Welcome to a node of the Pandeism index!!
I have recently been asked by some atheist
correspondents why I believe ours to be a created Universe at all. And so I have decided to marshal in one place the pieces of proof which I believe most convincingly support such a scenario
being at least as likely as not. Naturally, this is not claimed as proof in any absolute sense -- it remains entirely possible that the atheists are right, that ours is an uncreated Universe, but Pandeists do not reasonlessly assume the possibility of Creation. Theists
, naturally, will at least readily agree with Pandeists
that ours is a 'created' Universe
-- by which we mean a Universe for which some external entity (though not necessarily anything that traditional theologians would recognize as a 'god
') engineered an intentional Creation. But in discussing the pandeistic model with atheists, we must present a logical and reasonable basis for believing ours to be a created Universe at all. So what is the proof of the sort of Creation considered by Pandeism, you ask?
There are five things which I find come together in confluence to constitute such a rational reason for belief.
1. The fortuitous governing dynamics of existence-at-all
Theologians have naturally long pointed to the very fact that something exists at all instead of nothing existing. There is, after all, no especial reason why anything ought
to exist. And, contrary to the ideas of the 'steady state' theory advocated by some Pantheists
, a dozen routes of scientific and philosophical inquiry now point to our Universe having a point of origin (approximately 13.72 billion years ago), and our Milky Way
galaxy, our Sun
, planet Earth
, and life
thereupon, having progressive points of origin within that span. And so long as something exists at all, there must be at base some force acting upon it to hold it all together -- why doesn't it all just fly apart?
Reductionists would point to the constant action of the 'fundamental forces' but why do they themselves exist? Why do they constantly function, why do they themselves not simply shut down or fly apart? Stephen Hawkings
has proposed that "because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing." But the ability of our Universe to emerge as it does from the law of gravity alone shows not that it was 'uncreated,' but perhaps that our Creator was brilliant enough to create governing dynamics incorporating this gravitational force from which everything in our Universe could unfold exactly as necessary to approach a goal of complexity.
The first thing, then, is the fortuity of the governing dynamics of our Universe, to permit it to organise complexity at all. And this is seen by many as the most compelling argument of all, the one which captured the imaginations of astrophysicists like Paul Davies
and Timothy Ferris
and Bernard Haisch
, (and which even Richard Dawkins
has conceded is the only one which makes him scratch his head a bit). In broad parlance this is referred to as the fine tuning argument
. For our Universe's very existence as a life-bearing plane is contingent upon a series of very exact calculations. If gravity were any stronger, stars would collapse upon themselves without creating the elements necessary for life to exist; if the nuclear force were different in either direction our Universe would not generate the necessary proportions of carbon and oxygen. Our fundamental forces are so designed that from the right initial state of highly concentrated pure energy, dispersion will
lead to galaxies and stars spread across a vast amount of space; the subatomic forces of the zero-point field of light will form in just such a way as to form negatively charged electrons and positively charged protons and uncharged neutrons, and to hold the electrons in shells around the protons and hold the neutrons to the protons. And the mass and force relationships between those particles will be just right to generate the specific complexity of our periodic table with its neatly ordered array of elements with useful characteristics.
High amongst those elements will be the carbon atom with its peculiar capacity to form six covalent bonds, thus enabling it serve as the core of complex strings of molecules -- all this while, as I mentioned, the stars are churning our just the right ratio of carbon and oxygen (and other elements, nitrogen, iron, etc) to generate planets with chemical soups capable of mixing under the conditions of our Universe into self-replicating forms such as crystals, and more complex self replicating molecules. These self-replicating molecules are the forms which eventually give rise to life, which once introduced, persists. Life responds to the challenges of its environment by, when occasional mutations occur, maintaining the advances incorporated in those few mutations which are beneficial. And so doing over millions of years, eventually bringing about not only highly complex life, but intelligent life, awareness, consciousness.
The fine tuning argument is usually answered with assertions of anthropomorphism
-- that if our Universe didn't have whatever characteristics were necessary to generate life, we wouldn't be here to discuss it, making the fact of our existence simply coincidental to those conditions. But there are a few other fortuitous aspects of our Universe which are not necessary for us to exist, and those are the ones which really make the case for me.
2. A fortuitously simple form of complexity
I observed above how our Universe fortuitously generates intelligent life, awareness, and consciousness. But it does more than that; for it embodies not only complexity sufficient to bring these things about, but a fortuitously fundamental simplicity
as well. It is simple in the sense that intelligent life such as ourselves is able to 'crack the code
' of our Universe, to discover its governing dynamics, and then to master them and use them to create marvels of technology
All of the gods of all of the old scriptures combined could never drop into the hands of man something as simple as pocket watch
or a transistor radio
, much less a laptop computer
. It took the hand and mind of man to uncover the secrets of electricity
. Man discovered the technological capacities of those heavy earth elements which happen to have been generated along with the organic elements in the hearts of stars. Man mapped the flow of logic circuits. This is not a capacity which can be answered with the anthropomorphic argument, the contention that our existence at all simply shows that whatever had to happen, happened. There is no reason at all
why we could not come to exist (and debate our existence) in a Universe wherein the complexity of the forces binding atoms together would exceed our ability to ever conceptualize and control them.
And yet, as we speak, a new generation of nuclear reactors are under construction. Biochemists in laboratories around the world are succeeding in manufacturing bits of artificial DNA, and bits of organic machinery which operate seamlessly within the human body, artificial limbs and hearts and all else to come
. And as we speak, engineers are building computers capable not only of making millions of times as many calculations per second as humans can, but able as well to consider the nature of information itself and generate questions to be answered, the first steps in the construction of true artificial intelligence
This anthropomorphically unnecessary but fortuitously simple fundamental nature of the complexity of our Universe thusly enables us to engage in self-acceleration. Because of our ability to discern the nature of our Universe, we stand at the dawn of a revolution in which humans in future generations will remake themselves, genetically and technologically, into progressively more intelligent and more able beings. We are generations away from becoming beings whom we today would not recognize as human at all, so far greater and wiser as ourselves will they be. And, even as we speak physicists are learning to generate the initial conditions of our Universe so as to create artificial 'pocket Universes' which spin off into parallel dimensions. We are, in short, on the cusp of becoming godlike, which is a capacity for which science alone -- and most scriptures -- provide no explanation
(with the possible exception of Hindu
scripture projecting the possibly transhuman Kalki
as the final incarnation of the all-encompassing Vishnu
, that which is yet to come and begin our Universe anew).
3. Temporal fortuity and the knowledge of our origins
And the capacity for self acceleration through technology and genetic engineering is not the only indication of a Creator whose plan requires us to advance beyond the bonds of our current human forms. I have addressed temporal fortuity at length elsewhere
, and so will treat it comparatively briefly here.
Astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss (ironically himself a vocal atheist) has demonstrated that in a few dozen billion years, galaxies receding out of sight due to universal expansion combined with the evaporation of the Cosmic Background Radiation will yield a Universe wherein it is no longer possible
for inhabitants of any one galaxy to tell that other galaxies even exist, or that our Universe is the product of a Big Bang from which it expanded a certain number of billions of years in the past. Simply put, then, the governing dynamics of our Universe incorporate the capacity for intelligent life to evolve quickly enough
to be able to appreciate the physical means by which our Universe originated. Were our Universe to unfold differently in terms of its expansion or the time it took for intelligent life to arise, then much useful information about its development would be wiped away. But our Universe generates complexity faster than the rate at which its expansion makes cosmology impossible by erasing signs of our origins.
Just as with the fundamental simplicity of our Universe, there is no anthropomorphic reason why we evidence of our cosmic origins had long since been wiped away. Instead, the fortuitous rate of our evolution and technological advancement suggest were meant
to figure out the Big Bang and the expansion of our Universe and all of that, and to glean from that the means and motivation to engage in interstellar travel. And now we know that other stars have planets around them as well, potential convenient stopping points along the way to colonizing our neighbouring stars.
Pandeism recognizes that the simple existence of religion and religiosity are not proof of the truth of any one religion's mythology
. There are, after all, so many competing religions, and so many dissonant sects and cults and interpretive schisms within every sizable faith identification, as to obliterate such an argument. But religion is ubiquitous, almost instinctual, in the human experience, and Pandeism fully accounts
for all religious experiences as being manifestations of the unconscious underlying power of our Creator having become our Universe -- an explanation precisely consistent with the fortuitous circumstances set forth above.
There is, in the recorded human experience, a vast catalogue of claimed events given metaphysical significance, going back to the earliest days of the recording of history. People of all faiths and within all types of theological models have had spiritual visions, believed themselves to be the recipients of divine communications, had dreams portending future occurrences, prayed for miraculous results which have seemingly come about. Reductionism would counter that all of these have non-metaphysical explanations, that visions and revelations may be occurring only in the mind of the recipient, that prayers seemingly answered fall neatly within the range of coincidences dwarfed by the obviously unanswered prayers, that the appearance of miracles can be faked, or that the claim itself may be fraudulent. Evolutionary biology claims to account for this with notions of the fear of shadows protecting in those instances where something lurks therein, but the explanations offered in biology seem strained compared against the richness of religions belief.
But the reductionist explanation requires that every single one of the millions of religious events reported in the annals of human history is an error or a fraud. At the same time, the vast variety of such sentimentations (and the occasional absence of them altogether in a person) demonstrates that none of the theistic models claiming to be universal can be true, for such theistic models depend in part upon their being known or having been revealed or transmitted to all peoples, a verifiably false assumption. But the simplest explanation for the multitudes of seemingly contrarily faith-affirming miracles for mutually exclusive faiths remains the proposition that all reflect a part of the truth sublimated to the manifestations of a single subconscious all-sustaining and all-experiencing mind.
The fourth and fifth points of proof are closely related, as experiences of religiosity are often tied closely to experiences of mysticism
. For not only is there a general tendency of man to sense the need for metaphysical explanations, but there exists a very specific tendency of some especially to have 'mystical' experiences. And the experience of mysticism is, surprisingly enough, replicable through meditation and the use of certain mind-altering substances. The mystical experience recounted by those who have gone this route, whether by meditation or with chemical assistance, is regularly reported as a sensation of oneness with out Universe and with an overriding spiritual force bound up in its fabric.
The experience of mysticism thusly presents a rare thing in theological investigation, a testable hypothesis. The reductionists will class these events as misfirings of random neurons -- and indeed taken by itself might be the most plausible explanation if we didn't live in a Universe with such fortuitous laws of physics as to allow our existence; and again so fortuitous as to allow our discovery and manipulation of those laws so as to accelerate our own evolution; and yet again so fortuitous as to teach us the cosmological history of our existence.
Additional elements amid a tying continuum
There are additional proofs. Duke University physicist Robert G. Brown's Pandeist Theorem
satisfactorily mathematically demonstrates that any truly omniscient deity must constitute an information map of our Universe -- that is, it must actually be
the physical Universe in order to have instantaneous knowledge of the goings-on within. And at the same time, the coalescence of knowledge of quantum physics and zero-point fields suggest that our Universe is indeed sustained by the persistent application of a single fundamental force at the most minute dimensional levels. A number of physicists have postulated that quantum mechanics demands an abserver if potential states are to resolve to actual states, and since our Universe is full of actual states, something must be observing them as well.
Dr. Bernard Haisch proposes as an additional element of proof that we are fundamentally projections filtered from a single great mind the fact that some autistic humans -- humans essentially having a defective brain -- have the ability to engage in absolutely stunning feats of mathematical calculation, capacities which though well studied lack an explanation in our understanding of the functioning of the human brain. This capacity, Haisch suggests, indicates a that our brains are not generators of consciousness, but filters for a consciousness pervading our Universe, such that certain 'defective' brains would in fact be a defective filters, allowing a greater degree of that greater consciousness to be put to the task of the one capacity most useful for the generation of a fruitful Universe: mathematical calculation. I find this one to be especially intriguing of late, though it comes late on the heels of the set of reasons I listed before.
And lastly I must point out that all of the things set forth above are part of an holistic reading of what is going on in our Universe modernly. It may be tempting to pick apart one piece or another and suggest in isolation that it is equally accounted for by some wholly non-spiritual alternative explanation. But the collection of circumstances ought to be taken as exactly that: a collection. A comprehensive whole
, for which each element
fits seamlessly into a pandeistic model of our Universe, which seems, to my mind at least, just a bit too fortuitous to be accounted for by any level of coincidence