“Almost all aspects of life are engineered at the molecular level, and without understanding molecules, we can only have a very sketchy understanding of life itself.”
Francis Crick – English scientist
I was flicking through a book entitled “The Meaning of Life” (whilst sitting on the loo, if you must know!) when I came across the above quotation. Whilst later out cycling, it struck me forcefully that this is, at the same time, both profoundly true ……. and therefore profoundly untrue!
Science tells us that the entire matter/energy of the universe came into existence at moment of the Big Bang; matter formed of a multitude of fundamental particles which, for the sake of convenience I will call “molecules”. I am, of course aware that this term is a gross simplification, but this should not alter the fundamental flow of my train of thought. Everything that has subsequently happened in the universe is a consequence of the interactions between these “molecules” – their number, positions, type and modes of interaction.
Our understanding of these interactions has of course refined over the centuries. Gone are the days when Newtonian physics would have condemned us to a world of utter predictability. Heisenburg’s uncertainty principle and the ambiguities of quantum mechanics have introduced much welcomed doubt in the way in which one set of scientific circumstances will lead to another. This does not change the fact, however that the new set of “molecular circumstances” will be a direct consequence of the immediately previous set of “molecular circumstances” – even though the connection may be one which we don’t yet fully understand. To this degree, therefore, the above quotation must be profoundly true. All aspects of life are engineered at the molecular level
Let’s compare this however, to the world we inhabit and observe: a world, yes of complexity and uncertainty; but a world of personality, beauty, diversity, love, hatred, joy, suffering, free will(?), art and literature; a world encompassing millennia of human history. Can we accept, believe, that this is all the result of the unthinking subsequent interactions between the initial “big bang molecules”?
If so there is an inescapable question. What determines, guides, these interactions?
Some might say “scientific law”; but what does this mean. Does it mean guiding principles which lead the universe (and its inhabitants) to some predetermined outcome? It seems to me that this is a binary question – there is no middle ground: either these molecular interactions are random and mindless; or they are guided in some way towards a purpose.
Others, no doubt will disagree, but I cannot, perhaps will not, accept that every aspect of my life, from deciding what to have for breakfast, to my innermost thoughts are determined only by a sequence of purposeless throws of a molecular dice. Given, therefore the binary question I believe we are faced with, I choose to believe in a universe that is controlled by some principle which provides direction towards a greater purpose.
What shall we call it: scientific process? Spirit of the Universe?
I’ve got an idea; let’s call it ………. God
I choose to believe in God