Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Cosmic Perspective and Intelligent Creation

I wrote this essay entitled The Cosmic Perspective in 2000. Looking back I can see that it reflects my developing concept of intelligent creation, a concept I had started to develop during the early 1990s and have continued to work on in articles and papers I've posted on this blog. Intelligent Creation must be distinguished from the North American idea of Intelligent Design. The latter is a dualist philosophy which sees God as a kind of humunculus, much like an alien intelligence*, whose activity is thought to be very distinct from so-called "natural processes" and whose ad-hoc work is needed to bring about configurations of matter that "natural forces" are believed to be inadequate to generate; the evidence for the existence of this kind of God-cum-alien who makes good the assumed gaps in the physical paradigm depends very much on the demonstrating the inadequacy of the cosmic physical regime to explain life. Intelligent Creation on the other hand has an immanent vision of a God whose intelligent working is manifested in the processes of the so-called "natural world". 

I got the term "Cosmic Perspective" from Jonathan Benison's commentary notes in the Cideb Editrice edition of H. G. Wells' book The Time Machine, a book that is very much about the intellectual and emotional challenge humanity faces in coming to terms with a Cosmos that apparently is absent of any personal immanent intelligence and purpose. In  his commentary Benison writes:

"Wells' time traveler .... has to learn to accept his limitations as a human being and to become perceptive to the cosmic perspective, the view of human reality that an impartial external judge might have. 

H. G. Wells ultimately bleak purposeless vision of the Cosmos is echoed in the views of Brian Cox.

* I also would like to draw attention to the work of biologist Denis Alexander, an evangelical Christian, who has also argued against Intelligent Design's inherent dualism. See here


dimwoo said...

Have you read Life's Solutions by Simon Conway Morris? It's about convergent evolution and how life has found the same solutions to the same problems over and over again - the eye having evolved seven different times etc etc. He looks not just at physical forms but at the nitty gritty chemistry of life, and he links it inextricably with the fundamental laws of physics: life is this way because the nature of reality is this way; these forms and systems have evolved because they are the best way in which these thanks can be done. It struck me as a powerful depiction of 'intelligent creation'.

Timothy V Reeves said...

Thanks very much for the comment Dimwoo.

I did know that Simon Conway Morris was an authority on convergent evolution and have read what other people have said about him (e.g. Denis Alexander), but not read Morris himself. I think I remember Alexander listing the number of times various functions have repeatedly evolved (which he got from Morris).

If conventional evolution is correct then yes the information driving it would have to be effectively written into imperative laws from the outset - hence my writings on the "spongeam".

However, at the same time as keeping the imperative scenario of conventional evolution in my head I'm also trying out the idea of the cosmos actively searching for life as kind of "declarative" computation. This means that the information isn't present from the outset but has to be generated by huge levels activity and then somehow selected. This particular blog post is a basic presentation of this idea.