Fido

The Great Debate

Is God the only possible explanation for our existence?


[go back to Tacelli’s previous argument]


C* defined and revealed

Greg Raven

To get the argument off on the right foot, we will begin with Fido, meaning not only that Fido exists, but also that we are able to determine that he exists. Quoting the Oxford English Dictionary (version 2 on CD-ROM for Macintosh), "exist" is defined as a verb meaning:

  1. To have place in the domain of reality, have objective being;
  2. To have being in a specified place or under specified conditions.
  3. With adverb. phrase or as; formerly with simple complement. Of relations, circumstances, etc.: To subsist, be found, occur;
  4. To have life or animation; to live;
  5. To continue in being, maintain an existence.

Given this, the statements "at one time he did not exist," and that "at another time he will not exist," follow, but only within a narrow frame of reference. Note that these definitions, although most understandable in the context of physical objects, also apply to thoughts and conditions, as long as they are not subjective.

However, in establishing the "cause" for Fido’s existence, in seems to me that we run into problems immediately, in that the simple equation proposed:

p if q
q
therefore p

works for us only after we know that Fido exists. Fido’s parents Fifi and Pluto might have had a puppy Nanette instead, for example. In other words, after Fido can be said to exist in the sense implied above, one can apply the formula. But before Fido exists, there is no way for the formula to be accurate in anything but a general way.

The reason this seems to me to be important is that beyond the first or second "if" statement, any normally complex system will demand such an unwieldy set of "if" statements to cover all known variables that it will be nearly useless in practice.

Consider the erection of a skyscraper. Not only does this endeavor require a design, manpower, and materials, it does so on a scale such that no one person could possible provide everything needed for the skyscraper to be said to exist. Somewhere in the world, someone is mining iron ore, that will eventually be made into steel, which will eventually be made into beams and girders for the skyscraper. But this same material can also be used for something else.

Likewise, the construction worker, hired by the project managers to assemble the components to make a skyscraper, is devoting all or part of his energies to the completion of the project. Yet in the cases of both the miner and the construction worker, if either were to fall ill or otherwise fail to do what he could to further the project, the skyscraper would still be built, as others would be found to replace them.

The formula for expressing these and other variables in the construction of the skyscraper not only would be unworkable, but would also indicate (based on terms of the formula itself) that statistically speaking it was highly improbable — if not impossible — to build a skyscraper. Yet, skyscrapers are built all the time. It is only after the completion of construction that the formula comes even close to mirroring reality, but by that time, the formula is of no use to us: we have the skyscraper we need.

There is something, though, without which the skyscraper could not have been built: information. I believe that information is one of the two opposing forces that controls everything we have come to know. Its opposite is entropy, Entropy is the word used to describe that aspect of systems that increases under the Second Law of Thermodynamics — mixing, disorder, randomness.

What are the qualities of information? They are:

  • It is, absolutely. It is impossible to separate that something is, from the information about that thing. It is likewise impossible to separate a collection of somethings from the information about that collection. Furthermore, for everything that could possibly be, there is information about that thing, whether or not we know what that information is;
  • There is no limitation to the amount of information we can have about a thing or a collection of things.
  • Although information is available in varying degrees, on different topics, and in varieties of importance, it is the one thing without which no thing can exist;
  • Information is not material.

If, as you say, there can be only one C*, then C* must be information, even though information does not act as a cause, but rather as a facilitator.

Now we can return to the issue of what "caused" Fido. We can see that the "cause" of Fido was combinations of various pieces of matter, completely described within a framework of information of which we have only the barest glimpse. This matter was likewise completely described before and after Fido, with the same quality and quantity of information as "during" Fido, even though the relationships among the different pieces of information did change. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Thus we have "sufficient reason" for the creation of a contingent being — information being that reason — with matter being a representation of the organization of that information in a form we can comprehend: Fido.

Therefore:

  • Information is not spatially limited;
  • Information is not identical to the universe, although it is fundamentally connected to it, as it is with all things and thoughts, and as all things and thoughts must be with it;
  • Information is not a part of the universe, but rather is a superset;
  • Information exists in everything, in infinite quantities;
  • Information is neither intelligent nor personal, and it is by definition the source of all intelligibility and order.

The problem of the statement of the problem of circular causality

I understand the point you are making, but I believe you have overstated your conclusions.

Imagine a similar fictional village, with four inhabitants, like yours. Each inhabitant grows more than enough food for himself under normal conditions, but because events sometimes cause food shortages, the villagers have decided that each will contribute 100 percent of his crops to the village, saving none for himself. Before any villager can withdraw food from the village’s food stores for himself to eat, he must get the approval (or vote) of at least one other villager.

None of the villagers, on his own, can withdraw food from the village food store. Each citizen stands individually in need in the same respect as the others, yet working in concert, they manage to feed themselves with food to spare.

In this same village, each villager builds his house as an A-frame, using a length of rail from a nearby railroad surplus yard as the roof beam. Because of the height of the roof beam and the weight of the rail, none of the villagers is able to construct a house by himself. However, by collaborating in the building process, each was able to build a home, despite the seeming impossibility of any one of them doing so.


read Tacelli’s response