Are We in a Matrix or Base Reality?

Are We in a Matrix or Base Reality?

When speaking on evidence for the existence of God, John Clayton often begins by saying that first, you must believe that you exist. He says, “If you don’t believe that you exist, you have more problems than I want to deal with.” Some people today are suggesting that we do not exist in reality. The question we need to consider is, “Are we in a matrix or base reality?” Let’s examine what that means.

Philosophers have often contemplated the question of whether there is any reality. A philosophy professor I once learned from said that some of his associates begin their philosophy class by suggesting to their students that nothing is real, including the walls of the lecture hall. However, he pointed out that the professor always exits through the doorway at the end of the lecture. Are the walls real? Is anything real? Are we in a matrix or a base reality?

In 1999, there was a movie titled The Matrix in which people were made to believe that they lived in a surreal world where they could have superhuman powers and face life-threatening dangers while all the time being strapped to a chair with electrodes connected to their bodies. The idea must have found a sympathetic audience because it spawned three sequels, with a fourth scheduled for next month.

Now, some scientists are suggesting that we are in a simulation. According to one analysis, the chances that we are living in a “base reality” (meaning not a simulation) are about 50-50, with a slight edge to base reality. So people from scientists such as Neil deGrasse Tyson to entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk have suggested that we could be merely characters in a massive video game. To further that concept, we have quantum theory with its “spooky action at a distance” (Einstein’s quote), such as quantum entanglement and superposition.

In 1948, American mathematician Claude Shannon introduced the concept of the bit as a basic unit of information. Computers work with bits, which can have a value of either 0 or 1. By combining millions, billions, or trillions of bits, we can perform complex calculations and create sounds, images, or even videos. That is how modern cameras, televisions, telephones, and computers work. So the question is, “If the universe is a giant computer simulation, a matrix rather than base reality, how many bits would it take to create the simulation?”

Melvin Vopson, a physicist at the University of Portsmouth, England, estimated that the minimum number of bits of information in the visible universe could be around 1080. (That is 10, followed by 80 zeros.) If you include dark matter, which we can’t see or detect, it could be ten-trillion times that number.

So, do we believe we are in a matrix or base reality? If we believe that this universe is a computer simulation and we are only a relatively few bits in that matrix, you would have to believe that an infinite intelligence wrote the code for the program. However, it seems to me that a more reasonable explanation is that we are living in a base reality created by an infinite intelligence. The most incomprehensible thing is that the omniscient Creator cares about each one of us. (Read Matthew 6:25-34.)

— Roland Earnst © 2021

References: LiveScience.com and Inverse.com

Science Supports Faith in God

Science Supports Faith in God

This ministry is designed to show that science and the Bible are friends and not enemies. Because of human-devised theologies and a poor understanding of science, some people claim that the Bible and scientific evidence are at odds. The fact is that all valid scientific evidence agrees 100% with what the Bible actually says in the original language. We say that science supports faith in God.

The word “science” means knowledge. Science arrives at knowledge by a methodology that involves making a theory about a question and then designing experiments to determine whether that theory is true. The media, and even some in the scientific establishment, will make a proposal, accept it as fact and not allow it to be tested. The result is that people attribute things to science, of which true science is not guilty.

A scientific discipline that has drawn much attention in Christian circles is geology. This has developed because of the invention of a theology that draws attention to physical theories and ignores the spiritual. This theological approach is called dispensationalism, and it has a restrictive way of interpreting the events in the Old Testament. It regards Jesus as a military figure who will return to engage in a physical war with human political entities on Earth, such as Russia and China. Jesus spent a large amount of time attempting to lead people away from this kind of thinking. He told them, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

So how can we say science supports faith in God? Proverbs 8 finds personified wisdom speaking about God’s actions. Verses 22-29 tell us that God established clouds (verse 28), brought forth the mountains (verse 25), and made the fields (verse 26). It does not tell us how He did it. Scientific studies have found that water, dust (condensation nuclei), and cool temperatures make a cloud. Geologic studies show plate tectonics and volcanism are processes that God used to make the mountains. Geology also tells us that fields are carefully crafted from sand, organic material, and various minerals that growing plants need. In Job chapters 38 to 41, God challenged Job to explain many things he could see around him. Today, science supports faith in God by helping us understand the wisdom required for God to do many of those things.

Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the Earth. Creating a planet on which living things can survive and a place where humans can grow and prosper requires massive complexity. The passage is not dated or timed, nor does it tell us how God did the creating. Geology has helped us understand how God formed the minerals required for life. Science helps us understand the processes that formed the various soils on which life depends. We know about nutrients and the processes needed to create them, most of which are included in that brief verse of Genesis 1:1. The fact that science has learned how God formed these resources allows us to locate them. Our search for oil, coal, phosphate, sulfur, iron, and other minerals has been successful because we know how God created those vital substances.

The Bible tells us that God created time and that one day to Him is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day (2 Peter 3:8). Quantum mechanics is now helping us understand the nature of time as a created entity that has not always existed. We must not allow our thinking to restrict God’s actions to what we mortal humans can do or understand. Isaiah 55:8-9 finds God pointing out that His thoughts and methods are superior to ours. Science supports faith in God because He has left a trail of evidence that we are slowly learning to understand.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

The God Question

The God Question

We frequently receive the God question from skeptics. Their challenges are something like this: “Since humans created God to explain what they didn’t understand, and since we now can explain everything, there is no need for God.” This relates to the “god of the gaps” argument, which simply says that people invented God to fill in the gaps in human understanding. There is no question that various cultures and religions have used that way of thinking. When people didn’t understand what caused volcanos, they invented a god or goddess to explain them. Even today, some people in Hawaii sincerely believe that volcanos are sacred and have a supernatural origin.

The “god of the gaps” thinking is rooted in ignorance, but so is the question, “Who created God?The problem with the God question in this form is that the questioner has a concept of God which is physical and, in some cases, human-like in form and function. The biblical concept of God is unique in that it challenges us to think more deeply than any physical or human makeup.

The question also assumes that there was a time when God did not exist. The problem with that thinking is that God created time. In Revelation 22:13, God says, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Personified Wisdom speaks in Proverbs 8:22-23 and says, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning before the Earth ever was.” Peter wrote that “with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8).

God is not a man (Numbers 23:19) nor like any physical being. “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24) and does not possess flesh and blood (Matthew 16:17). Acts 17:28 tells us that “..in Him we live and move and have our being.” We find those descriptions difficult to understand because they are outside the realm of our experience. Modern science tells us that there are dimensions beyond our own three dimensions of X, Y, and Z. Mathematics tells us that there are eleven spatial dimensions, but we cannot even define our fourth dimension of time.

The God question that atheists and skeptics bring up shows that they fail to understand that God is outside of time and space and, therefore, He always existed. Quantum mechanics has shown us a whole new realm of physics where some of the laws of classical physics no longer apply. No well-educated person would deny the studies of quantum mechanics which fill modern scientific journals. The only question remaining is whether the things that lie in the quantum world are without design or purpose and therefore show no intelligence behind them. The quantum world is incomplete because it offers no reason for there being something instead of nothing.

The concept of good and evil offers an answer to the God questions. It tells us why there is something. John 1:1-5 provides a glimpse into that question when it says, “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.” The word “logos,” from which we get the word “logic,” involves the metaphysical concept of right and wrong. The purpose of human existence is the struggle between good and evil.

Job stretched his mind to understand that he was a major player in the war between good and evil in Job 42:1-6. Understanding God’s nature and that we are beings created in His image opens a new understanding of the God question. It shows us the fallacy of asking, “Who created God?” and expecting a physical answer. God fills the cosmos (Jeremiah 23:23-24), and our studies into the nature of matter have opened a whole new door to better understanding the God question.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Examine Your Faith

Examine Your Faith

For the past three days, we have looked at the role of faith in our lives. We have seen that the biblical definition of faith is the “foundation” – that on which we build our lives. We have seen that faith has a role in science, religion, and the practical day-to-day living of our lives. I have shared my journey with you, leaving my family’s atheistic faith and growing a faith in God from the scientific evidence and the Bible. I hope that you will examine your faith. Look at your foundation and how it affects the building of your life. Here are some suggestions:

#1. DEAL WITH CREATION. You have two choices about how the creation came into existence. Either it has always existed, or it had a beginning. As an atheist, I believed that matter/energy was eternal. I thought that it might go through change, but there was no beginning. The Bible clearly stated there was a beginning to space, time, and matter/energy.

As I learned about the laws of thermodynamics, it became increasingly apparent that matter/energy could not be eternal. Now quantum mechanics and relativity have added new evidence that there was a beginning. If there was a beginning, it had to be caused. We can say that we don’t know enough to understand the cause. However, the deeper we go onto the quantum world, the more obvious it is that the creation started from a cause outside of space and time. God is a causer outside of space and time, which He created. The fact that there are purpose and design in the cosmos eliminates chance as a causer. We have a large volume of material on this subject and can make it available to you without cost.

#2. DEAL WITH WHERE YOUR FOUNDATION (YOUR FAITH) TAKES YOU. Where did my father’s faith in education take him? Did it make him happy, secure, and fulfilled? Examine your faith. Does it give you a reason to live, a purpose in existing? Does your faith allow you to deal with the problems that life brings to us all?

All of us know people who have tried to base their lives on the alternatives to faith in God. Does making a lot of money lead to a meaningful life? Does becoming a political leader bring joy, contentment, and peace? Do recreational drugs fulfill us as humans? I have had a lot of adversity in my life. My history includes having a multiply handicapped child, losing my wife to death, never having much money, and having physical problems and pain. I have struggled and wept and wondered why, but I have had a good life and have enjoyed my life. Do other foundations enable a person to deal with life’s problems?*

#3. LOOK TO THE FUTURE. Now I am at the end of my life, but that is only the end of my physical existence. My faith allows me to be confident that something better lies ahead. I have hope and peace with the fact that I will die. I see that I have had a purpose in living and my feeble existence turned out to leave the world a better place than I found it. That is because I have been able to share my faith with others and enable them to find joy in living.

Jesus makes a promise to those who choose to build their lives on faith in God. “Come unto me all of you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and LEARN of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Don’t listen to religion or philosophy or the pleasure peddlers of our world who will give you an unproven faith that doesn’t work. Examine your faith and build it by learning and growing in your understanding of God.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

*To see John’s discussion of why God allows pain and suffering, go to DoesGodExist.TV and watch program 11 in the video series.

Two Human Components of Spirit and Body

Two Human Components of Spirit and Body

Bible passages such as 1 Thessalonians 5:23 indicate that humans are both physical and spiritual. We consist of a physical nature (our bodies) and a spiritual nature (our spirit). The physical body makes sense, but how can we understand the spiritual? How can we have two human components of spirit and body?

In quantum mechanics, things like photons (light), electrons, protons, and neutrons are governed by principles that are very different from the familiar physical world. In some experiments, these subatomic particles behave like particles, but they act like waves in other experiments.

In 1924, French physicist Louis de Broglie introduced wave-particle duality. That is the idea that any matter, whatever its size, has an associated wavelength. Photons can knock electrons out of a material in the photoelectric effect used to generate electricity from light energy. That process requires light to have physical properties because only particles can move other particles. In a different experiment, photons show diffraction properties explainable only if photons are waves. Electrons produce the same effects as light, yet we can measure their mass. How can they be both particles and waves?

There is also a principle of complementarity in quantum mechanics. It tells us that the result of an observation is dependent on the focus of the observer. In other words, in experiments when our attention focuses on one variable, this precludes the simultaneous observation of its complement. Wave and particle-related properties are complementary variables. We can’t observe both at the same time.

The Bible presents the notion that body, soul, and spirit are not separate entities, but they are distinct dimensions of a person. Although we are one person, we understand that we have two human components of spirit and body. The presence of these dimensions means that we are capable of dual behavior.

Understanding quantum mechanics allows us to understand this duality. Ranjit Thuraisingham, a research scientist, describes it this way: “The science of quantum objects teaches us why we fail to discern this spiritual dimension in ourselves. In quantum objects, focusing only on one variable precludes the observation of the complementary variable. Thus, the absence of observing the spiritual is related to our focus solely on the material.”

In other words, we struggle with our spiritual nature because of our fixation with the material world in which we live. In Galatians 5:16-26, Paul distinguishes between the actions of the spirit and the flesh (body). The actions of the spirit include love, joy, and patience. The actions of the flesh are immorality, hatred, and envy. As in quantum mechanics, we can’t focus on one without losing sight of the other. When we understand the two human components of spirit and body, it becomes clear why our actions are not what they should be.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: “On the Duality of Human Nature and the Behavior of Quantum Particles” by Ranjit A. Thuraisingham

Time Crystals

Time Crystals Compared to a Quartz CrystalOne of the most difficult things for anyone to understand is that time and space are created things. Many biblical passages present the concept that time had a start and will have an end. (See Genesis 1:1, Proverbs 8:22, Hebrews 1:10, 2 Peter 3:10-13, etc.) That concept of time is difficult to understand because it is outside of our experience. Scientific American (November 2019, page 28 ff) published a report on a new state of matter called time crystals.

We are all familiar with crystals that show symmetry in their shape. When we look at a quartz crystal with extreme magnification, we see that layers repeat over and over, giving the crystal its shape. Scientists theorize that a similar process operates in time. Time crystals show symmetry, but they do it in time rather than in space. This means that the repeating pattern is seen in time and is not visible to the naked eye directly but rather governs the way materials behave on a quantum level.

All of this is highly complex, and the Scientific American article “The Exquisite Precision of Time Crystals” is very technical. The bottom line is that it has a lot to do with how matter behaves. Time crystals have the potential to expand our understanding of cosmology and black holes. God has used some sophisticated methods to create a universe in which there is stability. Just as ordinary crystals are the building blocks of rocks and minerals, time crystals are the building blocks of charge, mass, and time. Science is just beginning to understand them.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Being Timeless

Being TimelessBeing outside of time or timeless is a new concept to science. In classical physics, time is perhaps the most fundamental standard against which everything else is based. When we measure velocity, it’s basic unit is length per second or hour. Feet per second or miles per hour are familiar to most of us. When we measure acceleration, the units are meters per second squared. Newton’s Second Law defines force as mass multiplied by acceleration, so time even becomes involved in parameters that don’t directly include motion.

One of the equations that Einstein gave us which high school students like to play with is the equation for time at very high speeds. For a given frame of reference, time is defined by the equation T = T’/the square root of 1 – V^2 over C^2. In the equation, T = the time you experience. T’ is the time you would experience at rest relative to a given frame of reference. V is the speed at which you move, and C is the speed of light. Notice that as your speed reaches the speed of light, the fraction V^2/C^2 become 1, and since it is subtracted from 1, the value of the denominator becomes zero. Time ceases to exist. It becomes undefined.

If you could exceed the speed of light, the denominator would become the square root of a negative number which is said to be imaginary. Einstein gave us a similar equation for mass in which the mass is the undefined factor. Nuclear physics and quantum mechanics verify these equations.

This is an over-simplified explanation, but the point I am making is that there is physical evidence that there are dimensions beyond the three in which we exist. Being timeless is something science has begun to comprehend because these equations show that time is a variable that can be changed. The creation is far grander and far more mysterious than we can imagine.

For Christians, this is no surprise. The Bible is full of descriptions that embrace the idea that time is a created entity and that creations exist outside of time. The whole concept of there being a beginning to the cosmos in Genesis 1:1 recognizes that there was an existence before time. Proverbs 8:22-23 indicates that time was a designed and fashioned quantity. Revelation 22:13 repeats this concept. Second Timothy 1:9 refers to it, and the whole idea of eternity relies upon it.

When we reach the end of life, time ceases to exist for us. That has interesting implications. If there is no time, there is no death because death depends upon aging, and without time, nothing ages. There is no physical pain if time doesn’t exist. That’s because physical pain depends upon the time it takes for the pain signal to go from what gets hurt (like a finger) to what registers the hurt – your brain.

“No more tears, no more sorrows.” Revelation 21:4 Describes this change saying that “the former things have all passed away.” Second Peter 3:8-13 speaks of the elements dissolving at the end of time. Science has given us some reinforcement for these promises recognizing that the physical world will be done away with when time ends. Let us live in such a way that we can look forward to the timeless new order God has in store for us.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Intellectually Honest Skepticism

Intellectually Honest SkepticismAs I speak on college and university campuses, a large number of people (both atheists and religious) find a statement I like to open with to be astounding. The statement is, “You can intelligently and logically and rationally believe in God.” There is an immediate air of doubt in the minds of many who cannot or do not want to believe it. I don’t know how many of them change their minds in the course or our lectures. Skepticism abounds today, but what we need is intellectually honest skepticism willing to seek the truth.

Certainly one major factor has been that various churches, groups, and individuals have dogmatically forced a creed of creationism upon all members. Those creeds frequently fly in the face of both science and common sense. The more capable and clearest thinking young people who refuse to be force-fed this dogma, simply leave the church. Many of the leading atheist speakers in the United States today came from a church background.

The growth of aggressive atheism is another factor leading many to think that intelligent, logical belief in God is impossible. Attractive websites and high budget, colorful printed materials promote naturalism, if not downright atheism. Saturated with scientific materialism and locked into a mindset that anything religious is automatically wrong, they claim to be the only voice of reason, logic, and competent science.

Instead of skepticism referring to a healthy, scientifically rigorous approach to issues and solving problems, the word has become synonymous with an anti-religion mindset. It is evident that, in a great many cases, the atheist community has completely taken over the concept of skepticism.

I want to suggest that intellectually honest skepticism is Christian in nature, and it is the approach Jesus used in His ministry and teachings. In fact, the Bible condemned religionism more strongly than atheism. The Bible makes only fleeting references to atheism. (See Romans 1:19-23.) The strong condemnation statements of Christ, and the Bible writers in general, come down on the religious leaders who force their traditions on the population. The teachings of Christ focused on attitudes and how we treat each other. The religious establishment constantly criticized Christ because He did not adhere to their traditions. His teaching was logical, practical, and pragmatic not built on the traditions of the past. He asked questions and awaited logical responses.

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (5th Edition) defines a skeptic as “one who carries a critical or incredulous attitude into his inquiries.” Skepticism is defined as “the doctrine that all knowledge is uncertain.” This does not mean that skeptical minds reject anything that is not physical. Limiting our belief system to only what we can see, smell, touch, feel, and hear precludes all kinds of things. A vast percentage of nuclear physics, quantum mechanics, relativistic physics, and even some mathematics depends upon knowledge that does not involve the senses.

Intellectually honest skepticism demands inquiry and also recognizes that knowledge is uncertain because humans are uncertain. This does not mean that there is no such thing as truth. It just means that skeptics should be aware of their own limitations and of the human capacity to misjudge. Intellectually honest skeptics know the danger of preconceived ideas and their approach should be humble, open, and careful. Being skeptical does not mean that a person has no beliefs, morals, or convictions. I can have strong convictions and beliefs and can communicate those to others and still have the ability to change my beliefs and understandings.

Unfortunately, skepticism in today’s American culture is at least as dogmatic as ultraconservative, fundamentalistic religion. Any skeptics who would question Darwin, would likely be castigated by their peers. There is a need for intellectually honest skepticism in the world. I am a skeptic in approach, but there are some basic things that my skeptical approach has led me to believe strongly. If we reason together in an open, skeptical way, we can learn. Blind, closed skepticism and blind, closed dogmatism are impossible to tell apart to those who are seeking the truth.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Does Intelligent Design Destroy Science?

Does Intelligent Design Destroy Science?Skeptics claim that Intelligent Design destroys science. This claim shows how badly the skeptics misunderstand intelligent design.

The dictionary defines science as knowledge. When we do scientific experiments and make observations, we are trying to gain knowledge. We apply that knowledge to those situations where we can gain more knowledge. We never just say “God did it” and stop investigating. We continue experimenting because we want to understand how and why God did it. Believing that there is design in all aspects of the creation never stops us from looking for a deeper understanding. Naturalism is frequently just the opposite. A classic example of this is Junk DNA.

As naturalists examined the DNA in various animals, they found that there was DNA that didn’t seem to be necessary. They called it “Junk DNA” assuming that it was a byproduct left over from the evolutionary process. For many researchers, that was the end of the story. No further experiments were designed to find a purpose for junk DNA. In this case, a naturalistic view and assumption stopped the scientific investigation, or at least slowed it down.

A biology professor chastised me for referring to junk DNA as a dead-end street. His exact words were “God doesn’t make any junk.” The assumption that junk DNA wasn’t junk led to further investigation. That research now tells us the so-called “junk” has a purpose and plays a vital role in life processes. Believing that everything we see was created with a purpose and a design, and wanting to understand that design is a great catalyst for scientific investigation.

Historically, most of the significant discoveries of science over the past 1000 years have been made by scientists who recognized purpose and design in the cosmos. They were striving to understand that design. In our quarterly journal (which you can read on doesgodexist.org), we have a column titled “Scientists and God.” We present statements by leading scientists about their faith and their recognition of purpose and design in the creation. Does Intelligent Design destroy science? No, it supports science.

We quoted Albert Einstein in our first quarter journal for 2019 when he said:

“We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written the books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books, but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human beings toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”

Whether we study biology or quantum mechanics, Intelligent Design enhances science because the universe was intelligently designed.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Quantum Mechanics Bumps Into God

Quantum Mechanics Bumps Into God
New ideas and concepts in quantum mechanics come out so frequently that it is hard to keep up with them, much less understand them. “Quantum Collapse” seems to be at the forefront of the most recent theories and proposals, and new experiments are appearing in the literature that seem to confirm at least some parts of modern quantum mechanics. At some point, quantum mechanics bumps into God.

The biggest challenge seems to be connecting classical physics and quantum mechanics. What seems to work in understanding quantum mechanics applications to electrons and atoms doesn’t work when applied to larger objects like the moon.

Dr. Steven Adler at Princeton University says, “Newtonian mechanics was believed to be exact for 200 years, and now it is not. Most theories have a domain in which they work, and then there’s a domain beyond which they don’t work and where a broader theory is needed.” Nobel Laureate Stephen Weinberg says, “It’s a problem of failing to satisfy the reactionary philosophical preconceptions of people like me.” Weinberg has taken atheistic stances on a variety of issues, but the bottom line is that rejecting God as the creator leaves enormous incompleteness in a person’s worldview.

Quantum mechanics offers an understanding of the creation that those of us trained in Newtonian mechanics view as strange. Dr. Angelo Bassi, a leading theoretical physicist says, “Some people will tell you quantum mechanics has taught us that the world is strange, so we have to accept it, but I say if something is strange, we have to understand it better.” Tim Folger writing in Scientific American (July 2018, page 30) says, “Where does the quantum world end and the so-called classical world of Newtonian physics begin? Is there a rift in reality, a scale beyond which quantum effects simply cease? Or does quantum mechanics reign everywhere and we are somehow blind to it?”

Bible readers may recall Paul’s discussion of reality in Acts 17:28: “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” The Bible frequently states that the real world we live in was caused by forces we cannot see. Hebrews 11:3 tells us “…that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” The Bible’s message is that the creation came from God, not from eternally-existing matter, so quantum mechanics bumps into God.

Quantum mechanics is telling us more and more about the complex wisdom and planning that God used in creating time, space, electric charge and all that makes up the physical world. In Proverbs 8:22 “Wisdom” speaks saying, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.” That wisdom and planning shine through the creation everywhere we look, even when quantum mechanics bumps into God.
–John N. Clayton © 2018