algorithmic complexity of God

Wei Dai (
Sun, 11 Jan 1998 16:00:09 -0800

On Sun, Jan 11, 1998 at 09:17:00AM -0800, Hal Finney wrote:
> One reason for believing in the existence of God is the fact that the
> universe appears to be narrowly tailored for the existence of our kind
> of life. Take a look at figure 5 on
> and you see what a tiny fraction of the possible values for physical
> constants would allow life as we know it to exist. One way to explain
> this seeming coincidence is to say that our universe was intentionally
> created to have parameters in this region.

Which hypothesis is simpler, that the parameters of this universe are
random, or that they was chosen by an intelligent being? I think this
question can be formalized as "what is the shortest program that outputs
the parameters of this universe?"

Of course there are many such programs, but let's just consider two
categories corresponding to the two hypotheses. A program of the first
kind consists of the parameters stored as constants and a single Print
statement that outputs them. A program of the second kind involves the
evolution of an intelligent being which then does various computation to
figure out the optimal parameters for a universe to have our kind of life.

If the shortest program is of the first kind, it would mean that the
parameters of this universe are essentially random and have no simpler
explanation. If the shortest program is of the second kind, then the
simplest explanation for the parameters being what they are is that they
were chosen by an intelligent being.