Many influential scientists and authors like Richard Dawkins contend that the universe needs no creator and no initial impetus from some intelligent designer. According to these speculative researchers, the basic elements that comprise what we call the universe or the cosmos have always existed in some dynamic framework (even in some “void” condition from time to time) until the recent Big Bang.
The presumption by the scientific community that there can be an effect without a cause of any kind seems oddly related to Aristotle’s original definition of the Prime Mover: A force that moves but cannot be moved. However, the presence of Aristotle’s Prime Mover wasn’t required to ignite the Big Bang, because it has been assumed by the scientists that evolution and recycling have always been going on in the universe forever.
The evolving universe is only what it seems to be to our machine-augmented physical senses. The invisible, infinitesimal parts of it are extremely hard to identify and describe but they must be named. Labels are used even though definitions are vague or sometimes employ incomplete metaphoric similes conjured up by using our latest human theories. The purpose for the universe has not been deduced yet by those professional analysts who constantly and diligently observe the physical universe as it moves through space/time. Their failure to find some purpose for the universe suggests that there is unlikely to be a purpose for the creatures who inhabit it.
Let’s accept the scientific assumption that the universe lacks purpose. Must the supposedly careless and clueless humans be blamed for the gradual destruction of this planet’s ecosystem? Are we the anointed caretakers of the earth? The solar system? Should we feel guilty for whatever we do that might possibly lead to the extinction of plant and animal life as we currently know it? Was “nature” ever “in balance?”
If evolution is the accepted explanation for the change in life forms and in the condition of the environment, who is to blame for the negative impact of some dominant creature or plant? Or for the collision with another object from “outer space”? Anyone? If not, can anything that happens in the universe be considered negative, bad, wrong, evil, undesirable, unfortunate, or counterproductive? Can the constant activity of the physical universe recycling itself give rise to morality, ethical behavior, fairness, or justice?
The so-called “destruction of a habitat” is nothing more from an theoretical scientific viewpoint than the rearrangement of the elements that made up the prior physical environment that we recognized as “a particular habitat.” Are humans obligated in any way to their offspring or to the native plants and wild animals who share our congested living space to promote “conservation”? Is there a predetermined speed by which evolution and recycling are supposed to proceed which humans must not interfere with? (Somewhere between ice cap melting speed and photon speed?) If you remove the need for moral and ethical criteria adopted by “sensitive, intelligent ” humans, does it matter? If so, to whom? The aliens who might be on their way to our planet to mine the useful elements buried in the earth’s crust?
What the respected scientists ignore in promulgating an ecosystem without a purpose or an external influence of some kind, is that the value of anything cannot be determined because there is no basis for evaluating relationships. There has to be something of value that we all can accept, or anarchy and chaos reign. The objective observation of evolving matter does not in itself provide a clue as to what, if anything, is valuable. Oxygen is “valuable” only if animals require oxygen to survive, and “someone” wants animal species to survive. For the same reason water is considered “valuable.” “Is there an external someone or a something that determines value?” becomes the essential question. So far, no one has been able to answer that question one way or the other and provide convincing proof which is acceptable to scientists, agnostics, and other doubters.
The objective of this article is to proceed with our investigation of the future consequences of assuming there is no external supreme being or unlimited intelligence in charge and no other basis for determining value discovered by exploring the physical universe and naming particles. All intuitive modern thinking about value is subjective. Reason and logic are useless without an underlying purpose or an agreed to premise. In the theoretical scheme of the evolving universe, everything that seems to exist is temporary – in the process of changing from one supposedly static condition to another. Think snow, ice, water, water vapor, rain, hail – the water cycle.
However, there may not need to be an external being that establishes value. Does the ant colony worship a divine insect-like being? Do the members of a beehive have a deity? Can these little creatures survive without praying? Do they have a purpose? Instinctively they want to survive, we presume, but do they fear death? Is the ongoing activity of the colony or the hive the primary reason for their diligence in helping one another with the activities of maintaining a community? If so, shouldn’t humans have the same purpose? Do those simple insect creatures use reason and logic and desire eternal life? Since humans can’t communicate with insects, we automatically assume that they cannot conceive of intangible things like liberty, independence, happiness, and immortality.
Although humans can reason and use their imaginations, they have not been able to find an acceptable way to integrate all individuals into a unified community. Working toward that goal would indicate that we humans have an overall purpose despite what scientists believe. Of course, any objective for organizing humans would be determined subjectively by a particular social group and accepted by the individual members who choose to join that unique group. The repetitive worship of an anthropomorphic deity or obedience to a secular leader are merely ways that humans promote mores among group members. Those of us who prefer our independence from any human social grouping can reject outside authority and ignore the “wishes” of the chosen deity to our own social, psychological, and economic detriment, real or imagined.
If we agree with modern scientists and do away with contentious religions that cause so much violence and strife, we are still assuming that unity and harmony are valuable goals for humans. But is that so? Should the human race strive for unity, when the evolutionists believe that only the fittest of a species are to survive? At least temporarily. That assumption implies to me that the weakest have relatively little value and should be sacrificed or disposed of as the Spartans in Ancient Greece believed. Without the intervention of moralists to defend the weak, the strong shall prevail. That seems to be Nature’s Law unless the more intelligent creatures in the universe find a way to counter physical strength. Then the smarter ones temporarily become the fittest.
In summary, if there is no master to obey, no external magnetic pole to influence our moral compasses, and no purpose for the universe and its inhabitants, on what intellectual grounds are thoughtful humans to construct their philosophical beliefs? How are unity and harmony to be fostered if those concepts truly are “valuable”? What other alternatives to chaos and anarchy do the scientists recommend?
There is enough immorality, enough depravity, enough devious political behavior, and enough brutality in the world without abandoning the one weak impetus that compels human cooperation, religion. As intolerant and violent as the followers of some sanctimonious religious groups have become, scientists have nothing to offer to replace their influence, good or evil, on human behavior. Although religious teachings based on some sacred scriptures may be considered by scientists as speculative, superstitious, vague, intimidating, and manipulative, the basic idea behind them was to limit the violence of tribal life in the jungle, on the steppes, and on the high seas.
Many curious and dedicated scientists may be very happy spending their time observing the physical universe in all its awesomeness and complexity, but the majority of individuals in the human family would rather fight over who gets the largest piece of the pie. The wary, peace-loving common man wants such competitiveness reined in somehow. The logic of the economic guideline “caveat emptor, caveat vendor” is not powerful enough to do that job very well.
The law that the “fittest” living creatures (however you casually define that over-used term) will populate this planet is only a rule deduced from scientific observation after the fact. Environments change for a variety of reasons as creatures evolve, so the most adaptive and flexible living things have a perceived competitive advantage. No scientist can predict with much certainty how any animal or plant will eventually evolve. They can only predict the probability of extinction due to the continued destruction of habitat.
The most important question to be answered from the human standpoint is whether or not some form of cooperation can be achieved that will extend the longevity of the Homo sapiens species on this small planet. If unity and harmony are desirable, what will it take for mankind to be more tolerant of one another and more adaptable to the constantly evolving circumstances of the physical environment? Both of these necessary traits must be taught and promoted somehow if the human race is to survive so that scientists can continue gazing out in space pondering the wonders of the universe.
For now, the motivation behind such a goal is a purely selfish one stemming from our common human desire to continue the existence on the Earth of some intelligent form of mankind. That may not be our final destiny! But who can predict any future eventuality?