Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Complex creators

Without wanting to wander too much into theism, I want to explore a common idea and show how it can be easily shown to be wrong, no matter what your belief system.  This idea is that a creator can be simple.  Some sort of vague mindless creative influence might possibility be simple, but a creator with a mind absolutely cannot.  Why?  Because of the things we insist a mind can do.  A mind can think, it can respond, it can remember, and it can change.  These things that a mind can do necessarily involve complexity.

Let's consider memory.  Memory requires storage of things separately so that they aren't confused - if you have a memory of red, and a memory of blue, then recalling these memories will recall each separately, and not some purple mess of combination.  There are many, many ways of storing such things, but method doesn't matter, what matters is that by any measure of complexity being able to remember has to involve complexity, such as the ability to assign storage to memories and later recall them based on some form of identification (such as the word "red" for the colour red).

Similar arguments for the requirement of complexity apply to the process of thinking, the changing of mind, the making of decisions.  All these things involve a mind changing states, and the existence of such states is part of what we call complexity.

The problem of complexity can't be avoided by labelling a creator 'supernatural', because in the above discussion no mention of physics has been made.  A 'supernatural' being has the same necessity for memory and thinking, no matter that the mechanism is forever unknowable.

Mind is complex, and if mind seems so complex that it surely needed a creator, then the mind of a creator is then so complex that a further creator is needed, and so on forever.  This is why the idea of a creator is never a satisfactory explanation for the existence of mind.


Anonymous said...

I remember reading The God Delusion by Dawkins, and coming across this objection to the creator argument. He didn't spend too much time explaining it. "It begs the question of who made God!", and I was left asking, "How?". Great article, and good explanation of the contradictions of the design argument. Have you read any of David Hume's objections to that argument?

Steve Zara said...

Yes, I love reading Hume. A great thinker and wonderful writer.