Thursday, March 1, 2012

Does God have a meaning?

 Lets discuss in epistemological terms to begin with.

First and foremost comes the Semantics. Semantics is the study of meaning. If we say, “this is a window” it would mean that the window has a “meaning” associated with it. We can then talk about its “existence” and discuss whether we “know” that “this is a window”. In other words, a word should have at least a semantic “meaning” before we can even talk about its “existence” and speculate about our “knowledge” of it thereafter.

If there is a window within my reach and I am not blind, I may claim in great certainty that “I know this is a window”. Or if I am not certain, I may say things like “I am not sure if that bright thing on that tower 2 km. from here is a window reflecting the sun, or a mirror’”. Hence we can speculate about observable things on their meaning and sometimes test our knowledge later even if our knowledge was not full beforehand. We could do so because we associated a “meaning” to a “window” to begin with.

So a word alone, such as “XYZ” does not mean anything, the word “God” included. Therefore God needs a meaning just like other words in our native tongue. If we can’t associate a “meaning” to God the discussion is over.

Even “un-knowableness” requires a “meaning” of, what we don’t know. Hence without a meaning associable to God, we cannot even begin a discussion whether “Joe is an agnostic”.

Lets now discuss the notion of whether we can find God in quantum realm.

I am assuming we all have sufficient knowledge of Quantum Physics. In a nutshell quantum realm is currently beyond our directly observable and measurable Universe. Quantum Physics is the science of studying “very small” particles or strings that fluctuate and make other particles. What we know about them is we can’t measure their position or momentum at the same time and they fluctuate. Also when we make an observation on them their wave function collapses (more on wave function is a little later). But the good news is we can indirectly confirm our assumptions about quanta. We developed technologies such as Laser beam, and MRI based on Quantum Mechanics.

You see, quanta moves around and change their position and can even appear to co-exist in two places at the same time (see double-slit experiment, entanglement). We know these by indirect observations. So each quantum has a wave function, a probabilistic wave that defines probabilistically where about it can or it is likely to be going as a path in space-time fabric. When an observation is made the wave function collapses, i.e. one of the harmonics of the wave becomes reality and we cannot say with certainty which one beforehand. This knowledge depends on overall probability profile of the wave-function and how all harmonics of the probability wave for different paths overlapped to form the resultant wave function in space-time (see Feynman’s sum of histories).

Considering that we are all quanta implies that there is a finite (non-zero) probability that all of my particles, my atoms, protons, neutrons, quarks, etc. can go through that solid wall in front of me (don’t try this at home). According to Quantum Physics even if it is miniscule there is a finite probability that this can happen. But the fact is, and this point is critical for religious to understand, if that happens the wave function still has to collapse.

In other words we should have the sensation that we are going through the wall. Macroscopically we shall be intact, it was just the coincidence that all of our particles agreed to collapse on this weird wave function at a particular point in the history of our Universe. We still have “meaning”, because our information making us was preserved during our weird voyage through the wall. It is weird because it had tiny probability to happen, but it was not impossible, never.

It is important to note that quantum does not bear information. We have information only when a quantum’s wave function collapses and all the information about a foam of quanta is smeared onto the fabric of reality. We observe this as a macroscopic matter or as a form of energy (both often lead to the same). Or if information falls inside a black-hole some speculated that it could have been smeared onto its event horizon, Hawking predicted and confirmed with observation that information may even leak from it (Hawking radiation). Lets not drift too much.

So if God is an entity residing in the quantum realm it does not and cannot have information/orderness therefore it cannot have intelligence, since information is a necessary (but not sufficient condition) for intelligence. I am not sure if this idea would appeal to anyone.

If on the other hand God has information and/or intelligence then this requires that its wave function must have collapsed already, it is “already outside” the quantum realm.

If God is outside then we are entitled to ask these questions:

  • God is outside our observable Universe.
  • God is somewhere in our observable Universe but we haven’t observed it yet. 
  • We have observed God but we haven’t qualified it as God.
  • God does not exist.

The problem with the first three is, either way we need the assistance of semantics in order to qualify say Andromeda galaxy as God or even what we haven't observed is God.

We know that for instance Andromeda has finite set of matter and energy that are measurable to a degree of certainty. We also know that Andromeda is a galaxy hence has a meaning based on properties common to other galaxies. But unless we know what God's meaning is, we cannot be sure if Andromeda is in fact God.

This leaves us with the third option.

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