A while back, I posted a reflection on this site concerning “intelligent design,” which generated consternation in some quarters, so I have pondered a bit more on the topic, which I think we all would agree is weighty, and today will try to come at it from another angle.
The term “Intelligent design” I take to be, after one of those fatal attempts to placate science, interchangeable with “God”—and the question “do you believe in God?” I take to be circular, in that you have to postulate such a being before you can decide whether you believe in it. And most people who “believe” in it tend to move on to lavishing it with human qualities and presuming to know how it thinks, what it wants, and put words in its mouth, as people do with their pets.
Let’s be honest, no matter what you “believe,” there’s nothing there. Available to the senses, I mean. No Being anyone can see or ever has seen, or smelled or heard or tasted or touched. No evidence. Yes, some people claim to have talked to “God,” but some people claim to have been picked up by UFOs too. There’s more than a little similarity there. The human mind craves a sense of something “beyond” so badly if it didn’t exist it would be necessary to invent it. The kicker is, it’s there all along without the need to bring in Rube Goldberg. If you believe in a Designer, this is an inner conviction, based not on experience but on what you would like to be true, and on your unwillingness to figure things out it it’s not, and cannot be corroborated by anyone. Your ego likes it, and we’re all guilty of mistaking that buzz for objective validation. And we should have learned by now to be suspicious of anything the ego likes, because we know the ego has only one motive: sustaining the illusion of itself against all odds.
I like the open-endedness of reality. Not only do I not want to know the ultimate explanation of everything, I don’t want there to be one. An end state, like heaven or the Elysian Fields or Paradise with virgins, terrifies me. Finity chokes me with claustrophobia. I want there always to be something beyond the horizon.
Do I believe in the God of the bureaucrats? No.
Does that therefore mean I don’t believe in a Designer? No. So does that mean I do? No. It just means I don’t know.
But a being in the physical shape of an old white guy with a beard on a throne “planning” everything?
The problem is, the bureaucrats have locked down God. As bureaucrats do, they have defined, categorized, put up limits, and made rules, and presented all this to us as givens. More than anything else they fear and want to destroy a free, inquiring mind.
The most valuable thing we have. It’s astonishing to me how many people don’t want it.
I sense something I suppose you could call God, but it is not separate from the universe. Not a Being. It didn’t design, but is. One “believes” in it in the same way one “believes” in reason or the laws of physics.
God is infinite possibility, and I think the nature of this unrealized possibility is what we would call bliss. Bliss is fundamental, not extraordinary, and one of the negative side effects of being a temporal organism is that our capacity to experience bliss is muffled by tissue and the doom strokes of time, but when we do get a whiff of it, we recognize it and want it. There is no Being sitting around somewhere savoring Bliss. Bliss is the state where nothing has happened yet.
That Possibility doesn’t decide or get bored or lonely or any human thing, because if it does then something has already happened—it just collapses into reality. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” we are told, but we aren’t told why. Or how. It just happens. Any further elucidation of the matter eludes physics, theology, astronomy, or the speculations of a guy sitting on a rock. Saying a Being did it answers nothing, it just tries to pass off the question as an answer, adding nothing. Once Possibility collapses and things happen, bliss becomes a ghost. Maybe, says Wordsworth, we remember traces of it. Maybe it’s just a component of reality and drives the sense of something missing that pervades human experience. Maybe reality is only Possibility catching a glimpse of itself in a mirror. Maybe it is an epiphenomenon. Maybe whatever you like.
Whatever becomes, ourselves included, will return to its original state of Possibility and Bliss where it will be contradictory, not to mention undesirable, to maintain our “selves.” We can’t even maintain them while we live. The “essence” of your self will continue, you insist. Yes, I agree. As energy, in the ecstatic return to Possibility.
Eternity is not the horizontal progression of time, but the vertical essence inherent in “is.”
That’s plenty for me.