Raymond Bergner, psychology prof at Illinois State University, wrote a most interesting paper in 2017 discussing the intelligent design controversy—the question of whether the universe shows evidence of design. Mercifully, it is only eight pages, well within the patience of the average viewer and very clearly written.
He makes clear he is not arguing for the concept but only explaining why it is not at all absurd. He makes a number of key points. Here are two, some thoughts interspersed:
Many extraordinarily intelligent and relevantly informed people believe and have believed in intelligent design. Famously, Isaac Newton, himself a heretic and hardly a slave to conventional religious belief, once stated that, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.” More recently, Albert Einstein, a secular Jew who repeatedly affirmed his disbelief in a personal god, stated that, “the scientist’s religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.” Other great scientifically informed minds from the past ‘e.g., Galileo, Kepler, and Maxwell( as well as the present time (e.g., Francis Collins, Fred Hoyle, and Alan &andage( have expressed essentially the same belief.Bergner, Raymond, 2017/06/03, Intelligent Design: Maybe True, Maybe False, But Not Absurd, DO – 10.13140/RG.2.2.15653.91367
“Village atheism” is not a particularly scientific position, even if it is popular among some readers of pop science literature.
Anyone can shout “There is no God!” if they don’t need to ask or answer questions like “How then did human consciousness come to exist?” Or even “How did the universe come to exist?” If the village atheist wants to say that the universe has always existed (is infinite backwards in time), he is going to run into a huge logic problem: Everything that could possibly happen would already have happened, including the fact that we don’t exist. But we do exist. And human consciousness is still the The Hard Problem.
While there is disagreement about its implications, there is little disagreement among physicists today that our universe is “fine tuned”both for e1isting in its present form and for bringing about life forms. Various physical parameters, among them the value of the strong nuclear force, the charge of the electron, and the rate of expansion of the universe in the first second after the big bang, all have a widerange of theoretically possible values. However, only an extremely tiny fraction of these values, and these allowing for essentially zero deviation, allow for such things as the existence of atoms, the formation of stars, the clumping together of matter to form planets and galaxies, and ultimately the origination of life forms. This being the case, the scientific consensus is that our universe is an extraordinarily unlikely one. The realization of each of these values, taken alone, is extraordinarily improbable. The fact that so many of them con ointlyhave precisely the necessary value represents such an incomprehensible unlikelihood that Stephen Hawking,- himself, an avowed atheist and opponent of intelligent design, refers to our universe as “an apparent miracle.”Bergner, Raymond, 2017/06/03, Intelligent Design: Maybe True, Maybe False, But Not Absurd, DO – 10.13140/RG.2.2.15653.91367
Nothing is absurd if it is based on evidence. People can say we live in an absurd universe if they like, but if that’s the evidence, then it is.
Fine-tuning is not only a fact but it comes with a hope. If you are a science fiction fan convinced we are not all alone here in the universe, you should take comfort in the fact that the universe appears to be fine-tuned for life. How we can reach other intelligent life forms is a separate question but at least you have a good reason to suppose they exist. It is certainly an incitement to keep looking and “boldly go.”
Bergner’s argument that design of the universe is a reasonable idea is not an endorsement of any specific theological or religious belief (a fact he makes clear). All such arguments must be based on other grounds and usually are.
All that design does is alert us to the fact that our consciousness of design is not an accident or an illusion. It’s an invitation to know more about who we are and why we are here.
You may also enjoy: Does physics today point to mind rather than matter only? A cosmopsychist looks at the universe, God, and free will.