THE PURPOSE OF THE UNIVERSE
By Roland Watson
So far in this series, I have covered a range of difficult and abstract material. I have talked about life, universal order, and consciousness: different - but as I hope I have demonstrated - related subjects.
Now, and with all of this as background, I want to conclude the University of Life. In other words, what is the universe, and life - and what and who are you? Will we ever find, or get to, our answer?
Does god exist?
In the articles on religious form in Part 3, I reviewed the idea of god, both as a human projection and in a "real" sense: as the presumed force or being responsible for universal creation. My personal view is that the pure atheists, not those who dispute the existence of god as it is characterized by Christianity or Islam, but who dispute the existence of any type of god or gods, are wrong. We can't prove that they are wrong, of course, but I nevertheless refuse to accept that everything is false: an illusion. I believe in reality, including both happiness and pain. They certainly seem real to me. And, if they, and the universe from which they come, are real, then there must be some reason for them, and more deeply for the universe itself and its system of organization. The universe must have a purpose, and a predicate.
This is reinforced by the idea of Occam's razor, which says that if you take everything into account, and if there is no clear evidence to the contrary, then the simplest solution or explanation is likely to be correct. So, from this point on, I will assume that there is a god.
Why is there anything?
The mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz reportedly posed the simplest, and most difficult, question of all. He asked: Why is there anything? Said another way, why does the universe, and why do you and I, exist at all? I will now attempt to answer his question.
In the religion articles, I said that god either is, meaning that it exists separately from the universe, its creation; or that god was, that somehow through the act of creation it ceased to exist, or even "became" its creation. This last idea is called pantheism, and I will now consider it in more detail.
However, before I do, it's worth noting that pantheism is not that exotic. For example, Christianity has a number of pantheistic elements, including that god is everywhere, and omniscient, and even omnipotent.
God itself may have a life cycle. As the universe comes into being at a singularity, this could correspond to god as a force with unlimited potential ceasing to exist through such universal creation. The force of god would be manifested into a material reality, and unlimited potential would become a finite reality - albeit, a very, very large one. The universe would then complete its own life cycle and return to its original state - either through complete entropy or via a subsequent contraction, in other words, to formlessness. It would return to infinity.
The question is, why would the material state of the universe form part of the overall cycle? What would be the purpose of its form? For an answer, we can look to my ant-farm analogy one final time. As unlimited potential, god, in a sense, had the outside view. Only through being made manifest, did the inside view become available. God cycled from the outside to the inside, from the infinite to the finite, to achieve the "total" view. In addition, it is conceivable that such a cycle may occur again and again.
The will of god
All of this implies that god has a will. The universe is god's will manifested; its work of art. Furthermore, through the universe, god can explore its full potential, including through the form of animate life. Animate life experiences far more than the inanimate.
Indeed, there are parallels, even linkages, between the wills of all forms of life, inanimate, animate, planetary and universal, and that of god. The spark of life is perhaps a spark of god's will, of its energy. The question of what is life is therefore what is energy? Also, when quantum mechanics says that individual subatomic particles are manifested from the potential to the actual via chance, this is the alternative. There is no chance, or rather, there is chance, and also the choice between the options that chance gives rise to, via will: even subatomic particles may do the latter.
This also raises the issue of determinism. If god made or became the universe, would it make it determined, with no will of its own? That's not much of a work of art, for god. Why even bother? But, a universe with its own independence truly is worthy of god. Also, if god is the universe, why would it give up its will to become something totally determined?
What about superdeterminism?
Physicists have developed some alternative explanations for the instantaneous interconnectivity that seems to exist in the universe, and one of these is known as "superdeterminism." But, to consider this properly, it is essential to understand what it is that they, the physicists, and all scientists for that matter, are trying to accomplish.
Scientists look for the laws that govern the universe, and then seek to establish - to describe fully - its state at a particular point in time. The idea is that if they know such a state, and the underlying laws, they can then predict its evolution: how it will develop. The quest of science is therefore the quest for determinism. It is their goal: to find a means by which everything can be seen to be determined.
I can add, this is what underlies their bias towards believing that people are behaviorally and genetically determined: that there is no such thing as free will.
Superdeterminism is the idea that the universe had a fully definable initial state, and that it has a complete set of deterministic laws, such that everything is occurring precisely according to an overall plan. It is in fact equivalent to the idea that time is static.
In this model, there is no need to explain the apparent existence of superluminosity. If you know the initial state and the laws, the overall picture would make sense without a need for it. Non-local phenomena were connected at the beginning, and they will be so forever.
But, what quantum mechanics has shown is that any state has an uncertain element, and this includes the universe's beginning. It can never be fully defined.
The initial state, therefore, can only be attributed to the effects of chance, or the expression of will. Indeed, this also implies that god took a chance with the universe, or that some aspect of the creation was outside its control. As will implies options, god necessarily had to make a choice, and take a chance.
Einstein asked the question: did god have a choice in designing the universe? The normal view of this question is that it applies to structure: if some other set of laws and principles, and universal constants, also would have worked. An alternative approach to the question, though, is to say that the choice existed not in the structure, but in its initial state. Once this was established, it would develop of its own accord within the structure, and god could have no further say in the matter. Again, the universe is self-contained.
But, perhaps this is what god wanted. It wanted to be manifested in as many forms as possible, and for this both chance and will were required.
The garden of life
The universe has a lot of energy in it. And, total universal energy is equivalent to god. It is the nearest approximation that we can make. The energy of god has been contained somehow to make the universe, and this in turn leads to conditions whereby life - animate life - can originate and evolve. The universe exists to grow life. It is in fact a garden of and for life.
However, before I consider this in more detail, in the interests of intellectual honesty I should present an alternative view. The Anthropic Principle states that the universe contains life solely because it has the requisite conditions for it to form. Many other universes may also exist - or conceivably could have existed, as an alternative to this one, in which the conditions are - or would have been - such that life could not develop. In other words, life is only a chance phenomenon. It does not have a deeper meaning, including with a direct link to universal purpose.
Like the circular argument of the determinists, there is no definitive response to this. On the other hand, one can say that if it looks like a duck, walks and swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then there is no reason to presume that it is not a duck, including living your life on such a basis.
Life is a final addition to our categories of energy. There is the energy of the Big Bang, which is contained and shaped by the "negative" energy of gravity. And, through both of these there is the energy of motion and of matter. And, as a consequence of all of this, there is the energy of life. Further, it would appear that the purpose of life is to evolve, specifically, to evolve a more highly refined will. We - humans - are now at the reason and self-conscious stage. And, through this the universe - god - is better able to consider itself. God itself is seeking self-knowledge.
In the next article, I will describe the design of the universe, by which its purpose is achieved.
© Roland Watson 2015