God and Purpose in the Light of Science and Reason
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"Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelationship of means and ends.
"So, in brief, we do not belong to this material world that science
constructs for us. We are not in it; we are outside. We are only spectators.
The reason why we believe that we are in it, that we belong to the picture,
is that our bodies are in the picture. Our bodies belong to it. Not only
my own body, but those of my friends, also of my dog and cat and horse,
and of all the other people and animals. And this is my only means of communicating
The first question is, what do I mean by the word "God"? While the word is rich in connotation and ultimately beyond any one linguistic definition, what I mean is that reality and existence have intelligent purpose and meaning; beyond the mere mechanistic and materialistic surface of things.
This question of purpose is worthy of consideration. The question is rooted in our conscious awareness of reality. It is similar in nature to the questions asked by physical science. These questions asked by physical science also have their roots in inductive concepts and ideas rooted in our human conscious awareness. The questions of physical science have to do with our awareness and interpretations of the evidences of our sense perceptions. The question of "purpose" has to do with our underlying awareness of purpose, intention, meaning, and will.
While physical science proceeds with the aid of physical measuring apparatus, such tools are of little use in our quest to understand our inner sense of meaning and purpose. Yet our conscious awareness, our sense of our own free will and purposeful existence, is just as real a phenomenon as our awareness of the inputs from our senses. It is only the method of investigating and explicating which is, of necessity, different. Thus the physical sciences, by their very definition and original axioms, only investigate and explicate the world available to our physical senses. It is no wonder then that the physical sciences do not explore God and purpose; and they make no claim, when intelligently considered, about the reality or unreality of God.
The reality of God abides in another world than the physical world around us; but a world none the less real. Our consciousness abides in that same sort of world; it is not physical, it is not apparent to our physical senses, it is not governed by physical laws; yet we know our consciousness exists. The "I" within myself, and the "I" within you, are not to be found in the objective, physical universe; but at the intersection of all the subjective "I's" of existence, in that direction lies God.
How do we investigate the reality of purpose and God? We do so by using the scientific method of proposing the most reasonable hypotheses, based on the best evidence available, and then subjecting these hypotheses to the most rigorous analyses and tests that we can devise.
We might propose our first hypothesis as; existence has purpose and meaning; this hypothesis I will call the God hypothesis. This seems more reasonable to our conscious awareness than the opposite hypothesis, that existence has no purpose and no meaning; this hypothesis I call the "oops" hypothesis; that all of existence is accidental and utterly meaningless.
These hypotheses have more in common with the most basic axioms and hypotheses of physical science than may be apparent at first glance. Indeed, science itself seems to have originated out of the religious concept that the universe is orderly, obeys divine laws, and is thus comprehensible. The history of the discovery of deeper and deeper physical laws underpinning the physical universe confirms humanity's primordial religious instincts that the universe obeys laws and is thus comprehensible.
By using the principle of Occam's razor, the physical sciences advance by always choosing the most simple, direct, and economical explanations. In other words, if a phenomenon can be explained by using only one axiom, or underlying physical law, then that is far preferable than an explanation of the same phenomenon by using several axioms or principle laws.
By applying Occam's razor to the meaning and purpose of existence and consciousness, we see that it makes most sense to believe that existence is purposeful; this explains why the universe gave rise to human beings who have brains which produce minds which produce consciousness and awareness. By contrast the "oops" hypothesis must explain this whole evolution as a most improbable series of accidents that just happened to all lead to more and more intelligence and more and more order, in direct contradiction to the laws of thermodynamics.
To test our hypothesis that existence has meaning and purpose, we ask, does the evolutionary unfolding of the observable universe seem to proceed as if it had an underlying purpose? Indeed, the observable history of the universe is one of increasing intelligence, so much so that the physicist Frank J. Tipler has proposed the Anthropic principle, which hypothesizes that the evolution of the universe unfolds such as to always increase intelligence, consciousness, and information processing. Indeed, this Anthropic principle, when analyzed, seems to hold true and also to pass the test of Occam's razor, in that no other hypothesis yet surmised seems to so economically explain the unfolding of the evolution of the universe and life as we observe it to have happened.
The best minds of every society and culture that has ever existed all around the world have often come to surprisingly similar understandings about human existence and meaning. These ideas, which are known as the Perennial Philosophy, form the common underpinnings of almost every human religion that has ever existed. Even the best minds of modern science, including the discoverers of Quantum Physics and Relativity Theory, have expounded personal understandings of the philosophical basis of existence that are in accord with the Perennial Philosophy, including Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Shroedinger, Louis De Broglie, James Jeans, Max Planck, Wolfgang Pauli, and Arthur Eddington. An appeal to "authority" is not a "proof"; and I by no means mean to imply that these scientific giants believed that quantum physics and relativity "proved" the existence of God and purpose; but rather, that each of them found the concepts of spirit and purpose to be compatible with modern physics and appealing to the human understanding.
Indeed, I myself am tempted to believe that a rational explication of existence might include the hypotheses that nothing is ever lost in the universe, that the everyday notion of time that we have may be something of an illusion, that the "now" that our human consciousness always perceives itself to inhabit may be indicative of an underlying attribute of space-time, that conservation of information may be one of the most fundamental laws of the universe, that information itself may be the most fundamental "atom" or aspect of reality, if not the only fundamental aspect of reality; that the implicate order underlying the quantum field equations may be pure information, and that this implicate order of pure information may be more fundamental than the explicate order we perceive as the physical universe. But these are merely hypotheses.
The fundamental point I am making is that existence has purpose and meaning. I call this "the God concept." And I believe that, while I do not know how to "prove" the God concept, it is nonetheless more consistent with observed reality than any alternative of which I am aware.
The next question might be, if the God concept is true, if existence has purpose and meaning, then what next? What does this imply or mean about how we should live, act, and think? For now, let me just say that the specific truths of which we seem to be able to become aware, are historically determined and validated. In other words, we should ask, "what works best in human society in order to achieve meaning and purpose"?
More importantly, what about our inner human essence, the core of our evolved, rational, emotional soul? What satisfies our soul? I submit, that only ecstatic immersion in the immanent yet transcendent Spirit of God and Purpose can satisfy the human soul. The human spirit, our inner conscious awareness, is capable of glorious sublimation only by, after working through all of the rational scientific hypotheses and analyses available, making one huge leap of faith into the unknown but felt, intuited, sublime, Reality.
Our inner consciousness is aware of a reality that can only be discussed by using metaphor, for human language is otherwise inadequate to the task. Physical science can only describe physical reality by resorting to the language of mathematics. Certain basic mathematical axioms are chosen because they are intellectually beautiful; it seems miraculous that they wind up describing reality. Likewise, we can only explore the attributes of God by observing the beauty of His immanence. What is beauty, but the recognition of the attributes of God? God is a mathematician, but we humans can only talk about Him by using the language of Poetry. When our poetry is synchronized with the music of God's emanation and manifestation, then we can be said to be in harmony with truth.
Each human consciousness is a window through which the one consciousness behind reality shines through.