The clockwork universe fallacy

By T.C. Howitt

Jun 23, 2016

I’m not a climate change denier, but I’m a climate science disparager. I know a thing or two about simulation and feedback loops, and I know the models become intractable with only a handful of components. Precision of environmental measurement also poses great difficulties.

Take, for instance, predicting where billiard balls will end up on a pool table given initial positions and the cue stick vector and force: the break can be simulated, and some final positions given – useful for a video game – but the actual final positions of the balls can never be predicted. Not even close. No relationship between the simulation and reality. Now scale up the simulation to model oceanic and atmospheric conditions and try to predict the weather decades from now.

But the most condemning aspect of climate science is the fact that feedback is only a theory for modeling nature. Climate science arose out of the technology of cybernetics, which models systems based on simple feedback mechanisms. Seeing that we could create computerized life-like systems using cybernetics, we ran with the idea to conclude that our constructed systems were identical to nature. Systems theory is that one hammer we use to bang on things like they were nails.

If it looks like a duck, eats like a duck and poops like a duck… it’s not necessarily a duck.

Heading this article is a picture of an automaton called the Digesting Duck. Descartes was so smitten with automatons – machines that look like natural creations on the outside but operate like machines on the inside – that he concluded that the whole universe was nothing but a series of mechanical interactions, a so-called clockwork universe.

Having killed God in our minds, as Nietzsche famously declared, we seek a replacement. Worship is a crucial aspect of human existence, and we all need to believe in something, anything, in order to think. Those who deny God’s providence, or His very existence, were historically pagans, but today the heathen impulse surfaces most often in an even more delusional form: worship of our own cleverness through science and technology. For the modern idolater, wonderful technological products affirm their theory of a materialistic universe.

From this position of self-worship, the destiny of the whole world appears to be in our hands to either save or destroy, to either behave as good gods or evil ones. We take our creation in the image of God to be God Himself, and we confuse this shadow world with the world to come. We give ourselves a false choice based on a false worldview, and it’s a cause of much confusion and suffering.

God teaches us how we should behave and we ought to listen to nobody else – not scientists, not Greenpeace, not Fox News.

You should find it reassuring, not distressing, that God’s word accords with our hearts. If you have a heart to feel anything at all, you already have regard for respecting natural life and caring for the earth, just as God does. Tend to the garden and care for the animals as responsible stewards. Way before climate scientists declared that we’re all going to burn up if we don’t behave better, God declared it over and over in the Bible. So rather than fretting over the viability of climate change models, which are dubious at best and lead only to debates over who is more wise in their own eyes, we ought to put our trust in the Lord to direct our paths.

Does trusting the Lord to direct your path scare you, ye of little faith? That’s where we start – fixing your faith on Him – and that’s why the disciples of Jesus Christ are left in the world to preach His word.