I ended the last post with concerns about whether human limitations prevent us from determining if teleology applies in the case of the universe.
This is one of the two key questions remaining for this portion of our work. I believe its resolution requires us to drop our anthropomorphic view of the word ‘intention’ in thinking about the universe. My inclination is to recast self-organization in the cosmos as self-design, from which we discover an uncanny analogy to human intention, specifically the existentialist tenet that we define ourselves rather than have a predetermined essence. In that sense then, the progression of the universe is metaphorically equivalent to human self-realization. This is reinforced by the undeniable internal teleological quality of life, consciousness, and social behavior.
The second key question regards what impact, if any, an intelligent creator would have on the human experience of meaning. Julian Baggini disputes the belief that a creator guarantees meaning for the universe; a deity’s intent in creation is not de facto meaningful. The corollary then is that intentional creation of the universe is no assurance of ample purpose for humanity. It is not clear that serving as a tool of a deity’s wishes is more meaningful` than self-determination. 1
In closing the design and purpose of the universe appear best revealed by cosmology. Through it we see not randomness, but a trajectory: a progression from simple particles and disorder to complex structures, and compartmentalized order, and from inorganic substances to living organisms culminating in consciousness. In the unlikely case of a personal creator, we can be sure he would know the human brain will identify this pattern, and thus should respond favorably to us living and working to synchronize with the trajectory of the universe. In the end, teleology manifests in humanity as an ethic of harmony with reality that we have been taught by the great spiritualists for thousands of years.
1Baggini, Julian, What’s It All About? Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0-19-531579-0, pages 14-22.