At Evolution News and Views, IDer William Dembski reflects on the problem of explanatory continuity:
Science is not merely about discovering continuities in nature that can be described by a seamless naturalistic story. Sure, areas of science are like that. But science also presents us with discontinuities that resist naturalistic just-so stories. The most widely cited of these is the singularity of the Big Bang. A singularity is a discontinuity for which explanations in terms of ordinary physical processes break down.
It’s not that scientific investigation stops at a singularity. It’s just that the usual way of doing science, looking to ordinary processes that we’ve seen active in other contexts, no longer works. Granted, it is no explanation of a singularity merely to say “God did it.” But a singularity can be studied on its own terms, and the natural forces that may have played a role on either side of it may be studied and their inability to bridge the gap may also be assessed. Such singularities, proponents of intelligent design argue, have happened throughout the history of life. Life presents us with numerous singularities, everything from the Cambrian explosion to the emergence of some (but not all) novel proteins.
I think that William Dembski’s observations here are fair ones. There are moments in history where jaw-dropping disjunctures occur (the Big Bang itself, life, and consciousness are three obvious ones). They arrive unexpected and seem to be products of unique, even otherworldly (transcendent) processes.
In fact, there’s something downright messianic about some past events. Were there John the Baptists preceding these, we would not have believed any of them:
- “Prepare ye the way, for a big bang cometh nigh!”
- “Behold, as water to wine or lead to gold, humdrum chemistry shall turn to biochemistry!”
- “Look, the kingdom of self awareness, reason, imagination, and language is at hand! The planet of apes you now see shall birth on this round globe—Shakespeare!“
These are such things as DMT-induced psychedelic trips are made on, but they all came to pass; they really, really happened. For Dembski, these historical disjunctures make the resurrection of Jesus seem downright plausible.
It’s nice to think the universe might not be done delivering flabbergasting surprises. Those who have dialed into DMT report that their consciousness appears to be taken out of their bodies to exotic cosmic realms. And I can’t help but think of Steve Jobs’s dying words:
Oh, wow! Oh, wow! Oh, wow!
What makes you so sure there’s only one world?
Maybe hope—even hope that death is not the last word—should “spring eternal” because the cosmos itself springs.