Is the Universe a Computer?

By Sean Carroll | January 10, 2008 10:15 pm

Via the Zeitgeister, a fun panel discussion at the Perimeter Institute between Seth Lloyd, Leonard Susskind, Christopher Fuchs and Sir Tony Leggett, moderated by Bob McDonald of CBC Radio’s Quirks & Quarks program. The topic is “The Physics of Information,” and as anyone familiar with the participants might guess, it’s a lively and provocative discussion.

A few of the panel members tried to pin down Seth Lloyd on one of his favorite catchphrases, “The universe is a computer.” I tackled this one myself at one point, at least half-seriously. If the universe is a computer, what is it computing? Its own evolution, apparently, according to the laws of physics. Tony Leggett got right to the heart of the matter, however, by asking “What kind of process would not count as a computer?” To which Lloyd merely answered, “Yeah, good question.” (But he did have a good line — “If the universe is a computer, why isn’t it running Windows?” Insert your own “blue screen of death” joke here.)

So I tried to look up the definition of a “computer.” You can open a standard text on quantum computation, but “computer” doesn’t appear in the index. The dictionary is either unhelpful — “a device that computes” — or too specific — “an electronic device designed to accept data, perform prescribed mathematical and logical operations at high speed, and display the results of these operations.” Wikipedia tells me that a computer is a machine that manipulates data according to a list of instructions. Again, too specific to include this universe, unless you interpret “machine” to mean “object.”

I think the most general definition of “computer” that would be useful is “a system that takes a set of input and deterministically produces a set of output.” The big assumption being that the same input always produces the same output, but I don’t think that’s overly restrictive for our present purposes. In that sense, the laws of physics act as a computer: given some data in the form of an initial configuration, the laws of physics will evolve the configuration into some output in the form of a final configuration. Setting aside the tricky business of wavefunction collapse, you have something like a computer. I suppose you could argue about whether the laws of physics are “the software” or the computer itself, but I think you are revealing the limitations of the metaphor rather than learning something interesting.

But if we take the metaphor at face value, it makes more sense to me to think of the universe as a calculation rather than as a computer. We have input data in the form of the conditions at early times, and the universe has calculated our current state. It could have been very different, with different input data.

And what precise good does it do to think in this way? Yeah, good question. (Which is not to imply that there isn’t an answer.)

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science
  • chemicalscum

    It seems to me that if we take the concept of quantum gravity seriously the Universe is not just any old computer but is a digital computer. If we say the Universe is a digital computer, it raises of computability and the halting problem, does a Universe have to be computable to be real.

  • poke

    “And what precise good does it do to think in this way?”

    It makes people with Computer Science degrees feel more important.

  • Ellipsis

    One of my cats takes deterministically produces a set of output about 5 feet away from his litterbox. Is he a computer?

  • chemicalscum

    We have for a long time used the most advanced and rapidly developing technology of an era as a metaphor for science to interpret the world.

    In the seventeenth century it was clocks and we ended up with Newtonian mechanics. In the nineteenth century it was the steam engine and we ended up with thermodynamics. In the twenty first century it is computers and we we end up with …

  • chemicalscum

    One of my cats takes deterministically produces a set of output about 5 feet away from his litterbox. Is he a computer?

    No he is, like you, merely a subroutine running on the universal computer :)

  • Mark S.

    >And what precise good does it do to think in this way?

    So we can figure out how to crash it. [insert evil geek laugh]

    There’s a science fiction story for you.

  • MedallionOfFerret

    So, what if the universe is not a computer? Or a calculation? What if it’s a free entity, constrained only in some ways that humans have learned to focus on, and not in others that remain beyond the ken of our logic? What if the evolution of the human brain has left us incapable of perceiving or understanding what “the universe” really consists of, and we merely perceive, and analyze, Plato’s shadows on the wall?

    “What is now proved, was once only imagin’d.” What if we aren’t constructed so as to be able to even imagine it?

    Pretty far out, huh? That’s what metaphors like “The universe is a computer” are, too. That’s my story, & I’m sticking to it.

  • http://www.iidb.org RBH

    Mark S wrote

    So we can figure out how to crash it. [insert evil geek laugh]

    It’s been done, in Arthur C. Clarke’s classic short story “The Six Billion Names of God.” :)

  • http://divergentboundary.blogspot.com Khurram

    Good points Sean. I used to have a similar view of the universe as a computation. But I could never articulate it.
    Specifically, how does the universe calculate things exactly?? Physicists have to make all sorts of approximations and assumptions!
    Any thoughts anybody?
    thank you.

  • http://www.pieter-kok.staff.shef.ac.uk PK

    I disagree with your definition that the computer should determine the output deterministically. This excludes many important real algorithms, and it also excludes quantum computers.

  • Elliot

    What is interesting to me is if the universe is a computer, what is the rate of processing and how has that rate changed over time since the big bang. Is computation (cpu cycles/bits of output) increasing with time?

    The reason I find this is an interesting question is the potential relationship to the Bekenstein Bound and the holographic principle.

    Any thoughts or comments welcome

    e.

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    A process is something that evolves over time. A computer runs a program. A program is a state to state mapping. And a state is a name to value mapping.

    The universe is trivially a computer.

  • The Almighty Bob

    Elliot, you’re thinking too specifically. You’re talking like the universe was Intel Inside, when really Sean’s definition was closer to that of a Turing Machine.

  • http://personals.ac.upc.edu/pchacin Pablo

    Maybe you are considering the concept of computer in a too narrow sense. Turing, Von Newman and others considered the idea of computation as a general algebraic description of processes. Turin machines, for example, are supposed to be “capable of performing any conceivable mathematical problem” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing). This pretty much includes any meaningful process.

    Actually, those basic ideas of computation lead later to Maturana to propose the autopoiesis or self-production as the basis of life. So, it might be argued (and have extensively been so) that any living entity is a “computer”.

    As a consequence, it might also be argue that the universe is alive.

    This is the point to stop and pick a cup of coffee, I guess.

  • George Musser

    I hope Seth will weigh in, but in my understanding there are at least three other issues here. First, a computer performs a task that is computable in the Turing-machine sense. Second, a computer operates in discrete time. These are more restrictive conditions on the laws of nature than your definition implies. Third, there are times when an algorithm is a more useful conceptual paradigm than an equation because the latter doesn’t have a closed-form analytic solution; it has to be re-expressed as a difference equation for numerical solution, in which case, why not just start with the difference equation?
    George

  • Malo Juevo

    Tony Leggett hit the nail on the head. The universe is a computer is the same sense that any process is. Put another way, for the universe to qualify as a computer, the definition of that term must be so broadened as to become meaningless (or at least purely metaphorical). In real practice, the key features of a computer are its read-in and read-out, neither of which the universe has. With a true computing device, it must be possible to vary the input of its computations, either by providing a different program or by changing the “wiring” of the computer itself.

    Seth Lloyd’s incessant babbling that the universe is a computer has actually, from what I’ve seen, done damage to the perception of quantum computing in the scientific community. The damage has been minor, but it’s visible. Just about every time I hear a serious talk on quantum computation, the speaker takes time early on to disclaim the notion that the whole universe is a computer.

  • The Almighty Bob

    With a true computing device, it must be possible to vary the input of its computations, either by providing a different program or by changing the “wiring” of the computer itself.

    Just because you can’t find where to plug the keyboard in… :-)

    Computers operate in discrete time, George? Digital computers do, yes, but analogue computers use continuous phenomena to do calculations.
    Computing practice as it stands is a tiny subset of what is theoretically possible. For example, it’s eminently possible to build a processor that works in decimal natively, removing this silly obsession with binary; we don’t because binary signalling is much more noise-tolerant.

  • Thoughtless Barbarian

    We can’t really call the universe a computer because we don’t really know all the universe consists of and all of it’s properties, rules, etc. We don’t even know all of the thinks to look for.

    Wait, I guess that does sound like my computer.

  • Elliot

    Bob,

    I was trying to use an analogy. I am talking about bits processed in the most general sense. The relationship to the holographic principle is dependent on a quantification of bits of information in the universe.

    e.

  • Aaron Sheldon

    The universe at the least can’t be a digitial or finite computer, because linear operators on a finite Hilbert Space can’t form Hiesenberg/Lie bracket Uncertainty relationship. You would either have to give up conservation of energy or conservation of probability in the wave function. Only inifinite Hilbert Spaces have Banach spaces of linear operators that can contain Lie Brackets that equal the identity operator, and even then the representation as Lebesgue intergrable functions is only modulo to functions defined almost everywhere.

    If the universe is a computer its not like any that we have seen, quantum, digital, or otherwise.

  • http://sansfaith.blogspot.com godma

    Maybe the problem here is that we’re trying to draw the line between what is and is not a computer, but in reality it is more of a continuous quality (computerness?).

    That said, I sense a critical missing element in these definitions: the meaningfulness of the information being computed.

    Meaningness, being a state of mind, requires a perceiver. So, this would mean that for something to be a computer, a perceiver is required. I’m not prepared to claim that the universe has any external perceivers, but it sure does have internal ones. The universe perceives itself through us, at least.

    I think we need to find unambiguous meaning in the universe’s calculations before we can rightly call it a computer (or high on the “computerness” scale, rather).

  • Moshe

    Nah, the universe is not a quantum computer, it is actually a giant organism whose genes are constantly mutating. Actually, on second thought, it is a mathematical structure obeying the cold hard rules of logic. I used to think that the universe is a marketplace, whose invisible hand guides us towards the greater good, but that is obviously just a meaningless bunch of words…

  • UWbio

    It seems to me that in order to model a universe with a computer one would necessarily have to use an algorithm with some random variables. The real question, in my mind, arises from how those random numbers are generated. For instance a typical software program uses the last couple digits of the time that the program has been running and takes the modulus of that number (e.g. using the time 12:03:04.21426713 the program would take 13mod4 to generate one of four possible outcomes and if it needed to make another calculation then it would use the next time 12:03:04.21473459 and use 59mod4 to generate the next possible outcome). This is only pseudo-random and if the universe is a computer that picks it’s random numbers in such a manner then it should be possible to determine exactly where (not just most the probable location) a particle will land once it goes past an edge, or through a slit, or what it’s spin state will be after measurement of the entangled state, etc. However, if the universe generates a truly random number then we will be forced to rely on some form of quantum mechanics forever, again assuming that the universe is a computer…sorry if this is totally incomprehensible to you physics folks I am just putting my thoughts on paper, so to say. I am just a humble molecular biologist who wishes he had taken the physics route as an undergrad.

    Are any of these information theories of the universe testable? Wouldn’t it be cool if the answer really was 42.

  • Haelfix

    For it to proceed as a computer it need not be deterministic, though ultimately that distinction is irrelevant. A deterministic Turing machine can and will compute the same things a NDM turing machine does though it will take longer presumably (depending on the P = NP problem).

    The whole discussion is a bit of a scam, since any Turing machine can write down an algorithm for the exact laws of physics and mathematics and simply proceed as usual eg no one has learned anything.

    Whether the universe can be described by a simple cellular automata unlike the basic laws we know (something Humans can write down from first principles and recursively compute) though is a better question, and I think that its pretty clear that you cannot.

  • Haelfix

    Incidentally, computer science teaches us that there is no real difference between hardware and software (calculation vs device). This is true by the Church theorem.

    Though there does exist examples of noncomputable problems if we assume the machine has limited resources (N states different than infinity)

  • The Almighty Bob

    Even if we assume infinite resources, there exists one problem no Turing-based computer can solve; the halting problem.

  • http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog Scott Aaronson

    I’ve always considered “is the universe a computer?” to be a meaningless question, whose one saving grace is that it’s close in ideaspace to some extremely meaningful questions. Namely, supposing we choose to see the universe as a computer (which of course we can if we want), what is its clock rate? How much information can it store? What exactly can we get it to compute? Can it solve NP-complete problems in polynomial time?

    But it’s not surprising that most popularizers are solely interested in whether the universe “is” a computer. The other questions have the huge disadvantage that we actually know something about them.

  • rw

    why isn’t any logic gate a computer? And why isn’t the difference between Nature and a computer that nature computes us and we compute computers?

  • Supernova

    Can it solve NP-complete problems in polynomial time?

    Sure. At least some portions of it can.

  • http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog Scott Aaronson

    And which portions would those be?

  • http://larvatusprodeo.net dk.au

    Sorry which Universe are we talking about here?

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com Bad

    I have to admit: I’m coming to despise all efforts to try and capture reality in dippy, inapt metaphors. It just seems, in the end, lazy. It doesn’t provide any new insight into anything, and is almost always an excuse for putting in the time to understand the always hard to classify or generalize quirks of any given subject.

  • http://ideaworx.com Lewis Perdue

    It may be a computer, but not in the Von Neumann sense which is far too deterministic. Perhaps a self-referential simulation or something akin to the analog computers of the 1960s.

  • http://blog.chewxy.com Chewxy

    Just a breather from the discussions: Those who watch Futurama – remember the God-bot from Godfellas?

    That was the first thing I had in mind when I read the title (granted, though, the God-bot is actually a galaxy)

  • http://ideaworx.com Lewis Perdue

    I’d recommend Seth Lloyd’s exhaustive treatment in his book: “Programming the Universe: a Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos.” (Knopf, 2006)

    Of course, when he starts to ask, “How many bits are there in an apple?” then determines that “the meaning of meaning is not clear,” you know you’re in for a ride.

    Interesting for a former physicist like me who is a now writer is his discussion on ambiguity. He first discusses this in terms of language, but does not recognize it for the superposition it represents. Resolving verbal ambiguities involves the calculation of probabilities derived from the real-time context.

    Sure, ambiguity usually returns an error message in computer programming.

    But if we are living in a cosmic quantum computer, it must be able to compute ambiguity/superpositions … or the world would end with every political ambiguity uttered by our ruling DemoRepublicrats.

  • http://www.website.com Yahoo

    “It makes people with Computer Science degrees feel more important.”

    More precisely: it enables them to pretend that what they are doing is science.

  • http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com/ Lab Lemming

    By that definition, dropping a computer off of a bridge is computing.

  • Elliot

    Scott wrote: “what is it’s clock rate?” this is exactly what I am trying to get at and does that clock rate vary over time? If so how? and “how much information can it store?” also isn’t this limited by the surface area of the universe per the BB?

    Thank you for articulating more precisely my inquiry.

    e.

  • http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog Scott Aaronson

    “It makes people with Computer Science degrees feel more important.”

    More precisely: it enables them to pretend that what they are doing is science.

    Dear Poke and Yahoo,

    I’m sure you didn’t intend the emotional pain caused by stereotyping an entire field. But assumptions and prejudices can truly be hurtful. While you might not realize this, individuals with computer science degrees aren’t all alike, but are in fact a glorious rainbow of nerds who cherish their diversity, just as our physicist friends cherish theirs. Not all of us agree that “the universe is a computer,” or indeed that the question itself makes any sense. Some of us are even doing things that could plausibly be described as “science” — take a look; you might be surprised! Incidentally, Seth Lloyd is not a computer scientist; he’s in the mechanical engineering department. Thank you for your understanding.

    This has been a message from the Computer Science Anti-Defamation League.

  • The Almighty Bob

    33 Lewis: precisely. MONIAC is a better analogy than Intel.

    Can it solve NP-complete problems in polynomial time?

    Sure. At least some portions of it can.

    Scott Aaronson on Jan 11th, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    And which portions would those be?

    Those parts of it which can model a Universal Turing Machine capable of solving NP-complete problems. Most commonly produced by a complex interaction between Si and fabs, or a process involving cellular mitosis.

  • http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog Scott Aaronson

    Almighty Bob, you seem to have missed the phrase “in polynomial time.”

  • The Almighty Bob

    True. Sorry.

  • http://tyrannogenius.blogspot.com Neil B.

    As I have argued before, the universe cannot be a computer/program etc for the following reason: true randomness cannot be produced by mathematical processes, because mathematics is a logical system. All presumptive randomness from “random variables” etc. is either just declared output without producing the goods, or the “goods” (genuinely random sequences) must be put in by hand, as by digits of roots etc. The decay of specific muons (not to be confused with the percentages left over time, I mean the actual “hits” themselves) in a computer model would require highly contrived arrangements to be put in by hand, like carefully selected roots and reseeding and all that to avoid artifacts that would blow the output as being phony. That’s all she wrote, really.

  • The Almighty Bob

    Not possible from pure mathematics, no, but some people involve a little extra physics in their RNGs.

    “The universe is a computer” is a nice metaphor Neil, but I’ll agree that that’s about it.

  • Peter Shor

    As I’ve said before, if you take the assumption that the universe is a computer realistically, then reasoning from experience, you have to conclude that it is almost certain that the program contains a bug.

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2007/11/self-evident-dimensional-perspective.html Plato
  • http://tyrannogenius.blogspot.com Neil B.

    Right, it’s deep, and I agree with those who think we still haven’t solved Schrodinger’s Cat and the “collapse of the wave function.” I have seen descriptions/explanations of “decoherence” here and elsewhere, and they always use a fundamentally circular argument (that cannot be brushed off by appeals to the deeper finery of a particular argument.) The Art Deco always references density matrices and other probabilistic concepts and even saying “if a measurement occurs then” and etc, in a way which slips in the collapse or others in effect before explaining itself etc. As I said, waves interacting and interfering with other waves, absent a particular incidental localization or quantization “added by hand” (of mathematician or “God”) just stay a bunch of waves rippling through each other. If you don’t agree, show me without cheating.

  • Paul Valletta

    Q “Is the Universe a Computer?”

    A Only if it is a “Laptop”, and is actually on somebody’s lap, who is actually operating from “outside” of the compuniverse !

    Next question is:Does the Universe have an “input” programmer or a self aware calculator?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calculus_ratiocinator

    If the universe is actually metaphored with a physical computer, then one can legally ask this: for input and output processes, does input materialize as an internal or external function of the universe?

    logging off….or technically inputing an output command!

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  • Aaron F.


    And what precise good does it do to think in this way?

    So we can figure out how to crash it. [insert evil geek laugh]

    There’s a science fiction story for you.

    Actually, there is a science fiction story about that… I think it ran in Analog, or maybe Asimov’s, a couple of years ago. It features a bunch of scientists who are trying, for unknown reasons, to bounce a giant laser pulse off some distant object—possibly the Andromeda galaxy. All the scientists are puzzled when the pulse doesn’t come back… except the head scientist, who (SPOILER ALERT) had really been planning all along to crash the universe! Bwahahahaahahaha!

    The funniest thing about this is that I don’t even read science fiction magazines… I read that story in a friend’s room at camp. I don’t remember the year, the camp, or the friend’s name, but I remember the story to this day. :)

  • http://thedialogs.org Alex Na

    Can we make any predictions from that “Universe is a computer” idea?

    If all the randomness is pseudo-randomness then the random routine should start repeating the same random sequence. Can we see it somehow? Is repeating the history an evidence? I do not think so. What if that random sequence is rather short, would it help to discover it?

    If the universe is a computer and there is a “quantum” of time when nothing changes. Can we somehow sense it? Can we somehow protect a word from being changed by the universe?

    Can we test somehow if the world is in fact deterministic? I would say no. Anyone? ;)

    If we fail to come up with any prediction, even a crazy one, I am afraid the idea to see the universe as a computer if not that interesting. ;(

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  • http://personals.ac.upc.edu/pchacin Pablo

    For what I can see from the past discussion, I seams that most people commenting here is confusion the question “is the universe a computer”, with other aspects like “is it useful?” or “what is it computing”. Not every computer needs to be useful, not its computation intelligible to us.

  • Elliot

    The is an underlying question which is: If it is a computer, is it a self replicating computer? a computer built by an external entity? or an emergent computer that became a computer as part of it’s evolution? or …fill in the blank…?

  • http://physicsmuse.wordpress.com/ sand

    There can’t be any outside forces acting on the universe as a whole (by definition). So, if the universe is running a program, it has to come from within. We don’t have any examples of programs that evolved completely within a system. Even the genetic code was acted upon and optimized by forces outside the system (life). So, perhaps a better question is – are any parts of the universe a computer?

    Of course, if the universe were a computer, we would try to find the program which would be the most concise description of the universe (isn’t that what we are doing while looking for a theory of everything?).

    It makes more sense to say the universe is conscious. It would give you the same result, a self-motivated universe would “behave” the same as a programed universe, but you wouldn’t need an outside force or programmer.

  • http://tyrannogenius.blogspot.com Neil B.


    There can’t be any outside forces acting on the universe as a whole (by definition).

    Nope, this is the sometimes-called (IIRC, but fallacy in any case) analytical fallacy – you wrongly take the inner content or insinuation of a term or even phrase that has become used by custom to draw unwarranted conclusion. Just because we call this thing out here “the universe” does not mean there aren’t others or something else. You can say that we *shouldn’t* call this “the universe” or even “a universe” which sounds contradictory, but once a name becomes useful and habitual, it is usually too late to force a change to a more “appropriate” designation. That’s the breaks, and you should realize that to avoid similar misconstructions.

    I do dig your idea of the “universe” being conscious, albeit very hard to get a handle on. Look into some exotic quantum philosophy diversions by John A. Wheeler et al on this.

    tyrannogenius

  • http://www.ma.huji.ac.il/~kalai/ Gil Kalai

    Regarding the question:

    “What kind of process would not count as a computer”

    A process which cannot be effectively simulated by a computer would not count as a computer. So if you propose a physics theory based on things that are uncomputable it is probably false.
    (The very precise scope of “effectively computed” is still a little disputed.)

    On the positive side, processes that can be described by general computational models are potentially more complex and may allow richer modeling power than standard physics models. (If this is useful is left to be seen.)

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  • chemicalscum

    @59 NeilB,

    Right, it’s deep, and I agree with those who think we still haven’t solved Schrodinger’s Cat and the “collapse of the wave function.” I have seen descriptions/explanations of “decoherence” here and elsewhere, and they always use a fundamentally circular argument

    Zurek:

    New paradigms often take a long time to gain ground
    Atomic theory of matter (which, until early XX century
    was `just an interpretation’) is the case in point. Some of
    the most tangible applications and consequences of new
    ideas are difficult to recognize immediately. In the case
    of atomic theory, Brownian motion is a good example
    Even when the evidence is out there, it is often difficult
    to decode its significance.
    Decoherence and einselection are no exception. They
    have been investigated for about two decades. They are
    the only explanation of classicality that does not require
    modifications of quantum theory…

    DECOHERENCE, EINSELECTION,
    AND THE QUANTUM ORIGINS OF THE CLASSICAL

    arXiv:quant-ph/0105127 v3

  • Chris W.

    Meanwhile, Dennis Overbye asks if cosmology has jumped the shark…

    “If you are reincarnated, why do you care about where you are reincarnated?” he asked. “It sounds crazy because here we are touching issues we are not supposed to be touching in ordinary science. Can we be reincarnated?”

    “People are not prepared for this discussion,” Dr. Linde said.

    The above is kind of off-topic, but hey, we’re talking about whether the universe can be regarded as a computer.

    (Actually, I think this notion can be very fruitful, if get the right handle on it. We don’t have it yet. Further elaboration will not fit in a blog comment…)

  • http://personals.ac.upc.edu/pchacin Pablo

    Uhm, nobody is pretending that the universe is like the pc you are using now! A computer is an abstract mathematical device to analyze certain processes. I’m not an expert but from what I know, nothing in the concept of a computer implies an external source.

    Also, there is a nice example of self-generated “computers”: the life itself, at least according to Maturana and others.

  • MJGeorge

    “Uhm, nobody is pretending that the universe is like the pc you are using now! A computer is an abstract mathematical device to analyze certain processes. I’m not an expert but from what I know, nothing in the concept of a computer implies an external source.”

    But, if we live in a quantum world, bounded by human intelligence, will not the computer accelerate the growth of human consciousness??

  • zankaon

    Nature can not be calculating orbits. If it did, then there would have to be rounding off at certain significant number of digits; hence accumulated error and instability. Alternatively, if the calculation continued to any degree of accuracy, then the Turing tape would never end. So it would seem that nature has a geometric description for orbits; hence not a computer analogy.

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  • John

    Why are people always searching for an alternative to the obvious?

    I want you to think of a dream. In that dream you created things. If you have vivid dreams like me and many others your dreams contain objects that are solid, have weight, and operate–sometimes defying the laws of physics.

    God gave us dreams to allow us to see how THOUGHT itself can create. The universe is not a computer program–it is pure thought. It actually has no substance–just as your dream actually has no substance although you could swear it does while your asleep. Is yellow really bright? Not to someone without eyes. Is rock really hard? Not to someone without a body. In a sense you could think of what God created as some type of program, in that rock is programmed to feel hard to us–but just as when you dream the rock is just thought.

    The universe is sustained by God’s thought. If you wanted you dead he would not have to kill you–he could simply stop thinking of you. But unlike our dreams God has given that which he creates much independence. It can operate apart from him and has real life of its own. But make no mistake it resides in God’s thought–not in any physical place.

    Scientists often state that miracles are impossible because of the laws of physics. But those laws were set by God and are just as meaningless as those laws are in our dreams. To turn water into wine, or to raise Christ is just as easy as it is in our dreams for God. Its no feat–its no miracle for him. The real miracle is that we invent new ways of denying him. In our arrogance we uncreate the one who created life. You have to really work to deny something so obvious. No mathematician in the world can reconcile the universe with the laws of probablity–and thats the *Result of the universe—its not even taking into account that it must have Laws to even begin running the program. A child can see the odds cannot be beat–Plus, the odds of something coming out of nothing in a spacetime universe are not even odds–they are Zero. God is not in Spacetime–it was his idea.

    Like a child, and not like a know it all, ask Him tonight if Christ was real–and if he is— you will trust him—do that tonight and God promises he will not leave such an innocent heart in disbelief. Its not about a fact finding mission, a detective story–its about God revealing the truth to you supernaturally. Then you will really get a chance to experience the entire universe forever.

    Dont think a witty retort—a clever response that you can impress yourself with–just ask God.

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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