We do not only make constructs but also discover them, so it seems that reality itself is, to a degree, constructed. This begs an even more fundamental question than why the properties of the universe are finely tuned; namely, why there are laws at all, why the universe is orderly, rather than chaotic and disorderly. The principles of constructing reality (such as the laws of physics) could not emerge spontaneously unless there were certain pre-set conditions that severely limit all possible options. If one of the basic such laws, the second law of thermodynamics, is correct and universal (and there is no reason to believe that this is not the case) entropy or disorder constantly increases, which implies that the universe was at the beginning even more orderly then now. High entropy is completely random, a state of zero information. The universe, therefore, could not have started from a high-entropy state, or it would not have its present complex structure. It had to begin as a low-entropy, high information state (entropy and information are inversely proportional). This means that a great amount of potential information was condensed in an extremely small space. That would make the spontaneous formation of the laws of physics through the interplay of matter and forces as they go along, extremely unlikely. These configurations must have already been in-built (as a potential) at the beginning. The physicist and philosopher Edward Milne concludes:
One cannot study cosmology without having a religious attitude to the universe. Cosmology assumes the rationality of the universe, but can give no reason for it short of a creator of the laws of nature being a rational creator. (in Hazen, 1997, p.31)
The orderliness of the universe renders the possibility that reality is purposeful and that some sort of sentience is involved conceivable. However, this by all means should not be interpreted as a definitive proof (such a proof would not be conducive any way, which will be elaborated shortly). It only shows that a belief in a meaningful reality is rational and at least as plausible as a belief in a meaningless one. Neither the teleological nor multiple universes explanations can be proven; nor is one less reasonable than the other. So, the answer to the question of whether the universe was purposefully built or not, remains in the realm of personal choice (it is significant that reasoning does not remove choice). True, if the high improbability of an accidental occurrence of the other events that enable human beings to contemplate these questions (the onset of organic life, the process of biological evolution and the appearance of consciousness) is added to the above, the teleological interpretation may seem more plausible - but the other one is not impossible.
There is, of course, the third standpoint of an agnostic, undecided (the one who is waiting for a proof). This position is, however, highly problematic and inconsistent. One inconsistency is between the belief and action. Although the person may claim to be undecided, shis actions, at least in some instances, have to be either congruent with a meaningless reality or a meaningful one (this is because either possibility eliminates some rational choices). So, even if s/he refuses to take a stand, s/he must act as if s/he believes that life is either meaningful or meaningless (it cannot be neither or both at the same time). Furthermore, the immediacy of the material world (within which meaning remains elusive) creates an asymmetry that in practice often reduces this position to an unacknowledged materialist one. And this is not all. Many propositions have their roots in and can be traced back to this fundamental question, and therefore cannot be justified unless one of the options is accepted. The bottom line is that neither of the above two positions can be definitely proven, so there is no point in waiting for a proof. A materialist and a non-materialist may be right or may be wrong; an agnostic cannot be right in any case.
Given that both explanations cannot be logically or empirically excluded, a modified version of Pascal's wager may be relevant here. Assuming that both options are rational and possible, it can be deduced that a person who errs in shis belief that reality is not purposeful loses more than a person who errs in the belief that reality is. By the same token, a person who is correct believing that reality is purposeful gains more than a person who is correct believing that it is not. Thus, it is sensible to consider the option that reality is meaningful. If the other one is taken, nothing more needs to be said. It can be left to scientists to fill in any gaps that they can, and ascribe to chance or ignore those aspects of reality that are inaccessible to their method. This would, however, go against common sense. Humans have an inherent need to interpret their existence in a meaningful way, and although such a coherence may be an illusion, the need cannot be. Therefore, all plausible avenues that could meet this need should be explored. First though, a possible objection that purpose violates the criterion of cohesiveness needs to be addressed. If a cohesive interpretation can be provided without it, then purpose is superfluous. Yet, this does not seem to be the case. Both interpretations that offer a rationale for origin and orderliness of the universe involve an additional factor. Materialist interpretation relies on chance (and infinity that makes chance plausible), while a teleological interpretation implies purpose. Chance, however, has a lower level of explanatory power than purpose (in fact, chance has an explanatory power of next to nothing). So, all other things being equal, incorporating meaning is likely to provide a more cohesive interpretation than otherwise.
The purposeful universe has to be intentional, therefore it requires intent, and intent requires awareness (it does not make sense to consider intent without awareness). Both require that which is aware and intends. In other words, there must be a source of the intent and the awareness. Experience of any kind can hardly be of much help in contemplating such an entity. Throughout history people may have been able to intuit but, as most theologicians agree, not directly experience the existence of such a source, even in the context of transpersonal experiences that in the best case may be limited to ‘emanations' or associated feelings of bliss or unity. Thus, any conjectures in this respect can be only deduced.
If intent is instrumental for the birth of the universe, its source cannot be in material reality, so it must be in non-material reality. It is reasonable to suppose that the energy in non-material reality has the focal point. Movement is always relative to something, either a medium or a point (e.g. the movement of a car is relative to the road or to a starting point). Considering that non-material reality does not operate within the space-time framework (it is accepted that time and space started with the Big Bang), it can be concluded that energy must have at least a reference point. In other words, because in that realm there is no medium (such as space), the pure movement, which is arguably the best description of energy, starts from and converges on one point. That point can be called the One. Even polytheistic religions, such as the Hindu and the Ancient Greek, are familiar with this concept. The One can be conceived as the indivisible, non-dimensional (meaning of no size, infinitely small) focusing point of non-material energy that, in turn, makes ‘the body' of the One. The One and the associated energy are, therefore, two aspects of the same. Thus, the One is not just another object that can be discovered, found or proved. As already recognised in many spiritual traditions, the One is beyond words and images (a point cannot be defined, and even a drawn point is a crude approximation consisting of an infinite number of points).
So, what would be the necessary characteristics of the One? The One resembles the notion of God. The concept of God can be, indeed, seen as the imaginative expression of an intuition about the existence of the One. Traditionally (especially in Christianity) the following properties are put forward: omnipresence (all present), omnipotence (all powerful) and omniscience (all knowing). However, this seems to contradict common sense and in some instances even logic. Something else is necessary though: that the One is and that the One does - in other words, existence and agency. This is the basis for the two properties already mentioned: awareness and intent.
Awareness generally can be considered an ability to focus possibilities or actualise potentials (as, for example, in the case of the collapse of the quantum wave function). Considering that in this instance there is no distinction between the subject and the object (awareness amounts to self-awareness), the minimum requirement is that the focused energy is aware of its own being, its own existence. Thus, it can be postulated that awareness is an intrinsic property of focused energy or energy ‘loops', as gravitational force is, for example, an intrinsic property of matter (in the physical world energy can only be transformed from one form to another, it does not have the focus or source, hence no awareness). Awareness does not presuppose and cannot be equated with the mind and its materials (conceptual knowledge, thoughts, language, memory, imagination etc.). These are all normally indirect constructs that are not necessary (for example, it is possible to be aware of a change, without having to conceptualise what is changing). Metaphorically speaking, awareness can be compared to the light from a movie projector, that enables the materials projected (a movie) to be distinguished or actualised, but it cannot be identified with them.
Intent is another essential property. It also does not require the mind and thinking in human terms. The universe that operates on the basis of finely tuned and consistent laws and principles does not necessitate theoretical knowledge, it only necessitates an intent. To make an analogy, when a person moves shis arm, a set of relatively regular principles and alignments are involved that can be rationally discerned. However, s/he does not need to know them in order to move shis arm, s/he only needs the intent to do so (providing that the muscles, nerves, brain and bones are functional, which is in this case beside the point). Similarly, directing the flow of water does not require knowing and positioning every water molecule, but only setting the boundaries to its flow. As Polanyi and Prosch put it, ‘... some sort of intelligible directional tendencies may be operative in the world without our having to suppose that they determine all things' (1975, p.162). This global directional tendency can be called the Intent. The Intent does two things: it provides direction by setting the boundaries and also encourages energy to move in that direction. To make a parallel with the above mentioned example, this is similar to what a river-bed and gravitational force do for water. The Intent sets, to use Polanyi's term, the ‘boundary conditions' that are conducive to the purpose, and like a funnel, forces energy in a certain direction (in fact, a more accurate analogy would be a reversed funnel that starts from a very narrow point and then gradually expands). Therefore, the One does not need to create the individual laws of physics and material objects (galaxies, stars, planets etc.). It is sufficient to intend the particular behaviour of energy, and the physical laws are spontaneously created and tuned to accommodate the Intent. Because the energy can be considered ‘the body' or ‘the mind' of the One (there is no separation between the subject and the object) it is enough to intend and that intent becomes realisation - intention is creation. Like when a person chooses to imagine something, it immediately appears in shis mind and becomes a mental event. Many spiritual traditions are familiar with the notion of the Intent. What is common to Brahman in the Upanishads, Rita in the Rig Veda or the Chinese concept of Tao is the notion of a dynamic force that permeates reality.
- . These losses and gains do not refer to material or possible after-life losses and gains, but losses and gains related to the understanding and conceptualisation of human existence in a coherent way. The original Pascal's wager is criticised by Dawkins (2006, p.103), but his argument does not apply in this case.
- . This is not to say that such experiences are irrelevant. Einstein himself acknowledged their value. He writes that ‘scientist's religious feelings take the form of 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' (1949, p.29).
- . Space too depends on a point. As represented in a coordinate system, it requires three dimensions that cross at one point (0, 0, 0).
- . The term God is avoided because it is too firmly imbedded in existing religious interpretations, which has undesirable implications: it is difficult to avoid anthropomorphisation, and certain attributes that are commonly ascribed to God can hardly be justified (such as that God is the judge of human acts, open to direct communication, and mostly concerned with human affairs).
- . Here are some examples: omniscience implies knowing the future, including God's own future interventions; but this would mean that God cannot change his mind and choose to act differently, which means that he is not omnipotent. Omniscience also does not go well with the notion of free will, important in all monotheistic religions, while omnipotence cannot be easily reconciled with the suffering of innocent. Omnipresence too conflicts with the traditional view that God is outside time.
- . Capitalisation is used to distinguish this term from other possible intents.
- . This means that miracles, if they are defined as violations of the laws of nature by an intervention of a supernatural being, are out of question. If the natural laws are not created individually, they cannot be broken individually. However, some so-called miracles (e.g. certain forms of healing), may not violate natural laws, but only limited interpretations of these laws.