On the universe

According to science one should be agnostic. Science cannot prove nor disprove the existence of God. The Belgian Catholic priest, mathematician, and astronomer Georges Lemaître introduced, in 1927, the theory of the “primeval atom” and the origins of the universe, which is nowadays referred to as the “Big Bang theory”. Although mankind has a model of the beginning of our material universe, little is still known regarding our existence and the history before time.

Alan Lightman said “we are all stardust”, which is in its essence true. He explains that all molecules in the universe, besides hydrogen and helium (the two smallest atoms), were created in nuclear reactions in stars. Thus, if you trace the molecules in your body back in time you will eventually end up in the center of a star.

If humans indeed are but a physical combination of matter, then our consciousness is nothing more than a computing system with many degrees of freedom. This has fundamental implications for artificial intelligence, in which a cyberpunk-like future with conscious AI could be a reality. Artificial virtual evolutions could be created in computers and new life could be formed. However fascinating this would be, it unfortunately could have devastating consequences for the “human soul”, or rather the lack of it.

The situation is binary, either there is a creator of the universe or there is not, either this creator is personal or not, either humans have souls or not, and so on. However interesting these questions may be, science might not be able to answer them. In fact it could be impossible to answer these questions through science due to a lack of data.

“Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” is a tail by Edwin Abbott Abbot (1884), written under the pseudonym “A Square”. In the tail a square visits “Lineland”, a one dimensional world. The square is thus projected and becomes a line. Although the square knows its true form it cannot explain it to the points and lines in Lineland, since they simply cannot perceive the second dimension. Through this story an informal model of our universe can be formed, in which it might actually be impossible for us to know the mysteries of the universe.

Humans are three dimensional beings, although the fourth dimension is inferred by change. Quantum physics has observed phenomenons such as quantum entanglement, in which, e.g., the wave function of photons are transported instantaneously through time. If one imagines the possibility of further higher dimensions, one can imagine the universe as a high dimensional object and the human experience existing in a projection of this object. Projections are not invertible, and thus it would not be far fetched to assume that there might be information in the universe that is impossible to recover in the three dimensional projection of it. I’m inclined to argue that the loss of data seems too great, to make any substantial inference about what lies beyond.

One of the most famous agnostic physicists and thinkers, Sir Roger Penrose, recently got the Nobel Prize for his work on cosmology and the singularity theorems developed together with Stephen Hawking. Penrose has dedicated his life to study the universe and thus far has concluded that we know far too little about life to make any scientific claims about it.

To conclude, according to science one should be agnostic, but what about philosophy, theology, morality, and faith? Ultimately there might be a possibility that we cannot know of the universe’s existence from a purely materialistic and worldly perspective. In a modern scientific world, where one would like to measure things, one might not find sufficient proof of the existence of a creator.

Given agnosticism: It implies that it is up to us to decide which world we would like to live in: A world of total ultimate meaning or a world without total ultimate meaning. The choice is up to us, and the answer might be as simple as: “Follow what your heart calls for”.