Everyone has thought at some time or other, “Where do I come from?”, “What is infinity?”, “Is there a God?”. These are questions fundamental to life and belief and in today’s world the discussion has tended to polarise between an entirely materialistic understanding of life or one that has some form of intelligent creation to it – with the former holding the greatest hold on the scientific community. This article by the Director of All Faiths Network joins the discussion in this area with the intent of bringing an understanding of some of the assumptions upon which our society is based to a wide public. Often these assumptions are considered as ‘hard and proven facts’ when they can and should be questioned and by doing so will, hopefully, lead us to improved applications of science and conditions in society.
Intelligent design or design by chance?
By Martin Weightman
Director of the All Faith Networks in UK
I’m all for science and find it fascinating to better understand how things work, how they are constructed and what they can do. Delving into the mysteries of DNA, the stars and the mechanics of a butterfly are all things that interest me, even if I don’t follow them all up. The thing is, though, I know that vast amounts of information are available and that there is no explanation for much of the physical universe around me.
Accumulated data that has been organised and previously untapped in the history of this planet. So I, for one, am very glad that we have such technology available.
I couldn’t be typing this article on a computer whilst travelling on a train to Manchester to see my aging 93 year-old parents (who would likely not have lived as long without the benefits of science), whilst having the time to ponder the content of this article, if it were not for the benefits of science. I can watch a movie if I’m bored or phone my wife when I’m stuck in a hotel somewhere.
The benefits are endless.
So, it’s all good stuff and to say I’m not at all against science, but sometimes I wonder if science is not against me – or rather the dogma of science, which isn’t science at all.
Science has taken a place at the top of the table. It is what drives the economy and our lives. It’s what gets enormous amounts of funding (or at least where corporate interest dictates it wants ‘science’ funded and consequently has come to drive a lot of our politics.
But has it been elevated to too high a pedestal where it has become the unquestionable God of modern times?
Hopefully, this article will spark a series of articles from a range of contributors who will explore and walk down the paths of some assumptions of ‘science’ in the name of ‘materialism is everything’.
I would like a wider philosophic debate about the rolling out of media headlines, about intelligent design, creation of the universe, science and religion and to explore how certain basic scientific assumptions are flimsy at best and how the name of science has been used to deny the existence of spirituality under the pretext that “it is only scientific to do so” – somewhat arrogantly, I would add.
I’m a spiritual individual. That is, I have an awareness of myself beyond a mind and a body. Yes, I hear the materialists shout – ‘that’s just my belief and how do I prove it’. And my response is ‘how do you prove I am not? Is your ‘consciousness’, that awareness of yourself, really a product of genetic combinations and material arrangement of atoms, molecules, quarks, and, of course, the so-called ‘God’ particle, the Higgs Boson – or whatever other explanation that might be posited that places you as nothing more than a product of an incredibly vast and intricate set of random material circumstances?’
Or are you a separate and independent spiritual entity? Let’s do a simple experiment – close your eyes, make a picture of a cat or a dog or your loved one and then ask yourself, “Who’s looking at the pictures in your mind? Who made that picture?” Is it a collection of atoms and molecules so incredibly and intricately arranged that they have a self-consciousness of themselves as physical experiences or, are you, a spiritual being which has awareness and volition beyond the physical, something far greater than the product of your materials circumstances?
To quote Rupert Sheldrake in his book The Science Delusion, he lists 10 essential assumptions that are made by ‘science’ but for which there is inadequate scientific evidence to support the assumption. Sheldrake, himself a one-time atheist is a scientist who has looked and challenged these factors. He says that the shaky ground upon which much of orthodox scientific view is based are:
1. Everything is essentially mechanical.
2. All matter is unconscious. It has no inner life or subjectivity or point of view. Even human consciousness is an illusion produced by the material activities of brains.
3. The total amount of matter and energy is always the same (with the exception of the Big Bang, when all the matter and energy of the universe suddenly appeared).
4. The laws of nature are fixed. They are the same today as they were at the beginning, and they will stay the same forever.
5, Nature is purposeless, and evolution has no goal or direction.
6, All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA, and in other material structures.
7, Minds are inside heads and are nothing but the activities of brains.
8, Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.
9, Unexplained phenomena like telepathy are illusory.
10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.
He proceeds to examine this in his book and I too think we should examine these and other points in more detail – as does Sheldrake or many other great thinkers past and present.
Open public debate on this subject is needed. Can we cause our actions? Do we have free will or are we simply deluding ourselves that everything is essentially the result of ultimately pre-determined combinations of events set in motion by a Big Bang?
What was before the Big Bang and what is time anyway? Who or what created the Big Bang or did it just come about? Which is more plausible? Are we in a series of never-ending imploding and exploding universes which go on endlessly or are we just one of many multiple universes (as some theories say) though these never explain how is it possible for such a force to come into being? Is there a Creator? Are we all capable of creation? Are we, ourselves, imbued with the abilities of creation? What is time and where did it go and where will it come from?
Let’s examine some of these basic scientific assumptions in a forum that is more broadly available and open to many people in the spirit of unbiased inquiry. Aum. Amen. Peace Be Upon You. Peace.
Originally printed in New Europe: https://www.neweurope.eu/article/intelligent-design-or-design-by-chance/
Recommended: Interview with Richard Sheldrake (quoted in the above article) https://youtu.be/iHLnXWpGbO8.