For this latest part of Melencolia I I'm releasing this paper. Below I publish the introduction as it appears in the paper.
This paper is part of my “Melencolia I” series, a series where in the first part I introduced a very speculative essay called “The Great Plan”. This essay was an impressionistic picture of God’s relation to our world and it was followed by further blog posts where I tried to sharpen the focus. Viz:
This set of essays and blog posts don’t come as a completed work or thesis but more as an unfolding exploration, a journey rather than a destination; perhaps a journey to nowhere!
In this latest paper I continue the Melencolia I project, although as far as throwing light on the generation of life is concerned I have to admit I’m still very much in the uncritical and deliriously creative world of Melancholia I; as Durer’s Melencolia I print shows the tools that connect us with the world of experience are laid on one side whilst the contemplator has a flight of the imagination, although rightly the products of the imagination must ultimately submit themselves to criticism; but criticism first needs something to criticise and only the imagination can provide that.
However, this particular paper is, in fact, more about criticism than creativity. In it I look critically upon the idea that ordinary parallel processing of the power we typically conceive has the computational efficacy to generate life. Although I by no means have an absolute proof, the evidence I present here suggests that this parallel processing is unable to deliver the goods. This is not to say, however, that I intend to promote the kind of “God of the Gaps dualism” seen amongst the North American Intelligent Design community; I propose, rather, that we need to think again about just what natural processes are and just what they are capable of.
From the perspective of the theist philosophical dualism is a ticking time bomb; it is a philosophy which takes it as granted that “natural forces” and God are two distinct and conflicting paradigms of creation. The logical kick-back of this philosophy is that if so-called “natural forces” can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt to be able to generate life then this will likely as not be read by Western dualists as refuting the case for God as Creator.
Many Western Christians have unconsciously committed themselves to the tinkering, eminent, quasi-deist God (sometimes vaguely referred to as an “intelligent agent” distinct from “natural forces”) who makes the occasional visitations to download a piece of his mind into the cosmos thereby disambiguating his creative effort from profane “natural processes”, processes which otherwise are thought to behave in a quasi-autonomous if unintelligent way. It is therefore no surprise that for some dualistically minded theists evolution really does feel like evil-ution because it appears to them as a “naturalistic” creator-pretender.
Although I loathe the implicit dichotomy, if I had to make a choice within the Western dualistic paradigm I would say that my money is, in fact, on “naturalism”; that is, I believe our cosmos is sufficiently endowed by an immanent, and sustaining providence to generate life. This is not necessarily to say that I think current scientific concepts are sufficient to explain the generation life; in fact my gut feeling is that there is much more to uncover on this subject.