By definition, naturalism is the presupposition that the world came into being by itself, developed (i.e., evolved) to its present state and is sustained by purely material processes. God is not needed.
Or so they hope. I think they’ve mistaken the concept of a God who is not wanted (by them, at any rate) with an unnecessary being. If God exists and He did anything, He is the most necessary entity possible.
But they can’t entertain that possibility. They must insist instead that the universe, which shows so much evidence of design and purpose, was not designed. And though the universe offers no explanation for why it bothers to exist at all, they insist that it is irrelevant and immediately begin speculating about multiverses. Never mind that the multiverse hypothesis cannot be observed or tested, precisely because our available sample set of universes is exactly one and because we cannot actually know whether evidences set forth for multiverses are actually such or simply properties of our own universe that seem to fit the data but are actually invalid in light of the fact that we are, tongue-in-cheek, “alone in the multiverse.”
I don’t envy them. They’re trying to explain why the world spontaneously came about and became increasingly complex to its present point by purely natural processes. They’re trying to explain away the extreme improbability of the fine-tuned universe. Since their origins science is chained to pure naturalism, they’re forced to speculate pretty wildly.
For example, there are scientists who are trying to determine whether we’re all part of a Matrix-styled computer program, a holographic simulation, if you will. Simulation theory, as it’s called, notes that we already have computer simulators, so if a simulator were sufficiently advanced, any self-aware beings within them would be unable to tell that it wasn’t real. If this sounds a bit sci-fi, it’s because it is. Lots of books and movies have explored this concept. In fact, I proposed such a virtual universe within the real universe in my I/O Saga, where people escape their dystopian lives and explore virtual worlds via nodal connections to their brain. The appeal of simulation theory is that it neatly explains the anthropic principle: why the universe is so amazingly fine-tuned for the existence of our particular kind of sapient life.
When cornered, the evolutionist’s response to challenge of the anthropic principle is often something along the lines of a shoulder shrugging, “Well, we’re here, aren’t we?” Or they claim it only has the appearance of being designed while assuring us that it wasn’t. It’s like saying the pyramids only have the appearance of design but are, after all, simply a complex variant of geology. No one would suggest such a farce in the face of overwhelming and obvious evidence of design, but these guys do so on a daily basis when it regards the irreducibly complex, intricately inter-related, intelligently designed universe!
The “It’s not designed; it only looks that way,” excuse fails precisely because it can offer no fair and accurate definition of design that would not allow for the existence of a Grand Designer. Unless they fall back on an arbitrary “made by man” definition that would exclude the idea that beavers build and design their homes and dams and that birds build nests whose design varies by variant of bird or that spiders design webs. These are not purely natural phenomena, like a rock lying on a beach, but require some level of intelligent intervention in their creation. We recognize rocks as natural until they are arranged as they are at Stonehenge. We recognize dead wood as natural until they are arranged into nests and dams. We must account for these realities of the observable world in a rationally consistent, non-arbitrary way.
Simulation theory does a bit of hand-waving with the anthropic principle. Our incredible string of Free Lunches are simply variables that were plugged in at the outset of our simulation. Perhaps there are other simulations with differing variables, as predicted by multiverse theory. Perhaps those fundamental anthropic “variables” are really constants after all and remain the same in all simulations because the simulations are meant to solve a problem and these fundamental anthropic factors are necessary, no matter what. Maybe the simulations run by differing lesser variables, each with different histories and outcomes.
Of course, this simply moves the goalpost back to the Programmer of the simulation, since the only rational reason for such fundamental constants is that they are exactly what’s necessary to achieve our kind of sapient life.
Simulation theory also explains the Fermi Paradox, which can be summarized in the question, “Where is everybody?” In other words, where are all of the aliens? If molecules-to-man evolution is true and there are billions of galaxies out there, shouldn’t intelligent life have evolved on some of them? Why haven’t we heard from them? Why haven’t they colonized such prime real estate as Earth? Did you realize that the Star Wars universe, the Star Trek universe and similar fictional worlds where the Never simply teems with alien civilizations are all based on an evolutionary worldview? Such science fiction is based on the feeling that life is somehow inevitable and that chemicals simply and magically produce life, which then evolves into more and more complex forms until it achieves sufficient mental complexity to be called intelligent. Evolutionists feel that there’s been ample time for alien abiogenesis and evolution to occur a ridiculous number of times and given the vastness of space, we’re probably just sailing past one another on the vast oceans of the Never. They feel that the discovery of intelligent alien life is somehow inevitable.
I find it interesting that they don’t base their views on the inevitability and alleged scale of extraterrestrial life on actual probability studies. You see, abiogenesis (life springing from chemicals by natural processes) and molecules-to-man evolution are so statistically improbable as to rate impossibility. Multiplying zero by infinity doesn’t really add up to better odds. No, evolutionists are simply arguing from incredulity and from ignorance. “Now, doesn’t all that space seem wasteful?” and “If it happened here it must’ve happened by undirected processes because we won’t consider God at all – against the rules, you see. And if it happened here and it was completely impossible then maybe it’s not so impossible after all. Maybe it’s only apparently impossible, not actually impossible” – after all, evolutionists would have us also believe that we may observe apparent design in nature, but not actual design! Now I tend to think that if they had the most improbable of chances for undirected processes to lead to complex intelligent life and they multiplied it by the alleged deep time and scale of the universe that they’d would’ve used up all of their odds on Earth alone; if it was extremely improbable and it happened anyway, the chances of it happening again become less likely, not as likely or more likely.
Simulation theory makes the Fermi Paradox a matter of variables (alien civilizations) that weren’t plugged into our particular simulation.
Likewise simulation theory does away with the problem of mathematics. Math is integral to our universe; if math is just a product of our imaginative reasoning, why does it work so perfectly that no one can disagree with its truth? Platonists believe that math is an objective reality so that 1+1=2 is a universal, inescapable truth. Perhaps it is. If so, simulation theory proposes that we’ve simply discovered the encoding of the simulated cosmos.
Proponents of simulation theory also claim that it solves the problem of the supernatural. Supernatural elements like ghosts, déjà vu, miracles and angels are, ala’ The Matrix, simply glitches or bugs in the program.
Of course, it also allows the Ultimate Supernatural back in: God as the Programmer. In such a case, the universe very well could have been created in just six days. Both the anthropic principle, any supernatural elements and/or direct interventions from the Programmer could be variables plugged in to suggest to the self-aware beings within the simulation that He indeed exists. Humanity’s will to worship may also be purposely programmed in by the Grand Programmer. This aspect of simulation theory makes pure naturalists very, very nervous. While the Programmer is said to be natural, since the Programmer is, from our stand point, omniscient and omnipotent, said Programmer is virtually indistinguishable from His supernatural counterpart (i.e., God); therefore, the claim that said Programmer is a purely natural entity is arbitrary.
This article was excerpted and adapted from Chapter 11 of Defending Genesis: How We Got Here and Why It Matters (2015).
I was reading a 2016 feedback article on Creation.com, entitled, “Is the universe a simulation?” when I realized how much the allegedly Biblical principles that modern creationists tout in support of their Earthbound religious perspective have in common with Simulation Hypothesis.
For those of you who don’t know what Simulation Hypothesis is, it’s the idea that we’re living inside a computer simulation much like the humans were at the outset of the Matrix trilogy. As I pointed out inDefending Genesis:
“The appeal of simulation theory is that it neatly explains the anthropic principle: why the universe is so amazingly fine-tuned for the existence of our particular kind of sapient life…
Simulation theory does a bit of hand-waving with the anthropic principle. Our incredible string of Free Lunches are simply variables that were plugged in at the outset of our simulation. Perhaps there are other simulations with…
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