God, the micromanager

Within this website I explore whether there is a spiritual realm, a supernatural realm, containing God, mind, souls, consciousness with its contents (ideas, emotions, love, reason, etc) — this, from a purely philosophical and unreligious point of view.
In this article, I first assume there is a spiritual realm so as to explore the implications; then I present my conclusions elsewhere.

Note: intelligent design is a code word by Christians for creationism. After they failed in the courts to get creationism accepted as science, they renamed it as intelligent design and tried again. This too failed.

But I use the term differently: Intelligent design is actual design by a super-powerful spiritual being capable of somehow interacting with the physical universe. I postulate there is such a spiritual being, and then analyze the implications.

The activities of an intelligent designer must conform to scientific principles, to the laws of physics. Merely claiming that an intelligent designer did such and such (for example, designed and created the human eye); this does not prove anything at all.

If you want to believe in intelligent design (that God designed and created everything), you must assume God micromanages everything (or at least key events) at the atomic and subatomic level; this, without violating the laws of physics. This means God created humans (for example) by fiddling with atoms and electrons.

But how do you bake a cake (by way of analogy) by controlling the jiggling of each atom? In real life, we bake a cake by tossing some ingredients into a pan and heating it for a while; it's a high level activity.

Does the intelligent designer design and create water molecules (from hydrogen and oxygen)? What about planets? Or proto-cells having lipid membranes and RNA and proteins? Bacteria? At what point in the origin and evolution of life does the intelligent designer begin his/her work? Is he/she involved with each atomic chemical reaction of biology, particularly those involving reproduction? There is no good cutoff line.

Those proposing intelligent design must explain:

  1. Lousy designs.
  2. Immoral and evil designs (animals and humans inflicting suffering on others).
  3. How can a spiritual entity affect the functioning of the material world?
  4. Creating large scale designs (for example, humans) by pushing around atoms. There is no infrastructure, no tools, to allow God to operate at the higher level; there are only the laws of physics at the subatomic level.

There is no need to invoke an intelligent designer to explain the existence of biological organisms — evolution explains everything.

Yet I find this reliance on randomness to generate features of design to be unsatisfying; and so, I believe (according to my hypothesis) these to be introduced from the realm of ideas, the spiritual realm. (But what must be explained is: how a spirit being can interact with physical matter without physicists noticing it. The only way: through the random wave function collapse of quantum mechanics to not be random, but rather, guided.)

This micromanagement by God or souls is one of my main objections to my hypothesis. (The other is: God creating or allowing a universe having suffering.)

Intelligent design (ID) is not provable by science but is, rather, based on philosophical reflection.

Christian intelligent design

Christian intelligent design is not science, rather, it is a sentence: "God supernaturally created each species and designed biological structures and machinery."

They have no experiments, no theories about mechanisms of how such-and-such biological feature came into being.

They are so lazy. They don't bother to explain how intelligent design operates beyond saying, "God did it". Yet they want their views to be considered as science. Shame on them!

It seems to me that Christian intelligent design is a disingenuous ploy to force the public education system to teach anti-evolutionary and anti-scientific Christianity.

Note: I believe in God but am not a Christian. I believe in both: (1) evolution, and (2) intelligent design (because the appearance of design and irreducible complexity can't be explained satisfactorily via pure naturalism).

I should say, I assumed God, but found no evidence; only insurmountable difficulties justifying it. So now I am a non-theist / secular humanist.

Lousy designs 

As I study biology and observe details of people and animals, I keep noticing poorly designed systems and features, too numerous to list.

And it's not just inefficient and stupid designs, but even includes moral badness such as carnivores eating their prey alive and humans torturing each other. Inventing conscious extreme pain was a lousy design decision.

If God (who is good and beautiful) created each of these complex design features of biology, we should expect to not see such poor designs. But yet the fact of such intricate designs hints there is a creator God. How to reconcile the conflict?

. . . . .

I was thinking about how stupidly designed the universe is. If you want to believe in a good God, you have to pretend that stupid designs are actually good, or that God is using these stupid designs for good. Or even that God tortures people so that good will come out of it (an outrageous view of God).

Objections & claims by atheists

  1. No intelligent designer (because materialism/physicalism assumes this).
  2. No way for a spiritual creature to influence the physical.
  3. Lousy designs.
  4. Humans see patterns and meaning that aren't there.
  5. Science can't see evidence for an intelligent designer, only the operation of the laws of physics.
  6. Natural selection (and other forms of selection) are the intelligent designer.
  7. The universe never deviates from the mathematically-described natural laws.

How does God cause evolution?

If God, as the intelligent designer, reaches into the physical universe (the physical realm) to tweak it here and there into improbable designs; how exactly does he/she do this? What is the mechanism that allows a spiritual entity from the spiritual realm to interact with the physical realm? a free will spirit creature to cause behavior?

There is only one possibility I can imagine: by choosing the location an electron will appear after quantum mechanics wave function collapse. Whether the electron appears on this or that side of the atom, resulting in different subsequent interactions based on the electrostatic forces.

But how could God know the subsequent future events this fiddling will produce? Surely God is not a micromanager using mathematics to calculate future conditions? (I doubt such calculations are even possible at all, even by God.)

God must be using some knowledge of the warpage of space-time or something like this to sense intuitively that intervening in such and such a way will trigger an interesting outcome. God just "knows" how the universe works at a deep mathematical level and can intuit when to intervene.

God is deeply integrated with the universe and can "sense" what effects his/her interventions will produce.

But, sadly, God is not powerful enough or knowledgeable enough to prevent the suffering of conscious creatures

Theories of intelligent design

In the remaining sections, I propose various "theories" of how it might work, of how to resolve the problems plaguing intelligent design.

Note: I use the term "theory" in its meaning of: speculative ideas and proposals.

Theory 1 — My dog's eyeball

I was noticing the remarkable construction of my dog's eyeball and pondering the stages of development in the womb resulting in the final product. This includes the genetic makeup, the conditions in the womb, the supply of the needed molecules at the needed time, the choreographing of the whole sequence (without intervention by God).

Perhaps there is a pattern in the spiritual realm guiding the biological development in the womb? Molecules try to form themselves to match the pattern.

How does that pattern in the spiritual realm communicate back to the molecules in the physical realm? Perhaps it's analogous to Einstein's General Relativity in which mass warps space-time causing gravitational force. Perhaps the patterns in the spiritual realm warp physical reality in a way not detectable by science such that the molecules merely "fall" into their desired positions?

Could this whole sequence have happened, evolved, on its own with no intervention by God?

But why would God (who is good and beautiful) have created sharp carnivore teeth to be used to eat its prey alive?

Theory 2 — Smart electrons

Intelligent design by an intelligent designer (God) in the origin of life, evolution, and day to day living.

How can such an intelligent designer interact and intervene with the physical world? Not by him/her reaching in and micromanaging at the molecular and atomic level. The standard view of God's miraculous intervention is based on the idea that the world is constructed like billiard balls on a pool table. All you have to do is reach down and move some of the balls around (by picking them up and replacing them) and you've performed a miracle. (But this violates the laws of physics, and is never observed.)

I think the only possible interaction between the physical realm and the spiritual realm is via quantum mechanics wave function collapse in "choosing" where the electron (for example) appears after the collapse. Subsequent biochemical occurrences are impacted by this "choice" as electrostatic forces adjust to the new location of the electron.

But even God can't predict and control how a butterfly flapping its wings in the Himalayas can cause a hurricane in the Atlantic. This scheme is therefore, unworkable.

Another approach is that everything that can have a wave function has a "mind" of its own and can "choose" where to appear after wave function collapse based on a template or model or blueprint it "knows" about residing in the spiritual realm. This blueprint is created by the intelligent designer and that is how he/she designs and guides the universe.

But the "mind" of each electron is not capable of predicting the full ramifications of its individual decisions, and so, unintended events occur, things not specified in the blueprint. If God can't flap a butterfly's wings in the Himalayas to trigger a hurricane, neither can a smart electron.

This view explains pain and suffering without God himself/herself being bad. The universe is only capable of a limited range of possible movements and activities, and as each electron attempts to follow the blueprint, it is thwarted. What ends up occurring doesn't match the blueprint exactly. Therefore, the sensation of pain at times is unpleasant rather than being merely a warning to the body as intended.

Thus, in the spiritual realm, the blueprint represents utopia which is imperfectly manifested in the physical realm. I suppose after we die our soul will be able to more fully express and experience this utopia.

Part of the blueprint for this universe involves life "evolving" to ever higher conscious expressions.

But even so, God doesn't seem particularly good morally, in setting things up this way.

Theory 3 — The entangled soul

In the case of biological organisms having souls, the soul grows along with the organism as it develops. The soul communicates specific instructions to the molecules which it reads from a template also residing in the spiritual realm.

The soul is tangled-up with the organism at the sub-atomic level and so, is able to influence the quantum mechanics wave function collapse events. It will never know for sure that a specific collapse event did the right thing, but using feedback of comparing the template to the condition of the organism, over time, it will turn out as expected.

And perhaps the universe has a soul also, and changes over time are also guided?

Theory 4 — Creativity creates

There must be something inherent in molecules to allow ideas or impulses of creativity from a spiritual being to guide its progression.

Perhaps analogous to gravity as the bending of space-time. The atoms merely travel in, what they perceive as, a straight line, unimpeded by other objects having gravity.

I can't imagine how the idea of an eyeball could cause one to form over successive small evolutionary changes. And neither can atheists, so they don't bother to look, preferring to reject the spiritual realm out of hand with their assumption of materialism.

Theory 5 — God creates by imagining

Based on the idea that the universe is, in its essence, the mathematics that describes it. Thus, we don't have to try to imagine the nature of the universe beyond the implications of the mathematical descriptions and their interactions.

God, then, creates the universe by imagining the mathematics of it in his/her mind. He/she thinks these great mathematical thoughts, and the universe springs into being.

So assuming all that, how do you reconcile it with the fact of conscious suffering caused by the functioning of this mathematics? with the world having scarce resources, the need of living organisms for constantly obtaining nutrients and energy, and the competition among the creatures for their very survival?

The sense organs and conscious perception developed resulting in experiences of pain, as creatures eat each other alive. And that humans would be capable of great acts of evil upon other creatures and upon other humans such as torturing them to death?

Surely God is not aloof from all this just because he merely was imagining a mathematical universe?