known of Godel in some respect, but not in the manner in which you have described his ideas. Curiosity sparked…

• May 28

### Perry @ 7:26 am

Glad to hear it. I’ve got some comments in the queue I haven’t had time to respond to. Nice to know thoughts are being provoked here.

84. June 16

### Greg @ 4:28 pm

“You are taking something (infinite, uncaused, outside of space and time)”

No, I am taking what science says about the big bang (that all matter, energy and Time were created at that moment) and extrapolating what would have been beforehand. Hence, sans Time, the best word to use would be infinite. That’s all. Our current Universe, as far as we know, is infinite along the Time scale, it will go on and on forever, there is no evidence to contradict that theory.

“that has no resemblance to the universe we know (finite, inside of time, bound by cause and effect)”

Of course not, I was extrapolating a state of the Universe, pre-big bang.

“and calling them the same thing.”

Be it pre-big bang or post-big bang it’s still our Universe, that’s all I was saying. Sorry to confuse you.

“It seems to me you are just avoiding the metaphysical by conflating the definition of the physical and the metaphysical.”

Nothing metaphysical about any of this.

Anyway, what happened to the fish in the fishbowl. That fish still doesn’t need an outside to exist, so why are we arguing about pre- and post- big bang Universe descriptions when the question of the fish was never answered?

btw: good job on coding the website, hit submit comment before entering my name/email info and even though it took me to another page and I had to hit the back button I didn’t lose the comment I typed up as a lot of forms tend to do

• June 17

### Perry @ 7:59 am

Greg,

The proposition that time will continue to go forward interrupted does not make our universe infinite. Case in point is the care mathematicians take to say things like “limit of y as x goes towards infinity” rather than “y when x is infinite.”

By all normal definitions, pre Big Bang is most emphatically not our universe. I am not confused about any of this.

You appear to be losing sight of my original statement which was Gödel’s theorem.

It says: “Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. In particular, for any consistent, effectively generated formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the theory.”

The Church-Turing thesis says that a physical system can express elementary arithmetic just as a human can, and that the arithmetic of a Turing Machine (computer) is not provable within the system and is likewise subject to incompleteness.

Any physical system subjected to measurement is capable of expressing elementary arithmetic.

Therefore the universe is capable of expressing elementary arithmetic and like both mathematics itself and a Turing machine, is incomplete.

If the universe is incomplete then there is something outside the universe. The finite is contingent on the infinite. The fish does need something on the outside to exist. Is that not fairly obvious?

• June 17

### Greg @ 11:39 am

“The proposition that time will continue to go forward interrupted does not make our universe infinite. Case in point is the care mathematicians take to say things like “limit of y as x goes towards infinity” rather than “y when x is infinite.””

You can’t apply that equation to Time. In your example it would also be possible for x to have a negative number, yet Time does not go backward, ever. Time is unique. So yes, Time, as far as we know, will be infinite.

“By all normal definitions, pre Big Bang is most emphatically not our universe. I am not confused about any of this.”

Fine, the pre-big bang state of our Universe will now be defined as La-La Land. La-La Land, in theory, did not contain Time, it was, in theory, a singularity of infinite mass and energy; or, it was the collapse of one Universe only to form another Universe; or whatever other theory is out there about the Pre-Bang state of existence. By the way, since you can pick and choose definitions, here’s webster’s: the whole body of things and phenomena observed or postulated. Key word, postulated. So La-La Land, by my postulation, IS part of our Universe. I’ve already explained why.

Let’s put it the simplest and most foolish way. You draw a circle around the Universe and outside of that is God. I draw a circle around God. Outside of that is what? And drawing a circle around that other thing, outside of that is what? I can always draw more circles and therefore, replace your God with a higher level of existence.

The most basic form of addition is both complete and provable. If I have 2 apples and you give me 2 apples I now have 4 apples. If I eat 1 apple I now have 3 apples. Nothing unprovable about that. Once you start thinking there is more to the world than your 2 apples worth, you start to confuse things by trying to over complicate them.

• June 17

### Perry @ 12:31 pm

According to all observations I’m familiar with, mass, energy and space are all finite. As for time, far we’re at 13.7 billion years and counting. In my book, that’s finite. I’m not seeing anything in the universe that’s inifinite. Tell me – at what precise time in the future does time become infinite?

You said:

“Let’s put it the simplest and most foolish way. You draw a circle around the Universe and outside of that is God. I draw a circle around God. Outside of that is what?”

If you’re even asking that at all, then you haven’t read anything I’ve written in the article above. Please go to the top and read the article.

Addition all by itself (with no multiplication or division or other operations) is what mathematicians classify as a “trivially simple system.” When Godel stipulates “effectively generated” he means not trivially simple. From Wikipedia:

“Gödel’s incompleteness theorems is the name given to two theorems, proved by Kurt Gödel in 1931. They are about limitations in all but the most trivial formal systems for arithmetic of mathematical interest. The theorems are very important for the philosophy of mathematics. Most people think they show that Hilbert’s program to find a complete and consistent set of axioms for all of mathematics is impossible. This would give a negative answer to Hilbert’s second problem.”

85. June 17

### Greg @ 2:08 pm

“at what precise time in the future does time become infinite?”

Only Time will tell.

I read it, when I wrote the first time. That’s been a while now. I’ll take those comments back if they have already been addressed within your article.

“Addition all by itself (with no multiplication or division or other operations)”

What is multiplication and division except simplified ways of doing addition and subtraction. And isn’t that true for all mathematical formula’s? In the end, all formula’s can be done as a form of addition and subtraction, it may be difficult and crazy to do it that way, but it is possible.

What is very clear though, beyond anything else, is no matter what anyone says in any post, you will never accept any argument but one that awknowledges your belief in god. Do you find that to be a true statement? I believe it is.

• June 17

### Perry @ 6:04 pm

Greg,

I will accept any and all statements that are logical. I have yet to encounter an atheist who could produce a logical response to the direct implication of Godel’s theorem that the universe necessarily has an infinite metaphysical source.

Let me know exactly when “Time will tell”.

You have not at any stage in this discussion dealt with the logic of Godel’s incompleteness theorem. When you are willing to do so you are welcome to present your arguments.

86. June 17

### Rudy @ 11:55 pm

Moot points all, that I read anyway. You’re making a huge leap by saying that the origin of life is the origin of information. Then go on with inductive reasoning to say that it takes intelligence to create information therefor god must exist. Energy, matter, time and it’s different configs, including a clump of atoms or what we perceive to be thought, are merely configurations of our universe. Why must people be so vain as to believe that our intelligence is supreme and personify this into a being in order to explain those things that are outside the circle? This theory states, along with many modern day improvements, that we will never know everything. That’s all. Although, assuming god exists this theory also says he will also never know everything. So now this god isn’t god anymore.
Perry, you’re reaching buddy, but whatever makes you happy.
Just read some more. Many good responses you’ve very clumsily ignored. Don’t walk around under your guise of logic please. That is how religion hurts people.

• June 18

### Perry @ 9:59 am

You ask me to use logic and in the very same statement reject inductive reasoning.

If you have an argument or evidence to present, present it.

• June 18

### Greg @ 4:00 pm

Well said. It is the arrogance of man to place himself in such a position of superiority to actually believe that his thinking being is in any way significant within the Universe. Does the Sun, our solar system, our galaxy, etc… care at all that this insignificant creature on an insignificant little planet swam out of some primordial ooze, learned to crawl, then to walk, and finally had some neurons happen to shoot off in specific sequences to produce logic?

• June 18

### Perry @ 7:16 pm

Is man arrogant simply because he believes he’s important?

Or could it be that the definition of arrogance is to assert that the force that gave birth to the universe is mindless, is less personal, less intentional and less intelligent than ourselves?

• June 21

### Greg @ 12:32 pm

What is arrogant is to assume that intelligence holds any value in the greater scheme of things. Even evolutionarily speaking, it is the simpler forms of life that are more successful in the long term. Intelligence just happens to be successful right now, but humans have been around for a blink of an eye in the timescale of the cosmos. Therefore, if intelligence holds little value in the cosmos, then what value is there in having a supremely intelligent being. That’s like saying I am the most uselessly talented individual out of a group of uselessly talented individuals.

• June 21

### Perry @ 12:57 pm

That’s pretty misanthropic view of humanity, isn’t it?

An insulting way of seeing yourself, Greg.

You’re more than that. You’re better than that. The fact that you are using your intelligence to discuss an important question is by itself proof that your intelligence is worth more than the above sentence gives you credit for.

You are talented, you are USEFULLY talented and all of us are useful and talented and valuable in the eyes of God.

Perry Marshall

• June 21

### Greg @ 2:30 pm

I am not insulting in my view of humanity, I am simply humbled by the vast universe around me and recognize how fragile and insignificant my life is in comparison to that universe. I do not stand on top of a mountain of arrogance and proclaim my greatness, especially not when I see how foolish I, and the rest of humanity is on a regular basis.

And I’m not talking about how we waste our planet, I’m talking about regular every day foolishness, white lies, silly games, attitudes towards each other, prejudices (non-racial or religious), etc… Not one of us is a perfect human being towards his fellow human beings yet most of us know how we should act towards each other, but we still don’t. Our intelligence can’t even overcome basic instincts and fears. Many of us still need to believe in an almighty creator because we are afraid of the unknown and unexplainable things in the world. Because we are afraid of death.

• June 21

### Perry @ 11:36 pm

Greg,

The value of intelligence itself and the moral failures of man are two different things. I fully acknowledge everything you are saying, but I do not devalue intelligence or wisdom because all of us lack it. Is not intelligence required to judge that this or that action is foolish?

Perhaps some of us believe in an almighty creator because we sense that if so much is wrong – and yes, we do somehow *know* in our very bones that it is wrong – that somewhere there must be something greater that is right.

• June 22

### Perry @ 6:52 am

2nd comment, might seem peripheral but it’s directly related.

I completely embrace an evolutionary framework, but I do so from the perspective of a communications engineer. In other words, evolution most definitely happened, and I understand that evolution is a process of modifying digital code.

Neo-darwinism says that random copying errors of that code, filtered by natural selection, is responsible for all that we see. That’s a bottom-up materialistic framework. In communications engineering there is no principle whatsoever to support he idea that this could be true. Digital codes only evolve as a function of discrete modular re-arrangements. Not copying errors. In digital communication theory there is no such thing as a % of the time that noise or a copying error is beneficial. It is *always* damaging, never helpful.

Therefore, for evolution to happen it has to be designed to happen. It cannot happen accidentally. Nowhere in any of the massive volumes of scientific literature is there so much as a single paper that demonstrates that the path between species A and species B is random. Believe me, I know, I have tried very hard to find even one such paper. I have challenged people for 5 years to produce one and no one has ever produced it.

On the other hand there are enormous volumes of literature that show that evolution DOES proceed by non-random, episodic re-arrangements of DNA. Genome doubling, transposition, symbiogenesis. These are incredibly orderly and beautifully elegant and sophisticated. Furthermore they are governed by a “fractal checksum matrix” that Jean-Claude Perez describes in his French book “Codex Biogenesis” where every re-arrangement follows very specific linguistic rules that are tied to the Fibonacci sequence..

As a communications engineer, I know that information is always created and organized top-down, not bottom up. This is prima facie evidence that living things and evolution itself are both proof of a designer. See http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/new-theory-of-evolution/ On the site http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com I have defended this thesis for 5 years, including the largest atheist discussion forum in the world (www.cosmicfingerprints.com/infidels) and no one has produced any evidence to the contrary.

There is no way that the random copying errors, materialistic paradigm of biology will survive the 21st century. 21st century DNA research has already demolished neo-Darwinism; the only problem is, it’s taking some time for the rest of the world to hear about it.

I submit to you that yes, we have evolved, and the fact that such a thing is even possible without additional outside input from new programmers only serves to show that the original design was profoundly ingenious. If DOS 1.0 evolved into Windows 7 in 30 years or even 3 billion years with no programmers necessary, you’d want to talk to the guy who designed the original program. You’d definitely have some questions.

And I submit to you that our moral failures and disasters serve to show that we are not nearly as wise as our creator. Yes, there is merit to being humbled in the face of the universe; but outside of earth, your own body is more complex than the whole rest of the universe, combined. But most of all we must be humble before the one who set the physical constants and fine tuned the big bang to 120 decimal places. http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/big-bang-precisely-planned/

You said something about belief in a creator being needed because we are afraid of death. Well yes that is true. But belief in a creator is also necessary to explain the extraordinary ingeniousness of the genetic code and the existence of a self-modifying digital program. And, as I explain here on this page, the very incompleteness of the universe itself.

87. June 19

### Hans @ 8:35 am

I felt it time to write again, having followed the various threads wither they have lead. And have taken time to read more in various forums and academic papers. Not sure it has made any more impact as proof of a devine creator. But I do now accept that Goedel would seem to hold true for all “curently observable” quantfyable systems however I tried to put into words in a previous post the problem which i now know to be ireducible complexity and the idea of the halting probability omega and the fact that some mathematical proofs are true by accident http://www.umcs.maine.edu/~chaitin/mjm.pdf. (As humans we are bound by our language and understanding for my lack of understanding of the English language and ignorance I apologise) We place the bounds of the axiomatic system and say that is all there is within that system, but as we look forwad to discoveries in QM and QED we may yet find that we know less than we imagined. I think that you should conscider that the universe may hold surprises and pockets of irationality that balance the scales. To understand all that can be known that is a gift we may never achieve. and so Godels curse may never be lifted.

88. July 7

### Brynn @ 9:07 am

Now I didn’t read every single thread going all the way down, but I did read a great deal of them. The point people are missing, even though you continuously restate it, is that your construct is based on the preconception that everything is orderly. You abhor the idea that there is such a thing as randomness. You believe everything to be pre-coded by God in some logical fashion. If you continue to believe this you just won’t be keeping up with the modern science that is Quantum Mechanics. You’re stuck on Einsteinian science that is, frankly, incomplete.

Your flaw is that you believe the universe cannot work logically with any sort of randomness in the system. The problem is that the universe does work this way. We can predict that randomness will be present, we can predict how much the processes inherent randomness can possibly affect the end result, and therefore we can create a functional theory as to what the end result of any process might be. Unfortunately, as you try to theorize as to the end result of a highly complicated process that randomness compounds upon itself yielding more and more unpredictable results.

We’re left with an infinite string of If Then statements that are far to complicated to fully grasp. We can work with them, but only if the circumstances are right.

• July 7

### Perry @ 11:24 am

We associate randomness with disorder but the existence of randomness is not the same as saying something is illogical. Quantum states are statistical which means they still exhibit predictability and regularity, as any physics professor can assure you. The light from the sun is full of random fluctuations but it still adheres to very definite patterns.

If I were to apply your statement generally to science, I might conclude that it’s impossible to construct a coherent set of physical laws. But we know that nothing could be further from the truth.

The whole point of this is that the string of if-then statements is not infinite, it’s finite.

• July 7

### Greg @ 12:02 pm

The problem is not with QM or randomness. The problem is that you are dealing with an Intelligent Design proponent who, contrary to what he says, will never awknowledge any proofs or arguments that disagree with his belief system.

Just look at his reasoning on drawing circles around things, it’s convenient to be able to say that the universe is the biggest thing to draw a circle around and that outside that circle it is boundless. How do we know it is? Says who? It’s a belief system, but he will never accept it as only a belief system. He wants you to believe in it as if he has found some holy grail, but he doesn’t provide proof, and he doesn’t provide any reasonable logic to sustain his arguments.

Unfortunately, this is what you have to deal with when you come across Intelligent Design proponents. They pretend they are open minded to other ideas when all they really are interested in doing is pounding away at you with their belief system. And, you cannot win; they know their arguments better then you do; they can dance circles around you because they are fanatical while you and me, and the other skeptics who have reached this site, are just here as casual observers.

And by the way, I have nothing against Godel’s mathematical proofs, I only had a problem with the way the logic was being presented to reinforce a belief in a supreme being. Because that is just plain silly.

• July 8

### Perry @ 7:35 am

Greg,

You sound as though you haven’t attempted to present any proofs or arguments, or as though I have just dismissed them. I have responded to everything you have said and in every case your argument has had a hole in it. Even to the point of you trying to argue that time is infinite because at some infinite point in the future, an infinite amount of time will have passed.

If you have a legitimate argument to present then go ahead and present it. But don’t pretend I haven’t responded to opposing arguments. Everyone here is free to read every single post in this thread and see for themselves that I have.

• July 8

### Greg @ 2:58 pm

Your basic logical argument is (of many):

“You can draw a circle around a bicycle but the existence of that bicycle relies on a factory that is outside that circle. The bicycle cannot explain itself.”

I showed you a perfect example of a fish in a fishbowl that can explain itself. It can measure it’s entire existence, and no outside elements are necessary. This was to draw a parellel with our own existence; that we can ourselves measure our existence without needing to have anything “outside” of our universe to explain our universe. You’ve never responded with any arguments to contradict this example. The only thing you did was state that Godel’s proof has never been proven wrong. Mathematically, that’s saying one thing, trying to translate that into logic to prove your God theory is completely different. This is the fallacy of Intelligent Design. However, this is also why this discussion is pointless. As I stated in my previous post, it’s a losing battle. It doesn’t matter what I say, you will always have something to disallow my argument in favor of yours because you have no interest in listening to anybody else.

As for time being infinite; until further notice, in other words, until time stops and the universe comes to a screeching halt, time, as far as we can tell, has been and will continue to run indefinitely. Hence, time is infinite. Unless you have some proof to the contrary, this is the case for now.

Let me ask you, can you even imagine a Godless universe? Is it possible for you to do so? What would that universe look like? What would existence be like in that universe? What would intelligent life be like in that universe? Lacking a God, would the intelligent beings still develop religion and a belief in an almighty creator? Can you honestly ask yourself any of these questions?

• July 8

### Perry @ 3:18 pm

Greg,

I have a question for you. There’s a fish in the fishbowl. Where did the fish come from? Does the fish have parents?

Are you telling me that the fish explains itself?

Thus far in the history of the universe, an infinite amount of time has not gone by. As of any definable point in the future, an infinite amount of time still has not gone by. Therefore time is finite.

You are welcome to demonstrate that time is infinite in whatever way you choose. You have not thus far but I await your response.

Can I imagine a godless universe? Yes I most certainly can. About 7 years ago I seriously, seriously entertained the possibility that God did not exist. To the point of seriously asking myself, what new set of propositions and presuppositions would have to be true in order for that to make logical sense? I put on the atheist hat and shoes and took them for a walk for an extended period of time.

I seriously evaluated the Darwinian evolutionary model. I asked: since DNA is digital code, is there a principle in communications engineering that’s equivalent to random mutation + natural selection = evolution?

The answer to that question is a resounding NO. Nowhere in information theory is there any such thing as the % of the time that noise improves a signal.

I asked other hard questions. I saw that there is no such thing as a statistical model anywhere in the literature that supports evolution by random chance. Evolution has to be programmed in order to happen at all. I found that most atheists get spitting mad as soon as you start talking about math, statistics and probabilities. They are trained by their leaders to give an evasive explanation as to why probabilities do not matter when discussing evolutionary theories.

That was when I finally saw that atheism simply fails to obey the laws of reason and logic, cause and effect.

I saw that coded information always and without exception originates from consciousness. No known exceptions. (see http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/proof for extensive discussion of this). I found that evolution is indeed true but I saw that evolution is not random but algorithmic.

I continued to explore and saw that atheism as defined on the Infidels website violates the very laws of mathematics and Godel’s theorem. If the universe is a closed system there has to be something outside of it.

Here we are with 260 comments on this thread and nobody has exposed a flaw in my logic.

So Greg this is my question for you: Have you ever examined the logic of a godless universe?

So far you have tried to tell me that time is infinite when it is clearly not. So far you have tried to tell me that a fish in a fish bowl can explain itself. Please explain.

So far your approach is the same as many other atheists: You start to lose ground and then launch personal attacks and accusations that I am not listening, that I have no imagination, etc.

I will leave it to the others following this thread to judge for themselves who is listening and who is not; who has an argument and who does not.

89. July 8

### Greg @ 4:21 pm

“I have a question for you. There’s a fish in the fishbowl. Where did the fish come from? Does the fish have parents?
Are you telling me that the fish explains itself?”

Yes, the fish can explain itself, just as we can explain ourselves. It’s called evolution. Just because we haven’t cracked all the nuts yet, doesn’t mean we won’t. And I won’t even go into all the evolutionary mistakes that go on that prove evolution is random, or are two heads really meant as an evolutionary advantage.

“Thus far in the history of the universe, an infinite amount of time has not gone by.”

How do you know how far back time goes? Says who?

“As of any definable point in the future, an infinite amount of time still has not gone by.”

Unless you have a valid argument that says there is a reason for time to stop in the distant future, time will continue indefinitely. Why is this so hard to grasp? Pose the argument that time, and therefore the universe, will stop at some point in the future for some specified reason. Unless you can do that, there is no logical reason to believe that time will not continue indefinitely. Sure, I can look at my watch tomorrow and say, nope, time isn’t infinite today, but my argument is clearly not about any definable point in the future, but about a continuous flow of time into an indefinite future. The point being is you can define a point in the future but there will always be a point in time after that, hence, infinity + 1.

“since DNA is digital code”

What?

“random mutation + natural selection = evolution?”

You do know that random mutations and natural selection leading to evolution has been proven in many labratory experiments and has also been observed in nature.

“trained by their leaders to give an evasive explanation as to why probabilities do not matter when discussing evolutionary theories.”

How can you possibly offer probabilities? I’m not an evolutionary biologist, but even I can see the flaw in that logic. You’re asking me what the probability is that a random mutation will occur in a given population. That’s crazy. It could be 1 in 1 million, it could be a freak population that experience 50% population mutation, most of which would probably be unsuccessful traits.

“That was when I finally saw that atheism simply fails to obey the laws of reason and logic, cause and effect.”

Because you looked at things from an Intelligent Design perspective and found exactly what you were hoping to find. Don’t blame evolutionary biology, you never cared to find the truth anyway. You want a good read on Evolution, read Stephen Gould’s books, dry reading, but truly informational.

“Here we are with 260 comments on this thread and nobody has exposed a flaw in my logic.”

Based on your rose colored glasses, of course not.

“So Greg this is my question for you: Have you ever examined the logic of a godless universe?”

Of course. It’s the only way the universe makes any sense whatsoever.

“So far you have tried to tell me that time is infinite when it is clearly not.”

Your opinion. I’ve offered a final explanation, perhaps that will lay this one discussion to rest.

“So far you have tried to tell me that a fish in a fish bowl can explain itself. Please explain.”

Same as us, evolution.

“So far your approach is the same as many other atheists: You start to lose ground and then launch personal attacks and accusations that I am not listening, that I have no imagination, etc.”

Start to lose ground? I never had any ground to stand on with you. You’re still twisting the fishbowl argument to get any bits you can onto your side. When I referred to the pre-bang state of the universe as part of our universe I was forced to defend that statement for several posts until I finally gave you an official definition that allowed me my wording.

So am I launching a personal attack when I call you an Intelligent Design proponent, only if that wasn’t the truth. Am I personally attacking you when I say you are not listening; well, if I have to defend a single word for several posts just to get a simple point across, then no, I am not making a personal attack, you in fact do not listen. Do you lack imagination? Now, don’t go putting words in my mouth, I never said you lack imagination. In fact, I think you have a vibrant imagination. I think you are close-minded when it comes to your belief system, but your imagination within that belief system is very strong.

• July 8

### Perry @ 4:33 pm

The fish has parents. Thus the fish does not explain itself, it’s contingent on what has come before.

The fish has not even begun to explain itself until the origin of life question is solved. Show me one successful origin of life experiment.

Which still doesn’t explain the origin of the matter & energy that the fish is made of.

The fish doesn’t explain itself, Greg.

DNA is a digital code. Look up “genetic code” on Google, wikipedia or the dictionary.

Nowhere in any of the biological literature is there any such thing as a paper that demonstrates that positive evolutionary changes come from random mutation. If you disagree, then give me a link to a paper that proves that any known evolutionary path was generated by random DNA copying errors.

“Many ways to induce mutations are known but none lead to new organisms. Mutation accumulation does not lead to new species or even to new organs or new tissues… Even professional evolutionary biologists are hard put to find mutations, experimentally induced or spontaneous, that lead in a positive way to evolutionary change.”

-Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, “Acquiring Genomes”

The changes that cause positive evolutionary progress are structured reordering of genes through transposition, symbiogenesis, genome doubling and horizontal gene transfer. Not randomness.

Greg, show me one statistical model that shows evolution by random mutation is likely. Show me some math, my friend. Not a hand waving description of some freak population. Science please, not wild speculation.

• July 8

### Greg @ 5:49 pm

http://evolgen.blogspot.com/2005/06/random-mutation-and-natural-selection.html

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/history_19

Unfortunately, I’m not about to go on a hunt for scientific research, just like you knew I wouldn’t. I don’t have the time or energy to do so. I believe they exist because I believe the scientists. On the other hand, give me a link to any peer reviewed scientific paper that proves there is a God. I know that nothing like that exists, because again, I believe the scientists.

Once you understand what you are talking about when it comes to evolution we can get back to the discussion. Until then I’m done.

And as for DNA being a digital code; seems like the ID community is really behind the theory. That’s great Perry, back up ID ideologies with ID idiologies and idiologists.

• July 8

### Perry @ 9:33 pm

Greg,

Where do any of these articles offer any form of demonstration or proof that random mutations create positive change in DNA? Please cite literature that supports your claim. These websites assert but do not demonstrate. They just offer another hand-waving description with no backing evidence to support the hypothesis.

If you believe that only ID people believe that DNA is a code then ostensibly you’ve never studied DNA, you’ve never studied the history of the discovery of the genetic code, you’ve never inquired as to why it is called “the genetic code” or studied in the field of genetics. Again that is your decision. But the information in question is readily available in any biology book and on literally 1,000 secular websites. If you refuse to read scientific literature then there is nothing I can do to help you.

Greg, I extend an invitation you to start to think for yourself rather than letting “them” think for you.

90. July 8

### Chris D. @ 7:39 pm

“Nowhere in any of the biological literature is there any such thing as a paper that demonstrates that positive evolutionary changes come from random mutation.” – You

I think this is what you “were” looking for (when you wore your atheist hat and shoes) but didn’t find.

http://myxo.css.msu.edu/ecoli/

“Many ways to induce mutations are known but none lead to new organisms. Mutation accumulation does not lead to new species or even to new organs or new tissues… Even professional evolutionary biologists are hard put to find mutations, experimentally induced or spontaneous, that lead in a positive way to evolutionary change.”

-Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, “Acquiring Genomes”

Chance, in the form of mutations, provides genetic variation, which is the raw material that natural selection has to work with. From there, natural selection sorts out certain variations. Those variations which give greater reproductive success to their possessors (and chance ensures that such beneficial mutations will be inevitable) are retained, and less successful variations are weeded out. When the environment changes, or when organisms move to a different environment, different variations are selected, leading eventually to different species.

“show me one statistical model that shows evolution by random mutation is likely” – You

Also, here is a reply to your proposition that DNA cannot have formed naturally…

http://tinyfrog.wordpress.com/2008/06/17/proof-that-mutations-can-create-information/

http://www.easy-share.com/1911269188/The Intelligibility of Nature.pdf

• July 8

### Perry @ 9:25 pm

Chris,

I completely and fully agree that evolution happens and that the experiments with e coli are documented evidence of evolution.

But nowhere does this site demonstrate that the evolutionary changes are a random walk.

Nowhere in ANY biological literature has it ever been proven that evolutionary progress comes from random mutation. I know you think that it has and I know that you think I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’m not convinced you even understand the question to begin with.

You did not read what I wrote before, therefore you are trying to make an argument that is irrelevant to what I am saying. You think I am denying the existence of evolution. No I am not. I completely agree that evolution happened. I am denying that it is random. Evolution is driven by the following processes:

Mobile Genetic Elements
Transposition
Horizontal Gene Transfer
Symbiogenesis
Genome Doubling

not random copying errors.

Your “proof that mutations can create information” isn’t any kind of proof at all. It’s a made-up “let’s suppose” scenario with optimistic assumptions.

Your tinyfrog website has nothing whatsoever to do with the origin of DNA. It starts with the assumption that DNA is already there and has 90 nucleotides. Did you actually read this article? Did you read any of the questions that I raised? You are wasting our time with irrelevant links and arguments.

When you have apprised yourself of the content of this conversation you are welcome to join it. The first place to start is to go to wikipedia and to the scientific literature and study the 5 different evolutionary mechanisms I listed above and form an understanding that cells re-arrange their own DNA in an exactly ordered fashion. The second thing to understand is that cells militantly guard against random copying errors: See James A. Shapiro, “A 21st Century View of Evolution”: http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro.2005.Gene.pdf

PS Oh, and I forgot one other major non-random evolutionary mechanism: epigenetics.

PPS The article says: “It’s important to understand that when biologists say the mutational process is random, we mean that it is not directed. There is nothing determining definitively that a mutation will occur at a particular nucleotide.”

This is utterly and completely false. Every one of the six mechanisms I just described is well known. Some of them have been known for 50-80 years. Boris Kozo-Polyansky described symbiogenesis in the 1920′s. Barbara McClintock described Mobile Genetic Elements in the 1950′s. An unfathomable disservice has been done to you, telling you that these forces are undirected. If your article was telling the truth it would say:

It’s important to understand that when biologists say the mutational process is non-random, we mean that it is directed. There are many mechanisms that definitively determine that a mutation will occur at a particular nucleotide or group of nucleotides – or even large portions of chromosomes being cut/pasted or copy/pasted to other regions of the genome.

Again, read the literature for yourself. It’s all there.

You’ve been lied to, my friend. This is pure atheist dogma. And it’s scientific fraud. But don’t trust me. Search out the truth for yourself. Read the secular peer reviewed scientific literature such as Shapiro’s paper above, and see with your own eyes that I’m speaking the truth. Wasn’t it Jesus himself who said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” ?

• July 9

### Greg @ 10:50 am

1. Terao, Y., Miyamoto, K., & Ohta, H. (2006). Improvement of the activity of arylmalonate decarboxylase by random mutagenesis. Applied Microbiology & Biotechnology, 73(3), 647-653. doi:10.1007/s00253-006-0518-z.

2. Mark T. Stanek; Tim F. Cooper; Richard E., L. (n.d). Identification and dynamics of a beneficial mutation in a long-term evolution experiment with Escherichia coli.(Research article). BMC Evolutionary Biology, (9), 302. Retrieved from Gale: Academic OneFile (PowerSearch) database.

3. Ananthaswamy, A. (2002). Random noise gave vital boost to primitive life. New Scientist, 176(2370), 19. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

• July 9

### Perry @ 2:45 pm

Good articles for discussion. Comments on your (1), (2) and (3) respectively:

#1. In this experiment the researchers are using “site directed mutagenesis.” I quote:

“saturation site-directed mutagenesis was performed with the same kit. The sequences of the oligonucleotide of the mutated parts are shown as the underlined position: 5?-GCCCTTCATTGCNNKCGGGCTGGGGCTG-3? and 5?-CAGCCCCAGCCCGMNNGCAATGAAGGGC-3? (N: A,T,C, or G; K:G or T; M: C or A). The mutant was identified by DNA sequencing of the plasmid.”

“Based on these suppositions on the reaction mechanism, we expected that changing the location of the key cysteine residue might bring about the inversion of the enantiose- lectivity of AMDase. Thus, we introduced two mutations, i.e., cysteine instead of glycine74 and serine instead of cysteine188. As expected, the….”

Site directed mutagenesis, if it is random, is selecting very specific sections of DNA and randomly mutating them. The procedure is described at http://escience.ws/b572/L4/L4.htm

To use an English analogy, it is like taking a sentence

the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

and choosing one word, for example the word “brown” and randomly mutating it – WHILE KEEPING ALL THE OTHER LETTERS THE SAME.

Obviously it wouldn’t take very long before “brown” became “blown” or “grown” or “growl” or who knows what else. Undoubtedly you could form other valid English sentences this way. This works just fine if you’re isolating a very small section of the code and keeping the rest the same – which is what the author described in my quote above.

Biologists do this to produce novel protein structures that prove useful in various circumstances. This experiment had the objective of increasing the production of an enzyme.

(Along the same lines, there’s another paper from Caltech that describes something pretty similar, it’s called “Why High-error-rate Random Mutagenesis Libraries are Enriched in Functional and Improved Proteins.”
http://www.che.caltech.edu/groups/fha/drummondJMB2005.pdf )

The Caltech paper discusses the statistical distribution of mutations generated by PCR mutagenesis and how often the resulting protein turns out to be useful. First of all they discuss that as mutation rates increase the usefulness of the mutation drops exponentially, and they show the math for those computations.

Furthermore they conclude:
“Exploration of distant regions of sequence space by random mutation alone appears highly inefficient, reinforcing the role of other search processes such as homologous recombination in creating sequence diversity.”

(See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homologous_recombination – it’s similar to the structured mutation processes I described – horizontal gene transfer and transposition.)

They note that the method of mutation used by the researcher greatly affects the results.

Greg, neither of these scenarios is a reasonable representation of neo-Darwinism. They produce useful results, but from a Darwinian perspective they’re cheating. They’re inserting specific human-engineered selectivity into the experiment.

Yes, if you restrict the random activity to just a certain section of the genome you can get it to work. Of course you can. But if the mutations are operating indiscriminately across 1 million or 1 billion base pairs in the genome then it’s just like the random mutation generator:

TEe q6ick brown fGx jumped over the lyzybdog

Not useful. Especially if your sentence is 1 million characters long instead of 65. You have to focus the mutations in order for them to be useful. That’s not what Neo Darwinism theorizes. These experiments reinforce the design hypothesis, not the Darwinian hypothesis.

#2. Show me where in this article does the author prove that the mutations in question were random and not a function of transposition or horizontal gene transfer.

#3. “When life began in the hostile conditions of early Earth, so many random mutations and errors would have plagued the first molecules struggling to copy themselves that explaining how longer or more complex forms ever evolved has been tough. But it seems that the right combination of random events or “biological noise” counteracted the high mutation rate, speeding up evolution.”

This is entirely speculation. I don’t see any proof of randomness here.

Good effort. But your #1 reinforces my thesis that productive mutations are from cellular engineering and not random copying errors of DNA; your #2 and #3 do not reinforce your thesis. None of these papers demonstrates that the path from one species to another is a random walk. Rather, they show that you can create interesting new proteins, very inefficiently, by selectively randomizing very small sections of the genome.

Remember what the article said that was posted yesterday? “It’s important to understand that when biologists say the mutational process is random, we mean that it is not directed. There is nothing determining definitively that a mutation will occur at a particular nucleotide.” Mutagenesis of specific regions of DNA doesn’t match that description.

• July 9

### Greg @ 4:53 pm

First off, stop using an english sentence like:

“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”

and changing it to:

“TEe q6ick brown fGx jumped over the lyzybdog”

and saying this is the same as random mutation. It is not. This is where you are either deceiving yourself, or trying desperately to deceive your readers. That is why I added my previous link to explain what random mutation really is. Here is the link again:

http://evolgen.blogspot.com/2005/06/random-mutation-and-natural-selection.html

As the article clearly defines, random mutation occurs when a sequence such as:

GCCCTTCATTGCNNKCGGGCTGGGGCTG

randomly mutates to something like:

ACCCTTCATTGCNNKCGGGCTGGGGCTG

that would be a random mutation in the DNA strand. That random mutation may do something positive, negative, or nothing at all. Usually it is negative and gets corrected or dies off, sometimes it does nothing and ends up dormant, other times it is positive and ends up providing a positive evolutionary step through natural selection.

Here is a final article.

Sniegowski, P., & Lenski, R. (1995). MUTATION AND ADAPTATION: The Directed Mutation Controversy in Evolutionary Perspective. Annual Review of Ecology & Systematics, 26553-578. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

• July 9

### Perry @ 9:57 pm

Greg,

I cannot discern from anything that you’ve said, that you actually read and understood the papers you quoted. I read this paper. Did you?

Greg, what is the difference between

Xhe quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog

and

ACCCTTCATTGCNNKCGGGCTGGGGCTG

Are not both a random mutation of one letter? The former has a 26 letter alphabet, the latter has a 4 letter alphabet.

If you feel like 26 letters is too many and you want to convert the English sentence to binary and randomly mutate one bit, then that’s still random mutation of one character. Or you can convert English to a quaternary alphabet and mutate. Either way, it’s a point mutation.

Nowhere in the biological literature is there a paper that shows that the path from one species to another is undirected random copying errors of DNA. Research now shows that it’s block re-arrangements of genes and chromosomes.

Now, to Lenski’s paper: “The Directed Mutation Controversy and Neo-Darwinism.”

Summary of his argument:

-There are many peer reviewed papers that document directed mutation
-He questions their methods and conclusions
-He doesn’t find the evidence persuasive
-No one understands the operations of the alleged mechanism that drives directed mutations
-The idea of directed mutations directly contradicts the anti-teleological position of neo darwinism
-He happens to think that randomness is still an adequate explanation

Here are the problems with this paper:

1. This argument is out of date. It’s 17 years old and there’s an entire genre of new papers that thoroughly document directed mutation. I already gave you a link to one, from 2005: James A. Shapiro, “A 21st Century View of Evolution”: http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro.2005.Gene.pdf. If you want a whole bunch more, just read the footnotes in this paper. All you could ever ask for.

2. Lenski’s paper doesn’t breathe a single word about transposition or mobile genetic elements, even though Barbara McClintock won the Nobel Prize for discovering these things in 1983. Her research was done in the 1950′s. So even when it was written it was ignoring 40 years of peer reviewed work. This is an inexcusable omission.

3. Epigenetics firmly establishes Lamarckian ideas as having validity. This is possible because of the enormous amount of human genome research today, which was not available in 1993 when this paper was written.

4. Lenski is still insisting mutations are random in the following paper: http://www.pnas.org/content/105/23/7899 even though his own research within this very paper shows bacteria making the same adaptation multiple times. I discuss this with another reader at http://www.perrymarshall.com/3118/10-predictions-2010/#comment-21274.

5. I went to a lecture at Fermilab in Batavia Illinois in January 2010. The speaker was James Shapiro, a biologist at the university of Chicago. In the Q&A a guy was asking Shapiro if mutations are random. Shapiro said “No, because when we starve bacteria their mutations rates go up by a factor of 10,000.”

He described how repeatable and reliable this is. Shapiro’s research firmly addresses the questions that are unanswered at the end of Lenski’s paper. He has exhaustively documented the genomic re-arrangements bacteria make in order to adapt to stress. They are non random. They’re algorithmic.

6. An algorithm hypothesis is an inherently more scientific theory than a randomness hypothesis. Why? Because science is the presumption of underlying order. Any time you can offer a systematic explanation instead of random accident, that’s pro-science and pro-progress. Any time you resist systematic explanations tooth and nail and prefer random accident, that’s letting your personal emotional preferences and religious prejudices block the progress of science.

7. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve debated this topic a few times before. I consistently observe how vehemently opposed atheists are to the idea that evolution is non-random. They HATE this idea. Even though it’s a beautiful, well supported scientific theory. Why?

You know why. I don’t have to tell you.

As I said before, check it out for yourself: Mobile Genetic Elements, Transposition, Horizontal Gene Transfer, Symbiogenesis, Epigenetics. All non-random, all documented mechanisms of macro-evolution.

• July 9

### Greg @ 5:17 pm

I don’t know why I even bothered answering your post again. You’ll just pick some 1 or 2 sentences out of the article I provided and you’ll say “see” it means this and not random mutation after all. It’s what ID proponents do. You do it every day of your life. You could care less that the article is supported by many other research articles. You could care less that this is accepted by scientists and biologists because IT IS proven in laboratory expirements all the time. All you care about is your ID ideology which teaches you how to pick apart arguments 1 sentence at a time until people get so frustrated with you they just walk away. And then you think you’ve won. You haven’t won anything but a first prize in your own little world. You’re not open minded at all, you are deceitful when you suggest that you are. I’m tired, and I’m done. Go on to your next victim.

• July 9

### Perry @ 10:05 pm

Greg,

You’re only a victim if you choose to be. In any case you’re not a victim of me, you’re a victim of fraudulent atheist dogma which is parroted constantly yet unsupported by empirical evidence. As I said, nowhere in the entire body of scientific literature is there a single experiment that proves that the path from one species to another is random. Quite the opposite.

What’s most intriguing of all is that in mathematics there exists no formula that can prove that a sequence of letters or numbers is random.

In other words, the central claim of neo Darwinism – that random mutations and natural selection drive evolution – is inherently unprovable because randomness is unprovable. So neo Darwinism itself is mathematically unprovable and therefore inherently unscientific.

It is, however, possible to show high probability that a sequence of letters or numbers is NOT random. The sequence aaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAbbbbbbbbbBBBBBBBBBB is obviously not random and it’s easy to statistically show that the odds that those letters were generated by a specific pattern is 99.9999%.

For identical reasons, we know that the modular re-arrangements of DNA are non-random.

Read the literature, my friend. Think for yourself. Walk away from your victim status. The truth will set you free.

I wish you the best in your journey.

91. July 12

### Anna @ 11:58 am

“As I said, nowhere in the entire body of scientific literature is there a single experiment that proves that the path from one species to another is random. Quite the opposite.

What’s most intriguing of all is that in mathematics there exists no formula that can prove that a sequence of letters or numbers is random.

In other words, the central claim of neo Darwinism – that random mutations and natural selection drive evolution – is inherently unprovable because randomness is unprovable. So neo Darwinism itself is mathematically unprovable and therefore inherently unscientific.

It is, however, possible to show high probability that a sequence of letters or numbers is NOT random. The sequence aaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAbbbbbbbbbBBBBBBBBBB is obviously not random and it’s easy to statistically show that the odds that those letters were generated by a specific pattern is 99.9999%.”

The theory of evolution isn’t “randomness = new species! Hooray!” and it’s a lot more like “chaos + environmental feedback = gradual change and adaptation”

No one said that DNA sequences were random. Obviously even if someone believed that small, random changes added up over time in DNA, the sequences would still be in a non-random pattern that worked. That’s the best thing about evolution is that evolution does NOT equal abiogenesis. Evolution has been observed and proven, the origins of life are definitely up for debate simply due to lack of possible knowledge if nothing else.

But what IS accepted, and indeed, proven, is whether or not there are precursors for mutation (as in your case) the MUTATION is the random bit. And there are ideopathic mutations, as well that lend credence to randomness. What you seem to be missing is that randomness is not the only mechanism. The most important mechanism is environmental feedback (as in the E.Coli + Citrine study). There exists a PREPONDERANCE of literature dealing with this.

Another problem that you have is that you are treating several things as either/or suppositions when they can easily be both or, some synergy of both. You look at evolution as occurring through five or six specific mechanisms which is fair since those are the driving, visible force for evolution. How those mechanisms themselves are predicated is something that you haven’t addressed. Stimulus = response over and over again. That’s very true for genetics as well. Response to a particular stimulus in individuals is not the same as a group’s response or adaptation to the same stimulus over time.

Horizontal Gene Transfer, for example, is obviously predicated upon external influence and reaction therein. It’s a confluence of factors that lead to the situation wherein HGT might happen, but if maybe 2% of the population has a predisposition to HGT in this specific case, and further, that the HGT allows them to be more resilient in their environment and further, that this allows them to have an appreciable advantage over their fellows (statistically significant), then, over time, assuming the stimulus continues, the 2% population with the MUTATION that predisposed them to this HGT will thrive over their fellows.

And your bit about your random generator doesn’t hold weight either because it’s a mischaracterisation in the extreme. With DNA you’re not substituting sequences with one of 44 characters trying to write a new sentence. You’re having stimuli act on pre-existing chemical reactions and random substitution and rearranging of small parts of DNA. It’s like take-a-penny-leave-a-penny: if you take a penny or leave a penny, it doesn’t really affect your net-worth, but if you did it a couple thousand times a day and it was random whether you took or left the pennies, you would either become rich or broke, live or die, you might say.

The environmental factors are what determine whether you’re taking a penny or leaving a penny (and sometimes both) and that’s feedback. And scientists don’t think it’s “random” random. Scientists just aren’t aware of every mechanism and every equation to every reaction/mutation that’s ever been and most consider it (when this comes up) practically unknowable, or random. Similar to how people try to predict how gusts of wind will cause ripples in the leaves of a tree. It’s an ongoing problem.

• July 12

### Perry @ 12:08 pm

If you open the typical evolution book and find the explanation of how it works, here’s what you’ll find:

“Mutations are the random changes in genes that constitute the raw material for evolution by non-random selection.”

-Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth, 2009

“Mutations are Random. The mechanisms of evolution—like natural selection and genetic drift—work with the random variation generated by mutation.”

-University of California-Berkeley “Evolution 101” web page, March 2010, Evolution.Berkeley.edu

“On the basis of many laboratory experiments, scientists have concluded that mutations occur randomly. The term “random” here has a specific meaning that is often misunderstood, even by biologists. What this means is that mutations occur regardless of whether they would be useful to the individual. Mutations are simply errors in DNA replication. Most of them are harmful or neutral, but a few can turn out to be useful. The useful ones are the raw material for evolution. But there is no known biological way to jack up the probability that a mutation will meet the current adaptive needs of the organism.”

-Jerry Coyne, Why Evolution is True, 2009

That’s just 3 easy examples. Most of the atheist books parrot this dogma and it is simply not true. Randomness only destroys information. I’m a communication engineer, I wrote an Ethernet book, I know digital codes cold, and there is no principle in information technology that would suggest that anything these 3 sources said is actually true. Random mutation is noise and noise always degrades a signal.

The truth is: Evolutionary mutations are systematic and algorithmic, not random.

My random mutation generator does to English precisely what Dawkins, UC Berkeley and Coyne are saying happens to DNA – random substitutions of letters. Nope. That’s not what drives evolution. It’s systematic re-arrangements of genes, in response to inputs from the environment.

You are definitely right when you say “scientists don’t think it’s “random”. Real biologists who do real research and understand this at a deep level know that mutations are directed. This is all over the 21st century literature. But Dawkins and Coyne and even UC Berkeley aren’t giving you real science. They’re giving you a Dick and Jane version of evolution that’s not true. They’re giving you the version that matches their anti-teleological philosophy.

Yes, environmental feedback changes organisms. And that’s not random. It’s systemic and it’s called epigenetics.

• July 12

### Anna @ 2:01 pm

My point was that random mutation is accepted as playing a role in evolution. In the HGT example, the bacteria with the random mutation that made them more susceptible to HGT, (provided the HGT produced some advantage/resilience and didn’t preclude reproduction) would be the successful group and, over time, would replace the previous group (provided the non-HGT group suffered as a result of lacking advantage/resilience).

A small random mutation, all else aside, is often the deciding factor of species variegation and change. You’re a communication engineer so you’re educated, but you mistake yourself if you think that randomness is the same across all fields of “communication.”

Reason number 1: In communications, you don’t WANT change. You have your perfect signal and you want it to remain that way. Feedback is bad. Maintenance the only goal.

In biology, feedback, adaptation and change are the greatest predicators of survival whether through gene transfer, successful mutation random or not, loss of a predator or any of the other myriad of things that can produce change and/or success.

The reason your random generator doesn’t work is because of the nature of change in biology as opposed to what you’re doing. Biological change doesn’t occur in a 1-for-1 substitution of information for information. Missing information due to random mutation or mutation that yields a benefit happens all the time. The LPL Ser447-Stop mutation, for example, has a shielding effect against the development of atherosclerosis and subsequent CAD. That’s an ideopathic mutation from normal functioning in humans that produces a beneficial effect.

• July 12

### Perry @ 3:15 pm

Anna,

Please show me a peer reviewed scientific paper that demonstrates that a small random mutation, all else aside, is often the deciding factor of species variegation and change. I maintain that such a paper does not exist. In 5 years no one has ever demonstrated otherwise. You are welcome to be the first.

Digital communication is digital communication and an accumulation of random mutations is an accumulation of errors. The idea that random mutations drive evolution is the biggest lie in the history of science. It does not stand up to any kind of scrutiny. Again you are openly invited to show me a peer reviewed scientific paper that documents new organs and new species being generated by accumulated random mutations. Many papers assume it but none demonstrate it is so.

In both engineered systems and biology, feedback is systematic not random.

There are random mutations that are accidentally beneficial such as sickle cell anemia which protects people from Malaria. But there’s a reason sickle cell anemia is classified as a genetic disease.

There are all kinds of control systems where you DO want change. Those systems are categorized as stochastic state space control systems and the positive change does not come from the stochastic element. The stochastic element is the enemy of better performance not the friend.

92. August 6

### Joseph Dowdy @ 1:26 pm

Hi Perry,

I agree with much of what you are saying here, but I think there are a few gaps in your logic. For example, you say the universe is just as incomplete as mathematics, but they aren’t in the same class. Mathematics is a language and has things to say and using that language you can deduce things, describe things, prove things, etc. However, the universe says nothing, deduces nothing, describes nothing and proves nothing.

Your idea that God uses math to describe the universe doesn’t exactly ring true for me because God created the universe by words and not by numbers.

I’m totally on board with you regarding proving God exists because of DNA and that, undoubtedly, God speaks through the universe in terms of beauty and truth and goodness.

I also don’t really get the idea that you have that the universe is either complete or not complete. Aren’t these mathematical terms? Is a rock complete or incomplete? Well, it would reason to say that it depends on the observer describing the rock. If a chunk of a crystal is broken then you would say it’s an incomplete crystal, but is a rock with a part broken off not a rock? It’s still a rock. Not to split hairs on this, but the answer as to whether the crystal is a crystal with a part missing or if a rock is a rock if part of the rock is chipped away is a matter of the speaker’s expression and interpretation of facts. Logic can prove statements to be true or not, but they also do not leave room for interpretation and that is why math is profound and art is profound. Art and interpretation give the sense of complete or incomplete without the need for either to be true; either can be true depending on the observer.

Great conversation. And thanks for your responses.

• August 6

### Perry @ 3:15 pm

Joseph,

The universe does not say anything in the formal sense of communication theory. As for deduces, describes and proves I disagree.

Any physical system subjected to measurement does computation. The Church-Turing thesis says a great deal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church–Turing_thesis . The universe performs computation and logical operations. It solves mathematical problems for which no formal mathematical solution exists. Countless mathematical solutions and formulations have been derived from problems posed by physical systems.

The universe describes the laws of physics. And as it does logic, yes it does prove something. The fact that two atoms cannot occupy the same space at the same time proves that it’s either one or the other, not both.

My conclusion that incompleteness applies to the universe and mathematics equally is a natural consequence of the Church-Turing thesis.

You’re on to something very significant in your recognition that the universe is not linguistic but that living things are. I think the correspondence to John 1:1 is not accidental.

Incompleteness isn’t about broken pieces of matter, it’s about contingency. If you believe in cause and effect (which is a necessary condition of assuming a logical universe) then you believe that something had to cause the rock. If you believe that the rock is consistent (i.e. logical, obeys mathematical rules) then the rock is also incomplete, i.e. something outside of that rock has to be invoked in order to ultimately judge that consistency. Just as with the Liar’s Paradox, somewhere there has to be a higher external standard to judge its truth.

Finally, even the universe is subject to interpretation. And so is logic, because in logic you can never prove everything. But even in the apparent subjectivity of that, there is the implied truth that there is an external, objective truth that we are attempting to grasp.

Thank you, sir, for participating in this conversation.

• August 8

### Joseph Dowdy @ 11:01 pm

Hi Perry,

Thanks for the fast response. I didn’t pick this up until tonight.

I follow part of what you are saying, but I’m kinda lost on some of it. For example, where you say that the universe deduces, describes and proves things, I don’t quite get that. What are some examples of this?

If you mean that because the events of deducing, describing and proving are inside the universe and thus the universe is the actor, then I can understand that because there isn’t anything outside the universe doing it, but I’m not sure how even that fits into what you are saying.

Pardon me for being so dense, but if deducing, describing and proving are things that can only be done inside of language, then how does it happen independent of observers or actors who are carrying out these activities?

When you say the universe describes the laws of physics, then I think you mean for me to understand that it is the observer as well as the observed that is implicitly involved? Well, science does bear out that an object is affected by the observer, but I don’t quite get the it’s both the observer and the observed that are doing the describing unless you are saying that they are one-in-the-same and that one cannot happen without the other.

This goes back to what I was saying about the universe not being linguistic because language is not something the universe needs to simply be. Language arises as a necessity but the universe doesn’t need it in the way that the people who speak it do.

On going back to the issue of incompleteness, I think I get what you are saying in that, like Gödel describing mathematical concepts, you can always draw a bigger circle around the universe, but I’m not really sure what this observation creates. Maybe you can provide some examples of what it is that you feel that this insight can illuminate? I’m sorry I feel very dense about this.

Great conservation, though.

• August 9

### Perry @ 3:07 pm

Joseph,

Physical objects can do all kinds of incredibly complex math for you and all you need to do is be able to count. You don’t have to know anything about how to do the computations. Why? Because the universe obeys mathematical rules. And when subjected to measurement (counting), the universe expresses mathematics.

Water flowing into a bucket is doing real-time integration. No different than a person doing calculus with symbols. Both can give you the same answer. Back before computers they used to build analog computers which would solve math problems with analog circuitry, ie resistors and capacitors.

Gödel says any system that does non-trivial computation is incomplete, ie it is contingent on something outside the system.

The Church-Turing thesis acknowledges what I just said above, which is that a physical system can express mathematics.

So physical systems are also incomplete.

Physical objects do not ask these questions, but we do as observers. Without an observer there would be no symbolic mathematics, only the expression of mathematical laws within physical objects. We use reason and logic to infer that our symbolic systems for manipulating mathematics are incomplete and the same logic applied to the universe says it’s incomplete too.

Again it goes back to contingency. The universe is contingent on something. The something could be a regression of prior universes. But eventually you have to get back to one Original cause and there can’t be two because two is a system which is then contingent on some other system. Eventually you get back to one original indivisible source.

93. August 9

### Joseph Dowdy @ 3:24 pm

What is an example of a computation that a rock can do? I’m just trying to understand this from my own literal sense of words. Is this literal or is this anthropomorphism?

• August 10

### Perry @ 7:38 am

A rock flies through space. Any alteration to its velocity is the integral of accelerations due to outside forces and F=MA.

Any alteration to its temperature is the sum total of received and dissipated heat. All of its behavior with respect to velocity, position, acceleration, momentum, temperature, blackbody radiation is all a dynamic expression of fixed mathematical laws.

Whatever it does obeys mathematical laws and whatever measurements you make is a consequence of the initial conditions and the behavior of those natural laws.

• August 10

### Joseph Dowdy @ 8:18 am

Hey Perry,

I think I’m getting what you are saying now.

It’s not like you are making the universe anthropomorphic and giving it attributes that make it a person.

In Eastern philosophy, the universe is everything and that is the only equivalent to what we call God. If you read the Tao Te Ching, it says the same thing as the Bible: the universe was created by the word.

In the Western world, we see God as some gigantic man in the sky who throws dice or plays chess or sits around a ring of clouds looking down on the earth like one big Greek god. Paintings depict a powerful gray-haired man as God. This is one of the reasons why atheists have so much ammunition to use against the idea that there is A god or that God exists.

But getting back to what you were saying, if I understand you correctly, the universe does prove these things as you were saying that a rock proves laws of thermodynamics and motion and such but isn’t there something more to it?

Scientists say that it’s very likely that in other locations in the universe (and much of this depends on if the universe is open or closed) that the same rock does not prove the same thing as it would here. The “laws” are written differently. Does that support what you are saying? Perhaps the universe is proving the idea that the laws are different in other places if that is what we can prove with math?

And, by the way, scientists have been trying to prove if the universe is incomplete for some time now by trying to figure out if it is open or closed. If it’s closed then it will eventually collapse back upon itself and probably will have another Big Bang right after and all the rules may or may not be rewritten. If it is open then it keeps expanding forever and there would be infinite varieties of laws that could be shown to be true and different in different locations.

So, here’s the interesting thing. If it’s open and you know the shape of it and can measure it, then you draw a circle around it and–OOPS–it has expanded beyond your circle! You then recalculate that and–OOPS–it has grown beyond your circle!

The same expanding boundary applies for a closed universe where it is in expansion mode.

But if it’s closed and it’s shrinking then you can draw a circle around it and–WAIT!–there isn’t anything THERE where you draw that circle any more. The universe has shrunk just a tiny bit.

And I think maybe there is a problem with the idea of drawing a circle somewhere around the universe if there is “no there” there–no “somewhere” to draw the circle. I think Godel meant that you can only draw a circle if there is somewhere TO draw the circle–either it’s a hypothetical or simply mathematical theorem but it may not apply to space-time where there is no space-time yet.

Or does the universe expand once we chart a place outside the edge of the universe which would fit with much that we know about quantum mechanics for the “observer-role” phenomenon?

• August 10

### Perry @ 2:12 pm

You’re right, I’m not making some anthropomorphism with the universe.

The “God depicted as old man with beard” image is funny in a far side cartoon but in any serious context, Jews and Christians consider it blasphemous. The atheist depiction of God is straw man.

*Some* scientists speculate that the laws of physics are different elsewhere, but *most* scientists assume they are the same everywhere. It’s the only way to build a coherent model. If they are different elsewhere, there has to be a systematic explanation behind that – otherwise it implies an inconsistent and illogical universe. The bedrock of science is the predictability of physical laws.

This is actually crucial to what I am saying. If the universe is illogical or inconsistent, then according to Gödel that means it could also be complete, ie there is nothing else outside of it.

In my mind the expansion or contraction of the universe is irrelevant to the “size” of the circle because I’m not really talking about diameters here; I’m talking in broad conceptual terms about the boundaries of a system. Even if the universe is expanding it has an outer boundary. Gödel’s theorem speaks of “within” the system and “outside” the system so I use a circle simply as a visualizing device.

I have not thought carefully enough about the observer-role phenomenon in quantum mechanics to comment on that.

Glad having you in the conversation.

94. August 10

### vijeno @ 11:01 am

“God is simply defined that way” is an argument from authority at best.

Why would it make any difference whether god is called “inside” or “outside” the world? The moment you try to prove his existence, you have to assume he is something, or else you have to show how something that is not something can be reasonably said to exist. In both cases, you will have to show how god can exist without being caused. Simply going “na na, I define it this way” is hardly going to do the trick.

• August 10

### Perry @ 1:32 pm

Vijeno,

What caused the universe is necessarily outside of the universe because of Gödel’s statement:

“Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. In particular, for any consistent, effectively generated formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the theory.”

When we’re talking about the universe, there is a logical statement that is true, but not provable in the universe. The universe depends on an axiom outside of itself. In this case the distinction between what is inside the universe and what is outside the universe is vital.

Logically, *something* has to exist without being caused, and that something is not the universe. Gödel’s theorem says that – and the Big Bang says that too. If you believe in cause and effect then the universe has a cause which is not itself.

My point is that we are forced to assume, and yes, cannot prove, that God is uncaused.

• August 10

### vijeno @ 11:20 pm

“Logically something has to exist without being caused.” I can see no reason for that. You didn’t provide any.

Two obvious problems with your argument:

1. While an infinite regress does pose obvious problems, you would have to show why we should stop asking for the cause at some random point (e.g., the universe, or god). If you already go one step outside the universe to show that god exists, then you cannot simply stop there. There is no reason for not asking who or what caused god. We cannot dismiss infinite regress only because it makes us uncomfortable.

2. God does not solve any problem. With infinite regress, nothing is ultimately determined – neither does a first cause determine anything, since it’s completely undetermined itself. The result is exactly the same, and since we cannot determine any point at which to stop asking for the next cause behind that point, this solution is to be favoured.

• August 13

### Perry @ 10:42 am

What problem does infinite regress solve? Some peoples’ discomfort with the idea of God, maybe?

• August 13

### vijeno @ 12:11 pm

Infinite regress does not solve any problem. Please, please don’t try to shift the burden of proof. You are trying to prove god, therefore you need to show that the proof is solid. That’s the rules. I didn’t invent them.

God doesn’t solve any problems either:

If there is a first cause, this means that this first cause is totally free, not bound to logic and reason. Therefore, any effect following that first cause is just as arbitrary as with an infinite regress, and nothing is ultimately determined.

It is exactly the same dilemma as with an infinite regress – only with the additional disadvantage that you now have set an arbitrary endpoint of causes, totally up to your own whim. The only reason you say that god is the first cause is because you define god that way – that is circular logic.

I can’t reply to your other posting, there seems to be some limit to the levels of replies, so: Another problem is that causation will never reach the universe – something inside the universe is caused by something else inside the universe, but there will never be any point where something inside the universe is caused by the universe itself; and therefore, since we always have to start with some effect inside the universe, no chain of causation can ever lead us to god.

• August 13

### Perry @ 2:55 pm

OK, let’s talk about burden of proof.

You are misquoting me. This is what I said:

“God is not formally provable either. But… just as you cannot build a coherent system of geometry without Euclid’s 5 postulates, neither can you build a coherent description of the universe without a First Cause and a Source of order.”

I have backed up every statement I have made.

You have said there is an infinite regress.

An infinite regress of…. what?

Where is this infinite series of things you speak of?

Do you have pictures of them?

Do you have evidence of any kind?

Is there anything about your infinite regress of causes that is NOT arbitrary? You’re trying to tell me “since we always have to start with some effect inside the universe” — where did you get that rule? Did you just make it up?

You said, “If there is a first cause, this means that this first cause is totally free, not bound to logic and reason.”

Hold on just a second, my friend. You are now making theological statements. Before you go down that road, you might want to respectfully read what others have said.

I’m going to expect you to back up everything you say, just like I do. And please do not misquote me.

• August 13

### vijeno @ 4:29 pm

Please show how you can create a coherent system using a first cause. Please show how a first cause would be determined, so as not to make the effect of that cause, and the effect after that, and so on, completely arbitrary. Please explain why you want to stop asking for the previous cause exactly one step outside of “the universe”. (Not using the words “it’s in the definition”). Please show how a chain of causes inside the universe does suddenly hit “the universe itself”, so that it can then move on one step further back. Please show how a system that has a first cause is more coherent than a system that has an infinite regress.

By the way, IIRC I was not the one who brought up the term “infinite regress” in this discussion.

If you’re not trying to prove god, then what exactly do you mean by “whatever is outside the largest circle is a conscious being”? Whom are you referring to?

• August 14

### Perry @ 11:03 am

I have not proven God. Rather I have shown that God is a necessary assumption to posit a logically coherent universe.

Your refusal to answer ANY of my questions is telling. You’re still asking me why infinite regress is unacceptable. I have answered this question three times. If you refuse to read then you will have to argue this point elsewhere.

You ask: “Please show how a chain of causes inside the universe does suddenly hit “the universe itself”, so that it can then move on one step further back.” I refer you to the big bang itself, which is the ignition point of matter, energy, space and time. I’ve already said this and I’m not going to say it again.

• August 15

### vijeno @ 12:15 am

Fair enough. I didn’t answer your questions starting with “An infinite regress of what” because they strike me as a joke. I didn’t think I would have to explain tose basic concepts to someone who is so used to working with concepts such as mathematical proofs and the causation of the universe – but okay, here you are: philosophy 101. I will take you step by step, and I won’t let go of your hand, so you don’t have to be afraid of tripping and falling.

So:

I am assuming that when I start wit my typing this as the most current effect, and move back to its cause, and go all the way back to the big bang, I arrive at “the universe”, and can then go back one more step. (I doubt that, but it seems you’re supposing it, and it’s not the point now.)

1. Either there is causation, or there isn’t.

Do you agree so far?

1.1. If there is no causation, then we can stop talking because we cannot convince each other of anything. Still agree?

1.2. So – either there is an ultimate cause, or there isn’t.

Agreed?

1.3. If there is an ultimate cause, this cause is uncaused.

Can you see that?

1.4. If it is uncaused, then it is undetermined.

Are you able to concur?

1.5. If the ultimate cause is undetermined, then every effect of that cause is just as undetermined, because its cause was undetermined.

Do you follow?

1.6. Therefore, if there is an ultimate cause, the universe and everything in it is undetermined. We still don’t know why the world exists, because, in christian terms, there was no reason for god to cause the world.

Can you see that?

2. The universe is caused, that cause is the effect of another cause, and so on infinitely. Since you asked, that is the definition of an infinite regress. Now you know.

Have you learned something now?

2.1. If that is the case, obviously no cause is ultimately determined.

Do you agree?

2.2. Therefore, if there is an ultimate cause, the universe and everything in it is undetermined. We still don’t know why the world exists, because, in christian terms, there is no god who could have had a reason to cause the world.

Can you see that?

It might have occurred to you… 1.6. and 2.2. look surprisingly similar.

Do you agree?

So, if you were able to follow so far, I am now asking the question you never answered (and therefore, I was never obliged to answer any of your questions): Why would we favour one over the other?

Oh wait, I know – because in case 2, we could not do science.

However, I think I have shown that that’s not really a good reason, since the same problem occurs in both cases. The ultimate cause doesn’t help us. So why favour it?

So if that is the case, how is it not special pleading to simply define god as the ultimate cause and leave it at that?

That is the first of many, many issues with your argument which you never properly addressed. Instead, you have given me “Look it up on wikipedia”, “Most philosophers disagree, so you’re wrong” and “You don’t want to go into theology, buddy, so leave it”. Can you agree that this is not the way to have a proper discussion?

So please, if you want to have a discussion among adults, explain to me how the uncaused cause solves anything, or where you see a flaw in my logic.

And no, I don’t want your free mini-course.

• August 17

### Perry @ 5:52 pm

You invoked an infinite regress of causes. Where did you get the idea that you are excused from describing the previous cause, and the previous one, and so on? You have not answered a single question about this.

1.5 does not follow from 1.4.

I do not agree with 2.1. It’s a non-sequitur.

“in christian terms, there is no god who could have had a reason to cause the world.” Where did you get that idea? Did you make it up?

It is the position of infinite regress that is anti-science because it gives us no way to drive a stake in the ground about anything that is past. Modern science was born out of theology in Western Europe 500-1000 years ago.

Science got started in ancient China; in ancient Egypt and Greece and Rome; and in Islam. But it never went anywhere. In those cultures, it sputtered and coughed and died.

Why?

Because those cultures did not have a theology to support it.

I think it is especially interesting that science was obviously not born in atheism.

Science rests on faith that the universe is governed by fixed, discoverable laws. That it operates without the need for constant intervention by the creator and that the creation has a degree of freedom to follow its own course.

Islam does not teach this; Greek and Roman mythology did not teach this, and neither did the Egyptian or Eastern religions.

Wisdom of Solomon 11:21, which was written 3,000 years ago, says, “Thou hast ordered all things in weight and number and measure.” This is found in the apocrypha, i.e. the books of the Catholic Bible. This is the first statement of its kind in ancient literature. If you like science, thank a theologian.

• August 12

### vijeno @ 12:47 am

There are two issues here:

1. When you follow the rule of causation, you will never actually arrive at “the universe”. It is purely an abstraction – an invention even, perhaps. I was caused by my parents which were caused by theirs…. caused by some dinosaur… caused by the beginning of the earth… the sun…. back to big bang. (At which point we currently cannot say anything reasonable.) But saying that “the universe” was caused is, strictly speaking, nonsense. Causation only ever leads to things that are inside the realm of being, i.e., the universe.

2. You cannot show why whatever might be “outside the universe” is supposed to be the ultimate cause. You can always ask what caused it, and there is no reason why you should stop here, (and not, say, at the big bang or at the dinosaurs). It is purely a decision you make to rescue monotheism.

• August 13

### Perry @ 10:40 am

The universe is just an abstraction?

What does that mean?

Just an invention?

By who?

Why is saying the universe was caused nonsense? What part of cause and effect do you not agree with?

95. August 10

### Joseph Dowdy @ 2:46 pm

Perry,

I think it’s a really assumption on your part that the Western idea that God is outside the universe.

What if God WERE the universe as it is understood in Eastern culture?

Or are you also saying that God is incomplete? Certainly, if God is outside the universe then we must be able to draw a circle around Him?

It could be instead that what we call God is, just as the universe is, intelligent, ever-expanding, self-creating, etc. and that WE are created in His image: intelligent, ever-expanding, self-creating, etc.

Understand that the universe is what it is and that what we call God is ascribable to the universe makes perfect sense even to an atheist. Atheists don’t believe that if God exists that he is some man in the sky. Believing that God is a man or human or humanoid is like believing Santa Claus. For God to create the universe, he would have to create it from something, yes? Where did all that mass and energy come from? Did he reach into his pocket? It just makes more sense that God IS the universe and is a self-created intelligence and that we recognize that God is everywhere, inside us as well, and that we see Him for who He is: everywhere but not outside of the observable universe.

• August 10

### Perry @ 4:08 pm

Godel’s theorem supports the idea that what the universe is contingent upon is outside the universe. Logically (go to the top & read my article) whatever is outside the biggest circle is boundless and infinite and not contained within the circle. Logically, God is not the universe because the universe is caused. We are not self-creating, we are all created. All of us came into existence at a point in time.

96. August 10

### Joseph Dowdy @ 2:55 pm

By the way, God was depicted by Michelangelo on the Sistene Chapel, so maybe the idea of an old man with a flowing beard is really not as blasphemous as you say?

• August 10

### Perry @ 4:06 pm

Point taken.

97. August 10

### Joseph Dowdy @ 5:05 pm

I’m not so sure that Godel’s theorem supports this idea that the universe is contingent upon something outside the universe. He says that a system is contingent on something outside of itself; someone who designed it and built the system or at least created it as an idea/theorem/law is. This is certainly true. It is even more true that without someone (the builder or the creator) that it never would have existed. This is a tautology, yes? It’s perfectly logical. Everything about it is true and not disputed.

However, to say that the universe is contingent upon something outside itself assumes that there is nothing outside the universe. Godel doesn’t say this (as far as I know he never explicity said this but it would be interesting to know his thoughts on this), so we can’t assume that his theorem supports this idea. I understand that it is your conjecture that if Godel’s Theorem is true and that the universe was created by God and that God is outside the universe that this is all true, but again, it is an assumption to say that God is outside the universe. Where is He then? Why does he have to be outside the universe? If he were outside the universe, then how can He hear my prayers? How can He have any influence on anyone’s life or assist in creating miracles if he weren’t everywhere? If He is everywhere, then why isn’t it possible that He isn’t outside the universe?

It’s also a big assumption on the part of Westerners to think that God is a man but not a woman and that he is white and not black. After all, if you saw Jesus walking down the street as he looked thousands of years ago you would say he looks Arab or black but he would definitely not be white. But why does he have to have skin color at all? Why can’t he be in the monitor? In the air around you? In your finger on the mouse? Why can’t he be someone other than outside the universe?

Now, as far as people not being self-created, I am saying that, just as God is “I am ‘THE’ I AM” as He is, there is a point in everyone’s life where they understand they are alive, they have responsibilities and they can hurt people or help people and that is when they “ARE that they ARE” and they are created in this, which is in God’s image. We are just as God but we don’t have the power to create the universe from more than one perspective. Certainly, I can create a universe in my writing (e.g., Gene Roddenberry) and people can create that same (Star Trek) universe for themselves but I can’t physically create one from more than my own perspective. If we aren’t self-created after we are born and have self-awareness then we are just as animals and what makes us separate from animals is language and the ability to cry “I AM!” [the chair is silent on this one].

I think it would be far more logical and less problematic to form a mathematical and physics-based understanding of things with God inside the universe to consider that, as far as what is measurable and provable, that the universe is what produces the energy necessary to create the universe and the God is the intelligence behind the intelligence we see occur naturally (DNA, for example). There doesn’t need to be something outside the universe for there to be a perfectly logical understanding. Godel’s theory regarding closed systems is accurate, but who said that the universe is a closed system? What proof is there of that? What if, as scientists have pretty much proven, that if the universe is infinite that you can simply not measure one end of it to the other without it continuing to expand beyond those points after you measure it? It’s just like an electron where you can’t know both the speed and the location at the same time but once you know one of these then neither is true any longer.

• August 13

### Perry @ 10:33 am

If the thing that created the universe is boundless, then it is not subject to the boundary of the edges of the universe. So God can be inside the universe as well.

There could be all kinds of other universes and things outside the universe. But those things also have boundaries and are systems. And if they are rational they are also incomplete.

Your 2nd to last paragraph touches on something that I’m surprised more people haven’t mentioned. Which is that a conscious being with free will is not subject to the laws of logic. On both a micro and macro scale, a free being can do irrational things. Which is another way of saying that consciousness is an entirely different category of thing than anything that’s purely physical. It reinforces what the philosophers and theologians have been saying for thousands of years, which is that human beings are wholly different and distinct from inert objects.

We cannot rationally say that the universe is the thing that produces its own energy. It has to have a starting point and it does – the big bang, the beginning of matter energy space and time. We have no reason to believe it created itself.

The current scientific consensus is that matter, energy, space and time are all finite.

I am asserting that in the grand scheme of things, the universe is not a closed system. The materialist view says it is a closed system and that there’s nothing outside of it. The materialist view contradicts Godel, contradicts our notions of cause and effect and has no ability to explain consciousness or free will.

• August 13

### Joseph Dowdy @ 10:55 am

Again, more interesting ideas.

I think we’re both kidding ourselves if we think we have all the answers, but I really like interesting questions as an access to coming up with new answers rather than trying to be right that my view is the only one that can be true.

I contract the Eastern and Western views of God merely because it yields interesting answers to questions with more variables and thus can yield answers that haven’t been thought before and, in turn, could be answers that make more sense logically than if the questions hadn’t been asked.

I question the notion that the universe is not all there is and I ask why it is that God isn’t all that there is as well. It’s just a question, but what an idea! And with quantum physics and other branches of theoretical math applying string theory to the real world, they say that parallel universes (and it’s interesting that they come in many magnitudes of parallel or likeness to our own), that it is more likely that there is only one universe which may become part of parallel universes once we can observe and detect parallel universes: we will truly not be alone. There will be more than one Perry Marshall. If there was ever a chance that Perry Marshall would have dropped out of high school or had become a doctor, then there would be parallel universes where one dropped out and the other became a doctor. It’s all based on probability.

And there is always a place for God in all this because, if anyone would know everything, He would know what you are doing in those parallel universes and would certainly know you more than you know yourself.

I’m not asserting that the universe is closed, but in the view of quantum mechanics and applied string theory that it’s very likely that it is infinite and that it is also infinite in its variety. This is proven, which is nice.

But I wonder what Godel says about this. If a model exists with infinite variety exists in infinite parallel universes, then how do you draw a circle around that?

This comes back to the definition of infinity. You could say it’s N+1 where N is any number you can imagine (Godel, right?). But you could also say that it’s a property rather than a number because it’s not a number. N+1 isn’t a number!! It’s a variable equation; plug in the variable and you can solve it. However, that defeats the purpose of an infinite property. If I drive from LA to Chicago, then it is 1 trip and I have an infinite variety of ways to get there including going around the moon, to Alpha Centauri and back, etc., but it’s still 1 distance.

In the same way, there may only be one God and one universe and each has an infinite variety, infinite expression, infinite size, etc.

Even if the edge of the universe increases and then decreases and eventually collapses on itself and then explodes again (which is one of two prevailing models as I mentioned before in a closed universe), it will still explode again with all the information wiped like a hard drive but the intelligence of God is still there.

I just think this idea of God outside the universe watching us is just the same as saying that God lives in the sky watching us. He doesn’t have to watch you, He is IN YOU because HE is the energy/matter and the intelligence that organizes and destroys as well. He survives just as we survive because our souls arrive and they go back to where they came, which is IN HIM. (I really am getting tired of saying He and Him. So boring and sexist, really. The universe doesn’t have a penis and neither does God, so why the Hell and we saying HE and HIM anyway?)

Really, if there is no place that God is not then why would he need to be outside of anything if he is in everything?

Well, it’s an interesting conversation, Perry!

No conclusions here. I’m pretty comfortable with my logic and wanted to share it with you. I appreciate yours and where it comes from. Thanks!!

98. August 12

### Daniel @ 12:15 pm

There is no such thing as an incomplete universe, just incomplete models for that system. Godel is describing models (such as certain maths) and how they fall short of self-contained description. It’s sort of like the whole paradox with Zeno and his “half, but half first, but half of that first” reduction when describing how it should be technically impossible for anyone to get anywhere, having to first go halfway. What Zeno and Godel pointed out, and what all paradoxes point out ,in fact, is that our models and conceptions of the universe are limited. It’s an illustration of the folly of certainty. Using a paradox of any kind to PROVE something is to completely lose the point. But certainty seems to be something you need, so please: continue with the post-hoc . . .

• August 12

### Perry @ 12:20 pm

Daniel,

Why isn’t a statement like “There is no such thing as an incomplete universe” itself an example of the “folly of certainty”?

• August 12

### vijeno @ 1:30 pm

Even if it were a folly, the point stands that incompleteness of the model can never imply incompleteness of reality.

• August 15

### Daniel @ 1:18 pm

Good point. I think you’re right: that could be seen as on over-certain statement. I guess what I was getting at was that the universe needs no explanation.It is complete, because it exists. We, the curious people are the ones who would like to superimpose an explanation onto it. The quest of science has not been to nail down a loose and wiggly universe with declaration of fact so much as to bring an already crisp and functioning reality into a more lucid framework that our minds can more easily conceive of. Science just brings us more accurate descriptions of what already is;what is real in spite of us. (right?)

When we start using logic to make predictions, we’ve gained a pretty powerful lever. It works quite well, most of the time. But what’s nice about semantic paradoxes or mathematical leaks is that they illustrate for us that our logic is not perfectly sound. Our logic is like a program that we’ve written. Things like the Liar’s Paradox and the Incompleteness Theorem show us screwy output, so we know that there’s a bug in the program – faulty logic. We’ve missed a detail.

Saying that we can draw a circle around everything that we know, and then infer that there must be something outside of it that is necessary for explanation is true (enough). It’s a beautifully eloquent way of illustrating an idea. The idea that it seems to represent though, is not that there must be a god, but that we’ve not yet learned how to draw our circles large enough. It is a commentary on the limits of our computation. Paradoxes, logical absurdities, mathematical impossibility, etc: these tell us more about the yardstick than the yard.

• August 17

### Perry @ 5:41 pm

Daniel, you said:

“The universe needs no explanation”

This has to be one of the most anti-intellectual, anti-knowledge, anti-free-inquiry statements I’ve heard in a long time. This notion sorely deserves to be challenged. My friend, the universe DEMANDS an explanation.

It’s like you’re saying “Hey there, logic is useful and all but let’s not suppose that God exists or anything like that, folks. Everybody go home, nothing else to see here. Run along, run along…”

Are you an atheist?

99. August 12

### Joseph Dowdy @ 12:35 pm

Truly the universe is just as unknown as God is. We can only observe what we say is the universe or God. Are you so sure that these unknowns are not the same unknowns? Why does one have to be outside the other?

And is there such a thing as a place where God is NOT? If so, then where is that place? It’s kinda hard to argue that it’s somewhere outside the universe if we don’t know that there is such a thing as outside the universe.

• August 13

### Perry @ 10:43 am

Try this:

God and the universe are the same.

The universe came into existence 13 billion years ago.

Therefore God came into existence 13 billion years ago too.

So what caused God and the universe to come into existence?

• August 17

### Joseph Dowdy @ 6:08 pm

Hey Perry,

Thanks for replying back on that previous comment. You raise an interesting question and I’m not sure you’re going to like my answer.

I’m completely borrowing this from the Tao Te Ching and also from Genesis in the truth that things are created in language. In other words, things don’t exist unless they are created in language. For example, road rage didn’t exist as a thing until someone first said it exists and then others heard about it and now when we see someone jumping out of their car waving a golf club we go “road rage” to ourselves.

The same is true for every single word out there. Now this is not to say that the sky wasn’t there before someone said, “This is the sky.” In fact, the bible even says that Adam named the animals and the animals were certainly there before he named them, but again, man named the animals.

God created the universe using the word (or by using language).

Now it would be really un-Christian of me to say that God only exists by virtue of people saying that there is this almighty, all-knowing power called God and he doesn’t really exist but we say he does. No, I say that there is this thing we call the universe and all that is God is the body of the universe and we call the universe God because God is everywhere the universe is and so that must be his body. The mind of God is in the details, the DNA, the spark of life, the soul of the child just conceived, the soul of the man who died of cancer just now and so on; surely all knowledge is in all things and not somewhere else.

To test this idea, consider what would happen if every last human died tomorrow on Wednesday. Would God still exist if we are the only intelligent form of life in the universe? Where would he exist? What is the difference between the existence of God with people saying he exists and without anyone around to say he exists? It doesn’t change God either way, does it?

Now, I’m going to take this back to your idea about Gödel because it is very important in this discussion. It is what started this long string of ideas.

Gödel’s language he is speaking in is math, true? Math is a representational language. There aren’t ones and twos and threes growing on trees because these things represent the number of things. I can hold up two fingers and say “two” to my daughter who is two-years-old, in fact, but she looks at it and says “one” or “four” because she doesn’t know what these numbers represent.

In other words, because math is a representational language, just as we know that the word “chair” is just the sound we make when we describe a seat with legs, what if there is just simply a difference between what God is and the word “God” as a representation. What if it’s just not realistic to have something knowable that we say is “God” because the word simply can’t prepare us for what it is that we are invoking when we say “God” because we are not prepared as human beings to describe God in complete terms; some would argue that we can’t scratch the surface. If you speak with some who say that it is blasphemous just to write the word “God” and that if you must it has to be spelled G-d then there is a reverence for something that must not be contained inside of a mere word. It is to say that God cannot be represented by the utterings or scribblings of humans because we are so far away from understanding God that we must show some reverence.

What if Gödel is speaking in representational terms and saying that math is incomplete because it is a representational language? Maybe he is saying in non-representational terms that the representation is not the thing itself and is incomplete without the representation. The representation 4 is incomplete without the thing it describes; it is dependent on something real for it to have any truth.

In the same way, the word “God” is incomplete because it doesn’t represent “God” because “God” is not knowable. “God” is not incomplete because “God” doesn’t rely on something to function. The universe may certainly be incomplete because it may rely on something to function, but I don’t think we’ll know definitively until the universe is understood better. Perhaps when we discover if it has boundaries and not walls/membranes that it is either infinite or finite with just nothing outside of it. But we won’t know that in my lifetime as far as I can tell.

So, what caused God and the universe to come into existence? Since you are asking in a representational language, I would say that representational language is what gave us the word “God” and “universe” and until then they were just mysteries that needed to be understood. God created the universe, yes, but it was only because of representational language that we can say that or agree or disagree.

If we could ask this question without representational words or language or math then we would have the best answer. It would sound like God is “the I am that I am.”

• November 14

### Perry @ 1:09 am

Godel’s theorem is not about the limitations of symbols, or the difference between the territory and the map. It’s about the relationships between symbols and the logic that governs their behavior.

Math is more than a representational language. It has an existence independent of physical things. That’s why we can have mathematical constructs that so far have no known correspondence to the physical world.

Christian theology actually deals with unknowability (hidden-ness and mystery) of God and the representation and expression of God. This is done through the Trinity:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

This verse indicates that the very laws of physics and the structure of the universe are held together by the command of Jesus Christ.

God exists in three beings: Father / Son / Holy Spirit. This is alluded to in Genesis 1 where God says “Let us make man in our image.” Even most non-Christian Jewish theologians affirm that God is one, yet plural.

Father is the will, the essence, not knowable apart from the Son, which is the WORD, the expression of His Nature. The WORD in turn is not understandable apart from the Holy Spirit which is the manifestation of understanding, the fulfillment of His Nature.

“No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)

This is curiously analogous to encoder / code / decoder in information theory, which I talk about extensively at http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com.

And isn’t it interesting that the following conversation transpired between Jesus and the Jewish leaders in John 8, where Jesus echoes the words of God to Moses at the burning bush:

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

• October 4

### Joseph Dowdy @ 10:56 am

Sorry I didn’t know you had replied to my last post.

Yes, if God and the Universe are the same then what created them is the phenomenon of language. They did not have names until we gave them names. They weren’t even things until someone said they are things.

Language creates everything. There was nothing (the Void) before anything was created. This is basically Chinese philosophy (according to the Tao Te Ching) and it’s fundamental as well. If you have no language, then there can be nothing that exists as things; you would just be babbling goo-goo at the pretty lights and shapes and objects until you know what those things are.

• November 14

### Perry @ 1:10 am

Words and language precede all creative acts. The universe did not create language. Language created the universe. “In the beginning was the WORD.”

• October 22

### Perry Hotta @ 1:26 pm

The answer, however you put it, is plain and simply: We do not know.

It is only a few cults that try to hide that fact by claiming some supernatural knowledge.

But everyone who can think straight, is actually enabled to see through those lies.

• October 22

### Perry @ 3:57 pm

Can you tell me what is wrong with using inferential reasoning in science?

Do you have evidence supporting any answer other than design?

• October 23

### Perry Hotta @ 8:49 am

Where exactly did I say that you lie?

Of course, I could easily borrow your logic regarding DNA: All self-proclaimed internet marketing gurus are scam artists, you are a self-proclaimed internet marketing guru, therefore you are a scam artist.

Or maybe: All proponents of ID are idiots; you are a proponent of ID; therefore you are an idiot.

The answer regarding design still is: You claim an intelligent designer for DNA. You cannot show any evidence. Case settled.

• October 23

### Perry @ 8:59 am

You said, “But everyone who can think straight, is actually enabled to see through those lies.”

I do not claim physical evidence for a designer. I claim 100% inference to one.

I’ll leave it to others to comment on the truth or falsehood of the statements “All self-proclaimed internet marketing gurus are scam artists” and “All proponents of ID are idiots.”

• October 23

### Perry Hotta @ 9:46 am

So you see yourself as a cult member?

You use witty words to cover up the fact that

1) you can’t fathom how science works
2) you have not a shroud of evidence for a designer

As I said, internet scammer is as internet scammer does.

100. August 13

### ragazzo @ 12:39 am

Interesting stuff here. Sadly, I’m not mathematician enough, but since god is true, the proof must be solid.

101. August 23

### brian @ 3:52 pm

most of this seems to be working towards the first cause argument. good stuff.

the statement “The universe needs no explanation” looks a bit like an axiom: a proposition that defeats its opponents by the fact that they have to accept it and use it in the process of any attempt to deny it.

to assume something outside of the universe hinges upon no known knowledge. it only requires an imagination.

102. September 26

### Dagwaging @ 1:59 pm

The fundamental flaw in your so called ‘proof’ of a god is the assumption that traditional logic, entropy, and Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem apply outside of the universe. For all we know, logic works differently or not at all outside of our universe. Perhaps the laws of logic stem from a fundamental property of the Universe. Entropy could also be a phenomenon that arises from other mechanisms present only in our Universe. Who is to say that, outside of the universe, matter and energy can’t be created or destroyed? Maybe they can. Maybe this is how the universe came into being, through a spontaneous creation of matter due to a lack of laws preventing its occurrence. There simply isn’t and cannot be enough information to prove this.

• September 28

### Perry @ 6:57 am

You’re right.

In fact we could speculate endlessly about what’s outside the universe. We could make up pretty much anything we want to, and just assume it’s true. We could assume that outside the universe, 3+3=5 or that matter and other universes are endlessly created.

My question for you is: Is there anything we DO know that actively supports any of those assumptions?

Is there anything I have said here that contradicts *known* facts?

Note that I have not claimed to prove God here; I have inferred based on the available facts.

103. October 4

### James @ 6:59 am

Hi Perry,

I have only recently began looking into the use, by Christian apologists, of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem as a way of trying to demonstrate the existence of ‘God’. I am an atheist, but I enjoyed your article, and the debate that has ensued in the comments section has been VERY insightful. I have definitely learnt a lot (from both sides).

Please keep it up, Perry & everyone.

104. October 18

### Rod Hamilton @ 4:56 am

I don’t have a problem with some sort of “prime cause” of the physical universe which somehow lies outside the universe and was responsible for the universe. But I am really struggling to equate that idea with the testosterone-filled chest thumping alpha male tribal control freak described in the Old Testament and the Quran. “God” as described by Mohammed and Moses is obviously a social god. Such a god is definitely responsible for the creation of the “tribe’s universe”. The idea of linking such a tribal god (who is obviously just an abstract social construct) with the god who brought about the big bang is where I have a problem. Within each of us lies our very own personal (immanent) creator of our personal universe…the heart.

• October 18

### Perry @ 4:16 pm

I would encourage you to read the book of John in its entirety which I think gives a more nuanced understanding of the Christian ideas about God.

105. October 20

### Jason Devlin @ 1:59 pm

“Until someone can successfully demonstrate a naturally occurring code, the only scientific inference we can make about the origin of the genetic code is that it’s designed.”

You can only get by with making these wild claims because you’ve arbitrarily excluded DNA itself from being representative of a “naturally occurring code”. Your only justification for this seems to be to state that since every OTHER “code” is the result of intelligence, therefore DNA must have been engineered by some intelligent agent as well. Hate to bust your bubble, but this represents nothing more than a hasty generalization. Even if we accept your proposition that every OTHER source of “information” and “code” is the product of intelligent engineering, it certainly does NOT follow that the genetic code necessarily must be as well. That must be established through independent lines of inquiry and evidence. And to claim that it must be because no one currently knows for CERTAIN how DNA developed is nothing more than an argument from ignorance.

• October 21

### Perry @ 5:59 am

Everything we know about digital communication indicates that a deliberate conscious process is always involved in developing the rules of a communication protocol. This is positive knowledge.

Do you have any positive evidence to present to the contrary?

Why is your position not an argument from ignorance and mine is?

• October 21

### Jason Devlin @ 1:42 pm

Even if we allow for the poor analogy and accept that is not just somewhat similar to a “digital communication protocol”, but actually IS one; that doesn’t by default mean that it therefore must be the invention of some intelligent agent as well. Even if we could absolutely, positively, without a DOUBT know that there are no OTHER sources of “code” or “information” naturally occurring in the entirety of the universe, that doesn’t by default mean that DNA could not be the only example in existence.

Yours is an argument from ignorance because that is the gap in our knowledge in which you arbitrarily choose to insert interference by an intelligent entity. Mine is not because I’m simply pointing out a fundamental flaw in your reasoning, not making any positive claims of my own. I’m readily admitting my own ignorance; I can’t elucidate the exact process by which DNA in it’s present form could develop naturally, the data to satisfy your rather lofty demands simply does not exist yet. The fact remains however, that this does not justify the claim that because every OTHER source of “information” (however you choose to define it) comes from an “intelligence”, DNA must have been “designed” as well. It could very well be that DNA is a “black swan” so to speak, and you know it.

• October 22

### Perry @ 8:04 am

It’s not a poor analogy; it’s not even an analogy in the casual sense of the word. The comparison between DNA code and computer codes is an isomorphism, which is a formal exact analogy. Definition: 2. Mathematics A one-to-one correspondence between the elements of two sets such that the result of an operation on elements of one set corresponds to the result of the analogous operation on their images in the other set.

My choice to insert intelligence is not arbitrary. It’s based on thousands of other codes. I am making an argument from knowledge. The naturalistic view, that it somehow emerged from the ‘soup’, is an argument from ignorance.

We have 100% inference to design and 0% inference to any other explanation. If you wish to claim another explanation, then you are welcome to present evidence.

• October 22

### Jason Devlin @ 1:30 pm

…and the Old World presumption was that all swans must be white, because all of the existing historical records reported that all swans had white feathers. That is until 1697, when Vlamingh discovered black swans living in Australia.

The fact that a given number of observations have indicated “all codes we KNOW THE ORIGIN OF were created by intelligent agents”, does not mean the one we DON’T KNOW THE ORIGIN OF necessarily must as well. What you are (incorrectly) attempting to do, is establish a universal rule based on an incomplete set of instances.

“100% inference” does not equal “100% true”. The data regarding the development of the structure of DNA is incomplete, past observations do not necessarily predict the outcome of future events, and simply ignoring obvious errors in your reasoning, glossing over fundamental limitations like the most BASIC problem with inductive reasoning, doesn’t mean you are “successfully debating”. In fact, quite the opposite.

• October 22

### Perry @ 3:51 pm

At what point did I say that 100% equals 100% true?

Besides induction, what other kind of reasoning do we have for establishing universal scientific laws?

What existing scientific law is NOT based on an incomplete set of instances?

106. October 22

### Perry Hotta @ 9:12 am

You’re basically saying the following:

1. It walks like a duck and looks like a duck, therefore it is a duck.
2. Because it is a duck, it must quack.

It is pretty obvious why this does not work.

The answer is quite simple, really: It quacks when we hear it quack. Not a second before that.

107. October 22

### Jason Devlin @ 8:49 pm

I said you were trying to establish a universal rule (all “codes” come from conscious beings), not a scientific law. I have no interest in digressing into semantic games with you, so please restrain yourself from taking such liberties. But this once, I will indulge you.

Firstly, there are laws which are derived deductively, such as the Law of Detachment and Law of Noncontradiction.

There are no inductively derived “universal” scientific laws. Almost every single scientific law you could put forward has well known exceptions and only applies under certain conditions. Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation for example, only applies in weak gravitational fields. We simply refer to something as a “law” if it has been observed to be true UNDER THE SAME CONDITIONS enough times. Since we don’t know under what conditions DNA originally formed, we couldn’t say if a law that applied to things
we DO know were created under certain conditions even applied to it or not.

• October 22

### Perry @ 9:51 pm

“Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation for example, only applies in weak gravitational fields”

is derived inductively.

As are the laws of thermodynamics, electromagnetism, and almost every aspect of the theory of evolution. All of the “well known exceptions” to scientific laws are determined inductively.

Biologist Stephen J. Gould maintained that certain philosophical propositions—i.e., 1) uniformity of law and 2) uniformity of processes across time and space—must first be assumed before you can proceed as a scientist doing science. Gould summarized this view as follows:

“The assumption of spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws is by no means unique to geology since it amounts to a warrant for inductive inference which, as Bacon showed nearly four hundred years ago, is the basic mode of reasoning in empirical science. Without assuming this spatial and temporal invariance, we have no basis for extrapolating from the known to the unknown and, therefore, no way of reaching general conclusions from a finite number of observations.”

Induction is the basis of nearly all scientific knowledge. If you reject induction then you reject the scientific method itself.

In all conditions that are known and documented, codes are designed.

I propose to you that in scientific matters the best course we can chart is to accept the patterns and the inferences that are available to us and follow the evidence where it leads.

If we accept the origin of the genetic code as an act of design then that implies other inferences: For example the design paradigm is inherently resistant to ideas like “junk DNA.” “Junk DNA” was embraced for 30 years by people who reject the design hypothesis and in fact was used as “proof” that there is no design in nature. Then scientists began to study it anyway and it turns out that’s the part of DNA where all the most interesting stuff happens.

History thus shows us that a design paradigm is in some respects more conducive to scientific discovery than the materialistic paradigm. Science itself came from a belief that the universe operated according to fixed, discoverable laws and that was originally a theological proposition.

• November 15

### Jason Devlin @ 8:16 pm

Nowhere did I even remotely imply that I rejected induction. You quite literally willfully ignored the entire point of my argument. And I’m going to completly ignore the rather woefully misinformed tirade on “junk DNA” for the time being as it seems to me to only serve to obfuscate the lack of any relevant content in your response.

The point, Perry, is that even if we accept the proposition that DNA is a “digital code” in the most literal sense, even if we further accept that all codes we know the origin of are the creation of intelligent agents, this does NOT logically extend to a code we DON’T know the origin of. This would only be accurate if we could demonstrate that DNA was “created” under the same conditions as every other code we DO know the origin of. But we CAN’T say that, can we?

• November 16

### Perry @ 11:57 am

How is your statement “this does NOT logically extend to a code we DON’T know the origin of” anything other than rejection of induction?

DNA has redundancy features, just like Ethernet and TCP/IP. And data repair mechanisms, nested data structures, modular components, and error detection and correction, just like Ethernet and TCP/IP.

All such things without exception are designed. By very smart people.

As I asked you earlier, what existing scientific law is NOT based on incomplete knowledge or an incomplete set of instances?

• January 31

### Jason Devlin @ 3:10 am

This is not a rejection of induction. As I just pointed out in my most recent post, the most induction allows you to say is that codes are the product of HUMAN intelligence. Perhaps if we allow for other types of language and codes found in the animal kingdom; we could allow for the more general statement, “all codes are the product of ANIMAL intelligence”.

Since the genetic code was created by neither of those things, it is an exception. A “black swan” event. Since DNA is the only code we know of that is not the product of animal intelligence, the inference does not apply. This is not a rejection of induction, merely pointing out it’s obvious limitations. Like it or not, in the case of DNA inductive logic alone gives us no reason to prefer one explanation over the other.

Therefore, Perry, you need to provide some line of reasoning or evidence that indicates DNA was created as the result of supernatural agency that DOESN’T generalize from other examples of codes. You need some sort of evidence BESIDES inductive reasoning to support your assertion.

So what other evidence do you have to support the notion that DNA was created by an invisible, supernatural, intelligent agent?

108. October 26

So… What happens when you draw your magic circle around any god(s)? Do they then need to base their existence on an even bigger god? And an even bigger one after that?
Where do you draw the line at infinite regress?

• October 27

### Perry @ 10:39 am

I invite you to read any one of the replies to the dozen other people who asked the same question.

• October 27

I don’t really have time to wade through all of that, but I would point out a couple of things to do with this line of reasoning:

1. The only things we know of that are intelligent have differentiated, connected parts (ex. neurons, possibly computer hardware). (I’m basing this on our current knowledge. As soon as someone finds something intelligent that does not have connected parts, please let me know and I’ll revise this).
2. Whatever is outside the circle doesn’t have parts (#7).
3. Therefore whatever is outside the circle is not intelligent.

Or if you prefer:

1. In order to contain information a medium must have at least two distinguishable forms. (the simplest code we know of is binary which requires 1’s and 0’s to convey information).
2. Whatever is outside the circle has only one form (it is indivisible, has no parts and therefore is conceivably an infinite homogenous whole).
3. Therefore whatever is outside the circle contains no information.

• October 29

### Perry @ 11:16 pm

This is by far one of the best arguments that has been advanced. Thanks for your thoughtful post.

Your logic is correct so far as what it does consider; what it doesn’t consider is where codes come from, which I have written about extensively here and elsewhere.

The creation of codes requires intelligence. To create a code with freely chosen symbols requires free will.

Syllogism:
1. Material objects obey the laws of physics.
2. Free will by definition extends beyond the laws of physics, because a “self” can choose to act. Choice is by definition behavior not dictated by laws.
3. Therefore free will is immaterial.

This is reinforced by the fact that living things have free will and inert objects do not. Free will is not a known property of matter or the laws of physics.

This is further reinforced by the fact that the laws of codes, the semantics of languages, and all the principles of mathematics are immaterial concepts, not physical objects.

The existence of information requires the existence of intelligence in the metaphysical plane.

To your second syllogism, I reply that since information and consciousness are immaterial, then this further confirms that whatever is outside the circle is likewise conscious and immaterial – in addition to being indivisible.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism_%28philosophy_of_mind%29 where the conclusions I reach via information theory and Gödel’s theorem are essentially identical to those of Descartes and much earlier thinkers.

109. October 26

### Mitch @ 10:25 pm

To begin with, I would like to apologize if what I am about to say has already been mentioned. I found your article quite interesting, but I don’t have the time to make my way through all of the discussion.

I will now attempt to prove you wrong. (I would like to say however, that I personally do believe in a god, however, I just disagree with your method of proof. My belief in good is exactly that, a belief)

First, I would like to say that I do have a math background, and I did read through Godels proof. Needless to say, it is quite difficult and I only skimmed it, but, we will assume it is completely true since, as you say, it hasn’t been proven false for 80 years or so.

Firstly, you state that there has to be something outside the circle. This is not true. Godel does not show the existence of things outside of a system, rather, he showed that in a system, there will be things that you cannot prove.

Even if we do assume your interpretation is correct, which, i don’t see why it should be, then, a system with a god would still have things we cannot prove.

So, the notion of a god does not clear up those problems.

The next issue I have is with your notion that the universe as we know it is mathematical.

This is something that I must say I vastly disagree with. Look at the Banach-Tarski paradox. It says that we can take a sphere and, using only rotations and translations, create two spheres of equal size.

Obviously, this is not possible in our world, but, is possible in the mathematical world.

This leads us to conclude that our world is not mathematical. Mathematics is merely a model in which we can describe our universe. To say our universe follows the laws of mathematics however, is very very false.

However, let us now assume, for arguments sake, that your above arguments do in fact hold.

So, we now have a system which, from your conclusions has a god.

But, according to Godel, your system still has statements that cannot be proven.

So, your inclusion of a god does not actually fix any of the problems that arise form the incompleteness theorem in the way you applied it to the universe.

So, there is really no reason to conclude that a god exists.

All we can conclude is that we, as humans, will never be able to fully understand all there is to understand.

This doesn’t imply the existence of a greater being. It just states that our capacity to understand the universe is limited, or, that logic as we have created it, is flawed.

Anyway, I would love to hear what you have to say regarding what I have wrote as I find you do bring up some very good points.

Have a good evening!

• November 14

### Perry @ 12:48 am

I’m not convinced that the Banach-Tarski paradox means the universe is not mathematical. It just means that not all math has known application to the behavior of physical objects.

If you want to say the universe is non-mathematical, you need to show that the universe violates mathematical laws. The closest you can come to that is free will of human beings, which I believe is real and by definition is not law-like.

Yes, a system with a God still has things we cannot prove. However if you postulate the existence of God it is theoretically possible for God to be the only thing that is not ultimately provable.

Remember: If a system is complete, it cannot be consistent. If God does not exist then the universe is not logical. If God exists then it is possible for the universe to truly be logical. We can never ultimately prove that the universe is logical but positing God gives ground for that assumption.

• November 14

### Mitch @ 2:37 pm

I am not convinced that by letting god exist, it would be the only thing that is not ultimately provable.

Let us consider the logical system (set of axioms if you want) that encompasses our universe. Let us call this system S.

Clearly, you agree that, due to Godel’s theorem, there are statements in S that are unprovable. So, we now take our logical system and add a new axiom to it. This new axiom is the existence of God. We will call this axiom G.

So, we now have a logical system S + G. However, due to Godel’s theorem, in this new logical system, where we included the existence of God, there must still be things that cannot be proved.

So, I fail to see how including God in our universe solves our problem.

• December 4

### Perry @ 9:10 am

The value of assuming G lies in the virtue that there is nothing else outside of G.

The virtue lies also in the assumption that G itself is not a system. G is absolute and indivisible.

G gives ground to the unprovable assumption that the universe is logical and obeys rational laws. G allows us to assume that even things like induction are potentially reliable ways of determining truth. Note that David Hume, in his rejection of God, also concluded that induction was not a reliable method of reasoning.

The assumption of G leads to the smallest number of unprovable statements. Does not theology itself assume that God knows the reason for everything, even if humans don’t; and that if humans knew everything that God knows, there would be no unanswered questions? Thus belief in God not only allows but invites us to step outside of the limitations of our own perspective, and posits that there is an answer to everything.

From the perspective of G, everything could eventually be proven.

How can a rational person reject that proposition and still remain consistent with the aims of mathematics and the sciences?

110. November 16

### Jason Devlin @ 9:17 pm

Which are all things that we can elucidate in great detail the exact process and conditions under which they were designed. You can’t say the same for DNA.

Induction only allows for you to extend this reasoning to other things that you KNOW were created or developed under the same conditions. This is a LIMITATION of induction and acknowledging it as such is FAR from a rejection of it altogether.

• November 17

### Perry @ 9:48 am

I prefer inference to the best available explanation, following the evidence where it leads based on what we do know about codes. You are entirely free to come to no conclusion at all.

• January 22

### Stian @ 5:05 am

Isn’t the word ‘code’ in ‘genetic code’ ment as an illustrating metaphor?? Not the other meaning of the word, that is, human made code??

• January 22

### Perry @ 8:42 am

“Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies.” (Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2005)

111. November 19

### Jason Devlin @ 10:59 pm

DNA wasn’t created like any ARTIFICIALLY developed code invented by mankind. It is a code that appears in the NATURAL WORLD and of UNKNOWN ORIGIN. That ISN’T inference to the best available explaination, but merely to your own personal preferences.

• November 23

### Perry @ 10:16 am

DNA has redundancy features, and it is optimized for error minimization to better than 1 million to one. Look up “Genetic code is one in a million” on Google, it’s a well known paper.

Based on what we do know, where do redundancy features in codes come from?

A: We have no evidence of other coding tables being tried by nature. The inference is this is from conscious choice based on examining the possibility of errors and trying to optimize the correction of errors.

DNA has a 4 symbol set with symbols grouped in threes, to make 64 characters. What is this similar to?

A: ASCII, which has a 2 symbol set with symbols grouped in sevens, to make 128 characters.

In pure physics and chemistry, does anything else like this exist?

A: No. “There is nothing in the physico-chemical world that remotely resembles reactions being determined by a sequence and codes between sequences.” – Hubert Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life” (Cambridge University Press, 2005)

Do we have other examples of codes?

A: Of course we do. UTF. TCP/IP. HTML. The list is as endless as the number of file extensions in your own computer – RTF, TXT, DOC, XLS, MP3, etc.

How are such codes created?

A: By conscious decisions to match symbols and referents together for the purpose of efficiently communicating with language.

Did any of those other codes come from anything other than a conscious intelligent choice?

A: No.

If you deny that this suggests a conscious choice on the part of someone or some intelligent entity, what counter evidence do you have, Jason?

Can you show that your dismissal of these inferences is anything other than your own personal preferences?

• November 30

### Jason Devlin @ 8:12 pm

@Perry

Error minimization in the genetic code is NOTHING at all like the redundancy/error-correcting features built into the symbolic arrangements of data in computer programing languages. Literally. Nothing. At. All. Alike. This is a false equivocation of the highest magnitude, a verbal bait-and-switch that serves only to highlight an EXTREME vacuity of knowledge in molecular genetics, or a blatant disregard for intellectual integrity and honesty.

Error correction in computer language is realized by detecting errors and establishing a means by which to reconstruct the original, error-free data (generally through ARQ, FEC, or hybridized schemes). With even a cursory knowledge of molecular genetics it is absolutely laughable, hilarious even, to think that this is in any way analogous to the manner in which biosynthetic relationships between amino acids affect the assignment of codons to reduce the effects of point mutations and mistranslations.

The mechanisms you are attempting to equivocate to error correction in computer science are in reality, as I said, nothing at all alike. There are molecular components that, due to their physical properties, exhibit certain chemical affinities for one another. Which in turn affects the manner in which they are distributed, which in turn tends to produce amino acids with properties very similar to the properties of the amino acid which WOULD have been produced had the error not occurred. Thereby reducing the phenotypic effects of the error.

You seem to have come about a very confounded state of knowledge, in which you have made a loose connection that they both have something to do with errors, but have completely ignored or glossed over the fact that each respective mechanism is in reality NOT the same AT ALL. Your analogous reasoning is very superficial, inaccurate, and misleading. Upon investigation these analogies fall apart at the seams, and serve only to expose the fundamental differences that highlight the absurdity of attempting to extend inferences about the development of computer codes to the development of the molecular structure of DNA.

I maintain, for the above reasons, that the process of inference does NOT extend from the development of computer codes to the development of DNA, and that this is nothing more than a grandiose and rigid display of personal preference. Repetition may make an uninformed, casual observer somewhat more likely to believe you, but it does not make you even remotely close to correct.

• December 3

### Perry @ 12:09 am

Jason,

The genetic code is 2/3rds redundant, mapping 64 combinations to 20 amino acids; ie GGA, GGG and GGC all code for Glycine. This is a form of Forward Error Correction http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward_error_correction. I quote from “Nanoscale Communication Networks” by Stephen F. Bush, p. 51: “…Forward error correction (FEC) techniques which are clearly used in biological systems such as DNA…”

DNA uses parity to detect errors as well. From the same book, further down in the page: “Each of the DNA bases has a sequence of three connecting structures, either hydrogen donors or hydrogen acceptors. Thus, each nucleotide base can be considered a sequence of three binary values. The fact that the base is either a pyrimidine or a purine appears to serve as the final parity bit.”

Another form of error detection found in DNA is checksums. In most chromosomes of single-stranded DNA, the total number of times each codon appears is controlled to within 0.1% by a checksum matrix. The cell adds up the total number of codons and checks for errors.

Each character in DNA occurs a precise number of times, and each has a twin. TTT and AAA are twins and appear the most often; they’re the DNA equivalent of the letter E.

This pattern creates a stair step of 32 frequencies, a specific frequency for each pair.

The number of triplets that begin with a T is precisely the same as the number of triplets that begin with A (to within 0.1%). The number of triplets that begin with a C is precisely the same as the number of triplets that begin with G.

This is discussed by Jean-Claude Perez in his 2010 paper “Codon Populations in Single-stranded Whole Human Genome DNA Are Fractal and Fine-tuned by the Golden Ratio 1.618? at http://metapress.com/content/f564350073g75444/fulltext.pdf I summarize the results of Perez’ research at
http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/mathematics-of-dna/

Barbara McClintock discovered in the 1940′s that if she damaged the chromosomes in corn maize, the plant would copy sections of DNA from undamaged parts of the genome and repair the missing data. She won the Nobel Prize for her discovery of genetic transposition. This is a very sophisticated form of repair, much more advanced than Forward Error Correction.

This is well documented and is not unlike what your DVD player does when it encounters a smudge or scratch – it interpolates with an estimate of what it thinks the missing data might be, based on previous frames and the image content near the damaged area.

Quoting from “How repeated retroelements format genome function” by R. von Sternberg, J.A. Shapiro:

“As we increasingly apply computational metaphors to cellular function, we expect that a deeper understanding of retroelements and other repeats, the integrative fraction of cellular DNA, will lead to increased understanding of the logical architecture inherent to genome organization. In the era of biocomputing and systems biology, the study of cellular information processing promises to revolutionize not only the life sciences but also the information sciences. We anticipate learning powerful new computational paradigms as we come to understand how cells use myriad molecular components to regulate millions of biochemical events that occur every minute of every cell cycle. Our expectation is that, one day, we will think of what used to be called “junk DNA” as a critical component of truly “expert” cellular control regimes.”

I must take exception to your analysis. You said:

“There are molecular components that, due to their physical properties, exhibit certain chemical affinities for one another. Which in turn affects the manner in which they are distributed, which in turn tends to produce amino acids with properties very similar to the properties of the amino acid which WOULD have been produced had the error not occurred.”

This is incorrect. The reason it’s even possible to have a genetic code with 64 different codons is that none of the four base pairs ACGT has any particular chemical affinity for any one over the others. If they did, a code would be impossible.

It’s not a chemical bias that reduces phenotypic effects of errors, it’s the Forward Error Correction redundancy scheme, parity, checksums and cellular genetic engineering as described by McClintock and Shapiro – See James A. Shapiro, “A 21st Century View of Evolution”: http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro.2005.Gene.pdf

You said, “Upon investigation these analogies fall apart at the seams, and serve only to expose the fundamental differences that highlight the absurdity of attempting to extend inferences about the development of computer codes to the development of the molecular structure of DNA.”

From Answers.com: bioinformatics n. The use of computer science, mathematics, and information theory to model and analyze biological systems

Science Dictionary bioinformatics information technology as applied to the life sciences, especially the technology used for the collection and analysis of genomic data.

“Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular-biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer engineering journal.” -Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden, page 17

• December 4

### Perry @ 8:33 am

Jason,

I was raised a Christian but by nature I am the sort of person who questions everything. (Ask my wife.) I went through multiple phases of putting my beliefs on the chopping block between age 18 and mid-30′s. About 7 years ago I was entertaining serious doubts as my younger brother was teetering on the edge of atheism. He is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and he had a master’s degree in theology from one of the most conservative seminaries on the West Coast. He was asking very penetrating questions.

I reached a point where I said, “I am willing to completely discard my belief in God if that gets me closer to the truth. I just want to know the truth. If God does not exist then what has to be true in biology in order for the world to make sense?”

One of the key planks of my investigation was biological evolution. I floundered for quite awhile reading all the familiar arguments, feeling like both sides made excellent points and that both sides also had their fingers in their ears.

I asked this question as a communications engineer who had written an Ethernet book in 2002. It’s called Industrial Ethernet and it’s in its 2nd edition. You can find it on Amazon. I had a major epiphany one day when I suddenly realized for the first time that because DNA was a digital code, nearly every concept in that book *potentially* applied to DNA. So I started trying to connect the dots. Sure enough, nearly everything in DNA had a direct parallel in digital communication theory.

In fact what I’ve told you so far about Forward Error Correction, checksums, parity and even more sophisticated error correction mechanisms only scratches the surface. Even the simplest bacteria is a treasure trove of digital communication techniques, mechanisms and elegant design concepts. The more you know about communication systems, the more impressive it is. And as Hubert Yockey says, these comparisons are not analogies because the word code in biology is not an analogy, it’s literal. The best thing the people who design your cell phone can do is study bacteria.

I would like you to notice that because of your atheist worldview, you are literally mocking me for making these observations. And instead you are claiming that everything DNA does is simply a function of naturally occurring chemical affinities. My friend, that is like saying the reason your computer recognizes your camera when you plug in the USB cable is that there are negative charges in the camera that are attracted to the positive charges in the computer, and that it’s just as simple as that.

No, the handshakes of the USB protocol go vastly deeper than hand-waving explanations of voltage on a wire. In fact most origin of life theories based on chemicals are saying the equivalent of “We discovered the origin of copper wire and plastic, therefore we have almost explained USB.” They don’t understand that the cable [i.e. the chemistry] is only the first, most shallow layer of the onion. It’s like failing to notice that an engineer also spent six months writing a software driver so the camera would recognize the computer when it got plugged in. That’s where all the big discoveries lie.

I have been debating this online for six years. This is the subject of the longest running most viewed thread on what was originally Infidels, the largest atheist discussion board in the world – see http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/infidels. And what you see there is dozens of atheists ridiculing a trade published engineering professional speaking within his field of expertise about the most fundamental, non-controversial discovery in biology, the genetic code.

I invite you to consider that the atheist worldview literally has FORBIDDEN you to see order and levels of organization that are right in front of your face, because of its refusal to acknowledge the possibility of a designer. When you become willing to follow the evidence where it leads, when you are willing to learn from any discipline that has something to teach you, a whole new layer of discovery awaits.

Please be reminded that in the history of the world, science got started about a half dozen times. In ancient Egypt, in China, in India, in Islam, and in Greece and Rome. It coughed and sputtered and died in all those places. Only in Western Europe did the match light a fire that continues to burn to this day. Why Europe and not the other places? Because Christianity had a theology to support the idea of a God who created a world that obeys fixed, discoverable laws. WIsdom of Solomon 11:21 says “Thou hast ordered all things in weight and number and measure”. This was written 3000 years ago and to my knowledge it’s the first such statement ever to be made. It’s the foundation of modern science.

The other cultures had no such presupposition. Obviously science wasn’t born in atheism either. It was born in Christianity. Notice how many hugely influential scientists were deeply religious.

Science has gotten so large now that you can divorce it from its original source and get lost in it and perhaps never reach its limitations. (Which is why atheism exists now yet had negligible influence prior to the 1700′s.) But when you get to the edges of scientific knowledge, in order to move forward you always have to assume there’s another yet-undiscovered level of order. Notice the parallel to Gödel here. This literally has to be taken on faith. It is perhaps the most rewarded hypothesis in the history of philosophy.

Earlier in this thread, you had been making fun of me for discovering order. I invite you to follow the evidence where it leads and reach a place where you too can begin to make these new discoveries. You will find that the edges of science are a frontier of great beauty.

• January 22

### Stian @ 5:12 am

What possible difference does it make that christianity made the assumption of a universe guided by laws first?

If the norse had done it first it would still be accurate and the norse religion would still be myth.

There is no ‘right by association’, 2+2=4 even if hitler was the first to discover it. Finding a fact does not give any credibillity to other aspects of the finder than that fact.

• January 22

### Perry @ 8:45 am

You’re right. Edison shouldn’t get credit for discovering the light bulb, Newton shouldn’t get credit for discovering gravity and calculus, Einstein shouldn’t get credit for discovering relativity and Alexander Graham Bell gets no accolades for inventing the telephone. And we certainly shouldn’t grant them any street cred for happening upon those discoveries.

Oh, and by the way not only was Solomon the first person in ancient history to say that every created thing is quantifiable, St. Paul was the first to say that men and women and all races of people are fully equal.

• January 23

### Ellas Typhon @ 1:18 am

1. Wisdom of Solomon wasn’t written 3000 years ago. More like 2100.
2. Don’t reclaim jewish books for chrisitanity, it doesn’t go well with people who know better. If anything, judaism must get the credit here.
3. Are you saying that the ancient greeks, the hindus and the buddhists never thought of the universe as ordered?
4. Are you saying that Paul never said that everyone who was not of his opinion was an evil heretic who deserved to die?
5. “Test it and take what’s good”. We should apply that to christianity. And leave the rest.

• January 25

### Perry @ 5:51 am

Ellas,

1. You may very well be right about the dating of Wisdom of Solomon.
2. All Christians claim Jewish books for Christianity. It logically follows because Jesus was the Messiah.
3. You’re welcome to find a quote where any of the ancient Greeks, Hindus or Buddhists explicitly say, as Wisdom does, that all things in the cosmos are measurable, weighable and countable.
4. Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

He also said, in Romans 9:

2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised![a] Amen.

He bitterly mourned their rejection of their Messiah, much as Jesus wept over Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Paul didn’t want anyone to die, and neither did Jesus. But Israel chose to drink the judgment of the all those who murdered the prophets, as Jesus says in Matthew 23:

34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

All this came true in 70AD when Jerusalem was decimated by Vespasian.

In the next verse Jesus says:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

112. November 25

### Richard Morgan @ 4:36 am

The research scientist asks, “How does this work?”
The engineer asks, “How can I make this work?”
The philosopher asks, “What is the significance of this working at all?”
The psychologist asks, “Why do you need to know?”

There is a problem with determining the “inference to the best available explanation” because four different mind-sets will likely require different kinds of explanatory power in order to infer with any confidence.
Everything Perry posits is perfectly coherent within a particular world-view.
However I must chide Jason for this rash assertion :”DNA wasn’t created like any ARTIFICIALLY developed code invented by mankind.”
Since you admit that the origin is unknown, you can’t even say what DNA isn’t, pal!
Perry is much closer to a process of understanding when he suggests that artificial, man-made codes look suspiciously like the codes/languages being discovered in DNA.
If you, Jason, prefer to think, like Matt Ridley, that DNA is a “simple molecule… a frozen accident”, the unknown exception, the mystery outside the circle, then you need to know that you are sounding a lot more like the “God-did-it” brigade than Perry.

• November 30

### Jason Devlin @ 9:07 pm

@Richard Morgan

Inference is based on repeated observations and it’s “explanatory power” is rooted in the ability of it’s predictions to remain consistent with continual observation. This process of continued observation is primarily carried out through both observation and experimentation.

In simple terms, the fundamental problem with inference arises when we attempt to generalize from a given number of observations (a series of singular existential statements, such as that every swan observed thus far has been white), to a UNIVERSAL existential statement (such as that ALL swans are white).

The problem with “mind sets” is that they tend to project BIAS, it is NOT a problem within the framework of inductive reasoning. This is why the current system of exploring and uncovering truth and knowledge about nature (SCIENCE, you may have heard of it) implements a system of checks and balances to remove personal bias as much as possible.

Yes, everything Perry says is perfectly consistent within his worldview, THAT is how his personal preference to have a creator, rather than not have one, manifests itself as BIAS. It is not consistent with what we observe in REALITY, but only consistent within the limited framework he personally prefers.

Just because I can’t elucidate step-by-step the precise sequence of events and circumstances under which DNA developed, doesn’t mean I can’t say very confidently and accurately that DNA is NOT a computer code and WASN’T developed by humans. I can also say with equal confidence and accuracy that the process of inference does not extend from the development of computer programming languages to the development of DNA. I therefore must chide YOU, kind sir, for the arrogance in which you ‘chide’ others based on your own intellectual vacuity.

Perry is not closer to a “process of understanding”, he is vehemently and rigidly engaged in a process of denialism and irrationality that has never led to a better understanding anything, ever. If you, Richard, prefer to think that I think “like Matt Ridley” because it makes it easier for you to dismiss me with a wave of the hand and gloss over the glaring flaws in Perry’s reasoning, then you aren’t just sounding a lot like the “God-did-it” brigade; you, like Perry, are most likely part of it.

113. December 2

### Richard Morgan @ 7:29 am

Jason – I am happy to note that there are many things about which we agree.
“DNA is NOT a computer code” (though I’m not sure why you felt the need to make this point, since nobody has claimed that DNA is a computer code. Still, if it makes you happy….)
“DNA WASN’T developed by humans.” Er, yes. Excellent point. (Though I suspect that most of us have already realized that.)
My “arrogance”. Yep. And you don’t know the half of it! Fortunately being arrogant doesn’t make me wrong, just unpleasant, and I can live with that as, clearly, you can.
“you aren’t just sounding a lot like the “God-did-it” brigade; you, like Perry, are most likely part of it.”
Allow me to confirm that I am, indeed, part of it. A fully paid-up member of the family of Christ. But even that doesn’t make me wrong, however much your own anti-God bias would make you want to believe that.

Now, I’m checking your post again to see where we disagree…
Ah, yes, “THAT is how his personal preference to have a creator, rather than not have one, manifests itself as BIAS.”
You’re wrong.
He does not have a “personal preference” to have a Creator any more than you have a personal preference for the force of gravity. We discover what is, and we act accordingly.
Your mind-reading abilities have let you down badly there, as far as Perry Marshall is concerned. You were a lot more accurate when you were talking about my intellectual vacuity.
Oh, and thank you for teaching me a new word – “SCIENCE”. I must try to slip it into my posts more frequently. I’ve noticed that atheists tend use it when they’ve run out of arguments. It’s called scientism, and reveals a certain, shall we say, BIAS?

114. December 2

### Chris @ 1:02 pm

How does your theory about the origins of DNA fare with this recent discovery?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/02/AR2010120203102.html?hpid=topnews

115. December 3

### Richard Morgan @ 2:51 am

“Our findings are a reminder that life-as-we-know-it could be much more flexible than we generally assume or can imagine,” said Felisa Wolfe-Simon, 33, the biochemist who led the effort.

Perry! You’ve been saying this for at least five years!
In fact I’ve noticed that real discoveries made by real science consistently confirm the basis of the your ideas.
Indeed truth and reality are not always politically correct, are they?
Design
Not
Allowed?

116. December 28

### Evan @ 11:54 pm

Hey, great article, first of all. was surprised at how easily it explained a theory as complex as Godel’s.

But I have three primary objections. You state in your above article that “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle.” You take this proof, and assume that, because you can draw a circle around the universe, that there must exist something outside of it. My first objection is your assumption that this “something” must be a divine creator. We’ve established already that the concept of “infinity” can exist in other contexts, such as an infinite progression of time, or a never-ending void. A creator only becomes necessary if the universe cannot present its own causality. (That’s my next point)

My second objection is the fact that you assume that the universe is not infinite, and that therefore an infinity must exist outside of it. This claim is certainly contestable. We have not yet seen the edge of the universe in any direction, and will most likely never do so (because it’s expanding faster than light can reach us). The universe may very well have existed for all eternity, as multiple theories (such as the big bounce, quantum fluctuation, multiple universes, and temporal isolationism) suggest. Each of the above postulate a continuous universe, in which a “reset” button is continually hit, or bursts of low entropy are continually created.

My last objection is that you state that Godel’s theorem applies to all things, but you then ignore what happens after we “draw a circle” around he universe. If existence is indeed based upon infinite regression, then what created god? On what does god owe himself? What defines him? This seems like a double bind for you. Either:

A) All things must be defined by a “larger circle,” or are at least subject to causality, and therefore there are infinitely more things than god, or
B) Inductive reasoning has its limits and can only apply to things that do not explain themselves. The consequence of this assumption is that, if we can provide an origin story for the universe, then god cannot exist.

• December 29

### Perry @ 6:45 am

117. January 10

### Andrew @ 12:03 am

Perry,
I would like you to know that i stumbled upon this article and thread and have never had more thoughts in my mind solidified. I am twenty-four and have went through a college drug phase in my life. I have always been a thinker and analyzer and that was always at the forefront of my mind when using, I couldn’t help it. In my observations of the multiple times I have used the drug, Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), I began to see a trend. (This is in assistance to taking drug effects on the human body class at Western IL Univ, therefore Ive been educated on how these natural substances work) The basis of human thought and problem solving will revolve in a circle. To make more clear in what I experienced, I truly tried to discern what my thought consisted of. Every time I asked myself a question, I would begin to go through the process of answering it and I would arrive at the question. Everytime. This has happened in others as well. Closing of eyes and entering deep thought and eyes would rotate in circles without the subject being aware. Many times. Not the solid experiment by any means, but if you know of anything like this, I would be interested. We as humans take pride in our ability to think “outside the box” of creativity, but we are always in this circle. Whether we get creative with our cyclical thought or not, history continues to repeat itself and self actualization cannot be achieved. Seasons, migratory habits, planets rotation around the sun, air patterns, galaxies. I personally like to look at it as a sphere. There are multiple spheres, and everything in each sphere contains that of the smaller. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were 11 spheres in this model. I have read some in string-theory and believe in that theory. If that theory could support this theorem in some way, that could be be quite effective I would think.

• January 25

### Andrew @ 3:06 pm

I want to thank you for responding to my comment in such a timely manner…

118. January 23

### Alan McKenzie @ 1:26 pm

Hi, Perry

I’ve just come across your website (using the Google search terms “Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem” together with the word “multiverse”. (The relevant page from your website appeared as the second citation – very impressive – although, oddly, I couldn’t find the promised reference to “multiverse”.) I have to admit to you that, as a professional physicist, I started to read your discussion on Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem assuming that it would turn out to be just another site with jargon phrases connected by steps of questionable logic (sorry!). However, I was surprised – delighted, even – to see that your own thinking is very close to my own, as are the conclusions of your train of thought.

Like you, I deduce from Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem the existence of a higher system, outside of the one in which the original “Gödel sentence” is expressed. I was a little more obsessive (nerdy), perhaps, in defining the conditions for this to be applicable to our universe, and also to addressing the apparently infinite series of meta-universes that results upon continuing to apply the theorem at each higher level. I was astonished when it turned out that the series stops, however, because you get to a point where the increasingly sophisticated mathematics of each meta-universe is finally able to prove the Gödel sentence (which, of course, cannot be proved in the mathematics of our own universe). In addition, as you come to the end of the series of meta-universes, you find that you end up with a system that not only explains all the universes below it (including our own) but is also a complete explanation of itself! (In my website, somewhat irreverently, I have called this the God Equation.)

I realize by now that I sound a complete crackpot! However, please don’t judge me before you check out my website http://www.godel-universe.com where these ideas are explained more fully.

(How do you have time to do this with all of the other work you do for your business?)

Alan McKenzie
Bristol
England

• January 25

### Perry @ 5:53 am

Glad you found this! Fascinating discoveries you are making.

How could I not squeeze this between the business activities? This is the important stuff.

A pleasure to meet you, and best of success with your book.

Perry

119. January 28

### Davide @ 8:00 am

“Gödel proved that there are ALWAYS more things that are true than you can prove”
is simply not true; and there’s many other things you wrote that are higly approximated or just false.
Articles like this one are dangerous as they spread pseudo-science.
Gödel’s incompleteness theorem is one of the most misunderstood ones though; and, unfortunately one of the most misused to prove just anything and its contrary.
Ex falso sequitur quodlibet

120. January 29

### Richard Morgan @ 6:35 am

“simply not true”?
OK.
Maybe you would be good enough to enlighten us, Davide?
Thank you.

121. January 30

### Jason Devlin @ 10:28 pm

Perry,

For the sake of argument, I will concede that DNA carries out many of it’s error correcting functions in much the same way as codes that have been developed by humans. I regret even engaging you on this point because your knowledge in coding languages obviously allows you to elucidate the similarities between the two codes on a more technical level than my own limited knowledge of the subject will allow for. Because it is completely besides the point in the first place, the problem with your inference is much more fundamental, and I hope I can elaborate further at this time.

All known codes, except for DNA, were in fact created by…human minds. It seems to me to be very unlikely, to me at least, that DNA was created by a human mind as well. Therefore, it is the EXCEPTION. There aren’t any examples of non-human created codes other than DNA. It does not logically follow that because DNA wasn’t created by a human mind, it must have been created by an intelligent, invisible,
supernatural entity instead. “All codes are created by human minds” is the only conclusion we can arrive at with inductive logic based on our experience with codes, and DNA is the exception to it.

Based solely on inductive logic alone, there is nothing we can say about the origin of the genetic code, because DNA is the exception to the rule. Given the historical track record of supernatural explanations failing dismally to explain naturally occurring phenomena, it makes it all the more absurd to extend your inference beyond it’s logical boundaries.

What this means for you Perry, is that in order for your preferred explanation for the origins of DNA to hold, you need to offer up coherent evidence that explains why we should accept this explanation WITHOUT using this inference, since as we’ve established, DNA is the exception to the rule.

So my questions to you are: What evidence BESIDES inference can you provide that indicates DNA was created by an intelligent, supernatural agency? Why should we reject all possible natural explanations and prefer a supernatural one?

• February 1

### Perry @ 9:46 am

Jason,

Let’s not lose sight of the original question. The original question is:

“Does science give us reasons to believe that life is designed, or do purely naturalistic explanations do the job?”

No one is claiming or expecting to pull back the curtain and say “Hey look, there God is.” Everybody already understands that.

So what does science say?

DNA is a code, and all codes we know the origin of are designed. DNA has checksums and all checksums we know the origin of are designed. DNA has recursive programming and all recursive programs we know the origin of are designed.

Microsoft Windows Vista takes 25 Gigabytes of memory. The human genome compresses all the plans for a human body, along with its growth and development, into 0.75 Gigabytes of memory. And every cell fits that data in smaller physical space than any hard drive man has ever designed.

The human body is vastly superior to Windows Vista. The code in DNA is vastly superior to human code. Both in terms of data compression and storage mechanisms.

Therefore, to conclude that humans designed DNA would be utterly silly. Craig Venter’s lab designed a cell from mostly borrowed parts and it cost them \$40 million. Something incomprehensibly greater than humans is directly and unambiguously implied.

“Evolution produces such a strong illusion of design it has fooled almost every human who ever lived.” -Richard Dawkins. Evolution itself requires code to exist first. So far as we know, code always requires design.

In science, is it valid to reject an inference because you have not directly observed the thing that was inferred?

How about dark energy and dark matter in the universe? We haven’t seen those things, but many scientists believe them. Why?

How about black holes? We haven’t seen those either.

How about string theory? Has anyone actually seen the strings?

How about our assumption that the laws of physics were the same 1 million years ago as they are now? Have we actually tested that?

Science relies on inference to the best explanation, does it not? Don’t we hypothesize dark matter and black holes because they best explain what we see?

If you accept the high probability of dark matter then why would you not also accept the high probability of God?

Jason, have you not had dozens of conversations with theists where you said, “Show me the evidence and I’ll believe you”? I am now showing you the evidence you demanded all along. Are you willing to follow scientific evidence where it leads?

You had been unwilling to consider the possibility that there was any kind of designer besides humans. Therefore you concluded that we could know nothing about the origin of DNA.

You reject inference of God = you know nothing.

I accept inference of God = I know something.

What do I know?

I know that DNA is a fabulously crafted code with fractal data compression and recursive programming. I know that it has an incredible checksum mechanism that is only barely understood at this time. I know there is no Junk DNA. (The atheists popularized that view. The ID people would never say something so slanderous and anti-scientific as that. How can you find order and organization in something you’ve declared to be junk?) The atheists tell us about vestigial organs. Those who are skeptical of atheist doctrines discover that those organs perform useful functions. The world must never be allowed to forget how much damage atheism has done to science in the 20th century.

The God hypothesis gives me ground for always expecting another layer of ORDER and REGULARITY in nature. And in the codes of DNA.

Why are so many atheists scientists not practicing real science? Why are they vandalizing it with anti-scientific claims such as “evolutionary mutations are driven by random copying errors”? Where’s the experimental evidence to back up that claim, Jason? Has anyone ever shown you an experiment where that turned out to be true?

Jason, belief in God has been in the very foundations of science since it began. Science didn’t grow out of atheism, it grew out of Christian Western Europe.

Christians don’t automatically assume that the finger of God is actively behind every whim of nature. Christians believe what Solomon said: “Thou hast ordered all things in weight and number and measure.” That the universe obeys rules, that it has lawlike behavior. Christians believed that long before Isaac Newton.

Consider 1 Kings 19 and what it implies about the relationship between God and nature:

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

I’ve been showing you the wonders of DNA and thus far you’ve been fighting my observations tooth and nail. Jason, you don’t have to fight anymore. You don’t have to embrace atheism anymore.

You don’t have to cling to this dogma of randomness and accident and purposelessness that has marred the practice of science for 200 years. Because today we have given you every reason you could ever ask for to infer, based on real scientific evidence, that the universe has a Designer.

• February 1

### Jason Devlin @ 10:00 pm

“DNA is a code, and all codes we know the origin of are designed.”

The set of codes you describe refer to codes that were ‘designed’ by human beings. That is the fundamental qualifier in this dubious line of reasoning that you’ve conveniently left out. The conclusion does not follow from a valid induction, your induction leaves out a critical qualifier and is invalid as well.

The genetic code cannot be part of the set of codes you have defined as having been “designed” unless you also allow that they were “designed by human beings”. Codes that were designed by human intelligence are the only class of codes that you have defined as being part of this set. DNA clearly was not designed by human beings, and the class of codes you have defined only allows for codes that were designed by human beings. Therefore, it is inappropriate to use a class of codes that DNA is clearly not a part of to make an inference about the purposeful “design” of DNA. The “designed” codes you are referring have only been defined as those designed by human beings.

Perry, the class of codes you have defined includes only those “designed” by human beings. It does not extend to the genetic code because as you have agreed, the genetic code is not a code that was invented by human beings. Therefore, it does not follow by inference that the genetic code was “designed” at all, this is an inappropriate use of inductive reasoning because we can only generalize from codes that have been designed by humans.

Develop a model that shows how an intelligent entity that is not a human being can purposefully develop a functioning code. You cannot infer design without also inferring human design. Unless you can show how something besides a human can design a code, you have nothing significant to say about the genetic code at all.

• February 2

### Perry @ 12:08 am

Jason,

DNA is a communication with encoder, coded message and decoder according to Shannon’s definitions (1948) as described by Yockey (2005). See http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/solve for a formal outline of these definitions and links to sources. None of the formal definitions of code specify a designer. It just happens that all codes we know the origin of are designed.

There are millions of communication systems. All but one were designed by humans. There is one that remains, DNA, and we do not know the origin of it. We are asking whether science provides us with good reasons for concluding that DNA was probably designed.

You said: “The genetic code cannot be part of the set of codes you have defined as having been “designed” unless you also allow that they were “designed by human beings”.”

We do have examples of genetic code designed by human beings: The cell recently engineered by Craig Venter and company. They got DNA to do something different, something that they wanted to do, by designing it and assembling the genes and chromosomes as they saw fit. We know of no other way to accomplish such a feat.

Thus we can construct the following logical statement:

1. DNA has every appearance of being designed
2. It cannot have been designed by human beings
3. Therefore it was designed by some other being or beings.

This is every bit as logical as the SETI project which searches for codes transmitted by some race of beings far across the cosmos. It is founded on the exact same line of reasoning.

Your own reasoning excludes, at the outset, the possibility of anything other than human intelligence. You’re trying to call foul but you have not given us any good reason to deny the possibility of non-human intelligence. I’m still waiting for you to offer a valid reason why such an inference is forbidden. The only way to forbid this inference is to declare the original question invalid. You have not provided any reason to do so.

Meanwhile not only have I inferred from information theory that DNA is designed, I’ve also shown that Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem infers an infinite, immaterial conscious being as a necessary axiom for a logical universe. The two conclusions match perfectly.

Jason, you and any and all of your atheist friends, I challenge you to come here and offer a logical, mathematical or scientific proof that God does not exist.

When you have done so, you can then forbid me from reaching this conclusion that you are so uncomfortable with.

Until you do that, I have the full backing of science in reaching this conclusion. We can be every bit as certain that DNA is designed as gravity, entropy and the laws of thermodynamics. Because the genetic code gives us 100% inference to design in biology and 0% inference to any other explanation.

Finally I saw your response to Richard about the difference between simple codes and complex codes. He said:

1. A simple form of intelligence can create a simple code;
2. A smart intelligence can create a smart code;
3. the intelligence that would have been required to produce the code in DNA is inordinately superior to any known human intelligence”

You said, “I will concede to none of this tripe.” Is Richard pushing your buttons?

I think we can all agree that a six year old can understand Morse code and create something similar. Morse code is a simple code.

I think we can likewise agree that it takes a team of Ph.D.’s to design TCP/IP. TCP/IP is a smart code. I’ve never seen a six year old do something like that. Have you?

DNA is vastly smarter than TCP/IP. Earlier in this thread you were mocking me for making statements like this. If you think what I’m saying is tripe, then demonstrate your credentials for discussing codes. Meanwhile I’ll make a prediction: We’ll be unraveling the wonders of the DNA protocol for hundreds of years to come. Remember, Windows is 25Gig and Human Genome is 0.75 Gig. Which actually contains more information? It’s so elegant it makes the PhD’s who designed TCP/IP look like orangutans with screwdrivers.

Jason, show me a code that’s not designed. All you need is one. Then you will have grounds for rejecting scientific inference.

• February 2

### Jason Devlin @ 3:00 am

“Jason, show me a code that’s not designed. All you need is one. Then you will have grounds for rejecting scientific inference.”

I have shown you a code that isn’t “designed” by the criteria you are putting forward. The criteria for design you have put forward only includes codes that were the invention of human intelligence. DNA cannot be said to have been “designed” at all, since human intelligence is the only intelligence in which we have observed this cognitive ability. This is not a “scientific inference”, in fact, it is not even an inference at all. As we’ve established, induction only allows us to extend this line of reasoning to codes designed by humans.

“Your own reasoning excludes, at the outset, the possibility of anything other than human intelligence.”

My reasoning does not exclude this possibility, and I’ve never stated as much. It simply asks that you provide convincing evidence for me to consider such a claim. If you propose that a non-human intelligence exists, awesome. Define what a “non-human intelligence” is. Describe how we can perform a test to distinguish it from human intelligence. Construct a model of this disembodied intelligence and use it to make accurate predictions about future observations and the results of experiments. If you have yet to put forward anything other than errantly applied logic, then there is no reason to consider such a thing.

“You’re trying to call foul but you have not given us any good reason to deny the possibility of non-human intelligence.”

I’m not asking you to deny it. I’m asking you to provide evidence for it.

“I’m still waiting for you to offer a valid reason why such an inference is forbidden.”

I’ve given you a valid reason, you’re free to strangle the logic to death if you feel that is “forbidding” it. I’ve explained why it is not a logically consistent application of inductive reasoning, in turn you’ve offered no valid reason why we should accept it.

“The only way to forbid this inference is to declare the original question invalid.”

The inference is invalid because it is not logically consistent. It relies on a set of codes to make a generalization about human intelligence, that human intelligence is required to make a code. To infer the existence of an immaterial, non-human intelligence in the particular instance of a code that was not the product of human intelligence is absurd unless you can show that some other form of intelligence exists. If you wanted one example of a code that wasn’t designed, this is it: DNA. Unless you can provide evidence of the existence of a non-human, non-biological intelligence there is no reason to accept your inference in the first place.

“We are asking whether science provides us with good reasons for concluding that DNA was probably designed.”

No, it most certainly doesn’t. You still cannot infer design without also inferring human design. Since the genetic code clearly cannot have been designed by human intelligence, we cannot make inductive generalizations about it based on examples of codes designed by human intelligence, because it wasn’t designed by human intelligence. This means we cannot even infer that it was “designed”, unless you can not only show that an immaterial, non-human intelligence exists, but describe how it could “design” anything. Otherwise it does not logically follow to even infer “design”.

“We do have examples of genetic code designed by human beings: The cell recently engineered by Craig Venter and company.”

I wasn’t arguing that we don’t have examples of genetic code designed by human beings. You clearly did not even remotely comprehend what I was arguing. What I was stating is that the genetic code itself obviously was not designed by human beings, and if the set of codes you are defining only includes examples of codes that were designed by human beings, then DNA is not part of this set. This means you cannot inductively derive an inference of “design” because the set only allows you to generalize to “design by human intelligence”. It is not a logically consistent example of inductive reasoning because “human intelligence” is the only context in which you have defined “design”. DNA does not fit within this definition, consequently it is inappropriate to imply “design” since design is contingent upon “human intelligence”. Again, I’m not rejecting the possibility that an immaterial, intelligent, creative agent could have created the genetic code. I’m simply asking you to provide me with evidence for it.

“1. DNA has every appearance of being designed”

No, it doesn’t. You have only provided examples of codes designed by human beings, therefore DNA cannot have “every appearance of being designed” unless it was designed by human beings. But since you establish with the following:

“2. It cannot have been designed by human beings”

Then we cannot infer that it was “designed” since our only definition of “designed” refers to codes designed by human beings. It is illogical to conclude:

“3. …it was designed by some other being or beings.”

It does not inductively follow that “some other being or beings” must have “designed” it. The only thing we can logically conclude is that the genetic code is a truly unique code that was not designed through the action or influence of human cognition. But we don’t have any examples of any other intelligent entity with the same or greater cognitive abilities. So it cannot even be said to have been “designed” at all.

“We can be every bit as certain that DNA is designed as gravity, entropy and the laws of thermodynamics. ”

No we can’t, actually. We can’t be certain about it at all because generalizations made from specific instances of codes designed by human beings do not extend to codes that weren’t designed by human beings. If it wasn’t designed through the action of human cognition, then we can’t assert that it was “designed” at all. Unless you can provide an example of some other form of intelligent cognition that designs codes, then we don’t have any reason to accept that the genetic code was “designed”.

“Because the genetic code gives us 100% inference to design in biology and 0% inference to any other explanation.”

We’ve already discussed why this is not a valid inference. It does not make more sense the more times you repeat it. Since it would be absurd to suggest that human beings “designed” the genetic code, it is absurd to suggest the genetic code was “designed”. What sort of intelligent cognitive entity designs codes other than human beings?

“I think we can all agree that a six year old can understand Morse code and create something similar. Morse code is a simple code.”

I think we can also agree that Morse code is a code created by the action of human intelligence.

“I think we can likewise agree that it takes a team of Ph.D.’s to design TCP/IP. TCP/IP is a smart code. I’ve never seen a six year old do something like that. Have you?”

Naturally, we could agree this is also an example of a code designed through the action of human intelligence.

“DNA is vastly smarter than TCP/IP.”

It does not fall under the same category because it was not designed by human beings. Any generalizations you can make about a group of codes that only includes codes designed by human intelligence may not apply to a code that wasn’t designed by human intelligence. Including the inference that it was “designed”. You still need to show that another type of intelligence exists to design it otherwise you can’t even say that it was “designed” at all.

• February 2

### Perry @ 7:34 pm

I said: “You’re trying to call foul but you have not given us any good reason to deny the possibility of non-human intelligence.”

You said: I’m not asking you to deny it. I’m asking you to provide evidence for it.

Jason, would you consider immediate healing of blind and deaf people through prayer, documented and published in a peer reviewed secular scientific journal with statistical data on before / after hearing and vision tests, to be valid corroborating evidence of divine activity?

• February 2

### Richard Morgan @ 7:29 am

I will never forget the look of amazement and wonder on those children’s faces when they saw cows for the first time in their lives and I told them that that was where milk came from. Later, they were able to actually see milk spurting from the swollen udders. (One little girl exclaimed, “Yuk. I’m never going to drink milk again”!)
It was in 1965. I was teaching in a Primary School in a very poor (socially deprived) area of Nottingham.
Most of the pupils in my class of 8 year-olds had never been outside the city, never seen the countryside, farms, the sea etc.
They had only ever seen milk in bottles, usually delivered to their doorstep when finances permitted.
I suppose their reasoning could have been : “The only milk we know about is delivered in bottles, therefore any milk that is not delivered in a bottle comes from an unknown source.”
Telling them that it came from a large, doe-eyed, dribbling animal called a “cow” would have been ludicrous for them.
Fortunately it only took a day’s outing to a milk-producing farm in order to change their ideas. That raised their lactic Zeitgeist.
Jason, your entire reasoning seems to be based on an attitude, “You haven’t shown me a cow, and I won’t go to the farm.”

I understand your need for an uninterrupted series of verifiable phenomena before being able to accept an inductive “proof” or even an inference to the best explanation. You want an unbroken, straight line.
Everything you say would be valid and irrefutable except for one fatal flaw – the nature of codes/languages. The starting point of this whole subject.
Before going any further, would you be good enough to tell us what you mean when you use the word “code”. Perhaps we are using the same word, but entirely different concepts.
I don’t want to put words into your mouth, but if, for example, you prefer to say that the structure of DNA just gives it a code-like appearance, then continuing this discussion would be futile.
So – over to you, pal.
Oh, and I am holding my breath. This is all extremely interesting.
I love, and am open to, being proved wrong.

• February 2

### Jason Devlin @ 10:00 pm

Perry,

The question you asked is as follows:

“Jason, would you consider immediate healing of blind and deaf people through prayer, documented and published in a peer reviewed secular scientific journal with statistical data on before / after hearing and vision tests, to be valid corroborating evidence of divine activity?”

My answer to you is that I couldn’t confidently say anything about any research until I had actually seen the research. You’re asking me to accept something I haven’t even seen yet, which defeats the whole purpose of “peer review”.

The authors of this research would have elucidated their methodology in their article, including the sample size, demographic, whether or not this was compared to a control population and whether or not the control was blinded. I would also want to see their was accurate source literature cited in the article, and see how the whether the work itself has been cited favorably or unfavorably in other journals.

I would also ask you to define what “devine” means and how this relates to intelligence because previously we were talking about intelligence as it relates to codes. I personally would not consider “devine” as analogous to “intelligent” but I want to know how YOU define the two simply to figure out how they even relate to one another in your mind. If something “devine” happens I want to know how you understand this as something “intelligent” happening because up until now I didn’t realize they were interchangeable terms.

But first, I would like to see you respond to my most recent post to Richard as this was directed at you both. Please explain how your inference is even logically valid in the first place without being circular.

• February 13

### Perry @ 8:59 pm

Jason,

Here is a scientific study of hands-on healing of blind and deaf people in Pemba, Mozambique. Published in Southern Medical Journal, September 2010. 24 people were tested; hearing of deaf subjects improved by 10-60 decibels. Vision of some of the blind subjects also improved, ranging from none to 15X.

Further documented instances of healing prayer are available at http://www.coffeehousetheology.com/miracles/

• February 6

### Jason Devlin @ 3:36 am

Perry,

I’m going to just dive right in:

“1. The pattern in DNA is a code.”

Perry, as I’m sure you are aware, the “code” part of “The pattern in DNA” you are referring to is the “Genetic Code”. Your subject (genetic code) is already a member of the set your predicate (codes) refers to. Thus, in stating that the genetic code is a code, you haven’t made a useful categorical proposition about anything. You’ve merely restated what was implicit in the subject to begin with.

Perry, this is not even a valid categorical proposition. This is a useless repetition of meaning known as a “tautology” and it means your first premise is utterly useless. In order to provide a useful categorical proposition, your copula needs to either affirm or deny something useful about your subject. In this instance, you’ve simply substituted “pattern in DNA” for “genetic code”, but “genetic code” is already a member of a subset of “codes”, so you’re not affirming or denying anything that wasn’t implicit in the subject in the first place. You aren’t stating anything more useful than X is X.

What this statement SHOULD be saying is something useful about the Genetic Code. For example, since we’ve previously agreed the Genetic Code is not of “known origin”, premise 1 should correctly state that “the Genetic Code is not of known origin”. This way it will actually say X is Y rather than simply saying X is X.

“2. All codes we know the origin of are designed.”

“All codes we know the origin of…” is important because previously we have established the Genetic Code is NOT of known origin, so the Genetic Code cannot be part of this subset. Thus, we first establish with our first and second premise two subsets of C; those of KNOWN origin, and those of NOT KNOWN origin.

“All codes we know the origin of are designed.”

We noted that our subject is a subset of codes, those of known origin. This proposition makes a universal affirmation in which “design” is predicated upon the set “codes of known origin”.

From here, it IS possible for us to construct logically valid statements to make true inferences from the categorical propositions we’ve made so far. For instance:

1. ASCII is a code of known origin.
2. All codes of known origin are designed.
3. Therefore, we have “100% inference” that ASCII was designed.

See? That wasn’t so hard, was it? Let’s try another:

1. HTML is a code of known origin.
2. All codes of known origin are designed.
3. Therefore, we have “100% inference” that HTML was designed.

Now let’s take a look at a conclusion that ISN’T arrived at as a logical consequence of our premises:

1. The Genetic Code is a code of unknown origin.
2. All codes of known origin are designed.
3. Therefore, we have 100% inference the Genetic Code is designed.

What I think you completely missed the bus on is that the only kind of “100% inference” is a form of DEDUCTIVE reasoning in which the conclusion is shown to be a LOGICAL CONSEQUENCE of the premises, stated as a syllogism. In order for your inference to be “100%”, you have to arrive at the conclusion as a logical consequence of your premises. This argument falls flat on it’s face in the very first premise.

In fact, it could also be true that:

1. The Genetic Code is a code of unknown origin.
2. All codes of known origin are designed.
3. The Genetic Code was not designed.

The conclusion of this argument could also be true; since the Genetic Code is of unknown origin, it could also be the case that it wasn’t designed. But it isn’t arrived at by way of our premises, and we have no reason to believe it any more than we have reason to believe “design” because in every instance “design” is predicated on “known origin” and the Genetic Code is not a member of that subset.

At the very most Perry, you could proclaim, “I have asked a question!” if the conclusion of your “argument” was simply to ask “Was the Genetic Code designed?” and to seek out some means of testing your inference. But instead you provide nothing but sloppy syllogistic sophistry and “testing” your inference amounts to nothing more than referring back to the inference itself.

• February 6

### Perry @ 4:51 am

Jason,

You still don’t understand my syllogism. Re-wording it:

1. All codes we do know the origin of are designed; there are no counterexamples of codes that are not designed.
3. The pattern in DNA is the one code that we do not know the origin of.
3. Therefore we have 100% inference that DNA is designed and 0% inference that it is not.

You said, “Your subject (genetic code) is already a member of the set your predicate (codes) refers to.”

Apparently you feel it’s necessary to misquote me in order to attempt to prove my logic is flawed. I have already made it clear that the origin of DNA was the question from the outset. I have made it perfectly clear that my subject (genetic code) is not a member of the set my predicate (codes) refers to.

There are a million codes. We know the origin of 999,999 of them: Design by conscious agents, no exceptions. The origin of 1 is unknown. The only available inference is that it was also designed by a conscious agent. Since we know that conscious agent wasn’t us, we logically infer that we are not the only conscious agents.

Your “syllogisms” about ASCII and HTML are not syllogisms. They are just inaccurate statements. We don’t have to infer, we know the specific origin of ASCII and HTML. Once again you make “syllogisms” that tell us nothing, vs. my real syllogism that tells us something.

You say:

In fact, it could also be true that:

1. The Genetic Code is a code of unknown origin.
2. All codes of known origin are designed.
3. The Genetic Code was not designed.

Yes, this could be true. But you have not yet presented any facts which infer that this could be true. To reach this conclusion you have ignored known inferences and not provided one that supports your case.

Jason, show me a code that you can demonstrate is not designed. All you need is one.

• February 6

### Jason Devlin @ 11:37 pm

Perry,

Previously I provided you with syllogisms about ASCII and HTML which stated that ASCII and HTML belonged to a subset of codes herein referred to as “designed” codes. In this case, we were making a proposition about ASCII called a “categorical proposition”, which provides a “100% inference” that ASCII belongs to subset of codes herein referred to as “designed”.

You incorrectly stated that these were “not syllogisms” and they were “just inaccurate statements”, so I think that the most pertinent matter at hand be to go over some fundamentals as clearly you are encountering some confusion.

A “syllogism” is a form of deductive reasoning that makes a proposition (conclusion) and shows how it is inferred as a logical consequence of two other propositions (premises). If the conclusion is shown to be a logical consequence of the premises, then the argument is said to be logically “valid”. In short, if the premises are true then the conclusion can be said to be true as well. This is the only type of inference that can be said to be a “100% inference”, and it is a form of DEDUCTIVE reasoning.

In this example, our conclusion makes a categorical proposition about ASCII that is derived from two other categorical propositions about codes:

1. ASCII is a code of known origin.
2. All codes of known origin are designed.
3. Therefore, we have “100% inference” that ASCII was designed.

A “categorical proposition” contains two categorical terms (subject and predicate) and employs a “copula” to affirm or deny the former or the latter. For example, the copulas “is” and “of” can be used to affirm that a term or an object is a member of a set or class. Consider again the following statement:

1. ASCII is a code of known origin.

Here we make two important categorical propositions that affirm our subject “ASCII” is a member of the class “codes” of the set “known origin”. Substituting A for “ASCII” , C for “codes”, and K for “known origin” we can now state:

1. A is a C of K

Isn’t this fun! We can see clearly how we’ve made a valid categorical proposition about ASCII; we’ve assigned it membership in a class and a set! As we can see our first proposition obviously follows valid form and is certainly true. Moving on:

2. All codes of known origin are designed.

This is our next important categorical proposition. It makes a “universal affirmation” about all members of our class “codes” within the set “known origin” possessing the property “design”. Assigning D to our new property, we can thus state:

2. All C of K are D

Now we’re really heating up! Let’s take a look at our conclusion:

3. Therefore, we have “100% inference” that ASCII was designed.

Our conclusion simply states:

3. A is D

So if we now look at our abbreviated syllogism, it looks like:

1. A is a C of K
2. All C of K are D
3. A is D

You find it useless because you have FOREKNOWLEDGE about the conclusion. Perry Marshall already knows the conclusion is true. But the point of a syllogism is not whether or not it provides Perry Marshall with something he doesn’t already know, it’s whether or not we can derive a conclusion that isn’t implicit in any of the premises. THAT is what makes it valid, true, and useful.

I’m going to give you a bit to let this all sink in before we move on Perry, then I’m going to go over the new syllogisms you’ve posted. As an aside, inserting a semicolon before making a new categorical proposition is not considered “valid form”. This would be a “new premise”. So in the meantime I’d appreciate it if you could take care of that and we’ll chit chat some more soon.

122. February 1

### Richard Morgan @ 7:46 am

You make some excellent points, Jason. Allow me to extend them somewhat.

You seem to agree that DNA is a code-bearing molecule.
You also agree that every code we know has been
a) created, and
b) created by a human intelligence.
You correctly point out that DNA is an exception to (b) but you seem to accept (a) still applies. So far, so good.
Let us agree that we do not know the source of the code in DNA. That is, self-evidently, one aspect which makes it unique among all other (known) codes. But there is more than that.
Can we concede that:
1. A simple form of intelligence can create a simple code;
2. A smart intelligence can create a smart code;
3. the intelligence that would have been required to produce the code in DNA is inordinately superior to any known human intelligence (including my mother-in-law, and that’s saying something!)
So, we’ve established that the agent that created DNA is unknown and vastly superior to human intelligence.
Where the comparison with human intelligence falls down is in the fact that our double-helix molecule preceded human intelligence. In fact human intelligence is an expression of the potential intelligence present in the earliest form of DNA.
Now things are getting complicated:
a) a unique, unknown (invisible) source;
b) a vastly superior intelligence;
c) a creative intelligence that existed long before homo sapiens.
This is all beginning to look a bit, er, supernatural, don’t you think?
PS If we are able to recognise intelligence as a source, it is clearly because our intelligence is capable of recognising similarities – while remaining vastly inferior. How strange that ignorant, bronze-age goat-herders were able to say that God created man in his own image. Must have been a goat-herder who took night classes, huh?

• February 1

### Jason Devlin @ 11:10 pm

You seem to be missing the point Richard. Allow me to further elaborate since we’re apparently not on the same page.

“You seem to agree that DNA is a code-bearing molecule”

That’s not generally how I would define it, no.

“You also agree that every code we know has been
a) created, and
b) created by a human intelligence.”

No, I do not agree at all. Every example Perry has provided to define a code is an example of a code created by a human intelligence. Consequently, I cannot accept (a), because we have not established that we can have (a) without (b) using these examples. Therefore, a code cannot be said to have been “created” unless it can also be said to have been created by a human intelligence.

“You correctly point out that DNA is an exception to (b) but you seem to accept (a) still applies.”

No I don’t. I have not accepted (a). If we cannot say that DNA was created by a human intelligence, then we cannot say it was “created” at all.

“Let us agree that we do not know the source of the code in DNA.”

Okaaay…

“That is, self-evidently, one aspect which makes it unique among all other (known) codes. But there is more than that.”

Oh joy!

“Can we concede that:
1. A simple form of intelligence can create a simple code;
2. A smart intelligence can create a smart code;
3. the intelligence that would have been required to produce the code in DNA is inordinately superior to any known human intelligence (including my mother-in-law, and that’s saying something!)”

I will concede to none of this tripe.

1. First define what a “simple form of intelligence” is and show me a simple code it has created. Are there any examples of simple coding languages created by simple intelligences that you can think of?
2. Define what a “smart intelligence” is and define a “smart code”. Provide an example of a smart code being created by a smart intelligence.
3. We haven’t established that DNA required an “intelligence” to be produced, because the only intelligence we’ve established is human intelligence, remember?

“So, we’ve established that the agent that created DNA is unknown and vastly superior to human intelligence.”

We haven’t even established that an intelligent agent had to ‘create’ DNA.

“Where the comparison with human intelligence falls down is in the fact that our double-helix molecule preceded human intelligence.”

When “human” comes down, “intelligence” falls down with it, because human intelligence is the only kind of intelligence we know of that can produce codes, and the codes from which Perry is drawing his fallacious inference have only been defined as such.

“In fact human intelligence is an expression of the potential intelligence present in the earliest form of DNA.”

Human intelligence can be said to be no such thing. I don’t know how you are concocting these dubious definitions. In general human intelligence is simply a property of the mind comprised of many related cognitive abilities. It certainly is no “expression of the potential intelligence present in the earliest form of DNA.” That doesn’t even mean anything. There are tests for intelligence, tell me how we would even test for an “expression of potential intelligence”. This is ludicrous reasoning.

“Now things are getting complicated:”

Things are getting downright absurd.

“a) a unique, unknown (invisible) source
b) a vastly superior intelligence;
c) a creative intelligence that existed long before homo sapiens.
This is all beginning to look a bit, er, supernatural, don’t you think?”

I think not. Not until you or Perry can provide a non-human based example of an intelligence with the cognitive capacity to produce a code.

“If we are able to recognise intelligence as a source, it is clearly because our intelligence is capable of recognising similarities – while remaining vastly inferior.”

You haven’t recognized any intelligence other than human intelligence.

“How strange that ignorant, bronze-age goat-herders were able to say that God created man in his own image. Must have been a goat-herder who took night classes, huh?”

How strange that a highly superstitious, largely illiterate population of people were able to invent supernatural explanations for things they didn’t understand? You’re right, that is strange. That has never, ever happened before.

• February 2

### Richard Morgan @ 5:31 am

Hi Jason.
1) If you do not define DNA (‘describe’ would be a better verb here, but anyway…) as a code-bearing molecule, and since this is a description that I have learned from real scientists and not invented myself, could you suggest a better description? I’m open to new perspectives on this.
2) You do not agree that DNA was “created”? Not even by inexplicable (or unexplained) natural processes? That is a coherent position to take, since you don’t even agree that DNA is a code-bearing molecule. And, in a sense, that marks the end of the discussion.
Having denied the essential quality of DNA, you can then say anything you like about it.
If we are not talking about codes, would you like to discuss Mahler’s third symphony, perhaps, or evidence of Shakespeare’s unresolved Oedipus complex in the characterization of MacBeth? Or the upcoming Six Nations Tournament?
(Don’t be offended by my frivolity – I have more spare time than is good for me, I suspect.)
3) Having evinced the idea of a code from DNA, strangely, you then go on to talk about Perry’s examples of codes. I don’t see why you would need to do that, though I’m sure you have your reasons, which I would be delighted to discover.

4) You said : ” I have not accepted (a). If we cannot say that DNA was created by a human intelligence, then we cannot say it was “created” at all.
You very wisely protected the word “created” with quote marks. Because “created” implies a “creator” and we can’t be having that, can we? How would you prefer to describe the origins of DNA – “emerged”? “arose”? “appeared”? Just three suggestions to comfortably eliminate the worrying need for an intelligent agent. Maybe you have a more appropriate one. Again, I’m open to new ideas.

5) You said : I will concede to none of this tripe.
1. First define what a “simple form of intelligence” is and show me a simple code it has created. Are there any examples of simple coding languages created by simple intelligences that you can think of?
My reply : You still want to talk about codes, after what you said at the beginning? That’s nice. My six year-old grandson has invented a fairly sophisticated code for communicating his desire for cookies to me, without his mother being a