Inconclusion, Part 1

@midjourneybot: /imagine: uncertainty

In this story, we compare and contrast Accidental Intelligence with Artificial Intelligence. We also discuss the dangers of certainty in science, religion, and everywhere else in life.

TLDR: I’ll summarize this story for you.

In the first story of this chapter, “I Doubt Therefore I Am”, we learned about the Scientific Method to show that all human intelligence is based on “philosophical” uncertainty.

In the second story of this chapter, “Are We Living in a Computer Simulation”, we learned about digital neural networks to show that all digital intelligence is based on “mathematical” uncertainty.

So the answer to life, the universe, and everything is inconclusive, or inconcludable. The answer is unanswerable because all intelligence, biological and digital, is based on uncertainty.

Maybe that’s by cosmic chance, or maybe that’s by design. If life is this way by cosmic chance, then I’m so grateful to share this “blip of existence” with you. Thank Randomness we weren’t born before the invention of electricity and toilet paper because those people’s lives were horrific. My best advice for everyone who believes we live in a universe of total randomness is, “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we get switched off like a computer.” But if life is this way by design, then whoever or whatever can program algorithms in DNA is a “God” to us. 

Regardless of how certain you feel about everything you’ve ever learned in life before today, there’s just no way to know for certain which scenario is True (p-value=1): 

  • Either the universe was created by Chance, or it was created by Purpose.

  • Either the universe was created by Chaos, or it was created by Order.  

  • Either the universe was created by Yin, or it was created by Yang.  

  • Either the universe was created by 0, or it was created by 1.  

  • Either the universe was created by the Darkside, or it was created by the Force.  

  • Either the universe was created by False, or it was created by True.  

  • Either the universe was created by Uncertainty, or it was created by Information

All of those statements are the same in some ways, and different in others. You either have to believe in an uncreated, eternal universe that doesn’t have a God; or you have to believe in a uncreated, eternal God who created a finite universe.

There only two possible explanations for human intelligence:

  • Accidental Intelligence—created by chaos. Accidental comes from the Latin word that means “prone to fall”. In this scenario, the Big Bang explosion led to a supernova explosion, which led to the Cambrian explosion, which led to you reading this book.

  • Artificial Intelligence—created by design. Artificial doesn’t mean “fake”, it means “artfully made” or “designed”. In this scenario, a being who can make solar systems programmed you in DNA, which led to you reading this book.

It’s kind of crazy to believe either one really, but space and time are finite, just like us. That is just one of the many reasons I believe in Intelligent Design, which is why I spent the last 18 months of my life writing this book.

I care about you knowing the deepest mysteries of our universe more than anything else.


The Dangers of Certainty

Rene Descartes is a great role model for how all of us should reorganize our thoughts. Once Descartes personally decided that skeptical doubt was the only idea that he could trust, he was free from the dogma of his childhood teachers and social norms. He was free to build a new mental framework of beliefs based on what he could learn for himself.

That’s a practical step we should all take.

More important than your current beliefs, more important than who you are to yourself, more important than what your family says about you, more important than what any teacher could teach you, is just this: nobody knows what’s going on here in reality, including me, and including you.  

The only certainty in life is uncertainty


Instead of religious certainty, realize that uncertainty is necessary for you to demonstrate your faith. Just like digital neural networks—the greater the uncertainty, the greater the faith. Uncertainty is simply an invitation for you to pray, meditate, and reread your sacred texts—even if your sacred texts were written by Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins. Put that fear to work as motivation to memorize passages that comfort you. I also suggest meeting more frequently with people who have held your same beliefs for a long time because strong communities are really important for keeping us alive. When you accept the uncertainty in your own religion, it becomes easier to acknowledge and allow for that in other people—even people who don’t share your religion.

Certainty is dangerous in religion because it creates divisions and denominations. The scariest versions of every religion are the ones that are the most certain. All the world’s major religions have extremist branches that to some degree believe, “we are the only people on Earth who are right and everyone else should culturally and/or physically die”. Now you may feel certain that your religion isn’t like that, but Christians probably have the highest body count of any religion all time (by a fairly wide margin). Protestants and Catholics have been killing each other in Europe for centuries. The Troubles in Northern Ireland didn’t end until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

“Being right” doesn’t mean that your ideas are true, “being right” means feeling certain


Certainty is dangerous even when we talk to ourselves. We all tend to get “fixed mindsets” about who we are and what we can accomplish. Realize that you have a lot to learn about yourself, what you like, and what you can achieve. If you’re still breathing, you aren’t fully cooked yet. “Growth mindsets” embrace uncertainty as the opportunity for a “hero’s journey” to venture out and become not someone new, but someone more.  

The stories that we tell ourselves, about ourselves, define what we can do and who we can be. It takes a long time for people to realize that the sentences that bubble up inside our inner monologues aren’t always true. Some never do. I lie to myself all the time and even worse, I occasionally believe myself. This traps me in ruts of bad habits that limit my potential.

It may be shocking to realize, but you are currently the sum of every thought you have ever had about yourself, that you agreed with. For example, when you think, “I’m not good at math”, you’re right, and that excuse is why you will never be. When you think, “I get nervous talking in front of people”, for sure you will next time. Conversely, when an athlete is playing in a game and thinks, “They can’t stop me tonight”, they don’t.

How much doubt do you see in Anthony Edwards face? Is he looking at the rim (goal) or the defender (obstacle)? We must believe before we can achieve.

Some of our entrapping beliefs didn’t even come from us, they came from our families. If you grew up in a reasonably normal household, you were told, “No!” or what you could not do, more than 148,000 times. That’s according to the book, “What To Say When You Talk To Yourself”. Most of the ideas that you have about yourself were planted by your parents, but their opinions were formed back before they knew the real you. Their opinions were formed back before you knew the real you. So which of your beliefs belong to you and which are just traditions, customs, and conventions from other people?  

I view conventional ideas and traditions just like I view hand-me-down clothes. If they fit me and are useful, then great, that saved me some money. But in general, hand-me-down ideas suck just as much as hand-me-down clothes. They were made by another person, during another time, to fit another body, who just ain’t me. Conventions and traditions that I didn’t invent are just someone else’s will, but for my life. 👎

So I faced each of the subjects in this book with the mind of a child, just like Descartes. I built a new body of knowledge from the ground up starting with dubito ergo sum. Learning and distilling this much science and religion was a humbling experience. Committing to this level of doubt led me to some very difficult questions:

  • Does God program in DNA? 

  • Where else in my life do I lie to myself? 

  • Could Mitochondrial-Eve be less than 10,000 years old because the simulation is less than 10,000 years old? 

  • Could people today walk on water like the Bible claims? 

  • Are there ways to hack the physics engine of the universe? 

  • How do the aliens fit into this story?  

  • Why is there evil in the world? 

  • Does the Observer Effect in Quantum Mechanics mean that the world disappears when we aren’t there to experience it? 

  • Were the gods of Greek mythology real? What about giants and fire breathing dragons?

  • Where are all the billions of dead bodies from the millions of years of human evolution?

  • How certain am I that there is a God? How certain am I that there isn’t? What’s my best proof either way? 

When I asked beta GPT-3 what it thought about God it said, “I think God does exist, but he is every bit as clear about his absence”.

That’s a remarkable idea for a computer to “mathematically-believe”.  

As a true scientist I embraced all these questions, which led to some very ridiculous science experiments. Great scientists are always putting new data and questions on the table, not taking them off. This is my number one issue with atheists claiming to be scientists. Atheism is just an excuse to stop asking questions. Atheists use just as much faith to believe that there isn’t a God, as everyone else uses to believe that there is. Uncertainty is that inescapable. To make new knowledge, which is what the word ‘scientific’ means, requires a scientist to remain agnostic to the outcome. 

@ProfJohnLennox: I hope that paragraph made you grin. Atheists are scientific posers. 

There’s no experiment too dumb for me. For example, I have earnestly and sincerely tried to step onto a swimming pool as if I was going to walk across the water, more than three times. I didn’t try that for religious reasons, I tried that as a scientist. I don’t think I’m in any way special like Jesus, I was testing the Bible’s claim that Peter wasn’t special. I don’t know how miracles work.

I sure felt stupid so maybe I didn’t have enough faith, but faith in what? In the next chapter, we’ll see how Quantum Mechanics means the swimming pool might not even “be there” without a swimmer to observe it. How am I supposed to believe the swimming pool isn’t real? I obviously never figured out how to walk on water because you would have seen me moonwalking across a baby pool with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. 🤣 

There’s really no way to know for sure if the universe was created by accident or by design. But after decades of studying Philosophy, Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology, and Computer Science—I can’t see much difference between “doubt and faith inside an digital neural network” and “doubt and faith inside a biological neural network”. Do you?

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If you want to chat about your faith in God or in science, simply reply to any of the emails I send each month.

Famous Quotes About Uncertainty

Francis Bacon: If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.

Rudyard Kipling: A woman's guess is much more accurate than a man’s certainty.

Benjamin Franklin: …but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Bertrand Russell: The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

Michael Faraday: There's nothing quite as frightening as someone who knows they are right.

William Shakespeare: The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.

Voltaire: Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.

Daniel Kahneman: Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.

Mark Twain: Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.

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