Editor’s note: this article deserves a lot more time and attention that I have to give it at the moment. Even so, the premise is intriguing enough that I wanted to put it out there for people to pull over.
Computers, programming, virtual reality, video games, robotics, artificial intelligence; iPhones, Watson, Oculus, Tesla… are all these acts of human creativity—often made by individuals who deny God exists—really pointing toward a Creator?
Has the thought ever occurred to you that humans are very similar to computers? That you are comprised of hardware (your physical body) and software (your mental capacity); sort of like a robot with incredible artificial intelligence… only there is nothing A about the I? I’ve been thinking exactly this over the last several months and the more I think about it the more I am convinced: humans are essentially more complex, more organic and far more elegant versions of computers. And computers get made. Hear me out.
How familiar are you with the term biomimicry? Biomimicry, or biomimetics (closely related to bionics), is basically what humans call it when we copy something from nature. Biomimicry.org puts it like this: Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The Wikipedia article on biomimetics says this: Nature has solved engineering problems such as self-healing abilities, environmental exposure tolerance and resistance, hydrophobicity, self-assembly, and harnessing solar energy.
If you’re quite interested in this subject, check out Michael Pawlyn’s 2010 TED talk called “Using nature’s genius in architecture.” It lays out three habits of nature that could transform architecture and society: radical resource efficiency, closed loops and drawing energy from the sun.
A quick Google of biomimicry will reveal a smattering of technologies and “breakthroughs” humans are trying to glean from nature. But in my mind, computers are the ultimate form of biomimicry.
If this then that—popularized by the app/service of the same name—is what our world runs on. Not just the “modern” world with it’s assorted gadgetry and engineering, but the world in general and the universe at large. Coding is at the heart of it all. If you’ve never learned how to program, one of the first things a new student learns is how to compose an operation along the lines of IF THIS happens THEN do THAT. For example: IF a person unsubscribes from a newsletter THEN remove their email address from the marketing database. Well the exact same thing happens in nature on a near-infinitely (if not infinitely) bigger, smaller, taller, wider, grander and more complex scale.
I’ll pick the low-hanging fruit first by starting with the obvious examples. We call them the laws of nature and they come in many forms: physical, natural, scientific, etc. You’re familiar with the law of gravity, for instance, that works like this: IF an apple falls from a tree THEN it will hit the ground. Of course we could throw in a million ELSEIF programming statements for alternate outcomes. A person could sitting underneath that tree and get conked in the head; or catch the falling apple. Some wind could come along and blow the apple into a creek. The apple tree could be cut down before the apple had a chance to fall. These are all programming possibilities completely accounted for by nature.
Not unlike The Matrix or Star Trek’s holodeck, the environment we humans find ourselves living within is something like an immersive video game; like virtual reality (only less virtual and as realistic as possible).
There are times when I play an immersive video game like Halo when I have to stop and appreciate all the thought and effort that went into building the playing environment where players battle it out. There are so many details that it’s almost mind-boggling. And yet it has been done. These virtual worlds don’t just appear; intelligent beings painstakingly craft them (with rules that mimic reality, by the way—the more realistic the game’s physics are the better players can be because they expect a grenade thrown to follow an arc before exploding).
When I look at the world I see a place full of code; of rules and of laws. I see an environment that was programmed and designed. I see God everywhere.
While I could, and probably should (and hope to) expand on these thoughts, for now I’ll end this article with the four-stage argument for assuming there is a God as put forth by Ravi Zacharias which meshes perfectly with what I have been saying here:
The first is that no matter how we section physical concrete reality, we end up with a quantity that cannot explain its own existence. If all material quantities cannot explain their own existence, the only possibility for self-explanation would be something that is non-material.
Secondly, wherever we see intelligibility, we find intelligence behind it. Thirdly, we intuitively know that our moral reasoning points to a moral framework within the universe. The very fact that the problem of evil is raised either by people or about people intimates that human beings have intrinsic worth. Fourthly, the human experience in history and personal encounter sustains the reality of the supernatural.
There you have it. Who is God? He is the nonphysical, intelligent, moral first cause, who has given us intrinsic worth and who we can know by personal experience.
Of course this raises all kinds of interesting issues. Free will and choice among them…