Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Toward a New Worldview

I think the ideas and arguments I’ve presented in the first seven posts can form a foundation for a new worldview. This new worldview makes sense of age-old philosophical dilemmas and helps bridge the gulf between the scientific perspective and religious beliefs about the nature of humanity and our place in the world.

The key to this worldview is the realization that the phenomenon of first-person experience, known to us through our own lives, must be a natural, fundamental, and irreducible feature of the world.

The universe, then, is not a world of "dead" matter moving in a void of space that we often picture when learning science. At the same time, our rich and compelling experience does not require a mystical explanation that a scientifically minded skeptic would reject. I envision us to be an integrated part of a world that naturally includes life, consciousness, knowledge, values, morals, and free will. Our experience is one of participating in the larger experience of this world.

Now, in my first introduction post I spoke about some of those difficult “big” questions that confront us. What about those? Well, to be sure, we can only begin to answer some of these. The new worldview begins to provide answers to questions about the fundamental nature of the universe and how our human lives arise from and fit into the universe. It is harder for me to yet envision answering certain other questions that represent an even higher “degree of difficulty”. For instance: Is there anything outside our universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? These sorts of questions are not about the universe and its contents but as phrased seem to demand an explanation transcending the natural universe as we now conceive of it. So, these embody an even deeper element of mystery.

Still, I think this new worldview represents progress. There is a lot more work to do, of course, and some of the ideas presented here may not hold up. But, I think the outlook is bright for us to gain an ever-greater grasp of our reality as time unfolds.

And what an exciting journey it is!

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