Design

“If, as the cynics would have it, the mystical experience is sheer illusion, the stuff of dreams, it is strange that men and women belonging to widely different environments have, throughout the centuries, suffered the same delusions and dreamed the same dream.” (John Blofeld, 1992)

             The universe’s design makes it impossible to discredit theism.  To begin we should recognize the order that exists in the world.  We see spatial order, or regularities of co-presence as well as temporal order, or regularities of succession – planetary motion is a good example of this.  Mesmerizing intricacy in the natural world e.g. symmetrical geometric patterns on the wings of a butterfly and peacock, or the crystalline structure of a snowflake – this beauty is indicative of a designer.  These are but a few instances where a divine hand may have helped sculpt our reality.  Reflecting upon aesthetically pleasing objects, it’s normal to question the reason behind perceived beauty.  Maybe the question to ask is whether there is reason at all.  Without purpose, you are left justifying that beauty observed in the universe is a byproduct of randomness.  This explanation is unsatisfying for many.  Theists find it reasonable to intuitively suggest a mind behind said design.

            Design is embedded throughout the cosmos.  Fundamental laws of nature govern the world.  Accepting that laws of nature exist, is it then rational to think they are truly random?  Appealing to analogy, it is more feasible that formulas governing the physical world e.g. F = ma and E = mc2  are conceptions of a hierarchal mind.  If this is unsatisfactory, consider the human ability to grasp these laws.  Intelligence and reason do not sprout from a mechanical and meaningless universe.

            The brute fact that anything exists is miraculous.  Origins of the universe remain mysterious.  To say that the Big Bang is just science is not fair to science.  Some theists and atheists alike can agree that something Banged some fourteen billion years ago.  For the cosmos to then generate specific structural forms programmed to carry out a specialized purpose i.e. sustain life surely implies design.  Though an overarching design is evident, a typical counterargument to the ontological argument says there is not sufficient reason to believe that design came from a designer.  Rebuttals tend to accuse the argument of circular reasoning.  This style of thinking too is susceptible to bias because “there cannot be a designer” is itself an assumption.  And while the argument does not sufficiently prove the existence of a higher power responsible for the design, this doesn’t mean that God does not exist.  Defining the characteristics of a higher power is an immensely difficult task and its methods could simply be beyond our grasp.

            A common atheistic claim says that apparent design is merely a consequence of evolutionary progress.  Evolution is surprisingly compatible with the notion of design.  Random mutations facilitated the development of complex life as part of the non-random design.  These ideas are not mutually exclusive.  It is a real possibility that a supreme being conceived of a blueprint, the initial rules of the game that have evolved into what it is today.  Each of the branches of science may be precisely what the design requires.  Let’s assume the architect began with small pieces and built the universe layer by layer.  The periodic table represents the building blocks of life.  Chemistry is a hard science, mostly seen as a far cry from anything God-related but to look at it another way: after contemplation of function and practical use, it would be absurd to conclude that elements are results of pure chance.  Molecular bonds form when conditions are just right.  And quantum theory reveals the utter strangeness of the cosmos.

            We think of the world as comprised of a single stuff: matter.  Energy present from the Big Bang until now is what constitutes the material universe.  From a materialist standpoint, matter is the absolute substance of the universe.  Its fundamental building blocks are subatomic particles.  And everything that exists consists of these very same particles.  As far as we can tell, the particles themselves are not conscious.  Yet you are.  Where does that awareness derive from?  Philosophers have studied the relationship between mental and physical for ages.  One perspective is that the design is dual in nature.  French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes popularized Cartesian dualism, explicitly separating mind and body.  This duality – material and nonmaterial components – can be described as a synergism of energy and information.  Perceptual information extracted from data is the underlying matrix that dictates the form and function of the material (body) aspect.  The immaterial aspect, consciousness aka “the mind of God” is codified imagination.

            Questions remain unanswered, like what/Who is out there?  20th century philosopher Alan Watts said, “You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself…  A vortex of vibrations in which it realizes itself as man or beast, flower or star – not alone, but as central to all that surrounds it.”  In this respect you are both creator and creation.  In other words, you’re it.  An entity consisting of atoms of varied formation which are temporary manifestations of a single force: energy.  Tuned into a frequency.  This is pantheism.  And deity or not, a better understanding of humanity’s role in a participatory universe has skeptics reevaluating their place in the cosmos.

            Earth is not the only imaginable outcome.  The universe could be chaos with pseudo-matter exploding in every direction, but it isn’t.  Instead there is a space rock suspended in orbit at a nearly perfect distance from its companion star, capable of supporting life.  Our galaxy has developed to foster species growth.  Suffering makes difficult appreciation of the miracle though it too is by design.  With all the growing pains and acquired knowledge, progress is made.  The process is gradual.  As brutal as the lows seem, they contain opportunity.  The idea of a divine design or “plan” provides hope.  That final destination may be Heaven, or perhaps where we are right now, or the journey may be inherently theatrical.  The overwhelming complexity of existence makes it reasonable to wonder about the existence of God(s).

            The yin of yinyang, the negative and passive and female force of yinyang, is eternal.  As is yang and therein lies balance.  The space between yin and yang is peculiar.  It is the mystical glue and space where an individual might hang their hat.  Yin is an abstraction of the void in spacetime.  A star is born out of darkness – yin – and into the world, bringing with it light – yang.  You are yang.  You are a medium of consciousness; a gateway for the unconscious.

Mark Hurley

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