Monday, March 13, 2006

I'm not sure...

...what I think about things like this. The second and third points are very good points I think, and if they had come first maybe it would be OK. But there's something in me that always cringes when I hear an apologetic that goes along the lines of "what are the chances of the universe randomly producing life?". It's a very tired argument that just doesn't work. Not because it's wrong, but because it's loaded with assumptions, and it's always clear that the apologist believes that everyone, including those who oppose their view, will share those assumptions, when generally they won't.

The real point of contention is meaning. The apologist is trying to prove that the universe was designed and made by an intelligence, by saying "what are the chances the universe would end up like this?" But that argument begins with the assumption that there was some intention or aim that it should have ended up like this. Which is essentially what they are trying to argue. So it's a completely circular argument. To think of things on terms of the odds of the universe ending up with intelligent life is to say that intelligent life has some higher meaning. Maybe so, but no reason has been given to say so. As is often pointed out, there could be billions of universes with different parameters, and eventually intelligent life would become likely in one of them. It's meaningless to say "what are the chances of it having been our one?" because we're going to have to be in the "intelligent life" universe in order to think of such things. And who's to say that the different parameters of other universes would not produce things with equal meaning, whether that is more advanced life of a different nature, or a cold dark void. Likewise, there could be just one universe (any anyhow, from within a universe it is hard to conceive of any meaningful difference between the existence of one or many universes), in which case the most likely universe to have come into existence is the one we are in, simply because we are in it.

No, the argument is not one of what are the chances? It is a much more basic one. It is "does this universe have meaning?" I believe it does, mainly (or entirely?) through the ability to interact with the divine. A majority of people on this planet would say they believe in some kind of spirituality. Many of them would say that there are events where physical, emotional and mental phenomena some how are affected by this spiritual realm. They have had "spiritual experiences". If it is true (which is where faith comes in), there is absolutely no scientific reason why this should be so. That a self-created physical universe should "break in" to this otherwise unconnected spiritual realm of existence defies logic. How has this connection been made? But if a physical universe is created by a spiritual being, who creates people in his own image to appreciate his material creation and through it to somehow comprehend his spiritual existence - that a creator should create such a link seems wholly rational.

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