Intelligent Design

Universe tunes itself

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Paul Davies Tuesday June 26, 2007 The Guardian    Condensed

Just why is Intelligent Design referred to as a “movement” when Multiverse is called a “theory”? 

“The universe looks like a fix. But that doesn’t mean that a god fixed it. We will never explain the cosmos by taking on faith either divinity or physical laws. True meaning is to be found within nature.

Scientists are slowly waking up to an inconvenient truth – the universe looks suspiciously like a fix. For 40 years, physicists and cosmologists have been quietly collecting examples of all too convenient “coincidences” and special features in the underlying laws of the universe. Change any one of them and the consequences would be lethal. Fred Hoyle once said it was as if “a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics”.

It happens that you need to set thirtysomething well tuned constants to fully describe the world about us. Like Baby Bear’s porridge in the story of Goldilocks, the universe seems to be just right for life.

The intelligent design movement has seized on the Goldilocks enigma as evidence of divine providence, prompting a scientific backlash and boosting the recent spate of God-bashing bestsellers.

An unanswered question is lurking at the very heart of science. Where do the laws of physics come from? Traditionally, scientists have treated the laws of physics as simply “given”, elegant mathematical relationships that were somehow imprinted on the universe at its birth, and fixed thereafter.

The embarrassment of the Goldilocks enigma has prompted the Cambridge cosmologist Martin Rees, president of The Royal Society, to suggests the laws of physics aren’t absolute and universal but more akin to local bylaws, varying from place to place on a mega-cosmic scale. Rees calls this system “the multiverse“, and it is an increasingly popular idea among cosmologists.

Rarely a universe will possess bio-friendly laws and spawn life. It would then be no surprise that we find ourselves in a universe apparently customised for habitation; we could hardly exist in one where life is impossible. If Rees is right, the impression of design is illusory: our universe has simply hit the jackpot in a gigantic cosmic lottery.

The multiverse theory certainly cuts the ground from beneath intelligent design, but the problem of origins has simply been shifted up a level from the laws of the universe to the meta-laws of the multiverse.

Dumping the problem in the lap of a pre-existing designer is no explanation at all, as it merely begs the question of who designed the designer. But appealing to a host of unseen universes and a set of unexplained meta-laws is scarcely any better.

We will never fully explain the world by appealing to something outside it that must simply be accepted on faith, be it an unexplained God or an unexplained set of mathematical laws.

I propose instead that the laws are more like computer software: programs being run on the great cosmic computer. They emerge with the universe at the big bang and are inherent in it, not stamped on it from without like a maker’s mark.

If a law is a truly exact mathematical relationship, it requires infinite information to specify it.

In the first split second of cosmic existence, the laws must have been seriously fuzzy. Then, as the information content of the universe climbed, the laws focused and homed in on the life-encouraging form we observe today. But the flaws in the laws left enough wiggle room for the universe to engineer its own bio-friendliness.

The laws explain the universe even as the universe explains the laws.

If there is an ultimate meaning to existence, the answer is to be found within nature, not beyond it. The universe might indeed be a fix, but if so, it has fixed itself.”

Paul Davies is director of Beyond, a research centre at Arizona State University, and author of The Goldilocks Enigma paul.davies@asu.edu

41 Replies to “Universe tunes itself

  1. 1
    Anton says:

    The laws of the universe are like computer software?

    OK, how is computer software generated? By accident? Does it just “appear” has the computer is constructed?

  2. 2
    shaner74 says:

    Davies needs to give it up and go the way of the Flew at this point. I think Davies knows design is the best explanation but just doesn’t want to completely admit it.

  3. 3
    Benjamin L. Harville says:

    Just why is Intelligent Design referred to as a “movement” when Multiverse is called a “theory”?

    Because a theory must be mathematically modelable.

  4. 4
    Apollos says:

    It’s almost comical, the way his statements contradict one another. He invokes teleology — and at the same time invokes immutable physical laws. He denies both, but then invokes both simultaneously, hybridizing them to form his own conjecture.

    This is one of the many interesting comments:

    “We will never explain the cosmos by taking on faith either divinity or physical laws. True meaning is to be found within nature.

    Davies’ dogmatic statement of faith puts a cap on his assertion that faith can’t provide any answers.

  5. 5
    gpuccio says:

    I thought Paul Davies was more intelligent than this… What a pity!

  6. 6
    BarryA says:

    I love this article! It is a veritable treasure trove of metaphysical naturalism’s non sequiturs, obfuscations, and confusions.

    “Scientists are slowly waking up to an inconvenient truth – the universe looks suspiciously like a fix. . . . Fred Hoyle once said it was as if ‘a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics.’”

    Once again naturalists are forced to reject and then explain away that which they clearly see.

    “The embarrassment of the Goldilocks enigma has prompted the Cambridge cosmologist Martin Rees, president of The Royal Society, to suggests the laws of physics aren’t absolute and universal but more akin to local bylaws, varying from place to place on a mega-cosmic scale. Rees calls this system “the multiverse“, and it is an increasingly popular idea among cosmologists.”

    An obviously non-scientific, untestable, non-falsifiable metaphysical speculation is increasingly popular among cosmologists.

    “The multiverse theory certainly cuts the ground from beneath intelligent design”

    How does it do that? This is not an argument. It’s a mere assertion, to which one can only reply, “No, it does not.”

    “Dumping the problem in the lap of a pre-existing designer is no explanation at all, as it merely begs the question of who designed the designer.”

    “Begs the question” is not a synonym for “leads to the question.” At least it did not used to be. It means “to argue circularly.” Interestingly, this phrase has been so misused, that the misuse of the phrase is coming to replace its proper use in our language.

    As to the assertion. We don’t need to know anything about the designer to know that an object has in fact been designed. See my post below.

    “But appealing to a host of unseen universes and a set of unexplained meta-laws is scarcely any better.”

    Actually, it is much worse. Again, what is the more parsimonious theory: one designer or infinite universes. Also, if we are talking science and not metaphysics, ID has the benefit of being a testable and in falsifiable scientific theory. Multiverse theory does not.

    “We will never fully explain the world by appealing to something outside it that must simply be accepted on faith, be it an unexplained God or an unexplained set of mathematical laws.”

    This is absurd. The very existence of the universe points to something beyond it unless it “created itself,” which is irrational.

    “They emerge with the universe at the big bang and are inherent in it, not stamped on it from without like a maker’s mark.”

    Translation. I have no idea where the laws came from, so I’ll say they “emerged” and pretend that’s an explanation instead of mere assertion.

    “Then, as the information content of the universe climbed, the laws focused and homed in on the life-encouraging form we observe today.”

    The information content of the universe climbed some time in the past. Dr. Sewell, was the 2nd law of thermodynamics suspended some time in the past?

    “But the flaws in the laws left enough wiggle room for the universe to engineer its own bio-friendliness.”

    Ahhhhh, so the “universe” did its own engineering. Give me a break. This one hardly deserves a response.

    “The laws explain the universe even as the universe explains the laws.”

    It’s all very circular and deep, and only us deep circular thinkers can understand it.

  7. 7
    idnet.com.au says:

    Glad you like it BarryA!

  8. 8
    MacT says:

    BarryA:
    “We don’t need to know anything about the designer to know that an object has in fact been designed.”

    I believe this is where scientists and ID proponents part company. To a scientist, it’s not enough to point to design without also explaining the designer. An ID proponent, on the other hand, appears to be happy to stop explaining things right there. I assume this is because the ID proponent is confident in the background belief in a creator god that needs no explanation.

    BarryA, why don’t we need to know anything about the designer?

  9. 9
    inunison says:

    Paul Davis has problem with concept of Design because his beloved science cannot explain God.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    The embarrassment of the Goldilocks enigma.

    Very Strange statement, what he sees as an embarrassment, I see as a scientific truth of great joy. A scientific truth pointing to a much greater purpose for our existence than just a pitiful few moments of awareness, while awaiting our de^ath.

    No it is not an embarrassment at all for me but is indeed a call to celebrate the reality of a Living God who fills our life with purpose.

  11. 11
    deric davidson says:

    I never understood how asking the question “who designed the designer” actually negated the proposition that the obvious design that permates the whole of nature requires the input of an intelligent designer. In a way it is a back-handed acceptance that an intelligent designer, as an explanaton for what neo-Darwinism cannot explain, is not some hare-brained idea.

  12. 12
    Benji says:

    The universe looks designed because it is designed.

  13. 13
    BarryA says:

    MacT writes: [quoting BarryA] “‘We don’t need to know anything about the designer to know that an object has in fact been designed.’ I believe this is where scientists and ID proponents part company.”

    You suggest a dichotomy between “scientists” on the one hand and “ID proponents” on the other. I categorically reject this dichotomy. ID is a scientific project. See my post “A Twist on the Infinite Regress Argument” for more detail on this. Your statement suggests to me that you don’t really understand the ID project.

    MacT asks, “why don’t we need to know anything about the designer?”

    It is not a matter of whether we “need” to know anything about the designer. It is a question of whether that issue can be approached scientifically. The answer is, no it cannot be. The designer, whoever he/she/it is has left his/her/its fingerprints all over nature. Therefore, we can infer his/her/its existence and ability to design from the data available to us. Conclusions beyond that are beyond science. That is not to say that we cannot approach the question through other means, and I personally believe that we have done so quite successfully. But those means are not scientific. They are religious/philosophical/metaphysical. Why is this so hard to understand? It is very plain to me.

  14. 14
    Patrick says:

    BarryA,

    The major problem I find with your response (the 2nd half) is that it seems to assume that the designer is the Christian God. So, yes, like you said the existence of the designer(s) can be determined scientifically due to the “fingerprints all over nature.” But then you jump straight into theology with “Conclusions beyond that are beyond science.” That’s only true if we find evidence to believe the designer(s) is categorized outside of this universe.

    Like I just stated in another thread, I believe the process to be:

    1. Determine design in an object.
    2. Determine the mechanism for design.
    3. Develop designer detections methods based upon the available evidence.
    4. Once a generalized designation or category for the designer is developed (it’s a single alien entity, it’s an alien civilization, it exists outside of the known universe, whatever), then attempt to find characteristics or information pertaining to the designer(s).

    The real question is, why should scientists be required to reach point 4 for point 1 to be valid?

  15. 15
    BarryA says:

    Patrick, I don’t think you and I disagree. I said, “It is not a matter of whether we ‘need’ to know anything about the designer. It is a question of whether that issue can be approached scientifically. The answer is, no it cannot be.”

    I do not disagree that, in principle if we have advances in data that give us a basis upon which to make conclusions, we could approach the question scientifically. So perhaps the last sentence should read: “We currently have insufficient data to approach the issue scienfically.”

  16. 16
    Lutepisc says:

    Dumping the problem in the lap of a pre-existing designer is no explanation at all, as it merely begs the question of who designed the designer.

    Interesting how the idea of an eternal God seems to present such difficulties when, prior to the adoption of the big bang cosmology, atheism rested on the bedrock of an eternal universe…

  17. 17
    dgw says:

    If the universe and its laws are an accident, then life is an accident. The true meaning found in nature is that there is no meaning. A research program whose aim is to discover the laws and purpose in the universe rests on more solid philosophical ground in the presence of a Designer than in the absence of one. In an accidental world, neither the words I write nor any scientific endeavor has true meaning. Those who argue passionately about the categorical distinction between science and religion are referring to blades on the same windmill.

  18. 18
    MacT says:

    BarryA:
    “We currently have insufficient data to approach the issue scienfically.”

    I don’t think we disagree here.

    That IS a scientific statement. But it contradicts your assertion that ID is a scientific enterprise. Science cannot enter into discussions about design if design entails the assumption of a designer, and that assumption defies examination. The alternative is to assume that nature is not designed. Where that leaves us is we simply do not (yet) have sufficient data to approach some issues scientifically.

  19. 19
    Matteo says:

    “The embarrassment of the Goldilocks enigma…”

    Yes, what could be more embarrassing then disconfirmation of accidental existence in a meaningless universe? Such a faux pas! Why, one could hardly look oneself in the mirror after such a blunder! Interesting, though, that the alternative explanation is along the lines of “our self-creating universe looked at itself in the mirror and that’s why we are here!” That the universe could bear to look itself in the mirror is ipso facto proof that this is the less embarrassing explanation, and to be preferred, under the principle of Occam’s Tazer.

  20. 20
    Borne says:

    “If there is an ultimate meaning to existence, the answer is to be found within nature, not beyond it.”

    So how does he know this? A: It is impossible to know.

    How does he prove this?
    A: He doesn’t even try because he knows it can’t be done.

    So wherein has he gone beyond the meta-predicates made by those he criticizes?
    A: He just added his own materialist predicate to theirs with the same amount of proof. None.

    “The universe might indeed be a fix, but if so, it has fixed itself.”

    This guy has gone the way of the dodo.

    See what we mean when we say that this kind of materialist thinking leads to mental illness? I used to think Davies was pretty smart. Now I see he’s become yet another educated fool who has lost his capacity to think correctly.

    That’s always what happens when the obvious is persistently denied – the brain starts shedding it’s capacity to implicate from the obvious until it is no longer able to bear simple straight reasoning. We witness this kind of crippled reasoning all the time amongst Darwinists.

    “The universe fixed itself”?
    I wish my car would do that.

    “Nothing beyond nature”?
    Exactly how does he know this? Has he been to the edge of all and found nothingness?

    His own statements are now exactly what he pretends are the wrong paths of both multi-verse thinkers and IDists.

    “Dumping the problem in the lap of a pre-existing designer is no explanation at all, as it merely begs the question of who designed the designer.”
    My! How many times have we heard and answered that one!?

    “But appealing to a host of unseen universes and a set of unexplained meta-laws is scarcely any better.”

    Indeed. So what does Davies do? He asserts that there is nothing beyond nature and all the answers are in nature itself. Ha! He has just committed the exact same fallacy that he accuses others of!

    No proof required – it all just happened. The universe created itself, engineered itself and is running itself down. Brilliant nonsense! Wish upon a falling star Mr. Davies.

    What is Nature really to be self-existent or self-creating? What is matter or energy?

    There is no such thing as self-creation. The very idea is logically absurd.

    Then he talks of building up information content! But information isn’t matter or energy so where did it come from?

    And just how did it ‘focus’ on “the life-encouraging form we observe today”? What is life anyway?

    Davies appears to be following the R. Dawkins self-extinction algorithm and will end up as yet another dinosaur in the vast terrain of fossilized pseudo-science, if he keeps going along the dark path of denial.

    The path that brings good scientists to begin telling fairy tales instead of seeking truth in order to escape the God dilemma.

    It requires a tiring amount of circular reasoning to go down that sombre pathway.

  21. 21
    Collin says:

    I just wonder if he will realize he has made such an error in reasoning. (or rather, errors). Maybe he will never know because all of the errors are pointed out by “non-scientists” (id-ists).

  22. 22
    Mats says:

    The level of mental gymnastic people will do in order to keep their naturalistic religion is beyond parody.
    So the universe fixed itself? So that is suposed to be a scientific answer for the “fix” the universe clearly displays?

    Materialists are making scientists, and science in general, look bad.

  23. 23
    StephenB says:

    —–Patrick:

    I am a little confused by your response to Barry A? He didn’t really hint at a Christian God. At most, he alluded to a creative force independent of the creation. Doesn’t the innovator reside outside the realm of the innovation? Must not the painter be distinct from his painting?

    Further, what does it mean to be an intelligent agent? Are you suggesting that some unexplainable principle in nature (preSocratic Greeks) can plan, direct, and give purpose to that of which it is a part? Must not the intelligent agent be autonomous from law and chance in a sufficiently radical way so as to qualify it as an alternative causal agent? Doesn’t that function alone take the agent “out of nature?”

  24. 24
    Robo says:

    I don’t think Davies really believes what he is saying. He has to hold to it lest he give in say: “God did it”, thus losing his scientific investigativeness.

    He wrote another piece in a New Scientist (or Scientific American) a few months ago about how the the universe was evolving ‘fir us’ due to our observations and co-evolution with it. Quite wacky me thinks 🙂

  25. 25
    dl says:

    I think Davies is one of the “good guys”.

    Even though he is not an ID supporter, he acknowledges facts (fine-tuning, organization at many levels) that many who don’t support ID either ignore or don’t see. He also is candid about the problems with the currently accepted explanations for those facts.

    His acknowledgement of evidence that supports ID (in spite of his rejection of ID) is a good thing. It shows that the pro ID side isn’t distorting the evidence to support a foregone conclusion.

  26. 26
    mentok says:

    Paul Davies, wow, poor man needs some mental laxative to clear out the pipes. Paul, sweety, claiming that intelligent causation is refuted or made into a pseudo explanation because there needs to be an explanation of “who designed the designer”, should be rejected due to it’s extremely embarassing proposition. For an example: Here I am typing away on a keyboard which was caused by an intelligent agent, we can all agree that this is absolutey true. Do I need to prove that the intelligence which designed this keyboard was also designed in order for us to accept that this keyboard was designed by an intelligent agent? According to materialistic accounts of the origin of intelligence, all intelligence has come into existence through a non-intelligent cause. If I say that this keyboard was designed by an intelligent agent, no one has a problem with that, no one will demand that I prove that the intelligent agent I propose be proven to also be caused by an intelligent agent. In fact the vast majority of “scientists” will fight tooth and nail against the proposal that the intelligent cause of this keyboard had an intelligent cause, n’est-ce pas?

    Yet if it is proposed that the fine tuned universe or the origin of life or the origin of species shows an intelligent agent, then all of a sudden the evidence for *that* intelligent agent is refuted because it needs to have been caused by another intelligent agent leading to a philosophically problematic infinite regress?

    So we see a double standard whenever an intelligent agent other then that of something resembling our own is proposed as a causative agent. It’s perfectly “scientific” and acceptable to propose a human cause without fear of the infinite regress of intelligence causation, but it is “unscientific” and unacceptable to propose some other type of intelligence agent?

    At the end of the day whether you believe this keyboard I am typing on was caused by an intelligent agent or not, or whether or not you believe “nature” shows the signs of intelligent agency, we should be humble in the face of the fact that we are all very tiny and very new to a very large and very ancient universe.

  27. 27

    It seems to me that the “many universes” hypothesis only makes the fine-tuning problem worse. Even if another universe is not fine-tuned for life, it still had to be fine-tuned “big time” just get itself out of the initial black hole. As I see it, the size of the fine-tuning problem is proportional to he sum of all the fine-tuning — not just our local universe.

  28. 28
    Patrick says:

    But it contradicts your assertion that ID is a scientific enterprise. Science cannot enter into discussions about design if design entails the assumption of a designer, and that assumption defies examination. The alternative is to assume that nature is not designed. Where that leaves us is we simply do not (yet) have sufficient data to approach some issues scientifically.

    BarryA is only talking about point 4, the identity and specific characteristics of the designer(s). So I take it you do assert that points 3 or 4 must be reached first before points 1 and 2 are valid?

    How’s this for a twist:

    “Science cannot enter into discussions about Darwinism if Darwinism entails the assumption of functional Darwinian mechanisms, and that assumption defies examination. The alternative is to assume that nature did not evolve by Darwinian mechanisms. Where that leaves us is we simply do not (yet) have sufficient data to approach some issues scientifically.”

    😉

  29. 29
    Apollos says:

    RE: Who designed the designer

    Ask a materialist inventor “Who designed the designer?” He’ll say, “Nobody did.”

    Ironically that’s the same a Christian would say about the Author of life.

  30. 30
    Patrick says:

    Patrick (#14): I agree that point 1 can be valid without being able to explore points 2 – 4. I don’t see why work can’t be done on all points simultaneously. There’s no real reason certain aspects can’t be established as possibilities before the entire chain is known. Personally I think all questions are permissible.

    It’s also possible (in general/practical uses) that point 1 cannot be verified but points 2, 3, and 4 could. Example:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....omplexity/

    Even though the first deck being ordered by rank and suit is impressive (52! = 8.06581752×10^67) that still does not exceed Dembski’s UPB of 10^150 or 500 informational bits. Now we could make a weak design inference (aka police investigation) but not an ID-based design inference if this was a one-time shuffle to win a jackpot. In that scenario we would presumably be able to discover the mechanism for potential cheating so we could use that design/designer detection method instead of ID. It’s not as if ID methods are the only way to detect design.

    EDIT: For the jackpot scenario I’m presuming the prize winner would be required to shuffle an entire deck and the prize would be awarded if a contestant managed to get some sort of combination that is close to 1 in 10^8 (around the odds of Powerball). By turning up this result the contestant is essentially providing a result that is overkill for the terms of the prize. So although the guy might have got really, really lucky they will still investigate to see if it was rigged somehow.

    But that isn’t an option with biology, since the minimum for life is above 500 informational bits.

    “The first enzyme very possibly contained the sequence Asp-Ser-Gly, which is part of the active centers of phosphoglucomutase, trypsin, and chymotrypsin. Ribonuclease contains 124 amino acid residues. If all were equally common, this would mean 540 bits. The number is actually a little less than that. This number could be somewhat reduced if some amino acids were rare both in the medium and in the enzyme. I suggest that the primitive enzyme was a much shorter peptide of low activity and specificity, incorporating only 100 bits or so. But even this would mean one out of 1.3 x 1030 possibilities. This is an unacceptable, large number. If a new organism were tried out every minute for 108 years, we should need 1017 simultaneous trials to get the right result by chance. The earth’s surface is 5 x 1018 cm2. There just isn’t, in my opinion, room. Sixty bits, or about 15 amino acids, would be more acceptable probabilistically, but less so biochemically. I suggest that the first synthetic organisms may have been something like a tobacco mosaic virus, but including the enzyme or enzymes needed for its own replication. More verifiably, I suggest that the first synthetic organisms may be so constituted. For natural, but not for laboratory life, a semipermeable membrane is needed. This could be constituted from an inactivated enzyme and lipids. I think, however, that the first synthetic organism may be much larger than the first which occurred. It may contain several different enzymes, with a specification of 5000 bits or so-about the information on a page of Chamber’s 7-figure logarithm tables. This should be quite within human possibilities. The question will then arise: How much smaller may the first natural organism have been? If this minimum involves 500 bits, one could conclude either that terrestrial life had had an extraterrestrial origin (with Nagy and Braun) or a supernatural one (with many religions, but by no means all).” (Haldane, Ibid., p.14).

    Now that quote is very old. If I remember aright the latest estimates for the minimum information content of life are above 1000 informational bits, but I don’t remember where I read that.

  31. 31
    StephenB says:

    ——–Patrick:
    Do you hesitate to characterize the designer as a transcendent being? At #14, you seem to imply that some unexplainable principle in nature–an impersonal, immanent force—may be able to plan, direct, and give purpose to that of which it is a part.

    Must not the intelligent agent be autonomous from law and chance in a sufficiently radical way so as to qualify it as an alternative causal agent? Doesn’t that function alone take the agent “out of nature,” in the same way that a painter must be distinct from his paining? Doesn’t the innovator, by definition, reside outside the realm of the innovation

  32. 32
    mentok says:

    StephenB in answer to your question at #32, the answer is no. Consider that I can design and then create a hairstyle for myself. Do I have to exist somewhere other then my body to do that? Even though *I* exist as consciousness, which is outside of the material universe in the sense of existing in a different dimension then the 3 dimensional universe viewable with our eyes, at the same time I exist within the universe because I exist on earth. Similarly the designer of the universe doesn’t have to exist solely outside of the universe in order to control it simply because the universe is something built by th designer. The designer could exist within and outside of this universe in a similar fashion to ourselves. For an example let’s say the designer is consciousness, like ourselves, but instead of being limited as we are to our human bodies, let’s say the designer’s consciousness exists everywhere. In that scenario there would be no place outside of the “realm of the innovator”. That doesn’t automatically make the designer subject to the laws of nature which he designs. Like ourselves he would have to be consciousness, which exists outside of, or in a different dimension, then the 3 dimensions which are affected by he laws of nature.

  33. 33
    gpuccio says:

    mentok (#33):

    Perfect! You have expressed very clearly and very correctly the real core of the problem. I agree with you 100%.

    I have always been wondering why many people, even here in the UD field, have problems considering the intervention of the designer (let’s call him a “spiritual” designer) in natural history, as though it would be some kind of “miracle”, and therefore unscientific.

    I can understand that difficulty in a purely materialistic thinker, who believes, because of his faith, that our consciousness does not exist, or is only a byproduct of neuronal activity. But, for people who seem to believe that consciousness is an expression of the soul, where is the “miracle”?. If it is a miracle, it is a miracle we witness every day, each time a thinking person interacts with matter, both by perception and action. It is, indeed, a very natural miracle, and therefore certainly it can be not only considered, but also investigated, by natural science.

    All these people who ramble about naturalism and supernaturalism dont’even know what they are saying. If strict materialism is true (and it is not!), then there is no natural or supernatural, because only matter exists. On the other hand, if consciousness is not a byproduct of matter (and it isn’t!), then consciousness is certainly a very natural thing, because it interacts with matter all the time: it generates actions and modifications, most of them designed, more or less intelligently. If God exists (and He does!), then we may, if we want, call His consciousness “supernatural” (a purely semantic question), but why should a “supernatural” consciousness be less capable of interacting with matter (the same matter which is assumed to have been created by that same consciousness) than our consciousness? If that were the case, it would be a very “subnatural” consciousness indeed!

    So, I am really tired of all the debate about “naturalism”. The only question is: does “nature” consist only of matter as we understand it today, or does it include other principles? The second answer is the right one, for many reasons at many levels, including (but not limited to) the science level.

    Consciousness is an integral part of reality, and is not a byproduct of matter. It constantly interacts with all the other constituents of reality, including matter. It constantly creates modifications in matter (actions), and is constantly modified by matter (perceptions). Many of its actions are intelligently designed. Only the outcome of consciousness is intelligently designed. Nothing else.

    Biological beings are intelligently designed. Therefore, they have been designed by a conscious being. Period.

  34. 34
    StephenB says:

    ——-Mentok: In all honesty, I cannot agree with you. We cannot logically posit an impersonal, immanent principle in nature that could plan, direct, and give purpose to that of which it is a part. Scientifically, we are limited to the immediate level of design inference, but logically it makes no sense to stop there..
    First, the human analogies don’t seem to work. You may be able to create a hairstyle for yourself, but you are always dependent on someone else for the equipment and the hair. In other words, the designer cannot be solely organic with the universe (Pantheism), because, under those circumstances, the designed creatures would be indistinguishable from the designer. The derivative intelligent agencies would simply be extensions of the supreme intelligence–a total loss of identity for everyone except the ONE intelligence.

    The designer must exist outside of nature–it must be transcendent; it may also be immanent, but not necessarily. That means acknowledging the cosmic significance of the cause/effect phenomenon. Because of the principle of “infinite regress, all causal chains must stop with a causeless cause. By definition, that causeless cause must be transcendent or outside of nature.

    Further, we must submit to a fact that has been with us since antiquity–nothing moves without first being set in motion. Everything that moves must be moved by something else, which leads us to Aristotle’s prime mover, which, in turn, must be in back of the movement or outside of nature. From a scientific perspective, we can make no judgment one way or the other. But logically, I still hold that the designer must be “outside of nature.” The painter/painting analogy would appear to be appropriate. As a matter of principle, the innovator must always be transendent with respect to the thing innovated.

  35. 35
    mentok says:

    StephenB you wrote:

    We cannot logically posit an impersonal, immanent principle in nature that could plan, direct, and give purpose to that of which it is a part.

    I agree that an “impersonal impersonal, immanent principle” cannot logically be the cause of anything which is planned. A plan requires a planner, a planner by definition cannot be other then some type of person, not some type of impersonal whatever. I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise.

    Then you wrote

    First, the human analogies don’t seem to work. You may be able to create a hairstyle for yourself, but you are always dependent on someone else for the equipment and the hair. In other words, the designer cannot be solely organic with the universe (Pantheism), because, under those circumstances, the designed creatures would be indistinguishable from the designer.

    I didn’t mean to imply that the designer could be solely “organic with the universe (pantheism)”. What I said was

    the designer of the universe doesn’t have to exist solely outside of the universe in order to control it simply because the universe is something built by the designer.

    I made the point that for the designer, “outside” of the universe can be understood in the same way that we, as consciousness and mind, exist in a different dimension then 3 dimensional matter/energy, which is usually defined as comprising the “universe”. We exist outside of the universe of matter/energy, yet we are also within the universe of matter/energy because we live here on earth.

    Furthurmore there is no logical reason to claim that the designer cannot comprise matter/energy and consciousness. The designer by definition doesn’t have to be the same type of entity that we are. We exist as consciousness/mind within a body, on a planet. We as consciousness are different then out material bodies and this earth which are comprised of matter. Our bodily cells die and are replaced regularly, our bodies today are not the same bodies we were born with. The designer doesn’t logically have to be the same type of entity as ourselves.

    Another example to use would be a computer analogy. Let’s say that all existence exists within a single computer. And let’s say that that computer doesn’t need an outside user because the computer itself is conscious and intelligent and has the ability to control all of it’s functional abilities. Let’s say that that computer creates a virtual reality world. It creates a world within itself, controlled by itself, comprised of itself (because nothing else exists but itself). Let’s say that because the computer is conscious and intelligent (possesses a mind and intellect) that it discovered how to build other conscious intelligent entities out of it’s own existence (because nothing exists outside of itself).

    So it builds a virtual reality world, comprised of the computer, and it builds other conscious intelligent entities which are also comprised of the computer (because nothing exists but the computer environment), and has them live in the virtual reality world within itself. The computer exists outside of the virtual reality world it creates (because it is more then animation alone e.g. hardware) and it also exists as the virtual reality world (because everything in the computer is part of it), and it exists as the other conscious entities in the virtual world (because everything in the computer was built from and exists as a part of the computer).

    So in this analogy the computer comprises everything, all of existence exists within and as a part of itself. Within the computer there is a virtual reality world which the computer built. In that virtual world, where everything is comprised of bytes and bits comprised ofand controlled by the computer, there exists other conscious entities who are also built out of the computer (out of it’s own consciousness) and within the computer (the virtual bodies in the virtual world). The computer is so advanced technologically speaking, that it is able to build those conscious entities as distinct and different from the consciousness of the computer, though they cannot exist apart from the computer since everything exists within and as a part of the computer.

    So let’s say the designer is a conscious intelligent entity who exists as a type of cosmic computer. He/she/it comprises the substance or ground of being of all existence, the hardware and software of our universe. Everything exists within it. Matter/energy and consciousness and mind all exist as a part of it’s existence. Matter/energy is like bits and bytes in a computer which comprise a virtual reality within that computer. They exist in a different dimension then the hardware of the computer, just like that which controls matter/energy (consciousness/mind) in our universe exists in a different dimension then the matter/energy, but like the virtual reality of the computer those bits and bytes which comprise our virtual matter/energy exist within and as a part of the cosmic computer.

    The cosmic computer as the controller/designer exists as that which is designed (all the properties of matter/energy and of living conscious entities which we are aware of) and as that which designs (it’s own consciousness/mind and other attributes which we may ot be aware of), just like a computer is the both hardware and the virtual reality. Our material universe can be said to be comprised of 3 dimensional matter/energy which exists like a virtual reality where the cosmic computer (all pervading consciousness and mind) has total control over every bit and byte of our virtual universe. That control is manifest to our view in the laws of nature, physical constants, structure of matter and elements, life forms, revelation, etc. This is not pantheism, this is panentheism, where the designer exists as everything in our reality and also transcends our conception of reality.

  36. 36
    StephenB says:

    —-Mentok: you wrote, “Furthurmore there is no logical reason to claim that the designer cannot comprise matter/energy and consciousness. The designer by definition doesn’t have to be the same type of entity that we are. We exist as consciousness/mind within a body, on a planet. We as consciousness are different then out material bodies and this earth which are comprised of matter. Our bodily cells die and are replaced regularly, our bodies today are not the same bodies we were born with. The designer doesn’t logically have to be the same type of entity as ourselves.” But then you go on to describe it as creating “a world within itself, controlled by itself, comprised of itself (because nothing else exists but itself).”

    —-and again: “Another example to use would be a computer analogy. Let’s say that all existence exists within a single computer. And let’s say that that computer doesn’t need an outside user because the computer itself is conscious and intelligent and has the ability to control all of it’s functional abilities. Let’s say that that computer creates a virtual reality world. It creates a world within itself, controlled by itself, comprised of itself (because nothing else exists but itself). Let’s say that because the computer is conscious and intelligent (possesses a mind and intellect) that it discovered how to build other conscious intelligent entities out of it’s own existence (because nothing exists outside>”

    It seems to me that your first paragraph allows for two realms. You say, for example, “the designer doesn’t have to be the same kind of identity,”……etc. Well, if you are going to raise the stakes to a “higher being,” then it seems to me that you are describing a transcendent entity. But then you go on to say, “it creates a world within itself, controlled by itself, comprised of itself (because nothing else exists but itself). The description doesn’t seem consistent to me.

    In your second paragraph, you use a computer as an example of a closed system (immanent), but you are, apparently conceiving of a computer that can program itself. That dramatizes the fact, in my judgment, that we must go outside the computer to make things work, proving that we do indeed need a transcendent designer.

    I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful clarifications, but I still don’t think your characterization of the designer can function as an innovator. Even though pantheism (monistic God) and panetheism (monistic nature) can be distinguished, the dynamic remains the same. Without the power of transcendence, the designer can’t design.

    First, a monistic creator cannot plan and direct with any sense of purpose, because it has no end in mind. It is the very nature of immanence to be in flux. How can the ever-changing innovator design life along a goal-oriented path when it is in the middle of its own developmental process? Indeed, it cannot even know where IT is going, much less where its creatures should be going. Because it is changing, it cannot be perfect by definition. So, either it is changing without purpose, or it is aiming toward some standard of goodness that 1) has not yet been established or 2) has already been provided by a superior being.

    Also, this kind of monism sacrifices diversity for the sake of unity. The intellect of the immanent designer would be bound up with everyone else’s intellect, removing any possibility of personal identity. That is because the creatures would be “derived from” rather that “designed by” the one, ever- changing substance. Put another way, humans would not be creatures at all, they would be emergent products—biological appendages, changing along with the larger organism of which they are all a part.

    Finally, we still have the problem of the cause/effect relationship between creator and creature. Each causal chain is still subject to the problem of “infinite regress.” There is no way out of the problem. We need a causeless cause, and the causeless cause must be transcendent. And, of course, we must contend with the parallel problem of motion and the fact that all motion hearkens back to the transcendent “prime mover.

    I still hold that the creative force must come from a different realm of existence. In other words, it must be UNCHANGING and TRANSCENDENT.

  37. 37
    mentok says:

    StephenB, while I appreciate your insights, it is clear to me that you don’t understand what I have said. For example you wrote

    Also, this kind of monism sacrifices diversity for the sake of unity. The intellect of the immanent designer would be bound up with everyone else’s intellect, removing any possibility of personal identity. That is because the creatures would be “derived from” rather that “designed by” the one, ever- changing substance. Put another way, humans would not be creatures at all, they would be emergent products—biological appendages, changing along with the larger organism of which they are all a part

    First off if just because my shirt is “derived” from a cotton plant, that doesn’t change the fact that my shirt was designed. So your claim that if something is derived from something else that it cannot be designed is refuted. Secondly you claim that if the designer’s intellect is “bound up” with our intellect that we could not possess “personal identity”, that is simply your speculation, you have not provided any kind of logical nor philosophical proof. In fact what we experience seems to refute your claim. For example, how does our memory function? If I ask you to tell me the plot of the last movie you watched, how does that memory come to you? What do you do to remember that information? Let’s try and see. Concentrate on your mind, pay attention to your thoughts, and try to remember what you ate for dinner 2 nights ago….

    What happened in your mind as you tried to remember? Whatever happened doesn’t matter, I can tell you what did not happen. You did not know where to look for that memory because there was nowhere to look for that memory. You have no ability to find a memory, none of us do, any memory, because you we do not know how nor where to look. All you can do is desire, then either the memory pops into your thoughts, or it doesn’t. Imagine if your job was to be a researcher for a company and whenever they asked you to do some research all you could do was hope that the information they wanted would pop into your thoughts. That seems like a recipe for being fired. Yet all of our memory is provided to us without our knowledge on how we acquire that information. It simply pops into our thoughts, or it doesn’t. We have no ability to find a memory, memory appears or not appears, seemingly of it’s own volition. Yet in fact we remember lots of stuff, some more then others, sometimes more then other times. Sometimes a person can recite long passages from a book from memory, other times the same person will not know what day it is. In either case memory is something which simply appears in our thoughts, or not, without our searching and finding that information in some repository. Memory simply appears, or not.

    We cannot function as intellient people without memory, we do not control nor supply memory to ourselves, yet memory is somehow provided to us so that we are able to function as intelligent beings. How is memory provided? Since memory is provided via a language (If I ask you where were you born? The answer which suddenly appears in your thoughts is supplied in a language you understand), therefore we can rule out any biological mechanism as being the cause of memory. This is because there are no cells nor organs in your body which can read your mind and comprehend your desire for a memory, nor can they then search and find that memory, nor can they then speak that information into your mind using words in a human language. Yet memory is provided to you in a language you understand.

    So my point is that your speculation that the designer cannot be “bound up’ with our intellect without our loss of personal identity is refuted by the reality of our existence. We do in fact have a personal identity, and without the designer being “bound up” with our intellect, we in fact could not function as intellectual beings due to our constant dependence on memory being supplied to us.

    Is there a difference between your shirt and a cotton plant? Are they not different even though they are made of the same substance? What the designer can do and what you think the designer should or can do are not neccesarily going to be the same thing.

  38. 38
    mentok says:

    (my previous post was formatted incorrectly, this is how it should have looked like)

    StephenB, while I appreciate your insights, it is clear to me that you don’t understand what I have said. For example you wrote

    Also, this kind of monism sacrifices diversity for the sake of unity. The intellect of the immanent designer would be bound up with everyone else’s intellect, removing any possibility of personal identity. That is because the creatures would be “derived from” rather that “designed by” the one, ever- changing substance. Put another way, humans would not be creatures at all, they would be emergent products—biological appendages, changing along with the larger organism of which they are all a part

    First off if just because my shirt is “derived” from a cotton plant, that doesn’t change the fact that my shirt was designed. So your claim that if something is derived from something else that it cannot be designed is refuted. Secondly you claim that if the designer’s intellect is “bound up” with our intellect that we could not possess “personal identity”, that is simply your speculation, you have not provided any kind of logical nor philosophical proof. In fact what we experience seems to refute your claim. For example, how does our memory function? If I ask you to tell me the plot of the last movie you watched, how does that memory come to you? What do you do to remember that information? Let’s try and see. Concentrate on your mind, pay attention to your thoughts, and try to remember what you ate for dinner 2 nights ago….

    What happened in your mind as you tried to remember? Whatever happened doesn’t matter, I can tell you what did not happen. You did not know where to look for that memory because there was nowhere to look for that memory. You have no ability to find a memory, none of us do, any memory, because you we do not know how nor where to look. All you can do is desire, then either the memory pops into your thoughts, or it doesn’t. Imagine if your job was to be a researcher for a company and whenever they asked you to do some research all you could do was hope that the information they wanted would pop into your thoughts. That seems like a recipe for being fired. Yet all of our memory is provided to us without our knowledge on how we acquire that information. It simply pops into our thoughts, or it doesn’t. We have no ability to find a memory, memory appears or not appears, seemingly of it’s own volition. Yet in fact we remember lots of stuff, some more then others, sometimes more then other times. Sometimes a person can recite long passages from a book from memory, other times the same person will not know what day it is. In either case memory is something which simply appears in our thoughts, or not, without our searching and finding that information in some repository. Memory simply appears, or not.

    We cannot function as intellient people without memory, we do not control nor supply memory to ourselves, yet memory is somehow provided to us so that we are able to function as intelligent beings. How is memory provided? Since memory is provided via a language (If I ask you where were you born? The answer which suddenly appears in your thoughts is supplied in a language you understand), therefore we can rule out any biological mechanism as being the cause of memory. This is because there are no cells nor organs in your body which can read your mind and comprehend your desire for a memory, nor can they then search and find that memory, nor can they then speak that information into your mind using words in a human language. Yet memory is provided to you in a language you understand.

    So my point is that your speculation that the designer cannot be “bound up’ with our intellect without our loss of personal identity is refuted by the reality of our existence. We do in fact have a personal identity, and without the designer being “bound up” with our intellect, we in fact could not function as intellectual beings due to our constant dependence on memory being supplied to us.

    Is there a difference between your shirt and a cotton plant? Are they not different even though they are made of the same substance? What the designer can do and what you think the designer should or can do are not neccesarily going to be the same thing.

  39. 39
    StephenB says:

    Mentok: Your example do not refute my claim because it does not address it. A “shirt isn’t derived from a cotton plant; it is manufactured.” Emergence is a totally different concept than that. But let’s not dwell on that one point. There are too many other problems with your notion of an immanent designer.

    First, we must deal with the problem of change. Do you not agree that an “immanent” designer without transcendent qualities must be ever-changing? How can the ever-changing innovator design life along a goal-oriented path when it is in the middle of its own developmental process? Indeed, it cannot even know where IT is going, much less where its creatures should be going. Because it is changing, it cannot be perfect by definition; perfection doesn’t need change. So, either it is changing without purpose, or it is aiming toward some standard of goodness that 1) has not yet been established or 2) has already been provided by a superior being.

    Next, let’s revisit your example of a “”cosmic computer.” You write, “So in this analogy the computer comprises everything, all of existence exists within and as a part of itself. Within the computer there is a virtual reality world which the computer built. In that virtual world, where everything is comprised of bytes and bits comprised ofand controlled by the computer, there exists other conscious entities who are also built out of the computer (out of it’s own consciousness) and within the computer (the virtual bodies in the virtual world). The computer is so advanced technologically speaking, that it is able to build those conscious entities as distinct and different from the consciousness of the computer, though they cannot exist apart from the computer since everything exists within and as a part of the computer.”

    The problem with this example is that, while arguing for immanence, you are assuming the benefits that only transcendence can provide. In fact, we already know from experience, that no computer can program itself without help from a transcendent programmer. We also know that computers are not arbitrary innovations; they are designed for a definite purpose and function. Is it not fair to say that creatures, like computers, cannot provide their own reason for being? Doesn’t that fact alone suggest that the creature’s design cannot be an “inside job,” that it must come from a different being? Can any product of an intelligent creator, whether it is a human being, pencil sharpener, or printer, presume to tell the creator what it was made for? Can it logically claim a moral or ontological equivalence with the creator without doing violence to its own nature? And, doesn’t your example do that very thing? Doesn’t it place all things on the same level of being?

    Further, we must also contend with the laws of nature or their relationship with the designer. What about the problem of motion? It is not the case that Aristotle’s “prime mover,” for example, must, by definition, be transcendent? Surely, an immanent being cannot be its own prime mover. We cannot reasonably shrug off the significance of the “infinite regress” argument. In a cause/effect universe, the cause always takes logical precedence over the effect. Insofar as we are apparently the effects of a creative effort, we must look outside ourselves for the ultimate cause. We cannot be both cause and effect. Cause/effect is a “vertical” rather than “horizontal” phenomenon.

    All these and other indicators persuade me that the designer must exhibit transcendent qualities.

  40. 40
    mentok says:

    StephenB you are reading in to what I said that which is not there, maybe that is my fault. I never said nor implied that the designer was not transcendent to our material universe. In fact in my computer analogy I thought I made it clear that this material universe (the virtual reality in the computer) is controlled by the consciousness and mind which is beyond this material world (the hardware of the computer). My whole point in disagreeing with you was to point out that the designer can be both immanent and transcendent at the same time, yet you seem to keep missing that point and keep insisting that I am saying something else i.e. that the designer is only immanent.

  41. 41
    StephenB says:

    Mentok: We apparently agree, after all. I maintain that the designer can easily be and probably is immanent as well as transcendent. Apparently, we were navigating through a semantic difficulty. Thanks for hanging in there.

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