Sunday, January 8, 2012

Einstein's Word Puzzle

Although we're missing the lead-up here, see if you can understand this argument based on an observation from Albert Einstein

In one area after another we find it impossible to act consistently with worldviews that deny an infinite, personal, creator God. Such worldviews fail the test of internal consistency and should be rejected by honest thinkers. Why is theism the only worldview that avoids such internal contradiction? It’s because the real world really is the result of creation. Because reality is what it is, inconsistency is unavoidable whenever we try to think and behave as though it all happened apart from God. But when we admit God is real, everything falls into place with perfect consistency.

Notice the point here isn’t just that belief in God will help you think better or to be more consistent in your views. The point is that theism is true.

Why can’t we make an aircraft shaped like a box? It’s because aircraft have to interact with the real world in a way that results in flight. So the shape of a wing is not arbitrary. It has to be shaped that way, because in the real world, the curve of the wing results in lift. Wings work because they are properly designed for the real world.

Likewise, our minds work when we align them with reality: the fact that a personal, moral, and rational God has indeed created us and our world.

Consider this comment by Albert Einstein, as he discussed how the progress of science depends on scientists freely trying different ideas to explain what they see:

The liberty of choice [in applying new ideas], however, is of a special kind; it is not in any way similar to the liberty of a writer of fiction. Rather it is similar to that of a man engaged in solving a well designed word puzzle. He may, it is true, propose any word as the solution; but, there is only one word which really solves the puzzle in all its forms. It is an outcome of faith that nature—as she is perceptible to our five senses—takes the character of such a well formulated puzzle. The successes reaped up to now by science do, it is true, give a certain encouragement for this faith…. [Albert Einstein, “General Consideration Concerning the Method of Science” in The Journal of the Franklin Institute (221, 3, 1936).]

In this statement, Einstein (who was not a theist, but did believe in some higher power) agrees with the point of this chapter. He compares the universe to a word puzzle.

Now think about what assumptions would be required in order to solve this puzzle.

1. First, before even trying to solve it, you would have to believe that it is a crossword puzzle, not just random marks on a page. This is just like needing to know the universe is reasonable.
2. Therefore, if this is a crossword puzzle, some thinking, planning being composed it. Otherwise, you have no reason to think words would fit and make it work out.
3. Once you do solve it, the fact that it works confirms the original assumptions, 1 and 2. This is why Einstein says scientific progress tends to confirm faith in order.

Here, you can see visually why approaching the world reasonably implies creation. But this becomes even clearer when you add the first word to the puzzle, a big word that lies right in the center, and which cannot be otherwise, you also determine how the rest of the puzzle must work.

The things we listed at the beginning of this chapter—our certain sense that “I am me,” that I can see and reason, that I am making free decisions, that I am a moral being, a creative being—these observations dictate how the rest of the puzzle works.

If we can’t believe these ultimately clear observations about ourselves, we can’t believe anything we perceive. Yet, all of these features of personhood, like the puzzle itself, require a planning, purposeful creator. This whole picture is just like the rocks on the hillside telling us we are about to enter Canada.

Our purposeful creator: not a vague force that could never account for personhood because it lacks personhood itself, but a true, personal being—he is the one we need to meet and get to know if we want to live life to the full.

Check out Discovering God now


HgsDctr said...

A great recent example of inconsistency is Alain de Botton's "Athiesm 2.0"--the TED talk is at

His logic is inconsistent--"since there's no God, but religion is the best source of meaning/connection/spirituality/morality, let's steal these things from religion for athiesm!"

Think about the logic...he is covering up deficiencies in atheism by borrowing from theism!

Dennis said...

He lines up pretty well with most liberal theologians--unbelievers, but still want the religious feeling.

Anonymous said...

any thoughts on Chick-fil-A current events?