Sunday, February 04, 2018

How to out-smart God.



God does exist, and he’s messing with us. 

We study his world and we call our study science. We learn more all the time and we think we are homing in on the truth, but God knows better. Every time we think we are beginning to understand His creation, He adds something new to mess up our understanding and humble us.

When Newton defined his laws of mechanics; that was how the universe worked. There were no gravity waves, no speed of light, no E=MC2. But after a while we understood the rules too well and started to use the rules to calculate force and impact and other stuff. God doesn’t like us to be too clever. He wants to stay a few steps ahead. One omniscient being in the ‘hood is enough, and He wants to be sure it’s Him. So He created Einsteinian mechanics and relativity.

Once upon a time, atoms were the smallest things. We did stuff with atoms and God foresaw the day when we would be able to see atoms. So He created electrons, neutrons and protons and thought we wouldn’t be able to see them. But when we did, He decided that there should be quarks and leptons. We called them ‘fundamental particles’ and just when we became convinced that they were basic and indivisible, God said “Let there be strings”. He just likes to mess with us.  

And He isn’t done yet. I once read that ‘we know relativity is wrong and we know quantum mechanics are wrong, we just don’t know what’s right’. But some day, we’ll find out and God will have to get back to work. Of course, it’s always possible that He’s been too smart for His own good, and relativity and quantum mechanics can’t be unified. Maybe we’ll catch Him out.

And now there’s this. We used to know that the universe was expanding, and that was fine. But now, there is a ‘pretty serious’ mathematical discrepancy in the rate of expansion. ‘New particles’ are a possible culprit. Not very original, but new particles have always worked for Him in the past, so why not stick with them.

What’s clever about this is that God doesn’t change what we know, He just adds a new level of complexity. We didn’t need Einsteinian mechanics until we started flinging stuff round the solar system, and we still use Newtonian mechanics for the mundane, Earth-bound stuff. He didn’t get rid of atoms, He just subdivided them, once, and again, then gave the smallest ones an internal structure. And to give Himself a path forward for the future, He added some new dimensions that can only be detected by some fancy math.

But maybe we can use this process to outsmart God. If Newton had shown that light passed the sun without being bent, if Rutherford could have shown that there was nothing smaller than an electron, God would have had a limit set on what He could change. Of course if all He has to do is create a new particle, there may be no limits but if we could define the required properties of the particle and, when it appeared, show that it contradicts our observations, we might have Him in a corner.  

So there’s the story. A brilliant young scientist, aided by her sexy blond associate, finds something odd on their radio telescope or particle accelerator observations. They conduct experiments to rule out all possible explanations, thus backing God into a corner. What does God do?

And another interesting thought. As we look deeper and deeper into space, and wonder about life and intelligence on other worlds, maybe aliens will come to replace particles as the all-purpose explanation for strange observations. We are already testing the waters with this idea. Alien mega-structures. Apparently, aliens read Larry Niven. Or intra-galactic spaceships. Rendezvous with Rama?

But one day, we’ll see something that doesn’t have another explanation. Then what will god do?

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