Monday, June 06, 2005

Quantum Creationism and Intelligent Design

The May 30, 2005, New Yorker includes an article on Intelligent Design. Here's my response: Among the competing metaphors, the most telling one in H. Allen Orr’s survey of the current Evolution-Creation debate might be that of the bustling urban street, which the author uses to illustrate complexity arising without a master plan — without some Unseen Urban Planner. Pardon me if I take the metaphor literally, but all industrial and technological metaphors for the potential achievements of evolution belie a real problem with the Darwinian position. Urban street bustle would not exist but for the hard work of many intelligent designers, from the architects, to the traffic cops, to the display-window artists. Even if the arrangement of the buildings was not pre-planned, the individual buildings and turn lanes and window dressings were. Applied to the current debate, this observation ups the ante by begging more fundamental questions: “Why do atoms have precisely the properties that they need to form the molecules that they form? Why do the molecules they form just happen to behave chemically in the way needed for them to combine into working biological cells?” (More on Anthropic Coincidences here) Beneath the biological level are more fundamental levels of nature, and the accommodations of any of them can be used to support the Intelligent Design argument. Finally, at the quantum level, where the laws of physics are loose enough to allow indeterminate events to enter into the physical world, we encounter religious implications perhaps somewhat different from those of Intelligent Design. There is a quantum mysticism spreading among the folk that poses as much a threat to the dominance of Christianity as Jesus and his bedraggled crew posed to the authorities of imperial Rome. Building on the apparent potential of minds to steer the transition from the indeterminate quantum to the determinate so-called classical world, quantum mysticism seems to imply a latent psychokinesis is each of us. This inner potential if developed would make each of us Intelligent Designers capable of pulling off our own Creations. Heh-heh. Fair is fair. If Intelligent Design should be covered in standard science curricula, then should the arguments of the emerging quantum mysticism be folded into standard physics curricula? (Both share a common root in the perplexing existence of subjectivity in a world in which science tells us that all that actually is is to be known through objectivity. ID has to do with a big subjectivity--the mind of God--shaping Nature through intent. Quantum mysticism has to do with relatively smaller subjectvities--the minds of us individuals--shaping our individual lives through intent. Classical science doesn't do a good job of explaining why things are the way they are when they are that way because they embody the intentions of a mind or minds, that is, when mind is a cause.) P.S., If the burden on the Darwinists is to account for the How of evolution, then the corresponding burden on the Intelligent Design proponents is to account for the Why of Creation.