philosophy science

the nature of nature

Most popular level ‘arguments for God’ are based on the ‘art/artisan’ analogy, which is probably dismissed a little to easily at times.  But nature can still quite rightly and easily seen to be God’s creation even if it was not ‘artificiallydesigned.  Artifacts are designed by an artisan, and ‘natural’ things have a mystifying yet lawful and consistent character of having ability to do what they do.  The question is: why is nature like it is?  Even a complete understanding of abiogenesis would still leave the question: how did those things get the power to come together and become living?  Which reminds me of a striking question to put to the so-called ‘design theorists’: Wouldn’t God be smart enough to make a nature that could actually do stuff?

7 replies on “the nature of nature”

I’m probably being overly semantic here but what did you mean by “power to come together and become living”? Presumably the sole task of a proper theory of abiogenesis is to bridge the gap between non-living and living?

Good question Ian. I probably could have worded it better. Naturally (pun intended), the ‘power’ for abiogenesis would reduce to the energy in matter itself, I guess. But the question asks, “why does nature or matter have the kind of creative energy it has?” The universe did not have to produce intelligent life, or life at all, for that matter.

Sorry to keep being pedantic (lol) but what do you mean by “creative energy”?

I agree the universe didn’t have to produce life but then I don’t really see life as anything fundamentally different from non-life. I mean I get that living things can be defined as a subset of all things, but so can hard things or blue things. I don’t see “living” as anything specifically noteworthy in the grand scheme of things.

I don’t mean to butt in on this exchange but I do want to make an observation. Thinking nature is god’s creation is highly problematic: in the same way that thinking that erosion has the goal or purpose of forming canyons, so too does thinking life (nature) has a goal or purpose through evolution. It seems self-evident (to me, at least) that the future cannot cause material events in the present and that’s why thinking that the concepts of goals or purposes in nature regarding life have no place in biology as a whole (although we can argue for the exception in studies of human behavior which is often goal oriented).

Cheers Ian,

For the present post, take “creative energy” (or “power to come together and become living”) to refer to whatever properties/character/structure matter has – which (presumably) enable it to do what it does.

I’m intrigued by your comments about living things not being “specifically noteworthy”, etc. Significance is indeed in the eye of the beholder, so I have no logical problem if you’re arguing that only humans (subjectively, etc.) value life more than non-life. We’d have (and have had – and will hopefully continue to have!) interesting conversations about ethics based on that kind of (what I’d call) ‘ontology of indifference’, but that’s another day (or year, looking at my year ahead!?). :)

This post is not dependent on any kind of retroactive teleological causation (i.e. a future goal affecting past events); however, that’s far from illogical when you come to causation outside our time-bound universe. But I digress..

I feel like “creative energy” is a bit of a leading term in that context but otherwise the meaning is clear :)

I think I am becoming rampantly ontologically indifferent (great term!) and I day by day I see less and less reason to be anything else lol! We should definitely revisit that discussion at some stage.

Yes we should. I suspect, for now, that your ontological indifference will be in tension with your (implicit) desire for others to also share your view. :) Till then… :)

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