• IBM versus GOD

    It’s hard not to feel a little sad for God (or gods, if you like). There was a time when almost all of the humans believed God was everywhere and responsible for almost everything: creation, weather, ethics, and most importantly, who’d win at sports. Now, hardly anyone believes all of that. God lost his job as the cosmic mover-and-shaker and can only be found, even among the devout, consigned to invisible realms removed from all human activity such as heaven. Christians, for example, might be found to disagree with this, but they still buy insurance and get that MRI the doctor suggested, don’t they.

    The dots are atoms
    The dots are atoms

    Today’s God, at least for Christians in modern industrial democracies, is a part-timer at best.  Apparently He turned the universe switch “on” then let it bake at 400 million degrees for a while. After cooling for several billion years, He then staged a dramatic play to save mankind from Himself, which everyone agreed was very entertaining and worth murdering nonbelievers for. After that, God went back into nap mode. A few times it seemed like Armageddon was at hand, but then He hit the snooze button. Now He gets the occasional parking space for the devout, or decides a Super Bowl, but mostly the universe just seems to run fine without Him. What a sad state for the being that used to hold up the sky and strike down the wicked with cool special effects like plagues and zombies. How did this happen?

    Creation turned out to be easier than mankind originally expected. Lawrence Krauss and Stephen Hawking have basically argued that it required nothing. Literally nothing. That’s a crap entry on your resume: “Able to adequately perform as well as a featureless void”. The creation of life and biodiversity also required quite a bit less than godly psychokinesis: physical laws+time+ordinary sort of planet. No agency, no planning, no magical intervention was necessary. Hell, lowly humans created dogs & cats and now have even made fully artificial life forms. Alas for God, out-created by apes that believed in werewolves and imps and what not until a short time ago.

    In short, if there were a God who personally created our universe, humans, and so on… He did it the hard way.

    The apparent ever-shrinking of the God of the monotheists is an effect easily observable within my own lifetime. When I was a newly-minted nonbeliever teen in the 90’s, believers would occasionally make an argument such as “you have faith, too. Have you ever SEEN an atom? But you believe in them!” At the time, I had not and neither had anyone else (although the evidence for atoms and their structure was already overwhelming). This year an individual atom was photographed for the first time, even though they did not get its good side:


    And just this week the technowizards at IBM made a movie using as pixels individual atoms. The “smallest movie ever made.” Faith is not required, but wonder and astonishment are:

    The gaps are now smaller and faith has no purchase. Atoms are now too big for God to hide in. The insult to His dignity continues unabated.

    If you’re to invest in a triumvirate, it’s prudent to select IBM over G-O-D. The dividends are always better.

    Category: Critical ThinkingFeatured Incphilosophyscience

  • Article by: Edward Clint

    Ed Clint is an evolutionary psychologist, co-founder of Skeptic Ink, and USAF veteran.