I just heard someone on television, a scientist, say that 'we'(as in the entire scientific community) see no 'purpose' in the natural world; just atoms and molecules following inevitable and inviolable laws. See, a statement like that just drives me up the wall. Instead of screaming at the television I will scream here.
If you see no purpose in the natural world; do you see a purpose in the man-made world? If you look at a machine do you "see" the purpose of the machine? Can purpose be observed? The machine was obviously made for a purpose, but how do we know that? We know it because we deduce it from the design of the machine; from what it actually does. Where did this purpose begin? It began in the consciousness of the inventor of the machine who knew what he wanted to accomplish and got an idea (the idea consisting of the shape and the materials) for a machine that would accomplish that purpose. That purpose was also there in the consciousness of the builder of the machine who tested the machine to make sure that it fulfilled the purpose that the inventor intended for it. That purpose is also there in the consciousness of the user of the machine who uses it to enjoy the purpose that the inventor intended when he thought of it, and the purpose of the builder when he built it. At no time is the purpose directly observed. It is deduced and OBVIOUSLY deduced from the design of the machine and from watching what it actually does.
Now, does a machine just naturally obey the laws of nature? No. It doesn't VIOLATE the laws of nature, but every machine has a way of gathering energy and focussing it in a way that OVERCOMES the natural forces of gravity, inertia, etc. to deliver that purposeful outcome in spite of those laws. That is what inventing a machine is all about: finding a way to gather enough energy and focus it so that it will fulfill a purpose by overcoming these natural forces.
Living beings are also machines. They gather energy, which in living creatures is called metabolism, and focus it in a way that does not violate, but overcomes natural forces to deliver an objective. In fact in a living being there are many, many machines (each protein molecule, and there are hundreds of thousands in every cell and countless numbers in the blood stream and digestive tract, is a machine) and each of these machines has its own purpose and all of these feed the larger purpose of the whole organism. Again, these purposes are not directly observable, but they are OBVIOUSLY deduced from the design of the protein molecules and the organelles and the cells and the organs and the tissues and the various systems of the entire organism; and are obviously deduced from the whole organism itself.
A biological organism is designed to survive. That doesn't mean that the organism, the observable body, wants to survive. Machines don't want to survive. Machines don't care if they function or not. A car doesn't care whether you get to your destination or not. A can opener doesn't care whether you open a can or not. The inventor and the builder care that the car is capable of getting you someplace and capable of opening a can; and certainly the user cares about whether he gets where he wants to go and is able to access the contents of the can. But the car and the can opener could care less. Why? Because a car, a can opener, or any machine (including biological machines) are matter, are part of the material world. And purposes, and caring about achieving purposes, are in the non-physical, unobservable world of consciousness.
So the purpose of a biological organism is to survive; all of the countless number of biological machines in every organism are all synchronized to deliver this result. But that purpose is not 'in' the body. The body does not want to survive. The body is matter, and so is the brain, and neither the cells nor the proteins nor the genes (nucleic acids) nor the streams of electrons coursing through your nervous system and brain nor any other visible part of the body could care less about whether it 'survived' as an in tact organism or not. The inventor of all of these synchronized and exquisitely designed machines cares (call that inventor what you will) and the user of all these machines (that would be you) cares, but the machine itself does not. (By the way, in the case of biological machines, the inventor is so brilliant that he/she has invented not just the machine, but a way of building new machines, so that the inventor and the builder are really one, and not to get too far ahead of myself, but I should mention that the ultimate purpose, not of the biological machine, but of the user of the biological machine, is to realize that the user and the inventor are also really one, that all separation is really an illusion).
Now one more thing that drives me up the wall, one thing to get off my chest so I can concentrate on my next, more elaborate post, is that you are not your brain. If I hear that idiocy one more time I may explode. You are consciousness. Consciousness is not the brain. Consciousness is the context within which you experience your brain and your entire life. You have a brain. You use your brain. But you, that which uses and experiences the brain, is not the brain. Electrons flowing through your brain are not thoughts. They may be necessary for thoughts; they may be the precursors of thoughts, they may be recording thoughts, but they are not thoughts. They are streams of electrons. There are streams of electrons flowing through your telephone when you are having a conversation. Are those streams of electrons necessary for you to be having a phone conversation? Of course. Are those streams of electrons the same identical thing as the phone conversation? Of course not. Is an apple the same as the experience of eating an apple? Is a CD the same as the experience of listening to the CD? Of course not. They are two completely different planes of existence. One is physical, measurable and directly observable. The other is none of those things.
Anyway, again, I apologize for the long hiatus. Please stay tuned for my next post which will be called "The Limitations of Biological Research."
As ever, your comments are welcome.