Saturday, 7 May 2011

No one in charge...

My  current philosophy I class as 'non-theistic' because I don't accept what I consider to be a cardinal belief of  theism, namely that it supposes the existence of a superior sentient conscious mind (or minds) that created and/or directs the universe in accordance with its will (or 'wills'). I assume one can't have a theism that insists that god doesn't even have the attribute of consciousness or a god that lacks a 'mind'. It follows that I don't consider that naturalistic pantheism is really a theism at all (indeed Dawkins was right when he called it 'sexed up' atheism).  I don't doubt that one can have a  naturalistic spirituality, only I think to call this a theism just perpetuates misunderstanding, implying as it does that pantheists 'worship' nature. Do they? I think most would deny they give nature the kind of attention that a theist would give to his deity (pantheists don't address prayers and petitions to nature for instance). I would also defend the right of atheists to insist they regard nature with awe and reverence just as much as any naturalistic pantheist, without having to accept the label 'pantheist' for themselves.

My non-theism is not consistently a 'naturalistic' philosophy, in that I give considerable importance to intuition and mystical experience  including mystical traditions as a source of 'knowledge' along with rationalism and empirical science. I am also fascinated by archetypal psychology and parapsychology; I also consider that the scientific method while highly reliable cannot discover all that is or may be. Also I am aware that science is undergirded by certain philosophical assumptions that cannot be definitely proved. Finally I believe that the scientific establishment often resists new thinking or minority viewpoints, and is full of 'egos' and subjectivity affects the way results are interpreted - but my point here is that  scientists are 'only human'.

I consider behind the world of phenomena described by science there is a deeper reality of interconnection, a fundamental unifying principle-substance-force. Others have called this the 'unus mundus', the 'one-ness' of the world (this is not the notion of a transcendent 'One') This deeper reality is not 'god' . It is not a cosmic mind. It is unconscious primordial material, not mind or matter, but the essential stuff of neutral monism. This stuff is formless and infinite, the womb of all being.  This deeper reality serves some traditionally theological functions - it is I consider a necessary and first cause. All things come from and return to this ground of being. It is also not 'out there' but 'in there', representing the ultimate interiority of everything. Everything phenomenal is an outgrowth of the deeper reality and is an expression of a 'will to create', (after Goethe) a non-cognitivie tendency to self transcend, to become more than what it already is, to become more complex, to be more free, to ultimately know and be known. Naturalistic evolution would deny this notion of nature having a will or a teleology  (goal orientated) but then we know what our will is and it is ultimately based in a psycho-biological drive that is more than a mere will to survive - it has an existential aspect I feel. At base iif our will does not require conscious thinking or rationality (rather the latter articulates and also justifies what will wants), so I don't think is it an inappropriate athropomorphism to ascribe an unthinking will to create even to non-sentient nature.

So life evolves by random process, but it seems to me that evolution has a 'direction'. Nothing however remains for ever - even  having acheived the highest state of evolution that sentient life must die eventually. There is the natural law requiring that all things must return ultimately to the primoridal reality..Form is limited both spatially and temporally, and nothing persists for ever except the unbounded formless deep reality itself. I consider it possible that the evolution of life and technology will result in what Tiellhard De Chardin called an 'Omega Point' entity. In my version of this, there comes a point where living entities will acheive almost god-like powers in the universe (or multiverse); indeed the ultimate survival adaption would appear to be the ability to transcend material limits altogether. I am  open therefore to the speculative idea that our universe was 'intelligently designed' by an Omega Point entity from another universe (I am even open to the extremely speculative possibility of a 'bootstrap' universe, that the Omega entity is the result of the evolution process set in train by the same Omega that has somehow transcended space and time)

But, apart from the notion of the Omega Point entity as a future end point of evolution, I do not consider there is anyone 'in charge' of the universe. It would be very nice to give up personal responsibility and hope that someone 'up there' care and is able to 'look after us'. It would be very comforting and reassuring. But there is no rational basis I believe for such a notion that satisfies only our wishful thinking and anxiety.

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