Particle tracks in an accelerator - possibly a way to visualize the pathways extending from a single point.
I've been reading God's Undertaker
, by John C. Lennox, a book arguing for "intelligent causation" - the idea that the universe and life are too irreducibly complex to have arisen by chance
. Lennox, a professor of mathematics at Oxford who has debated Richard Dawkins, makes a powerful case that information lies at the heart of life, and that this information (epitomized by, but not restricted to, the instructions encoded in DNA) cannot be explained by natural processes.
If this is true (and I strongly suspect that it is), it naturally raises the question of how this "intelligent causation" could actually be brought about
. The notion of God as a chemist, reaching down with his mighty hand to splice the correct amino acids into the desired proteins, is hardly intellectually satisfying.
One approach that occurs to me is suggested by the idea of pure information underlying the physical world
, a notion that we've played with before. We could imagine this informational matrix as something akin to a giant information processing system - a vast database, with the numbers constantly being crunched by algorithms
. By analogy, think of the whole shebang as a computer run by a program; the numbers are processed in the background, between screen refreshes; changes in the informational content would be reflected in each new refresh, just as changes dictated by a computer program are seen in new combinations of pixels on the screen.
The picture sketched by Prescott is one of natural teleology, promoted by atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel
, and more recently by theist philosopher William Dembski in his book Being as Communion: A Metaphysics of Information
. Curiously, while Prescott primarily discusses psi phenomena extensively on his blog, he doesn't mention it here, even though it provides the best answer to the question he asks of how, exactly, such an 'informing' of matter might occur in nature. In other words, a vast intelligence must have a non-physical
way of acting on matter (to create the necessary mutations, for example), and the only known way in which that occurs is psychokinesis. Dembski hints at this line of thought in his book, and David Ray Griffin argues for it explicitly in his philosophical books.