Emergence, for example emergent gravity, implies a lower stratum from which something emerges. “Fundamental emergence” is the idea that all can or must be described as emergent, without however there being a full explanation of lower layers. A lowest fundamental layer may be inconsistent almost by definition (certainly if there is any "ontological commitment") and never more than what the emergence-description must assume. This is non-reductive, since the reduction into a lowest foundation, the resting on the bottom, works only because the bottom "hangs from the top", or better, the whole "floats".
Fundamental emergence is fundamental physics, namely that of a self-creating quantum mechanical (QM) universe. However, via QM-physics being indistinguishable from (~ the same as) "simulation" in QM-calculation (which uses QM physical systems), there is, and this should not surprise anybody, a sort of duality transformation (like between different string theories) into a dual description where the universe is simulated, and thus the issue of creation and creators, especially fundamental (self-creating) creators, is finally recognized as scientific and can be answered, regardless of how politically incorrect this is in the current climate of naive empirical scientism.
Four short sections:
1. Emergent Creator Gods, Empirical Science
2. Quantum Issues and Empirical Science
3. The Idea of God is not God
4. “Next Level” and “Fundamental Emergence”
1) Emergent Creator Gods, Empirical Science
I am agnostic about emergent creators that may have created me or currently create my world. The fundamental “creation” (ultimately of everything) is by definition a self-creating structure (e.g.: quantum universe), because there is nothing else that can construct it. It is a system in some sense, but without environment. Calling it “nature” does not tell us how much of it can be meaningfully called “god” or “creator” (namely via ascribing "intention").
There are gods. Take a brain and hook it up to a virtual reality, voila. This has been partially already done with animals like flies in order to investigate how they control their flight. One can amputate limbs, connect output nerves to computers, arrest eyes and permanently fix them on LCD screens, permanently attach loudspeakers to ears. You can let the involved brain thus be, for its whole life(!), inside a world with different physical laws, say a periodic and strongly curved universe, but also Jesus can come along and turn water into wine or open a worm hole. You can be the god of that brain’s person, the omnipotent lord of her world. Since this is already possible, do not trust those (scientists, skeptics, “new atheists”) who dogmatically ridicule all doubts about empirical science.
All empirical science (say empirical non-locality in quantum correlations) falls to the brain in the vat argument. That argument is the same as the simulation hypothesis; they only differ in the degree of substitution of the body’s cells, and there is no good motivation for believing that such a step by step substitution ever crosses some “phenomenal consciousness ends” line. While the brain in the vat scenario does not replace most neurons, the simulation hypothesis can be reached by replacing them all.
2) Quantum Issues and Empirical Science
The quantum universe, if more than mere illusion by a self-creating simulation, must be described as creating itself, for example via cosmic inflation. In its totality, it includes time, and it is globally always the same, so fundamentally, it just is, kind of inside of itself, all much the same as a usual description of a fundamental god, yet without the creator’s (illusion of) will.
Quantum mechanics (QM) allows for finding yourself in a ‘freak branch’ where the empirical records disfavor QM. Thus, via QM experiments, QM already tells us even empirically that empirical records cannot be relied upon to reflect the theory that allows those very empirical records. This has two consequences*:
A) In QM, uncertainty about the past is strictly that all possible pasts, meaning pasts consistent with the present records, do contribute (constructively interfere) to “make” the present. If it is possible at all with any non-zero probability, then you are, at least to that small extend, a brain in a vat (I mean beside the fact that your head is your brain's vat anyway).
B) QM must be logically derived and cannot be merely supported by empirical science. The constraints to empirical science do not destroy logic. There are for example logical constraints from that the whole must be fundamentally self-creating even if I am in somebody's laboratory in a vat (this may be also just another way of stating that quantum mechanics strongly constrains creating observers). Particularly, ‘fundamental emergence’ implies that it does not matter whether something is emergent or created.
3) The Idea of God is not God
The idea of god evolved through the emergence of a highly useful strategy in our cognitive apparatuses, our brains, namely the ascribing of intention to even just seemingly directed processes. “Will” usually refers to action that is perceived as free of some sort of directing determination, say physical, biological, or social. The freedom is relative to the interpreter of the action, residing in her uncertainty about the determinations that restrict the action. These are useful higher order descriptions, which is why we employ them all day long. Fundamentally, they fail in a certain sense, since totality is totally determined as all that is, period, but on any emergent level, descriptions employing "cause" and "effect" and "will" and "desire" and "creation" are as useful as a "selfish gene".
Our connection to creator god(s) is the act of being created; it is not our idea of god(s), because the idea could be there without god(s). This is important, because many religious take the idea as the connection to and therefore proof of god, while atheists take the idea as all there is to god(s). Both are equally wrong: A) Even in case we would prove god to be necessary, say as an intermediate level between self-creating nature and us, god does not equal the idea of god! B) It is incorrect to call the merely constructed god much more than the idea of god, even if it becomes a very powerful construct. Only if the constructed god somehow creates something that is indistinguishable from this “original”, are the “origin” and the “copy” one and the same, and then, that god is not “merely” created, but it self-created via creating us.
4) “Next Level” and “Fundamental Emergence”
Usually, scientists and philosophers fall into one of two main camps, namely either holding X (gravity, time, god,values, …) to be fundamental or defending X as emergent. In my ‘next level’ thinking, these two can be valid simultaneously or are even indistinguishable on principle and therefore the same. For example, abstractness of fundamental space-time is compatible with emergent space-time [arxiv.org/abs/0912.3069], and this is a very similar kind of structure as next-level atheism: Refuse regress without definite termination, but do not refuse the possibility of multiple regress steps (like string membrane universes in bulk space-times, or emergent creators and their creations). Especially: fully or partially circular solutions are not refused, but are understood as ultimately the only meaningful, consistent fundamental description possible.
A general strategy for ‘post modern’, ‘next level’ insights, regardless of topic, is the following:
First: Seek the (likely present) regress (e.g.: ether-space in space, who created the creator, …). Second: Distinguish fundamental descriptions from emergent descriptions and accommodate [e.g.: Ether crackpots accept that ether-substance could be inside space, dogmatic relativists accept that abstractness of the ultimate description of space-time allows substances in lower dimensional subspaces and that we cannot know which space-time (emergent or fundamental) we perceive]. Third: Realize that the fundamental level may be completely and on principle indistinguishable from an emergent one, i.e. that the most fundamental descriptions are self-emergent self-descriptions.
*Note: None of the conclusions here are based on empirical QM physics, because the vital aspects of QM that I need (say many worlds) are self-evident and QM is merely a consequence of those.<!--[if gte mso 10]><![endif]-->