An old post that I’m bumping back up to the top because of the interest it has generated…
In finishing up my new science fiction novel I went through a lot of research on Laplace’s Demon. In the process, I stumbled onto the computational limit of the universe. Based on the minimum amount of time you need to move data across the Planck length, at the speed of light, there’s a limit to the computational power of the universe that’s about 10-to-the-power-of-120 bits (actually 10^120 operations on 10^90 bits of data). Anything needing more data can’t be computed in the fifteen billion years or so that the universe has existed so far. Calculating the location of every atom in the universe would require more than 10^120. Ergo, omniscience is impossible even for a computing organism the size and age of the universe.
The most fundamental definition of God, as conceived in all religions, is (1) omniscience and (2) prime mover who created everything out of nothing. To this, some religions add (3) omnipotence and (4) benevolence. But omniscience is by far the most universal of God’s attributes, including even the less religious and more spiritual interpretations such as a universal consciousness.
If omniscience cannot exist, then for intents and purposes God (to the extent the word has a shared day-to-day meaning), cannot exist. QED
I’m not interested enough in the atheist-believer dialogue to read any of the books such as The God Delusion, but I’ve never come across this simple proof of God’s nonexistence. As a child, I was always told you can’t prove a negative. And I guess a true conception of God would be without attributes whatsoever, not even ones such as existence and nonexistence, in which case, no, you couldn’t prove anything.
But I’m wondering, has anyone ever applied the computational limit of the universe to disproving the regular-old God whom people worship as though he were an entity listening to their prayers, etc? Or is there some glaring flaw in my logic that I just can’t see?
(Originally posted 19 May 2009).