Friday, October 19, 2007

Spero: Question 5

[The notes on this point in my ‘Spero’ document are not the most coherent. I am not entirely sure what my pre-blogging self intended to say from the fragmentary notes they made, so I may be going off on a complete tangent here and misrepresenting their opinions.]

What is the universe like?

When we compare our concept of God and our concept of the universe, it would be good if they did not contradict one another. If they seem to do so, we must either adjust our concept of God, or adjust our concept of the universe, or adjust our concept of how they are linked one to another. I am using my definition of ‘universe’ which was something like ‘everything that exists which is potentially knowable to us’ as opposed to ‘Universe’ which was simply ‘everything that exists’.

Thus my implacable opposition to what is called Creationism owes a great deal, as I have said before, to the assertion that to create the universe ex nihilo as we see it- with all its pointless suffering and such a lot of excellent indirect evidence that it was not created ex nihilo like it is now- is absolutely unworthy of any God worth worshipping.

What do we see, when we look at the universe?

We see that it is physically rather hostile to creatures like us. It seems to be governed primarily by impersonal laws that make no distinctions between us: it does not matter whether we are nice or nasty, it does not matter what our name is or where we went to school, we will all obey G = m1m2/r2 if we should trip and fall.

On the other hand, the universe is psychically congenial. These implacable laws seems to be within our capacity to figure out. This is pretty amazing.

The universe is rather big.

The universe is also prodigal. It is inexplicably full of vast numbers of very similar things. If it was created ex nihilo, it was created by someone with a child’s joy in repeating very similar things over and over and over again. Look at all of those stars! Look at all of those insects! Look at all of those organic compounds!

The universe does not have one story at one scale, but a bewildering hierarchy of stories at different scales. Things that are very very small are interesting, and obey certain rules. These rules acting on these small things give rise to systems that are larger, and can be largely understood in terms of different rules which do not explicitly refer to the set of rules operating on the smaller scale. And these systems give rise to higher order systems, etc. The universe has all these layers of nested hierarchies emerging out of each other. But, there is no indication that one level of the hierarchy is more important than any other: if it was created ex nihilo, it was created by someone who lavished equal attention on all levels of the hierarchy.

The laws we have discovered suggest that there is no need to postulate that there is anything called ‘mind’ separate from ‘matter’ in the universe. But matter is incredibly interesting and behaves in bizarre ways. We can explain all of the hoped-for phenomena that we used to postulate a ‘soul’ for without there being anything in the universe besides matter. This is the point my pre-blogging self spent most of their time nattering about in the fragmentary notes.

I suggest that the universe also seems to be very pretty, at any scale we happen to look at.

Thus, the universe appears to be:

So darn mean.
Yet largely explicable.
Inexplicably large.
Inordinately fond of beetles.
In agreement with the statement ‘size doesn’t matter’.
Full of matter.

I am not sure what my pre-blogging self was aiming at- but I think my aim now is that all of these features of the universe should sit comfortably within a self-consistent worldview incorporating God as defined previously. There are certainly other features of the universe that will impress you, that ought to be fit into this self-consistent worldview as well...

No comments: