I’m an Agnostic. It means, put simply, that I have no idea how or why the Universe came to be, nor what it means, nor if an Intelligence is involved somehow or behind it all. Can any rational being claim to know otherwise? No, but that doesn’t stop quite a few people who claim to be rational and yet claim to know otherwise. Quite a few Atheists actually “hate” Agnostics more than Christians/Jews/Muslims/followers of Zeus and Odin do. They need to do a little more thinking.
It’s obvious that Natural Selection is the process by which living systems are tweaked, in their particular attributes, by lethal environmental pressures. The animals who can see best in the dark or run the fastest, and so forth, live long enough (and compete well enough for mates) to pass on their genetic particulars.
But there’s no way to use the same mechanism to explain primordial engineering marvels like, for example, the spider web… about which, you’d have to admit, even if the independent, pre-functional evolution of the components of the web-making organ could be rationally explained (it can’t), that still leaves the jaw-dropping mystery of the evolution of the spider’s skill in using the web.
Now, I don’t believe in an anthropomorphic god (aka, a Bearded, Vaguely-Levantine, Anus-Free Sky Giant). The obvious explanation for the existence of a notion of such a thing is a combination of cursed frailty and blessed imagination. The tribes who came up with those god-stories had no idea about the actual scale of existence; the anthropomorphic god is, after all, rooted firmly in an error of scale: the visible universe extends a trillion light years in every direction, yet it’s a recent life-form on this nano-speck of a planet, in a milky smudge of an outer-rim galaxy, with whom The Lord of All decides to stage his Space Opera? No.
On the other hand…
We are all colluding in a massive self-delusion, the delusion that we know, that we have a clue as to the process by which eyeballs, spider webs, bombardier beetles and, yeah, human consciousness, came to be. Darwin’s explanations come into usefulness far, far down the slope of causality… the summit of which is obviously beyond our ability to conceptualize. We collude in this massive self-delusion and tell each other fairy-stories about knowing. And the bits that just don’t make sense we ignore.
A little thought leads to the conclusion that the wild-card at the heart of this teleological dilemma is not Deity but Consciousness: it does not necessarily follow that the apparent presence of an Intelligence in the engineering of fundamental attributes of living systems points towards an engaged, anthropomorphic or even omnipotent “Deity”. What if Consciousness is distributed in the Biosphere in ways we haven’t yet expected? What if the Biomass possesses an aggregate, decision-making Intelligence (we could call this “Local God” or “Finite God” Theory)? The fluke of consciousness as it appears in humans is, philosophically, the same magnitude of “problematic” as an hypothetically-Mass Distribution of Consciousness would be. A Conscious Biosphere is no more improbable than a Conscious Human, from the standpoint of the utter inexplicability of the latter.
That Richard Dawkins seems to think that the choice is only between Darwin’s simplistic model (with all of its logic-holes) or an Abrahamic Deity’s intense (perfectionist) engagement is absurd… or intellectually disingenuous. Both sides of the debate are ridiculous.
Anyway, there is only ONE TRUE RELIGION, as we know:
Supreme Deity: Dallah
Profit Prophet: MoMoola
Holy War: McJihad
Holy Book: BuyBull
Maybe that’s a digression.
Back On Piste: The terrifying insects who simultaneously refute standard notions of Evolution AND the Christian belief in a Loving God…