The Goldilocks Enigma
© Paul Davies
It's not too hot, it's not too cold and its forces act together in a way that's just right; why does the universe seem so perfectly tailor-made for life to exist?

In his book aptly titled The Goldilocks Enigma, physicist and science writer Paul Davies says that some scientists claim to be on the verge of providing answers to the great questions of existence such as: Why are we here? How did the universe begin? How will it end? How is the world put together? Why is it the way it is? And so on. We recognize these questions from Philip Goff's rather feeble attempt to philosophize about them in the previous series of posts (beginning here): "Why? The Meaning of the Universe". Here I'll just suggest that the reader will be better served reading Davies over Goff, even if I don't think Davies has the whole banana either.

Davies explains that the reason some scientists are so confident about the possibility of being able to explain the order of the universe is due to developments in both cosmology and high-energy particle physics. However, elsewhere, Davies has warned us against 'Taking Science on Faith' because the faith scientists have in the immutability of physical laws has origins in Christian theology. (He was roundly criticized for saying this).

Davies thinks that the fact that consciousness exists is one of the most significant facts of the universe, (he also notes that many scientists and philosophers do not agree with this assessment), and that for life to emerge and then to evolve into conscious beings like ourselves, certain conditions have to be met.

Davies worked with astronomer, Fred Hoyle, and tells us that Hoyle thought that it appears as if some super-intelligence was behind the laws of physics. Davies agrees that it does look that way and no scientific explanation for the universe can be acceptable unless it accounts for this fact. "On the face of it, the universe does look as if it has been designed by an intelligent creator expressly for the purpose of spawning sentient beings.

Goldilocks And The Three Bears
© Ken WilsonWho's been eating my porridge
Like the porridge in the tale of Goldilocks and the three bears, the universe seems to be 'just right' for life, in many intriguing ways." Figuring out why this is so requires us to probe the nature of physical laws. Davies writes:
"Throughout history, prominent thinkers have been convinced that the everyday world observed through our senses represents only the surface manifestation of a deeper hidden reality, where the answers to the great questions of existence should be sought. So compelling has been this belief that entire societies have been shaped by it. Truth-seekers have practiced complex rituals and rites, used drugs and medication to enter trance-like states, and consulted shamans, mystics, and priests in an attempt to lift the veil on a shadowy world that lies beneath the one we perceive. The world 'occult' originally meant 'knowledge of concealed truth', and seeking a gateway to the occult domain has been a major preoccupation of all cultures, ranging from the Dreaming of Aboriginal Australians to the myth of Adam and Eve tasting the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge. ...

"The ancient Greek philosopher Plato compared the world of appearance to a shadow playing on the wall of a cave. Followers of Pythagoras were convinced that numbers possess mystical significance. The Bible is also replete with numerology... The power of numbers led to a belief that certain integers, geometrical shapes and formulas could invoke contact with a supernatural plane, and that obscure codes known only to initiates might unlock momentous cosmic secrets. ...

"Isaac Newton - mystic, theologian and alchemist - ... did more than anyone to change the age of magic into the age of science. ...

"The ancients were right: beneath the surface complexity of nature lies a hidden subtext, written in a subtle mathematical code. This cosmic code contains the secret rules on which the universe runs. Newton, Galileo and other early scientists treated their investigations as a religious quest. They thought that by exposing the patterns woven into the processes of nature they truly were glimpsing the mind of God. Modern scientists are mostly not religious, yet they still accept that an intelligible script underlies the workings of nature, for to believe otherwise would undermine the very motivation for doing research, which is to uncover something meaningful about the world that we don't already know."
There is actually a bit more to the search for the underlying nature of reality than just 'figuring stuff out'. Theologian Gerd Theissen writes:
"Religion is a cultural sign language which promises a gain in life by corresponding to an ultimate reality. The definition leaves open whether and in what sense there is an ultimate reality. In religion, a gain in life is often to be understood in a very tangible way, above all as health and help ... But often religions promise something more sublime in addition: a life in truth and love, a gain of identity in the crises and changes of life - even the promise of eternal life. ... Cognitively, religions have always offered a comprehensive interpretation of the world: they assign human beings their place in the universe of things ... Religion maintains belief in a hidden order of things - and it functions where our knowledge fails in cognitive crises (for example in the question of what lies beyond this world in which we live and what removes us from ourselves at death)." (Gerd Theissen, A Theory of Primitive Christian Religion (London: SCM Press, 1999).(Emphases, mine.)
What is of interest here is that it is implied that knowing or inferring something about ultimate reality can help an individual to live a better life in some sense and Christianity most certainly promised this 'gain in life' at its inception.

But somehow, today, what was once seen to be a path to a better life has changed into a way of life that, to outsiders, seems delusional. The problem lies, I think, in how Christians began very early on to misunderstand the message and then to distort it. The main reason for the distortion of that message was the very thing that the message was intended to defeat: a totally materialist view of reality versus one that includes consciousness as something that can be non-material. And in our day, scientific materialism reigns supreme.

In many ways, scientific materialism is the modern incarnation of one side of the old conflict between the flesh and the Spirit, to use the apostle Paul's terms, only taken to new extremes. Often not explicitly formulated or even acknowledged, this belief system is based on the idea that the material world is all there is, and everything else - consciousness in particular - is derived from it, a mere side effect. What's more, it is often assumed that the physical world is causally closed, which implies that our free will is just an illusion. But for this belief system to make any sense, if only superficially, its proponents need their own creation myth to explain the complexity of human life, experience and consciousness: enter Darwinism. A random material universe, so the story goes, is somehow capable to produce life by chance; the complexity of our experience, including our so-called illusion of having free will, so the story continues, is just a product of selecting 'advantageous' traits over long time spans. Never mind that if the physical universe is causally closed and we have no free will, then our consciousness is entirely useless and certainly not advantageous for survival.[1] But if we have free will, that is, if our minds can somehow break the causal chains of the strictly physical world, then there must be something seriously wrong with materialist doctrine.[2]

But the materialists are determined to hold the line against any single acknowledgment of any process that is not totally random, accidental, and material. Evolution is their gospel, Darwin their savior. Their story is that the Big Bang was the explosion of a primal atom, and all matter in the Universe was in this incredibly dense atom. Everything that has happened since is just the result of random jostling of particles that, over billions of years, may form affinities by accident, and different forms of matter arise. Eventually, some of this matter jostles against some other bit of matter, some sort of electrical (or other) interaction takes place, and that is 'life.'

But make no mistake about it! The Big Bang theory is Creationism. Materialists believe that matter sprang suddenly into existence with nothing prior. That primal atom was there, and they make no attempt to explain it. That's exactly the same as saying 'God was just there' and decided to create the universe. Archeologist Steven Mithen writes:
Creationists believe that the mind sprang suddenly into existence fully formed. In their view it is a product of divine creation. They are wrong: the mind has a long evolutionary history and can be explained without recourse to supernatural powers.[3]
As you can see, Mithen is arguing from as false a premise as the 'God-did-it-in-six-days' gang. He has already made a big leap of assumption that when anyone speaks about 'mind' they are speaking exclusively about a mind that is tied to a physical body. It apparently never occurs to him that pure consciousness is what is meant by 'mind' and not masses of neurons talking to each other with chemical and electrical signal systems. The very idea that consciousness might exist prior to matter is anathema to the materialists, yet that very idea in its most basic form is being discussed in recent years as the foundation of all existence in the form of pure information. At the same time, a close study of the matter reveals that many scientists involved in biochemical research have actually gutted classical Darwinism and some of them are coming forward and saying so plainly.[4]

Proponents of Darwinism or neo-Darwinism insist that there are clear distinctions between science and religion. Indeed, there are obvious differences in the style and content of a laboratory experiment and a claim to divinely revealed knowledge. Materialists say that science is concerned with knowledge of the proven and visible, while religion is concerned with mindless faith in the unprovable and invisible. And yet, when the facts are known, one must ask: is natural selection really a proven system based on demonstrated knowledge, or is it an unproven hypothesis in which there are so many contraindications that belief in it is also, in the final analysis, only a matter of faith? Natural selection is no more visible than a Deity and, frankly, less likely to do what is claimed than supernatural intervention!

Evolutionists are often found taunting those who think that something higher is involved in our existence - that their miracles of special creation can, by definition, be neither proved nor disproved. Yet the evolutionists arrive at similar propositions, especially when they exclude any possibility of something that guides and propels evolutionary processes. The main difference between the believers in miracles of special creation and believers in accidental variations is that the former has God Almighty pulling the strings and the latter has only impossible probabilities of jostling atoms and molecules as its ultimate reality. Not much difference, eh?

The late Weston La Barre, professor of anthropology at Duke University, was consumed with ideological fervor against the 'enemy' and wrote that all religions other than evolution are maladaptive retreats from reality. When considering the Platonic philosophy which holds that ideas, forms, patterns, types and archetypes have an existence and reality of their own and would, therefore, seem to have an obvious relevance to evolution and the origins of species, he regularly compared Plato to Adolf Hitler. He neglected to mention that Hitler was a confirmed - even extreme - Darwinist, believing that man evolved from monkeys, a proposition that Plato would have considered absurd.

The writings of many great researchers, including physicists and mathematicians, suggest that Plato was correct and that there are immaterial realities independent of physical brains, and more. The evidence for this is actually more considerable than the rags and tatters of evidence glued together to attempt to validate macroevolution. And, of course, this means that the advocates of materialistic Darwinism are the ones who are laboring under one of history's greatest delusions.

Quantum physics indicates that not only does 'matter' seem to dissolve into patterned vibrations at the most fundamental levels, it has become apparent that there is a structuring role played by consciousness, by information.[5]

There is now much accumulated evidence that mind does exist separate from the physical brain and that phenomena such as telepathy, psychokinesis, and other so-called paranormal effects are not only demonstrable, they conform to models of the universe with non-local causes. In the fields of mathematics and physics, the world has changed under the material evolutionist's feet and there is much more to our reality than the naive realism upon which neo-Darwinism is based. The fact that most contemporary evolutionists still cling to the old-fashioned, crude and mechanical theories in spite of the well-known developments in other scientific fields is more proof of the religious character of their beliefs.

And here we come to an interesting idea: the difficulty for both believers in purely mechanistic evolution and the creationists is that any cosmology that is sufficiently explanatory of the phenomena we observe in our universe has deeper dynamics and implications. The evolutionists and creationists both seem incapable of the truly abstract, subtle thinking required to parse these implications. It is as though both types are confined within a set of cognitive restrictions that drive their perceptions, experiences and priorities.

Science took a serious wrong turn in the middle of the nineteenth century, about the time Darwin published his Origin of Species and that is why we do, indeed, live in a spiritual Dark Age as a consequence. It wasn't that natural selection was wrong, per se, but the way the principles have been applied has been disastrous. Natural selection was seized upon as the one and only underlying law of our reality - and this seizing was done by individuals with a very particular psychological make-up. The same kinds of people that become fanatically religious and kill others in the name of their god can - and often do - become adherents of the religion of science. Psychologist Robert Altemeyer calls them 'rightwing authoritarians' and 'authoritarian followers,'[6] but there are leftwing authoritarians too - labeled 'political-correctness authoritarians' in the contemporary literature.

In the nineteenth century, certain discoveries that enhanced technology led to economic and political considerations, and that is when science took the wrong turn because the authoritarian type of individual also has other character traits that include a need to dominate others, as well as a strong tendency to greed. The pursuit of science thus was taken over by politics, and an army of scientific workers was sought to serve the agendas of what has become known as the military-industrial complex.

Altemeyer points out that the authoritarian follower is quite capable of holding entirely contradictory beliefs, and this is how they are easily controlled by those in positions of power who desire that science serve only their interests. Over and over again it is seen - in retrospect, of course - that irrational beliefs which are promulgated by authorities who desire to maintain control, and which are believed by the followers who want to be 'good,' trump true science; and here I mean the mode of scientific cognition, not just 'science' since the so-called Enlightenment.

Over and over again, throughout history, going back even to ancient times, you can note that there were a number of really intelligent free thinkers who made observations, drew useful inferences from those observations, and suggested solutions that were ignored, ridiculed, reviled, buried; and often, the thinker who dared to voice his ideas was destroyed by one means or another because authoritarian followers are also aggressive against anything that is not pronounced to be 'okay' by their leaders. Most often this destruction was - and is even today - due to power considerations: the individual has an idea that, in some way, threatens the political/social power structure.

The fact is, if you read enough history, you will discover that in war, killing or otherwise neutralizing the intelligentsia first is the aim of all invaders and conquerors because it is through the elimination or suppression of competent thinkers that any oppressive regime takes hold. This has been done so regularly and extensively throughout history that it staggers the mind to consider it. What it means, essentially, is that over and over and over again, pathological authoritarians have systematically eliminated from the human population the best and brightest minds, removing their DNA from the human gene pool, and it is ALL of humanity that is suffering the consequences of this loss. It could very well be that this single strategy is the reason that humanity may indeed be on the verge of extinction right now, as is proposed by a number of eminent thinkers.

The Malthusian Darwinists, of course, will say that it is just 'survival of the fittest.' I guess that depends on what you understand the 'fittest' to be. In the animal kingdom, where fitness is measured by strength and power, the ability to wallop the heck out of all rivals to your possession of food and sexual partners, selection of this type might be useful. But in the human species, where fitness and progress and even survival depend on brain power, killing off all the brainiest people in any given culture can only lead to degradation and devolution of the species as a whole. And when that species holds in its hands the ability to destroy all life on the planet, well, I think you can see where that kind of selection will lead: a lot of power and not enough brains to know that it ought never to be used.

I would like to invite you to stop and try to imagine what life on Earth might be like if science had actually fulfilled its mandate of explaining our reality, solving the problems of humanity, and teaching us how to best interact with our world and each other. If science was - today - actually a free exploration of nature and drawing accurate conclusions, creating theories, testing those theories with no hidden agendas, what might it have accomplished up to now? Can you do it? Can you think of any area of life that could not be improved by having a truly scientific understanding and clearly described response that was supported and implemented by the social/power structure to the benefit of all of humanity, not just the enrichment of a few?

Oh, you think it has been done? Think again. Read the history of science and human social development. When you see how repeatedly the few individuals who had the right idea were marginalized and/or destroyed, if you have any firing neurons after being born into a humanity which has been genetically manipulated to lower intelligence, you will immediately realize that the same conditions - only worse - prevail today: what the mainstream follows is almost always what is politically expedient to those in power, with only enough truth involved to patch over the obvious tears in the now disintegrating fabric of the mask of science.

If a true, free, intelligent science, supported and encouraged by all of society, had actually been the norm since its inception, not the exception, we would live in a world where our very existence was not a shame to the planet that gave us birth. We would have free, clean energy. We would not have vast numbers of human beings living in poverty or starving. We would have no over-population problems. Health issues that dominate Western society and are bringing it to its knees would not be a problem because there would be plenty of nourishing food for all. There would be no wars because scientific anthropology and social psychology would have figured out what is the best of all possible forms of social structure that allows for the widest expression of human types to flourish in harmony. Children would not be medicated at ever younger ages because cognitive science would have established the best way to rear and educate them, and couples would be able to attend classes on infant care and parenting that were actually effective. The best forms of education would be known so that the widest variety of options would be available to the varied human types and levels of intelligence and skill so that each individual would progress into a life of satisfaction doing what they really enjoy and are best at doing, and society would benefit by not wasting its most precious resource: human beings. Consciousness - and non-material spirit - would be understood and the proper reverence for Nature and the Cosmos would be a natural part of the lives of all, and the well-known religious feelings in human beings would be directed toward compassion and empathy, not used by manipulative leaders to incite anger, aggression and death. Free will, rather than being outright denied in science and philosophy as well as in very real terms politically, would be respected as the sacred principle that it is. In short, humankind would know how to live in harmony not only with each other, but with the world in which they are born.

All of these COULD be the conditions of a world where true science is a valued part of society. It could have been our world.

But that isn't what we have today. What we have today is the chaos produced by pathological individuals that induces consent from the authoritarian followers. As I noted above, science took a wrong turn when it was co-opted by power and diverted to the purposes of imperialism and materialistic greed.

The really sad thing is that the authoritarian followers who 'believe in authority' could as easily follow an authority that actually does have their best interests at heart, were such an authority to exist. I don't think it does anymore: the psychopaths[7] have seen to that, co-opting and corrupting even science, to the core. As it is, the authoritarian sheep follow and support the very worst of humanity: pathological individuals who gain power by deception and manipulation. And in the end, as psychologist Andrew Lobaczewski wrote: "Germs are not aware that they will be burned alive or buried deep in the ground along with the human body whose death they are causing."[8]

The moment that Darwin published his Origin of Species in the nineteenth century, an event that marked the culmination of a gradual shift in society from being dominated by religion to what was called 'rational thinking' and science, the authoritarians knew they had their theory of everything: random processes of matter, no consciousness needed.

So, it has been the steady application of materialistic evolutionary thinking that is behind the explanation of the order of the universe that prevails today, which underpins the chaos and disorder we see in a world devoid of information and organization. There are, undoubtedly, psychopaths in the woodpile here acting as the éminence grise behind science - the thing that controls most of our social constructs and institutions - because we certainly can't say that all scientists, or even most of them, are psychopathic. The profession itself excludes most psychopaths by virtue of the requirement for superior intellect. However, it can certainly include a great many members that are authoritarian in personality type and who are under the control of pathological types. We have seen living examples of this as a result of the COVID scam.

Looking back at the history - more particularly, the archaeology - we notice how much like the Roman Empire our present civilization actually is. The Romans were certainly rational and scientific in many respects. They had factories which produced tableware that has been found at the farthest reaches of the Empire, even in peasant homes. They had factories that manufactured roof tiles that covered the heads of even the poorest workers and their livestock. A cache of letters was found in northern Britain where soldiers wrote home to have socks sent to them, which were, apparently, mass produced. The Roman army was superior because it had standardized equipment, produced in mass quantities at factories located in hubs of the Empire. Grain, olives, oil, foodstuffs of all kinds, luxury goods, were mass-produced and distributed throughout the Roman world. Literacy was obviously very widespread, even to the working classes. There were roads, sanitation systems, haute cuisine; in short, everything that we take for granted as essential to civilization. The only difference seems to be that we have harnessed sources of power that the Romans did not have, which enables our civilization to aspire to globalization. But in almost every other way, we are exactly like them. It is only science that has made us bigger and badder, so to say. And, as the saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. That fall may be the extinction of the human race.
The end of the Roman Empire witnessed horrors and dislocation of a kind I sincerely hope never to have to live through; and it destroyed a complex civilization, throwing the inhabitants of the West back to a standard of living typical of prehistoric times. Romans before the fall were as certain as we are today that their world would continue forever, substantially unchanged. They were wrong. We would be wise not to repeat their complacency.[9]
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, in the next post, we'll come back to Davies and proceed with examining 'The Goldilocks Enigma'.


[1] Karl Popper argues this point in some depth; see Karl Popper and John C. Eccles, The Self and Its Brain: An Argument for Interactionism (Routledge, 1984).

[2] For a thorough philosophical refutation of materialism in general, see for example Thomas Nagel, Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (Oxford University Press, 2012); David Ray Griffin, God Exists But Gawd Does Not: From Evil to New Atheism to Fine-Tuning (Process Century Press, 2016); Bernardo Kastrup, The Idea of the World: A Multi-Disciplinary Argument for the Mental Nature of Reality (Iff Books, 2019); Rupert Sheldrake, Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery (Deepak Chopra, 2013).

[3] Steven Mithen, The Prehistory of the Mind (Thames & Hudson, 1999).

[4] See, for example, Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (2nd ed., Free Press, 2006), The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism (Free Press, 2008) and Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA That Challenges Evolution (HarperOne, 2019); David Berlinski, The Deniable Darwin (Discovery Institute, 2010); Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne, 2009) and Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (HarperOne, 2013); Matti Leisola and Jonathan Witt, Heretic: One Scientist's Journey from Darwin to Design (Discovery Institute, 2018).

[5] Florin Gaiseanu, Informational Model of Consciousness: From Philosophic Concepts to an Information Science of Consciousness (Philosophy Study, April 2019, Vol. 9, No. 4, 181-196 )

[6] Robert Altemeyer, The Authoritarians (Cherry Hill Publishing, 2008).

[7] For a discussion on how pathological characters, including psychopaths as an extreme case, can subvert society and power structures, see Andrew Lobaczewski, Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes (Red Pill Press, 2006).

[8] Lobaczewski (2006).

[9] Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization (Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 183.