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What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation

Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.

Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American


How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American

Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008

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Paul Borrill: on 8/7/13 at 19:14pm UTC, wrote Dear Fernen, I have now finished reviewing all 180 essays for the contest...

Cristinel Stoica: on 8/7/13 at 7:49am UTC, wrote Hi, votes are vanishing again.

eAmazigh HANNOU: on 8/4/13 at 20:03pm UTC, wrote Dear F Earle, We are at the end of this essay contest. In conclusion, at...

Vladimir Rogozhin: on 8/3/13 at 20:19pm UTC, wrote Dear Earle, I'm glad you come back to the forum! I'm waiting for you on my...

F Fox: on 8/3/13 at 5:12am UTC, wrote Dear Edwin Klingman – Aug 2 (I wrote a lengthy post yesterday, Aug 1,...

john selye: on 8/2/13 at 16:05pm UTC, wrote Having read so many insightful essays, I am probably not the only one to...

F Fox: on 8/2/13 at 5:58am UTC, wrote Dear Edwin Klingman, This is late in coming, but here it is. I first...

F Fox: on 8/2/13 at 5:25am UTC, wrote Dear Edwin, This is late in coming, but here it is. You wrote above: ...


Joe Fisher: "Dear Reality Fans, The real VISIBLE Universe never “started out.”..." in First Things First: The...

isabell ella: "If you are facing Cash app related problems and want to get support..." in Cosmic Dawn, Parallel...

Georgina Woodward: "Quite right Lorraine, ( to be clear perhaps I should have said..." in Cosmological Koans

Lorraine Ford: "Honestly Georgina, Wake up! Change of number is NOT energy." in Cosmological Koans

Joe Fisher: "Dear Dr. Kuhn, Today’s Closer To Truth Facebook page contained this..." in Can Time Be Saved From...

Michael Hussey: "" in New Nuclear "Magic...

Michael Hussey: "it is really difficult to understand what is all about all the things..." in New Nuclear "Magic...

Stefan Weckbach: "I have a problem with the notion of time in the multiverse scenario that..." in First Things First: The...

click titles to read articles

First Things First: The Physics of Causality
Why do we remember the past and not the future? Untangling the connections between cause and effect, choice, and entropy.

Can Time Be Saved From Physics?
Philosophers, physicists and neuroscientists discuss how our sense of time’s flow might arise through our interactions with external stimuli—despite suggestions from Einstein's relativity that our perception of the passage of time is an illusion.

A devilish new framework of thermodynamics that focuses on how we observe information could help illuminate our understanding of probability and rewrite quantum theory.

Gravity's Residue
An unusual approach to unifying the laws of physics could solve Hawking's black-hole information paradox—and its predicted gravitational "memory effect" could be picked up by LIGO.

Could Mind Forge the Universe?
Objective reality, and the laws of physics themselves, emerge from our observations, according to a new framework that turns what we think of as fundamental on its head.

July 18, 2019

CATEGORY: It From Bit or Bit From It? Essay Contest (2013) [back]
TOPIC: It from Bit or Bit from It? or Common Sense Physics? by Fernen Earle Fox [refresh]
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Author F Earle Fox wrote on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 14:34 GMT
Essay Abstract

The Biblical worldview uniquely asserts the reality of a personal deity who is creator ex-nihilo of all that exists. The Biblical cosmos is an open system because there is communication between the created cosmos and its creator. The secular and pagan cosmoses are closed systems because there is nothing outside of the cosmos with which to communicate. The resources within the closed system are not sufficient to raise up Western science. Whether “its”, “bits”, or something else is more fundamental will be answered depending on which worldview one believes. How one’s worldview imagines information, causes, and physical objects will determine how one can resolve current doubts about science. Western science developed uniquely under the Biblical worldview because God provided a rationality to the cosmos which no other worldview did. Western science began with the union in the Middle Ages of the Greek talent for abstract analysis with the Hebrew focus on the particular, personal, space, and time. The critiques of Berkeley, Hume, and Kant, and then relativity and quantum physics, seriously undermined the usefulness of the Newtonian view of the cosmos and causality in terms of which much of science was understood, causing a crisis in the understanding of causality. Contemporary science has no secure theory of causality which has led to a questioning of science itself. And contemporary physics has steadily moved toward treating the smallest of entities as mathematical entities rather than as objects in the normal sense. The secular abandonment of God as the rational source of existence was fatal to the success of modern science to account for natural law. Only the restoration of the Biblical notion of God as the ultimate cause of existence, and thus creator of natural law, can restore the integrity of the natural sciences.

Author Bio

Born 7/8/35, ordained Episcopal priest 1962. M.Div. (Master of divinity) The General Theol. Seminary, NYC 1960. D. Phil. Oxford, 1964 4 3-month quarters Clinical Pastoral Ed – 1 mental hospital, 1 general hospital, 2 mental hospitals. Pastoral counselor 1960 to present. Parish ministry, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, East Haddam, CT 1971-81; St. Luke’s Reformed Episcopal Church, Santa Ana, CA . 2009-2012 Founded The Road to Emmaus 1984 – for pastoral counseling and Christian apologetics Published: Biblical Inner Healing Pending: Personality, Empiricism, & God Law & Grace in the Image of God The Theology of Civil Government

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 13:25 GMT
Resp Rev Fernen,

Thank you for the thought provoking essay with the conclusion "Only the restoration of the Biblical notion of God as the ultimate cause of existence, and thus creator of natural law, can restore the integrity of the natural sciences...."

You mean to say some creator is required for creating Natural laws? I am also a firm believer in God. People use many descriptions...

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Author F Earle Fox replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 18:03 GMT
Responding to SNP and others, yes, I think that natural law is exactly what the founders of Western science in the late Middle Ages said it was, "We are thinking God's thoughts after Him..." We can get "information" from matter only if inductive reasoning is valid, and inductive reasoning is valid only if there is an intentional, intelligent cause who is the creator of the matter. That is what the cosmological argument for God tells us. To make sense of the empirical world, including causality, there must be an intelligent designer behind it all.

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Author F Earle Fox replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 20:25 GMT
Just a heads up for everyone.

..I had put my name as Fernen Earle Fox, which is correct, but I use my middle name, Earle. In signing up for the contest, I had to put my first name in, so did, but I changed it to F. Earle Fox to make my point that Earle is what I use. But I know who Fernen is and will respond to that also.

Blessings to All...

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Author F Earle Fox replied on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 19:52 GMT
Another "heads up" for every one. This is a post I made on George Kirakosyan's blog, but think it might be helpful for understanding my position for others as well.


Physics that can be realistic: George Kirakosyan -#1804

Dear George,

I agree with your ideas that the philosophy of physics has run aground. Physics itself keeps on going, but...

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Anonymous wrote on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 17:55 GMT
Dr. Fox,

I have unhesitatingly awarded your essay a rating of 10. Your essay fully deserves a ten for the unashamed passion clearly evidenced in every one of its written words

I do hope your essay fairs well in the competition.

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Joe Fisher replied on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 14:42 GMT
Dr. Fox,

Joe Fisher wrote the above post.

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Author F Earle Fox replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 18:06 GMT
Hi, Joe,

..Thanks for your kind words. I think it is far past time that theologians got involved in these debates, so that they can recover their sense of intellectual credibility....

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 01:40 GMT
Dear Earle Fox,

A very interesting essay, one I'm sure Templeton would appreciate. I hope you evoke many detailed comments. I'll begin with an appreciation of your use of "information" as "the free will product of an intending mind". I assume that you include in this information gained by physical experiment, or do you? I view the physical phenomenon as consisting of energy transfer from some source to a detector, at which the energy triggers an event (by crossing some relevant threshold) that changes a structural form, i.e., it in-forms material, thereby becoming stored information. That is, abstract bits have no fundamental reality. Their binary nature is reflective of the two-foldedness of thresholds.

Despite the fact that your essay is very clear about your view, nevertheless we all find that nine pages is insufficient to fully develop a theory. (I will label your perspective a theory, for lack of a better term. That is in keeping with the nature of this contest. I mean nothing derogatory by this terminology.) Participants find that the exchange of comments is invaluable for communicating more information than fits into nine pages.

I assume that, having entered with a well written, but, to some degree, "controversial" essay, you are prepared to relate it to various other essays. I invite you to read my essay and comment upon it, from the perspective of your essay. I look forward to your response.

Welcome to FQXi, and good luck in the contest.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author F Earle Fox replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 18:13 GMT
Hi, Edwin,

..Yes, I would say that physical experiments, which involve inductive reasoning, necessarily require an intelligent designer behind them. Only that, so far as I can see, can give what Kant called the "objective unity of apperception", that is the unity, the connection between the events actually tested (e.g., of water freezing) and those examples of the same thing (water freezing) which are impossible to test (too far away, in the remote past or future, etc). If there is no such connection, then the the events actually tested of water freezing at 32 degrees F. tell us nothing at all about all the other real or potential events -- which is,of course, what the "laws" of nature are all about. We want to be able to predict future such events. The predictions are meaningless without that connection of the same intelligent designer causing all of them.

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 05:43 GMT
Hi Earle,

Thanks for replying to my comment.

Below, you asked Henry Lindner, the following: "I am puzzled by your assertion that space is itself a substance. What could be the qualities of this substance that would make it the source of all else? And how would that differ from most theories of evolution already out there?"

I will answer for myself, because Henry and I differ in this. Einstein said,"There is no space absent of field." In other words, the gravitational field fills space completely. Although you may or may not think of this field as a 'substance', it is considered to have energy (Maxwell taught us fields have energy) and hence mass (Einstein taught us energy has mass equivalence) and a number of writers of books on gravitation consider it a substance (as do I). Your question implies that you think of space as 'empty' ,but it is entirely possible that the primordial gravity field gave rise to space. Your second question, about what qualities would make it the source of all else is the topic of my essay, which I again invite you to read. You will then see how this differs from 'most theories of evolution'.

I assume that you do not think the universe is 6000 years old, or whatever, and I further assume you must feel that things fit together intelligently, if they are the product of Intelligent Design. Of course you may think that everything exists as 'pieces', but I find it much more intelligent to design a universe as the unfolding of ONE in the beginning. I would be interested in your take on my essay, and caution you not to jump to conclusions.

Best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author F Earle Fox replied on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 07:57 GMT
Hi, Eugene,

Well, I see that I am in for an education. My freshman year was my last of math courses, trig and calculus. Got the highest grade in the final exam. But, majoring in philosophy and heading for theology, I thought math would not be of much use. Yet then I did my DPhil at Oxford (it turned out to my surprise) on the cosmological argument for God, and sort of as an add-on, made...

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 02:07 GMT
Dear Fernen

I appreciate your faith through this essay.

I have realized that : God taught us by letting us choose.

To change the atmosphere "abstract" of the competition and to demonstrate for the real preeminent possibility of the Absolute theory as well as to clarify the issues I mentioned in the essay and to avoid duplicate questions after receiving the opinion of you , I...

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Author F Earle Fox replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 18:19 GMT
Dear Hoang cao Hai,

I suspect that we agree that there is an objective, absolute truth, and that most truth are not relative. Maybe none of them are. Certainly the important truths must be objective, not subjective. I am not sure just where your theory leads, but it does sound interesting.

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 19:02 GMT

If given the time and the wits to evaluate over 120 more entries, I have a month to try. My seemingly whimsical title, “It’s good to be the king,” is serious about our subject.


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Henry H. Lindner wrote on Jul. 4, 2013 @ 12:09 GMT
Dear Fernan,

I too mourn the loss of causality, of meaning, and of intellectual depth in our society. My diagnosis and cure are, however, very different from yours.

In my paper, I show just how Berkeley's theory of reality gave rise to modern physics through its misuse by Hume, Mach, and Einstein. Berkeley had a theory of causality: God causes everything; we are spirits in a God-created spiritual Matrix. To save theism, he destroyed natural philosophy and abandoned physical causality. In essence, it is because of the Bible that we have no causal theory; that Mach's Science has replaced natural philosophy.

There is one alternative to the God-theory, and that is space theory. Space itself is a substance of some kind; it has sufficient complexity and contains the potentiality to self-evolve into more complex entities: subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, cells, animals and human beings. Consciousness is just one more emergent property in this long series of emergent properties. Newton's theory of space was indeed inadequate. It was only a start, I show how we can improve upon it given what we know today.

You may say that God created this space, that was able to evolve in this way. I cannot say you are wrong, but I do challenge you, and anyone, to provide evidence or arguments to support the belief that this extra-Cosmic entity exists, and to provide some description of who/what it is. I would argue, on moral grounds shared by all, that the Bible is not a candidate source for a description of the Creator.

We must move forward to create a working theory of what this Cosmos is and how it produced us. We indeed have no such theory now--we have only ancient religions and modern anti-causal, merely descriptive Science. We need a new and better theory of "God", of what the Cosmos is, who we are, and how we should live.


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Author F Earle Fox replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 18:28 GMT
Dear Henry,

Thanks for your post. Interesting that we both think Berkeley had a lot to contribute to this discussion, but use his stuff in quite different ways. I do not understand why you say that "because of the Bible we have no causal theory...." For Berkeley, is not God the cause of the whole phenomenal world, everything that we perceive? And is not His being the cause of things...

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Henry H. Lindner replied on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 10:55 GMT
Dear Fernan,

You look for a unifying principle and find a mind-like God. I say that that concept is just a projection of our own minds onto the Cosmos. Our linguistic consciousness is actually a late product of Cosmic evolution--we must look to the Cosmos for our answers. When we look for a cause of light's fixed velocity, of inertia, and of gravity we find that "space" itself must be the...

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 15:21 GMT
Dear Earle,

In your essay, I especially liked your following conclusions:

«Leaving God out of the picture will keep us limping with epistemological, quasi-ontological explanations - leading, as today, to the breakdown of scientific understanding.»

«It may be that the Biblical worldview will be the only substantive answer available to return physics to a proper self-understanding. Both the Bible and science demand objective truth. Ideas have consequences. Ideas at the metaphysical level have cosmic consequences. »

«Seekers of truth, ie, scientists, thus should never allow the philosophical world to format the cosmological discussion so as apriori to exclude the possibility of a personal creator. The discussion needs to be reformatted at the metaphysical level, where metaphysical question is no longer the abstract "what is pure being". »

«Small children are the first metaphysicians.»

John Templeton has good words: «This thought brings about the question: Do Scriptures need interpreting to accommodate an expanded notion the universe?»

In the first essay FQXI 2012 I interpreted the Greek «Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος

"(In the Beginning Was The Logos ...") as a Super Axiom, which must lie at the base of knowledge, especially physics and mathematics. On the basis of this Super Axioms and method of ontological constructing I built a model of the Space-Time of 12 measurements.

Your opinion about the possibility of a metaphysical interpretation of the Logos? Am I right to follow the covenant of the John Templeton?

Consider, too, please, my essay this year

With kind regards and best wishes,


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Author F Earle Fox wrote on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 02:48 GMT
Dear Vladimir,

Your response is much appreciated. I have downloaded your paper and will respond to you as well. I am in the midst of preparing to move to another city, so free time is scarce, but hope to answer in a couple of days. This is one of the most important topics of our time, I think. Getting the right answer affects so many things we believe and the way we think of the future.

The problem behind the problem is, I think, the loss of an adequate theory of causality. We had one, but lost it over the last several centuries. But more on that when I get time. You might look at the response I sent to George Kirakosyan today (July 17).

Best wishes, Earle Fox

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Vladimir Rogozhin replied on Aug. 3, 2013 @ 20:19 GMT
Dear Earle,

I'm glad you come back to the forum! I'm waiting for you on my forum. Your opinion is very valuable to me.

With best wishes and regards,


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George Kirakosyan wrote on Jul. 20, 2013 @ 10:32 GMT
Honourable Fernen,

Thanks for your kind attention to my work. I want say first that I am not belong of the group of technical people who can take in account only experiments and math calculus to be build ,,indisputable correct,, science. I am fully realised the huge roles of the morality and of a healthy-logic judgments in the natural science. (That you can see in my work!) Moreover, I know there are many observations and fair criticism coming from the holy fathers who simply enchant with their accuracy and usefulness. You have mentioned fair criticism of Bishop Berkeley and I will remembering amazing remark of father Ockham, these are very valuable lessons to arrogant technicians in my view(to whom will able to perceive those!)

I my opinion there must be no contradiction between honest science and God's creation. But I cannot discuss on this matter because is not my theme, and my task I see to understand how is builded the substance? (But not by whom and for what?) Your work covers a wide range of issues and can be very useful for the formation of a more effective scientific methodology. That is why I have rated it as good and valuable.

Long live you and best wishes,


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Akinbo Ojo wrote on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 09:14 GMT
Dear Earle,

Thank you for providing this alternative viewpoint. It is always needed when searching for truth. Very good rating from me. My view is from a different angle. Perhaps, God or Nature is using space discretely to carry out His works.

Best regards,


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Akinbo Ojo replied on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 11:40 GMT
Dear Earle,

In addition to what I said above, I saw on Eugene Klingman's blog where you said, "I now see space, not as a container in which “things” reside, but as a mental and perceptual coordinate system by which we keep track of where and when we are". This is the relationist view as opposed to the substantivalist view. Now let me ask:

Is it being implied by the relational view of space and as suggested by Mach's principle that what decides whether a centrifugal force would act between two bodies in *constant relation*, would not be the bodies themselves, since they are at fixed distance to each other, nor the space in which they are located since it is a nothing, but by a distant sub-atomic particle light-years away in one of the fixed stars in whose reference frame the *constantly related* bodies are in circular motion?

NOTE THAT in no other frame can circular motion between the bodies be described in this circumstance except in the 'observing' sub-atomic particle.

I will come back here for answer or if you have not read my essay you can visit my blog.



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Sreenath B N wrote on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 14:49 GMT
Dear Earle,

I have down loaded your essay and soon post my comments on it. Meanwhile, please, go through my essay and post your comments.

Regards and good luck in the contest,

Sreenath BN.

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jul. 30, 2013 @ 15:48 GMT

Thank you for that very well written and argued grounding in reason to counter the excesses of Wheelers provocative but crazy idea. I couldn't agree more with your fundamental and undeniable truth "Contemporary science has no secure theory of causality which has led to a questioning of science itself."

I also champion causality in my essay, but not just Einstein's causality, I show that mathematics cannot describe all of nature by reducing it to just numbers and computation. A causal but not precisely computable resolution of the EPR paradox emerges without demanding 'spookyness'.

I have derived a cyclic universe, discussed elsewhere, but even then an origin is equally required. It's just a case of 'when' which becomes a meaningless question.

It was a pleasure to encounter your essay. Thank you. I hope you'll read mine, and if you feel it worth endowing with points so it may be more noticed then I'd be most grateful. I'd also be very interested in your views as I had virtually no concious thought of biblical matters in writing it.

Thank you, and bless you.


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Author F Earle Fox wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 00:17 GMT
Greetings, All,

I have been incommunicado on vacation for several days, and out of the FQXi loop. But will try to respond to the many ideas and queries noted above, with the following being a start.

My viewpoint is different from probably most other posts, namely, defending the Biblical point of view that only a personal God who creates the cosmos ex-nihilo can give substance to...

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Author F Earle Fox wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 05:58 GMT
Dear Edwin Klingman,

This is late in coming, but here it is. I first wrote it above directly after the quote from you below, but that post got hidden behind a "Show All Replies" notice, so I brought out here in the open.

You wrote above:

"I assume that you do not think the universe is 6000 years old, or whatever, and I further assume you must feel that things fit together...

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john stephan selye wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 16:05 GMT
Having read so many insightful essays, I am probably not the only one to find that my views have crystallized, and that I can now move forward with growing confidence. I cannot exactly say who in the course of the competition was most inspiring - probably it was the continuous back and forth between so many of us. In this case, we should all be grateful to each other.

If I may, I'd like to...

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Author F Earle Fox wrote on Aug. 3, 2013 @ 05:12 GMT
Dear Edwin Klingman – Aug 2

(I wrote a lengthy post yesterday, Aug 1, which seems to have disappeared. I have saved this response offline to be safe. Maybe the other one will turn up. This response will apply to many others who have written on my blog….)

Reading your essay, I totally agree with your notion that the “beauty” of the math does little to prove that a theory...

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eAmazigh M. HANNOU wrote on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 20:03 GMT
Dear F Earle,

We are at the end of this essay contest.

In conclusion, at the question to know if Information is more fundamental than Matter, there is a good reason to answer that Matter is made of an amazing mixture of eInfo and eEnergy, at the same time.

Matter is thus eInfo made with eEnergy rather than answer it is made with eEnergy and eInfo ; because eInfo is eEnergy, and the one does not go without the other one.

eEnergy and eInfo are the two basic Principles of the eUniverse. Nothing can exist if it is not eEnergy, and any object is eInfo, and therefore eEnergy.

And consequently our eReality is eInfo made with eEnergy. And the final verdict is : eReality is virtual, and virtuality is our fundamental eReality.

Good luck to the winners,

And see you soon, with good news on this topic, and the Theory of Everything.

Amazigh H.

I rated your essay.

Please visit My essay.

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 07:49 GMT
Hi, votes are vanishing again.

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Paul Borrill wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 19:14 GMT
Dear Fernen,

I have now finished reviewing all 180 essays for the contest and appreciate your contribution to this competition.

I have been thoroughly impressed at the breadth, depth and quality of the ideas represented in this contest. In true academic spirit, if you have not yet reviewed my essay, I invite you to do so and leave your comments.

You can find the latest version of my essay here:

(sorry if the fqxi web site splits this url up, I haven’t figured out a way to not make it do that).

May the best essays win!

Kind regards,

Paul Borrill

paul at borrill dot com

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