Let me tell you where I am (ii)

Borrowing from ‘Dragons’ Den’ tradition, in my previous post I decided that “I’m out” as far as the phrase “Intelligent Design” is concerned if it’s implying that, at the source of all that is, there’s a ‘Personal Designer’. ‘God’, for me, is more like an evolving trail and error ‘process’. It can’t be a ‘once and for all’ mega-person, all powerful, all knowing and all-good. There’s far too much sorrow, suffering, destruction and death in our everyday world for any such idea to be sustainable.  

What “I’m in” for, however, is that this ‘process’ involves Mind, and therefore intelligence, information and design as such. It’s on this basis that I can regard the cosmos, and life within it, as having meaning and value. Where there’s Mind, there’s thought and feeling, insight and imagination, personal awareness and shared reciprocity. What ‘is’, is something inordinately wonderful, which it’s a joy and a privilege to be a part of, whether for a brief or, who knows, maybe more deeply enduring duration. I’m happy, inasmuch as I’m able, to invest in that.

There are today, I think, three main pointers to the primacy of Mind. Firstly, rather than the simplicity of absolutely nothing, there’s the complexity of a seemingly boundless cosmos. Astonishingly, it’s not randomly chaotic and divergently disjointed. On the contrary, its functioning is mathematically ordered, rationally comprehensible, and generally predictable, all the way from the tiny sub-atomic to the vastly galactic domain. This could be entirely the result of chance, which is a valid point of view, but there seems to me to be at least equal validity in thinking that the cosmos displays evidence of design, even if not of a personal designer.

Secondly, there’s the fact that this universe seems ‘fine-tuned’ to facilitate life. It has been pointed out, that if any of its fundamental equations or constants had been very slightly different, there would’ve been no galaxies, stars and planets, let alone life. As to life’s origin, it was once thought that some watery ‘soup’ containing the right kind of chemicals, just needed a sudden lightning flash to work the necessary ‘miracle’. In fact, the structure and functioning of the simplest living cell is staggeringly complex, and requires requisitely sequenced, absolutely accurate, computer-code-like information. Such ‘coding’ may have resulted via random mutation over extremely long time scales, but it seems equally valid to me that where there’s primordial Mind (even if not ‘a’ mind) there’s information aplenty.

Thirdly, there’s the ‘miracle’ of consciousness. Despite growing understanding of how different aspects of consciousness are associated with particular brain areas, not only have we no idea what consciousness precisely is, but neither as yet do we have any idea of how we might find out! Where exactly inside our heads is the smell of a lily, the sound of a trumpet, the thrill of first love, the taste of lemon, the colour green? How can an immaterial ‘experience’ be produced by a lump of raw meat called a brain? The one is as utterly and categorically different from the other, as the genie was from Aladdin’s lamp. If, however, Mind is built in with the bricks of all that is, then of course there is consciousness. It’s simply one of the givens. 

So, where am I? I am not a materialist, believing that nothing exists other than inert matter which, as a result of fortuitous laws and random processes over aeons of time, can evolve into living beings with conscious self-awareness. I see in such a mechanistic vision, no place for meaning or value. But neither am I a theist, believing that there is some Mega-Person, watching, listening and talking to me, while micro-managing the whole show. I see in such an anthropomorphic vision, no credibility. So I guess I’m a transcendentalist, believing in a ‘spiritual’ as well as a ‘material’ reality, with its derivation in primordial Mind, to which I owe my own experience of thought and feeling, insight and imagination, personal awareness and shared reciprocity. That’s sufficient for me to find meaning and value in life, and in the cosmos. How about you?

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