Friday, March 25, 2011

The Universe Is Haunted

"Night" by Edward Robert Hughes

From The Universe Is Haunted: Reflections on the "Nature of Nature" 
by David Klinghoffer in Evolution News and Views

" ... The universe is haunted.

"Haunted not by ghosts but by a source of ancient, unseen, immaterial agency. Whether agents or one Agent, you simply can't tell from the scientific evidence. Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), co-discoverer of evolutionary theory with Charles Darwin and no one's idea of a Christian, ultimately concluded that the directing activity of what he called cosmic "intelligences" or "angels" was needed to fully explain the origin and development of life. Their role was to give natural selection something to select. The idea that angels perform such a function goes back to Maimonides, who integrated Aristotle with rabbinic tradition on the subject, and to other, later medieval theologians.

"Whatever its nature, such an intelligent force must have set in motion the 13.75-billion-year history of the cosmos and guided the unfolding of life from its origin 3.7 billion years ago.

"As astrophysicist Guillermo Gonzalez argues here, the formation of a habitable universe, and a planet fit for scientific exploration, required extraordinarily high degrees of what he calls, respectively, "global" and "local" fine-tuning of physical constants and environmental conditions. Speculative cosmologies have sought to avoid the theological implications of this -- that something had us in mind from the beginning -- by spinning fables of a "multiverse" where the existence of an infinite number of universes explains away the seeming miracle."

To read the entire article, go here.

Also see "The Nature of Nature", a new book worth looking at.

"The world’s leading authorities in the sciences and humanities—dozens of top scholars, including three Nobel laureates—join a cultural and intellectual battle that leaves no human life untouched. Is the universe self-existent, self-sufficient, and self-organizing, or is it grounded instead in a reality that transcends space, time, matter, and energy?
The intellectual and cultural battles now raging over theism and atheism, conservatism and secular progressivism, dualism and monism, realism and antirealism, and transcendent reality versus material reality extend even into the scientific disciplines. This stunning new volume captures this titanic clash of worldviews among those who have thought most deeply about the nature of science and of the universe itself.
Unmatched in its breadth and scope, The Nature of Nature brings together some of the most influential scientists, scholars, and public intellectuals—including three Nobel laureates—across a wide spectrum of disciplines and schools of thought. Here they grapple with a perennial question that has been made all the more pressing by recent advances in the natural sciences:Is the fundamental explanatory principle of the universe, life, and self-conscious awareness to be found in inanimate matter or immaterial mind?The answers found in this book have profound implications for what it means to do science, what it means to be human, and what the future holds for all of us. "