A Down-to-Earth look at God (ii)

Following on from my previous post, I’m exploring what can, reasonably and credibly, be said about God. Many people may have the science versus religion debate, (occasionally acrimonious and mud-slinging), in the background, if not foreground, of their thinking. On the one hand, there are the ‘new atheists’ who don’t just claim that religion poisons some things, but insist it poisons everything. On the other hand, there are the fundamentalist, biblical literalists, who regard evolution, relativity and quantum physics as dastardly inventions of the devil. Is there any sane and sensible middle ground? Can the word ‘God’ be stripped of unsustainable, unprofitable baggage, and plausibly and relevantly retained?

Very interesting is the recent book, “Return of the God Hypothesis : Three scientific discoveries that reveal the Mind behind the Universe”, (HarperCollins, 2021). The author, Stephen C. Meyer, is a geophysicist and philosopher of science, who’s done his homework and made a case that isn’t instantly dismissible, which ought not to be ignored. I’ve included, at the end of this post, a link to a reasonably short, plain language video that’s worth watching providing, in my view, that its references to ‘God’ are not understood in a traditional or literal way, but as a convenient label for ‘transcendental intelligence’ which is not ‘a being’, but the ‘source of all being’. 

In a nutshell, firstly, if this universe began in the ‘explosion’ of a dimensionless ‘point’ that already contained within itself all that has subsequently existed, then where did that come from? It may indeed have come from nothing and nowhere, but it seems also valid to posit ‘intelligence’ as a source. What we can’t legitimately do, however, is assume such ‘intelligence’ to be a bigger version of ourselves. What transcends us, cannot be described by us in any plausible way.

Secondly, why is this universe ‘fine tuned’, so as not only to exist and sustain itself, but also to produce and support life? The laws of physics, and the mathematical constants (which are not determined by these laws), must have nearly exactly their present values, or neither this universe nor life would’ve been possible. It could be that we’re the incredibly lucky winners of a ‘cosmic lottery’, or that there are billions of universes so that one was bound to be suitable, but it seems equally valid to suggest transcendental ‘intelligence’ as a source of design. Once again, however, we can’t assume that such ‘intelligence’ is a bigger version of ourselves.

Thirdly, the emergence of even the simplest living cell requires a mind-boggling quantity of sequentially ordered information, outdoing even today’s computerised digital coding. It could be that such ‘coding’ evolved by repeated random chance over millions of years, but the mathematical probability of this is currently in question. I’m not qualified to judge, but I note that any lengthy chain of precisely structured, meaningful information (such as this post) normally emerges, not from random key strokes, but from (hopefully) an intelligent source. So it may be legitimate to suggest, ‘in the beginning was mind’, but *a* Mind might be a step too far.

I don’t have much time for ‘young earth’ advocates and outright evolution dismissers, who rubbish science. Any argument for a ‘creator’ God which ignores, derides or dismisses the latest scientific findings is thereby diminished in my view. Although I don’t buy fully into him, Stephen Meyer knowledgeably explores cutting edge science to demonstrate that science and religion can meaningfully and fruitfully interact. If cosmic lotteries and billions of universes can be valid propositions, so can transcendental ‘intelligence’. If ‘particles’ and ‘force fields’ can come built in with the bricks, so can ‘consciousness’ or ‘mind’.  

Fred Hoyle, an atheistic, life-long opponent of a ‘big bang’ beginning to the universe as a door-opener for ‘God’, felt finally compelled to say, ”A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

In this video, to me, Stephen Meyer overstates his case, moving too easily from underlying ‘intelligence’ capable of a degree of ‘design’, to the full, biblical God. But I’m left with the thought that, instead of science versus religion, more in the way of “jaw, jaw” would be more mutually profitable than “war, war”. 

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