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We are driving a juggernaut along a road which leads directly to a cliff edge. If we go straight, we will topple into an abyss. Obviously we cannot continue the way we are going. To avoid annihilation, we have one of two choices: we can either turn left toward a Utopia, or right into a Dystopia. It seems obvious which decision needs to be made. And yet … most of those on board are screaming to the driver to turn right. Why? Why would we choose a Dystopia before a Utopia?

 

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THE DANGERS OF DETERMINISM

 

sistine-chapel-ceiling-hands-adam-god

Last week we published an article examining the positive depths of the idea of a purposeful, deterministic Universe[1]. However, as some readers pointed out, determinism has also got its negative side, and we are going to look at that now …

It was Kant who warned us of the dangers of allowing God into the equation when tackling the notion that purposiveness exists in nature. For Kant it was quite simple: using God to explain natural science is no good for either science or theology. It produces an overlapping of boundaries and that creates uncertainty in both camps.[2]

But: Why is this so? If we can deduce that the Universe seems to be fine-tuned towards the creation of life[3], what is wrong with attributing that fine-tuning to an omnipotent, eternal force like God?

Well, our first objection is that the concept of God is by no means a neutral one. It has too much semantic baggage, and those that claim ownership of that luggage are adamant about the enlightened stand-point of their perspective. Likewise, it is hard to see religions embracing cosmological arguments as a proof of the existence of God, simply because cosmological fine-tuning is not found in the Scriptures and when seen from the scientific point-of-view, the science undermines the Scriptures or renders them unimportant. If God did fine-tune the Universe, it is very doubtful that It would be the same God who is said to have communicated with us via the prophets. Once fine-tuning, or any other scientific explanation of creation is accepted, the Scriptures no longer make any sense.

So, if science explains the deterministic, fine-tuning of the Universe it cannot use the term God to describe how or what could have been involved in the process that allowed this fine-tuning to come about.

Kant’s own warning was: “We must scrupulously and modestly restrict ourselves to the term that expresses just as much as we know, and no more – namely, an end (purposiveness) of nature … For the purpose of keeping strictly within its own bounds, physics entirely ignores the question whether natural ends are ends designedly or undesignedly. To deal with that question would be to meddle in the affairs of others – namely, in what is the business of metaphysics.”[4]

Of course, what cosmological fine-tuning implies is that yes, things seem to have been designed, or that there seems to be a design embedded in the structure of the Universe, driving it towards a certain end. Whether this end is willed or desired by the Universe is not a question that can be properly answered by science, but neither is it a pertinent question for theologians who would need to try and apply fine-tuning to the scriptures or vice-versa. That would be an absurd task.

The question here then becomes: If the implications of cosmological fine-tuning is a metaphysical question, who should deal with that metaphysics if it goes beyond the scope of theology and science?

To answer that we must consider where metaphysics came from, and we find its origins in Greek Pre-Socratic thought; the same thinkers who gave birth to philosophy and science. Through the Pre-Socratics, and metaphysics, science and philosophy are genetically tied. The first philosophers were trying to explain the essence of reality by defining the essence of nature; this is what science does through theory and experimentation, and it is also what metaphysics does through logic.

Cosmological fine-tuning is a logic-deduced concept derived from scientific data made from observations of the cosmos. It creates a metaphysical field that needs to be explored philosophically, and it implies the existence of a deterministic Universe, or an infinite Multiverse, and that suggests deep, positivistic repercussions for humanity.

Cosmological fine-tuning is a controversial subject for science, as are all deterministic ideas. Physics and mathematics might tell us that the nature of the Universe is incredibly precise and that, without this minute precision in its structure, the Universe would have been incapable of evolving as it did, but this also implies that we are the results of such an incredibly precise mechanism that the least likely explanation is that the cosmos was a beautiful accident exploding out of the Big Bang. And this makes theologists clap their hands and scientists blush.

To save themselves from the theologians, scientists have come up with an equally speculative idea that our Universe is not a real singularity and we should talk of a Multiverse made up of an infinite possibility of universes.

Quantum physics has opened the door to the realm of the speculative and allows, if not demands, very creative thinking. In a way it has pushed cosmology back into the area of philosophy again – especially towards the primal area of the Pre-Socratics. Scientists are now daring to think within the dangerous space of infinity and recently even sacred concepts like time, the Big Bang and Thermal Death have been questioned.

If philosophy is focussed on necessity, and if our necessity is rooted in the survival and permanence of the sapiens species, our humanity, then the positivism inherent in purposiveness has to be embraced, and the fine-tuned cosmos has to be interpreted as a positivistic inspiration for humanity. The Universe has allowed the conditions for life to be created and evolve into a creature that is aware enough to perceive and to try and understand the very nature of its own creator. And if we permit our own destruction, we are threatening the destruction of all perception of the Universe as well … This is philosophy as positive incentive, as a rediscovery of humanity as a vital force within the cosmos.

If we want to survive as a species and evolve as sapiens, then we must embrace concepts like permanence and progress as virtues. But permanence and progress together. Progress seen as that which will create valuable things that can endure. Endurance is what we see when we marvel at the pyramids or when we tackle the classics in literature, or stand before the great masterpieces of art and music. But the value of endurance must not be limited to conservative sentiments that lead to decadence, rather, endurance can only be guaranteed through progress as human and sapiens concept.

[1] https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/the-depth-of-determinism/

[2] Immanuel Kant, CRITIQUE OF JUDGEMENT, p.209

[3] https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/the-importance-of-metaphysics/

[4] Kant: Ibid, p. 210

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