It seems to me that the most reasonable hypothesis about the nature and purpose of the world is that God created it for the express purpose of our existence. I offered some proof in this post.
(D)o you have any idea at all how hard it was to create a Universe that could sustain life? Adjust any one of a bunch of cosmic constants by just a tiny bit and you get Vast Wastelands of Death. Here's a few examples of these constants:
Fine Tuning Parameters for the Universe
strong nuclear force constant
if larger: no hydrogen would form; atomic nuclei for most life-essential elements would be unstable; thus, no life chemistry
if smaller: no elements heavier than hydrogen would form: again, no life chemistry
weak nuclear force constant
if larger: too much hydrogen would convert to helium in big bang; hence, stars would convert too much matter into heavy elements making life chemistry impossible
if smaller: too little helium would be produced from big bang; hence, stars would convert too little matter into heavy elements making life chemistry impossible
gravitational force constant
if larger: stars would be too hot and would burn too rapidly and too unevenly for life chemistry
if smaller: stars would be too cool to ignite nuclear fusion; thus, many of the elements needed for life chemistry would never form
electromagnetic force constant
if greater: chemical bonding would be disrupted; elements more massive than boron would be unstable to fission
if lesser: chemical bonding would be insufficient for life chemistry
The existence of DNA is similarly preposterous. As far as I know, we've never been able to create it in the lab with all its building blocks present. It's not like the stuff spontaneously forms without significant intervention.
Then there is consciousness and imagination, particularly that expressed through art. It serves no purpose at all, but here we are.
To me, that indicates that the Universe has a purpose and that purpose is to give us a place to exist and thrive. Our intellect and imagination has a purpose and that is to understand the world around us. It was all created by a Higher Power to that end. Given the extent of the fine-tuning, the biochemical anomalies and evolutionary paths necessary to get us here, the purpose is infused throughout everything. It all points in one direction.
If everything around us has purpose, then we must have a purpose as well. I've blogged about the Greek origins of purpose and morality before.
Greek philosophy arose from some of their geniuses determining that the world was ordered and that humans were capable of rational thought. That meant that people could figure out how the world worked and what its components were. They went farther and posited that the world's components had been made with their own purposes and those purposes could be deduced. They called that telos.
Ethics could then be constructed from each object's telos. A hammer was a good hammer if it was used for its telos, pounding nails into wood. A hammer was a bad hammer if it was used for a contrary purpose such as giving your wife a scalp massage.
As our science has become more sophisticated, it has become obvious, as listed above, that the Universe was designed for a purpose and it has, as the Greeks would say, and I would agree, fulfilled its purpose. It is good. Kind of like the words of Genesis.
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters.
Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good...
God then sees that other things are good, too, such as the firmament, the heavens and those fabulous honey, cheese biscuits from Jim N' Nick's Bar-B-Q in Cullman, Alabama. Those are unbelievably good.
So all of creation is good because it is fulfilling its purpose. Where does that stop?
Sex. Sex is where that stops. You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?
I watched the video below, which discusses the biochemistry of porn and how it wrecks a man's ability to function with women. The whole of it is worth watching, but I've set the scrub head to a particular point in the video to go along with the topic of this post.
Here's the relevant quote for me.
The idea here is that, you know, I'm not saying pornography as a stimulus is bad or good. What I'm saying is in its availability and its extreme forms, it's a very potent stimulus and very potent stimuli of any kind, extremely palatable food, extreme pornography, extreme experiences like bungee cord jumping, those set a threshold for dopamine release.
Now I don't know if he's saying this to bound the discussion to biochemistry or if he really thinks we can divorce the act from its moral qualities, so I don't mean to disparage him, but if the Universe was created with a purpose, if every element, every creature, every aspect, every experience is a component of it and therefore part of its overall purpose and, further, if purpose defines moral good, then you can't dismiss the act that creates all human life, the life that is the very purpose of creation, from its telos, its purpose and, thus, its morality.
Here, I understand what I've done is derive the Catholic understanding of the purpose of sex, procreation, but please believe me when I say I am only now seeing that's what I've done. I didn't set out to do this. I've been pulling a thread and this is where it led.
I think that many people want to avoid assigning a telos to things this because they don't want to deal with the implications. No one wants to be the moral scold, as Deano likes to call me. But denying reality doesn't make it go away. The first question we have to face is about the nature of reality. The way in which we define that nature will then drive all kinds of things in our thinking and our lives.
Yuck. If this is leading where I think it's leading, I'll have to take some things seriously that, up to now, I'd been dismissing as no big deal.
I think I'll open another beer*.
* - I wrote this last night after visiting a brewery in Birmingham. I'm not in the habit of daytime drinking.